Africa is such a vast and varied continent that it’s hard to know where to begin. But with a bit of forward planning and a few sensible precautions, you can have the adventure of a lifetime! If you’re an experienced traveler who is confident about devising your own itinerary, there are some fascinating places to explore off the beaten track.
If you’re a gregarious type who loves to meet other like-minded people, consider joining a group trek. Or, if you prefer to book a package with a reputable travel company and let someone else do all the donkey work, shop around for some great value holidays on offer right now. Whatever you decide, chances are you’ll fall in love with this spectacular, surprising, spellbinding continent.
Africa’s Indian Ocean
Beach-lovers will be spoilt for choice – some of the best beaches in the world can be found on Africa’s Indian Ocean coast. Kenya has been a home from home for the British for centuries, and the coastline around Mombasa has many popular resorts which offer beach hotels to suit all pockets and tastes. For palm-fringed perfection, head north to the Lamu archipelago, Kenya’s oldest living settlement and once a hive of trading activity. This brings a vibrant cultural mix to this traditional Swahili homeland dotted with secluded bays and sleepy fishing villages.
Extend your Kenyan adventure with a trip to the picture-perfect Seychelles or the tropical paradise of Mauritius – or take a slow boat, via the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam, to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar, where you might be lucky enough to spot the rare red colobus monkey.
The wildlife comes in a larger size at Hermanus, on South Africa’s Western Cape, which is one of the best places in the world for whale watching. These magnificent creatures were once hunted but are now protected. The history of whaling is documented in the Old Harbour Museum, and the town is the only place in the world to employ a ‘whale crier’, who sounds his kelp horn when a whale has been sighted. The annual whale festival is held at the end of September, when the mating season brings the local herd into the bay.
The temperate Mediterranean coastline of northern Africa is in every sense a very long way from the wild capes of the south. Tunisia is still a popular choice for European travellers looking for a refreshing cultural contrast without a long-haul journey, while from Morocco you can practically touch the tip of Spain, although its best beaches are mainly to be found on the long Atlantic coast stretching to the Western Sahara.
Oualidia has been dubbed ‘Morocco’s St Tropez’, partly because of the wealthy French expats who have helped to put this unspoilt gem on the map. Here you can escape from the dust and heat of the cities and indulge in fabulous fresh seafood, swim in a beautiful tidal lagoon and admire pink flamingoes, avocets and storks in one of the richest birdlife habitats in Morocco.
Africa is synonymous with adventure, so reach for your bush hat, dust off your safari suit and don’t forget to pack your compass!