CONGO BASIN* – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea
GREAT RIFT VALLEY – Stretches from Dead Sea to Mozambique Coast
Lake Malawi. The Great Rift Valley holds 3 of the world’s largest lakes: Malawi, Tanganyika and Victoria. Malawi, the smallest of the three, is bigger than Massachusetts. Up to 700m deep. Forms 75% of Malawi’s eastern border with Mozambique and Tanzania. 850 different species of cichlids, all evolved from a single ancestor stranded eons ago (more species than any other fresh-water lake in the world). Most are mbuna, a colourful fish that lives in rocky areas and is aggressive and territorial. When to go: May-Oct – dry season; Oct-Nov best for wildlife viewing but hot; Nov-April wet season very warm and humid, millions of swarming lake flies. Cape McClear – sand and granite hills on slender finger of land at southern end of lake; legendary backpacker hangout with sun, snorkelling, chill in village, stay in reed huts on beach; one of most famous freshwater dive sites in world. Bugs in wet rainy season. Chintheche has some of best white sand beaches on lake and superf birdwatching – green coucals, Gunning’s robins, narina trogons and palm-nut vultures. Senga Bay, north of Cape MacClear, has islands with monitor lizards, African fish eagles and breeding colonies of white-breasted and reed cormorants. Good snorkelling for beginners. Mbenji Island – for more experienced divers. Underwater visibility peaks in August and September. Nkhata Bay – on far north of lake, stepped shore drops rapidly to 150m; dive for ciclids, catfish and crabs, dolphin fish and eels on night dives. Get there on Air Malawi to Lilongwe, then bus to towns and villages along the shores.
KALAHARI DESERT* – Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
LAKE TANGANYIKA – Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Zambia
SAHARA – Tunisia*, Morocco*, Mauritania*, Mali*, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Niger, Chad, Sudan. The largest non-Arctic desert and the size of the United States, it stretches more than 9 million sq. km across most of North Africa. Very harsh climate with surface temperatures to 50C in June to August. Annual rainfall less than 20mm in parts. In winter in Jan-March, may be well below freezing at night. Seasonal winds with sand storms and dust devils. It’s desert landforms shaped by wind and rain are ergs (sand seas), hamadas (stone plateaus), regs (gravel plains), wadis (dry valleys) and choltts (salt flats).
Classic oasis towns are Merzouga in Morocco, Tamanasset in Algeria, Ghadamis in Libya, Douz in Tunisia and Siwa in Egypt. Oasis are fed by underground system of flowing rivers sustained by snow on mountains in the Sahara. See the flaming orange dunes of Erg Chebbi in Morocco, chalky mineral deposits of the White Desert in Egypt, Roman ruins of Leptis Magna slong the Mediterranean coast in Libya, Ahaggar Mtns in Algeria and date palmeries in Tunisia. Luxor (Thebes) in Egypt, the Great Sand Sea straddles Egypt and Libya, 800km long, 72,000 sq km, some of the largest dunes in the world including one 140kms long. The Arab language unites the great diversity of peoples and countries that call the Sahara home.
Unesco: 1. Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad 2. Djemila 3. Kasbah of Algiers 4. M’Zab Valley 5. Tassili n’Ajjer 6. Timgad 7. Tipasa
Natural: 1. Tassili N’Ajjer, Illizi 2. Hoggar Mountains, Tamanghasset
ASCENSION ISLAND (UNITED KINGDOM)
Mid=Atlantic Ridge (rises 10,000′ from Atlantic floor, bleak lunar landscape of undulating lava flows dotted with craters and cones, seabirds, fish, arificial forest from introduced plants, green sea turtles migrate from Brazil to breed)
Unesco: Royal Palaces of Abomey*
Unesco: Tsodilo Hills – ochre and white rock paintings created by ancestral San artists in the late Stone Age.
1,000 Things: 1. Jack’s Camp – Permanent safari camp started by Ostrich Jack in 60s in middle of Kalahari Desert. Bushmen led walks. With rain comes flamingos, wildebeest, zebra, all the predators. 50 minute air charter from Maun. Best May-September after the rainy season. 2. Abu’s Camp – Okavango Delta is world’s largest inland delta. Transportation by elephant gives access to otherwise impossible places. Elephant smell masks the human smell allowing close access to wildlife.
Natural: 1. Tsodilo Hills, Ngamiland
2. Okavango Delta, Ngamiland – The rainy season in Angola pumps huge volumes of water down the tributaries that feed the mighty Okavango River. 16,000 sq. km inland delta where the Okavango River meets the Kalahari Desert to produce the world’s largest oasis the size of Switzerland. Floodplains, lagoons, channels and islands have birds, elephants, zebras, buffalos, giraffes and hippos. Chacma baboons can live for over 45 years. Sitatunga is an amphibious antelope with long, splayed hooves adapted to the muddy terrain. Moremi Wildlife Reserve on eastern fringe very scenic. Moremi has African hunting dogs, among the rarest of carnivores with 30% of Africa’s total population. No bad time to visit: summer rains (late Dec-Mar) make roads a problem. Floods from rain in Angola come in the winter, which coincides with the dry season (Jul-Oct). Wildlife watching best Sept-Oct when hot and humid. Low-season still good and much cheaper.
3. Chobe River – Western Strip, Zambia Chobe NP in corner of Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Varied wildlife best known for Africa’s highest concentration of elephants numbering in the tens of thousands. River in north of park has vast herds of buffalo, zebra impala, wildebeest, antelope, cheetahs, wild dogs hyenas, elephant and lions. Best during the dry season (May-Oct) when seasonal water disappears and wildlife concentrates around a few scattered waterholes. Savuti is a section of the park with a unique hydrology with limited access to water in the dry season. This drives lion prides to take on potentially dangerous animals such as lone adult elephants. Lions on the hunt are a common sight. The Choba Riverfront is the most famous part of the NP as see animals as they come down to the river’s edge to drink and you see them from a boat. See from a mokoro, a traditional dug-out canoe with The Okavango Polers Trust, a collective run by the villagers of Seronga. All profits are shared by the workers.
