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Africa

Photo © Utrecht

Travel Guide Africa

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Introduction

'Not so pretty', Marabou Stork

'Not so pretty', Marabou Stork

© All Rights Reserved hilarywh

Africa is a vast continent of diverse cultures and landscapes. Surpassed in size and population only by Asia, Africa boasts about 14% of the world's population and over 20% of the total global land area. Most of this land is dominated by desert and savannah plains, though there are also stretches of rainforest.

Owing to its history of being a colonised land, traditional African culture is infused with Arabic and European influences. Especially the northern parts of Africa, including the Magreb countries and Egypt are more Arabic than really African. Arabic influences are also noticeable along the western coastline and islands off the coast like Zanzibar, Madagascar and Mauritius. The European influences are scattered across the continent but still are best seen en felt in southern Africa, in countries like South Africa and Namibia.

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Geography

Africa's geography is as diverse as it's culture. Africa is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Northern and Southern Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Suez Chanel to the east. Although the latter, the Suez Chanel, only divides Africa from the Middle East geographically, not politically as the Sinai Peninsula is also part of Africa, that is Egypt. The waters that border Africa are dotted with many islands though, which officially are part of Africa as well, like the Seychelles, Mauritius and Sao Tome and Principe, although many of these islands have a distinct culture from the mainland.

The northern part of Africa contains the largest non-arctic desert in the world, the Sahara, one of the most famous deserts. Northwest of the Sahara lies one of the highest mountain ranges of Africa, the Atlas Mountains, which runs from southern Morocco through Algeria to Tunisia. South of the Sahara is transition zone with savanna scrubby grasslands and semi-desert landscapes. Further to the south and southeast you will find the tropical rainforests. Parts of Central Africa include volcanic moutain ranges, including the Ruwenzori Mountains and Mount Cameroon, one of the highest mountains in Africa after the Kilimanjaro. Again, south of the tropical zone you will find semi-desert landscapes and savannah before reaching the deserts of the Kalahari and Namib. Finally, South Africa's southern parts are like it's Mediterranean counterparts in the north with pleasant climates, enough rain and absence of real deserts.

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Sights and Activities

Restauranten i bygda.

Restauranten i bygda.

© All Rights Reserved IngridMA

World Cup 2010

For the first time, the FIFA World Cup, beginning on the 11th of June 2010, is held in Africa and South Africa is the host country. One of the most prestigious and popular world sporting events, the World Cup 2010 promises to bring throngs of passionate supporters from around the globe. Held once every four years, it's a football tournament (known as soccer in South Africa) where 32 world nations vie for the famous golden trophy.

Major Cities

Landmarks

See also: Famous Landmarks

  • Lake Victoria is Africa's largest lake, measuring a remarkable 68,800 square kilometres.
  • Victoria Falls is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in the world, which can easily compete with the Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls and the Angel Falls in Venezuela.
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro is Africa's tallest mountain and the highest free standing mountain in the world.
  • The Nile River is arguably the longest river in the world (some say the Amazon might be longer).
  • The Sahara Desert is the world's second largest desert and is the size of the USA (after Antarctica).
  • The The Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx are perhaps the continent's most famous attractions and has been attracting tourists for thousands of years.
  • The Mud Mosques of Timbuktu, Djenné and Mopti, but generally found throughout most places in Mali and also to a lesser extent in Burkina Faso.

Safari

Up up and Away

Up up and Away

© All Rights Reserved Ken Webb

Safaris were 'invented' in Africa and although it just means 'trip' or 'travel' in Swahili language, the term is internationally used when someone is going to visit Africa's national parks, in search of the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino) and hopefully more animals. Some parks adjacent to the ocean (in South Africa) even claim to have the Big Seven (including whales and white sharks).

One of the best countries for a safari is Tanzania, which has two of the best known parks in the world: the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Other traditional countries to see Africa's beautiful nature and wildlife are Kenya, South Africa and Botswana. South Africa is perfect for a self drive safari. This applies to Botswana as well, but you really need a 4wd here to visit some of the nicest parks like Chobe National Park. A great alternative is Namibia, with better roads and some fantastic parks in the northern half of the country.

Other highlights regarding wildlife in Africa are Etosha National Park in Namibia, several more remote parks like Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and South Luangwa National Park in Zambia and visiting the mountain gorillas in the mountainous areas of Uganda and Rwanda and even the Democratic Republic of Congo. Surprisingly, there are actually quite a few countries, areas and parks where few visitors go. Especially the western and central parts of Africa are not that known to the 'safari' enthusiasts but do have serious potential. An upcoming example is Gabon, where hippos and elephants live right up to the beach!

Beaches and Islands

view from Moyenne island

view from Moyenne island

© All Rights Reserved vilmalotta

Africa has very fine beaches, especially in the east. Of the coast of Africa are several islands to enjoy the beaches as well. Most of them are located in the Indian Ocean, but there are a few gems in the Atlantic Ocean as well.

  • Mombasa, Kenya
  • Maffia and Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Seychelles - especially Praslin and La Digue
  • Mauritius - popular honeymoon destination
  • Bazaruto archipelago and near Pemba in the north of Mozambique
  • West Africa - especially Ghana, but also Benin, Sierra Leone, Togo and Gambia
  • Egypt has great snorkelling
  • Red Sea for diving along Egypt's coast, although stretches of Sudan and Eritrea are becoming more popular as well
  • Principe - an off the beaten track tropical paradise, the quiet island in Sao Tome and Principe

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Getting There

Most travellers visiting Africa, fly in and although there are much less flights to African cities compared to for example Asia, most continents have direct flights to a number of cities. Most popular areas to fly to are the eastern and southern parts of Africa and especially South Africa has a wide range of flights, including from Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur and even Washington, D.C.. The best deals are from Europe though, from where you can also take several ferries, for example to Morocco from Spain or Tunisia from Italy. Africa is a popular continent to cross overland from north to south or vice versa and apart from ferries, the only overland route is crossing from Israel or, by short ferry ride, from Jordan. For detailed information it is best to check the country and city articles.

Contributors

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Africa Travel Helpers

  • African Son

    I'm working in a tourist company called African Son Tours,actually we don't compete with other but we add value on what others offers and we know well about tourism industry.We know well Africa.

    Ask African Son a question about Africa
  • soupatrvlr

    I've traveled extensively throughout Southern Africa and a little bit through East Africa. My most recent African travels have taken me to South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique. I have also been to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Mauritius. I'm happy to help with any questions someone might have. And if I can't answer your questions, my husband might be able to...he was a safari guide throughout Southern and East Africa! Happy Travels!

    Ask soupatrvlr a question about Africa
  • Lisa Eldridge

    Hi everyone. I've been lucky enough to travel to 78 countries and 40 of them as a solo female so I know a bit about travelling alone :) My solo countries are: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Africa, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, China, India, Hungary, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Canada, Guatemala, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Peru, Italy, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Ireland.

    Ask Lisa Eldridge a question about Africa
  • Ouozo

    I am a tourism agent in Mali; a tour organizer and a leader. I can help with itinerary, accomodation and transport, and many tips to make your trip unforgettable. I can be contacted at any moment by my e-mail or by phone.
    Helping the client is our job!
    Thanks to my/our partners in differents countries,
    I can help with tours in Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger and Sénégal.
    See you very soon at the airport!!

    Ask Ouozo a question about Africa
  • Interluke

    Have extensive backpacking experience on many continents.

    Ask Interluke a question about Africa

This is version 65. Last edited at 13:16 on Apr 2, 14 by Utrecht. 268 articles link to this page.

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