Below are some of the major travel highlights for The Great African Journey. For more in-depth attractions of each country on this route, click on the country names below or select a route to see the highlights on this section of the journey. Click on the icons below to focus on specific types of features (click again to return to all).
|In-depth highlights: Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda|
Highlights of Zanzibar - Cape
The exotic spice island of Zanzibar is one of the most evocative names in travel. Apart from Stone Town, the island comprises numerous spice plantations which can be visited with the chance to taste and buy numerous exotic spices. The island also has some of the most stunning beaches and waters you're ever likely to encounter with the chance to relax and view the marine wildlife by snorkelling or diving.
Stone Town on Zanzibar is a centuries old East African trading port. The town is a maze of narrow streets and passageways with the remains of beautiful homes built by Arab traders made rich by trading gold, ivory and slaves. Zanzibar was once the largest slave market on the east coast of Africa and the remains of the slave market can be visited, where a 19th century Anglican church now exists. Stone Town also has many quaint shops and bazaars, excellent for souvenir shopping and watching the dhow silhouettes in the sea at sunset is magical.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Stone Town of Zanzibar
Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and runs along the eastern border of Malawi for most of its length. It's a breathtaking expanse of clear blue waters and is home to more fish species than any lake in the world. There are a number of stops along the length of Lake Malawi including Senga Bay, Chitimba and Chintheche where you can partake in various water sports, visit local villages and buy the famous Malawian wood carvings or relax on the beach (though be sure to rise early to catch a glorious sunrise over the lake).
|South Luangwa National Park|
South Luangwa National Park is Zambia's premier wildlife park and safari experience. It's regarded as one of Africa's finest wildlife reserves, comprising more than 9000 km² of unspoilt wilderness in Zambia's eastern province, yet is well off the beaten tourist track. The varied terrain includes dry shrublands and grasslands, mopane woodlands and oxbow lakes as well as the Luangwa River which teems with crocodiles and hippos. South Luangwa is home to over 400 bird species and 100 animal species, including elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, kudu, lion and the world's highest naturally occurring population of leopard. South Luangwa is famous for its walking safaris with expert guides, allowing you to get up close and personal to Africa's wildlife and immerse yourself in sights, sounds and scents of the African bush.
Lake Kariba affords the opportunity for sunset cruises and game cruises to see animals at the water's edge and the wide variety of birdlife. There is also the option of spending one or more nights on a house boat, relaxing and enjoying the scenery and spectacular sunsets. Maaze Island on Lake Kariba offers a game walk and visit to a crocodile farm.
Following in the footsteps of the explorer David Livingstone who described "scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight", the Lower Zambezi River offers the chance of a safari with a difference - canoeing trips down the river as you glide past herds of elephant and buffalo drinking in the river, crocodiles on the riverbank and pods of hippos lying in the water. Travelling between Kariba and Luangwa, the river flows past two national parks - the Lower Zambezi National Park to the north and the Mana Pools National Park to the south, offering the chance to see creatures such as zebra, lion or even leopard by the riverside.
The town of Livingstone is the Zambian base for exploring Victoria Falls and is located 11km from the Falls. It has experienced a renaissance in popularity with the recent political troubles in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Aside from exploring the Falls themselves from the ground and the air, there are a range of adventure activities available including world class white water rafting on the Zambezi, bungee jumping from the bridge over the Zambezi connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe, gorge swings over Batoka Gorge, and river boarding. After all that activity you can wind down on a sunset booze cruise.
|Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls|
Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya ("the smoke that thunders") are one of the natural wonders of the world. Spanning the entire breadth of the Zambezi River, they are 1700 metres wide and drop over 100 metres to the gorge below, creating a thunderous noise and a mist that can be seen, and felt, at great distances. The Falls transform a wide, calm river into a ferocious torrent that flows through a series of narrow gauges below. On the Zambian side in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park you can stand right next to the eastern cataract of the Falls and feel the full force of the water. In Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwe side, you're further from the Falls but have a greater perspective. The best perspective is perhaps obtained from above though, on flights on either fixed wing aircraft, helicopters or microlights. The flow over the Falls is very dependent on the time of year - there can be a 20 fold difference between the rainy season (March to May) and the dry season (September to December), though the sheer scale of the Falls can be easier to appreciate with less volume.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls
|Victoria Falls Town|
The town of Victoria Falls is the Zimbabwean base for exploring Falls of the same name and is located just over a kilometre from the Falls. It was built as a tourist town and caters to every need of the traveller with some excellent souvenir shopping available at the craft markets. Aside from exploring the Falls themselves from the ground and the air, there are a range of adventure activities available including world class white water rafting on the Zambezi, bungee jumping from the bridge over the Zambezi connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe, gorge swings over Batoka Gorge, and river boarding. After all that activity you can wind down on a sunset booze cruise. You can also have up close and personal wildlife experiences with elephant riding and walks with lion cubs.
|Chobe National Park|
Chobe National Park is Botswana's third largest park at 11,700 km², named for the Chobe River, a tributary of the Zambezi, which forms the park's northern edge. The river forms a permanent water supply, giving Chobe the largest population of elephants in Africa, with some 100,000 individuals. River cruises here allow you to spot large elephant herds drinking from the river in addition to hippos and a myriad of birdlife. The park's other animal species include buffalo, kudu, zebra, puku, Chobe bushbuck and the big cats. The south-western corner of Chobe is known as the Savuti Marsh, a grassland that has been dried up for years. Three pumped water points provide excellent opportunities to view herds of elephant, buffalo and antelopes as well as the predators that pursue them.
