Africa – the land of culture dressed in bright hues of the sun; where the swirly air smells of luscious grass, salty seawater and its heartbreaking history. There is so much left unexplored on this fascinating continent; so much that one can learn from – It’s exciting! If you are planning a trip to Africa, here are three countries that you must visit to make the most of your sojourn. Kavita Sarmah tells us why these three countries are the best way to start exploring Africa!
South Africa: Scenic Sunsets & A Melange Of Cultures
South Africa is also called the ‘Rainbow Nation’ because of its rich, cultural diversity. Its pastel beaches, lush mountains and starry desert sky combine to create an astounding melange of natural art. This country has a wide variety of cosmopolitan cultures that balance its ethnic cultures. South Africa also gives visitors a chance to explore its untouched wildlife, soak in its surreal landscapes and gain an insight into its tempestuous history.
The country has the continent’s best safari destinations, and an amazing network of roads. You can drive or rent a coach with a guide, and dive into the wilderness at Kruger or Kgalagardi Transfrontier Park. Watching the wildlife here amid swaying trees and ever-changing skies, you will notice the little things – the chirp of a distant bird, the low hum of crickets in the bushes or even the rustle of a wandering giraffe. You can enjoy rock climbing in the ragged Cederberg, abseil from Cape Town’s Table Mountains and bungee jump from the Garden Route Bridge! For mellower activities, you can opt for a day walk in the semi-desert Karoo, do an overnight hike into the peaks of the Drakensberg and also, check out the colourful heart of the country – Johannesburg. End the trip with a beach camp near Skilkop Nature Reserve in Namakwa, amid old wheat fields covered in endless flowers, before you set out on your next adventure.
English is widely spoken throughout the country, making it easy to communicate. Local public transport is not recommended in most areas, but you can surely make use of a taxi service recommended by the hotel you are staying at. Also, remember to always carry a bottle of water along!
Kenya: The Air Of Possibilities & Nature’s Best Artwork
Kenya conjures up images of jungles painted in green, thrilling safaris and majestic elephants. This country’s magnificent landscapes will give you a taste of the massive herds of wildlife scattered through the savannahs, with magical snow-capped mountains within sight of dry desserts and fresh forests. This is also where you will come across its warm, traditional people who add their vibrant beliefs and hope to a normal life. Kenya is home to Red Elephants among other wildlife and naturally is big on conservation. There are many private and community conservancies, like the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which blend tourism with community development and wildlife conservation.
National Parks are a must here! Make sure to spend time at Amboseli National Park, with views of big-tusked elephants against the backdrop of the majestic Mt Kilimanjaro. Overlooking Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya is a small town that stands in utter contrast to the sombre shades surrounding it – Loiyangalani. Spend an afternoon here and create the sweetest memories in one of the country’s most exotic corners. You could also take a day to wander in the Lamu Archipelago. These islands have rustic stone towns, endearing local shops and delightful architecture, with a blanket of stars that twinkle bright in the clear night sky. When you want to take a break from all the adventure and just laze around, Kenya also has a coastline laced with scenic beaches.
Don’t forget to sample the Ugali, one of the famous local cuisines here. The country offers all your foodies a hearty, homely meal to keep your stomach full and your soul happy. Bonus tip: “Jambo” is a common greeting in Kenya, which means “Hello! How are you?” It’s a nice conversation starter, while you pick up on other phrases!
Tanzania: Enriching Moments & Endless Magnificence
The land of the Kilimanjaro, where slow and serene meets robust and vibrant – Tanzania is as magical as it sounds. The cooling trees and tropical breeze set the tone for the country. Here, with its peaceful islands, sleepy coastal villages and mesmerising beaches, Tanzania will make you fall in love with life.
You’ll find many National Parks here but there is so much more to explore! Take a trip to Zanzibar Town and join a spice tour in Tangawizi Spice Farm or visit the Peace Memorial Museum of local artefacts. You can choose to bask in the sun, surrounded by turquoise seawater, on the green islands of the Mafia archipelago, and take in its beautiful history. Take a boat at sunrise to Kilwa Kisiwani, a quiet fishing village, and memorise how breathtaking the sky looks in the moment. Don’t forget to strike up a conversation or two with Tanzania’s friendly locals, who form the essence of the country, for a more enriching experience.
Your time in Africa will rejuvenate your soul and change you in wonderful ways. Every once in a while, take a break from adventure, look around and notice all the little details around you. Take hundreds of photographs of yourself as you soak in the unforgettable vibrancy of this endearing continent. We hope and believe your journey here will be nothing less than extraordinary!
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Kavita Sarmah is an artist, optimist and a tea person. Life to her is writing in empty cafés, mindlessly strumming the ukulele, and starry, cinematic skies. Follow her on Instagram: @kavitasarmah