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By Anna Sarjeant

1. There's raw natural beauty and unlimited landscapes
You could climb Africa’s highest mountain, Tanzania’s famed Mount Kilimanjaro, or cruise along Zambia’s Upper Zambezi River which fronts the formidable Victoria Falls. You could come face-to-face with the thunderous Victoria Falls of Zimbabwe, or jostle with the sprawling bumpy plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania. Wherever you are in Africa, you are presented with a glorious mass of natural beauty and jaw dropping landscapes. Think it’s all found in the vast swathes of desert? Think again. Cape Town is one of the most visually stunning cities gracing our globe.

Highlight: Bourke's Luck Potholes in South Africa are as photogenic as they are fascinating. Discover this beguiling rock formation in the Blyde River Canyon.

2. Every corner of Africa is different

From Marrakesh’s medina in Morocco to the great Lake Malawi, you won’t find a more diverse terrain than the African continent. In one instance you could be basking on a glorious talcum-white beach (hello Mauritius!) and two days later you could be climbing through the carcasses of a hundred eerie shipwrecks on Namibia's Skeleton Coast. Next minute you’re on safari, and a day later you’re in the ghost town of Gedi: abandoned in the 13th century due to cannibalism, it's now an eerie terrain of deserted streets, mosques and palaces. No two days are the same in this unique part of the world.

Highlight: Marrakech, a Moroccan city in North Africa, features startling sandstone buildings which are matched only by a burning, sun-soaked horizon. 

3. Africa's home to the best animal show on earth

Hands down the best destination on earth for wildlife, you can’t match Africa for its abundance of diverse animal life. In hot pursuit of the renowned Big Five (the African lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) Tanzania is one of the best countries to admire these magnificent creatures. In Tanzania you’re also privy to the endangered black rhinoceros, often found roaming Ngorongoro’s crater floor. Then there’s the annual migration of wildebeest and zebras from the Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara - one of the "Seven Wonders of the Natural World" and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For gorilla fans, Rwanda’s mountains are your go-to, and if you’ve always been beguiled by whales, South Africa is one of the few places on earth where you can observe their movements from coastal footpaths and ocean-fronting cafes.

Highlight: A lesser known animal phenomenon is South Africa’s Sardine Run. One of the great global events on the marine calendar, when the billions of sardines migrate, along come the ocean predators with their giant sharp teeth!

4. The history is fascinating

Where to start? From Apartheid to bloody battles, the entire African continent IS history. Catch the ferry to Cape Town’s Robben Island and witness the murky compounds where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years. Or plan your visit to Johannesburg’s chilling Apartheid Museum. Haunting yet fascinating, the museum offers a frank insight into the emotional struggle of South Africa’s former racial segregation and unjust hierarchy. Or perhaps you’re more inclined to visit Kenya’s 16th century Fort Jesus in Mombasa. Captured and recaptured at least nine times between 1631 and 1895, it’s a venue of sieges, bloodshed and battle.

Highlight: Stone Town is the old part of Zanzibar City in Tanzania. Best described as a labyrinthine of narrow alleyways and towering spires, it’s history, but with a pulse.

5. The food is like nowhere else

In Kenya, you’d be a fool to skip the nation’s staple - nyama choma. Typically comprising goat or beef, the meat is cut into cubes, grilled over coals and lightly seasoned. For the most authentic experience, try it at a dusty street-side establishment flanking the road of Nairobi. Of course, once you’re in South Africa, you’re in the realm of over 200 wine cellars, all found within a few hour’s drive of Cape Town, as well as a multitude of hip, city restaurants all serving a modern take on traditional SA fare. In Rwanda, the rich strong coffee is an absolute must-try, as is the food, which continues to build a globally acclaimed name for itself.

Highlight: We recommend the moreish Rwandan delicacy of sambaza (small fish) washed down with a big glass of urwagwa - fermented banana beer.

6. The shopping is as good as London

So much so, in the Ghanaian City of Accra there's an upmarket shopping mall called Osu which the locals refer to as Oxford Street. And with such a cheap currency to play with, there’s every reason to take advantage of Africa’s flourishing shopping scene. Johannesburg is well known for its hip boutiques and weekend markets, but you’ll also find high-end names in malls such as Sandton City and Melrose. Also on the rise is Nairobi; the throbbing commercial heart of Kenya, and arguably the most cosmopolitan city in East Africa. Serious fashion is derived from art and culture, of which Africa has plenty, so where better to hone in on your flair than here?

Highlight: The shopping masses can’t get enough of Joburg’s uber cool markets which regularly pop up in abandoned factories. Meccas of hipster steaze, you’ll find the best ones around Main Street.

7. Sunshine and beaches are plentiful

The beaches of Zanzibar. Need we say anything more? If ever there were beaches on which all other beaches should be designed, it’s here. In South Africa you’ll be equally dazzled by Cape Town’s pristine white sand which laps the city’s shoreline. Or venture along the popular Garden Route towards Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape, and your arrival will present a retina pleasing mix of golden coastline and delicious greenery.

Highlight: In Tunisia you're just a stone's throw away from the Mediterranean Sea, and if you’re after total Utopia, the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius comes complete with ice-white sand, small coves and casuarina trees.

8. The people are always welcoming

It doesn’t matter where you go, which countries you visit, or even how many, one thing that stays consistent across the entire African continent, is the kind, warm-hearted nature of its people. A nation of extreme pride and optimism, you will always feel welcome.

Highlight: Wide smiles and kind eyes await your arrival.  


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