We take a look at the top ten destinations in Africa for gap year travellers, career breakers and grown up adventurers.
Africa is such a huge and diverse continent that any guide to must see holiday destinations is going to be a tough ask. You may not agree, but these are our picks.
Pyramids of Giza, Egypt – An always popular holiday destination, the pyramids are one of the last surviving Seven Wonders of the World and form some of the greatest architectural feats in the world too. The pyramids can be explored inside but for the best experience, a trek around the bases will be the most satisfying to marvel over how exactly they were built.
Gorillas, Rwanda – Watching gorillas up close has to be on a world holiday activity top ten, not just an African top ten. With the numbers of wild gorillas rapidly disappearing the chance to visit may soon be gone. The Virungu Range in an extinct volcano crater in Rwanda still remains home to the last remaining gorillas; permits are needed and time is limited but it will be moment you will never forget. If you are interested in conservation issues in Africa, why not take a look at the companies on Gapwork.com that can offer you voluntary placements in this area?
The Serengeti, South Africa – The ultimate safari – huge, dry, dusty flat plains dotted with acacia trees with an abundance of wildlife should you take the time to explore this magnificent area. Less touristy than the Masai Mara, spotting the Big Five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard) here will feel far more of an achievement than anywhere else.
Cape Town, South Africa – Cape Town is the jewel in the South African crown. Nestled under the security of the awesome Table Mountain, it has a huge amount to offer - restaurants, shops, museums, galleries. Do not miss the chance to visit Robben Island and District 66 as to come here without acknowledging the traumatic history of South Africa would be leaving without understanding its roots. Also within easy reach of the city are the famous winelands, as is Cape Peninsula, for a beautiful vista of the ocean plus the stunning Kirstenbosch botanical gardens.
Zanzibar & Tanzania – Mix the exotic smells of spices, Stone Town gorgeous World Heritage Site architecture with some seriously beautiful beaches off the Indian Ocean and Zanzibar is the result. While away the days underneath a palm tree listening to the waves lap gently, or assault your senses on a trip into Stone Town in the evening for the open air fish markets or a trip around the spice plantations.
Sousselsvei, Namibia – Visiting Sesriem and Sousselsvei is about as close as you can get to visiting the moon. Miles upon miles of red, red sand dunes contrast starkly against the deep blue sky. For some really weird scenery visit Dead Vlei where black scorched tree trunks stand on flat, cracked, ground surrounded by sweeping dunes.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – Even in the dry season Victoria Falls cannot fail to impress; water cascades over falls 1 mile long and 100 metres high. Choose from walking around the pretty park to gain the full majestic of the falls or for a really special occasion, fly by microlight for a view with a difference.
Lake Malawi, Malawi – Malawi may be one of the poorest countries in the world but it also one of the friendliest - a holiday in Malawi will change your view of Africa forever. Lake Malawi is the heart of the country. It is also the ninth largest lake in the world and its tropical waters teem with more species than any other lake.
Okavango delta, Botswana – If a safari by jeep does not do it for you, watching hippos a few metres away from a mokoro, a hollow piece of wood, just might! Choose to camp out under the stars and see if you can spot some zebra or blow the budget in a luxury safari camp enjoying the view from your room. Other wildlife of note include buffalo, zebra, lion, kudu, giraffe, crocodile and if you are lucky rhinoceros.
Timbuktu, Mali – Come here for some of the strangest scenery in the world. The Dogon region holds some amazing desert landscapes dotted with some wonderfully odd buildings. Do not forget to take a river cruise down the Niger River too.
Africa is a great destination for a gap year, career break or that holiday of a lifetime - we could have chosen a top 50 easily. What is sure is that, wherever you decide to go in Africa, put the effort into planning your trip and you will be well on the way to a memorable trip.