Places with photo galleries in Africa
In terms of both variety and diversity, Chobe Naitional Park is just ridiculously good. It's divided into four distinct sections, where Chobe riverfront is the most popular - partly because the density of animals is great here and partly because of its proximity to Victoria Falls (in Zimbabwe and Zambia). Chobe is famous for its large elephant herds, which you can get terrifyingly close to. But warthog, hippo, zebra, giraffe and different species of antelopes, including lechwe and sable, are all among the usual game - but there are no rhinos. There is a good chance to see lions and, with a bit of luck, even a hunting leopard or cheetah. Chobe River makes out the park's natural boundary to north and is great for some midday river safari when the animals come down to drink - this is particularly good during dry season (May through October). But for the best chances to see some predators, you can't beat morning and to some extent evening drives - and who wants to miss the wonders of the red African sun setting behind a herd of elephants!
Normally, a river safari on Chobe River is part of safari trip to Chobe National Park, but we have given it a separate entry because it's a very different type of safari than the usual game drive in jeeps. The animals use Chobe riverfront to drink from, particulary during the dry season (May through October). Shortly before midday, the first elephants usually show up, quickly followed by the rest of the herd. Most will just sip from the water edge, but some might go for swim or even dive. At midday, the riverbank can be packed with elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and various antelopes, all standing side by side cautiously sipping. Big pods of hippos cooling off in the water make river navigation a cautious affair for hippos are extremely protective of their younger ones and get easily agitated - and they are fast.
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.
A mandatory thing to do while in Gaborone is a visit to nearby Mokolodi Nature Reserve. This not-for-profit game reserve is run by the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation. It has two of the Big Five, leopard and (white) rhino, along with giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, hartebeest, wildebeest and hippo, just to name a few. Bird lovers will also be happy with more than 300 species, including easy-to-spot hornbills. Mokolodi also functions as a wild animal orphanage and is taking care of a few retired predators, like hyena and cheetah. You can do the safari in your own 4WD car or get there by public transport and join a two-hour game drive.
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.
The people of Cabo Verde are a good reason to visit the country. They are generally very welcoming and kind to foreigners. Always happy to give you directions or have a chat with you and if you ask (sometimes they will even ask you), they will gladly pose for a picture.
Because of the former Portuguese colonisation, and the islands being a transit place for slaves during that time, most people are Creole, a mix between African and European. The commonly spoken language is Creole while the official language is Portuguese.
You will encounter several people speaking fluent English, Dutch or French because of the large amount of Cabo Verdeans working overseas.
The capital Praia is just an overgrown version of any other town in Cabo 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 Cabo Verde is very easygoing and calm, it should not come as a surprise that Praia is just the same.
Sal Rei town is the main place to stay on Boa Vista for independent travellers (and kite surfers). The town is a wonderful strange blend of traditional Cabo Verdean town mixed with half-built holiday complexes and even a shanty town in the perimeter. Though grey is the dominating colour (as with any Cabo Verdean town) there are a few colourful houses, including a handful of could-be colonial buildings. Though the small town beach is cute with the docking fishing boats, the famous Boa Vista beaches are south of town. Here you can walk for days and touch nothing but sand. It's also here you find the beach bars and wind and kite surfing schools.
Santa Maria is the tourist capital of Cabo 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.
At the foot of Mokattam mountain lies a cluster of Christian churches, which have been chiseled out of the mountain face. They lie in the outskirts of Garbage City, a neighbourhood of garbage collectors or Zabbaleen as they are called, which is an odd sight itself. The first cave church was carved out in 1975 when the Christian community of the Zabbaleen felt they were not going to be evicted again, which they otherwise have suffered from throughout their history. Today there are several cave churches on the site, whereof St. Simon is the biggest with seating for more than 20,000 people, though it feels more like an amphitheater than a church. When visiting, remember to have a look at the equal fascinating Garbage City next door.