Africa is a huge continent with a huge variety of landscapes, sceneries, and natural landmarks. Nonetheless, Africa still has an undeveloped tourism industry and high costs of traveling in almost every country. It is still a vastly unexplored continent by travelers, with large stretches of almost untouched nature.
Yet, some of the most beautiful and impressive natural wonders of the World are located in Africa. Some are very well-known, while others are still gaining fame. They include powerful waterfalls, deserts, high mountains, canyons, and national parks, but also craters, lakes, and coral reefs.
These natural wonders in Africa post will include all the main regions of the continent, organizing them by country for easier understanding. So, let’s explore the outstanding natural African wonders.
Transnational natural wonders in Africa
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia border
Victoria Falls is the most famous waterfall in Africa and probably the world. It is also one of the largest waterfalls, with a width of 1,708 m. The original name of the waterfalls is Mosi-o-Tunya meaning “The smoke that thunders,” but most frequently, it is known as Victoria Falls, named after Queen Victoria by Dr. Livingstone.
The waterfalls are located on the Zambezi River, which separates Zambia from Zimbabwe. Very close to the falls, you will find Victoria Falls Bridge, built in 1905. The bridge connects Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe and Livingston in Zambia. And it is still used for cars, pedestrians, and trains.
Visiting Mosi-o-Tunya falls has to be on everyone’s bucket list, it is certainly worth the hype, and besides being an African Wonder, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. To see the falls from the ground, you have to enter the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe. The park has several pathways and viewpoints. It is an incredible experience just seeing and feeling the water of these waterfalls.
There are several unforgettable activities to do in Victoria Falls, like whitewater rafting in the Zambezi River, helicopter rides, bungee jumping off the Victoria falls bridge, and swimming in the Devil´s pool. Note that the flow of the water varies according to the season, having very little water in the dry season.
The Namib Desert, Namibia, and Angola
The Namib Desert is another natural wonder of southern Africa. Although the Namib desert is usually only associated with Namibia (it was named the country after all), it runs from southern Angola into Namibia, ranging almost 1 600 km. This means that the Namib desert is a transnational natural wonder.
It is possible to visit the desert, both on the Angolan and Namibian sides, though it is much easier to do it in Namibia, particularly in Swakopmund. While a large desert, Namib isn’t even close to being the largest in the world. On the other hand, with up to 80 Million years old, it is one of the two oldest deserts in the world (the Atacama in Chile is the other)
Considered one of the world’s aridest regions, the Namib desert includes many of the most prominent geographic features of Namibia, including some well-known destinations like Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, the giant sand dunes, and the Skeleton Coast. It is also in Namib where you will find the unique Welwitschias, a plant sometimes known as a living fossil.
The Namib is predominantly a sand desert, consisting of an endless sea of sand dunes, some of which are huge, like the ones in Sossusvlei. A safari through the desert and the dunes is extremely fun. Plus, visiting the Skeleton Coast, where giant dunes lay right beside the sea, is an incredible view.
Natural wonders in Africa – Angola
Kalandula falls, Angola
Located in the Lucala River, about 360 km from Luanda (East) and 75 km from Malanje (Northwest), the kalandula falls are considered the second-largest waterfalls in Africa. With 105 meters (344 feet) high and 400 meters (1,300 feet) wide, they are truly impressive, particularly during the rainy season (September to April).
Although the Kalandula Falls aren’t as famous nor as popular as other waterfalls in Africa, they are one of the most famous landmarks in Angola. Yet, as Angola isn’t a tourist-friendly country, they aren’t often visited by international travelers. They are mostly popular among locals, ex-pats in Angola, and a few adventure seekers.
The best way to visit the falls is by car as the road goes directly to the lookout, where you have terrific views. Besides the lookout, there is no other tourist infrastructure. However, it is possible to descend to the lower part of the falls, but we would suggest going with a guide as it is not straightforward. Or, you can ask one of the local children to take you there and serve as a guide. The descent is fun and adventurous, but the highlight is getting close to the waterfall and feeling its raw power.
Tundavala Gap, Angola
Tundavala gap in Angola is an impressive natural escarpment in the Serra da Leba mountain. The plateau of Serra da Leba has 2200 mt of altitude and suddenly falls 1000 mt, creating an abyss between mountains. It seems like someone cut a piece of the mountain, making a dramatic effect.
