The Top Ten Travel Sights of Africa

It is difficult to list a top ten African travel wonders list without leaving out a number of other superb sights. Here is my list. How many have you seen?

1. Mountain Gorillas of Central Africa

It is an indescribable experience to spend an hour visiting an habituated gorilla family in the rain forests of Central Africa. With over 98% commonality of DNA with human beings, you can sense and feel their emotions and familial ties. A family group which varies from 8 to 20 is led by an alpha male – the silverback – with a silvery blanket of hair down his back. Seriously endangered, tourism is their only chance of survival.

2. Wildlife Safari in East Africa

The African rift valley offers the most remarkable variety of wildlife to view anywhere on Earth. Across the protected game parks in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, seeing the great African wildlife is a special experience to savor. Way beyond reading National Geographic, seeing in real life a pride of lions stalking and hunting down its prey gets your heart racing. Vultures and jackals hover nearby for their share of the feast. Many plan to see the so-called Big Five, the buffalo, elephant, lion, rhinoceros and leopard, along with the familiar antelope, giraffes, zebras and wildebeest, along with a wide variety of colorful birds.

3. Pyramids and Sphinx of Egypt

The Great Pyramids of Giza, just outside Cairo, have stood and overseen over 5000 years of Egyptian history. These giants structures stand in a stark sandy desert expanse while local touts sell camel rides or their various crafts, souvenirs and knick-knacks. The nightly light and sound show describes the rich history with colorful lights and lasers.

4. Victoria Falls

The locals describe it as the “The Smoke that Thunders” in their native language, where plumes of spray from the thunderous water can be seen for miles around as the calm waters of the mile-wide Zambezi River plunges well over 100 yards into the deep gorge below. These famous waterfalls change mood across the year from the dry to the wet seasons and often appear with dazzling rainbows in the misty spray.

5. Nile River and Egyptian Temples

Small armies of river boats travel the famed Nile River between Luxor and Aswan in central Egypt. From the cool of the boat, you can enjoy the narrow fertile strip of land being intensively farmed in much the same manner as it has sustained the population for centuries. This thin strip of greenery is the only break from the desolate Saharan sands which seem to extend forever. Luxor’s Temple of Karnak is an ancient construction on an unequaled scale with pillars, carvings, ceremonial lakes and temples extending over an area beyond a mile by half a mile. The pharaohs’ final resting places sit on the opposite bank of the Nile in the Valley of the Kings – a stark, empty ravine.

6. Sahara Desert

Incredibly hot by day and surprisingly cool by night, the dry vastness of the Sahara Desert is striking in its beauty. Eroded over the centuries by wind, jagged mountains, rocky escarpments and sweeping sand dunes detail a harsh terrain. The small oasis towns reveal a battle for survival over the many centuries, the refreshing patches of green highlighting the invaluable resource of water.

7. Moroccan Cities of Marrakesh and Fes

With their souks woven like ancient mazes, Marrakesh and Fes both boast remarkable medinas (walled-in areas of the town) which ignite every human sense. Rich in craft shops (tanners, textile makers, dressmakers, jewelers and carpet weavers), food stalls and teashops (with their enchanting sweet mint tea), the alluring aroma of spices clash with the nasty odors of the dye pits. Every night, Marrakesh’s immense Djemaa el Fna square becomes a virtual circus of snake charmers, fortune tellers, jugglers, comedians, spruikers and magicians as you enjoy the tasty delights from the variety of fresh food stalls and juice bars.

8. Dogon Villages of Mali

The Dogon people live in simple villages along the imposing 120 mile Bandiagara Cliff. Their strange adobe (mud-brick) houses are built along the cliff edge providing areas to sleep and relax, common areas for village meetings and for storage of grain. The houses are remarkably cool in this hot arid area.

9. Leptis Magna

Africa’s most significant Roman ruin overlooks the dazzling Mediterranean Sea. Being a major Roman city in its time, Leptis Magna includes the ruins of athletic arenas, theaters, markets and temples, along with the traditional central Roman Forum.

10. Zanzibar

The Spice Islands are a haven, providing a chance for a relaxing break from African travel and game parks. It has a number of sights with its Arabic heritage, the old Stone Town and tropical palm-fringed sandy beaches. The maze of ancient alleyways and narrow lanes are lined with whitewashed houses with superbly carved wooden doors. Culturally separate from the African mainland, small bazaars and gleaming tiled mosques provide mouthwatering cultural walks, between relaxing sun-baking sessions on the beach.