4. Choba, Makgadikgadi Pans, Central District. Access from Kasane in NE Botswana. Chobe is one of the best places to see interactions between the super-predators: lions (unchallenged at the top of the pecking order), hyenas (danger to young lions, drive small prides of lions off their kill, dominate other hunters and follow lions on the hunt), leopards and cheetahs (at the very bottom of the hierarchy, cheetahs have sacrificed brute force for speed and can’t physically overpower the others so invariably give way to them, regardless of numbers. Visit with very expensive lodges or camps in the Inner Delta or Moremi Game Reserve or as an independent traveller arranging mokoro trips from Maun or Seronga to see the eastern delta by 4WD or camps run by the Department of Wildlife & National Parks.
5. Savuti Channel – links the Savuti Marshes with the Okavango Delta to create an oasis for herds and birds. Stops and starts with little rhyme or reason: its flow is independent of the Chobe River. At times the channel has even stopped flowing for years at a stretch (from 1888-1957, 1966-1967 and 1979 to mid 1990s). Some believe this is due to plate tectonics that control an imperceptible, gradual flexing of the surface crust. The minimum change required to open or close the channel is estimated to be at least 9m and there’s evidence that this has happened at least five times over the past century. Access from Maun (on SE) or Seronga on the norhtwest. See by mokoro and walking on islands and dry patches, horse or by air to grasp the scale of the flooding
6. Kalahari – see brown hyenas in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
7. San People of D’kar in the harsh environment of Botswana’s interior. Makgadikgadi Pans – the planet’s largest area of salt pans with ostriches, elephants and much more as the spring rains arrive. 8. Deception Valley, Ghanzi
Unesco: The Ruins of Loropeni
Unesco: Dja Faunal Reserve
Natural: Mount Cameroon*, Sud-Ouest Province
Natural: 1. Pico de Teide, Tenerife 2. Los Roques de Garcia, Tenerife 3. Lunar Landscape, Tenerife 4. Los Organos, La Gomera 5. Arico Gorge, Tenerife 6. Alegranza
Unesco: Cidade Velha, Historic Center of Ribeiro Grande
Natural: Pico de Fogo (active volcano on island of Fogo, north fertile with wine, peanuts, beans, coffee, oranges, tobacco)
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Unesco: Manovo-Gounda St Floris NP
Natural: 1. Emi Koussi, Bourkou, Ennedi, Tibesti 2. Ennedi Gorge, Bourkou, Ennedi, Tibesti 3. Lake Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, chad
CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE
Unesco: 1. Garamba NP 2. Kahuzi-Biega NP 3. Okapi Wildlife Reserve 4. Salonga NP 5. Virunga NP
Natural: 1. Virunga Mountains, Uganda, Rwanda 2. Mountains of the Moon, Uganda 3. Lake Kivu, Rwanda 4. Congo River, Katanga
Unesco: 1. Comoe NP 2. Mt Nimba Strict Nature Reserve 3. Tai NP
Natural: Mount Nimba, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia
Natural: Lake Assal, Tadjoura
Unesco: 1. Abu Mena. 19th century rest house and hunting lodge of empire-building Khedive ismail now a hotel. 2. Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis. On the site of ancient Themes, the capital of Egypt’s New Kingdom. On east bank is Temple of Karnak is 100 acre site built over 1,500 years. 60,000 sq. ft Hypostyle hall with 134 columns 80′ high and 33′ around. Linked by 2-mile Nile-side promenade with the twin shrine of the Temple of Luxor. On west bank is City of the dead with Valley of Kings (Tutankhamen), Valley of the Queens. 3. Historic Cairo 4. Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur. Only Wonder of the Ancient World to have survived. The funerary Great Pyramid of Cheops 2500BC is oldest and largest with 2.3 million limestone blocks weighing an average 2.75 tons each and moved by a force of 20,000 men. Best at dawn and dusk. 5. Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae 6. Saint Catherine Arca 7. Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley)
Natural: 1. Taba Wildlife Reserve, Janub Sina 2. Siwa Oasis, Matruh. The Western Desert covers 2/3 of Egypt. Oasis near Libyan border on centuries-old caravan route. Famous for dates and olives. 300 springs with 300,000 palm trees and 70,000 olive trees. Birds. Siwan culture and customs remain same. Rock salt houses, candlelit alleys. Speak Siwi, a Berber dialect. Women black veils, complex braids and ornate silver jewelry. 3. Sannur Cave, Beni-Suef 4. White Desert, Al Wadi Al Jadid.
1000 Things: 1. Nile Cruise. To or from Aswan and the Luxor area. 200 ships. 2. Aswan. Near the Sudanese border 5 days above Luxor. Palm-studded islands and huge granite boulders. Once Roman Empire’s southernmost town. Crossroads of caravan routes. Old markets in gold, slaves and ivory and now spices, perfumes and produce. 3. Sinai. Treks by foot, jeep or camel with Bedouin guide to oases and nomadic camps from Nuweiba on the Gulf of Aqaba. Byzantine monastery of Santa katerina on Mount Sinai (Ten Commandments and Moses). Coloured Canyon. Annual camel races at Wadi Zalaga in mid-January. 4. Diving on the Red Sea. One of best places in world to dive with diverse marine life and spectacular clarity with visibility often in excess of 150 feet due to lack of rainfall and no runoff. 10% endemic species. Sharm el-Sheik on southernmost tip best diving. Ras Mohammed was Egypt’s first national marine park. Live-aboards give best access to pristine reefs, steep drop-offs, sea mounts and wrecks. 5. Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Unparalleled collection arranged chronologically. Founded in 1858, a visit is overwhelming. 6. Khan el-Khalili. One of world’s greatest bazaars started in 1382. 7. islamic Cairo. Cairo of 6 or 7 centuries ago. Animals, donkey carts, vendors. Citadel of Salah al-Din 12th century has great panoramas. Mosque of Ibn Tulun 9th century. Islamic Art Museum spans 7th to 19th centuries. Madrassas and mausoleums.
