by Matthew Sterne
on June 14, 2016
8 min read

There is something mystical about Africa. Its grand scale, epic landscapes, and magnificent animals are the usual catalysts for this feeling. But there is something more, something intangible which can spark this intoxicating feeling. As Karen Blixen wrote, “There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.”

Africa is the continent which makes you feel most alive. And these are its most exhilarating experiences…

  1. Climb Mount KilimanjaroKilimanjaro rising above cloudsIt will take you between five and nine days to scale the 5,895 metres of Kilimanjaro. If you would like to see the famous snows of Kilimanjaro, go sooner rather than later as they are slowly disappearing.
  2. Chill out with a chimpanzee in Mahale National ParkChimpanzee in Mahale National Park TanzaniaChimpanzees share 98 percent of our genetic blueprint. Spend time with these incredible animals in Tanzania’s Mahale National Park and marvel at their facial expressions, gestures and use of tools.
  3. Ride in a mokoro through the Okavango Delta Mokoro trip through reeds in the Okavango DeltaOn a mokoro, there is no noisy engine to disturb the peace. Instead, you’ll glide silently through the world’s most beautiful wetland in the midst of elephants, crocodiles, hippos and more.
  4. Climb some of the world’s tallest dunes at SossusvleiFootprints in Namibian dunesSossusvlei is the top destination in Namibia with monumental dunes up to 325 metres when measured from the base. These star-shaped dunes are a sought-after subject for artists and photographers.
  5. Get in Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls
    Victoria Falls devil's pool
    This seasonal pool on the cusp of Victoria Falls is goose-bump-inducing just by looking at it. Swim out to this pool between August and September.
  6. Visit the gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable ForestMother gorilla with tiny babyUganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to the endangered mountain gorillas, and is considered one of the best places in the world to come face-to-face with these magnificent animals.
  7. Spend a day in the Ngorongoro CraterPanoramic view of the Ngorongoro Crater in TanzaniaAfrica’s real life Garden of Eden, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact caldera and the closest thing you can get to the real-life version of the Lion King.
  8. Spend a night on a sleep out platform
    Sleep out deck with lanterns in Africa

    Image credit: Makanyane Sanctuary

    Sleeping under the stars on a deck above prowling predators is one Africa’s greatest thrills.

  9. Leopard spotting in the Kruger National ParkLeopard walks across path in from of safari vehicleNocturnal, stealthy and famously elusive, leopards are a real challenge to find in the wild. Visit the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park to increase your odds.
  10. Whale watching in HermanusMan watching whale jumping from cliffHermanus is a town near Cape Town in South Africa that is considered one of the best places in the world to see whales. Between June and November, whales frolic just offshore while visitors sip coffees and admire them from the cliff tops above.
  11. Have a glass of pinotage in Stellenbosch
    View of Stellenbosch wine region and Simonsberg Mountain

    Image credit: Delaire Graff

    Pinotage is a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety. Visit Stellenbosch, the spiritual home of wine in South Africa, to taste the best.

  12. Explore the deserted town of KolmanskopSand in buried house in Kolmanskop, NamibiaKolmanskop in Namibia is a deserted mining town that has slowly been reclaimed by sand. This is a popular stop due to the haunting scenes that can be captured.
  13. Go in search of the lemurs of MadagascarMeditating lemurs on a roofThe oldest island in the world is like nowhere else, and its animals are like nothing else too. Lemurs are the perfect example of this, unique and charming, these furry creatures are one of Africa’s most enthralling animals.
  14. Track wild dogs in Northern BotswanaThree wild dogs on the prowlPacks of wild dogs can run distances of 50km a day, so it will be tough to keep up with this ‘ultimate predator’, but to find these social creatures in their natural habitat is a true delight.
  15. Catch a ride on the world’s most luxurious train, Rovos Rail
    Train going over mountain pass

    Image credit: Rovos Rail

    Recapture the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era while you sip on fine wines, dine on excellent cuisine and travel through the African wilderness. Popular stops are Namibia, Cape Town and Victoria Falls.

