My virtual journey across Africa now brings me to the South East part of the continent. India shares a common ocean with the countries on this part of Africa – the Indian Ocean – and this has led to centuries of trade between India and this part of the world.
Mozambique – This country of close to 30 million people has some interesting sights that I was, frankly, unaware of before I began to research them. I would begin at the extreme south of the long country with the capital city of Maputowith its colonial era architecture. Moving northwards, I would halt at Bazaruta Archipelago. The next halt would be at the UNESCO World Heritage listed Island of Mozambique. I would end my journey through this country at the city of Pembaand Quirimbas National Park.
Malawi – The city of Blantyrewould be where I would start my exploration of this country. From Blantyre, I would head to Mulanje Mountain. I would then make my way north to Lake Malawi National Parkand conclude my visit at the island of Likoma.
Madagascar – The name itself evokes images of the truly exotic. The fourth largest island in the world would rank very high in my list of places to visit for nature and wildlife (alongside Papua New Guinea and the Amazon). The capital city of Antananarivowith its French colonial heritage is most probably where I would start my visit. I would visit Ifatyand Nosy Beto get my beach fix. Among the numerous places to spot wildlife, I might pick Ranomafanaand Isalo National Parks. Finally, I would try and visit the Avenue of the Baobabs.
I recently wrote about my bucket list destinations in Southern Africa. I now turn my attention to the three land-locked countries to the north of South Africa.
Botswana – One of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, this nation – roughly the size of France – has a population of about 2.3 million only. It has one of the highest GDP in PPP terms in the whole of Africa, largely due to gemstone mining and tourism. Speaking of tourism, one of the top highlights of the country is Okavango Delta – one of the world’s great wilderness destinations. Chobe National Parkin the far north of the country is another wildlife destination that might be worth visiting.
Zimbabwe – This country of 14 million people is well known to Indians due to the fact that it’s one of the few test match playing cricketing nations in the world. There are some interesting sights to see in this southern African country, including the capital city of Harare, the second largest city of Bulawayo and the town of Mutare in the South East. The Great Zimbabwe National Monumentis a UNESCO World Heritage monument and one of the most important stone ruins on the continent. Wildlife lovers can visit the National Parks of Hwange in the West and Mana Pools in the North.
Zambia – Another great destination for nature and wildlife lovers. Top of the list would be a visit to Victoria Falls. Kafue National Parkis the oldest National Park in the country and one of the largest on the continent. Other interesting National Parks include Lower Zambezi National Parkand South Luangwa National Park. I would also like to go bird-watching at the Blue Lagoon National Park.
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The southern part of the great continent of Africa is another incredibly diverse place, with many places to explore.
Namibia – Home to the oldest desert on Earth and one of the least densely populated countries in the world, this country is not short of stunning sights. I would start my visit in the capital of Windhoekand head to the fantastic parts of Etosha, Skeleton Coastand Namib-Naukluft.
South Africa – One of the most diverse countries on Earth with a population of over 58 million, I would love to enjoy a slow journey through the southernmost part of the continent, taking in cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pietermaritzburg, Durban,Port Elizabeth. Cape Townmust rank as one of the cities with the most beautiful of settings (along with other Southern Hemisphere cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sydney). While in Cape Town, I would, of course, visit Robben Island. I would also like to visit Bloemfontein, the birthplace of JRR Tolkien. Finally, of course, no visit would be complete without taking in Kruger National Park.
Lesotho – The small country of Lesotho has many interesting geographical firsts to its name. It’s the only country in the Southern Hemisphere (and one of only three in the world) that’s entirely surrounded by another country. It’s the only country in the world where no place is below 1,000 metres above sea level. The lowest point in the country is 1,400 metres which makes it the country with the highest lowest point in the world! Places to visit would include the capital city of Maseruand Tsehlanyane National Park.
Eswatini – Another small, land-locked country in southern Africa, but this nation shares its boundaries with both South Africa and Mozambique. The capital city of Mbabaneand the town of Lobambawould be interesting urban areas to visit, while for wildlife, I would head to Hlane Royal National Park.
The next phase of my West African travels would take me to some fascinating countries, including the most populous nation on the continent and two of its richest.
Nigeria – The economic powerhouse of the continent, Nigeria is home to over 200 million inhabitants, making it the seventh most populous nation on Earth. Lagos, one of the, if not the, biggest city on the continent might make a good starting point. Other towns to visit would include Ilesaand Erin Ijesa, Uyoand Ibeno Beach. For wildlife spotting, I would head to Okomu National Parkand Cross River National Park.
Cameroon – This country first made an impression on me during the FIFA World Cup of 1990 when they reached the quarter-finals. Reading more about the country, I was surprised that the population is only around 25 million (compared to its far more populous neighbour to the west). Another fact that I was unaware of was the highest peak in the country, Mount Cameroonis over 4,000 metres in height. The diversity of habitats in the country makes it a microcosm of the continent. The capital city of Yaoundewould be a good place to start exploring the country. The city of Foumbanwould be another interesting urban area to visit, while for nature and wildlife, I would head to Kribifor the beaches and Waza National Parkin the far North and Campo Reservein the far South.
Equatorial Guinea – Growing up, I knew of Equatorial Guinea as a country with extremely colourful stamps. A more recent fact that I was unaware of is that this small country is the richest in Africa on a per capita basis. The country has two distinct parts – an island part and a mainland part. Places to visit on the island part would include Malabo, Bioko and San Antonio de Ureca. On the mainland, I would like to visit the city of Bataand try and spot some wildlife at Monte Allen National Park.
Gabon – This country is familiar to me as the country of Arsenal striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. What I did not know was that this country has the second-highest per capita income in mainland Africa and is considered as one of the last ‘Edens’ on Earth for its nature and wildlife. I would start my journey in this country at the capital city of Libreville. I would then ride the Trans-Gabon railway to the towns of Lastoursvilleand Franceville. I would then explore the National Parksof Loango, Ivindoand Reserve de la Lope.
Sao Tome and Principe – One of the smallest country in the African continent, this seems like a veritable tropical paradise. In addition to the main islands that make up its name, it would be fascinating to visit the tiny Rolas Islandthrough which the Equator passes.
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