Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. You can be chugging along on a rickety old railway one day and standing atop a 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 favourite African journeys.
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. It winds 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.
Inspired by our African journeys? We can connect you with local experts in Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and more to plan a customised adventure.
Take the Lunatic Express: Kenya
Dating to the turn of the twentieth century, the “Lunatic Express” is the train line from Mombasa to Nairobi. During its construction, a pair of male lions killed a number of workers. This, along with the astronomic cost of building the railways, earned the route its name.
Nowadays, taking this overnight sleeper train feels like winding back to the early 1900s. Waiters with white gloves serve meals in the dining car and beds are made up for a rickety evening’s sleep.
All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride as you wind through Kenya’s spectacular countryside. Keep your eyes peeled for impala, giraffes and elephants out of the window along the way.
Road trip from Cairo to Cape Town
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 4x4 for the experience.
Hike the Otter Trail: South Africa
The Otter Trail is South Africa’s oldest hiking route, which stretches 42km along the almighty Eastern Cape coastline in Tsitsikamma National Park.
The hike takes five days to complete. On the way, you'll pass waterfalls, rock formations and forest teeming with hundreds of birds and insects.
Perhaps most breathtaking sights, however, are the panoramic views of the coastline along the way. Depending on the time of year you might see glimpses of dolphins and whales cutting through the waters.
Trek the Sahara by camel: Morocco
For a true Arabian Nights adventure, trek to the towering Erg Chebbi 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 camelback, watching long shadows stretch across the landscape as the sun sets.
It’s possible to stay overnight, camping out under the glistening stars. At night, the sound is 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
Can you overcome the fear-factor of being up close and personal with the wild world’s biggest predators? If so, a canoe safari down the Lower Zambezi River is truly a unique way to travel.
Why sit in a bumpy safari jeep when you can float down a river in the middle of a national park? Hippos tread 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. Travellers can either stay in a bush camp along the way or carry their own gear and camp on islands on the river.
Sail down the Nile: Egypt
A trip down one of the world’s longest, and perhaps most famous rivers, the Nile, is one of the most atmospheric African journeys.
There are a number of transport options for this coveted expedition. You can take a traditional wooden sailing boat known as a felucca, or glide 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.
Find more inspiration to travel to Egypt in our guide to the best things to do in Egypt.
Top image: Golden sand dunes in Erg Chebbi near Merzouga in Morocco © evenfh/Shutterstock