  16. Visit the historic Robben IslandRobben Island aerial view with Table MountainOne of the world’s great icons, Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in jail on Robben Island. Visit the cell where he would write the beginnings of his memoir, Long Walk To Freedom.
  17. Go on a micro-light flight above Victoria FallsMicrolight flight above Victoria FallsDavid Livingstone described it as, ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.’ Find out what he was talking about with a micro-light flight.
  18. Explore Lake MalawiKayak on an African lakeThis African Great Lake is home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world – about 1,000. Snorkeling and kayaking here are two of the most popular activities.
  19. Go island-hopping in SeychellesGirl floating in water in Indian OceanThe Seychelles, with its archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, is perfect for island-hopping. Seychelles is known for its beaches, coral reefs, diving, nature reserves and rare wildlife.
  20. Walk down the Avenue of the Baobabs in MadagascarAvenue of baobabs with sunsetThe Avenue of the Baobabs is a collection of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in western Madagascar. Its striking landscape draws travellers from around the world.
  21. Go hiking in Reunion IslandReunion_Island_Aerial_ViewWith its dramatic landscape of pristine beaches, emerald forests, cascading waterfalls, soaring mountains and deep ravines, Reunion has been dubbed ‘Little Hawaii’. Hikes exploring the volcanoes and calderas are the most popular activity.
  22. Dive with great white sharks 
    Cage diving with a great white shark in South Africa

    Image credit: Alban

    Gansbaai, near Cape Town, is considered the best place in the world to dive with great white sharks. In a cage, that is.

  23. Watch the sunset over the savannahAmazing sunset with zebrasAfrica has a startling array of attractions and activities, but at the end of the day, it’s best to just stop what you’re doing and admire the show.
  24. Go on a walking safari in South Luangwa
    Walking safari in South Luangwa, Zambia

    Image credit: Puku Ridge

    The South Luangwa National Park is said to be the birthplace of walking safaris and you’ll find the widest choice of reliably excellent walking safaris here.

  25. Go hot air ballooning in the SerengetiZebras with three hot air balloons in backgroundConsidered the most beautiful place in the world for a balloon flight, the Serengeti offers sunrise rides where you can float over herds of animals as you sip your morning tea.
  26. Go diving in MauritiusTurtle in shallow coral reefMauritius is home to some of the world’s finest coral reefs and marine life. Teeming with hundreds of vibrantly-colored fish, the underwater world of Mauritius can be deemed a natural wonder in its own right.
  27. Go whitewater rafting down the Zambezi
    Whitewater rafting in Zambezi rapids

    Image credit: Wild Horizons

    The Zambezi is acclaimed to be the ‘wildest one-day whitewater run in the world’ and is recognised by rafting enthusiasts as one of the top ten paddling rivers on the planet. The only difference is there are crocodiles in this river.

  28. Stargaze in the KalahariMan on rock looking at starsWonderfully isolated and so far-removed from any form of pollution, crystal clear Kalahari skies provide the perfect conditions for desert stargazing.
  29. Stake out a waterhole
    A young boy peers out of a hide to see a baby elephant

    Image Credit: Jozibanini Camp

    There is nothing like that sense of anticipation at a hide. Sitting quietly, you wait patiently and scan the bush and then you see it, a lumbering elephant sidles into view and it’s all worth it.

  30. See the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National ParkAdolescent male lion in a treeOr in the Serengeti or Lake Manyara National Park. No one can quite explain why some prides climb trees but it’s not common and is one of Africa’s strangest sights.
  31. Swim with whale sharks in MozambiqueGirl swimming with whale sharkSwim with the largest fish in the sea at Tofo Beach in Mozambique, which is home to one of the largest concentrations of whale sharks in Africa thanks to a seemingly never-ending supply of plankton.
  32. Ogle at San rock art in the Cederbergrock art in the cederbergPhoto Credit: Bushman’s KloofBushman tribes have lived in the Cederberg mountains for the past 120,000 years. Some of the ancient art sites go back 10,000 years.
  33. Hike down the Fish River CanyonFish River Canyon in NamibiaThe Fish River Canyon hiking trail is one of the more popular hiking trails in Southern Africa. The five-day route winds its way down Africa’s largest canyon.
  34. Catch the cable car up Table MountainCable car with table mountain in backgroundThis popular attraction and natural wonder receives almost one million visitors a year. It’s a great place to watch the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean or spend an entire day exploring. The cable car will have you up to the top in five minutes.
  35. Witness the Great MigrationZebra and wildebeest crossing a riverOf course the ‘Greatest show on earth’ makes our list. Every year, over a million wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate clockwise around the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem and is one of nature’s most amazing spectacles.If you’d like to find out how you can see some of these for yourself, to see Africa’s great animals and natural wonders,send us a message and we’ll put you on a path to the best experience of your life.
    Header image credit: Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge