Top 10 photo galleries from 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!
Lesotho has more prehistoric sites than just dinosaur footprints, namely rock paintings, also known as bushman paintings. As with the dinosaur footprints, the rock paintings are totally unprotected and difficult to find without help from a local. For the rock paintings at Ha Tjooeng, you first have to walk through the village down to the bottom of the gorge, cross the river, and up to the overhanging on the rock face. Among newer drawings and carvings, you will be able to make out the original rock paintings - some men, a cow and a lion(?) - which surprisingly have survived millenniums of tear, wear, and graffiti. As with most sights in Lesotho, the journey through the breathtaking scenery is half the reward.
Madagascar has about 20 different ethnic groups. The Vezo people live at the coast in the West of the country, pretty much the region around and North of Toliara (Tulear). Their main activity is fishing. Every day, the Vezo people take their sailing pirogues, which are wooden dug-out canoes, out to the reef and beyond and mostly return about mid-morning with their catch of the day. The Vezo people are skilled sailors and fishermen and it is fascinating to watch them navigate their boats to shore and seeing the crowds of people getting in the fish and seafood. At these moments there is a market atmosphere with sometimes quite a bit of fuzz.
At the tip of a peninsula at the bottom of gorgeous Lake Malawi lies adorable Cape Maclear. The rural village has been a favourite of backpackers and overlanders for decades, and for a good reason. Green mountains make up the inland while the lakeshore is blessed with a narrow sandy beach. The village is a one lane place with shady baobab trees. The men go out on the lake for fishing in small canoes, while the women are constantly washing at the edge of the lake, with playful kids everywhere. The main event of the day is sunset, when the sky turns bright orange before the sun burns out behind the hilly horizon across the lake. Be prepared with the cold drinks for the spectacle is rather short. Afterwards, the night gets filled with African rythms pumping from the small bars along the beach.
The white beach at Vilankulo seems almost never ending and slides into the clear turquoise sea with views of the gorgeous Bazaruto Islands. Dhows are anchored up in the shallow water before they sweep out to sea for fishing, only to return in the afternoon to unload their catch to the waiting fishmongers. At low tide, the beach becomes so wide, it gives you the impression that you could wade right out to the islands, but don't try. Instead go on a dhow safari for some chilling and snorkeling at the islands, which otherwise are reserved for luxury resorts. Accommodations in Vilankulo are spread out along the shore and lie among the small huts and houses that make up the town. This means there is a lot local life, both on the beach and in the sandy back alleys, giving Vilankulo lots of local flavour, but also at times a rough vibe.
The Mozambicans really are a friendly bunch. They are chilled, patient, and good humoured. Even more endaring is their honesty - something you even can expect from bus boys and taxi drivers, though there are a few exceptions. Wherever you go, you will (if you are a man) shake hands (African way of course, if you don't know they will teach you) and exchange names and formalities. Even in small places where you constantly bump into the same people, greeting is still performed like you were meeting up as long lost friends. So the helpful Mozambicans certainly make it easier to endure another full day journey in a rattling, overpacked minibus.
Though Pilanesberg National Park is both smaller and less famous than Kruger, it's an equally good big game reserve - some think it's even better. All of the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino) are here along with giraffe, zebra, hippo, baboon, hyena, wild dog and a long list of antelopes and birds. You can drive in your own car along a network of tar and gravel roads, and there are both safe picnic areas and hides. The park is fairly small, meaning it's easier to get to the parts where the animals are, but the herds are correspondingly small. The landscape is mostly savanna with tall grass and thorn trees, but there are also bushy regions, rocky outcrops and mountains. The area around Mankwe Dam is particularly good for game viewing. Another appealing feature of Pilanesberg is it's only two hours drive from Johannesburg, making it a possible day trip.
Charming Stone Town has such an exotic reputation. It has been a trading post for centuries with shifting powers all putting their mark on this vibrant harbour town. First it was Arabic spice (and slave) traders, then came the Indian merchants, and later the British. Today every safari tourist in the country ends their holiday with a few day on Zanzibar with a mandatory tour of Stone Town. But Stone Town lives up to its reputation. The old town is still magnificent with its maze of narrow alleys and whitewashed traditional houses with finely decorated wooden doors. Some buildings have been done up and turned into boutique hotels or tourists shops, while others look like they haven't been maintained since Freddy Mercury was born.
South Luangwa National Park is not just the best in Zambia, but considered one of the best in the whole of Africa in terms of variety and density of animals. There are literally animals everywhere: Impalas, pukus, buffaloes, waterbucks, hippos, crocs, elephants, zebras and giraffes, where some are of species that are endemic. Furthermore, there are good chances to come across hyenas, leopards and lions on the game drives. Birds are equally plentyful and come in all colours and sizes so even ornithology-ignorants get drawn by them. Snake eagle and different storks are common - and even the African fish eagle, which is on the Zambian flag, is easily spotted. Lodges in all budget categories can be found near the small dusty village of Mfuwe, the gateway to the park. Here, the wildlife come to you at nighttime, so be careful not to tumble upon a munching hippo or elephant when moving around the lodge grounds (walking outside the lodges is suicidal).
Without actually holding any record, Victoria Falls is considered to be the greatest waterfall on the planet. Though its measurements are impressive - 107 m high, 1737 m wide and gushing out 1746 mÂ³ of water every second - it is beaten in all categories by other falls. Angel Falls is 979 m high, Iguazu is 2700 m wide and 2407 mÂ³ flows over Niagara Falls every second. But Victoira Falls is not about records, it's just one of those places that have to be seen. The Zambezi River flows between Zimbabwe and Zambia acting as the natural border. Wide upriver, but suddenly plunges into a deep narrow chasm at Victoria Falls before it winds its way hidden at the bottom of the gorge. At the end of the rainy season (November to March) the falls are almost obscured in spray, and during dry season (April to October) and right after, large sections are almost dried up. But no matter which season you come, you will be blown away by its sheer size and beauty.