Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines.
Here, you can be chugging along on a rickety old railway one day and standing atop a crescent-shaped, rust-coloured sand dune the next. As American author John Hemingway once said, “If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.”
There’s no end to the amazing adventures this continent offers, but as a starting point, here are a few of our favourites:
Bike the Congo Nile Trail: Rwanda
Stretching 141 miles along the glittering waters of Lake Kivu in Rwanda, the Congo Nile Trail is one of East Africa’s best biking route.
So named because the route traverses the divide that separates the Nile and Congo rivers, the trail takes five days to complete, winding through magnificent thick jungle, past perfectly pruned tea plantations and groups of cheering children, and along what is quite possibly one of the world’s most beautiful lakeside roads.
If cycling isn’t your thing, you can also hike the route in ten days.
Take the Lunatic Express: Kenya
Dating back to the turn of the twentieth century, the “Lunatic Express” is the train line from Mombasa to Nairobi (and, once upon a time, on to Uganda). During its construction, a pair of male lions gruesomely killed a number of workers, and it was this, along with the astronomic cost of building the line, that earned its name.
Nowadays, taking this overnight sleeper train feels like hopping back to the early 1900s: waiters with grubby white gloves serve meals in the dining car and beds are made up for your rickety evening’s sleep.
During the daylight, there’s nothing to do but sit back as you wind through Kenya’s spectacular countryside, spotting impala, giraffe and elephants out of the window along the way.
This legendary overland tour of Africa takes travellers past the pyramids of Egypt, into the cliff-side churches of Ethiopia and through some of the greatest wildlife regions in East Africa.
After you’ve had your safari fix, the journey continues on to the majestic torrents of Victoria Falls, over the sandy dunes of Namibia and finishes up by the icy Atlantic waters of South Africa’s most beautiful city: Cape Town.
Most adventurers take at least two months to complete this epic trip, and hire a robust 4×4 for the experience.
Image © Lottie Gross
Hike the Otter Trail: South Africa
The hike takes five days to complete, passing gushing waterfalls, gnarled rock formations, reflective pools, bubbling streams and through rich forest teeming with hundreds of birds and insects.
Perhaps most breathtaking sights, however, are the panoramic views of the coastline along the way, and the regular glimpses of dolphins and whales cutting though the waters.
Trek the Sahara by camel: Morocco
For a true Arabian Nights adventure, trek to the towering Erg Chebi dunes in southern Morocco. An eight-hour drive from Marrakesh, through the winding roads of the Atlas Mountains, these burnt-orange dunes are the tallest in the country, reaching 50m from the desert floor.
Here, travellers journey across the searing sands on their hump-backed friends, watching long camel-shaped shadows stretch across the landscape as the sun begins to set.
It’s possible to stay overnight, camping out under the glistening stars with only the sound is the of the wind scattering tiny particles of sand. As with any animal-based tourism, be sure to pick a reputable operator with the highest animal care standards.
Canoe the Lower Zambezi: Zambia
If you can overcome the fear-factor of being up close and personal with the wild world’s biggest predators, a canoe safari down the Lower Zambezi River is truly the way to travel.
After all, why sit in a bumpy safari jeep when you lazily float down a river in the middle of a national park as hippos treading water around you, crocodiles rest at the water’s edge and buffalo, zebra and elephants graze on the banks?
Each journey lasts three to five days, and travellers can either stay in the many bush camps along the way, or carry their own gear and camp on islands on the river: falling asleep to the mesmerising calls of the wild.
Sail down the Nile: Egypt
A trip down one of the world’s longest, and perhaps most famous rivers, the Nile, is a must for any adventurer in Africa.
There are a number of transport options for this coveted expedition, from taking a traditional wooden sailing boat known as a felucca, to gliding along in an ornate houseboat called a dahabiya. Journeys start in Aswan in southern Egypt, stopping at ancient temples, tombs and quaint fishing villages along the way, before reaching the ancient city of Esna.
Explore more of Africa with our series of Rough Guides. Featured image Pixabay / CC0. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.