Expansive landscapes, awe-inspiring wildlife, ultimate isolation and the most thrilling of experiences are just a handful of things that you find in Africa. The birthplace of countless species as well as the epicentre of the nature’s wildest wonders, Africa is not just a journey into unknown lands, it is a journey into our own history. While one might spend decades ingraining the flavour of the entire continent, there are certain binding experiences that leave the deepest of impressions on travellers, as they leave with more than they came with. Here are just a few of them.
SOSSUSVLEI AND DEADVLEI SAND DUNES, NAMIBIA
Namibia’s natural landscape is one of the most contrasting natural phenomena, unmatched by most countries in the world, as the roaring waters of the Atlantic create white sand beaches while also housing the world’s oldest desert – The Namib (the country derives its name from it).
Sossusvlei sand dunes make for some of the most surreal viewings of natural landscapes. A massive pan in the middle of red sand dunes rising to 300 metres, the view atop a dune at Sossusvlei reveals something you certainly would never have seen before. 3 to 5 million year old sands naturally transported from the Kalahari supports a blue-green lake when the Tsauchab rivers flows during the rains. The Deadvlei form another such surreal viewing as skeletons of ancient camel-thorn trees jut out of dried white clay sands.
CLIMBING MOUNT KILIMANJARO, TANZANIA
While there are series of natural wonders that will make you gasp, few will ever come close to the feeling of achieving the feat of climbing Africa’s highest mountain, literally soaring above the cloud, atop the world!
Not only this, the view throughout the final stretch of the trek to the summit is unbelievable. The Karanga camp just shy of the peak will offer you the opportunity of a lifetime – touching marshmallow clouds while standing above them, as the sun rises in the distance and awakens the world beneath you. You can also spot Meru – Kilimanjaro’s little sister in the distance. The peak itself also offers views of sparkling glaciers and Mawenzi’s spikes breaking through the uniformly ragged cloud cover, as the satisfaction of accomplishing the formidable climb amplifies the humbling yet exciting feeling of standing atop the world.
BIG GAME AND THE GREAT MIGRATIONS, TANZANIA
One of the most striking experiences that one can be involved in when in Africa is the great migration. A circular grazing path populated by over a million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras makes for one of the most jawdropping natural acts that you would ever witness, as the endless Serengeti plains tremble under the unison of these majestic creatures. Expansive safari expeditions with accommodations of immense luxury await you in the middle of the vast plains, as you witness the big five in their habitat – Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhinoceros and Cape buffalo. If the majestic beauty of these does not suffice, the scenic landscapes and rejuvenating sunrises will provide the perfect icing on this humbling journey.
WITNESS THE VICTORIA FALLS, ZAMBIA & ZIMBABWE
If you are the type who is not satiated with the adventure in the great migration and lion-watching, transport yourself to a little plunge pool right at the edge of the world’s largest waterfalls – the Victoria Falls.
Mosi-oa-Tunya (“The Smoke That Thunders) on the Zambezi river forms one of the most monumental water spectacles in the world as more than 10,000 cubic meters of water cascades down 108 meters every second! When the water of the Zambezi recedes marginally, it is possible to walk along the lip of the falls and plunge into one of the many rock pools formed through erosion over thousands of years. While it is impossible to achieve this feat when the Zambezi is raging in full flow, the view from the edge of the falls makes for one of the most exhilarating experiences. Apart from the fact that you might not be able to hear yourself think, the experience of plunging along the edge of the world’s highest waterfall will certainly raise your heart rate and stay with you forever.
BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO, MOZAMBIQUE
Nestled quite literally in the middle of nowhere, the Bazaruto archipelago is a cluster of 15 islands off the coast of Mozambique, and makes the perfect setting to unwind while witnessing unseen beauty. Dozens of bird species like flamingoes and fish eagles, dolphins, crocodiles as well as the elusive dugongs will appear out of the clear waters as you sit at a serene white sand beach with no other noise to disturb you. If there was ever the blend of serenity, luxury and natural beauty for the traveller, the Bazaruto Archipelago would be on the top of the menu. The Azura retreats lodge at the Benguerra island has won quite a few awards for luxury and location, while being set amidst a Marine national park, allowing for some of clearest and most unmatched whale and dugong viewings!