Filled with so many sights, sounds and sagas, there are many things that you can ONLY do in Africa and nowhere else on the planet. From extraordinary wildlife and life-changing adventures to unexpected guests at your breakfast table, there's no shortage of unique experiences in Africa. Here's a sneak peek into some things you can only do when visiting our spectacular continent.
Visiting Penguins on South African Shores
Thanks to animated films such as Happy Feet and Surfs Up, we quickly equate penguins to the icy lands of Antarctica. But did you know that Africa has her own special share of penguins too? Adding to your list of unique experiences in Africa, make your way to the continent's southwestern coast to view these waddling aquatic birds (aka African penguins).
There are a number of colonies found between Namibia and South Africa's South Coast. However, Boulders Beach near Cape Town is their most famous colony and is one of the only places in the world where one can actually swim among penguins as they tend to explore the surrounding beaches.
Exploring the Oldest Desert in the World
Discover ancient wonders of the oldest desert in the world. The Namib Desert in Namibia opens up a world of fascinating history dating back as far as 80 million years. The relentless desert is dotted with innumerable undulating dunes extending for a whopping 2,000 kilometres from the Olifants River in South Africa to the Carunjamba River in Angola, encompassing Namibia's entire coastline in the process.
Since the early Stone Age, people have lived in the Namib Desert, leaving behind well-preserved tools, ceramics, and rock paintings. Besides antiquity, the region also boasts most of Namibia's most famous attractions. Relish the hospitality of quaint towns all the while enjoying safari, hiking, fishing, 4X4 trails, bird watching, beach vacations, hot air ballooning over mesmerising dunes and more. The sun-baked activities in the Namib Desert are countless and add to the unique experiences in Africa.
Gliding Silently Along The Okavango Delta
Few things beat the tranquil experience of gliding through the narrow water channels of Botswana's bewitching Okavango Delta, Linyanti and Moremi regions via mokoro. But what is a mokoro? Thousands of years ago, bushmen used dug-out canoes (called mokoros) to effortlessly navigate through Botswana's tendril-like waterways. And today, the mokoro has developed into an unmistakable emblem of the Delta.
A truly unforgettable experience is gliding silently above mirror-like bodies of water in one of the most breathtaking locations on earth. Soak up views of hippos, elephants and crocodiles as you gracefully fly through calm waters enveloped in serenity. Very much like the gondolas of Venice (without the singing, of course), your mokoro poler will propel your vessel through wildlife-rich channels, giving you the freedom to absorb nature to its fullest.
Enjoying Breakfast with Beautiful Big-Eyed Giraffes
Where on earth can you savour a sumptuous morning meal together with the world's tallest living terrestrial animal? Well, there's a place in Africa for that… Giraffe Manor. Arguably the most famous lodge in Kenya, Giraffe Manor is a grand boutique hotel that has gained worldwide acclaim thanks to its resident herd of endangered Rothschild's giraffe. Breakfast with these exquisite beasts is undeniably one of the top unique experiences in Africa.
Observe these magnificent animals as they freely roam the estate or enjoy breakfast as they pop their towering heads through the window to wish you a fine morning. Visitors frequently remark that the hotel feels like it's straight out of the movie Out of Africa because of its regal exterior, exquisite interior, lush green gardens, sunny terraces, and charming courtyards.
Going Chimpanzee and Gorilla Trekking
Other than Africa, there's nowhere else in the world where you can embark on a bold expedition through dense forest terrain in search of wild chimpanzees and gorillas in their natural habitat. Both chimpanzee and gorilla trekking in Africa is one of the most exclusive and heart-stirring experiences. And we're happy to brag that we've welcomed thousands of delighted guests to Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo to meet these prestigious primates!
These three African nations are the only places on the planet where you can see the mountain gorilla and chimpanzees in the wild. Together with experienced guides, spend adventure-filled days trekking flourishing jungle terrain and verdant volcanic slopes in search of these gentle creatures. Once found, sit back in silence as you observe their fascinating family dynamics.
Meeting Authentic San, Maasai and Himba People
Africa is the origin of countless authentic tribes, with an estimated 3,000, ranging from the San people of Southern Africa to the Maasai of central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. To really add texture to your African adventure we highly recommend you spend some time with these captivating indigenous communities.
Many lodges offer cultural experiences where you can meet and interact with traditional tribes. Meet the San people to gain valuable insight into how they have lived off the land for tens of thousands of years. The Maasai tribes are also fascinating with their many piercings and extensive work with beads, while the Himba people, found in northern Namibia, have an unusual yet beautiful aesthetic with their skin and hair concealed in butterfat and ochre pigment.
Witnessing The Big 5 on Safari
Boy, oh boy – we just love boasting about our Big 5! And you will find many prestigious Big 5 reserves peppered throughout our beautiful continent. Five mammals of the animal kingdom remain the reigning royals of the safari world. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo.
An experience that's undoubtedly unique to Africa has to be the Big 5 safari. And we can tell you from personal experience that nothing compares to seeing these animals in real life! Thankfully, you can find them in several African countries, from Kenya and Namibia to Botswana and South Africa. However, the most notable place packed with Big 5 wildlife has to be the Kruger National Park.
Visiting Two Nobel Prize Winners' Hometown
Just about every tour through the sweeping township of Soweto stops at Vilakazi Street. And there's reason enough. It's probably the most famous street in South Africa as it's the only one to have housed two Nobel Peace Prize winners, namely Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The biggest urban settlement in Africa, established in the 1930s, Soweto is a must-see when stopping in Johannesburg. A visit here will not only take you to the legendary lane of Vilakazi but also opens up a vibrant, bustling world of urban life in South Africa. Discover off-the-beaten-path places, meet the locals and learn about the rich aspects of township life.
Swimming On the Edge in Nature's Infinity Pool
Looking for unique experiences in Africa with more thrill? Devil's Pool. The name sounds ominous for a reason. An infinity pool with a startling difference, Devil's Pool is a rock pool found at the edge of the majestic Victoria Falls. Ordinarily, during the waterfall's peak flow around June, the mile-wide chasm is filled with the thunder of water descending at a rate of 3,000 tonnes per second. During this time, if you entered Devil's Pool, you would be swept away to an untimely demise.
However, you can swim as close to the edge of the pool from September to December when the river flow is at a safe level. This is because the exposed natural rock walls act as a barrier to prevent you from being carried over. The experience itself may be scary, but the view from the edge is truly breathtaking.
Unique Experiences in Africa
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