Africa is one of the most incredible places in this world and a place we could easily spend months, if not a whole year, exploring. You’ll be hard-pressed to find such a diversity of landscapes, people, wildlife, adventure, culture and pure soul anywhere else but Africa. It has a very special place in both of our hearts.
Below are our top highlights of Africa, based on visiting 11 African countries (Morrocco, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda & Rwanda) over several months.
Add them to your bucket list! And let us know any of your own.
1/ Spot Wildlife on World Class Safaris
There’s absolutely no denying that the main draw to Africa is the African safaris (game drives) and to be honest, it should be #1 on anyone’s bucket list. There is an abundance of National Parks to view the “Big 5” (Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo and Lion) from world-renowned parks such as Kruger National Park in South Africa, The Masai Mara in Kenya, The Serengeti in Tanzania to the vast open space that is Etosha National Park, Namibia or explore a different way via a boat safari on the Chobe River, Botswana.
Wherever you go, you’ll be in awe of the magnificent animals that fill these National Parks and no matter how many times you do it, it will never, ever get old!
2/ Eat Breakfast with Giraffes, Kenya
Where else in the world can you eat breakfast with Giraffes? If there’s somewhere and we don’t know about it, then please let us know! Giraffe Manor, in Nairobi Kenya, is a one of a kind boutique hotel offering extremely elegant rooms with an experience you’ll never forget.
Wake up before sunrise, grab a seat at the breakfast table and get ready to share your croissant with these friendly creatures. In the afternoon, enjoy tea and scones whilst feeding the giraffes up close and personal. Watch out for those greedy tounges and headbutts! Note: This hotel books up well in advance, so get in early to avoid any disappointment.
3/ Reside in Luxury at a Private Game Reserve
We’ve been to some pretty incredible places around this world but nothing tops the experience we had a luxury lodge in the heart of the African bush. Our experience at Phinda Private Game Reserve, still to this day is our #1 experience worldwide and it’ll be a real challenge to ever get it to #2 unless we head back to another lodge in the future, which is highly likely!
A day at a luxury safari lodge always begins with a sunrise game drive catered to you, followed by a scrumptious breakfast, relaxation in pure peace and quiet, a 3-course lunch, an afternoon safari drive and dinner in an unforgettable setting. All of this whilst receiving top-notch service in a very unique form of accommodation.
Note: These experiences range from $400 p.p per night to over $1000 USD p.p, all-inclusive. See andBeyond Luxury African Safaris for a variety of options.
4/ Get Splashed by Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia
Can you really say you’ve visited Victoria Falls if you aren’t completely drenched in them? Victoria Falls defines the border separating Zimbabwe and Zambia and has a length of over 1 km and a height of over 100 m. During our Tucan Tour, we visited the falls from both Zimbabwe and Zambia sides and were able to get 2 very different perspectives, with neither disappointing.
The sound of the falls could be heard from blocks away as well as the mist of water in the air. If bungy jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa doesn’t work in your itinerary, why not try it at Vic Falls? Please note, the jump is half the size (110m) but double the cost ($160 USD vs $60 USD)!
5/ Drive The Garden Route, South Africa
Do you love road trips with coastal views? Endless stops? Delicious wine? Adrenaline activities and countless animal encounters? If the answer is yes, then you best start planning your road trip along The Garden Route where you’ll find every one of these activities. The Garden Route is a scenic stretch of the south-eastern coast of South Africa and is one of our all-time favourites! It comes highly recommend to any traveller, young or old. Note: If you aren’t able to drive this yourself, you can hop on and hop off Baz Bus.
6/ Trek with Gorillas, Uganda
We’ve touched on the subject of safaris already but this particular animal encounter takes it to another level! There is only one place in the entire world that allows you to trek alongside mountain gorillas and that is in Uganda and Rwanda and The Republic of Congo. This opportunity is a once in a lifetime experience that can’t be described as any less than phenomenal. We never in a million years expected to have a stare off with a silverback as well as find ourselves so close to their majestic family! You can find all the relevant information as well as our experience here.
