Have you ever started to research Africa, come across beautiful destinations (well, that’s not hard), but then got completely stuck on how to pronounce them? Never fear, we’re here to save you with our guide to some of those trickier-sounding African hotspots. No more living in fear that someone will laugh at you (or your pronunciation!), as the tough to utter place names simply fall from your mouth! Read on to find out more about our favourite African tongue-twisters…
South Africa’s Karoo is a breathtaking and relatively unexplored destination. Whilst most visitors choose to traverse South Africa via the famous Garden Route (and with good reason – it’s a beautiful drive), we’d recommend trying the magnificent Karoo for at least one of your legs. Here you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into the Australian Outback or the scenery from a Clint Eastwood Western. It is here, between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountains, that you’ll find the charming town of Oudtshoorn. Known as the ostrich capital of the world, you’ll find plenty of the big birds about and a visit to one of the local farms is always a must. If you fancy something a little more adventurous, head to the Cango Caves or take a drive over the spectacular Swartberg Pass. If you do head out that way, be sure to pop into the nearby town of Prince Albert too – it’s a beautifully preserved Victorian town that’s an artist’s haven.
If you fancy weaving some big bird watching and cave exploring into your South African adventure, read our guide to doing the garden route in a week.
With a strong European influence, Windhoek is a leafy green oasis amongst Namibia’s seemingly neverending desert landscapes. The city’s Germanic colonial past has certainly left its mark and can be seen in the Bavarian houses and fortresses dotted around the town – and it’s certainly home to the best strudel you’ll try in Africa! Situated almost exactly in the epicentre of the country, it’s the perfect jumping off point for all your Namibian adventures, whether you’re heading to the safari wonderland of Etosha National Park in the north, or to see the famous red sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the south. It’s not just a stopover city though – wander through the National Botanical Garden, take in a sundowner on one of the rooftop bars or soak up some culture at the Christuskirche and the Alte Feste Museum. Whatever you fancy doing, you won’t be short of options.
Try our ‘Classic Namibian Self-Drive Journey’ to take in all the sights this photogenic country has to offer.
Chad might not be the first place on your lips when you think of a safari, in part due to the well-documented trouble and strife the country has lived through, but its current relative stability has opened it up to intrepid travellers. Our opinion? If you’re looking for something totally different and off-the-beaten-track, you really can’t go wrong with Chad and if you do choose to travel, you’ll undoubtedly pass through the capital city of N’Djamena, sitting on the glistening Chari River. Literally translating to ‘the city where one rests’, it’s almost anything but! A city of extreme contrasts, shiny high-rise buildings sit adjacent to humble dwellings built from brick and mud, and you’ll see farm animals roaming the streets alongside smartly dressed businessmen.
From the beautiful mosques to the unforgettable central market, it’s a city bustling with culture.If you fancy exploring uncharted territory in Chad, take a look at our ‘Ultimate Expedition’.
Lesotho is one of the smallest countries in the world – and definitely one of the most underrated. Referred to as ‘The Kingdom in the Sky’, the lowest point above sea level stands at 1500 metres, making it the highest low point of any country in the world. Precipitous heights aside, it’s a wild, rocky place, with superlative-laden alpine scenery around every towering corner, and it’s the perfect country to explore on multi-day treks on foot or atop a hardy pony. If you want to get under the skin of the Lesotho culture, then check out the local horse racing scene, so popular that some might refer to it as more of a way of life than a hobby. In the winter season, on one Saturday a month, residents head to Semonkong to watch one of the best races in the country during which crowds cheer the riders and ponies as they jostle their way down the track.
Click here to start planning your very own Kingdom in the Sky getaway.
When you think of Botswana, you might conjure up images of lush, animal-filled forests and mokoro safaris along the waterways of the Okavango Delta… and whilst you certainly find all of the above, you’ll also find the exact opposite as well. Covering an area of 12,000 square kilometres, the Makgadikgadi Pans are one of the most beautiful and unusual landscapes in southern Africa. With a name that means “dry and thirsty place”, it will come as no surprise that the pans are waterless and arid for much of the year, and they shimmer and sparkle to horizons that bend to infinity in the very definition of isolation. At night, the lunar landscape transforms into an otherworldly spectacle in which millions upon millions of stars glitter in the complete blackness. It’s not just beautiful landscapes you can expect here either; in the years of good rain you’ll also be treated to incredible animal sightings from zebra to wildebeest to enormous pink clouds of flamingo.
Combine both the classic Delta and the mysterious Makgadikgadi Salt Pans with our ‘Adventurous Botswana’ route.
Ruaha National Park is off-the-beaten-track safari at its best. In a place the size of New Jersey but with less than half the visitors of the Serengeti, Ruaha is the very definition of an exclusive experience. Away from the 4x4s and hordes of tourists, there are predators galore (the park is home to 10% of the world’s lion population), vast herds of buffalo and the largest population of ellies in any Tanzanian national park (in excess of 10,000!). If birding is more your thing, then Ruaha will also deliver with over 450 species of colourful birds dotting the landscape – and what a landscape it is! The dramatic vistas are packed with mixed acacia vegetation, skeletal baobabs, dense miombo forests, spiky palm trees and roll savannah. This is the place to truly understand Africa.
Over the years Harare has developed a somewhat tarnished reputation which we don’t think is entirely fair. Zimbabwe’s capital is a modern, buzzing city (it’s name actually means ‘they never sleep’ – take that New York!), where wide, leafy boulevards and smart high-rise buildings in the central business district give way to quiet, residential areas bursting with beautiful jacaranda trees. The city centre is a hive of activity and packed with restaurants and vibrant street markets, and on the streets you’ll find slowly roasted mielies (corn on the cob) to snack on. Harare’s not short on culture either and you’ll find a selection of local artworks at the various galleries and sculpture parks, and learn more of the country’s history through the relics that still remain. Harare’s not one to forget about just yet.
You might not plan an entire trip around Harare but if you’re hankering after a safari in Zimbabwe, you might find yourself in the city for a night at the beginning or end of your trip – and now you’ll know how to make the most of it!
We touched on South Africa’s magnificent Garden Route earlier, the mind-boggling coastal road from Mossel Bay to the country’s Eastern Cape, but we do like a little slow travel where possible and would absolutely recommend a couple of stop-offs along the way. The first is the sleepy fishing town of Gansbaai, just over two hours from the Mother City. Whilst you might align Africa with “on-the-ground” mammals, this little village has been made famous to locals and tourists alike as a hotspot for encountering the oceanic apex predator, the great white shark, and tours and boat trips can be organised at the drop of a hat. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then that’s ok too – how about a horse ride along the beach, a wander to the numerous local nature reserves, or a lunch of freshly-caught seafood? It’s the perfect way to start your Garden Route adventure.
Click here to find out more about planning your own Southern African escape.