Looking for a great big vacation this year? Two words: Mother Africa.
Sure, there is HIV/AIDS, poverty and war. But you can find all those things at home in the U.S., too. The blessings of the African continent make themselves apparent the moment you step off the plane. Nowhere else in the world will you find a continent with countries and peoples so diverse, cultures so vibrant and a history dotted with events that have altered the world. From the Cape of Good Hope to the mighty pyramids of Egypt, from the Horn region to Ghana and all points in between, Africa is a place rich in natural resources, perpetual reinvention and tremendous possibilities.
Regardless of your cultural background, you’ll be inspired by the spirits of civilizations past. Like the T-shirts they sell in the souvenir shops say: “It began in Africa.”
Great diving? Check out Egypt and Madagascar.
Need to chill on a white sand beach? Mozambique is where you want to be.
Want to roll with the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo)? You’ve got to experience Kenya’s Masai Mara, South Africa’s Kruger National Park[mk1] and the numerous game reserves in Botswana, Tanzania and Namibia. And if it’s history and culture you want, the possibilities are endless.
Start in Ghana and explore the Cape Coast slave castles, or cross over to Egypt and check out the remains of pharaohs. And if you find yourself in a deep depression because you forgot to set the TiVo for your favorite TV show, you’ll get over it quickly after a trip to Soweto—site of the initial uprisings against South African apartheid.
At present, South Africa, home of the coveted 2010 World Cup, leads all African countries in tourism. This beautiful country, once held hostage by apartheid, is a great place to begin your journey because it has everything a traveler could want: Relaxation. Great shopping. History. Culture. Safari.
Johannesburg, the largest city, is a sophisticated metropolis of skyscrapers, trendy shops, fine restaurants and other urban complexities. Jo’burg is South Africa’s financial mecca, as reflected by the homes and cars in the city center.