The gap is located 18 km from the city of Lubango in the south of Angola. To reach the Tundavala gap, you need to drive up to the mountain plateau, from there, you have a viewpoint of the abyss. It is a fantastic place with beautiful scenic views. You will want to take tons of photos or just sit and enjoy the landscape.
Furthermore, on the way to the top of Serra da Leba the are several natural rock formations that are quite eccentric. These rock formations are connoted with myths and fantastic histories.
African natural wonders – Ethiopia
The Danakil Depression, Ethiopia
By Jonny from Backpackingman
The Danakil Depression has one of the most fascinating natural landscapes in Africa. It’s located in northeast Ethiopia and in the northern part of the Afar Depression. It’s the hottest place on Earth as far as average temperatures around the year go and is very hot to visit.
It’s a natural wonder in Africa, with two active volcanoes and a massive salt plain in the area. All of these can be seen on a visit there, and you can hike up one of the volcanoes, Erta Ale, to camp overnight at the rim crater and watch the lava bubbly in the crater.
It’s truly a unique and other-worldly place to visit in the world, and you can see a diverse landscape of barren lava fields, limestone formations, and salt plains that have been used since ancient times for the salt trade.
The only way to realistically visit the region is to go on a Danakil Depression tour from the capital Addis Ababa or from the city of Mekele, which is the gateway to the region and may be slightly cheaper to get a tour from.
Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
By Anwar from Beyond my Door
Located in the heart of Ethiopia, the Simien Mountains are the highest points in the country. Often called the roof of Africa, this UNESCO world heritage site is famous for its beautiful mountains, sweeping vistas, and endemic species. The Gelada Baboon (also known as the “bleeding heart” baboon) is the most famous and the only place in the world where you can see them. Among other species in the mountains include the Ethiopian wolf, Walia Ibex, klipspringer, Golden Jackal, as well as other monkeys and baboons.
There are several ways to visit the mountains. Most tours and travelers begin in the city of Gondar at the foot of the mountain range and do either day or multi-day treks through the mountains. Guides are available, and there are quite a few outfits in Gondar that can support your travel. The only requirement for travelers is to go with a “scout,” an armed local who is supposedly there to protect you from wild animals. However, a local guide is highly recommended as well as navigating the mountains isn’t straightforward. Multi-day treks can be managed with porters carrying equipment to each of the various standard camps.
Altitude sickness is a concern, with several mountains over 4000 meters throughout the park. Treks regularly cross passes high in elevation to transit between the various regular campsites. Be sure to verify transport from your start and exit location, as several require 4WD jeep access, and not all companies have these available, which may require you to hike out along roads to get in or out of the National Park.
Blue Nile Falls, Ethiopia
By Alex from Just Go Exploring
Known as Tis Abay (or “great smoke”) in Amharic, the Blue Nile Falls is an enormous waterfall in northwest Ethiopia, close to the town of Bahir Dar and the picturesque Lake Tana.
The Blue Nile – one of the mighty river’s two main tributaries – originates in nearby Lake Tana. From here, the river flows for about 30 kilometers before cascading 42 meters into a wide valley.
When the river is in full flow, these falls are incredibly powerful and span up to 400 meters in width. However, timing is key when it comes to visiting this natural wonder.
The best time to visit is during the rainy season (July to September) when the falls are at their most impressive. Outside of these months, and especially during the dry season (December to March), the river contains significantly less water, and the falls can reduce to a trickle.
Most visitors visit the Blue Nile Falls as a day trip from Bahir Dar. You can visit as part of an organized tour, but it’s also easy to make the journey independently.
The falls’ ticket office is located in the village of Tis-Isat, which is a 30-minute drive from Bahir Dar. Either take one of the frequent local buses that make the journey from Bahir Dar to Tis-Isat, or a taxi.
From Tis-Isat, there are several hiking trails leading to the falls (30-60 minutes each way). The most popular trail passes over an important 17th-century stone bridge (the first to be built in Ethiopia) and offers beautiful views over the surrounding villages and countryside.
