In a country with 9 official languages you can expect a diverse travelling experience. When you add in the turbulent history, both in recent years with the break from Apartheid and long tribal and colonial influences, South Africa offers something for everyone.
Cape Town is a fortunate city, much loved and with numerous nicknames, from the “Mother City” to the “Tavern of the Seas”. The city and the mountains belong to one another. Cape Town without the mountains would not be quite so interesting. The mountains, Table mountain, Devil’s Peak, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill, would be superb without the city. Look down upon Cape Town from the mountain heights, one of the great views of the world. It is pleasant to think then of the past of the city, of different stages of growth, of the cosmopolitan people who have contributed to its story and its culture. Africans, Asians, Europeans, all have played a part in the history of Cape Town, building it at the foot of the mountain.
The original Company’s Garden founded in 1562 by Jan van Riebeeck covered 18 ha of ground. Now it is a botanical Garden covering less than 6 ha of the original area, and planted with flowers, trees and shrubs collected from many parts of the world.
Castle of Good Hope, founded by Simon van der Stel as the headquarter of the Dutch East India Company, is the oldest European building in South Africa. Five bastions surround utilitarian structures from dingy, graffiti-covered cells to armouries.
Long Street, laid out in the 18th century, runs right trough the city centre, from sea to mountain. Wander slowly, craning upwards at the delightful architectural details. There are churches, mosques, cafés, restaurants, clubs, double-tiered verandas on Victorian houses and neo- classical buildings – the roofline is a profusion of turrets, gables and minarets.
The Cape Peninsula National Park stretches for approximately 60 km from Signal Hill to Cape Point in the south. The peninsula is never wider than 10 km and includes the legendary Cape of Good Hope and a wondrous array of habitats. The internationally renowned Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden lies on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, just outside the boundaries of the park, and contains spectacularly landscaped indigenous trees and plants, as well as natural forest. On the higher slopes lies its breathtaking Protea Garden with king proteas and the lovely shimmering silver trees. Set within the metropolitan area of Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest city, the park is representative of the Cape floral kingdom, one of only six floral kingdoms in the world. It is home to some 2 285 species of plants, 90 of them endemic. The park has a Mediterranean-like climate, winter rainfall, well-defined seasons and lush vegetation.
Boulders Beach – Near Simon’s Town, the Boulders penguin colony is home to a growing number of the endangered African or “jackass” penguin. From a few breeding pairs in the late 1980s, the colony has steadily grown and its members can be closely viewed from a wheel-chair-friendly boardwalk.
Cape Point – At Cape Point, the tides ceaselessly pound against the cliffs, churning up impressive amounts of spray. As one of the main attractions of the Cape Point National Park, it can be accessed either by foot or via the funicular. The renowned Cape of Good Hope, still a beacon to sailors, also forms part of this rock-bound coastal section. This southern part of the park contains extremely diverse coastal fynbos, which have specifically evolved to survive in the salty, sandy and nutrient-poor soil. Protea and erica dominate and the dainty Cape sugarbird feeds exclusively on the flowering fynbos. Small numbers of animal and bird species still occur, including grysbok, otter and bontebok while the rare white peripatus is found in the deep recesses of sandstone caves.
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
One of the most famous, one of the largest, one of the oldest and one of the best game parks in Africa. Spanning across the Mpumalanga region into the Northern Province lies the Kruger National Park. Here, visitors will encounter indigenous bush, sub-tropical lowveld vegetation, fertile valleys, and terraced hills. The northern area offers many archaeological and historical sites – Masorini and Thulamela. The park, rich in biodiversity, was established in 1898 and stretches for 350 km south to north along the Mozambiquan border to where South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe meet in the infamous Crooks Corner on the confluence of the Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers. Well known for its diversity of habitat and wildlife, Kruger offers visitors an excellent opportunity to experience close encounters with elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard in a natural unfenced environment. Wild dogs, cheetah, zebra, giraffe and a variety of other species are also indigenous to the park. A paradise for the wildlife enthusiast with close to 150 mammals and over 380 species of indigenous trees, as well as over 500 bird species, the park is a bird watch haven.
