A photographer’s paradise and an adventurer’s utopia, there’s no place in the world like Africa. In the spirit of celebrating the African continent and its people during #AfricaMonth, perhaps it’s time to see what awaits you in your own backyard. Not sure which country to start in? Ask a travel expert who specialises in Africa instead of the usual fly-and-flop to Mauritius or Thailand. You might be pleasantly surprised at what entices your inner travel bug this year.
From the rolling grasslands of the Masai Mara to Namibia’s dune-filled desserts and Uganda’s exotic mountain gorillas, the magnetism of Africa is undeniable and exploring it is easier than you think, especially if you plan your travels through a trusted travel expert.
Start at the top of the continent with Morocco, where ancient cities, spicy tagines, and refreshing mint tea awaits. This colourful and exhilarating destination also happens to be affordable, if you travel smart. A visit to a hammam (bathhouse) or the bustling Medina of Fez won’t set you back much. Add activities in the city of Marrakesh, the Sahara Desert, and the Atlas Mountains to your itinerary and you’ll still find yourself well within budget.
Just a short and easy one-hour-and-40-minute flight from Johannesburg, South Africans can be some of the first to say they have felt the spray of ‘smoke that thunders’ or Mosi-oa-tunyaas it is called locally. Adrenaline junkies can bungee jump, zip line or whitewater raft to their hearts contents, and if the water levels are just right, take a dip in Devil’s Pool on the Zambian side of the falls (mid-August to mid-Jan).
Spilling out over the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta in Botswana is a nature hotspot. A myriad of floodplains, channels, and islands where you will find some of the largest and most diverse populations of birds and animals in the continent. Besides morning and evening game drives, a great way to explore these meandering waterways of the Delta is on an mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe. The capital of city Gaborone makes getting there, and home an easy feat. Vast, clean, and safe, it offers all of the amenities that modern travellers have come to expect.
Celebrate #AfricaMonth by exploring Kenya, where you can observe the traditions of the indigenous Maasai people, and you will slowly remember what it feels like to live a humble and happy life. Home to nearly 20 national parks, a travel expert will help you with picking the right ones, including the famous Tsavo East, West National Parks, and the Masai Mara – where over a million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope migrate during November and December.
This sparse yet beautiful landscape is a photographer’s playground with its sheer blue skies and dusty dunes. For a more unique journey getting there, try a leisurely four-night MSC cruise from Cape Town up to Walvis Bay. Once there, climb Dune 45, hike the Fish River Canyon, or simply take in your surrounds with a few celebratory Windhoek Lagers.
Mountain gorilla trekking is one of the most incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities you will ever experience in Africa. Since Rwanda increased the price of their permits, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is more budget-friendly even though permits are generally quite pricey ($600). It’s imperative to book your permits through an accredited travel agent as a limited amount is issued per day.
The allure of Mozambique extends beyond its warm waters and its convenience of being visa-free. It offers just enough distance to get out of the country but remains just close enough to home so that you won’t completely break your budget. It has long enticed South African travellers seeking a tropical beach escape, or city break in Maputo, with its intoxicating African and Portuguese flavours.
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