Africa, home of the Big Five, the world’s largest hot desert, tallest free-standing mountain in the world and the world’s longest river, is a continent filled with incredible experiences. With so many wonders of nature, and such diverse landscapes from the Sahara to the Serengeti, Africa is all about the wildlife and natural world. So here are five of the best animal experiences on offer…
Africa is famed for it’s safaris, the best way to see the continent’s impressive wild animals up close and in the flesh. Spend your days watching animals roam freely in the bush or on the savannah, visiting bird havens, or tracking wildlife on foot, and your nights searching for nocturnal animals in 4x4s, before falling asleep to the sounds of nature. A safari in Africa gives you a chance to see rare and impressive creatures – many of which are endangered – in their natural habitat, filling your senses the raw beauty of the continent.
Ride an Ostrich
This is definitely not for the faint hearted, but if you want to interact with one of South Africa’s native animals in a way that will really impress everyone back home then riding an ostrich should be top of your to-do list. There are several ostrich farms around the country that offer the activity, such as the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm in Oudtshoorn. As long as you’re under 65kg and are feeling brave enough, you can mount one of these feathered giants and go for a run you’ll never forget. Just make sure you visit a licenced farm which meets the regulations of the NSPCA’s Performing Animals Protection Act (PAPA). Even if you don’t fancy a ride, visits also usually include tours of the farms, see how ostriches are bred in the country and learn more about the animals – so you can pretend the trip was for educational purposes too!
Dive With Great Whites
Once again, this is an activity to get your heart pumping! South Africa is known for being one of the top locations for diving with sharks, and you really shouldn’t leave without doing it. No previous diving experience is necessary, as you’re lowered in a cage down into the water. With the help of a little bait, you will soon find yourself face-to-face with one of nature’s most feared creatures: the Great White Shark. Although perfectly safe, the experience is exhilarating and one you’ll never forget.
Camel Ride in the Sahara Desert
So far, this is the only one I’ve ticked off the list. The Sahara desert is the largest hot desert in the world, covering 11 countries and 3,500,00 square miles (9,000,000 sq km) – but one of the best places to arrange a desert trip is Morocco, where you can organise a tour, or take a DIY trip to the desert using my excellent guide. Morocco’s Erg Chebbi dunes, on the edge of the Sahara desert, are a great destination which are easy to visit from the small town of Merzouga. Take a camel trek into the heart of the dunes and camp overnight, waking up to the stunning spectacle of a desert sunrise.
Diving The Red Sea Reef
Extending over 1200 miles, the Red Sea Reef is home to over 1,100 species of fish, of which 1 in 10 occur only in this area. It’s one of Africa’s best diving destination, with huge numbers of fish amassed in swirling schools, and an astonishing variety of coral and sponge species, plus rays and even dolphins. There’s also a pretty exciting collection of 19th and 20th century wrecks, many of which are patrolled by sharks, including hammerheads, black tips, leopard and even tiger sharks, making this a fantastic area for diving.