Unesco: 1. Aksum 2. Fasil Ghebbi, Gondur Region – Capital of Ethiopian empire in 17th century under Emperor Fasil, lasted 250 years. 5 castles and high stone walls, often called the Camelot of Africa. Religious centre with many churches (Debre Birhan Selassie with famed 17th-century fresco ceiling). 471 miles north of Addis at foothills of Simien Mts, one of the highest ranges in Africa. Best at Xmas and Epiphany on January 19. 3. Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town 4. Konso Cultural Landscape 5. Lower Valley of the Awash 6. Lower Valley of the Omo 7. Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela – Built 12th and 13th centuries in remote mountain town. Each of the 11 churches unique carved from solid bedrock below ground level with ceilings to 30′, courtyards, and a maze of tunnels and passages. Best at Xmas and Epiphany. The “new Jerusalem”.
Natural: 1. Erta Lake, Tigray 2. Lake Tana, Amhara – Ethiopia’s largest lake and the source of the Blue Nile (converges with the white Nile at Khartoum. Go on boat trips to monasteries. Blue Nile Falls – the Nile pours over a sheer chasm at the village of Tis Isat. 3. Blue Nile Falls, Amhara 4. Lake Karum, Danakil 5. Simien Mountains – Dramatic massive 4000m-high table of rock riven with gullies. Views from edge of plateau falling sheer to the plains far below. Gelada baboons scale impossible rock faces, Walia ibexes the southernmost ibexes in the world. Has 20 peaks above 4000m, formed by volcanic eruptions 40m years ago with layer upon layer of lava building to 4000m.When? December to March driest. October, after the rainy season, it is the greenest plus wildflowers. June-Sept is the rainy season with mist that obscures the views and trails slippery; rain in short, sharp downpours so still assured of several hours of clear, dry weather. Leave trailhead town of Debark, climb Mt. Bwahit, 150m short of the tallest in the range. Acclimatize. Climb Ras Dashen, Simien’s highest peak. Avoid tours as expensive. Instead hire the same services from the park headquarters in Debark. Scouts (park rangers armed in case of encounters with wild animals) are compulsory (mules, cooks will come along), official guides recommended especially as translators. Otherwise arrange everything yourself easily. Getting there: Addis Ababa to Gondar by air or 2-day bus, bus to Debark. 6. Danaki Depression – 100m below sea level. Erta Ale is a basaltic shield volcano, the most active volcano in Ethiopia, renowned for a summit caldera with long-term lava lakes.
Tigray – 120 rock-hewn churches cut into the top of rock spires in seemingly impossible-to-reach positions. Visiting involves steep climbs or scrambling up almost-sheer rock faces using toeholds.
Unesco: 1. Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lope-Okanda*
Unesco: 1. james Island and Related Sites 2. Stone Circles of Senegambia
Unesco: 1. Asnate Traditional Buildings 2. Forts and Castles, Volta*, Greater Accra*, Central and Western Regions
Natural: Kintampo Falls*, Brong-Ahafo
Unesco: 1. Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve*
Unesco: 1. Fort Jesus, Mombasa 2. Lake Turkana NPs 3. Lamu Old Town – Tiny island is Kenya’s oldest living city with ancient Swahili and Islamic culture. No cars on narrow lanes. Port town connecting Africa to Arabia. Peponi Hotel famous, 19th century mosque. 4. Mount Kenya NP/National Forest 5. Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley 6. Sacre Mijikenda Kaya Forests
1,000 Things: 1. Ol Donyo Wuas. Privately owned wilderness lodge (richardbonhamsafaris.com) in Masai land. Vast panoramas, Masai herders, day safaris. Best Dec-May. 2. Borana Lodge and Wilderness Trails are two private cattle ranches: game drives on horseback, Ngare Segoi Rhino Sanctuary. Best mid-July to November and mid-December to March. 3. Little Governor’s Camp – old fashioned canvas tent safari camp accessible only by boat in Masai Mara. 4. Mount Kenya Safari Club – On the equator on 7,000′ ridge 3-hour drive north of Nairobi. 5. Pemba Channel Fishing Club – State of the art fishing boats in channel between SE Kenya and Pemba Island. Biggest fish in Africa: marlin, sailfish, swordfish, wahoo and tuna, mako shark, tiger shark. Diving.
Natural: 1. Lake Turkana, Rift Valley 2. Lake Baringo, Rift Valley 3. Lake Magadi, Rift Valley 4. Thompson’s Falls, Rift Valley 5. Mount Elgon’s Elephant Caves, Rift Valley 6. Lake Bogoria, Rift Valley 7. Lava Tubes, Eastern Province 8. Mara River Crossing, Rift Valley – When rainy season ends in May, wildebeest migration from the Serengeti (Masai for ‘endless plains’) in Tanzania north to the wide-open grasslands of Kenya’s Masai Mara where they arrive in July and August. Also migrating zebra, antelope, gazelle, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes and elephants. See horseback or by hot-air balloon. Best Jul-Sept in Kenya’s Masia Mara Game Reserve and May-June in Tanzania’s Serengeti NP.
