Africa’s Best Beaches

Welcome to paradise

They say that paradise has to have many different elements, but when you get down to the nitty gritty of it, it’s really a personal opinion; one person’s idea of heaven really is another person’s idea of hell. Having said that however, there is no negativity when you consider the beautiful beaches which make up Africa’s coastline.

A continent famed for wildlife and safari, you often forget that the beaches around here are like something from a castaway movie. If you’re heading to this beautiful part of the world then mixing a wildlife break with a few days relaxing on the beach is the perfect blend.

Here’s a few beaches to get your appetite going.

Nungwi, Zanzibar (Tanzania)

If you picture paradise as blinding blue sea and unbelievably white sand, then you won’t be disappointed with Nungwi. Fantastic for mixing and matching with a safari break, Nungwi is wide, sweeping, and the colours will blow your mind. If you want secluded and cut off from the world, then this is for you.

Watamu, Kenya

Watamu is part of the Malindi Marine Reserve Park, which makes it pretty special in its own right. You can take part in underwater expeditions, such as snorkelling and diving, or simply kick back and relax. The sand is white, the waters are shallow and translucent, perfect for checking out the underwater world.

Ifaty, Madagascar

Madagascar is famed the world over for having some seriously weird and wonderful wildlife, but the beaches here are just as extreme, and by extreme I mean extreme in the their beauty. Ifaty lies on the south-west coast, surrounded by a coral reef. This is a quiet, secluded, and not at all touristic beach, perfect for those searching for peace and tranquillity.

Coffee Bay, South Africa

Coffee Bay sounds pretty fantastic by name, but it is also fantastic by nature. Sitting on the aptly named Wild Coast, the beaches here are untamed and dramatic, joined by the equally as wild ocean, this is the total opposite of calm and unspoilt, but has such a charming element to it that it’s a must visit.

Tofo Beach, Mozambique

No matter how you choose to visit Africa, whether you self-drive or you go on an organised break, there are some parts of the continent that will blow your mind; Mozambique is one of those places. Humbling and beautiful, the natural world here is something to behold, and Tofo Beach is just the epitome of this. Powder white sand, with water so clear you won’t believe your eyes. If you want to relax and forget your cares, this is the place for you.

Africa is a huge continent, so it makes perfect sense that there are countless beaches to enjoy here; having said that however, these five should certainly be on your wish list.

Photo Credit: Yoni Lerner

A Month in China

A month is a long time, right? Not when you’re visiting China it’s not. This is one huge country, so big you will never be able to explore all of it no matter how long you stay, so a month isn’t going to mean you can say you’ve explored every nook and cranny; what it can do however, is allow you to say you’ve explored regions, and that is something not everyone can boast about.

China is not only huge, but it’s so mystical, magical, and downright fantastic that the colours, smells, sounds, and atmosphere will thrill your senses, and the mystery of the place is intoxicating. Of course there are certain must visit parts of the country, but the gems are sometimes found in the getting from A to B, with beautiful landscapes passing by as you travel by train.

If you’re lucky enough to be spending a month of your time in this beautiful country, here’s a few things you should do, and places you should visit.

Shanghai

This is a good starting point for any trip because it is quite westernised, and that will allow you to adjust somewhat. Despite that, this is a huge city, with an impressive futuristic skyline to check out. The Huangpu River runs within Shanghai, so there is nature to be found here, as well as the nearby town of Zhujiajiao.

Maybe grab a little of that delicious Chinese cuisine to start of your adventure, fuelling you for the days to come.

Beijing

There is simply too much to see and do in Beijing, so at least a week should be spent here. Of course your first port of call will probably be the Forbidden City, with jaw-dropping and colourful architecture, harping back to the former emperors and their dynasties. Tian’anmen Square is another must visit too.

Beijing successfully mixes old and new, which is what makes it so special, and the brightly coloured, neon-lit signs of entertainment areas, shopping centres, and food complexes blend perfectly with the old architecture of ancient times gone by.

The Great Wall of China

You cannot visit China and not visit this world famous landmark. You could trek along the wall if you so wish, or you can simply walk along a little of it, but however you choose to visit, your particular section will take you through villages and small towns, all showing you something a little different about Chinese culture and old customs.

Xi’an

Xi’an is obviously famous for the Terracotta Warriors, and you can see these by taking a bus just outside the city. This amazing sight goes right back to the days of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who ordered construction of the army to follow him into the afterlife, in case he needed protection after death.

Xi’an itself has plenty to offer outside of this, and it’s easy to reach the city from Beijing or Shanghai by overnight train.

Chengdu

China is famous for its wildlife, and perhaps its most famous furry friend has to be the Giant Panda; endangered, yet a must see when in this part of the world. Chengdu is within the Sichuan Province, which is translated as the ‘Heavenly State’ – reason enough to visit! This is a truly natural part of the country, rich in wildlife, with two rivers running through it, which ultimately form part of the mighty Yangtze River.

Yangshuo

Yangshuo is a popular backpacking spot, but it is also a fantastic place for outdoor activities, with rivers and natural scenery, such as Silver Cave. On top of this, West Street is the ideal place for trying lots of different dishes of Chinese food, which let’s face it, is truly delicious!

These are just a few highlights you should check out on your Chinese expedition, with plenty of culture and mystery to enjoy.

Photo Credit: Bernd Thaller

A Guide to Travel in Namibia

 

One of the most popular countries to visit within Africa is without a doubt Namibia. It’s no wonder really, when you consider how rugged, beautiful, and diverse the country is, with some fantastic spots for checking out wildlife. Located in the south of the continent, bordering with South Africa, Botswana, Angola, and Zambia, the coast is lapped by the wild waters of the Atlantic.

Namibia is perhaps one of the easiest countries to drive and get around, as well as South Africa, but there are always a few pointers you need to bear in mind. If you’re planning to hire a car and experience Namibia on your own steam, make sure you select your vehicle with the roads in mind, e.g. tarmac and also gravel, and make sure you get fully comprehensive insurance to cover you. On top of this, always check road conditions before you depart, especially during the rainy season of January to April, when it’s not uncommon for gravel roads to be non-existent or a little perilous.

If you’re traveling in the northern part of the country then there is current guidance to only travel during daylight hours, especially on the Trans-Caprivi Highway, because of work being carried out by the Government on unexploded devices. This advice generally applies to the country as a whole for a different reason too – wildlife have a habit of wandering during the night hours, and could cause a problem on roads if you’re not expecting it.

There is much to see and do in Namibia, and a few of the most popular attractions include Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world, Etosha National Park, one of the best places to spot wildlife, and the imposing Namib Desert. On top of this you have the capital city of Windhoek to explore, although do be careful of street crime here; it’s simply a case of keeping your wits about you and not flashing your valuables, and common sense should see you through.

You might like to visit the small, charming town of Keetmanshoop, if you’re heading towards Fish River Canyon Park, or maybe the aptly named Skeleton Coast in the north of the Namib Desert, given the name due to the many ships which met their end here.

Nambia isn’t just about safaris, although there’s no doubt that Etosha National Park is one of the best places to catch sight of some fantastic wildlife. Namibia is a beautiful, bright, friendly, and colourful country, and one which should definitely be explored.

Photo Credit: John Y. Can