African Natural Wonders – South Africa
Cape of Good Hope, Republic of South Africa
By Elizabeth of Two Week Traveller
Cape of Good Hope is located on the southern point of the Cape Peninsula of the Republic of South Africa. You can easily get there from Cape Town by either joining a guided tour or renting a car and driving yourself there. The tour will take between a half-day to a full-day trip. Driving from Cape Town is about an hour and a half.
Cape of Good Hope sits on a protected wildlife reserve. Along the way, visitors can see wild animals such as monkeys, African penguins, and even flamingos. Cape of Good Hope is formed with the same kind of rocks that made Table Mountain. You have to hike from the parking lot to reach the exact point of the Cape, which can be challenging due to its rocks and uneven trail. The hike also takes you near the edge of the Cape and can be nerve-racking. Along the way, you will see some fauna and flora depending on the season.
East of Cape of Good Hope in Cape Point there’s a spot where you can witness the scenic view of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean crashing and meeting together. You can either walk the paved way or pay for the funicular service. Both these places are a great addition to your 2-weeks in South Africa itinerary.
If you are taking a guided tour, your transport will drop you off near Cape Point. From there, you will hike down to Cape of Good Hope where your service will be. For those planning to drive, you will have to hike back to the parking lot near Cape Point.
Table Mountain, Republic of South Africa
By Campbell Louw from Stingy Nomads
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town and is probably the most famous landmark in South Africa. The views from the top of the mountain are amazing and you can see almost the entire city and plenty of its surroundings. Table Mountain is an important tourist attraction, with many visitors getting to the top with the cable car. Hiking up Table Mountain is a very popular activity with several spectacular trails available. Platteklip Gorge is the most popular trail up Table Mountain, most people choose it to walk up and then take the cable car down. Kasteelspoort, India venster and Skeleton Gorge are also popular routes to hike to the top. On the top of the mountain you can find bathrooms, a coffee shop, a souvenir shop and several look-out points. With more than 4 million yearly visitors, Table Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in South Africa. Table Mountain National Park is a World Heritage Site (UNESCO) forming part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. More than 8,200 plant species can be found on the mountain. Hiking on Table Mountain is free if you do not start in Kirstenbosch National Park (Skeleton Gorge route).
Kruger National Park, Republic South Africa
Kruger National Park in South Africa is a game reserve with an area of 19,485 km2 making it one of the largest national parks in the world. It was created by South African president Paul Kruger as a sanctuary for the protection of wildlife.
Going on a Safari is one of the best things to do if you love animals and nature and the Kruger National Park is the ideal place to do one. You are able to watch wild animals in their natural habitat in the safety of your vehicle. In the park, you are able to spot all the big five, Elephant, Lion, Cape Buffalo, Leopard, and Rhino. But it also has baboons, giraffes, hippos, wild dogs, springbok, and much more.
Although you can visit the park in your own car, we advise you to visit it with a guide, as they normally know where to spot animals and give you information about the animals and the park. The park is safe and controlled and such a great adventure.
Blyde River Canyon, Republic of South Africa
By Roxanne from Faraway worlds
Stretching for 26 km, South Africa’s Blyde River Canyon is the largest green canyon in the world. With lush vegetation, a blue river, and the occasional waterfall, the canyon makes a wonderful stop if you’re heading to the Kruger National Park for a South African safari.
The canyon has an average depth of 760m and there is a huge amount of plant life in the gorge. The canyon is also home to the wetlands of the Swadini Dam and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see some local animals there, including crocodiles and hippos. It’s also a popular place for bird watching and the views are some of the most beautiful in the country.
Some of the highlights of the canyon are the Three Rondavels – three mountains in the shape of traditional African huts. At the southern entrance to the canyon, you’ll also find the Burkes Luck Potholes, a remarkable rock formation with huge cylindrical holes which have formed due to water erosion.
The Blyde River Canyon is about four hours drive from Johannesburg, on the Panorama Route. It’s a convenient place to visit on the way to Kruger National Park.
Amazing natural wonders – Egypt
Wadi al-Hitan, Egypt
By Dee from Vanilla Papers
Wadi al-Hitan, or Valley of the Whales, is an incredible open-air museum in the Egyptian desert that boasts fossil remains of one of the earliest forms of a whale. The fossils are remarkably well-preserved because of the dryness of the desert – even some of the stomach contents have remained intact.
