southern africa

10 Reasons Why You Should Travel Southern Africa

August 22, 2015

by — Posted in Africa, Botswana, Listicles, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

1. The most beautiful sunsets you will ever see in your life.

sunset-okavango-botswana
Sunset in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Africa is known for its magnificant sunsets, rich golden hues cast over the shadow of the acacia tree and wildlife over the great expanse of the savanna. Every sunset in Africa is beautiful, intense and fiery, you’ll feel like you’re staring at the gates of heaven. The first time I saw the sunset in the African plains I was gobsmacked, and I was amazed everyday when the sun sets.

Sunrises are amazing too! Like the one you see in the Lion King movie.

 

2. You wouldn’t want to go to a zoo again!

lion etosha namibia
Lion in Etosha National Park, Namibia

Africa, there’s nowhere on Earth that wildlife puts on a greater show according to David Attenborough. It is the native home of animals such as giraffes, zebras and the big five – African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros. There’s a lot of options when it comes to seeing animals in Africa – go on a mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe) safari in the Okavango Delta, do a bush walking safari and track animals on feet in one of the many national parks, or a self-drive safari – many game parks in southern Africa allow that. The most exciting part about safaris is that you never know for sure what you’ll see.

 

3. Friendly and warm locals eager to share with you stories.

guide

Our tour guides on the overland tour, Laban and Shepherd from Zimbabwe were amazing.  Laban is like a fatherly figure and Shepherd is incredibly funny. We talked alot, bonded and joked throughout our time together. They impressed us with their knowledge about Africa and their stories of growing up in Zimbabwe. They’ve been in the tourism industry for years and are true professionals. They made this trip incredible, I had tears welling up when saying goodbye.

guide-okavango-polers
Okavango Delta Polers

Travel to the Okavango Delta, I really enjoyed the time with the polers at the delta, they’re incredibly content and so happy to share stories about the delta, their lives and close encounters with lions. I admire the love and respect they have for nature and the delta.

 

Saying goodbye to our guides/polers :'(
Saying goodbye to our guides/polers :'(

 

4. Some of the most beautiful night skies you will witness.

Campfire under starry skies
Campfire under starry skies

The show isn’t over after sunset as the sky lights up with stars, sit by the campfire and admire the sky above. Africa is vast and sparse, in the dry season there are virtually no clouds, hence night skies are spectacular. The night sky in the Kalahari desert is simply stunning. So is the skyscape in Skitzkoppe and the stars over the majestic dunes in the Sossusvlei desert.

Watching giraffes at the watering hole near our camp at Etosha
Watching giraffes at the watering hole near our camp at Etosha

Another night activity involves grabbing your headlamps and trekking to the camp’s watering hole. There you can admire stars, watch animals drink and if you’re very lucky, kill and feed!

 

5. You’ll get closer to mother nature.

Camping out in the wild
Camping out in the wild

Bush camping is the most fun, pitching a tent out in the wild with just canvas between you and the animals. But fear not, there’s normally a fire that keeps them away. Hear crickets chirping, the howl of jackals, lions roaring and the hippos’ loud grunts. I love it in the mornings we ask each other, “Did you hear the lion.. was so loud, felt like it was right behind our tent”.

Toilet in the middle of nowhere. Bush toilets are much nicer, really.
Toilet in the middle of nowhere. Bush toilets are much nicer, really.

When it comes to answering nature’s call, you’ll come to enjoy the bush toilets and preferring it to a man-made toilet. But the trouble is that the African savannah isn’t full of vegetation and it can be hard to find a tree to pee behind. In the Okavango Delta, we had toilets dug out of the ground, you take a shovel with you to put sand over when you’re done. We also had an elephant vistor just metres away from the toilet.

 

6. Surreal landscapes.

Sunrise at Dune 49 in Soussvlei, Namibia
Sunrise at Dune 49 in Soussvlei, Namibia

Have you watched David Attenborough’s Africa on BBC? See it in high definition on your holiday! Africa is one of the greatest wildernesses on Earth and sights are incredible. Majestic sand dunes, salt pans, the African savannah – you couldn’t believe your eyes!

On our way to Deadvlei in Soussvlei, Namibia
On our way to Deadvlei in Soussvlei, Namibia

 

7. Get up close and personal with interesting tribes.

Africa is home to tribes like the San Bushman, hunter-gatherers living in Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Their language is fascinating, they speak a click language and it’s amazing to hear! They’ll teach you how to speak it and tell you about their special medicines for headaches, infertility and much more.

The San People of the Kalahari
The San People of the Kalahari

Another interesting tribe is the Himba people, they are semi-nomadic, pastoral people in Namibia. Their skin have a red hue as they cover themselves with a red paste of butterfat and ochre pigment. They don’t shower but clean themselves by burning incense near their bodies. The red ochre is for cleansing purposes too!

A Himba woman preparing sour milk
A Himba woman preparing sour milk
8. Food you’ve never heard of before.

A staple food in Southern Africa (and also parts of East Africa) is pap, or sadza. It is made from grounded corn or maize, very much like polenta. Pap is like very bland mash potatoes, roll it into a ball and dip it into a delicious variety of condiments such as stewed meat, veggies and gravies. Very yummy!

The white stuff is pap, or sadza with baked beans and veggies
The white stuff is pap, or sadza with baked beans and veggies
Anyone fancies an oryx schnitzel? If you have an experimental palate, visit Joe’s Beerhouse, also known as ‘the most famous Beerhouse on the African continent’.  Sample local but exotic steaks – choose from a wide variety of game, including crocodile, zebra, kudu, oryx and springbok. They even serve oryx carpaccio (raw oryx) and smoked kudu!
Kudu and Zebra steak on the menu
Kudu and Zebra steak on the menu
9. One of the wonders of the world, Victoria Falls.
Victoria Fall’s native name is Mosi-oa-Tunya, which translates to ‘the smoke that thunders’. Explorer David Livingstone reflecting on seeing Victoria Falls for the first time wrote, ‘scenes so lovely must be gazed upon by angels in their flight’. Victoria Falls is indeed one of the most amazing waterfalls in the world. The powerful spray is pretty darn impressive and you could hear the falls from a mile away.
Victoria Falls from the Zimbawean border
Victoria Falls from the Zimbawean border
The Falls stradle the Zimbabwe-Zambia border and you could visit it from both sides. The Zimbabwean side offer the more picturesque views. However, you shouldn’t miss the tour of Livingstone island on the Zambian side. On Livingstone island, you could swim in a natural pool at the edge of the falls. An unseen lip prevents you from going over the top of the falls in Devil’s Pool or the Angel’s Armchair during the dry season. It is definately an exhilaratingly experience! Check out the following video to see what I mean.

 

10. Hakuna matata, it means no worries for the rest of your day.

Africa has a positive and laid back vibe about the continent. You would feel completely relaxed and leave all your worries behind. You would leave wishing you didn’t have to. I have never met anyone who did not enjoy their holidays to Africa and who didn’t want to come back for more. Africa is a massive, vast continent and your Southern Africa adventure would be just the tip of the ice berg. I would still like to see East Africa, West Africa and so on. There’s indeed more to see than can ever be seen in Africa.

hakuna matata

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