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Africa Travel Wish List




Africa Travel Wish List


Easily, the least understood continent (besides Antarctica) has got to be Africa. While it may require (for some) a real sense of adventure to allow wanderlust to take you there, it’s totally worth it! From cosmopolitan culture to natural beauty, from ancient history to the cutting edge of modern life, Africa has what you’re looking for.

Here are four remarkable destinations on the continent that are on our travel wish list and all have English as an official language of the country.



Uganda 



Photo: Discovery Journeys


Many visitors want to leave their travel destinations better than they found them and give back in fun, but meaningful ways.  In Uganda, there is the opportunity to do just that. Located in the Mbale area, Tikvah Chadasha Uganda (in partnership with Tikvah Chadasha Foundation Uganda) is offering visitors a chance to make an authentic contribution. 


Tikvah’s volunteers have experiences to engage both the brains and the biceps. Visitors can enjoy service-learning opportunities in farming, agriculture, cultural anthropology or gender studies. The heart of the volunteer program is their boarding school for special needs youth. Volunteers can choose to be as involved as co-creating and teaching lessons to simply reading story books to the children. Artistic, creative activities like drawing, watercolor painting, beaded crafts, origami, and playing traditional Ugandan drums are as enjoyable for the children as for the volunteers!


On the other side of the country lies the quintessential example of central Africa’s wild beauty: Murchison Falls National Park.  An animal lover’s paradise; lions, leopards, elephants, and hippopotamus sightings are easy and often. This is the region’s largest national park and sits right on the northern banks of Western Uganda’s Lake Albert. It is the most visited place by foreigners traveling to Uganda.


Travelers with a wide range of budgets can enjoy Murchison Falls National Park. On the budget end, there are the cabins of Red Chili Rest Camp for around $40 per night. Luxury lovers will enjoy Paraa Safari Lodge for around $500 per night.

Hiking to Uganda’s most powerful waterfall (the park’s namesake) and standing in the re-appearing rainbows made by the spray as the thud of thousands of gallons vibrate up your legs is a truly spiritual experience.



Ghana 



Shutterstock


For most African-Americans, Ghana is often known as the “Land of Return”. This destination was made famous through their 2019 “Year of Return” travel industry campaign which marked 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on Virginia’s shores. The growing community of diasporan expats have made the capital city of Accra very welcoming for American visitors.


Elmina Castle, is a haunting emblem of the transatlantic slave trade. Thousands of Black diasporans have ancestors who were forced through its dungeons before boarding slave ships. Some visitors to Ghana come to Elmina Castle to connect with the experiences and stories of the enslaved while, some opt to focus on leisure and modern, post-colonial narratives.


A favorite of Accra locals, Bojo Beach is only accessible by a small boat for a small fee of around  $3. Life jackets are highly recommended. This Beach is located on a river delta where the sea is met by several fingers of the river. Bojo Beach is relatively underdeveloped and natural, a 30-minute drive from Accra’s commercial center. Seaside food and drinks are very affordable and the seafood is the freshest quality possible. Palapas and beach chairs can accommodate the adults and simple swings and slides entertain the children. Beach-goers can finish off the day by enjoying a beautiful sunset over the river before heading back into the city.


Ghana’s history demonstrates its leading spirit of freedom during the anti-colonial movements of the 1950’s. The country gained full independence from the British several decades before most countries in Africa would. Ghana has captured her struggle through several historical monuments, the most famous being Black Star Gate. A squared-off arch in a garden plaza, the five-pointed star of Ghana sculpture sits proudly at the top. With golden proportions and sharp 90-degree angles, Black Star Gate is a symbol of stability, self-determination and African pride. It was established by Ghana’s first prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah who is best remembered by his memorial museum downtown.


The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is a museum and mausoleum to the country’s founder and first lady. The dream of African unity and achieving parity with Europe made him a controversial figure in his day. The image of Kwame Nkrumah has gone through several iterations; revolutionary, pan-Africanist, thought leader, socialist politician, corrupt failure and now honored statesman. His remains were repatriated to Ghana and he was re-buried with full military honors. The memorial park has recently added a number of visitor-friendly amenities like a restaurant, gift shop, amphitheater, photograph exhibits and an artifacts display from the time of independence.



South Africa 





South Africa is many tourists' entry into sub-Saharan Africa. While South Africa does offer safari tours like many other countries in Africa, the country made our wish list because of many unique aspects and attractions.


The most popular South African city for tourists is the country’s second largest after Johannesburg, Cape Town. The dramatic landscape of Table Mountain overlooking the nearby sea is the most famous destination. Visitors to Table Mountain need to buy tickets, either on their own or through a tour operator. Depending on your fitness level and the weather, you can scale the mountain by way of the hiking trails or the cableway.


The commercial star of the city of Cape Town is the bustling complex, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. A marina skirted by chic shops and fancy restaurants, it’s actually the oldest continuously working harbor in the Southern Hemisphere. A visitor could spend all day there and go from casual dining to an art gallery, kid’s activities, purchase clothing and then formal dining at night. In noting the cultural pulse of the V&A Waterfront, travel expert Jessica Nabongo, wrote, “Despite apartheid ending nearly 30 years ago, Cape Town still has a white-centered design. The majority of native South Africans live on the outskirts of the city to this day.”


One great advantage of being in a Mediterranean climate region, is beautiful vineyards and wineries.  Just an hour’s drive from V&A Waterfront, Waterford Wine Estate is a picturesque day trip perfect for tasting flights and getting a real wine education. An arcade of artfully pruned citrus trees leads to a towering stone entrance to the courtyard. Cushioned lounge chairs under the trees by the fountain are the perfect place to sip South Africa’s wine in style. 


Their cellar offers several varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and their special vintage, Blancs de Blancs Cap Classique. Waterford Wine Estate has a chocolate pairing to try with each wine. While there’s no restaurant at the winery, there’s nothing stopping visitors from adding a few of these bottles to their picnic basket and turning their outing into a long and leisurely lunch.   



Tanzania 





Africa’s most envy-inducing photos of white sand beaches and turquoise water tend to be on its eastern coast. The perfect mix of tropical island and cultural treasure, Tanzania’s island of Zanzibar is the perfect destination of relaxation and intrigue. 


Locals and visitors to Zanzibar are going to get hungry- where better to go than The Rock? Quirky and charming, The Rock restaurant sits on top a mossy boulder in the shallows of the surrounding clear water. At high tide, patrons have to wade into half a meter of water just to reach the staircase at the entrance. Outdoor dining is a must as this establishment is as much for the spectacular views as it is for eating. Exotic tropical drinks and dishes like the passion fruit mojito and coconut tiramisù honor the local culture while appealing to visitors. We can’t wait to try the grilled fish in ginger cream served with carrots! 


After a nice meal, the cultural adventures can begin. The narrow stone lanes of Zanzibar’s historic district tell the island’s complex history during the Arab Slave Trade. Hamed el Murjebi, also known as Tippu Tip, was a notoriously wealthy 1800's slave trader. He kept a grand home which is now a tourist attraction. The intricately carved doors loom as large as the persona that bears its name. The ornate ironwork and marble floors are remnants of the immense wealth gained from ivory and enslavement. Infamous during his life, Tippu Tip wrote an autobiography, detailing his exploits of conquering people and land.


Last on our wish list is the dolphin watching boat tour. It’s an all-ages activity that is exciting and educational. The clear, sky blue waters of the Indian Ocean are hospitable to the captivating sea life in a multitude of forms. Several boat tours offer the option of swimming in the warm open ocean and even provide snorkel gear to get up close to the fish. Your captain will use radar to spot a nearby pod of dolphins to track. Notoriously playful, dolphins love swimming and jumping alongside tour boats. It’s not recommended to swim with wild dolphins in their natural habitat- save that experience for organized encounters with trained dolphins in man-made tanks.  After the boat tour, the natural choice is relaxing on Nungwi Beach. The water there is so clear and beautiful, travel expert Jessica Nabongo wrote, “a word to describe the color has yet to be invented.”


There are so many picturesque places to visit in Africa. Hopefully, these four locations are just the start to your journeys across the continent.


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Shoshana Kirya-Ziraba is a married mom and lifestyle columnist who lives in Uganda. She is also the executive director of Tikvah Chadasha, an organization working to assist impoverished women and children with vocational opportunities and education. Email her at sgmckinney247@gmail.com.




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