Destination Taster Africa
Topdeck Travel’s Festival Manager Amelia Lawrence gives you the low down on some of Africa’s diverse highlights.
For many years known as the dark continent, Africa is quickly becoming a must see destination high on the list of budget travellers wishing to experience something different. Covering a vast area with a huge diversity of culture and customs, Africa also boasts great weather, delightful locals and more exotic animals than you’re likely to see in any zoo! To spend 56 days travelling overland from east Africa to southern Africa, I was lucky enough to experience much of the best of the continent… and have the experience of a lifetime! Here is a flavour of some of my favourite countries.
Popular with travellers as a base for trips into the wilderness to find the Gorillas in the Mist, Uganda is a beautiful country of lush greenery as well as tranquil Lake Bunyoni. While our optional Gorilla excursion definitely stretched the bank balance, to be able to see huge silverbacks and tiny baby gorillas up close and personal in their natural habitat was an experience like no other!
Tanzania really does have it all. From the open plains of the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorogoro Crater, where you might spot Africa’s ‘Big Five’ animals in one day, to the picturesque island of Zanzibar, this nation has something for everyone. An overnight campout in the Serengeti National Park saw us waking up to find a herd of elephants feasting in the bush behind our tents, while a rogue zebra wandered through the campsite as we ate our breakfast!
Known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, Malawi boasts the third largest African lake in Lake Malawi – so large that it boasts sandy beaches with sizeable waves, and apparently more fish than any other body of water on Earth! To spend a few days relaxing at the beachside campsites (usually with a bottle of Carlsberg’s delicious Elephant beer in hand) is a pleasure that I readily accepted… especially after my attempts at fishing in a weather beaten canoe proved to be more entertaining for the local children than useful for actually catching any fish!
Victoria Falls’ indigenous name of Mosi-oa-Tunyaliterally means‘the smoke that thunders’ – and from inside this amazing national park it is clear to see why! The sheer vastness of the sheets of water falling within the Falls is truly a sight to behold. It’s also considered by many as the adventure capital of Africa, boasting white water rafting, gorge swings, zip lines and a heart stopping bungee jump over the Zambezi River. For those who like their adventure a little less adrenaline-charged, there’s also elephant rides or even a walk through the wildlife with some young lions to experience!
Home to the Okavango Delta, Botswana boasts some of the most exciting scenery in Africa. You can’t visit the delta unless you’re prepared to hop into a makoro (a small boat, traditionally made from hollowed out logs) and get a local to steer you through the maze of reeds to one of the small islands where you’ll spend your days on game walks to see lions, zebras, ostriches and a plethora of hippopotamuses! It’s definitely a return to the basics, but to be able to walk through the unspoiled wilderness on a game walk is an experience of a lifetime.
From the open desert landscape of Spitzkoppe to the seaside resort of Swakopmund, Namibia offers diversity second to none! We walked through the huge red dunes of Sossusvlei to the petrified trees of Deadvlei, patted cheetahs displaced by local farms, slept under the stars on Spitkoppe’s granite peaks, and went skydiving over the coast of Swakopmund. Not to mention that the girls in our group all agreed that Namibia boasts some of the world’s hottest men, a nice bonus!
From the beaches of Cape Town to the cityscape of Johannesburg, the lush greenery of Orange River to plains of Kruger National Park, South Africa is a country which has to be visited! We were lucky enough to be visiting just at the right time for whale watching south of Cape Town, while those more adventurous travellers thought cage diving with great white sharks was a more interactive way to see the sea life. As we spent our final afternoon watching the sun set from the top of table mountain, everyone was in agreement: THIS is Africa.
For more information about Topdeck’s range of trips to Africa, visit www.topdeck.travel/africa/safari-tours.