Usually, the number one reason for travellers to visit Africa is to embark on a safari or to climb Kilimanjaro, and while Africa certainly does have some of the most prolific wildlife viewing opportunities and one of the seven summits, there are so many more reasons to visit Africa.
The continent teems with unique landscapes, ancient history, geographical wonders and active adventures to boot.
Check out the other reasons to visit Africa that will make this incredible continent jump to the number one spot on your adventure list.
1. Tropical beaches that rival some of the world’s best
Africa certainly has a lot of beaches making it impossible to choose the absolute best, though a top pick would be the beaches on the small island of Zanzibar, just off the coast from the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam.
This small island boasts clear azure waters, coral white sand and plenty of diving and snorkelling opportunities, and is the perfect place to relax after completing a safari or trek up Africa’s highest peaks, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.
Other pristine beaches include Camps Bay, Cape Town’s most popular beach on the edge of a trendy suburb lined with cafe’s and bars and the Skeleton Coast, possibly the world’s most hauntingly beautiful stretch of beach and graveyard for ships across in Namibia.
2. Vibrant cities
Africa is a melting pot of the ancient and cosmopolitan cities.
Explore Morocco’s Marrakesh, a densely packed, medieval city that dates back to the Berber empire. The maze of alleys and thriving markets evokes images of Disney’s Aladdin and you’ll be hard-pressed shaking the image of a magic carpet from your mind as you browse hundreds of intricately hand-woven rugs from the eclectic souks.
In contrast, South Africa’s Cape Town is a modern cosmopolitan city that boasts a spectacular coastline and rich cultural heritage and history. The city is undeniably beautiful both for its setting against one of the new seven wonders of nature, Table Mountain, as well as its regeneration of industrial districts, Dutch, Malay & British influenced architecture, & historic buildings.
3. Geological wonders
Visit the world’s highest sand dunes in the Namib desert, witness the world’s largest and most powerful waterfall, Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe, and explore the lush water world of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Discover Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of the world’s largest unbroken, un-flooded volcanic caldera; or even stopover at Fish River Canyon, the second largest river canyon in the world (after the Grand Canyon).
With a wonderful variety of wildlife, culture and adventure, the African continent will deliver truly unforgettable experiences.
4. Camping, glamping, and everything in between
Camping in Africa is an invigorating experience; it offers a close connection to the land, nature and wildlife (we’re talking birds and beetles – not buffalo and lions). So, what better way for a truly immersive way to experience Africa?
The best thing about camping in Africa is that there are many grades of camping, so it’s not all bush tents and bare essentials – though there is that too! Whether you’re keen on pitching a tent to experience the outdoors first-hand, want that little bit of luxury, like bush showers attached to your campsite and fully serviced camping, or high-end camping in luxurious dome tents with full bedding and an ensuite, Africa offers it all.
5. Head to the waters for a different safari experience
Though not commonly associated with the country’s dry landscape, there are plenty of water based activities, including canoeing down the mighty Zambezi, white water rafting on Kenya’s River Tana, exploring the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta by mokoro, and canoeing down Manambolo River in Madagascar brimming with endemic birds and enter the spectacular and little-visited Manambolo Gorge through a limestone plateau. It's a great alternative to the usual game drive safari experience.
If your inner water-child is calling for a trip with water activities, Africa has all you need and more.
6. It's brimming full of BIG things
As the second biggest continent in the world, Africa is jam-packed with some of the world’s biggest things:
• The largest desert in the world, the Sahara Desert (explore it on our Morocco itineraries).
• The longest river in the world, Nile River, which runs for 6,853 km.
• The world’s biggest inland delta, Okavango Delta (see it on our Botswana itineraries).
• Highest freestanding mountain in the world (and one of the Seven Summits), Mount Kilimanjaro (climb it on our Kilimanjaro treks).
• The world’s oldest desert – the Namib desert in Namibia (see it on our Namibia adventures).
• The world’s largest wildlife migration on Earth takes place in The Serengeti in Tanzania, with over 750,000 zebra marching ahead of 1.2 million wildebeest as they cross this amazing landscape (experience it on our Serengeti Explorer).
• It's the home of the largest living land animal, the African elephant, which can weigh up to seven tons.
• You'll also find four of the five fastest land animals in the world here – the cheetah (70 mph), wildebeest, lion, and Thomson’s gazelle (all about 50 mph).
• It has the world's largest outdoor art galleries with more rock art sites than any other continent. Large amounts have been found in the Sahara Desert, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kalahari and Botswana, though many remain undiscovered because they are situated in remote areas of the desert or are rarely visited by humans. The oldest known art found has been estimated to be between 27,000 – 40,000 years old, offering an insight into the ancient people’s beliefs, way of life and stories (see some of these rock sites on our Namibian Experience trip or on our Ethiopia Explorer).
7. Over 3000 fascinating tribes and cultures
Africa is home to an estimated total of over 3000 tribes, each with incredibly different languages, cultures and traditions.
Some of the tribes are well known: the Zulu, which happen to also be Africa’s largest ethnic group of 11 million people; the Masai, who have deeply rooted traditions and culture and are known for living a nomadic lifestyle and herding cattle for a living; and the San and Batswana people of the Eastern Kalahari, with a cultural heritage that is over 20,000 years old.
While thousands more exist, each have equally fascinating communities and traditions that will forever captivate the modern world.