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5 Must Do African Water Experiences.

Story from: The Incidental Tourist

Leonardo da Vinci said ‘water is the driving force of all nature’ and nowhere is that more true than in Africa. Yet despite the fear of drought and ongoing prayers for rain to wet the dry earth and settle the dust, to fill the dams and water holes and bring green shoots to the vast plains, Africa offers some of the best water based playgrounds in the world. In it’s waterfalls and oceans, on it’s tributaries and canals, if you are a lover of water like I am, you’ll find your purpose here. These are five of my favourite must do African water experiences.

Island Hopping off Madagascar’s Nosy Be

One of my favourite destinations, Madagascar off Africa’s East Coast is a land of plenty with rain forests, unique wildlife, iconic Baobab avenues and a capital city Antananarivo that shimmers in shades of gold each evening. Yet it’s the islands off Nosy Be that hold the magic for the water lovers.  Easily reached by flight from Johannesburg and from there I recommend a 4, 5 or 7 day catamaran charter, hopping between the islands to visit a lemur sanctuary, spend time in local fishing villages, eat honey just harvested in the wild and take guided walks in rain forests, when not scuba diving or snorkeling off the boat that is. For this, Madagascat has themed fully inclusive very affordable packages onboard their Gheko or Maki-Cat boats.

After your time onboard you may consider a few nights on one of the bigger islands as you acclimatise back to land. Sakatia Island is good for this, with Sakatia Lodge, which is run by South Africans, offering beginner and advanced scuba diving courses for a much better price than you would find at home. They are renowned for snorkelling with sea turtles, who come to eat the sea grass just off shore. With all travel in Madagascar it is recommended that you use the services of a local tour operator, to ensure smooth arrangements and best value. And if indulgence is your theme, take a few nights on the spot of land that jets out of the blue, Constance Tsarabanjina Lodge, for a couple of nights or more. I hope heaven is a place like this.

Madagascar

Madagascar Snorkelling

Dhow sailing in the Qurimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

An area that speaks in the language of luxury beach cliches, the Quirimbas Archipelago off the northern coast of Mozambique, is where I spend some time soaking up the atmosphere from the Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort. Found on a private strip of land that juts out of allure blue waters, here you find an exclusive paradise escape that is the perfect place for water sports, from snorkelling the underwater world to water skiing and kayaking. On the one day we even walked around the island at low tide, a distance of just on 5,3km. My highlight was sailing on a handcrafted dhow, with just the stirring of the sails and local fishermen for company. The water is so clear you can see all the way the way to the bottom.

Medjumbe

Medjumbe
Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort.

Mokoro Trip in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Known as ‘the jewel of the Kalahari’, the Okavango Delta is on every safari enthusiast’s wish list and when you get there, you know exactly why. A unique oasis regarded as one of Africa’s best safari destinations, this important inland wetlands records 2500 species of plants, 65 of fish, 20 herbivores and their predators and more than 450 species of birds. This is a place of concentrated magic.

My highlights here was having my guide manoeuvre me through the reed-lined waterways in the traditional Mokoro or dugout canoe. It’s the quiet that struck me most and I could just sit and absorb the setting and the moment and how close we could get to the animals in this unobtrusive way. There are also drives from some camps and bush walks too.

Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta

Leonardo da Vinci said ‘water is the driving force of all nature’ and nowhere is that more true than in Africa.

Victoria Falls, Livingstone

Founded in 1905 and named after the renowned Scottish explorer Dr David Livingstone, Livingstone owes its existence primarily to Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya – the Smoke that Thunders, as it is aptly known.

Victoria Falls remains the primary draw card to this frontier town and in every sense lives up to it’s title as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the WorldWith a width of 1688m and height of 108m, in season it sends more than five hundred million cubic meters of water plummeting over the edge each minute with sprays visible for miles reaching up to 400m and higher into the air.

Nothing quite prepares you though for the sheer exhilaration of actually being there. Walking along the pathway that hugs the crevice, taking in the full force of the spray, soaked and excited as you gaze into the deep crevice and cascading waters below. The force of nature will astound you and this is certainly one of the more dramatic places to visit in Southern Africa

Livingstone Victoria Falls

Livingstone Victoria Falls

Livingstone Victoria Falls

Whale Watching in Hermanus

South African whale-watching territory runs from coast to coast, with the denser numbers of southern right whales breeding in the sheltered bays of the Western Cape. Hermanus in the Overberg has established a reputation for the best land-based whale watching in the country, their advantage being the scenic clifftop walk along the shoreline, which allows the whales to come in close to t he shoreline.

The town holds a whale-watching festival every September and you’d do well to find the Whale Crier near the Old Harbour, who can point you towards the best sightings. Hermanus is rich in scenery, modern infrastructure, upmarket shops and adventure options, making it easy to understand why it is annually transformed into a bustling whale-themed hub. Just further along the shoreline, De Kelder and Witsand match the whale numbers, and their smaller villages may suit those who prefer a quieter setting.

Even though Cape Town and specifically the Overberg holds rank for the country’s best southern right whale watching, you may also be lucky enough to spot them off the Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay coastlines along the Garden Route.

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

Regarding African travel, some good news out of the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Rwanda is that Africa can expect strong growth in foreign tourism over the next few years, with international arrivals to Africa having grown by 6.5% this past year alone. Countries like South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, Cameroon, Mauritius and Tanzania account for 70% of these international arrivals, but the rest are on the rise. It’s the African era, and no corner of our continent should go unmeasured or unexplored, be it water, bush or culture that brings you to our land.

*When in planning look to Afristay who has over 20000 listings across 2000 unique African locations. This is where you’ll find the best suited accommodation options for your travels, wherever it is you’ll find yourself on our bright continent.

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