Night drives and bush braais become the highlight of the bush experience offering glimpses of nocturnal animals often not seen during the day. Early morning drives offer their own attraction as the bush and waterholes awaken.
One of the largest parks in South Africa, the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park is renowned for its wide variety of bird and animal life. Besides the “big five”, elusive cheetah, wild dogs and many other well-known bushveld species inhabit the park, offering visitors a rich game viewing experience. Established in 1895, this is a 96 000 ha complex of two parks linked by a corridor of land with habitats ranging from woodland and forest to savannah and grass-land. It shares with St. Lucia the distinction of being the oldest wildlife sanctuary in Africa. In the 1960’s, it was the home of Operation Rhino, a conservation program to ensure global survival of the white rhino, and the park still has the world’s largest concentration of black and white rhino.
The Drakensberg which run for 200 km along the western border of KwaZulu-Natal, are part of a much longer chain of basalt stretching from the Cape to the Limpopo. With jagged 3000 m peaks, flowing fields of red-gold grass, meadows as rich in flowers as a medieval tapestry, San rock paintings, raptors soaring on the thermals, and gushing waterfalls, this is one of southern Africa’s many highlights. The mountains are preserved as a recreational wilderness, with unsurpassed walking, hiking and climbing. Activities include superb trout fishing, climbing, bird watching, riding and hot-air ballooning.
TSITSIKAMA COASTAL NATIONAL PARK
A place of mystery, of ancient rivers and forests, deep ravines and long forgotten tales, this is “the place of sparkling water” or Tsitsikamma. Dedicated in 1964, this combined marine and forest park, stretches for some 80 km along the coast and 5.5 km out to sea, covering a extraordinarily rich variety of ecosystems. Inland there is coastal forest, part of the great Knysna Forest belt, where ancient yellowwoods grow up to 50 m high. On the coast, freshwater wetlands give way to dunes, crashing waves and shallow pools, coral reefs and plunging deep waters. Tsitsikamma was the first marine national park in Africa and visitors will delight in its wonderful diversity. This is a hikers paradise and the otter trail is one of the most sought after hikes in Africa.
WILDERNESS NATIONAL PARK
Lush forests and green-clad mountains unveil a loosely knit web of fertile wetlands threaded by snaking rivers. A brilliantly plumaged Knysna loerie gives its distinctive call as it heads for the woods and a malachite kingfisher skims over the lake’s clear surface in search of food. Five striking kingfisher species frequent the four lakes of this unique wetland ecosystem in the Wilderness National Park, which has been awarded Ramsar status. A variety of activities are available including nature trails, angling, canoeing, windsurfing, sailing and pedal boating.
ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK
Tucked away in the dense bushveld of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park. Proclaimed in 1931, when the number of elephants had dwindled to only 11, the park now provides sanctuary to some 350 elephants as well as buffalo, black rhino, plenty of birds and several species of antelope. The unique flightless dung beetle is treasured and road signs implore visitors to yield to them. Rains occur throughout the year, some 450 mm annually, and with temperate to warm climate both the animals and the vegetation thrive.
CEDERBERG WILDERNESS AREA
Within the Western Cape, this rugged mountainous area extends roughly North-South for 100 km. 71,000 hectares are protected and contain San paintings and bizarre sandstone formations. Offers great hiking trails in an area of genuine wilderness.
DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE
The reserve includes a scenic coastline with lonely stretches of beach, rocky cliffs, large coastal sand dunes, a freshwater lake, fynbos, diverse coastal ecosystems, Cape mountain zebra, bontebok and a wealth of birdlife. The coast is an important breading ground for the Southern Right Whale.
KALAGADI NATIONAL PARK
Spanning South Africa and Botswana, the Kalagadi is a sea of sand dunes and dry river beds, cloaked in scrub, grass and thorn trees. This is the home of the famous Kalahari lions and one of the best areas in Africa to view Cheetah while they hunt.
MKUZI GAME RESERVE
36,000 hectares, this reserve is far from the largest game park in South Africa but it offers the intimacy of hides at waterholes with some of the best game viewing you can experience.