And you can view these fossils laying right in the sand. Walkways between the main fossils are laid out in the desert and there’s a small indoor museum too.
Wadi al-Hitan is some 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of Cairo – though this journey includes several hours in a 4WD through the unpaved and bumpy desert sands. But the trek is well worth it for the experience of seeing these magnificent fossils in a protected landscape. The fossils include the archaeoceti, the earliest forms of whale that are now extinct.
Wadi al-Hitan was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. And it’s like nowhere else in the world for the sheer number, concentration, and quality of these fossils.
The park is a protected area and it’s one of the best things to do in Fayoum. Most visitors and tour groups usually camp in Fayoum and take the trip to Wadi al-Hitan from there.
White Desert National Park, Egypt
By Katie from KatieCafTravel.com
The White Desert National Park is one of thirty National Parks in Egypt. A protected area since 2002, the White Desert National Park is known for its otherworldly beauty and incredibly unique landscape.
Over thousands of years, the wind eroded giant pieces of chalk into formations called Ventifacts. These Ventifacts punctuate the barren desert landscape, and these give the White Desert its moon-like appearance.
The White Desert is often described as “the closest you can get to the surface of the moon without ever leaving Earth” due to its alienesque landscape.
There are lots of attractions in the White Desert. There are natural hot springs tourists can bathe in, oases to picnic at, endless sand dunes for sand-boarding, and even a small hill made of crystals that grow straight out of the sand!
The only way to access the White Desert is via a guided tour due to the desert’s proximity to the Libyan border, but tours are relatively inexpensive and easy to book.
A short 4-hour drive from Cairo, and only accessible by camping, the White Desert is a perfect weekend trip into the wilderness for anyone visiting Egypt.
River Nile, Egypt
By Joanna from The world in my pocket
River Nile is an African natural wonder and the key to life in Egypt Since Ancient Egypt, the Nile was considered the source of life in the country because it made life possible in the desert along its shores. The Nile was so important for Ancient Egyptians that they developed the calendar based on the seasons of the river: the flooding, the drought, and the harvest. The Nile even had its own God. Hapi was the God of the flooding of the Nile, a very important time of the year. During the floods, the Nile would bring in fertile soil on the banks of the river, which allowed the crops to grow.
The Nile has always been used as a strategic element of Egypt. It was the source of food in the desert, it allowed transportation, and it was a key element of trade and access to the Mediterranean Sea. Today, you can explore a little bit of the river through a Nile cruise between Aswan and Luxor. The cruises usually last for four days and are a great way to learn about the river and the history of Egypt because they stop at different temples built along the Nile.
Africa Natural wonders – Uganda
Murchison Falls, Uganda
By Lara Hartog from The Best Travel Gifts
If you are looking for the most beautiful natural wonders of Africa, Uganda is one of the best places to go. It’s not without reasons that Winston Churchill referred to Uganda as the Pearl of Africa when he first visited the country. And Murchison Falls is one of the reasons that earned Uganda that nickname.
These magnificent falls are located in the eponymous national park in northwestern Uganda. Not only are they a beautiful sight to see, but they are also known as one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world.
Another reason to visit Murchison Falls is due to its location in the National Park. It’s the largest protected area of Uganda, and it’s home to all types of wildlife. From giraffes, elephants, and hyenas to hippos and crocodiles.
The best way to reach Murchison Falls is to take a car to the national park and spend a night at one of the lodges. Alternatively, you can take one of the many organized safaris that depart from Kampala or Entebbe. Almost all organizations will include a boat tour to the Murchison Falls, a game drive in the different areas of the park, and a boat tour of the Nile to spot crocodiles and hippos.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
By Bella from Passport & Pixels
With great lakes, rushing rivers, and towering mountains, Africa has many natural wonders vying to appear on this list, but Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest deserves to be up there with the best. The name – bestowed upon it by Victorian explorers – gives you a sense of why: this huge and tangled forest stretches over 32,000 hectares of tangled tropical and mountainous jungle, vast tracts of which probably haven’t seen a human for decades.
Today, Bwindi is a National Park and a UNESCO heritage site for its incredible biodiversity, with around 350 species of birds, more than 160 species of trees, and over 100 species of ferns.
