Click on each heading for more information about these top 10 Southern African destinations.
The Victoria Falls are just over 1 mile wide (1.7 km) and 355 feet (108 m) high. During the wet season over 500 million liters (19 million cubic feet) of water plummets over the edge into the Zambezi River. This incredible amount of water generates a huge amount of spray which shoots 1000 feet into the sky and can be seen 30 miles away, hence the name Mosi-oa-Tunya (Smoke that thunders).
Home of the "walking safari," South Luangwa National Park in Zambia offers a true African experience. There's plenty of wildlife and over 400 species of birds. The Luangwa River is filled to the brim with hippos, and if you're lucky you'll spot prides of over 30 lions at a time. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species living in the National Park.
South Luangwa offers both budget and luxury safari lodging. The best time to visit is during the dry season from April to October. Near the end of the dry season, the animals really concentrate around the remaining waterholes, which makes for a great safari.
Top Attractions in Cape Town Include:
- The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront for dining and shopping
- Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years
- Cape Town's Beaches
- Table Mountain
- The Winelands
Chobe National park lies in Botswana's Okavango Delta and covers four distinct ecosystems. The Savuti marsh in particular offers some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa year round. Chobe boasts around 120,000 elephants--you're unlikely to miss them when you enjoy a safari here.
The best time to visit Chobe is between May and September, the dry, cooler winter months. Herds of zebra, eland, buffalo, giraffe, and wildebeest congregate around the Savuti marsh this time of year. Chobe is accessible by car, which makes it a little less expensive than some other Botswana parks. There's a wide variety of accommodation available to suit all budgets; you can even rent a houseboat.
Besides some of the world's best fishing, snorkeling, diving, and beach-bumming opportunities, you have to visit Ibo Island with its old forts and fascinating history. The town of Pemba is the gateway to this unique archipelago and is also worth a look.
The Okavango Delta is difficult to access by road, so people have to fly in for their safaris and this translates into an exclusive experience. If your idea of a romantic vacation or honeymoon includes a luxury safari, see these accommodations. For a list of camps to suit all budgets, click here.
The best time to visit Okavango is from July - September.
Best Places to Stay on Lake Malawi:
Budget travelers will enjoy Mango Drift Lodge on Likomo Island; Kande Beach which is close to Chinteche on the northern shores of Lake Malawi; and Gecko Lounge in Cape Maclear (southern Malawi) is very popular.
The Wild Coast is a beautiful stretch of coastline in South Africa's Eastern Cape area. Ideal for diving, fishing, hiking, and surfing, this remote area has long attracted visitors looking to get away from it all. The Xhosa culture along this stretch of coast is also a major attraction.
- Coffee Bay is a popular spot along the coast here, with a great budget place to stay -- the Coffee Shack.
- Port St John's is an ideal spot to relax and the best place to stay has to be the Jungle Monkey, which caters to backpackers, and the more upscale Umzimvubu Retreatt.
- Cintsa is a beautiful little town on the coast near some excellent game reserves. Stay at The Buckaneers or Crawford's Beach Lodge.
When I visited there was water in the pan at the foot of the dunes, which is very rare. But when it happens, it's a perfect (but muddy) way to cool down from the midday sun. You can camp at the Sesriem Campsite, a basic campsite in a beautiful spot, or stay at one of the many beautiful lodges in the Sossusvlei area.
Kruger has a range of accommodation options in the main restcamps with chalets, cottages, bungalows tents, caravan, and camp sites or bushveld camps.
On the park's western borders you'll find some excellent private game reserves with outstanding lodges, many of them very luxurious.