What are the best things to do on vacation in Africa? From going on safari, trekking, or lazing on the beach, there are many great activities on offer in Africa. Find out about culinary tours, volunteering, backpacking, extreme adventure, and more when traveling to Africa. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you travel responsibly. Find out what my top 10 list of things to do in Africa are, by scrolling down.
Click on the headings below for more in depth information on each activity you can enjoy when visiting Africa.
1. Go on Safari
"Safari" means "to journey" in Swahili, and indeed going on a wildlife safari is one of the main reasons people travel to Africa. East and Southern Africa are the most popular safari destinations. In East Africa you can see the "Big Five", witness the great annual migration of millions of wildebeest in a hot-air balloon, and also track gorillas. In Southern Africa you have the opportunity to see the "Big Five" and much more, on foot and from the water.
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North Africa's beach resorts have attracted European sun seekers to their shores for decades. But if you want to escape the crowds, head further south. Africa's East coast offers the beach lover everything from budget huts on the idyllic Indian ocean in Zanzibar, to ultra-luxurious private islands in the Seychelles. Africa's west coast is lined with thousands of miles of palm-fringed beaches. The currents make swimming a little challenging at times, but the surfing is fantastic. In South Africa you can even bump into penguins on the beach and dive with sharks. Africa's many lakes are also fringed with golden sands, check out Lake Malawi, a paradise for beach lovers.
Africa offers wonderful hiking and trekking opportunities, the obvious targets for mountain lovers are Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and the Atlas Mountains. But South Africa's Drakensberg Mountains are an absolute delight for a half day hike, or a 5 day trek. Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains and Ethiopia's Simien Mountains are lesser known, but offer up several of Africa's highest peaks. If you don't feel the urge to conquer a mountain top but love to walk, excellent hikes include Zambia's famous walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park, and a multi-day hike along South Africa's breathtaking Wild Coast.
Cycling vacations in Africa are becoming very poular. Of course its eco-friendly, and a great way to immerse yourself in rural Africa. Riding a bike does not put up the same economic and social barriers as driving around in a car. Biking also lets you see, hear, and experience Africa at its own pace. Whether you want the thrill of a cross-continent cycling adventure, or you just want to spend half a day exploring Cape Town, there's an African bike tour that's perfect for you. More About: Cycling tours in Africa
Motorcycle Tours -- Whether you're interested in riding through the Sahara Desert, a motorcycle safari in Tanzania, or enjoying South African coastline on a Triumph -- it's all possible. More About: Motorcycle Tours in Africa.
Volunteering in Africa lets you scratch below the surface and gain an appreciation of a culture very different from your own. Spending time teaching, working and living alongside a community also leads to a deeper understanding about yourself, what you take for granted and what you should appreciate back home. It's a great way to experience Africa at a level beyond a consumer or voyeur. There are lots of options to volunteer for a few days, a week, or 6 months in Africa, that can all be added on to your vacation. Africa does not lack labor, and unemployment is extremely high, so expect to pay a program fee for your experience.
The evolution of man starts in Africa and Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge in Tanzania is a great destination for anyone interested in our bi-pedal ancestors. A few million years later, the San in southern Africa were adorning caves with magnificent paintings. The Egyptians were already terribly civilized 5,000 years ago, and busy building monuments and tombs which still stand today. During medieval times, the great cities of Fez, Marrakech and Timbuktu were in their prime, and can still be enjoyed today. The slave-trade left its mark on the coast of both East and West Africa, while Coptic Christians were carving churches out of mountains in Ethiopia. Africa has a fascinating history.
You could argue that any trip to Africa is an adventure, but there's plenty more where that came from. Victoria Falls prides itself on being the extreme adventure capital of Africa. Where else can you bungee off a bridge, swim up to the edge of the world's largest waterfall, micro-light over the Falls, white-water raft down some of the wildest rapids on earth, and then call it a day by having a beer and lifting your glass to a pod of hippos and crocs living in the Zambezi river? Elsewhere, the Sahara desert offers fabulous motorcycle adventures, as well as sand-boarding. Surfing is legendary along South Africa's many bays, just watch out for those diving with Great Whites below you.
More about: Extreme Adventures in Africa
Culinary tours to Africa offer up a tasty combination of culture and history. In Africa most culinary tours concentrate on Morocco and South Africa. Unfortunately I can't find any offers of a culinary tours to Ethiopia, or I would be there right now. Culinary tours usually involve some hands on cooking, dining at fine restaurants, wine tasting and shopping for ingredients at local markets. Sounds great doesn't it?
Whatever country you are visiting in Africa do try the local food. Even street food is safe as long as you stick to the cooked items, just avoid the salad! In rural areas, ask if you can help pound and prepare for a basic meal, it will be a great experience.
With thousands of ethnic groups in Africa, each celebrating their own rites of passage, religious festivals, and local harvests there's generally music and food being shared on any given night of any given week. But as a tourist (and outsider), it's not always easy to gain access, or even know about what's happening where. Luckily, there are several large festivals and cultural events that happen annually, where you can enjoy film, poetry, drama, and of course music, in an organized setting. If sports is more your "thing", then definitely try and watch a local soccer match.