But the main reason tourists come here is to go gorilla trekking. Only around 1000 critically endangered mountain gorillas are left alive in the world, and they only live in this one small area on the western border of Uganda, where it meets Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here, experts have spent decades habituating some of the gorilla family groups to the presence of humans, and now a very lucky few can hike up the steep slopes of Bwindi’s mountainous and thickly-forested terrain to spend time with them. To get there, take a tour from Kampala, or hire a driver to ferry you the 9 hours by road west from Uganda’s capital, where you’ll need to pay $700 for the chance to spend just 1 hour with these magnificent creatures.
Natural wonders Africa – Morocco
Ouzoud Waterfalls, Morocco
By Alina from World of Lina
The Ouzoud Falls are among the most beautiful natural wonders in Africa and need to be on everyone’s Morocco itinerary.
These stunning waterfalls are located near the village of Tanaghmeilt, just a 2.5-hour drive from Marrakech. It’s a very popular place and thus often full of locals and tourists – especially on weekends.
The best way to get there is by renting a car and driving to the parking lot at the top of the waterfalls. From there, don’t hesitate to hire a mountain guide who’ll show you the best way down and give you some information about the waterfalls.
The path down to the waterfalls doesn’t take more than an hour. When you arrive you’ll see the majestic falls, the lake that the falls flow into, and the boats along the shores of the lake. After you’ve taken in the landscape, you can hire the services of a rower. The cost will be 20 dirhams per person to enjoy a short but sweet ride. If you get hungry, there’s a restaurant on the way back where you can have some food with great views of the waterfalls.
High Atlas Mountains, Morocco
By Trisha Velarmino from P.S. I’m On My Way: travel, life, and dreams
Located in Morocco, the Atlas Mountains is the highest mountain range in North Africa. There are many ways to get to the Atlas Mountains, but the closest airport is Ouarzazate. The train lines in Casablanca and Marrakesh are also other ways to go, but it’s best to get on a tour package for a stress-free visit.
The Atlas Mountains are a natural formation and shaped over hundreds of millions of years. The first formation was believed to be 200 million years ago during the Jurassic Period.
There are many hikes in the Atlas Mountains, including the Toubkal Circuit, where you will see the local mountain life. This is also Morocco’s highest peak and is best visited with an experienced guide.
Although I have traveled to Morocco solo many times, I still hire guides, especially in big mountain ranges like the Atlas. I do not feel 100% safe doing this on my own, but many professional hikers have done so.
The best time to visit the Atlas Mountains is from April to October, but I do think that this is a destination you can visit all year round. During winter, the peaks turn into snow-capped mountains (December), and it can get extremely hot during the summer, especially if you want to do long hikes.
Take note of the Ramadan season in Morocco, which happens for one month in the months of June/July, depending on the calendar year. During Ramadan, everything will be closed during the day, and it will be more difficult to travel around Morocco.
Impressive Natural wonders in Africa – Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
By Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler
Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most iconic and breathtaking natural landmarks in Africa. It’s the tallest mountain in Africa, standing at over 19,000 feet, and is actually a dormant volcano. There are three volcanic cones – Mawenz, Shira, and Kibo. Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits in the world, along with Mount Everest and Denali, Alaska.
Located in northeastern Tanzania, you can also see the mountain while on a safari in Kenya. If you want to hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, all the climbing permits are through the Tanzania government.
Most people see Mount Kilimanjaro while on a safari. The beautiful mountain makes for an incredible backdrop for spotting elephants, giraffes, hippos, and more!
Not only is it breathtaking, but it has unique characteristics, unlike other mountains. Mount Kilimanjaro sits at the equator, making it a warm destination year-round, but its peak is covered in snow. The mountain is directly surrounded by a forest but then quickly changes to a dry savannah for miles. There are also exclusive plants to see on the mountain, including the exquisite elephant head flower and the Kilimanjaro tree.
Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most magical and inspiring African wonders.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
By Coni from Experiencing the Globe
In the northern part of Tanzania, on the border with Kenya, lays a National Park that will make everyone’s inner child happy. Serengeti is the inspiration behind The Lion King, and with good reason – it’s one of the best places in the world to see wild fauna, making it a true natural wonder.
