Africa. Just uttering the word conjures up visions of all things exotic. An exceptional continent, like no other. And with plenty of locations I deem must-see:
73. Sahara desert.
As if you need telling: the world’s largest desert. The mind is blown, gradually but intensely, especially at sunset (I slept through the sunrise). I saw it in Tunisia. Sand, dunes, salt lakes, mirages, oases. Oh yes.
74. Dallol and Erta Ale volcanos, Ethiopia.
Unconditionally unearthly paysages – and not all of them volcanic. Looks marvelously mind-blowing judging by the tales of witnesses and photos (pics only; Russian text). Erta Ale is the most active of Ethiopia’s volcanoes, and one of only five volcanoes in the world that have a lava lake. In fact, it has two – the only volcano in the world to do so. Haven’t been. Must make amends one winter.
75. Djenne and Timbuktu, Mali.
Ancient cities south of the Sahara featuring some remarkable constructions: haven’t seen anything like them anywhere ever. Both cities have fascinating histories too. Haven’t been. Must go!
76. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
Africa’s king volcano. I was there last month (in January 2015). It took us almost a week to walk up it; sure, it was tough, but it was oh-so worth it. I want to go back and do it all over again, maybe taking a different route (there are plenty to choose from). Near Kili there are also plenty of safari possibilities, and not all that far away is the Zanzibar archipelago – the wunderbar archipelago!
77. Mount Nyiragongo, Congo.
Volcanism alert! This massive active volcano has a huge lava lake (the ‘world’s largest’) inside its crater, constantly bubbling, burping and belching. By day the lava isn’t so impressive because of the light, but come the night, and OMG – impressive. I’ve seen such nocturnal volcanism in both Kamchatka and Hawaii.
To check out this lush bit of lava lake-ism, not only do you need to be a keen volcanizer, be physically fit, and have the wherewithal – and patience – to get to the deepest inner Congo, you also need a troop of heavily armed guards; after all, this isn’t the most peaceful of spots on the planet.
78. Kenyan savanna and wild animals.
I’ve been told about the photo-safari potential of Kenya many times – about how unforgettable the experience is. Endless savanna with millions of the wildest of animals relaxing, grazing, fighting and hunting. I need to get myself there one day soon…
79. Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe.
One of the biggest waterfalls in the world. More than a kilometer wide and 100+ meters high. Both the spectacle and the din are off-the-scale-crazy. The tumbling torrents need to be checked out from the top and the bottom, just like Angel Falls in Venezuela. I think the view from down below will be the most awesome. I had a look from up top, but the gushing of zillions of gallons of water was so intense that hardly anything at all could be seen for all the spray, which incidentally is ‘upside-down rain’: it flies up through the cracks and crevices, rises several hundred meters, and then falls back down below – on to curious tourists. A most unusual sensation.
I heartily recommend taking a full helicopter excursion of the falls and the Zambezi canyon (which reminds of Star Wars:). And don’t forget to check out the bodacious baobab too!
80. Namib Desert.
I’ve been told that this desert is indescribably impressive. Haven’t seen it myself, but next time I’m near southwestern Africa – I’m there.
81. Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
Table Mountain (pics only; Russian text) in Cape Town is amazing. But you need to spend more than just a couple of hours there – like I did back in 2011; a day or two would be better, to have enough time to stroll around the very top and explore all the outlying nooks and crannies. The panoramic views are stupefyingly scenic. And you don’t need to have the stamina of a long-distance runner to get to see them: a cable car goes up to the top. And back down, of course.
While there you also need to drive over to the nearby Cape of Good Hope (pics only; Russian text), to take in the wild ocean crashing against the rocks and the impressive views in general; the road to get there is a real scenic one too.
This is yet another place I haven’t been to myself but really want to visit. They say it’s packed with unusual nature, super scenery and cool cliffs. And I really want to feast my eyes on its unique local type of baobab plus ‘stone forest’. Alas, it’s not the most peaceful of places these days: you need an armed escort.
Underwater Waterfall, Mauritius.
Oh my. Turns out there’s such a thing as underwater waterfalls!!
Eye of the Sahara (Richat Structure), Mauritania.
How this circular feature cut into the desert – some 40km in diameter – got there no one knows. Very mysterious. Very must-see!
Lake Assal, Djibouti.
Inveterate Africa travelers keep telling me about this place: unworldly beauty and unusualness. It’s also one of the lowest places on the planet – second after the Dead Sea. Haven’t been.
And that, dear readers, wraps up Africa. There’s just one more continent (not including Antarctica) to go in my Top-100 series – a reeeaaal special one…