AUGRABIES FALLS NATIONAL PARK
This is more than just a large waterfall, although when carrying a large amount of water the waterfalls are stunning. The name of the area derives from the Namaqua word for “place of great noise” and the desert/riverine environment on the either side of the river is unequaled.
This 1,110 km long and 960 km wide landlocked country sharing borders with South Africa in the East & South, Namibia in the West and both Zambia and Zimbabwe in the North-East offers a diversity of pristine scenic beauty and home of the most unspoiled wildlife areas on the African continent. The spectacular beauty of the country is enhanced by its warm-heated, friendly and hospitable people.
The Okavango Delta in the north-west area of Botswana, originating from the Okavango River (named after the chief of the Mbukushu tribe) flowing from the high mountains in Angola, fans out over an area of 15,000 sq. km offering a mosaic of streams, forests, islands, flood plains and lagoons, but it does not reach the sea. Unique only to Botswana, this largest inland delta in the world is home to an abundance of land and aquatic wildlife which integrate with each other in this environment of diverse habitats.
Experience the mysteries which unravel the tranquility excitement, reflections and the real African adventure. Allow yourself to be poled through the reeds and water lilies of the delta, viewing the prolific bird life, the occasional crocodile or hippo, the abundant red lechwe or if you’re lucky the elusive and rare sitatunga. Listen to the call of the Fish Eagle and Kingfishers during the day and in the evening feel the pulse of the African night, whilst being mesmerized by the camp fire.
CHOBE NATIONAL PARK
The 1160 square kilometers extent of the Chobe National Park contains one of the largest concentrations of wild animals in Africa. May to September – the dry season – is the best time of year to visit this fascinating national park. Vast herds of buffalo feed in the marshes. Elephant, eland, giraffe, impala, kudu, lechwe, oribi, puku, roan, tsessebe, waterbuck, wildebeest and zebra are very numerous. Predators – lion and leopard – and scavengers roam the whole area. Hippos and crocodiles inhabit the waterways and bird life is magnificent. The park was created in 1968 and named after the Chobe River which forms its northern boundary. South of the river lies an area of mopane forest, where there are numerous large pans which contain water and provide drinking places for an interesting variety of wild animals, including gemsbok, oribi, reedbuck and roan.
MAKGADIKGADI PANS AND NXAI PANS
These two associated wildlife sanctuaries cover over 10 000 square kilometers. The game population of this area is essentially migratory. From December to March a tremendous amount of wildlife is concentrated in Nxai Pan (originally an ancient lake bed). Eland and sable are less prolific, buffalo and elephant only appear during very wet seasons. Cheetah, lion, hyenas, wild dogs and bat-eared fox are plentiful. At the end of the rainy season – about May – the game animals migrate from Nxai Pan south into the Makgadikgadi Basin, where they disperse over the grassy plains.
Lesotho, made up almost entirely of rugged mountains and totally surrounded by South Africa, calls itself the Kingdom in the Sky. It lies about 200 miles (320 kilometers) inland from the Indian Ocean. It’s forbidding terrain and the defensive walls of the Drakensberg and Maloti ranges gave both sanctuary and strategic advantage to the Basotho who forged a nation while playing a key role in the maneuverings of the white invaders on the plains below. The capital, Maseru (meaning ‘red sandstone’), is a quiet place with pleasant but undistinguished architecture.
Most of Lesotho is mountainous. The Drakensberg, a mountain range, rises to over 11,000 feet (3,400 meters) above sea level in the east. The Maloti Mountains, which are a part of the Drakensberg, cover much of central Lesotho. The only plains lie in the west. The Orange River rises in northeastern Lesotho. Thaba-Ntlenyana is the highest peak in southern Africa (3482 m). Walkers can ramble across moorland, by rocky streams and trough woodland. Pony-trekking is a specialty. You can find fossil-laden cliffs and faint, ancient San painting in the caves and under the overhangs.
Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy. A king is the head of state. However, the king has no official power. A prime minister and a cabinet carry out the operations of the government.
The wealth of a family is often measured by the number of cattle it owns. Most Basotho live in villages of fewer than 250 people. Family groups build their huts around a cattle kraal (pen) with open space separating each group. Traditional houses consist of mud or sod walls with thatched roofs. The Basotho often paint designs on the doors and walls. Each village has a khotla (meeting place) where men discuss village business.
