Three times as large as the United States, the continent of Africa is an incredibly varied area. Fifty-four nations, each with separate cultures and languages, along with other multiple cultures within, make a trip to Africa a lesson in diversity. For those pining for the outdoors, Africa has much to offer.
Take a trip to the heart of West Africa and visit the Dogon People. Residing in the Republic of Mali, the Dogon largely live along the 100-mile-long Bandiagara escarpment, a sandstone cliff that in certain areas reaches well over 1,500 feet. The Dogon are most well known for their complex mythology, unusual architecture, their surprising understanding of astronomy and their mixture of Islam, Christian and animist beliefs.
For those looking for hiking opportunities within Mali, this area is one of the most rewarding in Africa. Local guides can be hired to escort visitors up and down the cliffs while visiting small villages perched atop the escarpment and along its base. Expect to sleep in the midst of local villages and know that those sand dunes that lie just to the east are the southernmost reaches of the Sahara Desert.
The Embassy of Mali
2130 R Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Unguja is the main island of Zanzibar, an archipelago located off the coast of Tanzania and a short distance from Dar es Salaam. To step into a different world, take the ferry from the mainland to Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of Zanzibar City, the main town on the island. Stonetown is a fascinating tumble of winding narrow alleyways and a combination of Omani and Indian architecture.
Visitors can enjoy the nightly seafood barbecue on the waterfront while enjoying some fresh-pressed sugarcane juice. The real reason to visit Unguja, however, is for the marine life. Head to the north 55 kilometers to the sensationally quiet Kendwa Rocks. Excellent swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving abounds. Divers, in particular, have it made as reef life here is quite diverse. Scuba Do Dive Center offers professional, PADI-certified dives with a staff that includes many locals. This is an ideal place to learn to dive.
Zanzibar Tourist Commission
P.O. Box 1410
011 +255 (0) 242 233-485
Scuba Do Zanzibar
011 +255 (0) 784 415-179
Located in eastern Zambia, the Luangwa Valley is home to four national parks and hosts hefty populations of the continent's largest mammals. Luangwa's advantage lies in the fact that it is one of the few areas accessible to all income levels. If interested in a luxury safari you can have it, but if you're on a shoestring budget you can reap rewards as well.
Though each park in the valley has something to offer, if there is only time for one area, then choose South Luangwa National Park. Over 3,400 square miles, South Luangwa is the largest and richest area of the valley. Safari's are, of course, the main draw here but opt for something out of the ordinary by booking a walking safari, escorted by armed park rangers. Flatdogs Camp is the closest lodging option to the main gate of the park and offers luxury chalets and safari tents, a tree house and very inexpensive campsites.
Zambia Travel Guide
011 +260 (0) 216 246-038