Africa has a wide variety of attractions and travel wonders to experience from the Arabic north through the jungles of central Africa to the rich jungles of southern Africa. Travel with a spirit of discovery and enjoyment to experience this wonderful and diverse continent.

Mediterranean Travel Destination – The Hidden Wonders of Datca

How do you savor the Mediterranean and Aegean seas? Let us count the ways. A definitive first on the list is taking a trip to Datca. There’s probably a hundred more under it, but no famous yet unspoiled tourist spot can offer refreshing views of and plunges in these Greek seas while offering access to the wonders of the countryside.

After all, this peninsula (and town) is not only famed for its relaxing beaches and bays, it’s also a haven for anyone with a hunger for adventure, history and celebration.

Treats for Travelers

A trip to Datca is a visual feast for any traveler. With its spectacular views of pine trees, azure seas, almond groves and virgin coves, traveling to this town feels like going inside a colorful postcard.

Some parts of Datca offer vacation villages for travelers wishing to make their stay a bit longer and more convenient. In fact, some of the most remarkable bed and breakfasts in Turkey can be found in this town. Yet even with these developments, the rich collection of flora and fauna of the town remains unspoiled.

Triple Pride of the Town

Datca makes a living not only from tourism but also from its organic produce. While vegetables and garden fruits are among its gastronomic wonders, the town takes pride in its three B’s: bal (honey), badem (almond), and balik (fish).

Haven for Historians

Any historic buff would find bliss in this peninsula for it houses several historic sites. Knidos is home to the ruins of a wealthy city that dates back to about 400 BC. A trip to this historic wonder is not complete without seeing the statue of Aphrodite, which is said to be history’s first naked female statue.

Eski or Old Datca offers the best of the town’s countryside with its stone houses, carved doorways and narrow cobbled streets. It was also the home of Can Yucel, one of Turkey’s famous poets and translators.

Delight for Shoppers

Even a quiet town like Datca can be a shopper’s Mecca. What with its wealth of boutiques, carpet shops and souvenir shops. Add to these some bars, restaurants and an amphi cinema and you’ll almost find a city anchored in nature.

Among the remarkable wares of this town are its handcrafted embroideries. Made of silk, these handcrafts are usually sold in bazaars on Saturdays.

Getting the Best Taste

What better way to savor Datca than during months when special celebrations are held throughout the town. Should your schedule allow you a vacation in early autumn, be sure to bring jars for you’re just in time for the collection of honey. You’d want to explore the wonders of the town until November for this month brings with it the olive oil production.

If your taste buds often crave for almonds, we recommend you drop by in July for not only are the almond trees in full bloom, it’s also the perfect time for the Almond Festival. Make sure you stay a bit longer for come August, poetry and music reign in Datca with the celebration of the life and works of Can Yucel.

Strategy 2 for Extraordinary Travel: Have a Well-Designed Plan, Adapted To Your Liking

When you travel in the great trip style, your trip will be independent but well planned. You will be traveling to places that are so remarkable, and seeing things that are so interesting, you will immediately begin to reap the benefits of traveling independently. Before you leave on your trip, you will adapt your trip to your own preferences, interests, style and pace. And you will have the flexibility of altering your timing according to your interests… to pause and fully experience what strikes you.

Traveling anywhere you please using the great trip travel style, either by using a pre-planned trip book of your choice, or by carrying out your own investigation and planning, you will have a complete trip blueprint, based on in-depth research. You will have a good idea of what your options are before you arrive. So you will be able to avoid the frustration of missing out on rich opportunities you really would have liked to experience “if only you had known in time.”

Lack of preparation can add to stress levels on any trip, especially a trip to a foreign country like France or Italy, where people speak a different language, and you may have limited access to the internet while you are traveling. Doing some preliminary groundwork before you leave home will make a tremendous difference in how smoothly your trip goes, and how much fun you have along the way.

