Top 5 Holiday Destinations

Africa is a treasure-trove of natural beauty, from verdant wetlands to dry rugged desert landscapes to tropical Indian Ocean archipelagos. Here’s what we think are the 5 best holiday destinations of the Southern African region.

1. Zanzibar

Zanzibar, also known as the Spice Islands, is where turtles flip flop up the sub-tropical beaches to breed unhindered and the pungent scents of cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla will rouse your senses. As too will the sights of eons-old dhows gliding serenely past while you don your snorkelling gear for an encounter with the crescendos of colour that demarcate the deep.

The island is one of the largest coral islands off the east coast of Africa and is blessed with some of the world’s most stunning beaches. The warm, mesmerizingly blue ocean is completely safe and there is a vast choice of activities for those who tire of tanning.

The oldest part of Zanzibar is Stone Town, a world Heritage site, comprising of ancient buildings made out of clay, corral stone and lime. Once the meeting place of traders from all over the world, Stone Town is a fine blend of Arabic, African and Indian influences.

2. Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is one of the highlights of any visit to South Africa and it is a story of unparalleled conservation success. In the late 1890’s, when big game hunting was the ‘sport’ of choice of the colonial bosses, land was demarcated for the preservation of wild animals.

Today the 2 million hectare conservation area is the world leader in environmental management and is home to a hugely diverse population of animals, including Africa’s ‘Big Five’ – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard!

Visitors have a choice of staying in the National Park accommodation which, although rudimentary, is very affordable or in the private reserves that lie along the western border of the Park.

3. Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the cities in Africa that consistently wins international awards and accolades, and when you visit this gateway to Africa you will see why. It is a city like no other as it effectively embraces cosmopolitan, European influences and African tradition – the architecture, cultural activities and the people themselves reflect this fine blend.

It is one of the few cities in the world where a national park dominated by the iconic Table Mountain runs right through its heart and that is blessed with unrivalled natural beauty. Long soft white beaches compete with lush valleys where the famed Cape wine starts its life, and fields of fynbos set the mountains aglow with hues of greens.

4. Okavango Delta

Set in the centre of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is Africa’s largest wetland and one of the natural splendours of the continent. Instead of flowing to the ocean, the Okavango River spreads its life-giving waters throughout a massive area where the animals feast on the opulent gifts from the weather gods.

The Delta is famous for its Tiger fishing, hollowed out tree stumps called Mokoros – the only form of transport in this untamed part of Africa – and the vast herds of animals that make for this desert oasis during the driest parts of the year.

5. Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei has to be one of the most challenging and beautiful places on this planet. It is a brave beauty, a beauty of stark contrasts, awesome angles and incredible light variation.

The tall red dunes of the Namib Desert define this vast, lonely area of Namibia where the shy inhabitants are dwarfed by the sheer size and physicality of the sweeping, angular sand dunes. The ‘vlei’ itself is a clay pan that occasionally fills with water during the rainy season and at these times the normally silent area becomes a bazaar of noise with rosy Flamingos fighting for food.

By: Lavana James

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