Unesco: 1. Archaeological Site of Cyrene 2. Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna 3. Archaeological Site of Sabratha 4. Old Town of Ghadames 5. Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus
Unesco: 1. Rainforests of the Atsinanana 2. The Royal Hillof Ambahimango 3. Tsingy de Bermaraha Strict Nature Reserve
1,000 Things: 1. Rafting Mangoky River – Calm water paddle in remote SW corner with lemurs, plants, butterflies, baobabs, chameleons. Trekking, markets and villages. 3 week trip by remoterivers.com – only in May.
Natural: 1. Tsingy Lands, Mahajanga (razor sharp pinnacles some to 100′ high, 70″ rain/year, lemurs)
2. Ankarana Plateau (karst, caverns and tunnels, lemurs, sunken forests)
3. Lemurs. Madagascar is hundreds of kilometres from Africa and separated by 165 million years of evolution – long enough to evolve many odd forms: worlds largest and smallest chameleons, elephant bird (largest bird ever recorded) and 70 kinds of lemur. Parc national d’Andasibe-Mantadia – best visited from Sept-Jan and May (wet season is Nov-Mar and dry is April-Oct). Indri are the largest lemur, have a call that can travel up to 3km. Nocturnal mouse lemurs seen on night walks. Get there take a bush taxi from Antananarivo to Moramanga and then a direct taxi to Andasibe.
4. Baobabs (the largest has a 47m circumference, is a bar and can seat 50). Avenue du BAobab on either side of the road 15km north of Monrondava has some 1000-year-old trees. Of the 8 species of baobab, six are found only in Madagascar. Have no leaves, branches resemble tree roots, swollen bulbous trunks fill each wet season with up to 120,000 litres of water to get through the next dry season.
5. Tsaranoro Massif – just outside the west boundary of PN d’Andringitra in central Madagascar. 800m high rock face of the best rock climbing areas in the world.
6. Belo sur Mer – Seaside village with seven little known coral-fringed islands off its coast with excellent diving with big fish, octopus and turtles.
Natural: 1. Cabo Girao 2. Caldeirao Verde
Unesco: 1. Chongoni Rock-Art Area 2. Lake Malawi NP
1,000 Things: 1. Nyika NP Horseback rides – views, grasslands, mountain air, no vehicles. See eland, roan, reedbuck, bushbuck and zebra. Wildflowers (200 kinds of orchid) in October to April. 2. Lake Malawi. The Great Rift Valley holds 3 of the world’s largest lakes: Malawi, Tanganyika and Victoria. Malawi, the smallest of the three, is bigger than Massachusetts. Up to 700m deep. Forms 75% of Malawi’s eastern border with Mozambique and Tanzania. 850 different species of cichlids, all evolved from a single ancestor stranded eons ago (more species than any other fresh-water lake in the world). Most are mbuna, a colourful fish that lives in rocky areas and is aggressive and territorial. When to go: May-Oct – dry season; Oct-Nov best for wildlife viewing but hot; Nov-April wet season very warm and humid, millions of swarming lake flies. Cape McClear – sand and granite hills on slender finger of land at southern end of lake; legendary backpacker hangout with sun, snorkelling, chill in village, stay in reed huts on beach; one of most famous freshwater dive sites in world. Bugs in wet rainy season. Chintheche has some of best white sand beaches on lake and superf birdwatching – green coucals, Gunning’s robins, narina trogons and palm-nut vultures. Senga Bay, north of Cape MacClear, has islands with monitor lizards, African fish eagles and breeding colonies of white-breasted and reed cormorants. Good snorkelling for beginners. Mbenji Island – for more experienced divers. Underwater visibility peaks in August and September. Nkhata Bay – on far north of lake, stepped shore drops rapidly to 150m; dive for ciclids, catfish and crabs, dolphin fish and eels on night dives. Get there on Air Malawi to Lilongwe, then bus to towns and villages along the shores.
Unesco: 1. Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) Geographically isolated intriguing civilization that resisted both Christianity and Islam, preserving the traditions and customs of its animist ancestors, who came here 700 years ago perhaps from Libya. Best Time Nov-March 2. Old Towns of Djenne – Timbuktu’s sister city of trade, 220 miles SW. Affluent, powerful, centre of Islamic learning (children sent from all over W Africa to be educated here). One of world’s most beautiful mud-brick towns. Superb Great Mosque is largest and most elaborate mud structure in the world (touched up each after the heavy rains). 3. Timbuktu – Settled by Tauregs in 12th century; 16th century ancient trans-Sahara caravan route; salt and gold near. 3 mosques on Unesco list 4. Tomb of Askia
Natural: Inner Niger Delta, Mopti, Segou, Tombouctou
1. Dogon Country
10 hour drive from Bamako, the capital of Mali with stopovers in Segpi, Djenne or Mopti. Bankiagara, Songo, walk from Sanga to Douro over 2 days.
Unesco: 1. Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt, and Ovalata 2. Banc d’Arguin NP
Natural: Bang D’Arguin, Dakhlet nouadhibou / Azefal
Unesco: 1. Aapravasi Ghat 2. Le Morne Cultural Landscape
Natural: 1. Trou Aux Cerfs, Plains Wilhems 2. Black River Gorges 3. Chamarel, Coloured Earth and Waterfall, Black River /// Diving best with clearest water Mar-May and Sept-Nov.