7/ Face Your Fears Bungy Jumping, South Africa
Ever wondered what it felt like to Bungy Jump off the world’s tallest bridge? Face Adrenalin will look after you from start to finish as you jump off the Bloukrans Bridge, at a staggering height of 200m.
Mentally I was extremely unprepared, in fact, my immediate answer was a hard NO. They did insinuate that I may change my mind so they weighed me, put me in a harness and said: “just in case” (I guess this happens all too often!). With the loud music pumping and the encouragement from others, sure enough, 20 minutes later I was head first towards a river, screaming louder than I even thought I could.
It was so exhilarating and god damn frightening, but really, so much fun. If there’s one thing I learnt from this experience is was “fear is temporary, regret is permanent”. Do it, you’ve come all this way! What’s the worst that can happen? I mean, really?
8/ Enjoy The Wine Regions, South Africa
No trip to South Africa is complete without visiting the Cape Winelands, the largest winemaking region in South Africa. The Cape Winelands are located North East of Cape Town and contain some of the most magnificent wineries. Two of the most popular regions are Stellenbosch or Franschhoek and they can be reached in only an hour from Cape Town.
Instead of driving ourselves around Franschoek, we took the Franschhoek Wine Tram (say no to drink driving!) and we sampled wines from 5 different vineyards before finishing off our day with a picnic lunch at Mont Rochelle. A beautiful setting, nestled among mountains, a lake and vineyards. Wine tastings are as little as $2! :O
9/ Take a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Everything looks better from above, especially when you’re looking down at something as spectacular as the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta is a huge area of very slow flowing water fed by the Kavango River. The water fans out from the river into a labyrinth of channels, lagoons and palm-covered islands before evaporating over the sands of the Kalahari Desert. What a world we live in.
All of the water reaching the Delta is evaporated and transpired and does not flow into any sea or ocean. Each year approximately 11 cubic km’s of water spread out over the 6,000-15,000 km² area. During our flight, we saw herds of buffalos, elephants, rhinos and giraffes. It was only after our flight did we understand the real beauty of the Okavango Delta. It was extremely impressive to see such a vast range of land from above.
10/ Baffle at the Great Migration, Tanzania
Every year during June – September, hundreds of 1000’s of wildebeest and zebras cross over the plains of the Masai Mara, Kenya to the Serengeti, Tanzania. It is a sight that can only be experienced in Africa and one that will forever leave a mark in your mind. To get the entire experience we highly recommend a sunrise hot air balloon ride to get the full scale of the open plains as well as the ridiculous amount of animals below you. The sunrise experience will honestly leave you speechless. Have extra time? You could consider climbing Mt Kenya or for the bold, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
11/ Waddle with the Penguins at Boulder Beach, South Africa
No need to visit Antartica to see an abundance of Penguins waddling. You can find these interesting creatures in South Africa nestled between Simon’s Town and Cape Point at Boulders Beach. The beach is accessible to swim in as well as viewing the penguins, however, the majority of the penguins are found at Foxy’s beach, a short walk along the Willis Walk boardwalk. Be prepared to block your noses at times, it can be quite smelly and the water is rather chilly!
12/ Hike Table Mountain, South Africa
Table Mountain is the most iconic landmark in Cape Town. The mountain can be seen from anywhere in the city and can either be reached via hiking or by cable car. Alternatively, you can combine the two and hike up and take the cable car down (recommended). From the top, enjoy the sweeping views of the coastline, neighbourhoods and city. Be sure to follow the correct path (The Platteklip Gorge) to reach the top for the most direct route. Note: The beginning of the hike is not at the cable car station.
