Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls


Zimbabwe has featured in African history from the earliest times, when ancient civilisations migrated towards the south through this productive land, right up until our present day, as political movements continue to feature. This is a land of beauty and productivity, and is also the home of the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World. In fact, the falls are on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, which makes it an ideal destination for visitors wanting to see these African countries as well.

Image of the Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls.
Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls.

The 500 000 cubic metres of water are made up of the Zambezi River, which falls in seven waterfalls and creates a dramatic sight and a deep rumble that penetrates your very core. In fact, a local tribe named these falls The Smoke that Thunders, and this aptly describes the impression created by this dramatic curtain of water. This waterfall is so vast that the mist of water coming off the thundering water sustains an entire forest opposite.

The Vic Falls and its town are part of a national park that stretches over 23 square kilometres. The national park includes both Zambia and Zimbabwe within its borders. The Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park (Zambia) and the Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe) combine and were both recognised by the World Heritage List in 1989.

Guests to the parks of this area are urged to go on the guided game drives and safaris available. This will give you a unique glimpse into the fauna and flora of southern Africa, including the deadly crocodiles and hippopotamuses. Cruises along the river at sunset promise gorgeous and memorable sights and sounds that are sure to last a lifetime. These are not only offered by the national park surrounding Vic Falls, but by many other tour operators and accommodation providers in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Before undertaking a trip to this part of Africa, ensure that you have found an operator that understands your needs and capabilities so that you can get the most out of your trip to the Victoria Falls.

Image of Matobo National Park near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Matobo National Park near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Adventurous travellers are well rewarded. The natural landscape allows for white-water rafting down the impressive Zambezi River or bungee jumping 110m into the deep gorge below the Vic Falls, Zimbabwe Bride. Riding on the back of an African elephant is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offering a brand new perspective, one that is not to be missed. Helicopter flips over the expanse of the falls are other ways to witness this awe-inspiring sight.

The Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta are within relatively close proximity to the Victoria Falls. This means that visitors from all over the world are able to see much more of southern Africa without having to travel extensive distances.

Indeed the Victoria Falls are one of the world’s most beautiful and breath-taking sights. Tourists who are planning a trip to southern Africa are encouraged to dedicate a good couple of days in this area and experience these stunning thundering waters.
For more information, please view: http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net

And

http://www.zambiatourism.com/destinations/waterfalls/victoria-falls

 

Zanzibar


In terms of stunning, exotic destinations, Zanzibar certainly features amongst the top in the world. Beaches, art, culture and natural abundance combine to create a unique destination that has proven to be a firm favourite amongst travellers from all over the world.

The beaches certainly stand out as one of the primary attractions. The warm Indian Ocean creates optimal swimming and water sport conditions. SCUBA diving, snorkelling, fishing, surfing, yachting, kayaking and sailing on dhows are just some of the fun activities that keep tourists busy until the warm daylight fades. Zanzibar boasts nearly 30 stunning beaches, each with its own aspect of allure. Pristine blue waters lap the white grains of the shoreline, while visitors and locals relax under the toasty warmth of the African sun. Unlike many other beach destinations in the world, Zanzibar’s
Spice Island, Zanzibarbeaches are quiet and sparsely populated, proving to be true getaways from the city’s hustle and bustle. They include Kiwengwa, Pwani Mchangani, Uroa and Bwejuu.

Image of a Spice Island, Zanzibar.
Spice Island, Zanzibar.

In addition to these beaches, rural fishing villages along the coastline provide a glimpse into the restful lives of the locals. There are also several islands off the coast of Zanzibar to which tourists can travel as a day trip. This is a great way for the entire family to learn more about some of the cultures and history that have created the modern-day Zanzibar.

Tour operators in Zanzibar usually include an organised trip to Stone Town as it is one of the country’s most popular attractions. This town was at its peak in terms of political and economic power during the 19th Century, when Zanzibar was a major player in the trading world. The attraction of this town is that it seems to have been frozen in the annals of history. Market places, mosques, museums, as well as places like the Arab Fort, Dr Livingstone’s House and the House of Wonders provide visitors with plenty to see and do.

The Jozani Natural Forest Reserve is another ‘must see’. This forest is home to many species of animal, some of them rather rare. Many species of monkey and buck share this densely vegetated home with birds, insects and, according to legend, the Zanzibar leopard. Guided walks and hikes are conducted through Jozani for a true, first-hand African experience.

Nature lovers will delight in seizing the opportunity to swim alongside hundreds of bottle-nosed dolphins off the coast of the Kizimkazi fishing village. This village is the site in which a mosque was built in the 1100’s of our Common Era (CE). This is believed to be the first sign of the Islam religion in East Africa.

