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Africa at a glance...

africa map

When one thinks of Africa, they will usually think of a untamed continent with wild animals, thick tropical rainforests, vast barren deserts and a hot and wet climate. Though somewhat true, Africa is so much more than those typical stereotypes!Any idea of the size of Africa? Well Africa is the world's second largest continent spanning 30.2 million sq kms or 11.6 million sq miles with a whopping 61 countries, territories and islands. To put that into perspective it is larger than Canada, the United States, China and Mexico combined!

 

For example, even though the equator runs directly through Kenya and Tanzania (renowned for its high concentrations of wild animals including the "Big Five" of elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and black rhino), its climate is rather atypical of equatorial regions. Because of the region's high altitude and rain shadow, the area is surprisingly cool and dry for its latitude and quite comfortable for the safari enthusiasts that flock to the area every year.

Over 44 millions travellers descend on the continent every year to experience a cultural, wildlife or adventure offering found nowhere else on earth. For those travellers who want to discover and learn about Africa, there are so many countries and regions that are worth the time and expense to journey to. Finally realizing the earth's fragility, travellers worldwide are making their travel plans with certain priorities in mind. They want to learn, to experience, to interact with different cultures and therefore to appreciate what this beautiful and diverse world has to offer.

When travelling to Africa its best to focus on one region of the continent at a time. Popular regions include North Africa (Egypt and Morocco), East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda), Central Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana) and Southern Africa (Namibia and South Africa).

Some of Africa's most popular destinations are (in no specific order):

 

1) Tanzania and Kenya (Masai Mara and The Serengeti)

east-africa-safari-serengeti-cheetahTouted as the premier safari destination in all of Africa, it's home to "The Great Migration" (Over 2 million grazing animals as they move across the Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem) and Africa's "Big Five" of elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and black rhino. The island of Zanzibar, just off of Tanzania's coast is a perfect conclusion to an exciting African safari, with its turquoise blue water and brilliant white sand . Must see's include; The Masai Mara Game Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya; The Serengeti, The Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar (including its stunning beaches and Stone Town) in Tanzania.

 

2) Zimbabwe and Zambia (Victoria Falls)

zimbabwe-zambia-victoria-fallsDavid Livingstone first saw what is now known as Victoria Falls in 1855, naming them after the Queen of England. The Falls borders both Zambia and Zimbabwe (the best viewing possibilities) and is among the most popular natural wonders and waterfalls in the world. Why not experience the 'Flight of the Angels' a 12 - 15 minute helicopter ride over the Falls, or other popular activities such as white water rafting down the Zambezi River, an educational elephant-back safari or a night game drive in the nearby Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve. Must see's include; Victoria Falls and Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve in Zimbabwe.

 

3) Uganda and Rwanda (Mountain Gorilla Trekking)

uganda-rwanda-mountain-gorilla-trekkingRenowned for its Gorilla Trekking, Uganda and Rwanda both have excellent opportunities to stand just metres from a mountain gorilla, an experience something only a few people will ever have the chance to do in their lifetime. Uganda also has several game reserves with an array of animal wildlife, bird life and primates. For the adventure seekers there is also some of the best white water rafting (up to level 5 rapids) in Africa, located at Bujagali Falls at the start of the famed Nile River in Uganda. Must see's include; Bwindi National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda; and Parcs National des Volcans in Rwanda.

 

4) Morocco (The Imperial Cities)

morocco-camel-trekkingLocated on the northwest coast of Africa, Morocco has a fascinating exotic past dating back 3,000 years. Experience the food and cultures of Morocco while exploring the "Imperial Cities" of (Fez, Meknes, Marrakech and Rabat). Discover the charm of Marrakech, the spirituality of Fez and the sophistication of Casablanca. Travel through the dramatic landscapes of the vast desert, gorges and Atlas Mountains exploring the old kasbahs and souks. Must see's include; The "Imperial Cities", Fez el Bali (the medieval city of Fez), The Atlas Mountains and Casablanca.

 

5) Egypt (The Pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza)

egypt-cairo-great-sphinx-gizaOne of the oldest civilizations in the world, Egypt is rich in history and ancient architectural feats of man. Many of the monuments and temples were constructed thousands of years ago. Must see's include; The Pyramids of Giza (the last surviving member of the Seven Wonders of the World), The Great Sphinx of Giza, The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, The Valley of the Kings & Queens, Luxor and Karnak Temples and The Great Temple of Abu Simbel.

 

6) Botswana (The Okavango Delta)

botswana-okavango-delta-nasaThe Okavango Delta is Botswana's jewel and one of the last totally unspoiled wildlife areas in all of Africa. It's the largest inland delta system in the world, which floods every year from seasonal rains and supports a habitat that is mind-blowing in its numbers. A trip to Botswana isn't complete without visiting a (15 km) stretch of the Chobe River, located in Chobe National Park in the northern part of the country. Kalahari Elephants (largest of all elephants in the world) epitomize this park more than any other animal, with upwards of 120,000 individuals making it the single largest concentration in all of Africa. Must see's include; The Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park.

 

7) Namibia (Great Dunes of Sossusvlei)

namibia-sosussvleiThis fascinating and unique country is full of contrasts. From the "Great Dunes of Sossusvlei" (possibly the highest sand dunes in the world at over 300 metres) located in the Namib Desert (considered to be the oldest in the world 80 million yrs), to the iconic wildlife sanctuary known as the Etosha Pan, Namibia offers sights not seen anywhere else on earth! Must see's include; The Namib Desert, The Great Dunes of Sossusvlei, The Sea Colony at Cape Cross and The Etosha National Park.

 

 

8) South Africa (Cape Town and Kruger National Park)

south-africa-cape-town-table-mountainThere are so many things to see and do in South Africa. The country is abound with variety from the exciting city life and beaches of Cape Town to the viewing of the "Big Five" of elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino in the world famous Kruger National Park in the north-east region of the country. Don't forget the spectacular Cape wine region with its stunning scenery and culinary delights or even one of the many luxurious rail journeys originating from Cape Town. Must see's include; Cape Town, Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, The Cape Winelands and The Garden Route.

 ....Jeff Pychel, Africa Specialist