Unesco: 1. Archaeological Site of Volubilis* – aRoman ruins 35 miles outside of Fez. 2. Historic City of Meknes* 3. Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou 4. City of Meknes* 5. Medina of Essaouira* (formerly Mogador) Small port town with fortified medina – narrow lanes, crafts, artisans, cafes. Surfing and windsurfing destination. 6. Medina of Fez* – perfectly preserved medieval walled town – crammed with alleyways, covered bazaars, workshops, markets and restaurants and their sights, sounds and smells. Largest and most confusing medina in N Africa. Fez Festival of World Sacred Music features 2 concerts/day in various outdoor venues at the end of May. 7. Medina of Marrakesh* – Hotel La Mamounia* is the most special hotel in N Africa. Built in 1920s in the medina on the site of a sultan’s palace with original gardens from 16th century. Place Djemaa el-Fna* is a square iwth buskers, dancers, food stalls and rooftop cafes surrounding the square. Yacout is famous restaurant in the medina. 8. Medina of Tetouan (formerly known as Titawin) 9. Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida)
1,000 Places: 1. Imilchil Betrothal Fair – Annual marriage mart held for 3 days in early September in remote village in central Atlas Mountains. 2. La Gazelle d’Or – Exclusive resort outside Taroudant (“little marrakech” with 4 miles of crenellated 20-foot walls.
Epic Hikes: 1. Trekking the High Atlas: Around Marrakesh are treks to Toubkal, the cedar forests of Michlefen, and the plunging gorges and karsts of the Mgoun Valley. Reasonably flat terrain alternates with treks in 13,000 foot mountains. Best May and October.
Natural: 1. Talassemtane NP, Tetouan 2. Dades Gorge, Ouarzazate 3. Great Sahara – Erg Chebi sand dunes are the highest in Morocco. Desert towns, fortresses, ruins and oases. Berbers and Tuareg herders.
Epic Road Trips: 1. Dades Gorge Mountain Pass
Unesco: Island of Mozambique
Natural: 1. Bazaruto Archipelago NP, Inhambane
Unesco: Twyfelfontein* or /ui-//oes
Natural: 1. Etosha Pan*, Omusati/Oshana – flat depression at the heart of Etosha NP. Incredible variety animals at water holes: elephants, zebras, giraffes, blue wildebeests, springboks, black rhino, flamingos, pelicans when pan fills with water. Huab Lodge is a private game reserve next to Etosha. 2. Cape Cross Seal Reserve*, Kunene – breeding ground for tens of thousands of Cape fur seals on rocks and beaches. Pups arrive late Nov or early Dec. Best visited by aircraft 3. Skeleton Coast*, Kunene – Remote, little explored, solitude treacherous shoreline with shipwrecks and whale bones littering the fog-shrouded beaches. Highest sand dunes on earth at 1000′. Safaris depart Windhoek. The protected area stretches from just north of Swakaopmundd to the Kunene River, 2m hectares of dunes and gravel plains to form one of the world’s most inhospitable waterless areas. 4. Namib Desert* – World’s oldest and driest with 1,000′-high sand dunes especially good at dusk and dawn. Best Apr-Nov. Like the Atacama, it is the result of a cold current sweeping north from Antarctica and capturing and condensing humid air that would otherwise be blown ashore so there is virtually no rain but hardy life sustains itself on the droplets of moisture that condense from the coastal fog. See the rare subspecies of desert elephant. Food and water is so dispersed that they walk up to 80km per day following dry river channels. With smaller bodies and larger feet for maintaining balance in the loose sands, they are well adapted. Seasonal rains fall from January to April provide essential nutrition. Sightings increase after rains when herds are reliant on water holes. Sossusvtel* is a pan set among towering red dunes. Best seen with guide from Skeleton Coast Damp or the Desert Rhino Camp. Also see oryx, black rhino or big cats. 5. Bull’s Party Rocks, Erongo 6. Moon Valley, Erongo 7. Brandberg*, Erongo 8. Spitzkoppe, Otjozondjupa 9. Naukluft Natural Reservoirs, Hardap 10. Sossusvlei* and Sesriem Canyon, Hardap 11. The Fish River Canyon*, Hardap
1001 Things: 1. Etosha NP*: In north, semiarid grassland 10 times the size of Luxembourg, third largest game reserve in the world. 144 species animals, 300 of birds. Etosha Pan seasonal water.
1. Fish River Canyon
Located in the south of Namibia, it is the largest canyon in Africa with a gigantic ravine – about 160 km long, up to 27 km wide and 550 meters deep. The canyon is known for its immense scale, rugged terrain and deeply twisting, meandering lower canyon. The river cuts deep into a dry, stony plateau and flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer; the rest of the year it becomes a chain of long narrow pools.
The 90km long trail drops 620m to end at the hot springs resort of Ai-Aisthe. Most people do it in five days but the 100km ultra marathon held here each year has been done in 8 hours. The trail is only open from May 1 to September 15 because of extreme summer heat and flood danger. The more than 20 river crossings may become a major consideration when water levels are high.
The weather is usually mild with typical temperatures between 5°C and 30°C with little humidity. Water is safe to drink. There are no amenities on the trail. Open fires are not allowed. A medical certificate of fitness is required.
Unesco: 1. Air and Tenere Natural Reserves 2. W NP of Niger
Natural: Tenere Desert, Agadez
Unesco: 1. Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove 2. Sukur Cultural Landscape
Unesco: Pitons, Cirques, and Ramparts of Reunion Island
Natural: 1. Les Cirques 2. Piton de la Fournaise Volcano
Nyungwe Forest NP – old growth equatorial forest, one of the world’s richest biomes.
