Adoration 4 Adventure’s collection of African highlights from travelers.
A collection of traveler’s favorite places within the African continent, including many “off the beaten path” destinations. To be used for your next African itinerary, travel inspiration or just a good read.
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Also read a collection of South American highlights from travelers.
Highlights of Africa
Masai Mara, Kenya
During my maiden trip to Kenya, 4 years ago, I fell in love with the savannas of Masai Mara. Mara is one of the most popular parks in Africa and right away I could see why. I visited over 6 national parks but Mara stood out in terms of variety and abundance of flora and fauna. From exotic African birds, intriguing reptiles and the Big 5 – Mara has everything that makes it a perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
The landscape is also spectacular with grasslands as far as the eye can see – usually dotted with Zebras and Wildebeest (especially during the great migration). The Mara River cuts through the park and is a gateway for the migration to Serengeti. All in all, if I have to choose my top destination in Africa – it would be to Masai Mara.
iSimangaliso Wetlands park, South Africa
My favorite place in South Africa is the iSimangaliso Wetlands park, starting about 3 hours north of Durban in South Africa and stretching all the way north to the border with Mozambique. It is South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site home to estuaries, waterways, flat plains, jungle like tracks and sand dunes. Amongst all of this you can find elephants, hippos, crocodiles, giraffe, leopard, zebra, buffalo and baboons wandering their natural habitat.
Unlike other nature reserves, filled with tourists iSimangaliso, doesn’t feel like you’re simply part of a tourist experience. It feels as though you’re at one with nature, able to witness nature as it was intended to be. The wetlands park comprises of both pristine beaches (with warm water) and glass like lakes, all perfect locations for spear fishing in traditional Tsonga kraals, diving, surfing, snorkeling and kayaking. Depending on how far north you go, you can lose yourself for days on the off road tracks, discovering the rural and isolated areas where you can easily go for hours without seeing signs of human life other than isolated Zulu huts with families going about their daily business.
Kibale Forest, Uganda
Melissa Legarda Alcantara
Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa — and for good reason. If you’re headed to the African continent, I highly recommend visiting Uganda. In the midst of an otherwise arid landscape, the country is home to teeming wildlife, fertile soil, abundant vegetation, beautiful lakes and wonderful people.
In Uganda, you can do everything from safaris to white water rafting to gorilla trekking. Gorilla trekking can be extremely expensive, not to mention seasonal. Kibale National Forest offers wild chimpanzee trekking as a popular and cheap alternative. Available all year round, this experience gives you an incredible opportunity to witness the charming, liberating, and remarkably human lives of wild apes in their natural habitat.
Nyiragongo Volcano, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Niina & Piritta
Climbing an active volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo scores at the top of our African adventures. A grueling 5-hour trek through cloud forests and lava fields brought us to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano, nicknamed ominously as the “Heart of Darkness” and “Mouth of Hell”. After the darkness had fallen, we understood the analogies.
Nyiragongo Crater boasts the world’s biggest lava lake. It’s a surreal sight: during the night, you can witness a blazing lava show from the crater rim. Spending a night upon an active lava lake is a bit a nerve-wracking, the huts are extremely basic, and weather conditions pretty inhospitable, but I strongly recommend the experience anyway.
Nyiragongo volcano lies in Virunga, the oldest national park in Africa. The hike is pretty easy, though tiring. The last leg is unmercifully steep, and the volcanic gravel is ruthlessly sharp, so falling might be dangerous. Before crossing the border to DRC, it’s wise to check the current security situation. We were accompanied by three armed rangers in the case of meeting guerillas but felt completely safe all the time.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
I loved visiting the Mount Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania because of the beautiful view of the mountain, the friendly people, and the adventurous things to do in the area. I spent two weeks living across from the mountain. It was such a happy day if it decided to come out from behind the mountains because it offered some spectacular views that made me fall even more in love.
I spent my time volunteering for public health and set up clinics in two different villages in the Mount Kilimanjaro region. The people were so friendly and the children loved to run around and play with us. Finally, we ended our Tanzania journey with a safari in Tarangire National Park where we saw wild elephants, giraffe, zebra, and lions. My travels to Tanzania were amazing and an experience that I will remember forever.
Skeleton Coast, Namibia
The Bushmen called Namibia’s Skeleton Coast “The Land God Made in Anger.” Portuguese sailors named it “The Gates of Hell.” Others call it the world’s most inaccessible shore. It’s a desolate land where crows caw through thick and low ocean fog while jackals and desert lions pick apart the bones of springboks nearby rusted shipwrecks. Smiling skulls line the gates to Skeleton Coast National Park in between giant, curved whale bones, welcoming you to the most unique and despairing coast you’ll ever have the pleasure of experiencing.
However, the main attraction to this desolate stretch of coastline is the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, which is the one of the largest Cape fur seal colonies in the world. Here’s where a frenzied cluster of 200,000 loud and smelly seals flop around and swim in the ocean. Have you ever heard a mama seal call out to her wide-eyed baby? She sounds like a mixture of a cow having an argument with Gollum. It’s one of the greatest/weirdest sounds you’ll ever hear paired with the unique and quirky vibes of the legendary Skeleton Coast.
Quell your fears of Egypt, and go to Cairo. Many travelers are opting out of visiting this bucket-list country right now due to safety concerns, but now is actually the perfect time to visit! While the country is experiencing a complicated shift after the 2011 Revolution, the country is a great spot for adventure-enthusiasts, history lovers, and budget travelers!
Cairo is the city of chaos, set against the backdrop of the Sahara Desert, with the Nile River giving it its pulse. Now is the time to visit the famous Pyramids of Giza, the Khan il-Khalili market souk, and The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities.
When you come to Cairo, you will be surprised at how safe you feel. And you will be experiencing this place for a fraction of the cost: even though Cairo is the capital, food, lodging, and tours are very cheap right now! Best of all, the sights are deserted. You will be able to experience the best of Cairo with no lines or crowds.
Picking one area of Ethiopia would be an injustice to the incredible diversity of this country. When people hear ‘Ethiopia’, they likely think of one of three things – famine, long-distance runners, or coffee. And indeed, before I lived here I was also not up-to-speed on Ethiopia’s rich history and culture.
Through the centre/centre-west of the country you will find the highlands, at the centre of which is the capital, Addis Ababa – the 4th highest capital in the world at 2,400m altitude. The people of the highlands are known to be one of the most genetically unique peoples in the world, and mostly practice an ancient form of Christianity – Ethiopian Orthodox. To the East, you will find arid lowlands and predominantly Muslim communities, as well as the 4th holiest site in Islam – the walled city of Harar. To the West you will find tropical lowlands, the birthplace of coffee and people who are tall, regal and dark-skinned. To the South you will find tribal communities, living the same way as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. In the Northern highlands you will find a smattering of UNESCO heritage sites – ancient churches (some 1,600 years old) built into the rock, and high up in the mountains to hide from the Ottoman Empire. In the Northeast you will find one of the hottest and lowest parts of Africa – the Danankil Depression and it’s active lava lakes, salt flats and sulphur lakes.
Do I really need to give you more reasons to visit?
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