Africa is a huge continent where independent travellers can enjoy some unique experiences and see some unforgettable sights.
In the north of Africa, Egypt is easy to fly to from most UK airports for fairly cheap prices. There are different parts to this country, the Nile winds its way directly south from the Mediterranean Sea, through Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. Cairo is a crowded city with horns blaring at all hours of the day and night, but it is exciting and very much alive. The pyramids are so iconic they are on most people’s must-see list, and the museum here is full of fascinating exhibits. In Cairo it is possible to stay in 5 star hotels from international chains, like the Intercontinental City Stars with 11 restaurants and a spa, to a hostel with just a clean bed and a tap.
Dahab, in the South Sinai, is a complete contrast to Cairo. Situated on the Red Sea, the scenery is jaw-dropping with golden beaches one way, and picturesque mountains the other. This place has been very popular with backpackers for years, many of whom don’t leave for months at a time once they’ve discovered it. There is plenty of cheap accommodation here in the form of camping, but there is also a Hilton on the beachfront if the budget allows. The diving is some of the best in the world off the shores of Dahab, and this is one of the main draws of the area.
Moving on to the east coast, Tanzania is home to the Serengeti, one of the world’s most spectacular national parks which is chock-a-block with wildlife. Considered one of the best places to see the “big five” animals, which are rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard, the Serengeti is popular with those wanting a safari experience. There are lots of different safaris to choose from, many of them have accommodation in luxury tents or lodges with pools. A different way to see the area is to do a self-drive safari, where you rent a jeep fully packed with roof tents, bedding and cooking equipment. (www.imagineafrica.co.uk) This kind of trip offers the traveller the freedom to experience the wild side of the savannahs.
Right at the bottom of the continent, South Africa offers a climate that is good for holidays year round; the hottest months are during the British winter. There are beautiful beaches, hundreds of game reserves, wine tasting regions, and bustling cities. Cape Town is a stunning city and the second largest in South Africa. There are some of Africa’s best restaurants in this city and the shopping is second to none. Table Top Mountain is a popular site to visit. It is possible to find some good 1 star hotels, and there is the option to rent an apartment. For longer visits, this is a cheaper alternative. Cape Town also has high end hotels down by the waterfront for those with the biggest wallets.
Whether travelling in luxury or backpacking on local transport care must be taken. Africa is generally safe in the tourist areas but there is more crime away from these parts. Good quality travel insurance is a must, it is possible to get backpacking travel insurance for great rates so even if the budget is tight, it is possible to get cover.