Unesco: 1. Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary 2. Island of Goree* 3. Island of Saint-Louis* 4. Niokolo-Koba NP 5. Saloum Delta 6. Stone Circles of Senegambia
Unesco: 1. Aldabra Atoll – World’s largest raised coral atoll (50 square miles), contains one of world’s largest lagoons. Isolated ecosystem with unique wildlife: Aldabra tortoises can be 600lbs. Closer to Mombasa Kenya than the principal island of Mahe (1,126kms), it is the most distant of all its islands. Most spectacular drift dive anywhere. Best seen on live aboard yacht 2. Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve
1,000 Things: 1. Desroches Island and Lodge, Amirantes Island (28 islands in archipelago). – small untouched island, pristine white sand beaches. Diving best Feb-Apr and Oct-Nov 2. La Digue Island, Inner Islands – huge granite boulders, unpaved roads, 2,000 natives, beaches, clear water. 3. Ste. Anne Marine NP, Mahe, Inner Islands – Most beautiful marine park in Indian Ocean. Six little islands close to Mahe.
Natural: 1. Aldabra Atoll, Aldabra Group 2. Vallee de Mai, Praslin
Unesco: 1. Cape Floral Region Protected Areas 2. Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs 3. Simangaliso Wetland Park 4. Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape 5. Richtersweld Cultural and Botanical Landscape 6. Robben Island 7. Ukhahlamba / Drakensberg Park 8. Vredefort Dome
Natural: 1. Kruger – Baobabwe, Limpopo/Mpumalanga 2. Modjadji, Limpopo 3. Nylsvley, Limpopo 4. Kruger – the River Lines, Limpopo/Mpumalanga 5. Kruger – Mopane Veld 6. Kruger – Southern Hill Country 7. Kadishi Tufa Falls, Mpumalanga 8. Tswaing Crater – Pretoria Salt Pan, Gauteng 9. Pilanesberg, NW Province 10. Blyde River Canyon, Kwazulu-Natal 11. Bourke’s Luck Potholes 12. Kosi Bay, Kwazulu-Natal 13. Isimangaliso Wetland Park, Kwazulu-Natal 14. Giants Castle, Kwazulu-Natal 15. Oribi Gorge, Kwazulu-Natal 16. Hluhluwe=Umfolozi, Kwazulu-Natal 17. The Drakensberg, Kwazulu-Natal 18. Mont-Aux-Sources, Kwazulu-Natal 19. Golden Gate, Free State 20. The Richtersveld, Northern Cape 21. Augrabies Falls, Northern Cape 22. Namazualand, Northern Cape (NW corner of SA on Atlantic coast, wildflower display after good winter rains) 23. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Botswana 24. Witsand, Northern Cape 25. Sociable Weaver Nest, Northern Cape 26. Lowveld Fever Trees, Zimbabwe 27. Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape 28. Valley of Desolation, Eastern Cape 29. The Compassberg, Eastern Cape 30. Hogsback, Eastern Cape 31. Addo, Eastern Cape 32. Hole in the Wall, Eastern Cape 33. Cape Point, Eastern Cape 34. Cape Hangklip, Eastern Cape 35. Cape Agulhas, Eastern Cape 36. Table Mountain, Western Cape (see below). 2200 species flora (100 iris Sept-Mar). Sunset romantic 37. Cedarberg Range, Western Cape 38. Langebaan Lagoon, Western Cape 39. The Hex River, Western Cape 40. The Swartberg, Western Cape 41. Gamkaskloof – The Hell, Western Cape 42. Cango Caves, Western Cape 43. Great Karoo, Western Cape 44. Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape 45. Tsitsikamma Coast, Western Cape 46. Wilderness Lakes, Western Cape 46. Lakeland – The Garden Route, Eastern and Western Cape 47. Robberg, Eastern and Western Cape
48. Great White Sharks Best at dawn in cooler months mid-April to mid-September. As the water temperature drops, migratory fish depart, leaving only the year-around marine life and concentrating shark-feeding activity on fewer areas and making them easier to spot. Endangered due to overfishing and accidental catching in fishing nets. See great whites eat fur seals. Also see dolphins, whales and birds (albatross, petrel and shearwaters). Cage diving is the biggest thrill – use a snorkel or simply hold your breath for repeated dips. Best place is Seal Islandm just off Cape Town or Dyer Island, a rock outcrop just offshore from Gansbaai, a little farther east. The sharks are baited with a pungent mix of fish blood, oil and guts that attracts the animals but doesn’t provide a meal. If fed from boats, great whites make the connection between man and food, leading to more attacks on humans. Of 100+ annual shark attacks worldwide, half are due to great whites. Most are not fatal with the shark taking just a sample bite. More than 100 million sharks are killed annually by humans, fewer than 25 humans are killed each year by sharks. The max size is about 6m long with the females larger.
49. Boulders Beach, Cape Town – 3000 African penguins live on this beach near Simon’s Town
50. Hermanus – see southern right whales from the shore with binoculars. June-Dec.
51. Marion Island, South Indian Ocean – A tiny speck midway between S Africa and Antarctica. 215,000 breeding adult king penguins, elephant seals, fur seals, albatross and passing whales. When? Weather is consistently bad with cold, rain, wind and perpetual cloud. Summer Dec-Feb highs average 9C. King penguins lay from November to March, incubating a single egg on their feet for nearly two months and the adults then rear the chicks for about a year. Share beach with elephant seals and fur seals that prey on the penguins. Feral cats on the island almost completely wiped out the petrels but an extermination campaign eliminated all cats in the 90s. King penguins are the second largest penguin after Emperors, 80cm tall. Serially monogamous for that breeding cycle. Island claimed by South Africa in 1947. Unfortunately the public is not allowed on Marion but can see king penguins at: St Andrews Bay, South Georgia, Volunteer Beach Falklands (wiped out in the 19th century, now 500 pairs), Tierra del Fuego and Macquarie Island Antarctica, permits required.