The easiest way to visit is to fly to Arusha and jump into an organized safari. Most will combine it with Ngorongoro, Tarangire, or Lake Natron, so make sure to ask for at least a few days in the Serengeti to fully appreciate it. You can also visit with your own wheels. Just rent a 4WD in Arusha, and off you go. You’ll get more independence, but you’ll lack the expertise of a licensed guide to spotting the harder-to-see animals. In any case, check that your agency has a certification in responsible tourism and take steps to make your visit to the Serengeti sustainable.
The savanna will extend endlessly before your eyes as you enter the protected area. Zebras, wildebeest, impalas, giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, lions, jackals, and hyenas, by the thousands, will welcome you. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll also glimpse cheetahs, leopards, or rhinos. For sure you’ll see plenty of incredible wildlife.
Avoid the peak season (June to September) if you want to see more animals than people. Shoulder season would be the best shot to catch as many animals as in the dry season, but without the crowds. Just avoid it during the height of the rainy season (March to May). If you’re after seeing the wildebeest give birth to their calves, go in January or February. If you’re looking for the Great Migration, then you’ll have to beat the odds since it can happen anytime between late April and early July.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
By Shara Johnson from SKJ Travel
Ngorongoro Crater is a unique natural wonder in north-central Tanzania. Located inside the greater Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the crater is the world’s largest unbroken volcano, caldera.
The greater conservation area includes Olduvai and Laetoli Gorges, famous for their fossilized evidence of early hominids. The crater, though, is noted for its remarkable landscape and biodiversity conservation.
Large numbers and a wide range of African wildlife concentrate inside the crater, including several threatened species. It’s one of the dwindling places on earth where you can still see black rhinos in the wild. Because of its open grassland, it’s also relatively easy to spot wildlife.
The area is culturally important, where the traditional, pastoralist Maasai tribe successfully co-exists with the wildlife. Because of its cultural, paleontological, geologic, and biodiversity importance, the crater and greater area is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The closest major city is Arusha. You can hook up with a safari company or self-drive approximately 120 miles to the crater, or fly to a nearby airstrip. Several lodges are perched on or just behind the rim. Compared to other wildlife parks in Tanzania, the crater itself is quite small, so it makes a perfect one-day safari destination, ideal with a morning and evening game drive. Descending into the crater at sunrise is a very special experience.
African Natural Wonders – Democratic Republic of the Congo
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo
By De Wet from Museum of Wander
Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse national park. Stradling the border with Rwanda and Uganda, Virunga encompasses the snowy peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains in the north, two active volcanoes, a montane forest, open savannah, and Lake Kivu in the south.
Virunga has been listed as a UNESCO site since 1979 for its exceptional biodiversity and for protecting endangered mountain gorillas.
Most visitors to Virunga are there for one reason only: the mountain gorillas. Park rangers escort small groups into the forest, where they spend a magical hour with a gorilla family up close and personal. Gorilla trekking in the DRC is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and besides the primates, visitors will get a glimpse of the park’s immense beauty.
The best way to visit Virunga is directly through their website. They offer various activities and transportation options, and you know that your money will go directly to the park and its conservation efforts. There are a few exceptional lodges inside the park, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, there are a few decent hotels in the nearby city of Goma.
Goma is the gateway to Virunga, and while it does have an international airport, it’s easier and cheaper to fly into Kigali in neighboring Rwanda. It’s about a 4-hour bus ride from Kigali to the Grande Barrier border post, where Virunga staff will meet you.
Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
By Lauren Juliff from Never Ending Footsteps
Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano, 11,000 feet in altitude, that’s home to the world’s largest lava lake. To get there, you need to travel to one of the most dangerous countries in the world: the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Fortunately, Mount Nyiragongo sits within Virunga National Park, which is a relatively safe region of the country, so tourists do regularly visit.
You can’t climb the volcano independently, so you’ll need to book your trek through Virunga – they’ll apply for your visa for you, then arrange your transport and accommodation.
Once you enter the D.R.C. from Rwanda, you’ll be transported to the base of the volcano by armed guards. They’re there to protect you from militia groups who are active in the area. Yes, you’ll quickly discover that you’re never more than a few meters away from an AK-47 while you’re within Virunga National Park.