The Basotho raise crops on the land surrounding the villages. All land is owned in common by the people, and local chiefs assign the land to the people. The women do most of the heavy work on the farms and in the homes. They hoe and weed the land, harvest the crops, and build the houses. The men plow the land and look after the sheep, cattle, and goats. From the time they are 5 or 6 years old, boys herd livestock.
English and Sesotho, a Bantu language, are the country’s two official languages. The traditional religions of the people are based on ancestor worship, but more than 80 percent of Lesotho’s people now are Christians.
Some of the continent’s finest coastline makes Mozambique one of Africa ‘s premier beach destinations. Just like Malawi, the country is also covered by large stretches of endless savannah. Along the coast you will drive through seemingly endless stretches of coconut palm trees.
The diverse cultural heritage of this country is an eclectic mix of fascinating customs and traditions still practiced with enthusiasm by the vast majority of the population, making for a memorable exploration of the eastern reaches of southern Africa.
During the fight for liberation and the ensuing civil war of the 1980s and early 1990s, the land saw enormous devastation that threatened to all but obliterate every notable trace of Mozambique’s wildlife. Fortunately,Mozambique was able to emerge from the internal conflict, and, slowly but surely, foreign aid organizations and conservation efforts began to pool their resources to establish an assistance program that helped stabilize endangered areas by, among other efforts, reintroducing herds of buffalo and elephant that were once common here.
Mozambique’s capital Maputo is a lively port city, criss-crossed with palm-fringed avenues lined with jacaranda and flame trees. Following a period of civil strife and political uncertainty that ended only in 1992,
many of Maputo’s grand places, synagogues, markets and museums
still bear the physical scars of civil war to this day. However,Maputo is emerging from the ashes to slowly regain some of the glory of its heyday, as you can feel when strolling through the evening markets or glancing at the brightly lit seafront.
GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK
After the civil war, Gorongosa was one of the first to be reopened as a national park. Today, wildlife populations here and in similar areas are slowly growing, with more than 900 bird species crossing the southern skies, most notably in Mozambique’s Mount Gorongosa region. Groups of buffalo, rhino and even lion and leopard are spotted in the great Gorongosa National Park and the Zambezi Delta, while herds of elephant traverse the Futi Channel in the south and along the banks of the Rovuma River
in the far north.
Barra is the site of Inhambane and is one of Mozambique’s most popular holiday meccas – the azure waters, coves, bays and sands provide a spectacular backdrop to the beach life. The landscape of Barra and the adjoining Cape Inhambane is dotted with coconut plantations and mangrove swamps, and the wave-washed shores are a a vivid invitation to the marine wonderland. The waters are warm but unpredictable, and powerful rip-currents and volatile waves make it an exhilarating but precarious water-sport base.
The marine wonderland of the Bazaruto Archipelago comprises three islands, among which Bazaruto is the biggest one. Only a small channel separates Bazaruto from Benguera island, through which you will have to drive through in order to reach the popular 10-mile reef, from where snorkeling is among the best in the world. White sand dunes falling into the azure waters, endless deserted beaches and coconut palm tress lure every visitor into its fascination.
The 3000 km Zambezi River winds for 820 km of its route across Mozambique before reaching the ocean. Its broad valley slices the country in two, beginning at Feira and ending, after having accumulated run-off waters from five other countries, in the wetlands of the delta. By the time the waters reach Mozambique they have been tamed by Zimbabwe’s Lake Kariba and are again dammed by the 160 m walls of the 270 km-long Cahora Bassa, Mozambique’s most ambitious dam. Having coursed through the hinterland, waters guarded by crocodiles and hippos, the Zambezi begins to disperse about 600 km downstream on the buffalo plains of Marromeu, where it spreads into a network of streams, channels and tributaries covering 4000 km2. Today the Delta spans only 100 km, but is nevertheless breathtaking and home to big game such as elephant, buffalo, rhino and roan antelope.
