As anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in the African continent will tell you, Africa is not a country. Instead, it is the second largest continent in the world, a kaleidoscope of over fifty countries that is home to no less than 15% of the total population of the planet. Surprised?
Its unique history, mixing the micro-cultures of distinct tribes with its colonial past; together with the passion of its people, has made it a fascinating continent for the avid – and idle – traveler. Time is a variable that, in Africa, could be argued to be nonexistent, at least while Westerners fail to implement it. Do not be fooled by the watches that natives might be wearing: most of the times they are seen as mere bracelets of beguiling beauty – and might have run out of battery after all.
Given that Africa is by no means a country, and cannot be reduced to one single homogenous entity – even for the sake of a blog post! – it would seem ambitious to try to put together a list of tips for visiting Africa. While I am aware that this list is by no means comprehensive, it does attempt to set the ground for those about to embark a life-changing trip to this continent.
Africa’s vast territory features some of the most spectacular landscapes in the planet, populated with the largest and most exotic examples of wildlife, as well as rich tribal cultures with intriguing customs and beliefs. That said, knowing what one is after before setting off is the best way to make the most of the trip! From breathtaking stretches of white sand in the shores of the Indian Ocean, to arid regions of volcanic sediment; Africa is bound to be a trip that will radically change the way you see yourself and nature.
1. Safari: Lose yourself in total wilderness and witness the natural cycle of this unique ecosystem. Arguably the top attraction in Africa, a safari is an experience that will suddenly bring the pages of any travel magazine alive! Lions, elephants, games and cheetahs in their natural environment, Africa’s natural beauty uncovered before one’s very eyes. Specialised travel agencies cater for every need, making gems of wildlife such as the Mara River safari in Tanzania accessible for the general public.
2. African Metropolises: The new and emerging African big cities are a compulsory destination for the traveler interested in new cultural experiences. Urban environments such as Cape Town (South Africa), Windhoek (Namibia) and Dar-Es-Salaam (Tanzania) are melting pots of different cultures, dialects and interests that will catch any visitor off-guard, surpassing all expectations.
3. Beaches: While not on mainland Africa, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Zanzibar technically belong to the African continent and feature the most breathtaking beaches in the world, by the transparent calmness of the Indian Ocean. After an intense trip to a safari, or having been exposed to the buzz of the big African cities, why not lose yourself in the warm peace of this paradise?
4. Areas of Natural Beauty: The range of areas of natural beauty that an intrepid traveller would be able to find in Africa simply would not fit in a blog post! Having said this, if one had to pick an absolute highlight, it would be the Victoria Falls, situated on the Zambezi river between Zambia and Zimbabwe, named by British explorer David Livingstone after Queen Victoria. If you can, try to arrange a helicopter trip to get views as beautiful as those in documentaries!
5. Local communities: Granted, Africa has some of the best landscapes that you will possibly be visiting in your life, but would not be the place it is without its people. The Maasai, a people native of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, are among the best known African ethnic groups, mostly owing to its distinctive customs and dress.
A guest post by Africa Uncovered.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Parker © Africa Uncovered. All rights reserved.