From endless deserts, lush rainforests and picture-perfect beaches, to grassland teeming with wildlife – Africa has something to offer every traveller who takes the time to visit. While choosing your destination is always going to be a challenge with so many diverse options on offer, we’ve put together some of the more unusual experiences to spark your imagination here.
A desert experience with a difference in Chad
Because Chad has been so long overlooked as a travel destination, visiting this country offers a rare opportunity to experience the Africa of old – although it is rapidly gaining in popularity, and for very good reason. One of the strangest sights in Africa, the rock arches and sandstone mountains of Ennedi, sculpted and carved over millennia by wind and sand, are spectacular to behold.
You can also view ancient rock paintings and meet the somewhat shy local Tubu people at the only waterhole for kilometers around, Guelta d’Archei, where they bring their herds of camels to drink in the company of some of the last remaining Saharan crocodiles.
Zakouma National Park is famous for their night drives and elephant viewing experiences, and interestingly, is the closest national park to Europe where you can view the Big Five! Culture lovers will also find the traditional Mbororo Gerewol Festival a real treat.
Fruit bat safari, Zambia
Yes, you read that correctly! Why would anyone want to visit a country just to see some fruit bats? Well, between October and December each year, some ten million of the creatures descend upon one small patch of swamp in the Kasanka National Park of Northern Zambia in a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed. David Attenborough describes the event in this BBC footage as a taster. Witnessing it in person is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity – in fact, you’d be batty to miss it!
Magic of the Masai Mara, Kenya
Many think of the Masai Mara as the world’s greatest safari destination, and it’s easy to see why. Home to the great annual wildebeest migration, authentic experiences with the local Masai tribes, walking, mountain biking and hot air balloon safaris, bush camping opportunities and much more, this is the perfect destination for that all in one African experience.
The area is also renowned for their exceptional standards in conservation of both wildlife and the traditional way of living of the local people, and practicing responsible tourism. Whether you’re drawn to the heart stopping drama of the famous Mara river crossing or intrigued by the prospect of learning how to make fire and shoot with a bow and arrow the ancient African way, this exceptional destination offers something for everyone.
Enjoy luxury island living at Thanda Island, Tanzania
If you thought a luxury private island was out of your reach, think again with this unique and exotic holiday experience of a lifetime! Situated in its very own marine reserve off the east coast of Tanzania, you are surrounded by warm, turquoise waters on all sides of this 8 hectare tropical paradise.
Experience the awe of swimming with the spectacular whale shark, the largest fish in the sea, and help contribute to the innovative citizen science program, where your photos can be used to help track and study these elusive, gentle creatures. A qualified marine guide will be on hand to make sure you get some quality pictures of you with the whale sharks too! Needless to say, snorkeling and scuba diving are a specialty here, and the marine reserve is home to rare species of sea turtles and even dugongs, as well as 400 different species of reef fish. Unwind after your oceanic adventures with fine dining and luxurious spa treatments!
Sleep under the stars in a dry riverbed in Zambia
With only a mosquito net between you and the wilderness, this is a rare opportunity to experience the magic of the African night the way our ancestors must have long ago – just without the bugs! These adventures, offered by Norman Carr Safaris, take place in the remote dry Luwi riverbed of the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. They are the perfect addition to a walking safari, in which you will find a place to camp on foot, set up a campfire to cook dinner over, and fall asleep under the breathtaking African stars. Since you’ll be sharing the space with the local wildlife, a guide and scout team will keep watch as you dream!
Whatever your idea of the perfect holiday, chances are you’ll find an experience to match in Africa! We hope these suggestions have encouraged you to explore this magical continent when planning your next getaway.