Southern Africa Country Highlights part 2

Southern Africa Country Highlights part 2

As a fast follow on to the first blog covering the highlights of Botswana, Madagascar, Zimbabwe.  This blog piece covers Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.

Namibia:

This is like no other country on the continent! It is the land of contrasts and no two days will be the same.  The name, Namibia means vast and empty, it is vast, there is no doubt about that – but is is not empty.  This country offers you stunning landscapes with a plethora of endemic fauna and flora, allowing you to focus on the small and often overlooked creatures.  It is an unassuming country with a first world infrastructure, excellent international flight connections and local small aircraft flights, contrasted by mostly gravel roads and yet everything works so well and safari travel is remarkably easy.  The wildlife areas are still unspoilt and not tarnished by ‘use’ while shipwrecks dot the barren coastline, and names like ‘Skeleton Coast’ appear remarkably apt for the area.

The oldest desert in the world, the Namib in the South, is characterised by wave-sculptured dunes 1100feet high.  In the North West, wide, wild gravel plains are inhabited by prehistoric plants, desert elephants and nomadic tribes.  The North is wildlife country and an ideal combination for wildlife and people for a safari.

  • Etosha National Park is the main national park, built around an extinct lake bed that covers over 100 000 acres.  It offers superb game viewing, vast open spaces, starry skies at night and striking vistas.
  • Sossusvlei is a “must see” for photographers.  This highlight is iconic, red dunes meet rugged rock mountains.  These ever changing dunes were formed 55 million years ago and are 4th tallest dunes in Africa. The scenery is simply unbeatable, times stands still here and it is a place where you can “just be”.
  • Swakopmund is a quaint Deutch-African coastal town which is most reknowned for adventure activities for teenage families.  It has far more to offer though with lovely restaurants, old architecture, deep see fishing and flights over the Namib to capture where the dunes meet the Atlantic.  This city has multidimensional appeal.
  • Kaokoveld is the   Like much of Namibia the scenery is incredible unbeatable photographic opportunities especially in dry season.  This area is home to the Himba people and to the much sought after desert elephant and lion.  You will also find desert rhino, oryx, springbuck and other game.
  • Kunene region is in the far NW corner of Namibia and is one of Namibia’s wildest and most remote areas. In particular the Hartmann Valley is desolate, rugged, out-of-the-way! and a must see especially given the wealth of desert adapted wildlife.
  • Namibia has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
    • Twylfelfontein: Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes has one of the largest concentrations of  petroglyphs
    • Namib Sand Sea: is the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. Covering an area of over three million hectares and a buffer zone of 899,500 hectares The desert dunes are formed by the transportation of materials thousands of kilometres from the hinterland, that are carried by river, ocean current and wind. It features gravel plains, coastal flats, rocky hills, inselbergs within the sand sea, a coastal lagoon and ephemeral rivers, resulting in a landscape of exceptional beauty. Fog is the primary source of water in the site, accounting for a unique environment in which endemic invertebrates, reptiles and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of micro habitats and ecological niches. (UNESCO)

Photo credits: Canva

 

South Africa:

Pristine uncrowded beaches.  Remote & varied wilderness, game reserves and national parks.  Majestic Mountains.  Rich History.  Diverse Culture.  Exciting food experiences.  8 World Heritage Sites. Stable environment.

South Africa has it all!  As the most developed of the Southern Africa countries, South Africa is the perfect “entry” point to Southern Africa.  Your vacation will be inspired, offering you a unique and varied vacation. Experience the juxtaposition of first and third world in a stable environment with great infrastructure allowing travel to be easy and comfortable.  There is literally something for everyone.  Johannesburg is the gateway city to other Southern Africa highlights and allows for multi-country vacation.

