The Summer in Africa Bucket List


Africa has so many unique and evocative experiences to offer that it’s difficult to cram them into an all-encompassing list. Here are a dozen
bucket list things to do in Africa specially suited to summer. 

See Maasai warriors jumping, Maasai Mara, Kenya

The Maasai in Africa call it the Adumu which means ‘to jump’ in the Maa language, and it’s performed to mark the coming of age of young warriors who will protect the cattle from predators. Jumping is straight bodied and heels never touch the ground, so supreme fitness is needed too. There’s usually music to help encourage jumping and the highest jumper is also the girls’ favourite.;

Maasai warriors in Kenya
Maasai warriors in Kenya

Snorkel in Lake Malawi, Malawi

Livingstone called it The Lake of Stars for its twinkling waters, yet what lies beneath the water’s surface has to be experienced to be believed. Near Thumbi island in Lake Malawi, Africa is a dive spot called The Aquarium, for its rainbows of colourful cichlid fish. If you snorkel here in the clear fresh waters you’ll be followed Pied Piper style by clouds of neon blue, yellow, pink, orange, turquoise and striped fish, more than you could ever count. It’s a diving experience par excellence, and no qualifications are

snorkelling lake Malawi
Snorkeling, Lake Malawi

Gaze over Victoria Falls Zimbabwe and Zambia

David Livingstone named the falls for his Queen, locals simply call them Mosi oa Tunya or The Smoke that Thunders. The biggest waterfall in Africa on the Zambezi River, the Victoria Falls has two different faces: the usual front view curtain of water is seen from the Zimbabwean side and the more unusual side view down the gorge is seen from Zambia. Both are spectacular and memorable, though the Zim side has permanent misty spray from the falls to cool you down in summer.;

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Avenue of Baobabs Morondava, Madagascar

There are nine known species of baobab; eight occur in Madagascar, Africa and of these, six are endemic. This is the home of baobabs, believed to be the quintessential tree of life. The area near Morondava in the west of Madagascar is baobab mecca. There are an uncountable number of these stoic looking trees here and the ‘avenue of baobabs’ is at the heart of it.

This sand road, which is a national road and used daily by locals and their ox-drawn carts, is lined by towering baobabs and is magnificently beautiful
especially at sunset. Locals fail to understand visitors walking the stretch
of road and admiring the trees, and drive past bemused and with wide smiles.;

Avenue of Baobabs in Madagascar
Avenue of Baobabs in Madagascar

Drive the Skeleton Coast Namibia

On the Skeleton Coast the Namib Desert meets the cold Atlantic Ocean and
locals say the sun only shines here in December – the rest of the year is chilly and fogged in. There is a surreal beauty here, a deep stillness and
many skeletons of ships, whales and even drilling rigs.;

Skeleton Coast - Suiderkus shipwreck
Skeleton Coast – Suiderkus shipwreck

Get lost in the alleyways of Stonetown, Zanzibar

Zanzibar is as exotic and sultry as its evocative name, and Stonetown is the quintessential old African labyrinth-like city. It’s wasn’t actually designed to be that way, but the lure of Stonetown is wandering the narrow streets dotted with tiny shops and getting completely lost. When it’s time to retreat ‘home’, simply ask a local for directions and you’ll be out of the enchanting tangle of streets where time stood still and a magical atmosphere still prevails.;

Zanzibar street traffic
Shops in Stonetown, Zanzibar

Wonder at rock hewn churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia

They’re said to have been inspired by the dreams of King Lalibela, and some were built with the help of angels and completed in a single night. The
monolithic rock hewn churches of Lalibela are unique – some are subterranean, others are in caves, all are memorable. There are 13 of these
UNESCO protected churches just in the town, and others in caves in the
surrounding countryside. When you step inside it’s a lovely cool escape from the summer heat and dust.;

Ethiopia - Lalibela rock hewn church copy
Ethiopia, Lalibela rock hewn church

Take a traditional East African dhow trip Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

It’s the traditional mode of travel in East Coast waters and the sailing
efficiency of dhows is still lauded. Built of wood and mostly powered by
wind and sail – with horsepower backup – these sailing boats epitomise
African slow travel. Sailing turquoise tepid waters between jewelled islands
in the Quirimbas of northern Mozambique, watching flying fish and
snorkelling en route is a summer travel experience par excellence. It’s a
fully catered and guided trip through paradise.;

Moz - Dhow safari
Dhow safari, Mozambique

Commune with hundreds of dolphins, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Proclaimed the dolphin capital of the world for its huge schools of bottlenosed dolphins that frequent Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth is cetacean central. Not only could you be surrounded by up to 600 dolphins frolicking around the boat, but during the winter months plenty of whales are seen too. Humpbacks, Southern rights, Minke’s and Brydes whales are common, and even the odd killer whale passes through. However, using a registered whale and dolphin watching boat operator is imperative to ensure ethical practise at sea.;

PE common dolphins
Dolphins in Port Elizabeth

Visit little Switzerland in Africa, Rwanda

This tiny central African country doesn’t only look like Switzerland, being mountainous and verdant and clean, it’s also amazingly efficient and progressive. The road network is first class, telecommunications are extraordinary, and wifi is everywhere. It’s way ahead of the pack in Africa and there are unique and unusual natural attractions too: endangered mountain gorillas and chimps in the highland areas, and plenty of wildlife in Akagera National Park in the lower-lying east of the country – and it’s much warmer than Switzerland in December.

Little Switzerland, Rwanda

Visit the southernmost tip of Africa,Cape Agulhas, South Africa

Watched over by a stocky lighthouse, this is as far south as you can go in
Africa. You can also dine in the southernmost restaurant, or enjoy a pint in
the southernmost pub. Cape Agulhas, or Cabo das Agulhas, means Cape of
Needles and was so named by Portuguese sailors because their compass needles faltered here. This rugged coastline, with wild and windy weather, is also the official meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Winters here can be freezing, so summer is a good time to visit Africa’s southern tip.

Cape Agulhas lighthouse
Cape Agulhas lighthouse

See turtles laying and hatching on the beaches, South Africa and Mozambique.

Every summer from October to March is turtlemania on the beaches of
Maputaland. The northern KwaZulu-Natal coastline around Kosi Bay, and the coast of southern Mozambique are turtle nesting grounds. Every summer under cover of night, loggerheads and giant leatherbacks lumber onto these beaches, under the protection of conservation authorities. The eggs hatch from January to March and the tiny turtles run the gauntlet down the beach and back to the ocean. Just a handful will survive to adulthood and they will return to their natal beach to lay eggs again, and so ensure the next generation of loggerheads and leatherbacks.

Turtles in South Africa and Mozambique
Turtles in South Africa and Mozambique

By Keri Harvey


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