Namibia is quite simply unique. It contains two of the world’s foremost deserts – the Kalahari and the Namib, but don’t think it is all towering sand dunes and desert scenery. Surprisingly, it varies from sun burnt mountains and seasonal floodplains to lush riverine forests. An incredibly varied amount of wildlife, including the ‘Big 5′ – Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Lion and Leopard are present. You also have the opportunity to see endangered species such as the Black Rhino, whose numbers are dwindling in the rest of Africa.
ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK
The Etosha National Park conserves 22 270 square kilometers of savanna country in the north of Namibia, including the Etosha Pan itself – a vast shallow depression 130 km by 50 km in extent – which gives the park its name. The Pan alone would be worth conserving as a classic example of its kind. It is a great, ghostly white lake dazzling with heat waves and mirages for most of the year, filling from December to April with sometimes up to a meter of muddy, algae-rich water. Depending on the extent of the floods, the pan dries out in about March, leaving a hard floor white with salt, soda and other chemicals. The verges of the lake are very well treed and grassed, with several springs providing water for wild animals. The animals, which live permanently around the pan are: blue wildebeest, springbok, zebra, kudu, hartebeest, oryx, eland, giraffe, elephants, lions, black rhinos, and numerous smaller creatures. Bird life is prodigious, with 325 species identified, including many lively little creatures such as the crimson-breasted shrike, sometimes known as the “German flag” because of its black, red and white colouring. Here you can sit by the floodlit water holes and enjoy the game day and night.
In the language of the Nama people Namib means a vast, open plain seemingly without end. It extends from the sandveld at the northern end of the winter-rainfall region of the Cape to as far north as the area just past Mossamedes in Angola. This expanse has been divided into three parts. In the south lies the transitional Namib. The middle Namib which the Nama call the Gobaba, is the seemingly endless plain of the dune country, the sea of sand, the greatest part of the desert – 400 km long and 140 km wide – which ends abruptly at the valley of the Kuiseb River. The dune sea of the middle Namib is the supreme desert. The dunes reach 275 m in height, with their nearest rivals in the empty quarter of Arabia only reaching 200 m. The Namib dunes are not only gigantic, but they are extremely beautiful, the older ones being tinted red iron oxidation and minute fragments of garnets. The younger dunes are greyer in color.
North of the Kuiseb River lies the northern Namib, the area of arid gravel plains.
The oldest, driest desert in the world, the Namib, has a variety of wildlife that have adapted to this harsh, yet beautiful environment.
Sesriem (six thongs) – this place received its name from the deep gorge of the Tsauchab River. The river was so named from the ash bushes Salsola sp., growing there and burned to obtain lye for soap making. The gorge is so narrow and deep that it is said that ses riem (six thongs) were needed to lower buckets to fill with water.
Sossusvlei – is a bilingual name. Sossus is a Bushman word meaning a place where water gathers and vlei in Afrikaans meaning a marsh. In fact it is a dried out lake, that on average only fills with water every 30 years.
Throughout the day the colors and forms of the dunes change with the light. Strange shapes and shadows may be seen elusive and haunting, seeming to belong to an eerie elder world of far away and long ago. This scene is unforgettable.
NAMIB NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK
The Namib Naukluft Park extent 49 768 square kilometers, almost the size of Belgium and Wales together, and is the fourth largest conservation area in the world. The Naukluft consists of a massive jumble of rocky mountains carpeted with a diverse flora and abounding with perennial water, a rich bird life and a varied population of wild animals, particularly Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok and gemsbok. Leopards, baboons and dassies also thrive in this rugged area. Scenically, the Namib Mountains are grand, the rocks vividly colored Limestone tints the water a pale green. There are many caves, some of which contain galleries of rock art.
FISH RIVER CANYON
The Fish River Canyon is one of the most staggering scenic spectacles in Africa and second only in size to the Grand Canyon of America. The canyon is 161 km long, 27 km wide at maximum, and up to 549 m deep. It is revealed with startling abruptness in an arid landscape covered with pebbles, euphorbias and small succulents.
Several springs occur on the floor of the canyon, the most notable being Ai-Ais, a Nama name meaning “very hot”. This spring has a temperature of 60°C and is rich in fluorides, sulphates and chlorides. Monitor lizards, numerous birds, snakes, baboons and mountain zebras inhabit the canyon.
