Africa's Other Attractions

White Rhinocerous wallowing in mud near Lake Nakuru, Kenya

In addition to its waterfalls, Africa has other attractions to keep you busy taking photos or admiring the nature. I’ve singled out some of the features that you’re bound to see upon a visit in this continent. Read below to get a brief introduction to these features.

CheetahSerengeti National Park (Tanzania): Perhaps there is no other place on earth that embodies the Africa of Legend better than this park. From the endless plains (Serengeti is a Maasai word meaning "endless plains") ideal for wildlife sighting to its abundance of wildlife (including the Big 5 as well as the famed wildebeest and zebra migration), this place has it all.

The wildebeest migrationMoreover, it seems the park is poised to continue producing tremendous wildlife sightings as park management seems to be in line with the ideals of conservation and protection. Indeed, our visit here produced not only the Big 5 (lions, elephants, cape buffaloes, black rhinocerous, and leopards; though black rhino sightings are rare), but also yielded cheetah, hippopotamus, hyena, jackals, crocodiles, giraffes, monkeys, baboons, impalas, gazelles, wildebeests, zebras, and countless more...

The soda lake in the middle of the Ngorongoro CraterNgorongoro Crater (Tanzania): Bordering the famed Serengeti National Park, this world famous crater offers a different wildlife experience as it's perched within one of many inactive calderas in this once volcanic region. Within the crater, it's possible to spot all the Big 5, especially the critically endangered black rhinocerous (though leopard sightings are rare here). In addition, there are also cheetahs, serval cats, hyenas, hippos, and a plethora of pink flamingoes.

Rare black-maned male lionThe crater is just a small part of a much larger inter-related series of parks and ecosystems. All have been allowed to complement themselves thanks to conservation efforts and relatively sound governmental policies. There's even a waterfall nearby in one of the satellite craters (the Olmoti Crater) if you have the inclination and the time.

Lone acacia tree dotting the vast plainsMaasai Mara (Kenya): Rivaling the Serengeti National Park (actually they're in the same ecosystem except this one happens to be in Kenya instead of Tanzania) in terms of scenery and wildlife sightings, this park also presents the possiblity of seeing the Big 5, the wildebeest migration, and all the other wildlife that makes the Serengeti such a rich place to view wildlife. There's also the chance to visit a Maasai village prior to entering the park to have free reign with the camera as well as a chance to learn a little more about the tribe that played a major role in allowing the big game to flourish here.

Zebra relieving an itchMara is a Maasai word meaning "spotted." And indeed, there are bush and acacia trees dotting the otherwise endless plains of the park. There are many chances to glimpse the golden brown grass punctuated with lone acacia trees. Indeed, this classic African scenery is best embodied here to serve as the ideal backdrop to view wildlife.

The reticulated giraffe - one of the Samburu 5Samburu National Park (Kenya): This hot and dusty park sits in a leeward valley north of Mt Kenya. And while it's theorized that this park is suffering from climate change, the rather unusual conditions of the park has given rise to some fauna that you're not likely to find anywhere else. Such fauna are nicknamed the Samburu 5 and they include the reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, Somali ostrich, gerenuk, and oryx.

White rhinocerousLake Nakuru National Park (Kenya): It's said that this giant lake contains the largest population of pink flamingoes as well as serve as a sanctuary (and rebreeding grounds) for the endangered white rhinocerous. In fact, this was the one place we saw this species of rhino during the many safaris we've embarked on. Another prized wildlife sighting is the elusive tree-climbing lion. And as if that weren't enough, there's even a seasonal waterfall at the extreme southern end of the park.

The less common blue-faced monkeyLake Manyara National Park (Tanzania): This well-forested park is Tanzania's answer to Lake Nakuru. It's got flamingoes, cape buffaloes, hippos, elephants, and primates like baboons, vervet monkeys, and the less-common blue-faced monkeys. The prized sighting is the tree-climbing lions. The lake is huge, the neighboring mountains offer birdseye views of it, and there's even a hot spring nearby.

Domes in the Mutinondo WildernessMutinondo Wilderness (Zambia): This remote region is Africa's answer to Australia's Red Centre. With giant domes that make great photo subjects at sunrise and sunset, some pleasant forested walks to waterfalls, and a creative and inspiring eco-lodge in the center of it all (completely solar powered except for cooking gas), a visit here is sure to be one of the more memorable moments of your African journey.

Beach at Isanga Bay on the shores of Lake TanganyikaIsanga Bay (Zambia): If you saw the photos of this place and we didn't tell you it was on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Africa, you'd probably think it was a resort somewhere in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean. With traditional bandas, natural beach, solar powered lights and showers, and excellent food, this place was the diamond in the rough in Zambia. Indeed, it was also the ideal base for exploring Kalambo Falls on the border of Tanzania and Zambia. We couldn't say enough good things about this place, and it was certainly the highlight of our trip to Zambia.

The famous Sphinx and Great PyramidGiza (Egypt): This suburb of Cairo is home to the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza as well as the Sphinx. Indeed, no trip to Egypt is complete without an obligatory visit to these wonders of the ancient world. There's also the possibility of entering the claustrophobic, backbreaking tombs within the pyramids as well as a camel ride around them. When considering the camel ride, watch out for the camel jockeys with the silver tongue (i.e. slick-talking merchants trying to pull a fast one on you with their camel rides).

Obelisks at Karnak TempleNile Valley (Egypt): To truly appreciate the ingenuity and passion of the ancient Egyptians, you must visit the Nile Valley and see its many temples, tombs, and ruins. From the obelisks of Karnak and Luxor Temples to the statues of Hapshesut Temple, Edfu, and Abu Simbel to the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, and more, there's an otherworldly and mystical quality about these structures that make you envision stepping back in time and imagine what it must've been like during their heydey.

Statues at Hapshesut TemplePerhaps the best way to take it all in is with a relaxing Nile Cruise. That way you can follow along on guided tours of each of the attractions while bonding with other tourists sharing the experience with you on the cruise. I have to admit that I hate cruises (I dislike being a prisoner on a ship), but I was pleasantly surprised as this excursion didn't feel at all like a prison and we enjoyed the company of our shipmates.

The imposing Mohammed Ali Mosque in the Citadel of Islamic CairoIslamic Cairo (Egypt): A visit to Cairo can't be complete without seeing the imposing structures within its Islamic district. It's here that you'll see the domes and minarets crowning centuries-old mosques while enjoying vistas of the city. Oh yeah, the history behind the area is pretty interesting too.

The flooded Source of the NileSource of the Nile (Uganda): Before you scoff at this "attraction" as a gimmick, consider that there was once wide waterfall called Rippon Falls that marked the border of Lake Victoria and the start of the Nile River - the world's longest river. While these days, the source is flooded thanks to the Owen Falls Dam, there's something to be said about standing at the start of the Nile (especially if you're visiting Egypt like we did where the Nile terminates at the Mediterranean Sea some 6000km away).

Drawing of Rippon FallsNearby the source is a plethora of adrenaline-pumping activities from Class V rapids to bungy jumping. Unfortunately, the Bujagali Falls Dam is going to be built (thereby flooding the rapids) and the adrenaline junkies will have to look elsewhere for their fix.

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