By Evelyn Masaba
“I hope you have an experience that alters the course of your life because after Africa nothing has ever been the same again…”
So said Suzanne Evans. To many of us in Africa, we never understand the strange fascination that foreigners have for our continent and the fact that most of them think Africa is just one large country with several wild animals and mud and wattle huts and kids with hungry bellies that have not been fed in a while.
The thing is, Africa is more than the ads you see on TV asking you to contribute to a hungry child by sending money to a non-profit organisation. Africa is several different shades of people, speaking different languages in several different countries scattered all over the continent and brought together by the love of community.
You have not travelled until you have moved out of your country to see the beauty that our continent has to offer.
We have developed an ultimate bucket list that you need to experience at some point in your life.
Okay. Let’s go.
Trek the Ethiopian Highlands
Ethiopia is a traveller’s gem; you have to add this country to your African travel bucket list any day. The highlands (pictured above), or rather rugged mountains located in the “Horn of Africa”, are sometimes referred to as the “Roof of Africa” and extend up to Eritrea.
They were formed when Magma from the Earth forced its way into the surface. They used to be home to the ancient kingdom of Kaffa, which has several remnants that were dug up by archaeologists. They’ll make a good history lesson on your tour.
The highest peak of the highlands is the Ras Dashen from the Semien Mountains.
Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
Located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe off the Zambezi River in Southern Africa, these falls are the widest of their kind all over the continent and some of the best tourist attractions. With amazing water rafting, bungee jumping off the Victoria bridge, the falls make the ultimate destination for any thrill seeker. Even better, you can take a guided walk over the falls and wait for the moonbows that occur when the moonlight rays hit the waterfalls, creating a cascading play of lights.
Marvel at the Old Quarters of Zanzibar
Zanzibar is just off the main coast of Tanzania and will make a good destination for your wandering feet. You will love the architecture of the old Stone City with the slave quarters that were used to hold slaves before they were shipped off.
There is an overwhelming vintage beauty within that tiny coastal town filled with churches and mosques built years ago with a mixture of Portuguese and Arabic architecture styles, a distance from the expansive ocean.
Frolic with mountain gorillas
Rwanda is beautiful; even more beautiful is its green lush countrysides filled with the wonders of the wild, ready for your eyes to explore. You will see the several endangered mountain gorillas on your trek in their green natural habitats. And if you get the chance you will also spot the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo almost at the border of Rwanda and Uganda.
See King Khufu’s Pyramid
Also known as the Pyramid of Giza, this is the oldest pyramid in Egypt that was built around 2560 BC. The pyramid is said to be the tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu, who is also known as Cheop. This pyramid used to be the tallest manmade structure in the several wonders of the world.
The pyramid features several structures that are divided into chambers for the Pharaoh, his wife and their servants. There is a very beguiling history surrounding the pyramid and the more you learn, the more you understand how superb the structure is. Don’t try to climb to the top of the pyramid because it is illegal.
The southern part of the Namib desert in Namibia offers travellers a chance to marvel at the Sossusvlei Dunes. The name of this wonder is a mixture of Namib and Afrikaans languages meaning “dead-end marsh” due to its structure and formation that acts as a drain for the Tsauchab River.
The sand dunes are very tall and are estimated to be over 200 metres with the highest being 380 metres.
The Winelands are located in the northeast of Cape Town with some of the best views in South Africa and are easily accessible from Cape Town through tour buses and by car. You can visit some of the best vineyards in the country that are usually open throughout the week until the weekend, so you get a chance to taste the wines on site and enjoy a walk through the expansive vineyards.
Bird watching in the Mabira
The Mabira forest, located in eastern Uganda, is an expansive stretch of mixed tree species that harbour different animals within the thick vegetation. The best of the sights are the various bird species that are considered indigenous to Uganda and quite rare. The forest is home to an estimated over 300 bird species such as Dusky Long Tailed Cuckoo, Grey Parrot and several others that are undocumented or not yet sighted.
Touch the sky at Kilimanjaro and Rwenzori
How would you write a bucket list without adding the two most climbed mountains in East Africa? Mount Rwenzori is found in western Uganda and is famous for its glaciers and several beautiful views of the wildlife parks in the areas surrounding, not forgetting the lakes. Then, Mount Kilimanjaro crowns off in Tanzania with a beautiful sky-high limit with its three top summits. The two mountains are breathtakingly beautiful!
Experience Mozambique’s coastline
Almost similar to Zanzibar, the long and beautiful coastline is almost beguiling to experience; you will love touring it via several dhows and seeing how expansive and lively it is. It used to be one of the main slave ports along the shores of the Indian ocean and since Mozambique was once colonised by the Portuguese, you will find several old but beautiful church structures mixed among the many mosques in the small towns along the shores.
Tee off at the Legends Golf Course
An ardent golfer would definitely have to experience this very famous golf course in Limpopo with the extreme 19th hole only being accessible by helicopter. Limpopo is located in South Africa.
Rush through Kampala to the parks
You will never know that going through a traffic jam in the city centre is such a thrilling experience not until you travel to Uganda. Take a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) ride in the busy Kampala City centre amidst several moving cars and tour the hidden gems of the city. The boda-boda is another important form of transportation in Uganda that makes it faster and easy to reach your destination, even better when doing budget tours in the national parks. Several people seem to opt for the certified boda-boda guides.