Africa is home to dozens – make that hundreds – of national parks, game reserves and other safari destinations. Every last one of them has something to offer, whether it be a cast of charismatic large mammals dominated by the Big Five, the opportunity to track gorillas or chimpanzees, or more subtle pleasures such as looking for rare birds or colourful butterflies. But for first-time visitors wondering exactly where to go, the highlights below stand out as perhaps the ten best places to visit in Africa.
African Elephants, one of only a handful of keystone species (animals who have a substantial and unique influence over their ecosystem and are considered vital to its health), are remarkable creatures with the innate ability to alter their surrounding environment.
Masai Mara in Kenya is one of the best slices of wildlife tourism in the world. With the improving tourism industry, the destination has much more to offer. Masai Mara Reserve – best known as the departure and arrival point for the annual migration (Great Migration) of millions of wildebeest and antelopes – is the most popular game park in Kenya. It stretches over 200 sq miles of vast grassy plains lying to the southwest of this spectacular East African country.
The more time you spend in the bush, the more you start to pick up on its nuances. You can smell when the air changes – perhaps a leopard has scent-marked on a nearby bush, or a rhino has recently defecated at its midden. You can hear the faintest calling rasp of a leopard in the distance, or distinguish the sound of impala rutting from the herd’s alarm calls. The subtle breaking of branch may give away an elephant, while a huffing snort can alert you to a black rhino. Even the birds’ calls become distinguishable from each other over time.
Rolling plains in green and yellow tones with hopping zebras and jumping gazelles. The typical picture that comes to ones mind when talking and thinking about the great Kenya adventure. People fly to Nairobi, almost expecting to see a lion as soon as they exit the plane (which indeed can be seen in the nearby national park). Talking about seeing the big five, living in a jeep and seeing sunset after sunset: the idyllic, typical image of Africa. But oh, there is so much more to discover in this beautiful country! I wouldn’t say that you should skip the safari, but I would recommend spending some days in other cities, places and with several families and people.
We know, we know: Tanzania is rightly famous for being one of the best places to spot lions, cheetahs and leopards, while its wetlands and grassy plains boast an even larger cast of characters, including zebras, elephants and giraffes. But the country’s bestial bounty extends well beyond its most famous residents. Get to know a few of the lesser-known – but equally spectacular – animals to keep an eye out for when visiting Tanzania.
South Africa is one of the most exciting wine regions these days, especially for premium and ultra-premium wines. Though it’s considered a New World wine producer, South Africa’s winemaking heritage reaches back to the 1600s. Recent advances in the wine industry, due greatly to the opening up of export markets in the 1990s, have spurred a quest for quality that we are seeing manifest in very exciting wines hitting the markets today.