1,000 Things: 1. Ellerman House (S. Africa’s finest boutique hotel. Built 1912, 14 guest max) and Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town – Opened 1899, best for high tea, 6 acres of gardens. 2. Bloukrans River Bridge, Eastern Cape – World’s highest bungy jump at 216m.Epic Hikes
1. North Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa/Lesotho, uKhahlamba/Drakensberg Park
Length: 40 miles, from Mont-aux-Sources to Cathedral Peak.
The Trip: This is a big, long backcountry hike with no true trail that requires both outdoor skills and some familiarity with travel in Africa. Many travelers here book guides. The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in South Africa, a vertiginous escarpment of volcanic basalt bursting from ancient sedimentary rocks. The range forms the border between South Africa and eastern Lesotho and the uKhalhlamba/Drakensberg Park is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The Zulus call these peaks uKhahlamba, “barrier of spears.” It is crowned by the Amphitheater, a three-mile-long, up-to-3,280-foot-high wall of rock.
A trek across this epic landscape begins by ascending the 12-mile Mont-aux-Sources, which requires clambering on chain ladders, and a worthy day trip. Here the Tugela River plunges 3,110 feet off the top in a series of five cascades that make for the second highest waterfall in the world. From here, the trek crosses the high plateau—broken by rock formations, views out across the cliffs, and the huts of Sotho herdsman—before it works its way down past more waterfalls and river crossings before meeting up with the welcome civilization of the Cathedral Peak Hotel. Cathedral Peak can be hiked and scrambled on a six-mile jaunt from the Cathedral Peak Hotel. The most popular campsites can be targets for petty crime, so tent off the beaten path or stay at a hut or hostel. It’s not a good idea to hike alone.
The Drakensberg is filled with caves. Some, like the aptly named Rat Hole Cave, are claustrophobic. Others are massive, like the infamous Cannibal Cave, which sheltered San who were persecuted by Zulus and white settlers. They left behind an artistic legacy of cave paintings and makes the Drakensberg one of the most important archaeological sites on the continent.
When to Go: Late summer and fall (March to May)
2. Otter Trail, Tsitsikamma NP – 5-day trek through country’s most spectacular scenery.
Epic Road Trips: 1. Sani Pass 2. Chapman’s Peak Drive
1001 Things: 1. Ellerman House, Bantry Bay, West Cape. 1912 boutique hotel 10 minutes from Cape Town. 2. Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town. 1899 famous hotel. Go for tea. 3. Table Mountain, Cape Town. 3,500′ panorama. Visible for 40 miles. 2200 species plants. Cable car or 2-3h walk from magnificent Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens on the eastern slope. 4. Phinda Resource Resrve, KwaZulu-Natal (300km north of Durban on ocean). Private reserve with 7 ecosystems: boat trips for birds, crocs, hippos. Black rhinos. Mountain and forest lodges $500/day/person. 5. Drakensberg Mtns, Mpumslanga. S Africa’s tallest mountain, rivers, waterfalls, hiking, horses, birds, fishing. Blyde River Canyon – 15 miles long gigantic gorge with lookout at God’s Window. Historic gold rush town. Restored Ndebele tribal village. Best time Sept-Oct and Mar-April. 6. Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumstana. Shares border with Kruger. Made up of 3 private reserves with luxurious lodges. Best times Mar-Oct. 7. Cape Winelands – Around towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek beginning 40km east of Cape Town. 8. Palace of the Lost City, Sun City, NW Province – Entertainment and resort complex. 185 kms NW of Joberg. 9. Rovos Rail and the Blue Train – Luxury steam train: 25hr Cape Town to Knysna through Hottentot Holland Mtns, once a-year 14 day Cape Town to Dar es Salaam. 10. Constantia Wine Region – Western Cape 25 minutes from Cape Town. Historic hotel and restaurant. Buitenverwachting. 11. Garden Route – 130 mile route east of Cape Town along coast. Penguins, dolphins and whales. Wildflowers July-Oct. Otter Trail. Knysna famous for oysters. Heads rock sentinels. Plettenberg Hotel form 1860. 12. Hermanus – See whales in Walker Bay from June to November from 7 mile long cliff. White sharks, penguins, seals
Unesco: 1. Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe 2. Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region
Natural: Sudd Swamps, Bahr Al Jabal
Natural: Sibebe (Bald Rock – exposed meteorite 1,000′ high)
Unesco: 1. Kilmanjaro NP 2. Kondoa Rock-Art Sites 3. Ngorongoro Conservation Area. World’s largest unflooded, intact volcanic caldera 12 miles wide. Wildebeests, zebras and gazelles migrate from one side to the other. Elephants, buffaloes, hippos, lions, rare black rhino. Lake Magadi, in center has year around fresh water with flamingos. Rainy season April-May. 4. Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara 5. Selous Game Reserve. At 20,000 sq miles, may be world’s largest game reserve. Allows walking safaris. River safaris along Rufiji and Lake Tagalala. 6. Serengeti NP 7. Stone Town of Zanzibar. Maze of narrow streets, crooked passages and crumbling houses. Settled by Arab traders with largest slave market on Africa’s east coast. Anglican church.
Natural: 1. Lake Bogoria, Rift Valley 2. Mount Kilimanjaro 3. Ol Doinyo Lengai, Arusha 4. Lake Natron 5. Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha 6. Serengeti – Mara, Arusha, Shinyanga 7. Usambara Mountains, Tanga 8. Gombe Stream NP – chimpanzees where Jane Goodall performed her research.
1. Mount Kilamanjaro
Unesco: Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba
Unesco: 1. *Amphitheatre of El Jem 2. *Dougga / Thugga 3. Ichkeul NP 4. *Kairouan 5. Medina of Sousse 6. *Medina of Tunis 7. Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis 8. *Site of Carthage
1,000 Places: 1. Bardo Museum – National Museum in 13th-19th century Palace. World’s best collection of mosaics. 2. Sidi Bou Said – Painting perfect blue-and-white Mediterranean village. Bougainvillea.
