Sossusvlei in Namibia is often referred to as the sand ocean, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and a rocky mountain escarpment. Famous for its enormous sand dunes which have to be seen to be believed, seem to have a life of their own and are “walking” inland – a few centimetres every year!
Accommodation in “tented camps” is not necessarily in tents, though these rooms are usually made of canvas. They are normally equipped with an ensuite, as well as air-conditioning and other modern conveniences. Even the term “glamping” is inadequate to describe the comfort level that some of these tented camps can provide – which can go from the basic to the sublime to the completely ridiculous!
At the height of the Zambezi’s flood season (February to May) the spray from the falls rises to about 400 metres and can be seen from as far as 48 kilometres away. Hence the name given to it by the locals – Mosi-oa-Tunya – which translates to “the smoke that thunders”.
Over the past century or so, lots of this beautiful land has fallen under state protection in the form of national parks and game conservatories. There is nothing quite like the heart-thumping, jaw-dropping experience of seeing a rhino in its natural habitat, especially if you have been trying to find it for a while.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) offers some of the richest wildlife experiences on the African content and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The region’s name is derived from the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive and unfilled caldera The area is home to over 25 000 large animals and various bird species. While rhinos aren’t listed as the top animal sighted in the region, sightings of black rhino hiding among the fever trees are quite common.
Located in the northwest of Namibia, Etosha National Park is one of the country’s most substantial game reserves. It is said to be one of the best locations, not only in Namibia, but the world for game-viewing, making it the perfect location to catch a glimpse of rhinos in the wild. There are multiple viewing decks in the area, as well as a range of accommodation.
Stretching across 7,523 square miles, Kruger National Park is one of the biggest national parks and game reserves in Africa. Hundreds of different rare and fascinating animals and vegetation species occupy the area. All of the ‘big five’ game (rhinos, elephants, buffalo, leopards and lions) can be found in the park, as can giraffes, zebras and wildebeest. The area is filled with natural beauty and safaris are widely available, making it a great place to go spotting rhinos and other wildlife, in their natural setting.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy's efforts to protect these animals are not going to waste; their work has helped Ol Pejeta’s black rhino population grow from just 20 in 1993, to over 110 today. Supporting this conservancy helps enormously to protect these fascinating animals which we get so much joy from seeing.
Plentiful flights and buses, in addition to easily traversed borders and visas for most countries, make East Africa one of the best locations for diverse travel. Spend a couple of weeks backpacking through Tanzania before hopping across the border to Kenya, hightailing your way to Uganda, and heading south to Rwanda and Burundi. Take advantage of the ease of travel, and enjoy all the wonders East Africa has to offer.
Although it varies from country to country, the general breakdown is this: Rwanda’s rainy season is March to May and October to mid-December; Kenya’s rainy season is April to June and a few weeks in November and December; Tanzania’s rainy season is March to May and October to November; Uganda’s is March to May and October to November; and Burundi’s is February to May and September to November. Though lodging and activities are much cheaper during the rainy season, the inconvenience is honestly not worth it. It’s often continual and difficult to manage, making the extra expenditure to travel during the dry season a necessary expense.
You'll have to get used to people staring at you when you visit many African countries, even in areas where there are lots of tourists. The stares are harmless and just curiosity for the most part. Given the lack of entertainment available, checking out a tourist is just fun. You'll get used to it after a while. Some people like to wear sunglasses and feel more comfortable that way. Some people enjoy this new rock star status and miss it when they're back home.