Welcome to Africa

Africa gets under your skin, there’s no way around it. It could be because the human journey started here, millions of years ago. Or, because everywhere you go on the continent feels like a proverbial Noah’s Ark, with species you could only dream up in a book. Maybe it’s because of the extraterrestrial landscapes, the proud cultures, the warmth of a stranger’s smile, or maybe it’s because its sheer size and diversity makes you feel delightfully insignificant.

The first time I touched down in Africa was the beginning of a lifelong love affair. I did a month long overland trip with Topdeck Travel, spent some time researching lions in Zambia and Zimbabwe, experienced high tea at the beautiful David Livingstone Hotel, did a walking safari through the Okavango Delta, survived (barely) 45 plus degree heat in Namibia, learned the very basics of an endangered African click language (do you have any idea how touch that is?) and had the best curried goat meal of my life in Cape Town. Every trip to Africa is an adventure, from the size of the arachnids (we’ll talk about that more over coffee), to the hauntingly beautiful hymns sung by school children in rural villages.

Unless you’ve quit your job and you’re ready to become a nomad, you can’t possibly do Africa all in one visit. However, I can craft itineraries that allow you to experience culture, wildlife, nature and adventure in one trip. So dream big, carve out some time in your busy schedule, and let’s get you to Africa.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Africa

  1. Africa is home to more than 2000 languages, nearly 25% spoken on the African continent only. In fact, Nigeria alone is home to more than 500 living languages!
  2. Namibia’s Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa, and at 160km miles long, up to 27km wide, and 550 metres deep in some spots, it’s also the world’s second largest canyon.
  3. On average, people have to walk some 4km per day to fetch fresh water.
  4. The San people, an indigenous group comprising of much of southern Africa, still use tools that were originally developed some 44,000 years ago – If it ain’t broke!
  5. It’s no secret that Kenya produces some of the world’s fastest people, but what most people don’t know is that the majority of those runners come from one tribe known as the Kalenjins, originating in the Rift Valley.
  6. Egypt may get all the glory, but Sudan is actually home to 200 pyramids, double that of Egypt, all belonging to the Nubian Kingdom of Kush some 4,600 years ago.
  7. Two restaurants in the South African city of Cape Town have ranked among the world’s Top 50 Restaurants – La Colombe in Constantia and Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek.
  8. The border between Zambia and Botswana is a mere 150 metres long, making it the shortest border in the world.
  9. In Mozambique, nearly 50% of the population is under the age of 17, making it one of the youngest countries in the world.
  10. Africa is home to the largest land animal in the world (elephant), the fastest (cheetah), the tallest (giraffe) and weighing a whopping 550kg, with a length of 4.2 metres, the second largest existing reptile in the world, the Nile crocodile.

Best Time to Go

Much like South America, Africa’s seasonality varies because of it’s various climates, here are a few guidelines to plan your African holiday:

Dry Season (May – Sep)

While this is a chillier time of year, wildlife is much easier to spot because there is less vegetation. This is also a time when watering holes and rivers are low, and attract more animals to these sites. There is little rain which is good news for those concerned with malarial mosquitoes. This time is considered low season, and tourist crowds are thin with the exception of South Africa’s Kruger Park during the school holidays.

Wet Season (Oct – Apr)

Travelers can expect lush scenery, an influx of migratory birds making bird-watching spectacular, and somewhat less crowded parks. While it does rain, it’s generally in the afternoon with short, furious showers. Game viewing can be a little tougher at this time as thicker bush makes spotting species more difficult.

High Season (Dec, Jan & Feb)

These months can be blistering hot in some regions, and quite crowded in terms of domestic travelers driving up pricing for mobile camps, luxury safari camps and city goers.

Coldest Season (Jun – Aug)

This is a great time of year to avoid crowds, however, it can be quite cold in the morning and at the end of the day, so make sure to pay plenty of warm gear.

My Recommendations for the Top 10 Things to Do in Africa

  1. There’s being on safari, and then there’s witnessing one of Planet Earth’s most impressive, awe-inspiring and heart-pounding phenomena; The Great Migration in northern Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Every February, some 8,000 wildebeest calves are born each day, only 40% of them surviving this ancient journey.
  2. Tracing the footsteps of fallen primatologist Dian Fossey and experiencing a few precious moments with our ancestors, the Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, is one to tick off the bucketlist. Permits are limited and tours book well in advance, so be sure to plan accordingly.
  3. The Pyramids of Giza have long held our fascination. For nearly 4,000 years, archaeologists and Egyptologists worked to solve the great mystery: How were they built and why? These grandiose tombs have stood as some of the world’s most impressive tributes to Egyptian royalty and are worth a visit.
  4. One of my most beloved memories was a four day camping trip in the wilds of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Whether you see it from above on a scenic flight, or on the ground in a Mokoro up the Delta, the birdlife is breathtaking, wildlife plentiful and sunsets unforgettable.
  5. Choosing one place to visit in South Africa is nearly impossible, but if I have to choose an experience that combines adventure, with refinement, wildlife viewing and culture, the Garden Route is a world famous roadtrip that offers all of the above. Ancient forests, epic hiking trails, sentient herds of elephant and coastal views that will make you want to capture every moment frame by frame.
  6. Africa is home to some of the world’s most haunting landscapes, including Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft National Park. Shifting dunes, quirky flora, azure skies, and sands so rich and red you’d think the landscape was handpainted. This vast national park spans more than 50,000km² and is home to one of the oldest deserts on Earth.
  7. Ethiopia is one of the most underrated (and under-traveled) jewels of the continent, especially to incredible sites like Lalibela. Not only is Lalibela a truly spectacular World Heritage Site, but it’s one of the most important sites for Christians around the world.
  8. For luxury seekers, Africa is a haven. Champagne picnics, private game drives, foam baths overlooking herds of elephant, zebra and springbok, and sumptuous meals cooked by private chefs, safari camps like Masai Mara’s Mara Plains, or South Africa’s ultra swanky Royal Malewane will suit the most discerning of luxury travelers.
  9. A former grandiose imperial capital, a walled medina dating back to the Berber Empire, eclectic souks brimming with colorful textiles, aromatic spices and exquite jewelry make Marrakech a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience the ‘Paris’ of Northern Africa.
  10. With staggering views of falls dropping some 100 metres, perched right on the edge of Victoria Falls, Zambia’s Devil’s Pool is the ultimate place to relax and enjoy nature’s most spectacular infinity pool.

Book your bucket-list trip with an African Specialist