  • World Heritage Sites: South Africa boasts 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 4 cultural sites, 3 natural and one both cultural and natural. Isimangaliso Wetland Park | Robben Island| Cradle of Humankind | uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park  | Mapungubwe National Park  | Cape Floral Region  | Vredefort Dome |  Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
  • The Cape:  Cape Town, voted one of the top cities in the world (#12 in 2019) is fun-filled and culturally diverse. Set against Table Mountain you have access to The Winelands (Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschoek and Middelvlei) offering some of the best wines exported around the world.  Cape Town has the most restaurants in South Africa with world class fine dining restaurant’s that often end up on the top restaurants in the world lists.  It is a vibrant city, an endless playground.
  • The Garden Route offers rugged coastlines with magnificent scenery where mountains meet the ocean.  Addo Elephant Park is one of four national parks along the garden route, has 5 of South Africa’s biomes (more than any other National Park) is malaria free, perfect for families and offers a wonderful wildlife experience.
  • Wildlife:  Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal off exclusive, immersive wildlife experiences at both private and national park areas.  These lodges and camps are sophisticated, expertly managed offering fine dining, privacy and abundant wildlife including all of the dangerous game, plus cheetah, painted dogs and hippo.  If you are looking for malaria free zones, Madikwe and the Waterberg are just few hours out of Johannesburg, ideal for families with limited time.
  • Johannesburg and Pretoria.  Our two administrative and commercial capitals of South Africa should not be overlooked.  These scenic cities have abundant historical and cultural activities, world class hotels and fine-dining every night. Oliver Tambo International Airport is your gateway to the rest of Southern and East Africa.

Photo credits: Canva

Zambia:

The Zambezi river is the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and so they share the Victoria Falls at Livingstone. Zambia is like that “best kept secret” rich in wildlife destinations spreading from west to east.  They are unspoiled, wild and have some of the best wildlife viewing on the continent without the crowds!  The Kafue, Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa national parks are only three of thirteen that most travelers visit on a short safari here.  Some of these parks have rare species and migrations that will allure to the more seasoned traveller. Zambia is culturally diverse too, and has a colourful history to interest visitors as well. The World Economic Forum also puts Zambia as one of the safest nations in Africa.

  • Livingstone and Victoria Falls.  Livingstone, much like Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is the adventure capital of Zambia. Vibey, fun and full of energy it shares Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Zimbabwe.  You can see incredible views of the Falls and gorge, enjoy other land-based activities, and helicopter or micro-lite flights and even pop across the bridge to visit Zimbabwe.
  • Kafue National Park: is the largest and oldest national park in Zambia, only 2 hours from Livingstone, however it is largely untouched and offers genuine pristine wilderness.  Lodges are exclusive and travellers feel as if they are the only people there, a privilege to experience.   Spanning an area of 22.400 square kilometers, Kafue offers good game, small boutique camps, roan antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, lion, cheetah and over 500 bird species.
  • Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambezi river. Lies opposite Mana Pools in Zimbabwe and offers terrific camps, very good game, boating, canoeing, fishing in season, game walks and game drives. Lower Zambezi covers a vast area of 4,092 square kilometers with most of the game concentrated along the valley floor.   “UNESCO declared several areas of the Lower Zambezi World Heritage sites, mainly because it is home to a ‘remarkable concentration of wildlife’”.[lowerzambezi.com]
  • South Luangwa National Park. 9,050 square kilometre park is centred around the Luangwa River and is the most famous park in Zambia.  This is the park that made walking safaris famous and it is still undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience a safari.  It has unbeatable wildlife with 60 species of animal and 400 species of bird, it is a wildlife sanctuary.  This national park is also one of very few around Southern and East Africa that offer night drives and you simply can’t go wrong with this park.
  • Kasanka National Park between October and December is something to behold as 10 million fruit bats arrive from their migration.  It is astonishing natural phenomenon.  But not only that, you can also see Sitatungas which are a highly elusive semi-aquatic antelope.

Image credit: SouthLuwangwa.com  (top) Kafuenationalparkzambia.com (bottom)

 

Mozambique:

Mozambique offers unique historical and cultural heritage, tropical beaches, coral reefs, spectacular landscapes, rich architecture and small unspoilt islands close to the coast, making it one of the most enticing tourist destinations in Southern Africa. It borders the Indian ocean with a coastline of nearly 2500km dotted with magnificent beaches.

The unspoilt beaches and dreamy resorts on the Bazaruto Archipelago in the balmy Indian Ocean have become world famous as exquisite island getaways – consisting of four islands plus surrounding islets and reefs. This beautiful area features inviting sandy beaches and offers excellent opportunities for game fishing. Mozambique is fast becoming Southern Africa’s top beach destination!

  • Island archipelago including Bazaruto, Benguela, St. Isabella. Pristine beaches and seas.

Photo credits: Warren Wright