With a little pre-planning, and by observing a few simple keys to being a more balanced traveler, you will have better experiences and more fun, and be assured of a great trip every time you travel. These keys include:

1. Balance your trip with a range of activities.

2. Maintain a comfortable pace.

3. Avoid traveling with the crowds.

4. Keep your trip relaxed and fun.

5. Adapt your trip to your liking.

Balance Your Trip with a Range of Activities

You will have the best experience if you maintain variety in what you do. Too much of anything can get tiring. More does not necessarily mean “better,” even for activities that are immensely interesting to you.

As an example, two castles a day, for three days in a row, is definitely out of balance. If you attempt this pace, the charm and the magic, the history and the amazement, will be lost. Stop at four per trip! By the time you reach your fifth castle, you will be on “château overload,” dragging yourself through the motions, and thus “wasting” a castle. It will be much better to save some castles for another year, and intersperse other types of activities into your castle days to break things up a bit.

Maintain a Comfortable Pace

Often travelers try to pack in as much as they possibly can, thinking that by doing so they will get more value for their money and have a more enriching experience. While this may seem to make sense intellectually, it can be a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of trying to do everything that you end up feeling rushed and exhausted by the overly-aggressive pace you have imposed on yourself. Ultimately, such errors in pacing can make the enjoyment go out of the trip, or even cause you to get sick. And this you do not want, for numerous and obvious reasons.

While you are on your great trip, traveling independently with your trip-in-a-book guide or your own detailed plan, you will be in control of the pace of your trip. When you need more time, take it. When you spot something marvelous, stop and enjoy it. Lounge on the steps outside d’Orsay, listening to the marvelous pianist playing his full-sized piano on the sidewalk. Hang out watching the sidewalk artist beside the Pompidou Center as he completes his chalk drawing masterpiece. If you discover an organ concert in progress in Notre Dame, take the time to listen to it for as long as you like.

When you are out and about, there’s no need to push yourself too hard. Give yourself permission to slow down, to take “power pauses” to recharge your batteries, and to experience things that pop up along the way. Sometimes “less is more.”

Often you will be walking… at your own pace, pausing where you wish. On your strolls through the elegant Tuileries Gardens, with its vibrant colors and striking sculptures, you will reach a large pond surrounded by inviting chairs, where Parisians gather to sit and bask in the sun. And you will have the freedom to find yourself a chair and join them before you climb the hill to stand in awe surrounded by the misty loveliness of Monet’s waterlily murals in l’Orangerie.

If you have a yen to linger over a coffee, or a glass of wine in a café… If you feel that you’re at the end of your rope and need to sit awhile on a park bench to regain your energies, while watching the parade of people passing by… Even if you’ve just had enough for the day… Set your own pace. When it suits you, especially on the day after a strenuous travel day, allow yourself the luxury of a slow morning, with a relaxing breakfast. Ease into your day as you would on a Saturday at home, after a hard week at work.

Remember, this is your vacation, to be spent as you like. There is no need to set new records of how many museums and attractions you can see in one day. Traveling is not about doing everything you possibly can. It’s about relaxing, unwinding and having great experiences.

Avoid Traveling with the Crowds

When you travel with a group, every place you go will be crowded because you are a crowd. By definition, traveling in the company of 30 others produces a constant reality of “hurry up and wait.” You will suffer through long lines for hotel check-in, to purchase tickets, and to use the restroom. At restaurants, you will be one of 30 people placing your dinner orders at the same time, then awaiting the arrival of your drinks and food, and later your check.

On your great trip travelling independently, you will be in crowd-avoidance mode, moving against the crowds, not with them. Wherever you encounter swarms of people, and see that the lines are building up, you will have the flexibility to go somewhere else instead, then come back later when the crowds disband. So you will be able to admire Monet’s pond lilies, or Van Gogh’s self-portrait, or the model of da Vinci’s rotating bridge, without throngs of people blocking your view. And you will be first in line for ice cream in da Vinci’s park. In Paris you will have in your pocket the “magic” Museum Pass that will allow you to skip the lines at museums. And you will have advance tickets to avoid the lines at the Eiffel Tower.

While you visit the châteaux of the Loire Valley, you will have the time freedom to fully explore these phenomenal and historical palaces, inside and out. If there are crowds blocking the door to Chenonceau, you will be able to shift the order of your visit to take in the gardens first and delay your entry to the palace itself until after the masses have dispersed. You will have time to wander the gardens, as well as to visit the ballroom and royal chambers. And, if you so choose, you will be free to pause for lunch right there, sitting at an outdoor table, with a view of the castle.

