Premature Christmas decorations in the grocery store, working after hours to meet your end of year goals at work, and a sense of relief that the year is drawing to a close. The end of 2017 is around the corner! You know what that means… New Year’s resolutions. For the few readers that are still with me (those who haven’t been turned off by the idea of New Year’s resolutions… yet), I’m not here to advertise “New year, new me” because I’m sure you’ve heard enough of it already.
Amongst the growing list of New Year’s resolutions, there are the most popular ones – quit smoking, save more, get out of debt, lose weight and learn something new. Apart from smoking less (or not at all), spending less, eating less and learning more, travelling has become one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions in recent years. Nope, we don’t mean the hop in an Uber sort of travel (well, unless you’re heading to the airport). We’re talking about destinations where Uber just can’t take you, so here are some top destinations in Africa to consider for 2018.
Zakouma National Park, Chad
Nope, not that Chad who sat next to you in class, we’re talking about the sub-Saharan nation located in north-central Africa. Strange as the country’s name is, there is a hidden gem located to the south-east of Chad’s capital N’Djamena – Zakouma National Park (ZNP). Modern day travel and technology has meant there are few places left on our planet that have been left unexplored, but ZNP happens to be one of these places. Since 1975 Chad has seen mixed periods of order and civil conflict and ZNP hasn’t been immune to this. Rampant poaching during various conflicts put the park on the brink of collapse in the early 2000s. ZNP is currently experiencing a revival which will surprise travellers. This destination may only appeal to the avid safari goer (given that it really is off the beaten track), but visitors will be amazed by the diversity and volume of wildlife, not to mention the professional manner in which the park is run – considering Africa Parks only took control of Zakouma in 2010. To have a look at the story behind ZNP, click here. To read more about our tour to ZNP in April 2018, click here.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Receiving more than 2.1 million visitors in 2016, made Zimbabwe the 5th most visited country in Africa. Surprising you would think, given the political, economic and social turmoil Zimbabwe has undergone over the last two decades. An enduring scene of beauty in a struggling country is Victoria Falls. Since David Livingstone first discovered it in 1885, Victoria Falls has remained a symbol that has instilled pride in Zimbabweans. Known by the Shona as The Smoke That Thunders, all the post cards in the world couldn’t encapsulate Victoria Falls until you actually see it in person.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Low hanging clouds draped over the snow-capped Uhuru Peak, as giraffes and elephants amble on the sun-soaked plains below. This image has been seen the world over and it is probably the first image people have when they think about Mount Kilimanjaro (or Africa for that matter). Rising to 5,895 m (19,341 feet) above sea level, from its base of 4,900 m (16,100 feet), summiting Mount Kilimanjaro has become a distinctive adventure, or lifetime challenge, for travellers the world over.
Mount Kilimanjaro may not be Mount Everest, but this doesn’t make it any less gruelling. From base to summit usually takes 7 – 8 days. Apart from the ups and downs you’ll experience while navigating the slopes of Kili, you will also have your own inner battles to grapple with. This climb will test even the most experienced climbers, but the sunrise at Uhuru Peak when you summit is well worth the 11 PM wake up – not to mention the tired legs.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
“To witness that calm rhythm of life revives our worn souls and recaptures a feeling of belonging to the natural world. No one can return from the Serengeti unchanged, for tawny lions will forever prowl our memory and great herds throng our imagination” (George Schaller – American conservationist and author).
At an astounding size of 14,750 km2, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is perhaps the most sought after destination for travellers in East Africa. Established as a national park in 1951, SNP has been thrilling visitors across the globe ever since. It is also host to one of the world’s Natural Wonders – the Serengeti Great Migration. Also known as the wildebeest migration, this is when more than a million wildebeest (including zebra and Thompson’s gazelle in their hundreds of thousands) migrate clockwise around the Serengeti. Dubbed the “greatest show on Earth” by Sir David Attenborough, the Serengeti is truly spectacular. Whether you visit during the migration or not, those tawny lions and great herds will forever be etched in your memory. If you have some lingering questions when it comes to the Serengeti, be sure to read this previous blog.
Gorilla Trekking, Uganda and Rwanda
Wildlife experiences come a dime a dozen, but there is one experience that has remained one of the most transformative travel experiences there is – gorilla trekking. Under great threat during the 1980s and 1990s, mountain gorilla populations are steadily on the rise and a lot of this has to do with visitors making trips to Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park or Mgahinga National Park) and Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) to track and view these gentle giants. Perhaps it’s the anticipation coupled with the long trek (lasting more than 3 hours in some cases) that makes this one of the most unforgettable wildlife experiences there is.
Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo
Finally, at the end of this blog, we end up at the rim of the volcano Mount Nyiragongo in the DRC. If visiting an active volcano is not daring, then I’m at pains to think what is. At an altitude of 3,470 m, Mount Nyiragongo is located in Virunga National Park and contains one of the most active lava lakes in the world. If molten magma and the stench of sulphur are more suited for a disaster movie than your travel plans, then we fully understand. There’s a beautiful irony here though. For all its destructive power, Mount Nyiragongo is also a giver of life. The evergreen plants and forests that cover its slopes and the plains below owe a lot of their existence to the violent eruptions that have taken place over the years. To see our Mount Nyiragongo and Uganda tours in 2018, click here. Alternatively have a look at our previous blog where Jane and Paul Goldring (from Wild Frontiers), along with their kids, went on a similar tour in 2012.
Travel has the ability to shape us in ways we never knew were possible. While you don’t need to wait for a new year to set some travel goals, travel can be a great way to make your 2018 one to remember. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our tours available, or if you have your own special destination in mind.