GARIEP (ORANGE) RIVER
The source of this great river is more then 3 000 m above sea-level on the mountain plateau of Lesotho just behind the Drakensberg peak. Its course, 2 250 km long, ends in the Atlantic Ocean at the diamond-mining centres of Alexander Bay and Oranjemund. Along its middle and lower reaches, the Gariep flows through the most arid country in South Africa. At its mouth the rainfall does not exceed 50 mm a year. The river is the bringer of life to the northern area of the Karoo, Bushmanland and the north-western Cape. As with the Nile, there is a startling contrast between the green islets and banks of the river and the surrounding arid landscape.
RICHTERSVELD NATIONAL PARK
Highly specialized life forms have made a home there. Miniature rock gardens, perfectly designed by nature, cling precariously to cliff faces. Tiny succulents, several of them are rare species, including Aloe dichotoma (the giant aloe) and Pachipodium Namaquamun (the elephant’s trunk or halfmens), mere pinpoints against a backdrop of surreal rock formations, revel on the moisture brought by the early morning fog rolling in from the cold Atlantic Ocean. With almost no rainfall, the days are hot and dry but winter nights can become chilly. The Gariep (formerly Orange) River, which forms the border with Namibia, provides a sharp contrast to the arid areas north and south of its banks. Trees and aquatic birds flourish in its valley. Spiders, scorpions and insects are fairly numerous and tortoises, lizard and snakes find a living somehow. Of the mammals, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, steenbok, klipspringer, leopard and baboons have adapted themselves to this wilderness.
The Damaraland is a frugal region and its agricultural use is not so successful, but the landscape is very fascinating. The mountains show off with confusing colors and enchanted geological sites, caused by erosion. Home to the desert elephant and desert rhino, you will drive into a wilderness of dry riverbeds, eroded mountains and stony plains.
In Tweyfelfontein (doubtful fountain) are about 2 500 rock-engravings and paintings. Their origin is uncertain, but there are probably work of bushman and are estimated to be about 5 000 years old. Engraving on rock is difficult, with no chance of erasing errors. The engravings at Tweyfelfontein are so skillfully done that they must have been the work of artists.
The name of Swakopmund, a picturesque Germanic seaside town, nestled between the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Namib Desert, is certainly unique. The Topnaar people who live in valley of the Swakop River (at whose mouth the town lies) gave the river its name on account of the mud, flotsam and general detritus washed down during its infrequently floods. The Swakop is one of the most important rivers in the south – western part of Africa. It formed the traditional boundary between the various Nama tribes and the Herero tribe and was the scene of many brutal conflicts.
In 1892 Captain Curt von Francois built a military post on the site of the present town and this was the beginning of Swakopmund. There are several interesting reminders of pre – war German days in Swakopmund – the lighthouse built in 1902 and several houses below it built in the same period. Swakopmund is nowadays known for its adventure activities, like sand boarding and quad biking, but a stroll through this quaint seaside resort with its German coffee shops is also very rewarding. Close by is a forest of the living fossil plant ‘Welwitschia’, which only occur along this coast. Here you can also visit the Moon landscape.
MAHANGO GAME RESERVE
On the Eastern border of this park, the Okavango river makes it’s way to the delta. Here, on the flood plains, you find large herds of elephants, which migrate freely between Angola, Botswana and Namibia. This is also where you are most likely to find animals such as the endangered Roan and Sable antelope, and if you are lucky you may see the elusive Sitatunga.
MAMILI/MUDUMU NATIONAL PARKS
Situated in the remote areas of the Caprivi Strip, these two parks are unique wilderness areas, which have been little effected by tourism. They offer a chance to see game that is not viewable elsewhere in Namibia including Hippo, Buffalo and Wild Dog.
This wind swept town is nestled between the Atlantic and the Forbidden Area, where the first diamonds were found lying on the sand. Kolmanskop Ghost Town is situated about 10 km outside the town and is slowly being reclaimed by the Namib Desert.
Built in 1909 by Baron Hans-Heinrich von Wolf for his American bride, on the edge of the Namib Desert. The Baron and Baroness lived there for a short period before he was killed in France during the First World War.