When you visit Mont Saint-Michel, again you will enjoy the considerable benefits of traveling against the crowd, moving about in a pattern that separates you from the throngs. Since you will be staying overnight on the Mont, by the time the masses arrive and flow like a torrent through the gates, you already will have climbed up to the Abbey at the top. When the hordes complete their climb to reach the entrance to the Abbey, you will be making your way back down by way of the ramparts.

As the throngs flood the restaurants on the Mont for lunch at noon, racing to bolt down a meal in time to get back to their buses, you will be at liberty to snack on the cheese and crackers you gathered earlier, and wait to dine later, after the streets have emptied and you have the Mont more to yourself. So you will dine at a window table as you watch the spectacle of the tides advancing across the sands at the speed of galloping horses, until the sea surrounds the Mont and renders it an island again.

Keep Your Trip Relaxed and Fun

Have you ever been on a vacation that turned out to be more stressful than your normal work and life at home? Let’s face it, traveling anywhere can be remarkably challenging, whether it be visiting relatives nearby, making your way to a national park you’ve always wanted to see, or embarking on a grand adventure overseas. You find yourself plucked out of your comfort zone and in unfamiliar territory. But travel doesn’t need to add to your stress level, raise your blood pressure, or make you run for antacid tablets.

Go easy on yourself. Anytime you travel and step out of your comfort zone, the number of things that can “challenge” you dramatically increases. Cut yourself some slack when traveling. There’s no reason to get upset when things that are normally simple, and a matter of routine, trip you up and get in your way.

For example, when traveling in a foreign country like France where you don’t speak the language, even finding a restroom can be a challenge. The food is not what you’re used to, and asking simple questions with unfamiliar phrases from a book can feel daunting and embarrassing. Even going to the pharmacy to buy basic essentials can be an ordeal, with unfamiliar brands, not to mention that everything is in French.

Allow yourself some extra time to “flounder” a bit. Quickly get over any initial shyness you have about asking for help whenever you need it. These “permissions” can make a huge difference in how smoothly your travel days will go. And you will be surprised at how quickly the French people will make every effort to assist you once you overcome your hesitations about asking for help.

If you let the intriguing uniqueness of the French culture and lifestyle be part of the adventure of your trip, you’ll find yourself eliminating stressors, having a lot more fun, and making friends along the way.

Adapt Your Trip to Your Liking

Make adaptations to your trip based on your own particular interests, adding more of the types of activities that you will particularly enjoy. And don’t forget to keep your travel partner’s interests in mind when you do. One way to ensure that neither of you tires of a single type of activity, is to take turns deciding what comes next for the day.

The Day Pages in each pre-planned trip book, or that you will set up for yourself, will provide you with a full schedule, and lots of specifics. But what if you discover that tomorrow is Market Day? Or you hear enchanting pan flute music drifting down the shopping street and emerge onto the square to find live performers playing in the sun beside a café that faces a lovely old church?

What if you spot a shop that sells Santons-those remarkably detailed artisan-created figurines, popular for collecting, that portray all the chief characters in the village including the baker, the “goose girl,” the old couple, the crazy man, and the ladies of Provence, as well as Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and the Wise men? Or when you encounter a wine-tasting tour in the candle-lit catacombs of a former abbey?

When these and other golden opportunities present themselves, you are free, even encouraged, to deviate from the plan, alter your path, and otherwise seize the moment, then rearrange as needed. Take advantage of happy coincidences that occur. Experience Market Day. Listen while the pan flute music soothes your soul. Pause in the Santon shop to pick out a few figures that strike your fancy-maybe the woman carrying a basket of lavender or the little drummer boy.

When you happen upon the old abbey that offers wine tasting in its crypt, pay the few Euros for your tasting cup, and pick up a form to record your descriptions and scores of the wines you taste, placing asterisks beside your favorites. Then walk through the catacombs, pausing in front of the wine barrels to pour yourself samples by the light of the candle.

As you shift your plans for the day to get the most from unforeseen opportunities, you may need to do some rearranging of what you had planned, according to what is most important to you. But you will always have your original Day Pages as a guide to help you avoid missing out on any of the “must see” items at the top of your list.

As you make choices, and reprioritize how you spend your time on this trip, remember that you likely will return here again in years to come. So you will have other chances to do what you miss doing this time.