Even if you’re a world traveler, touching down on a dirt runway in Africa is an entirely different experience. From the pace of life to the majestic landscape, a visit to the continent is worth the vaccinations you’ll need to make the voyage. • Though recent political turmoil in the north has placed some countries temporarily off-limits, there’s still plenty to see.
See the Sahara
The Sahara Desert is bigger than the entire United States, and the area is unlike any other. Scramble up the Erg Chebbi dunes, located in southeast Morocco, which reach up to 500 feet. Stay in the village of Merzouga, at the edge of the sand. Or take a camel trek across the desert and villages in Tunisa. Whether for one day or one week, nomad guides will make sure you don’t get lost in the desert! Prices vary, but start at around $20 per day.
Sights in South Africa
Swim with the sharks or peek into God’s Window in South Africa. Gansbaai, about a two-hour drive from Cape Town, has gained a reputation as the shark capital of the world. Spend a day on the water for about $200, which includes meals and multiple cage dives. Visitors can also watch from the deck or enjoy whale-watching from the safety of land. The Blyde River Nature Preserve is in the northeast and is famous for its views from 2,000-foot cliffs looking down on the lowlands below, nicknamed “God’s Window.” The forests and wildlife make this one of the country’s most popular destinations.
The Great Migration
Every summer, over a million wildebeests and zebras migrate west across the southern Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Six months later, they gradually return to the Serengeti. Masai Mara ($60 entry fee) has an array of lodging options, from no-frills camp sites to luxury lodges. Visit in July or August, when the plains are full of wildlife. Take an early-morning ride in a hot-air balloon to see the sunrise, followed by a Champagne breakfast. It’s pricey ($445), but a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
From Mount Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar, Tanzania has something for everyone. Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain (19,336 feet). Hikers don’t need much special gear to make the climb, and guides can be hired for $20 per day. In the northeast part of the country, see wildlife gather to drink at the Ngorongoro Crater. Lake Tanganyika is Africa’s deepest lake, and the beaches are immaculate and private. Zanzibar is a quick flight or ferry ride from the capital, Dar es Salaam. Swim in the Indian Ocean and enjoy the day’s fresh catch at the evening markets.