I still remember our first time to Africa. Our friends and family were like;
"Is it going to be safe?" "What's there besides wild animals, and tribesmen?"
And I must admit, I too bought into the myth, the stereotypical African impression of poverty, war, and the dangers that awaited any foolish traveller that dared to venture anywhere that wasn't South Africa or Egypt (at that time, Morocco wasn't yet a typical tourist attraction).
Now, 16 African countries, and 88 countries across the world later, I can conclude, that Africa, is possibly, earth's most amazing continent for a vacation. It is practically impossible to visit Africa and walk away saying "Oh, this was just another holiday".
So, when you're sick of monasteries, medieval "old towns", and shopping streets in Europe, here are 15 amazing, and truly extraordinary experiences you enjoy only in Africa.
Or, you could carry on visiting Europe & The USA.
1. “Paddle” Through The Okavango Delta (Botswana)
Some call it the "The Last Eden of Africa". The Okavango Delta is Africa's most famous swamp.
Similar to the "gondola's of Venice, a local tribesman "paddles" you through the waterways in what is called a Mokoro, a traditional dug out canoe as you glide your way past crocodiles and hippos.
It offers a different thrill from the typical water rafting expeditions, and certainly cheaper than the tourist traps in Venice.
2. A Treat For The Five "Senses" (Morocco)
The smell of street food fills your nostrils. You see markets bustling with life. Your tongue is tingling with the juices of boiled escargot, and in the distance you hear the flutes of snake charmers. At night, you enjoy a scrub down at a traditional Hammam before call it a night.
Morocco, a once exotic country unchanged for centuries. It's medinas with it's narrow streets make getting lost a more interesting experience than it should be. Amazing food, interesting culture, and some of the best desert scenery in the world. It's no wonder Morocco is a leading tourist attraction today.
The question is, what took it so long?
3. Bathe in the Devils Bathtub (Zambia, Zimbabwe)
The mist from the mighty Victoria Falls drenches you. You hear the deafening pounding as the water crashes against the rocks.
Then you take a leap of faith, and plunge into what is supposed to be the calm in the eye of the storm, a pool right at the edge of the worlds largest waterfall.
Phew, you're still alive.
4.Traverse The Sahara Like A Nomad (Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Namibia)
Obviously, the vast Sahara Desert covers more of Africa than just these 4 countries. But these 4, are probably the only parts of the Sahara you'll ever find acceptable to visit (for most people at least).
You've watched this in the movies. Now it's your turn on a camel's back, as it plods atop the sands of the Sahara. Finally, you settle down in a desert camp nestled in the middle of gigantic sand dunes as you enjoy a hot stew dinner.
You look above you and see a roof of stars. Where has this been all your life you wonder? Oh, you spent your years living it up in hotels, that's where.
5. Sunbathe Along The Most Stunning Beaches (Zanzibar, Cape Verde, Mozambique)
The sea is a turquois blue enveloped in some of the whitest and finest sand you've ever stepped on.
No, you're not in Hawaii or Australia. This is the most perfect beach on earth. And it's in Africa, of all places.
You aren't going to have a burger and fries today. Awaiting you is a seafood lunch of the freshest lobster, fish and calamari, caught just an hour ago. This, is paradise.
6. Climbing The Worlds Largest Lava Lake (The Democratic Republic of Congo)
Rebel forces and militants are lying in wait for you, tourists they have a liking for. You're worth a decent ransom. As you make your way to the foot of the Nyiragongo Volcano, you see UN trucks and soldiers hurrying around. What is this? A warzone?
Many hours later, after one of the toughest hikes of your life, you find yourself staring into a pool of lava. Except it's not just a pool, it's the world's largest lava lake, and this is an active volcano. You've escaped the kidnapping, but are you going to survive an eruption?
7. The Drive of Your Life (South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya)
Your safari jeep shudders to a halt. You hear a low growl; it's a Lion.
It's safe in your jeep, so long as you don't make huge movements. That's one of the Big Five, another four more to go. Animal spotting is more fun than you thought. This isn't anything like the zoo.
