Africa: An Alternative Perspective
By Natasha Preston
One visit is never enough. Famed for big skies and even bigger adventures, why would you confine yourself to just two or three famous African hot spots? This is a vastly diverse continent where you can experience wildly different climates, extreme eco-systems and living landscapes.
Safaris are not limited to the Mara; culture thrives beyond Cape Town. Although the famous visions of Africa include burning sunsets behind acacia trees, the landscape is far from homogenised. Hear the inimitable whistle of sands whipping across desert dunes, luxuriate in turquoise waters teasing tropical shorelines, and hold your breath as big cats prowl the plains.
See the side of Africa rarely publicised and venture to lesser-known parts of this dramatic continent. Unsure where to start? Let us introduce you to…
Senegal & Gambia Adventure
A world of natural beauty and vibrant cultures, Senegal and Gambia offer an adventure for the senses. Home to hippos, crocs and various monkeys, this part of West Africa is also renowned for a fantastic array of bird species. Discover tropical wetlands and mini-deserts, visit traditional tribes, soak up the region’s rich musical heritage and learn about its more sombre slave trading past.
14 days from £2,199 including flights
Discover Sierra Leone
This golden-fringed gem on the west coast of Africa is now emerging as a peaceful, forward-thinking eco-tourism destination, a rebirth after its more recent association with blood diamonds and child soldiers. It is in fact hotly tipped to rival Costa Rica or Madagascar for eco-friendly escapes in the not too distant future. Home to warm, welcoming people and wild jungle-clad landscapes, Sierra Leone is one of the best places on the planet to see chimps and if you’re really lucky you may get catch a glimpse of a pygmy hippo. Remember the Bounty Taste of Paradise advert from the 70s? That was filmed on Sierra Leone’s Beach No.2.
9 days from £2,599 including flights
Sudan Camel Trek
An expert desert explorer is who you need to lead the way on a pioneering trek across The Sudan. Considered to be Britain’s greatest living desert explorer after crossing the Sahara Desert by camel, Michael Asher is your specialist guide for this remote expedition. Traverse the sand sea of the Bayuda Desert, a section of the Sahara wedged in the bends of the Nile, as you travel the same way as Sudanese nomads have for centuries, by camelback. You’ll meet Arab and Berber tribes, camp out under a twinkling blanket of stars, and learn vital desert survival lessons.
16 days from £3,599 including flights
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Malawi & South Luangwa
Journey from the wilderness of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi to the game-rich plains of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Trek over the juniper-studded Zomba Plateau passing tumbling waterfalls and sleep on a deserted island on Lake Malawi. In Liwonde on the banks of Shire River, game drives, boat safaris and night drives introduce you to the local wildlife, while a traditional homestay in Njobvu village lets you experience the warmth of Malawi’s people. Accompanied by the distant mantra of snorting hippos, the meandering Luangwa River takes you to the southern end of the Great Rift Valley to enjoy two full days of wildlife spotting in Zambia’s finest national park.
16 days from £2,749 including flights
Ashanti & Voodoo Kingdoms
The best of West Africa in one amazing adventure. Journey through Ghana, Togo and Benin, three lands characterised by lush jungles, golden coastlines and intriguing tribe cultures. Delve into the origins of voodoo, walk above the canopy in Kakum National Park and be enthralled by the masked dances and rumbling drumbeats of the Akwasidae Festival. This intrepid trip really immerses you in the vibrant colours, traditional culture and exotic flavours of this lesser-visited part of Africa.
16 days from £2,699 including flights
Central Africa Lowland Gorillas
A pioneering, off-the-beaten-track adventure deep in the Congo Rainforest. Spy on herds of Forest elephants, sit beside Lowland gorillas, and learn the ways of the jungle from native hunter-gatherers, the Ba’aka pygmies. Coming here gives one a sense of what it may have been like for the early explorers; conditions are basic, the infrastructure primitive and the going gets tough in places, but the rewards are huge. You’ll encounter few tourists (if any!) compared to the number of animal species you’ll stumble upon during this adventure through the heart of Africa.
16 days from £4,499 including flights
A new addition to our collection for 2013, this trip around Africa’s largest country is one of archaeological discovery. Rubbing shoulders with Morocco and Tunisia, Algeria harbours a rich tapestry of cultural and scenic splendour. Its many ancient relics pay testament to the mix of civilisations that have prospered here over the centuries, with the most remarkable vestiges left from the passage of time being the architectural legacy left by the Romans. Travelling from one wonderful region to another we discover some of the most interesting archaeological sites remaining in North Africa, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Djemila – a beautifully preserved Roman town flanked by two mountains.
9 days from £1,899 including flights