13/ Hit the Idyllic Beaches
Africa is home to some of the world’s most picturesque beaches. From the beaches in Cape Town to the coast of Mozambique. The blue turquoise, clean waters with soft sand and calm waters are perfect for any vacationer. Grab a surfboard and learn to surf at Jeffreys Bay, sip a cocktail on the island of Zanzibar or head out diving in beautiful waters of Mozambique. If we had it our way, Seychelles would be next on our list! Oh, what heaven!
14/ Go Diving with Great White Sharks, South Africa
It’s never been a dream of mine to come head to head with a great white shark but when the opportunity arose in South Africa we didn’t think twice and boy did we get a kick out of it! Gansbaai, located on the south coast of South Africa is often referred to as the “great white capital of the world” and people flock here yearly to jump in a cage and come eye to eye with the bosses themselves. As soon as we went out to sea we geared up in our 2 wetsuits (it was freeeezing!) and waited for the call to jump right into the frigid waters.
Thankfully our adrenaline blanket kicked in because almost immediately there’s a shout from the staff “jump in, get down and hold your breath”! I almost swallowed the ocean forgetting to keep my mouth closed as the cage vibrated. The shark’s nose jammed between the top two bars and we came eye to eye with the largest great white shark. I could have reached out and touched it (but I knew better) but it did feel like our toes could have been lunch! If you’re prone to seasickness, don’t forget to take some tablets!
15/ Ride a Camel Through the Sahara Desert, Morrocco
Did you know that the Sahara Dessert is almost the same size as the United States? That’s a lot of land! Morrocco was the second stop on our 2.5-year adventure around the world. We dove headfirst into a culture shock but loved every minute of it. Riding a camel through the Sahara Dessert is a memory forever planted in my mind. We peacefully rode our camels through the bright red sand and arrived at our glamp site (aka glamorous campsite) just after sunset.
We hopped off our camel’s back and saw a fire blazing, a plate of mint tea & biscuits waiting. We spent the evening at the camp with live Berber music, a large dinner, and by far, the most stars I’ve ever seen! I looked over at Jacob and said: “my life couldn’t be more complete, can you even believe where we are right now?”. There are many different companies and campsites offering a range of these tours, however, we stayed at Riad Madu and would highly recommend them.
16/ Discover the Namib Desert, Namibia
Get up at 4:00 am they say, it’ll be worth it! Sometimes early wake-up calls can be questioned, but not this time. Hiking up Dune 45 – one of the most photographed dunes in the world – is absolutely stunning. The sand covering these dunes is 5 million years old and is bright red in colour due to its iron oxide content.
As the lighting changes over the day so do the appearance of the dune’s colours. At the base, the climb looks easy but 5 minutes in, you realise for every step forward you slide some back. The air is thin and the breeze is cold but the views from the top are entirely worth it. The best part about this hike? Running full throttle down the other side of the soft, red, vibrant sand!
17/ Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering your skills, whether they are in child care, with the elderly, construction, hospitality or any other skills you may have goes a long way to people less fortunate than yourself. Not only do you offer your services, you immerse yourself deeper in the culture and essence of the country you’re visiting – much more than the average tourist.
There’s a lot of stigmas online about volunteering abroad and people only doing it for the “photo” but from experience, volunteering and spending time with people is so much more than taking a photo, especially when it comes to playing with and nurturing orphaned children in the rural areas of Africa.
We visited Langbos Creche in Addo and helped raise over $2000+ to build a new safe centre for their school. You can see the fundraiser here as well as their progress. Volunteer projects can be as short as a week to as long as a year, depending on the job at hand. Most volunteer projects require you to pay a fee, which to some makes no sense but take a step back and realise the money you are paying is actually going towards the community that you are helping and accommodation that you stay in.
Is there anything better than putting a smile on the face of another human? Please do your research, as there are a lot of scams when it comes to volunteering in Africa. We’ve also volunteered with IVHQ and can recommend them.
Africa truly is a one-of-a-kind holiday destination and should be visited at least once in a lifetime!
Which one of these experiences would you like to do the most? Let us know!
Married Days Survived: 958