Africa: Home of natural beauty and wonder
Africa is awash with a unique natural beauty that transcends borders and environments.
Africa is undeniably home to some of the best beaches in the world, most notably those situated on the islands off the coast of the continent. Mauritius, Cape Verde and the Tanzanian archipelago Zanzibar are just a few of the destinations showcasing coastlines that dreams are made of, with alluring turquoise waters and inviting white sands. The epitome of paradise, the Seychelles also offers beaches that have to be seen to be believed. One of the most popular, Anse Source d’Argent, is located on the island La Digue, surrounded by a reef and renowned for its pink sand and granite boulders.
The mainland of Africa can’t be overlooked though and it’s home to some beautiful and hauntingly rugged beaches. Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is famed for its shipwrecks, and consists of miles of immense sand dunes and rough ocean waters shrouded in an eerie fog.
Anse Source d'Argent Beach in all its glory
Scattered across Africa are an array of dramatic waterfalls, highlighting the sheer power of nature and attracting plenty of tourists keen to witness such marvels.
The impressive Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe is classed as the largest in the world, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year keen to experience ‘The Smoke that Thunders’.
Not to be outdone, South Africa’s Tugela Falls is among the continent’s other remarkable feats of nature, as Africa’s highest waterfall, and regarded as the second highest in the world.
The Ouzoud Falls in Marrakech is a popular day trip destination for tourists in the Moroccan city, providing respite from the bustling medina. Situated in the Atlas Mountains, tourists can trek through olive groves and clamber over boulders to reach the waterfalls up close for a truly breathtaking experience.
A great view of Victoria Falls
Reaching heights and areas of dramatic proportions, the continent’s mountains rival those of anywhere else in the world. Africa’s highest is Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, at 5,895m tall, which attracts many trekkers keen to tick it off their bucket list.
Mount Kenya is Africa’s second highest. An extinct volcano, it’s situated in the Mount Kenya National Park and home to an extensive biodiversity.
The Simien Mountains in Ethiopia are also among the most outstanding and unique. Erosion of the landscape has caused the formation of peaks and sharp cliff-edges, dropping steeply down into deep valleys. The area is also home to some unique and rare wildlife including the wild mountain goat Walia ibex, found nowhere else in the world.
South Africa’s offering, Table Mountain, is one of the most iconic landmarks of the country and the continent of Africa as a whole.
Africa's highest mountain Kilimanjaro
From one extreme to the other, the vast expanse of the continent makes way for an arid landscape, stretching for miles. The mighty Sahara cloaks the vast majority of North Africa covering an area of approximately 8.6 million km2 making it the largest hot desert in the world.
But it’s not the only desert in Africa. The Namib desert, stretching along the coast from the south of Angola along the whole stretch of the Namibian coastline and ending in the north of South Africa, is considered the oldest in the world dating back to around 50 million years ago.
Nearby is the Kalahari Desert, stretching into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and making up part of the Kalahari Basin which stretches into even more surrounding countries and is home to a variety of plant and animal life.
The vast Namib desert
Many tourists flock to Africa specifically to experience the opportunity of a lifetime - a safari - made possible due to the abundance of wildlife inhabiting the vast wilderness across the continent. The Big 5 - the lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo — are the animals that everyone hopes to catch a glimpse of and there are countless national parks and safari destinations across Africa in which to live this dream.
But Africa is also home to unimaginable amounts of unique species, particularly in destinations like Madagascar where around 150,000 (approx. 75%) of the species found on the island are endemic to the area, including the endangered Silky Sifaka lemur and the fossa — one of Madagascar’s predators.
A safari adventure would be an exhilarating experience
Africa is home to some astonishing bodies of water. Lake Tanganyika, across the west border of Tanzania and also located in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia is estimated to be the second deepest freshwater lake in the world.
The largest lake in Africa is Lake Victoria, at around 70,000 km2 in size, situated across the border of Uganda and Tanzania and even filtering across into Kenya. It’s classed as a reservoir of the Nile and its surrounding areas are densely populated.
Lake Malawi is another of the African Great Lakes. The crystal clear waters that stretch 365 miles along the length of Malawi, partially bordered by Tanzania and Mozambique, provide the landlocked country with its own watery paradise. The shoreline is dotted with beaches and fishing villages and at the southern end is Lake Malawi National Park — a World Heritage Site. Adventure seekers can take part in water sports and make the most of being in a popular freshwater diving spot.
And for a truly unusual sight, Lake Retba in Senegal is the place to head to. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you — the water really is pink. The cause of this breathtaking phenomenon is down to a specific type of bacteria due to the salt content of the lake.
Lake Malawi is one of Africa's great lakes