Mention Africa, and for most people it immediately conjures up images of leopards stalking a herd of zebra on the Serengeti, crocodiles wallowing in muddy rivers, and brightly painted warriors with spears and animal fur clothing. Of course there are areas with all of these things… but not many as most people imagine.
In reality, Africa is a huge continent that is impossible to pigeon-hole into any particular style or category. From the ancient pyramids in the north, to Table Mountain in the south, it is a fascinating, intriguing, and above all, welcoming land to the lively exciting cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi.
The north of Africa is wholly different to that south of the vast Sahara Desert. To begin with it has been home to intelligent, civilised, trading nations for thousands of years. Travel along the Nile through Egypt , and you will see evidence of these ancient civilizations all around. The sandy streets are lined with bazaars and markets, camels are still a main form of transport outside the cities, and the busy coastal towns along the Mediterranean are mostly well versed at welcoming tourists.
South of the desert, it is a very different story. Communities are thinly spread, have little infrastructure, and often seem to live with few differences to the way they have for centuries. The land is arid, with rocky outcrops, and few areas that can be successfully cultivated. The coastal countries of western Africa are far greener, being fed by large river systems heading to the Atlantic.
Central to southern Africa, across Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia, has huge areas of undeveloped bush land, and some areas of dense jungle, with a fairly even spread of small towns and villages. This is the area where you will find the best of the large wildlife parks, mostly well managed with the tourist and ecologist in mind.
South Africa is the most popular destination of Sub-Saharan Africa, with a landscape that ranges from game reserves, to mountains, and rich coastal resorts.
Throughout the continent, the forces of nature have created some monumental natural landmarks. The most outstanding of these has to be the Great Rift Valley, which stretches for 3,500 miles from Mozambique to Syria. As it passes through Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda it's edges are marked by dramatic cliffs towering out of the plains.
Sitting astride the Kenya-Tanzania border is Africa 's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro. At almost 6000m it towers above the Atlas Mountains in the north, and the Drakensburg Mountains in the south. Great rivers such as the Nile, Congo, and Niger, are a lifeline to those along their valleys, and the Zambezi attracts visitors with their camera, as it flows over the mighty Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border.
Africa is compelling, captivating, and exciting. Scientists believe it to be the origin of the human species, which maybe explains its un-natural power to make you feel at home, even if you've never set foot on African soil before. Spend any amount of time there and it really gets into your blood, making you want to return again and again.