Image of Stone Town,Zanzibar.
Stone Town,Zanzibar.

Chumbe Coral Park, on the Chumbe islands, is a marine park where visitors can see and learn about the stunning coral reefs off Zanzibar’s coastline, as well as the abundance of marine life under the waters. On the Chumbe islands themselves are lots of nature trails for visitors wanting to see the fauna and flora on land. The endangered Green Turtle can be spotted in the Conservation Zone around Mnemba Island, while the Misali Island provides historical features, a gorgeous coral reef and a stunning forest.

A valid passport and Visa are required for visitors to Zanzibar. There are also certain vaccinations and health precautions that need to be adhered to, and these should be discussed with your nearest travel clinic or an experienced tour operator. This will ensure your safety while you take in all of the beautiful and unrivalled sights and sounds of this awe-inspiring land.

or more information, please view: http://zanzibar.net/

 

Timbuktu


Timbuktu was established as a civilisation in about 1100 of our Common Era (CE). This was when the African nomads called the Tuaregs set their homesteads up in the fruitful, green area that came to be known as Timbuktu. This region was chosen because of its rich, fertile nature and productive land. In addition, it was just out of range of the waters of the Niger River when they became flooded each year. Due to its prime location, Timbuktu came to be the common meeting place for traders from many other areas in Africa. Those crossing the Sahara with salt would encounter the near Timbuktu merchants with their gold from the Niger River area, allowing them to trade with one another and expand their client base.

Image of a Man in Timbuktu.
Man in Timbuktu.

Because Islam was spreading through Africa so prolifically at this time in the continent’s history, many of those people travelling across the deserts and plains brought their religion with them and into new, untouched areas. It was in this way that the society of Timbuktu became exposed to Islam, which was soon the dominant religion in the area. It was, in fact, such a major element of their society that those who did not wish to convert to Islam were pressured to change under force. Islam was entrenched in the Tuareg civilisation when Mansa Musa, the very successful emperor of Mali, travelled via Timbuktu on his return from a pilgrimage to Mecca. This emperor did not travel alone, but had with him some 60 000 people. Musa built a mosque and university in his own honour, which remained as a reminder of him and the religion he brought to the society in 1324.

The culture in Timbuktu has always been a very structured one, with specific roles for each member of its whole. As with most other African cultures, women and girls were responsible for the care and maintenance of the home, as well as the cooking. The Tuareg women would not enjoy the privilege of education; this was reserved for the men. Girls would often marry at 13 years of age, and their life before this was all in preparation for being a wife and mother.

During their youth, boys were given many responsibilities. These prepared them for adulthood and instilled a sense of duty and responsibility in them from an early age. Their duties included caring for the herds of cattle, sheep or goats. They also had to attend school and study the Muslim Koran.

Image of the Great Mud Mosque of Djenne, on the Niger River near Timbuktu.
Great Mud Mosque of Djenne, on the Niger River near Timbuktu.

Interestingly, the location of Timbuktu isolated the nation from many others, creating an air of mystique. Europeans longed to see this elusive land, especially during its era of success and abundance. However, many died in their vain attempts to find Timbuktu. The prominence and stability of Timbuktu began to crumble when easier trade links between north and south were discovered, and when the wars between Timbuktu and Morocco caused irreparable damage to the city. Still, this nation maintains its strict family structure and responsibilities as well as its beauty and sense of mysticism down to the modern day.
For more information, please view: http://www.timbuktufoundation.org/history.html

 

Seychelles


The Seychelles, a group of islands off the east coast of Africa, have always been a popular destination for honeymooners and holiday makers. It is actually made up of approximately 115 islands, each of which offers visitors a different perspective of the warm Indian Ocean and the white sandy beaches. These islands are divided into five main groups; namely, Amirantes, Southern Coral, Alphonse, Farquhar and Aldabra.

Image of La Digue island, Seychelles.
La Digue island, Seychelles.

Unlike many other destinations, the Seychelles has a remarkably constant and predictable climate. The tropical environment guarantees balmy, sunlit days for tourists seeking relief from chilly winters. From October to March sees the North West Trade Winds, which render calm seas and humid conditions. The water gets warmer during April, May, October and November. This is the ideal time to snorkel, fish and SCUBA dive, and to get a taste of these gorgeous waters and the lives they sustain. The waters reach almost 30 degrees Celsius at times and visibility averages around 30 metres. Sailing conditions are ideal all year round, which is great news for boating enthusiasts who wish to enjoy their holidays on the water. Surfers are advised to pay the Seychelles a visit during September for optimal conditions.

