Adventure begins in Africa. From the tips of the dusty pyramids in Cairo, to the unspoilt animal kingdom in the Serengeti; the rippling dunes of the Namib Desert to world-class surfing in South Africa, this continent may be vast, but boy is there plenty to do.
The allure of Africa is hard to ignore, so if you’re thinking of visiting the magnificent Mother Continent, let the team at Active Travel help you create an itinerary with your tastes and budget at mind. Here are some of our African highlights to help you on your way.
Highlights in Africa
Looking for the most authentic safari experience? Look no further than the dusty plains of the Serengeti. This vast biosphere reserve is the original birthplace of the safari and the home of some of the most incredible wildlife found nowhere else in the world.
While also crossing into Kenya, we’re focusing on the stretch of the Serengeti that crosses into the north of Tanzania – more specifically, the Serengeti National Park. Visitors to this magnificent landmark can witness the great annual wildebeest and zebra migration, whilst venturing along grassy tundras and mud tracks in search of lions, elephants, cheetahs and giraffes – all in an open-top 4 x 4.
After a day of exploring the plains, head back to your luxury belle-tent or lodge and get ready to have your very own Lion King moment. That’s right, just as the iconic opening scene showcases, the Serengeti puts on a sunset that fills the night sky with watercolour reds, oranges and yellows.
As well as welcoming visitors into its incredible animal kingdom, Tanzania also boasts one of the world’s most famous hiking routes and a plethora of palm-tree lined beaches for those wanting a break from adventure.
Push back the curtains of the Berber tent, take your seat on the cushion-lined floor and get ready to indulge in a feast of the senses as you experience Morocco in all its glory:
- Taste: With tantalising spice mixes, unique cooking methods and great global influence, Morocco has crafted a cuisine that is known and loved around the world. If you can’t get enough of local delicacies such as pastilla and tagine, why not try your hand at recreating some of Morocco’s iconic dishes at a cooking class in Marrakech? At the hand of a local chef, learn the traditional preparation and cooking methods so synonymous with this cuisine.
- Smell: From the amalgamation of spices that tower high in their baskets to the comforting smell of fresh khobz breads baking, in Morocco, you never know what smell you’ll stumble across next. However, there’s one smell that’s not like the rest. In the cultural capital city of Fez, tanners still practise the age-old tradition of dying leather. Using a mixture of cow urine and quicklime, the smell is certainly overwhelming, but so are the sights. Bystanders can gaze below as the workers dunk and dye various hides in vats of astonishing colours. Thankfully, people offer sprigs of mint to help mask the smell!
- Touch: Wandering from souk to souk in Morocco’s many market towns makes keeping your hands to yourself a somewhat impossible task. With the likes of buttery-soft leather bags, intricate glass trinkets and silk scarves on display, be sure to save plenty of room in your carry on bag! Away from the cities that never sleep, head inland to the arid dunes of the Sahara Desert and feel the sand slip through your fingers after a day riding through the dunes on a camel or quad bike. However, if you’re after a little sea to go with your sand, pay a visit to Morocco’s Atlantic Coast. The numerous fishing villages that span this stretch are perfect for avid surfers, especially the popular surf spot of Taghazout.
- Hear: Many different languages are spoken in Morocco, including French, Arabic, Spanish and English. But when souk vendors and locals congregate in the vast market spaces, these diverse languages are often lost to the hustle and bustle of the various goings on. However, there’s one sound that drowns out all others – the call to prayer. This distinct noise occurs in the early hours of the morning, and signifies the start of each of the daily prayers of Islam.
- See: Meandering through Souk Semmarine is like looking through a kaleidoscope, with tilework, local wares and garments all playing their part. However, colour isn’t just reserved for Morocco’s main cities. Located in the Rif Mountains lies the ‘blue city’ of Chefchaouen. As the name suggests, the walls and cobbled floors of this artsy area are painted in a stunning powder blue. Not only is Chefchaouen a photographer’s dream, it also acts as a tranquil alternative to the busier cities, with great restaurants, hikes and relaxing spots on offer.
Just a few hours flight from Johannesburg lies the mysterious island of Madagascar. Past the white-sand border you’ll find lush mountains, limestone gorges and rocky canyons – places Madagascar’s bountiful wildlife call home. Around 75 per cent of the species found in Madagascar live nowhere else on the planet, including lemurs, birds and chameleons.
Want to get up close and personal to these astonishing creatures? Head to Ranomafana National Park! Within these bushy parts live 12 species of lemur, including the rare golden bamboo lemur. Spot these playful primates in the treetops, as well as endemic wildlife such as the cat-life fossa and the spotted civit.
Another national park worth visiting is Tsingy de Bemaraha. This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises a surface of 1.575 km² – but it’s no regular surface. Clusters of limestone needles soar out of vast canyons, creating an unusual and unforgiving landscape. It’s believed that some flora and fauna is yet to be recorded, making a trip here even more special.
Despite being an official tourist trek in 1998, the remote area is still hard to reach due to its impenetrable surfaces. Thankfully, there are several companies who offer tours to these incredible parts. There’s even the chance to fly to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park!
No trip to Madagascar is complete without visiting – and marvelling at – the Baobab trees in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. The Avenue of the Baobabs is often called the most beautiful road on the island – and for good reason. Here, 800-year old Baobab trees line the long dirt road which soar in excess of 98 feet, creating a magnificent photo opportunity and causing plenty of jaw drops!
Along with out-of-this-world landscapes, Madagascar is also famed for its colourful towns, delectable African cuisine and fantastic snorkelling opportunities. This amalgamation of pleasantries makes Madagascar an island worth visiting.
Ready to find out more about Africa and its incredible countries? Get in touch with the expert travel specialists at Active Travel to see how we can help you create a perfect African itinerary for you.