Africa: the other big 5

Africa: the other big 5
By admin


LARGEST CANYON Blyde River Canyon
Geography lesson: This magnificent natural attraction cuts through South Africa's Drakensberg Mountains, overlooking the Blyde River and the Lowveld Riparian Forest.

Size matters: Blyde River Canyon is the world's third largest canyon, after the Grand Canyon in the US and Namibia's Fish Eagle Canyon. Extending over 20km in length, it boasts spectacular mountain scenery and magnificent panoramic views over cliffs rising as high as 800 metres from the river bed.

Among its standout features are the Bourke's Luck Potholes, where thousands of years of water erosion at the intersection of two rivers has resulted in the formation of surreal cylindrical rock sculptures with swirling dark pools of water beneath. There are also some breathtaking views to behold at spots like God's Window and the Pinnacle.

Sample package: Blyde River Canyon is among the highlights of Bench International's 15-day Essentially South Africa trip, which also takes in Kruger National Park, the Garden Route and Cape Town. Prices start from $2290. For more information, visit www.benchinternational.com.au.

HIGHEST MOUNTAIN Mount Kilimanjaro
Geography lesson: This dormant volcano is located in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, in Kilimanjaro National Park.

Size matters: It's made up of three distinct volcanic cones, with Kibo being the tallest at 5895 metres – making Mount Kilimanjaro the highest peak in Africa. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim. The other two cones are Mawenzi (5149 metres high) and Shira (3962 metres high).

Anyone who is reasonably fit can potentially climb Mount Kilimanjaro, as no technical mountaineering skills are required. There are a number of different routes up the mountain, each providing a unique challenge and a variety of views – all of them being naturally spectacular. The easiest and most popular is the Marangu Route, with its well-defined trails, comfortable mountain huts and good facilities spaced at ideal locations.

Sample package: African Travel Specialists offers a Mount Kilimanjaro Climb, with a selection of different routes to choose from. The seven-day Marangu Route (a five-day hike) is priced from $1725. For more information, visit www.africantravel.com.au.

LARGEST DESERT The Sahara
Geography lesson: Located in northern Africa, the continent's largest desert covers parts of several nations including Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia.

Size matters: Covering over nine million square kilometres – which equates to around 10% of the African continent – the Sahara is a naturally barren place, but one that still features a varied topography. 

Most of its landscape has been shaped over time by wind and includes sand dunes, sand seas called ergs, stone plateaus, gravel plains, dry valleys and salt flats. Sand dunes make up around 25% of the desert, with some reaching over 150 metres in height. 

There are also several mountain ranges, many of them volcanic. Most of the water found in the Sahara is in the form of seasonal or intermittent streams, with the only permanent river that passes through it being the Nile.

Sample package: A Sahara camel trek is featured in Busabout's 15-day Morocco Encompassed itinerary, which is priced from $1359. Visits to Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira are also included in the trip. For more information, visit www.busabout.com.

BIGGEST LAKE Lake Victoria
Geography lesson: Also serving as the main reservoir of the Nile, Lake Victoria lies mainly in Tanzania and Uganda but also borders on Kenya.

Size matters: Spanning an area of 68,800 square kilometres, this expansive body of water is exceeded in size only by Lake Superior in North America.

Many archipelagos are contained within the lake, as are numerous reefs, and it's home to more than 200 species of fish. The search by Europeans for the source of the Nile led to the sighting of the lake by the British explorer John Hanning Speke in 1858. It had been known to the Arabs as Ukerewe but he gave the lake its new name in honour of England's Queen Victoria.

Sample package: Lake Victoria is visited during Adventure Destinations' 16-day Kenya and Tanzania Camping Safari, which is currently on special at a starting price of $5199 (airfares included).

Other highlights include wildlife viewing in the Serengeti and interaction with local tribes like the Maasai. For more information, visit www.adventuredestinations.com.au.

TALLEST WATERFALL Tugela Falls
Geography lesson: This awe-inspiring cascade is located in the Drakensberg Mountains, in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Size matters: At 948 metres in height, it's recognised as the world's second tallest waterfall in terms of overall height, behind Venezuela's Angel Falls. Tugela is a phonetic spelling of the African word Thukela, which means sudden or startling. It's certainly an apt description for this mighty waterfall, whose initially gentle stream makes an abrupt leap off what's known as the Amphitheatre Escarpment.

Tugela is made up of five consecutive leaps, with the biggest single drop being 411 metres. The waterfall is best viewed after heavy rains.

Sample package: A hike to Tugela Falls is among the highlights of World Expeditions' 11-day Drakensberg and Kruger Walking Safari. Prices start from $2990. For more information, visit www.worldexpeditions.com. 
Brush up on your Africa selling skills even further with a visit to www.travelweekly.com.au/destinations/holidays
 

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

Latest News

  • Destinations
  • News

APT Launches 2025 Asia Adventures

APT has launched its Asia Adventures for 2025, including new luxury holidays in India, Sri Lanka and Japan. Five new tours lead guests to the highlights of India, including a seven-night cruise along the rarely travelled Lower Ganges aboard the Ganges Voyager. Further south, Sri Lanka’s greatest destinations are revealed on a new 15-day Land […]

  • Cruise
  • Luxury
  • News

Seabourn announces Western Kimberley Traditional Owners as Godparents of Seabourn Pursuit

Seabourn has named Western Kimberley Traditional Owners, the Wunambal Gaambera, as Godparents of the ultra-luxury purpose-built Seabourn Pursuit. It is the first cruise line to appoint Traditional Owners as godparents of a ship. Seabourn Pursuit embarks on its inaugural season in the Kimberley region this June. The naming ceremony will take place on Seabourn Pursuit’s […]

  • Luxury

Malolo Island Resort opens brand new Spa

Fiji’s Malolo Island has added another string to its bow – opening its $1.3 million day spa on Thursday, 18th April 2024. (Lead Image: matriarch Rosie Whitton with spa staff) Located at the edge of the resort’s luscious patch of tropical rainforest, the new “Leilani’s Spa” adds another level of elevated experiences to Malolo’s already […]