You aren't driving fast, this isn't a race track. But spotting one animal after another, this is pretty exciting too. Finally, you head back to camp. And no, it's not just a tent, it's a luxury safari your going back to, as you spend the rest of the night enjoying a BBQ steak and a glass of wine as you share the tales of your drive with other safari campers.
8. Wine & More Wine
As you swirl the white liquid about in your goblet, you smell an earthy aroma. You take a sip and it tastes unbelievably rich, with a tinge of acidity on the tip of your tongue. Wow.
Now, the world's best wine is certainly Georgian wine (some say it is Moldova wine). But of the "new world wines", wine from the grapes of Africa can certainly hold it's own against the world's finest.
No, I'm not talking about the cheap wines from the supermarket with a picture of an animal on it making it South African wine. It's about the overall ambience, drinking it in the foothills of South Africa or on a river cruise in the Zambezi River. Drinking wine in Africa, it just feels different.
9. The Tarzan Experience (DRC, Rwanda, Uganda)
King Kong, the chest thumping King of Apes and widely stereotyped beast of the animal world. Now, there's no such thing as King Kong, but getting up close with the "Kings of the ape world" is something very real.
You'll trek through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, the Mgahinga National park, or the DR Congo's Virunga National park to be up close, within feet of these giants. These 3 countries are the only countries in the world you can experience this, and yes, it's nothing like the zoo.
10. Ride Through The Kingdom of the Sky (Lesotho)
The Kingdom of the Sky is aptly named as it is the only country in the world that lies entirely above 1,000m. Yes, the entire country is an actual mountain.
You rent a horse, and gallop towards the "The Place of Smoke", a 192m high waterfall in the heart of this mountain country. The spray from the falls rises up into the sky, hence its name. Here, you'll lose yourself in the "African outback", with nothing but mountains and vast landscapes. If there was ever a place to get a way from it all, this would be it.
11. Summit The Roof of Africa (Tanzania)
You've seen this before in pictures and movies; it's the typical African postcard picture.
"The Roof of Africa", Mt Kilimanjaro, towers 5,895m into the sky and is the highest mountain in all of Africa.
You'll take 5 - 9 days (depending on your fitness) to scale this and for a mountain famous enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Mt Everest, Kilimanjaro is actually a "walk up" mountain. This doesn't mean that it's easy. But it certainly means the experience of summitting a legendary mountain once in your life is a lot more possible than you think.
12. The Robinson Crusoe Experience (Malawi)
In the novel, Robinson Crusoe was shipped wrecked on an island. The actual island is off the coast of Chile, but here by Lake Malawi, you'll truly feel "away from work."
You'll find that this picturesque lake is the ultimate getaway.
Feed the wild eagles, drink local beers and dine on own freshly caught fish over a campfire. WIFI is weak or non existent, power outages happen several times a day.
Basically, you're pretty much uncontactable.
13. A New Way of Life (Kenya, Swaziland)
We're too used to the luxuries of life.
You enjoy the airconditioned comfort of your office, the security of home, you have a choice in the car you wish to buy, and a say in the live you wish to lead. But not everyone does.
Here, on the other side of the world, you'll experience what it's like to live in Zinc (metal) shacks and mud huts, buckets of perspiration running down your neck from the heat trapped inside even at night.
You'll get to know of children growing up not with iPads and Netflix TV shows but having to travel to a far away village just to watch a game of soccer. You'll squeeze with locals in buses that take hours to get from place to place.
Here, you'll feel it, experience it. But of course, it's easier to watch this on TV in the hotel rooms during one of your luxury European vacations.
14. Watch The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth (Tanzania, Kenya)
The ground shakes with the pounding of thousands of hooves. It is the "Wildebeest Migration".
Every year, the animals "migrate" in search of greener pastures. In thousands, they cross the river, and lying in wait, are the crocodiles. The Lion's pick off the slower ones, and this, is pretty much National Geographic in the flesh, but not TV, but from the safety of your safari Jeep.
15. The "True" Star Wars (Tunisia)
It was your favorite movie