Cities and Towns in Africa
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Capital of Botswana
The capital of Botswana, Gaborone, is a serious candidate for the most tranquil capital on the globe. The streets have wide dusty curbs and buildings are low and far apart. A good chunk of downtown is taken up by government buildings which are all neat without being striking. Along roads and in every lot stand shady trees, making Gaborone a very green place. The people are friendly and helpful and there are no barbwire or electric fences anywhere, not even at the parliament or the president's office. The main areas of interest are sadly around the parliament and what is known as the Main Mall (a pedestrian street lined with small shops) and the real shopping malls on the outskirts of town. Some probably praise that Gaborone doesn't have that colourful African madness you find elsewhere on the continent, but many find it downright boring. No matter how you look at it, Gaborone is a one-day town.
Ponta do Sol
Santo Antão island
Ponta do Sol is a town at the Northern tip of Santo Antão island and a good base for doing day hikes on the island. It is a place that easily grows on you after staying a few days. Originally being a fishing village, tourism is modestly becoming an important part of the town. The small harbour is a lovely place where you can watch the fishermen skillfully manoeuvre their small boats through the rough waves into the relative safety of the harbour. You can watch the people weigh, sell and clean the catch of the day and then enjoy the good fish and seafood in one of the restaurants while watching the sun set.
Capital of Cape Verde, Santiago island
The capital Praia is just an overgrown version of any other town in Cape Verde. A beach, a harbour, and a cluster of mismatched concrete dwellings, all kept in the usual dull grey. Well, that is not totally true, Praia also has an Old Town, called the Plateau since it’s raised above the rest of the city. Here, the houses are a bit more cute and colourful, and there is a range of colonial buildings, like the court house and President Palace, which even has a splendid viewpoint behind it. The Old Town also has a shaded town square, a vegetable market and a pedestrian street, 5. De Julho, which is mostly famous for its range of restaurants. Since the people of Cape Verde is very easygoing and calm, it should not come as a surprise that Praia is just the same.
Santa Maria is the tourist capital of Cape Verde. Lots of hotel complexes with sunburned Europeans and even more construction sites with half-built resorts extending along the long sandy beach from Santa Maria town. The town itself is surprisingly nondescript outside the tourist zone, which consists of the tiny town square and the streets leading up to it. There is a small selection of bars, restaurants and shops - and to less appeal, a never-ending flow of West African touts. So yes, Santa Maria is as touristy as it can get, but it still provides what most people are coming for; namely sun, sand, and chilling at the beach – not to mention wind for the kite surfers.
Capital of Djibouti
One of the busiest port in Africa, Djibouti City has a sort of salty-seaman feel to it. Hot, humid and decaying, the former French colony still bares the markers of its former ruler. The old town of Djibouti abounds with the pastels and facades common in 19th-century French buildings. The tight and hemmed in streets are full of vibrant cultural life, while the buildings seem to be slowly dying. Even the mosques and market are stylistically in tune with the period. Sure, Djibouti is expensive. Sure it's hard to get to. But the reward is being one of the few tourists to wander its streets caught in a time warp.
Capital of Eritrea
The Eritrean capital of Asmara is not at all what you might expect from an African capital of one of the poorest countries on Earth. Firstly, as the 6th highest capital city, Asmara literally elevates you above the heat and humidity plaguing neighbouring big cities. But Asmara's cool feel is more than mere geography. The anarchy and chaos of places like Djibouti or Addis have not made their way here. Wide boulevards remain largely uncongested and shockingly orderly. While the city may lack any significant tourist sites, it's instead the Italian influenced, street-side cafe culture that ends up filling your day. People watching is the name of the game. Although considering Eritrea is also one of the least visited countries on Earth, most of those people are likely watching you!
The small market town of Leribe is also known as Hlotse. There are a few supermarkets along with a string of Chinese owned trading stores, which are remarkably indistinguishable throughout the third world. Besides being a good place to stock up, you have a chance to experience a bit of the famous African disorder.
Capital of Lesotho
Let's face it, Maseru is not the centre of the world. It's even located as far from the centre of Lesotho as possible, right on the border to South Africa. It's a clutter of those buildings that any nation needs to function, like public offices, banks, hospital, etc. and a few coffee shops which seem to be favoured by foreign NGOs. Though the pace is slow and people are friendly, there is absolutely no reason to spend more time here than necessary, particularly when the beautiful Lesotho highlands are right at the doorstep.
Antsirananna is more commonly known by its colonial name Diego Suarez. It is the largest town of Northern Madagascar and lays at the second largest bay of the world (after Rio de Janeiro). Diego feels a bit deserted when you look at the decayed and empty colonial buildings, but it is a friendly and chilled town and a good place to spend one or two days before heading to the nearby national parks. It is easy to see that it used to be quite a flourishing place but, due to some bad cyclones, several of the colonial buildings are pretty much destroyed and there seems to be a lack of money to fix them.
The area is very pretty with the bay, surrounding mountains and even a "sugar loaf" mountain in the bay. Also adding to the charm are the yellow Renault 4 taxis all over town.
Interesting to know is that his harbour town played a very important role in history and especially during WWII when several battles were fought here between France and Britain.
Capital of Malawi
Lilongwe is another nondescript African capital. It's hardly a city, just a very spreadout town with different neighbourghoods, none more attractive than the others. Dirty Lilongwe River runs through town and a visit gives an grim, though interesting, insight into poverty ridden Lilongwe. The chaotic local markets are always a good place for some people watching and if you need to pick up some souvenirs, try the surprisingly big craft market outside the post office. Oddly, there is a nature sancturary right in the middle of Lilongwe, which might be worth a look if you are stranded for too many days, but else there isn't a hell of a lot to see or do in Lilongwe.