Is it just coincidence that August is the month when many people go on holiday and Africa becomes the perfect place to visit? In fact, there’s so much happening across the continent that travellers really are spoilt for choice: safari destinations feature the best game viewing conditions, while the beaches and tropical islands bask beneath warm, dry skies.
Guides say that if you see 1% of what sees you in the African wilderness, you are very, very observant. This is mostly because every living creature makes use of camouflage, whether to hide from predators or sneak up on prey. It is also because guides know that our over-stimulated and under-utilized city senses are pretty much good for nothing in the jungle.
On a recent trip to Kenya, I was privileged to spend a morning exploring the lush forests of Mount Kenya. It was a guided walk in the care of an armed ranger – there is plenty of game in the forest, including buffalo - and a superb guide from my hosts at Serena Mountain Lodge.
Nairobi is the capital of Kenya and the continent’s main gateway to Europe and Asia. As East Africa’s primary hub, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport sees around six million passengers flow through its doors each year. Connecting flights ferry passengers to all the major attractions: from Mount Kilimanjaro to the Masai Mara and Lamu Island. In peak periods this busy airport greets around 16 000 travellers each day.
Taking a road trip through Kenya is a great way to explore this iconic destination. My safari begins in the lush rainforest of Mount Kenya National Park where I discover that a good guide can turn an uneventful stroll into a magical experience. What more could you ask for: the haunting skull of a forest buffalo, monkeys whooshing through the canopy, and mid-morning tea served in a woodland clearing?
Africa offers travellers the chance to witness some of nature's grandest spectacles. The continent is famous for its vast herds of wildebeest that cross the Serengeti, rumbling families of elephants in the Chobe, and the stylishly blasé leopards of the Kruger National Park. But by far the most transformative and up-close wildlife experience in Africa is a face-to-face encounter with the great apes of Uganda and Rwanda.
Of all the chapters in the story that is East Africa's Great Wildebeest Migration, none is more dramatic than the river crossings. Arriving in wide-eyed anticipation, the herds pile up like an enormous traffic jam at the Grumeti and Mara Rivers, desperate to complete their journey through the Serengeti and back into the Masai Mara. But crossing the murky brown rivers is no easy task. Giant crocodiles have been waiting all year for the herds and things aren't much better for the survivors - big cats lie in ambush on the other side.
When I set off on my Zanzibar vacation, it never occurred to me that Stone Town would be a highlight of the trip. I had done some research on what activities to do on the island and, of course, Stone Town - a World Heritage Site - was on the list. I didn't expect too much from it - I was focused on experiencing as many ocean and beach-based activities as possible. I thought a quick afternoon tour of Stone Town would be enough.
Among the many things that regularly caught my eye during my visit to Zanzibar, the dhows always stood out. These traditional boats are still used for fishing and transport but have also been adopted by the locals to provide visitors with authentic sunset cruises and ocean safaris.
Pick up a Kenya tourist brochure and chances are there'll be a herd of wildebeest staring back at you from the front cover. Kenya is after all where safaris first started and it remains home to the ever-dramatic Great Wildebeest Migration but there's a lot more to the country than hooves, tooth and claw.