Mahé is the main island of the Seychelles and boasts almost 70 different beaches! It is littered with mountains, the highest of which towers over 900 metres. Those tourists visiting on yacht are welcome to spend the night at anchor. Otherwise, there are many tourist- and accommodation facilities that cater to the international market. The various restaurants, cafés and eateries offer an array of traditionally Creole dishes as well as fresh seafood, vegetables and so on. If you prefer your own fare, drop a line in these teeming waters and enjoy the thrill of enjoying the fruits of very little hard labour.

Image of a Seychelles Beach.
Seychelles Beach.

Because of the perfect diving conditions, the Seychelles cater to the needs and wants of its visitors by providing many dive centres. These provide equipment and instructors for inexperienced or experienced divers. Most of the centres try to combine stunning scenery and a proliferation of wildlife under the water. Some of the fascinating creatures include turtles, stingrays, crayfish (depending on the depth of the water) and even sharks. Shipwrecks are also visible on some tours, including the Ennerdale and Dredger wrecks, while the coral formations are sure to take your breath away. Tourists visiting the Seychelles with the intention of diving are advised to enquire about group packages, as many operators include picnics or sundowners as part of their experience.

Desroches Island is home to stunning sights as canyons and dive caves populate its landscape. These provide fantastic day trips that will leave lasting memories of this area’s natural beauty. Aldabra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being home to the world’s largest raised coral atoll.

The Seychelles have proved to be one of the most rewarding destinations for visitors from all over the world seeking sunshine, sand and sea in gorgeous surrounds.

For more information, please view: http://www.seychelles.travel/en/home/index.php

 

Madagascar


Madagascar is a group of African islands in the Indian Ocean, off the African coastline. It is abundant in beautiful and unique animal life. It is also home to a plethora of birdlife and plant species. Over recent years, Madagascar has become increasingly popular amongst tourists who recognise its natural, cultural and historical value as a destination.

In terms of its natural abundance, Madagascar boasts 12 000 different species of plants, of which 10 000 are endemic to the island. Many animals have made the gorgeous island of Madagascar their home. These include the unique primate species of lemur, which are only found in this area of the world. Other one-of-a-kind animals include hissing cockroaches and Dracula ants.

Image of Beach near Fort Dauphin, Madagascar.
Beach near Fort Dauphin, Madagascar.

Its stunning coastline stretches for 5000 km; ideal for visitors from all over the world who wish to relax in sandy, sun-kissed bliss. Nosy Be comprises several Madagascan islands with stunning beaches. Nosy Iranja and Mitsio Isles are two of the most popular spots in terms of gorgeous beaches. Andilana beach is situated at the northernmost tip of Nosy Be and is the easiest beach to access for visitors. Ile Ste-Marie is also highly recommended. These coves are particularly tropical in appearance. The beaches are excellent for swimming and snorkelling, exploring the famous coral reefs, or simply relaxing on and watching the whales migrating between July and October each year.

Madagascar is also rich in a cultural sense. There are over 18 ethnic groups that make up the heritage of this island. These, as well as the many other nationalities who have settled on these shores, have become well known for their hospitality, which is extended to the tourists visiting Madagascar. Visitors are encouraged to witness a Hira Gasy performance, a 5-themed show that includes singing, dancing and narration. The themes usually focus on farming, social issues, weddings and / or family life. Every seven years, the Antambahoaka tribe in Mananjary, Madagascar, throw a party that lasts for an entire four weeks. This is called the Sambatra and is a celebration based on the circumcision ritual. These celebrations display the tribal roots of this civilisation, which provides tourists with a first-hand encounter of the local custom.

Image of the Madagascar Plains.
Madagascar Plains.

The Tsiafajovona Mountain towers an impressive 2643 metres and is one of the highest mountains on the island. Another popular tourist hotspots is the Ambohidratrimo Palace, with its royal tombs and decorated stones. Tana, officially known as Antananarivo, boasts the Queen’s Palace, Analakely market and the gorgeous Tsimbazaza Zoological & Botanical Gardens. The Andisabe Nature Reserve, several other national parks, and the Waterfalls of Ambavaloza and Andriamamovoka will delight nature lovers from the world over.

In addition to these natural and cultural wonders, Madagascar is also a fantastic destination for eco-tourists and adventure travellers. It is secluded enough to entertain honeymooners and fun enough for the entire family. Surely then, Madagascar makes for the ideal holiday destination.

For more information, please view: http://www.wildmadagascar.org/