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Travel Guide Africa

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Introduction

Ostrich at Cape of Good Hope

Ostrich at Cape of Good Hope

© All Rights Reserved Sarnia

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 and felt in southern Africa, in countries like South Africa and Namibia.

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Geography

Africa's geography is as diverse as its 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 Canal to the east. Although the latter, the Suez Canal, only divides Africa from the Middle East geographically, not politically, as the Sinai Peninsula is also part of Egypt. The waters that border Africa are dotted with many islands 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 run 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 mountain ranges, including the Ruwenzori Mountains and Mount Cameroon, one of the highest mountains in Africa after Kilimanjaro. Again, south of the tropical zone you will find semi-desert landscapes and savannah before reaching the deserts of Kalahari and Namib. Finally, South Africa's southern parts are like its Mediterranean counterparts in the north, with pleasant climates, enough rain and absence of real deserts.

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Sights and Activities

Ostrich at Cape of Good Hope

Ostrich at Cape of Good Hope

© All Rights Reserved Sarnia

Major Cities

Landmarks

See also: Famous Landmarks

Safari

Stone town pushie

Stone town pushie

© All Rights Reserved Nat and Ev

Safaris were 'invented' in Africa and although it just means 'trip' or 'travel' in the 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 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

Hermit crab

Hermit crab

© All Rights Reserved baluba

Africa has very fine beaches, especially in the east. Off 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.

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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.

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Best Time to Visit

As Africa is a vast continent laying on both the Northern as well as the Southern Hemispheres, there are huge differences between parts of Africa. In general summer in the north is from May to September, and in the south it's from November to March. That doesn't necessarily mean summer is the best season, as temperatures, especially away from the coast, can be extremely high. For example, Morocco would be best to visit in April/May or October, while South Africa has great weather in October/November and April/May. Also note that summer in the south means there is also much more rain during that time. Much of weather in the central continent, however, is determined by the wet and dry seasons. Much of West Africa has a dry season from November to April, with huge amounts of rain from June to September. There are however areas in the south of West Africa which has two rainy seasons. East Africa has a dry season from June to September, which makes for an excellent time for a safari or to visit the mountain gorillas. A shorter dry season from late December to February is also a good option.
Check the country articles to view the climate in more detail.

Contributors

as well as Hien (12%), hasbeen (10%), dr.pepper (4%), Peter (1%), Lavafalls (1%)

Africa Travel Helpers

  • Interluke

    Have extensive backpacking experience on many continents.

    Ask Interluke a question about Africa
  • Daniel1

    Hello everyone!
    I am glad to be part of Africa travel helpers. As a travel enthusiast, I have travelled in Kenya, Uganda, Greece, Norway, Danmark, Sweden, Canary Islands and of course across Tanzania, my own country. I would like to consider myself a Tanzanian travel expert. If you have questions about travelling, moving or even working in Tanzania or about those glossy safari brochures and itineraries you see online, please pose your question and I am glad to be able to update you from my experience and ground knowledge.

    I also own-operate a travel company called Authentic Tanzania - Consulting and Travel with offices both in Tanzania and Sweden. We create and offer tailor-made adventure and volunteer travels to Tanzania.

    Ask Daniel1 a question about Africa
  • pfsmalo

    Spent many months in Mali, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, and have driven three times down from France to Bamako, Mali through Morocco, WS and Mauritania. It's unfortunate but the political situation in West Africa has throttled the life out of the joy of travelling this route.

    Ask pfsmalo 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
  • Maasai Mag

    I live in Africa and dealing tourists from all over the world to especially East Africa.I've worked in the tourism business for more than 10 years now,also worked as Wildlife Expert.

    Ask Maasai Mag a question about Africa

This is version 108. Last edited at 22:22 on May 20, 17 by hasbeen. 297 articles link to this page.

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