Landscapes in Africa
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Boa Vista beaches
Boa Vista island
Boa Vista has some of the finest untouched beaches on the planet. Never-ending stretches of soft white sand, fringed by desert inland and by bright turquoise water oceanside. It doesn't come more picturesque than this. The thing is, there is nothing else here. No palms, no shades, no roads, no people, no bungalows, no beach huts, no resorts (besides the few on the whole island). Just sand, sun, and the sea... and, of course, the wind.
Boa Vista loop
Boa Vista island
After a few days on Boa Vista, you might start to wonder whether the rest of the island is as barren as where you are. And yes, it is. But the best way to figure it out, is a tour of the island. A full loop of Boa Vista takes a whole day in a 4x4 on dirt tracks, in sand dunes, over stony desert, and occasional on a stretch of real road – with potholes of course. Rent a car with a driver, since they know the right track from the wrong ones.
A suggestion for a route could be:
Sal Rei (town) – Rabil (village) – Deserto Viana (desert) – Povocao Velha (village) – Praia da Varandinha (beach with caves) – Praia de Santa Monica (beach) – Curral Velho (ruins and salt lake) – Praia de Joao Barrosa (turtle nesting beach) – Baobab (a lone Baobab tree) – Ervatao (a surf beach) – Fundo das Figueiras (village) – Santa Maria shipwreck – Sal Rei
Take a look at the photo gallery for more details.
São Nicolau island
At the Western end of the island lies a small gem called Carbirinho. It may be a little hard to get to this spot, which is hardly mentioned in any guidebook, but it is well worth the effort! You can sit for hours watching the waves crash into the rocks and the water pulling in and out of the small black-sanded beaches. The rough sea has been carving the sandstone cliffs for centuries forming beautiful patterns. Some natural springs seep through the rocks attracting goats who come here to drink. Especially around sunset, the place becomes magical. If you are lucky, you can also see turtles swimming below the rocks.
Part of the Barlavento (windward) islands
A central ridge of mountains splits the island of Santo Antão in two. The Southern half is dry and arid but the Northern part gets more rain and has lovely green ribeiras (valleys) that are great for hiking. As most islands in Cabo Verde, Santo Antão is volcanic, so there are several old craters at the top of the mountains that are being used for agriculture. There is an abundance of fruit trees such as mango, papaya, banana and bread fruit.
Most tourists come to Santo Antão for hiking. Due to its proximity to São Vicente, which is only a short ferry ride, there is a lot more tourism than on São Nicolau but it is mainly still unspoiled.
Part of the Barlavento (windward) islands
Mountainous and dry is the best way to describe São Nicolau island. People struggle to get enough water to grow some crops. The island hardly gets rain so all water sources are dealt with carefully. Traditionally, people live off fishing and agriculture but since many Cape Verdeans work overseas, people are doing pretty well. The island’s main towns are the island’s capital Ribeira Brava in the center and Tarrafal at the west coast.
There are plenty of great hikes to do, which are not too hard to navigate.
São Nicolau doesn’t get a lot of tourism and part of the great experience of being on this island are the chilled and extremely friendly people who will love to stop for a chat and smile for a picture.
Blue Nile Falls
Birthplace of the Nile River
There are few rivers more iconic than the mighty Nile. But what most people don't realise is the Nile River is actually two rivers in one. While the White Nile starts somewhere in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, it is the Blue Nile that will be of interest to visitors in Ethiopia. Born from the waters of Tana Lake, the nearby Blue Nile falls make for an excellent day trip out of Bahir Dar. Somewhat sadly these days, with a nearby dam, the falls may be a mighty torrent one day and then a tiny trickle the next. It's a bit of the luck of the draw what you're going to get. Even still, the pleasant walk, including a suspension bridge, a 17th-century Portuguese bridge and fun river taxi are worthwhile in themselves.
Masai Mara National Reserve
The Mara Triangle is the western third of the Masai Mara National Reserve, covering some 510 square kilometres. It is bordered by the Mara River to the east, the Siria Escarpment to the west and north and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to the south. This side of the reserve is far better managed than the eastern two-thirds, with mostly good roads. When the migration makes its way to the Masai Mara, the river crossings will generally take place from the eastern side into the Mara Triangle, so it is an ideal place to observe this phenomenon. This can take place anytime from mid-June to the end of the year, although mid-August until mid-October is more usual. Wildlife abounds here: lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, zebras, hyenas, giraffes, antelopes and hundreds of species of birds. Most of the Triangle consists of open savannah, although the streams and rivers are lined by woodland. There are picnic spots strewn throughout the Triangle; one of the best is 'Out of Africa', halfway up the escarpment, which provides mind-blowing views of the plains.
Madagascar is sometimes called the "red island". All over the country you can see the red earth rich in iron. While the other tsingy’s (of Ankarana close-by and Bemara in the West of the country) are eroded limestone, the red tsingy is completely different. Rain and wind have eroded the red laterite earth creating beautiful white and red shapes. Especially on clear days, the clear blue skies contrast with the reddish pinnacles.
It is highly recommended to make the effort of venturing out to the red tsingy, either on a day trip from Diego Suarez or on route to the Ankarana Special Reserve. You will most likely need your own 4x4 transportation as it is located about a one-hour off-road drive away from the main road.
Imagine a tropical island paradise, and chances are pretty good that what you have in mind is something akin to Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago. These six islands were formed by sand deposited by the Save River, and the archipelago boasts an array of incredibly pristine beaches, azure water, coral reefs, tropical fish, giant turtles and, in the right season, whales. It is also home to the very rare dugong – a marine mammal similar to the manatee – although you would have to be extremely lucky to see one. Add lots of lush, tropical fruit and seafood galore to the mix, and the result is pretty incredible. If lounging on the beach is not your thing there are plenty of other things to do here. The snorkelling and diving is excellent, dhow trips are a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or three, surfing is possible, whale watching trips can be arranged from the mainland. It is also much less busy than some of the more accessible mainland beaches farther south, although popular snorkelling spots can fill up with visitors from Vilanculos.
The road to Epupa is long and dusty, and it is difficult to imagine anything but more dust and rock at the end of it. So when the green riverine valley that contains Epupa appears beyond the crest of a hill, its lushness makes it seem almost surreal. Epupa itself is a ramshack town, with a few camps and some tin houses. The Cunene River is the lifeblood of the region, and rafting trips are one of the most popular activities for visitors. The river also forms the border to Angola – it is possible to visit an island in the middle of the river, which a sign proclaims to be part of Angola. A few hundred metres downstream from the village are the Epupa Falls, a breathtaking series of waterfalls best viewed from the hilltop just west of Epupa. This also provides the best view of Epupa village. Guided tours will be offered to visitors, but are unnecessary - it is an easy walk to do on your own. Epupa is inhabited primarily by the Himba, who most likely attract more tourists than the falls do. This part of Namibia is a true wilderness, and the rewards of making this journey are well worth the effort.