CAPE CROSS SEAL COLONY
Site of the first European landing on Namibian soil in 1486. Also home to a breeding colony of over 100,000 Cape Fur Seals. Experience the sights and smells of this bustling colony from very close quarters.
Zambia takes its name from the Zambezi River, which forms most of the country’s southern border. Victoria Falls, one of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls, lies on the river. The great Kariba Dam, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric projects, and Kariba Lake also are on the Zambezi River, serving both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Most of Zambia is flat and covered with trees and bushes. It lies on a plateau about 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level. The plateau is broken by the 7,000-foot (2,100-meter) Muchinga Mountains in the northeast. In the south, the trees are smaller, and there are large open areas.
There are more than 70 ethnic groups represented and eight major local languages spoken in Zambia. Many people also speak English, the official language. In remote parts of the country, village life goes on much as it has for hundreds of years. The people live in circular, grass-roofed homes and raise food crops on the surrounding land.
The majority of Zambians are Christians, but traditional local beliefs still have a strong hold on the village people. However, the use of traditional medicine, and old customs such as polygamy (marrying several wives) and bride price (paying the parents for a bride), are slowly dying out in the towns.
THE VICTORIA FALLS
One of the seven natural wonders of the world. Not only is the Victoria Falls the undisputed queen of waterfalls, but it is also without doubt one of the greatest and most unforgettable scenic spectacles. From its source in a lonely groove of trees on the border of Zaire, the river meanders for 1 300 km across the wooded plateau of Zambia. The Victoria Falls, at present occurring where the river is 1 688 m wide, presents the spectacle of an average maximum of 550 million liters of water per minute tumbling over the upper lip of the trench in five main falls, the Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow Falls, and the Eastern Cataract. Each fall is separated from the other only by slightly elevated islands of rocks on the lip of the crack. The highest fall is Rainbow Falls, on a average 108 m high.
Activities available here include White Water Rafting, Bungi Jumping, the ‘Flight of the Angels’, Microlighting and Sunset Boat Cruises.
Swaziland is a small, beautiful country in southern Africa. It is surrounded by the Republic of South Africa on three sides and by Mozambique in the east. Swaziland has rich mineral deposits, large forests, and good farmland.
Mountains up to 4,500 feet (1,370 meters) above sea level rise along Swaziland’s western border. Vast pine forests cover much of the land there. Rolling, grassy midlands lie east of the mountains. Farther east, the land levels off into a low plain covered with bushes and grass. The high, narrow Lebombo Mountains rise along the eastern border.
The country offers many varied activities including White-water rafting in the Mkhaya Game Reserve, horse-riding and hiking. The handicrafts of Swaziland are noteable, especially the weaved grassware, that include bottles that are used for water carrying. Other noteable items are the jewellery, pottery and weapons. Recent history has included a major role in the hosting of many of the outlawed organisations of the apartheid era.
Swaziland was formerly a British protectorate. It became independent in 1968 as the Kingdom of Swaziland. Mbabane is Swaziland’s administrative capital and largest town. Manzini is the country’s main commercial center and Lobamba is the traditional, royal capital. Swaziland is a monarchy. The Ngwenyama (king), a hereditary leader, rules the country, with the assistance of a council of ministers and a national legislature. The Ndlovukazi (queen mother, or mother of the king) is in charge of national rituals. If the king’s mother is no longer living, one of the king’s wives may act as Ndlovukazi.
Swazi farmers prize their cattle and respect people with large herds. Traditionally, Swazi do not kill cattle for food, but some are sold for cash or sacrificed at religious ceremonies. When a Swazi man marries, his family gives his wife’s family cattle to legalize her status as his wife. Swazi men may have more than one wife. The traditional family includes a man, his wives, his unmarried children, and his married sons and their families. Each family lives in a separate homestead. Each Swazi man belongs to an age group organized by the Ngwenyama. All the men in a particular group are about the same age. Different age groups have special parts in Swazi ceremonies. Many of Swaziland’s adults cannot read and write. More than half the Swazi belong to Christian churches. Most of the rest practice traditional African religions.