The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta as the Okavango River, a tributary of the Zambezi, spills into the Kalahari Desert, creating a vast oasis over 15,000 km². The Delta comprises numerous water channels, lagoons and small islands. The region is rich in animal life, including elephant, giraffe, buffalo, lion, hyena, hippos and many antelope species, as well as a myriad of migratory birds. The Delta is best explored in traditional mokoro, the traditional dugout canoe, poled by skilled local guides. They navigate through a maze of narrow creeks and channels, cutting through beds of reeds, in one of the most relaxing and unique experiences Africa has to offer. This is African wilderness at its best - wildlife and a stunning natural setting in pristine, untouched land. The Okavango has numerous lodges or small islands to bush-camp (depending on your budget) which allows you to take a walking or horse-riding safari to spot the rich animal and bird life, swim in the waters (though beware crocodiles) and take mokoro trips to view the beautiful sunsets over the Delta.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Okavango Delta
|Etosha National Park|
Etosha National Park is Namibia's premier wildlife sanctuary and one of the best game reserves in Africa, covering a huge 22,000 km². Its terrain is a mixture of bush and grassland centred around the huge, flat, dazzling white expanse of the Etosha Pan, a dried up former lake. Over 340 bird species and 100 mammal species are present in the park including all the major game and predators, as well as the rare and endangered black rhinoceros, black-faced impala, Hartmannís mountain zebra and the tiny damara dik-dik. Etosha is renowned for its floodlit waterholes that allow you to view herds of animals drinking at night.
|Cheetah Park / Otjiwarongwe|
Cheetah Park at Otjiwarongwe is a private farm dedicated to the conservation of the cheetah. Here you can see the cheetahs on the private reserve being fed on a game drive and also get up close and personal to the "domesticated" cheetahs for a great photo opportunity.
The beautiful area of Damaraland contains some striking mountain scenery including that of Brandberg, Namibia's highest peak at 2573 metres, and Spitzkoppe, a distinctly shaped granite rock formation, 1728 metres high and referred to as the "Matterhorn of Africa". Both locations contain numerous examples of Bushmen rock art and are wonderful locations for camping under the African stars.
Swakopmund is a delightful town founded by the Germans in 1892 and still retaining its original colonial influence. Surrounded by the desert and Atlantic Ocean, Swakopmund has many attractions including well preserved Art Nouveau buildings, museums detailing its history and marine life, excellent bars and restaurants as well as many shops selling Namibian souvenirs. Swakopmund has also become a centre for adrenaline activities which include sky diving, sand boarding and quad biking on the Namib dunes and horse or camel rides. More relaxing activities include hot air balloon rides or airplane flights over the desert, dolphin cruising and deep sea fishing.
|Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon|
The Namib-Naukluft Park, at almost 50,000 km², is the fourth largest nature conservation area in the world and contains the world's oldest desert, the Namib Desert. The sand dunes at Sossusvlei are its biggest attraction and one of the most evocative and beautiful sites in Africa. The dunes are deep red in colour and up to 300m high and the views of the surrounding desert are spectacular. Climbing up one of these immense dunes, especially at sunrise or sunset to witness the dramatic and changing colours, is one of the quintessential Africa experiences, while running and jumping down the steep sides provides an exhilarating and quick trip back to the bottom. The isolated Dead Vlei, hidden behind sand dunes, is even more dramatic - its 600 year old dead tree trunks lie in a white parched surface and contrast beautifully with the surrounding red dunes and bright blue skies. Nearby are the small but dramatic rock formations of the Sesriem Canyon gorge.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Namib Sand Sea
|Fish River Canyon|
Fish River Canyon is the world's second largest canyon, a spectacular chasm 161km long, 27 km wide and 550 metres deep. The outer canyon was formed by tectonic activity and the inner canyon by erosion from the Fish River. There are breathtaking views from atop the escarpment edge and excellent hiking opportunities along and within the canyon.
The vineyards of Western Cape Province are some of the most famous in the world. The area is characterised by beautiful landscapes and charming, historic towns such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. Wine tasting tours of the vineyards will allow you to sample some of the excellent local produce, in particular the Pinotage grape which is unique to South Africa.
The Cape Peninsula south of Cape Town is a fascinating area to explore with a wide array of attractions. You can walk right up to the small Cape penguins in Boulder's Beach, visit the fishing port of Hout Bay or the numerous attractive beaches on the peninsula. At the southern end is the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where you can visit the Cape Point lighthouse and walk to the Cape of Good Hope itself at the south-western tip of Africa.
Robben Island was used as a prison between the 17th and 20th centuries, most infamously when incarcerating Nelson Mandela and fellow anti-apartheid campaigners. These days, the island acts as a museum offering tours of the island and prison buildings. Visits guided by former prisoners offer a fascinating insight to the brutal regime.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Robben Island
Cape Town is one of the most attractive cities in Africa and one of the most beautifully located in the world. Set in the foothills of the distinctive Table Mountain and next to the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town is South Africa's "Mother City". The mild climate and cultural diversity make it a wonderful destination, in itself and as a base for exploring the surrounding Cape Province. Ascending Table Mountain is a must, either on foot or via the cablecar, for stunning views over the city and the peninsula. In town, the cultural and entertainment centre is around Long Street, with extensive shopping opportunities along the Waterfront.