Paris may be the city of love, but Africa is the continent of pure romance. You’ll be enchanted by the wide choice of sexy destinations where you can celebrate special moments and fall in love all over again.
Drive Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Besides being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ngorongoro Crater is also the world’s largest, inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera – and it’s about three million years old. The name is onomatopoeic and sounds like the Maasai cattle
The crater is an iconic wildlife destination, teeming with animals living on the crater floor. All the species imaginable are there, along with a lazy lake often festooned with pink flamingos, beautifully forested sections and vast grassy plains. It’s a magnificent experience descending the steep road into the crater to spend the day game watching, and then to drive the road back out at the end of the day to watch the sunset from the lofty crater rim.
There are also decadent luxury lodges on the rim with sweeping views over Ngorongoro, or
Amble through Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
Just 20km from the capital Tunis, is a traditional olde worlde town that is enigmatic and enchanting. A little bit of Greece and a lot of Arabia with a sprinkling of Italy can be seen here in the architecture and general style of Sidi Bou Said, which lies right on the Mediterranean. White walled with blue doors and traditional window adornments, decorative archways and cobble streets – it all alludes to a smooth blend of different countries in the region.
Walk the narrow streets, shop at tiny hole-in-the-wall traders, stop for lunch and taste traditional food, and admire the traditional bird cages adorning homes. Mostly, just allow yourself to be swept up in the enchantment of this beautiful little town of 6 000 souls, which is relatively unchanged through time. www.tourismtunisia.com
Explore Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
On the edge of the High Atlas Mountains, Ait Benhaddou is a magnificent mud brick city built on the side of a hill. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and probably Morocco’s most famous movie location. Over 10 mainstream movies have been filmed here, including Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia and Jesus of Nazareth.
Ait Benhaddou is often a replacement for Jerusalem in movies. Just being there is enchanting and soulful and romantic. If you walk across the river at the foot of the mud city – the river is dry in summer and there are stepping stones for when there’s water – you can experience Ait Benhaddou up close and personal.
Many of the buildings are unstable, so it’s not the best idea to enter them, but just seeing them is like stepping back in time. Sundowners overlooking the old city, as the mud walls change colour in the fading light, is something special and memorable to experience too.
Hot air balloon over Sossusvlei, Namibia
Get up early, long before you usually would, grab a cup of coffee and a rusk, and head out for a hot-air balloon trip over the mighty dunes of Sossusvlei. As the sun rises, the sand changes colour from soft honey hues to burnt orange as the light intensifies. You’ll land in time for a hearty breakfast and with the rest of the day to explore the dunes.
If you’re energetic, climb iconic Dune 45. If an easy drive is more your style, a trip through the towering dunes is both photogenic and inspiring. Here nature is grandiose and photos just don’t tell the true story of how high and wide and ancient this
Be mystified by Gedi Ruins, Kenya
On the edge of the High Atlas Mountains, not far from Mombasa on the east coast of Kenya, lie the mysterious Gedi Ruins. The town of Gedi was established in the 13th century and settled by Omani traders and sailors working the spice route. Gedi was only discovered during forest clearing in the early 20th century, as it had been consumed by trees and vegetation.
What’s mysterious is that there is no historical record of the town, neither was it marked on maps during its heyday, and nobody knows why the inhabitants left either. Stone homes, a mosque, meeting hall and palace are all there, and Venetian beads, coins and a Ming vase from China were also found during excavations.
The remains of the town, inhabited until the 17th century, are evocative and, yes, mysterious. Oftentimes, you can have the whole of Gedi to yourself to wander and wonder what life was like here long ago. Take a picnic for lunch under a shady tree and soak up the silence of the Gedi surrounds. The Indian Ocean is also close by. www.wildfrontiers.com
Cruise the Nile, Egypt
It may be a well-known trip, but it is eternally romantic on Africa’s biggest river by far. Through inky blue waters, you’ll glide past antiquity all the way from Aswan to Luxor. And when in Luxor, history will be all around and you all the time, as you walk the paths of kings and pharaohs. Luxor is touted as the world’s biggest outdoor museum and it’s thoroughly captivating.
Be sure to hire an official guide or Egyptologist to explain hieroglyphs and other symbolism and history if you visit the vast Luxor Temple, Medinet Habu, the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Colossi of Memnon and any of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. There is so much to see and do in Luxor, as you step back thousands of years and into a completely different world of grandeur, dusted with pure romance. www.selectegypt.com
Walk in Nyungwe rainforest, Rwanda
Winding paths through the primeval rainforest take you along mountain sides, past streams and tumbling waterfalls. Gentle to tough walks are options in this very unusual part of Africa, that’s safe, serene and green. You’ll be accompanied by birds and butterflies in the shady forest and there are even benches to rest or just to stop for a while and ponder the beauty of the place.
Maybe a cup of local tea, farmed on the surrounding tea plantations, will go down well after the rainforest amble – or even a cup of strong Rwandan coffee. It does also get cool in this area where chimpanzees also live wild and free and well protected. www.primatesafaris.info
Story by Keri Harvey