With a surface area of 940, 000 qkm Tanzaniais the biggest country in East Africa and generally regarded as one of the most beautiful ones as well. The national territory is located in the southern hemisphere, in the immediate vicinity of the equator. Apart from its cultural wealth,Tanzania stands out due to its many natural faces. The country is mountainous in the northeast, where Mount Kilimanjaro,Africa’s highest peak, is situated. To the north and west are the Great Lakes of Lake Victoria (Africa’s largest lake) and Lake Tanganyika (Africa’s deepest lake, known for its unique species of fish). Central Tanzania comprises a large plateau, with plains and arable land. The eastern shore is hot and humid, with the island of Zanzibar lying just offshore the 840 km long coastline. Moreover, Tanzania contains many large and ecologically significant wildlife parks, including the famous Ngorongoro Crater as well as the Serengeti National Park in the north
Arusha is a pulsating city of northern Tanzania surrounded by some of Africa’s most famous landscapes and national parks. Beautifully situated below Mount Meru on the eastern edge of the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley, it has a pleasant climate and is close to Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire National Park, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Given the town’s superior location near those popular attractions, Arusha has become a popular staging point for tourists visiting Tanzania and can be seen as the touristic centre of the country. Apart from that the primary industry of the region is agriculture, with large vegetable and flower producers sending high-quality produce to Europe. Many of the plantations are open for public and one can spend hours strolling around there.
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
TarangireNational Park is the sixth largest national park inTanzania after Ruaha, Serengeti, Mikumi, Katavi and Mkomazi. The name of the park originates from the Tarangire river that crosses through the park, being the only source of water for wild animals during dry seasons. The park is famous for its huge number of elephants, baobab trees and tree climbing African pythons. It lies a little distance to the south east of Lake Manyara and covers an area of approximately 2,850 square kilometers.
The Ngorongoro Crater can be described as a large, unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera. The Crater, which formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself some two to three million years ago, is 610 m (2,000 ft) deep and its floor covers 260 km2 (100 sq mi). Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from fifteen to nineteen thousand feet (4500 to 5800 meters high. Aside from herds of zebra, gazelle, and wildebeest, the crater is home to the “big five” of rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo. The crater plays host to almost every individual species of wildlife in East Africa, with an estimated 25 000 animals within the crater.
The Olduvai Gorge is considered the seat of humanity after the discovery of the earliest known specimens of the human genus, Homo habilis as well as early homonids, Paranthropus boisei. In general it is a steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley, which stretches along eastern Africa. Olduvai is in the eastern Serengeti Plains in northern Tanzania and is about thirty miles long. It lies in the rain shadow of the Ngorongoro highlands and is the driest part of the region. The gorge is named after the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant, Sansevieria ehrenbergii, commonly called Oldupaai. It is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and research there has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution.
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
The Serengeti National Park is one of the worlds biggest and most famous wildlife reserve. It covers 14,763 km² (5,700 square miles) of grassland plains and savanna as well as riverine forest and woodlands. The park lies in the north of the country, bordered to the north by the national Tanzania and Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Masai Mara National Reserve.Apart from the annual migration of over one million and a half wildebeest and 200,000 zebra, the park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly the “Big Five”, named for the five most prized trophies taken by hunters.The Serengeti also supports many further species, including cheetah, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon, impala and giraffe. The park also boasts about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane and marabou stork.
Lake Manyara is a shallow freshwater lake in Tanzania. Said by Ernest Hemingway to be the “loveliest [lake] … in Africa,” it is also the home of a diverse set of landscapes and wildlife. Of the 127 square miles (329 km2) of Lake Manyara National Park, the lake’s alkaline waters cover approximately 89 square miles (231 km2). While most known for baboons, the lake and its environs is also home to herbivores such as hippos, impalas, elephants, wildebeests, buffalo, warthogs and giraffes. Giant fig trees and mahogany seen in the groundwater forest immediately around the park gates draw nourishment from the underground springs replenished continuously from crater highlands directly above the Manyara basin.Furthermore Lake Manyara provides ideal opportunities for ornithologists keen on viewing and observing over 300 migratory birds, including flamingo, Long-crested Eagle and Grey-headed Kingfisher.