It takes an average of five hours to hike to the summit of the volcano – and it’s a challenging climb – but once you get there, you’ll be greeted by one of the most incredible sights on the planet.
An enormous, bubbling pool of lava; one of the few active volcanoes on the planet that’s accessible to humans.
And then comes the best part: spending the night!
There are a dozen huts at the top of the volcano, so once you’ve arrived at the top, you’ll choose your accommodation, then settle in for a night of wonder.
There’s nothing more incredible than falling asleep while listening to the sound of lava bubbling beside you. And if you get too cold, you can always creep up to the edge of the caldera to feel the volcano’s heat against your face.
Impressive natural wonders in Africa – other countries
Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is possibly the most famous thing about Botswana, its most popular tourist destination and natural landmark. Thus, it is easily one of the most well-known natural wonders in Africa. Who hasn’t seen a wildlife tv show about the animals, flora, and characteristics of the Okavango Delta?
Known for its huge populations of mammals and birds, the delta covers up to 15 000 square km of the Kalahari Desert, owing its existence to the Okavango River, which flows from Angola, crosses Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, and drains into the harsh Kalahari Desert, where the water forms a huge network of lakes and canals that don’t flow into the sea of the ocean.
It is paradoxical that peak floods happen during the dry months in Botswana when the delta expands up to three times, attracting animals and creating one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife. This happens because the main source of water takes months to reach the delta from its source in the mountains of Angola.
The Okavango Delta is an unexpected natural wonder. It is an oasis brimming with life in an extremely arid environment. It is a Natural UNESCO heritage site since comprising permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains.
The Fringing Reef and Lagoon of Rodrigues Island, Mauritius
By Iris Veldwijk from Mind of a Hitchhiker
Rodrigues is the last in a small chain of volcanic islands along with Mauritius and La Réunion. It is the easternmost island of Africa. Though these other islands feature spectacular mountains and one active volcano, only Rodrigues has a truly enormous lagoon that makes human life possible here.
On the short domestic flight from Mauritius, the bright blue lagoon will be the first thing you see long before you see land. The fringe reefs with their lagoon are double the size of the island. Besides being huge, the lagoon is also incredibly shallow; at low tide, it’s possible to walk all the way to where the waves batter the reef. The turquoise waters stand in stark contrast with the dark blue of the Indian Ocean. It forms a safety net for the Rodriguans who fish for ourite (octopus) and other seafood.
The corals within the lagoon form excellent snorkeling and diving spots abundant with colorful fish. Renting a kayak in Rodrigues is an excellent way to reach smaller islets in the lagoon. If you’re looking to learn how to kitesurf, this is one of the best places in the world for beginners, thanks to that wave-breaking reef. And lastly, you can experience the many shades of blue from various mountain peaks on Rodrigues, such as Mont Limon and Montagne Topaze.
Lac Rose, Senegal
By Eileen Gunn from FamiliesGo!
Senegal is a hidden gem in Africa — a west coast country that’s much closer to Europe and the U.S. than more popular Southern Africa destinations with a lot of interesting history and culture.
One of its more outstanding destinations is Lac Rose (the Pink Lake), a UNESCO world heritage site 23 miles up the coast from Dakar. The endpoint for the Paris-Dakar rally, it gets its distinct pink hue from bacteria mixing with its extremely high saline content.
The lake is fairly shallow and so concentrated that local people harvest salt from the lake by scooping it up off the bottom. You can hire a small pirogue to go out on the lake. But it might be more interesting to hire a jeep to drive all the way around it. You’ll pass through lakeside villages, see harvesting the salt from their small pirogues, and see piles of salt drying on shore. It’s fun and interesting but be ready for a rugged ride.
Head for Café Bonaba or Restaurant 212, both right next to the water. You’ll find typical Senegalese dishes like fried fish and goat curry. There are basic changing rooms and a shower by the lake, so definitely bring your bathing suit and take a dip. You’ll feel the thickness of the water when you try to swim, and you’ll bob like a cork if you try sitting up with your legs crossed. Be sure to rinse off after your swim so the salt won’t irritate your skin. Before you leave, look for local artisans selling their crafts, including pictures of the lake made with local sand dyed in different colors; it will be a unique souvenir of your visit to a unique lake.
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