Trips to Africa are more about going on expeditions than relaxing on the beach, apart from a few exceptions of course. Whether you are going to the Maghreb or South Africa, you are guaranteed an adventure. Concerning (With regards to) the northern half of the continent, the Sahara Desert is largely responsible for this air of exploration. The largest desert in the world, its dunes stretch out across the continent from west to east, crossing some ten countries, including Algeria, Mali, Niger and Sudan. But regardless of the country, an excursion in the Sahara Desert, in a jeep or on a camel, will leave tourists blown away by this endless stretch of sand. It is sure to remain one of the highlights of any trip to the African continent.
Surprisingly, it is in the middle of this huge arid zone that you will find one of the largest rivers in the world: the Nile. Running through Egypt from south to north with the Mediterranean as its ultimate destination, it is very popular for cruises, along which passengers can discover many monuments. Other than Cairo and its famous Tahrir Square, embarking on a river cruise means sailing your way towards the famous pyramids of Giza, located south of the capital. The Giza Necropolis is the resting place of the Pharaohs that once ruled Egypt. Before the end of the cruise at the Aswan Dam, the temple of Luxor and its monumental statues are another one of the essential places to visit along the Nile.
For a change of scenery from the deserts, the southern half of the African continent offers two main alternatives: virgin forest or savannah. The first one involves discovering the hot and humid climate of the countries along the equator, such as Gabon and the Congo. The meteorological year is divided into a dry season and a wet season, which allows for the growth of lush vegetation that is home to a wealth of wildlife.
To see a ?lion king', ironically you will have to head to the savannah, which mostly lies on the eastern side of the continent. Indeed, the lion and other large African felines live in the steppes along with elephants and gazelles. Your best chance for encountering these animals is on a safari, notably in Kenya or Tanzania, where you will find the famous Mount Kilimanjaro and its snow-capped peaks. It is also at the border of these two countries that you will find the African Great Lakes, including Lake Victoria, witnesses of the progressive opening of the East African Rift.
In addition to all this, those counting on doing a bit of swimming will not be disappointed when visiting Africa, as there are many beaches awaiting tourists around the continent. The coasts of Morocco and Tunisia are lined by the Mediterranean Sea, while Senegal lies on the Atlantic Ocean. If this isn't enough, the African islands in the Indian Ocean (Madagascar, Comoros, and Seychelles) provide a third alternative for cocooning in the shade of a parasol. And then there's always Sharm El Sheikh, an internationally renowned seaside resort at the edge of the Red Sea.
Finally, Africa seems to be the continent where nature stands out over the urban settings, even though there are a few big cities worth mentioning, such as Marrakesh, Casablanca and Tunis, which attract many curious visitors to the Maghreb. Others include Lagos (Nigeria), the second largest city in Africa in terms of population. However, most tourists place more importance on the cities of South Africa, namely Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban with its Golden Mile, a true surfer's paradise.
All of our Africa travel guides
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- St Helen
- The Democratic Republic of Congo
- Western Sahara