Unesco: 1. Bwindi Impenetrable NP – steep mountainous terrain home to almost half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas, about 350 animals. An ancient habitat, it thrived though the last ice age 12,000-18,000 years ago when most of Africa’s other forests disappeared producing an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. 2.5m of rain falls annually. 2. Rwenzori Mountains NP – glacier-capped, the tallest mountain range in Africa. The main attraction is the luxuriant vegetation above 3000m, including giant lobellas and groundsels. 3. Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi
Natural: Uganda has the tallest mountain range in Africa (the glacier-cappped Rwenzoris), as well as the mighty Nile’s origins (Lake Victoria) and one of the highest concentrations of primates in the world. Chimpanzees form complex societies of up to 100 individuals. During the day, they forage as small groups and they can cover large distances in a few hours. Tracking requires patience and stamina. Tool use includes rocks to break open nuts, stems to extract termites from holes, moss to soak up drinking water and leaves as napkins. 1. Mount Elgon’s Elephant Caves, Mbale 2. Murchison Falls, Gulu/Masindi. Nile narrows from nearly 1,000′ and explodes through a rock cleft barely 20′ wide before plunging 130′. See by foot or boat. Hundreds of hippos, world’s largest crocodiles. Best Dec-Mar. 3. Mountains of the Moon, Congo 4. Kibale Forest NP – see chimpanzees best in the dryer months of Jan-Feb and June-Sept. Groups on the move so need good tracker. In wet season, travel slower. Park home to 13 species of primate including chimps, colobus monkeys and bush babies. Chimps are homicidal and cannibalistic. 350 species of birds. 250 species of trees, moss, fungi, streams, swamps. Grassland to north, volcanic craters to west. 5. Queen Elizabeth NP – a top safari park to see chimps in the safe confines of Kyambura Gorge. 7. Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary – 23km from Entebbe, home to about 40 orphaned chimpanzees that are unable to return to the wild. Trips must be booked in advance.
1. The Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail – South Sudan to Uganda
Length: 360 miles.
The Trip: The trail begins in South Sudan’s current capital city of Juba, follows along the White Nile into Uganda, the Victoria Nile’s Murchison Falls, a thunderous gush through a 20-foot-wide gap in a gorge with a 131-foot drop ending at Baker’s View, to gaze out on Lake Albert. The trail officially opened to thru-hikers in January 2014 and requires expert logistical planning since it traverses spots that rarely see foreign visitors.
Fisher is in the process of establishing the trail now so that it can, the 150th anniversary of when the Bakers first made the trek. Right now, Fisher’s markers show where current-day hikers can camp along the route in the same spots as the Bakers, that the trip requires. The trail will also be open to adventure-hungry mountain bikers.
When to Go: Winter months will be best.
2. Mountains of the Moon – Central Circuit, Ruwenzori Range
Length: 38 miles, 6 to 7 days . Central Circuit, Ruwenzori Range
The Trip: Go with guides and porters; they know the way and are not expensive. Looming on the Uganda-Congo border, these peaks make up the highest range in Africa, rising to 16,765 feet at the Margherita summit of Mount Stanley. (Kilimanjaro and Kenya are taller, but they aren’t ranges.) You’ll hike three days through two 14,000-foot passes and mind-bending forests of giant groundsel and giant lobelias to get to the Bujuku Hut, base camp for those wanting to climb Mount Speke. Hike one more day to Elena Hut, base camp for those who want to climb the glaciers, and try for the summit of Mount Stanley for its unique views of the Congo Basin. Two more trail days take you over Scott Elliot Pass, the highest on the circuit at 14,344 feet, and back to the starting point for your eventual return to Kampala.
Bring a pair of indestructible camp shoes impervious to moisture, such as Crocs. The circuit can be a muddy mess. Walking in the creek beds often makes for the best progress. It is essential to be able to change into something dry and reasonably comfortable for your feet at day’s end.
When to Go: December to March, the “dry” season.
Unesco: Mosi-oo-Tunya / Victoria Falls
Natural: 1. Mambilima Falls – Luapula River 2. Luangwa Valley, Eastern and Northern Province 3. Kafue Flats, Southern Province 4. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Unesco: 1. Great Zimbabwe National Monument 2. Khami Ruins Natina Monument 3. Mana Pools NP. 4-day canoe safari on Zambezi River through ancient floodplains toward the Indian Ocean. Hippo, cape buffalo. Walking safaris. 4. Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas 5. Mosi-oo-Tunya / Victoria Falls. Natural Wonder of the World. Mile wide and 400′ high with 1000′ spray in March to May-Oct. Fly over falls. Rafting at foot of falls through gorge separating Zambia and Zimbabwe. Livingstone Island in Zambia splits river in two. 6. Matobo Hills. Matobo NP. Huge granite masses – seamed, split, shaped and sculpted by time into whalebacks, fanciful castles and knobbly outcrops. Rhodes buried here. Cave paintings up to 30,000 years old. White and black rhinos, leopards, cheetahs, 300 types birds, and many raptors.
Natural: 1. Mana Pools NP, Mashonaland 2. Eastern Highlands, Manicaland 3. Brachystegia Woodlands, Manicaland/Midlands Province/Matebeleland 4. Save Valley, Manicaland 5. Tamboharta Pan, Manicaland/Masvingo 6. Chilojo Cliffs, Masvingo 7. Exfoliated Domes, Matabeleland South/Bulawayo 8. Balancing Rocks, Matabeleland South/Bulawayo 9. Matobo Hills, Bulawayo 10. Hwange NP. 100 animals with great elephant sanctuary. Best in dry season June-Oct.