Highlights of a Kenya to Cape Town Backpacking Trail
Africa gets under your skin.
You’ve probably heard a lot of people say this. I certainly did. My brother lived in South Africa for 2 years and never stopped saying it.
After spending so much time in South East Asia, I was a little unsure if Africa could top this. But, after only 5 months backpacking from Kenya down to Cape Town, I discovered the simple truth- Africa gets under your skin. There is no place on Earth like it.
Here are ten experiences that will steal your heart and bury it forever on African soil.
Sunsets on Zanzibar Island
Speak to anyone who has been to Zanzibar and they will reply, “Ahh, Yes Zanzibar!”
Their eyes will glaze over as their mind takes them to a place of paradise, where the sun fires up the night sky as it dips below the horizon and bids farewell to the traditional dhow that passes before it, and the passing travelers sipping their beers from the hammocks between two palm trees above the powdery white sand.
Once darkness becomes the dominant light source, they make their way to the beachside restaurants to sit on plastic chairs and gorge themselves on inexpensive and fresh seafood barbecued in the spices this island has always been famous for.
And if you want more than just sunsets, then take a look at the pristine beaches you get to play at all day long.
Easy Lakeside Living in Malawi
There’s always going to be places on your travels where you will overstay. Lake Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, is a place that could entrap you for decades.
The rugged mountain landscape that sits at the edge of the Great Rift Valley borders the lakes, leaving you with plenty of hiking explorations during the day.
Or if you just want to relax Malawi style then Africa’s third-largest Lake lends itself to that. You can hire a few local fisherman boys to take you out deep lake fishing with their 80-meter hand reels and makeshift catamarans i.e a plank of flat wood sitting on top of two dugout canoes.
Then there are the beach boys who for a small price will barbecue a chicken feast on the beach for you to eat at night.
Or you can lazily swim, snorkel, rock jump, or canoe around the shores of your lakeside hostel, stopping only to eat, drink, and laugh with the warm and friendly Malawian people.
Captivating Cape Town
A week suffering from tick bite fever still did not stop me from falling in love with Cape Town. It is my favorite city and from the moment I saw Table Mountain I was captivated by her spell.
From the colorful neon buildings of Bo Kaap, to the bustling Victoria Harbour, and the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Atlantic Beaches, Table Mountain, and her surrounding peaks rise above you like a faithful guardian angel.
You can’t help but stare up at her in open-mouthed wonder and delight at having such a grandiose friend.
Walk the streets of this historical and cultural city, climb Table Mountain for sunset views, drink wine in the vineyards, visit cultural and historical sites, and swim with penguins at Simons Bay. Yes. The water is that cold. And Yes Cape Town is that captivating.
Gorilla treks, and Whitewater rafting in Uganda
There is a whole lot more to Uganda then just gorilla treks. The people of this nation are so warm and friendly, and the mountainous countryside scenery is just spectacular to explore.
If you want an adventurous African experience then go on a trek through the Bwindi National Forest to sit and play with the gorillas for an hour.
Bwindi means impenetrable and you can certainly understand why as your guide hacks his way through the undergrowth with his machete; a machete that certainly comes in handy as a scare tactic when the gigantic silverback decides to charge you in an effort to mark his territory. What a story that makes to tell!
Wash away the dirt of the trek on the white water rapids of the Nile River at Jinja, the source of the world’s longest river. I’ll let you decide for yourself whether the charging silverback or the final grade 5 rapid “The Bad Place” gets your heart racing more.
Sunrises in Sossusvlei, Namibia
Often referred to as the highest sand dunes in the world, Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert is definitely a place worth exploring on your Africa adventure.
Start the day with an early morning climb 85m up Dune 45 for a panoramic view of a spectacular sunrise that changes the color of the shifting sands through varying shades of red.
After the sunrise, explore the surreal Deadvlei, a favorite for photographers for its white baked clay pan, dead camel thorn trees, and surrounding red dunes. An eerie oppressive heat sets in here by mid-morning, which has you racing for the nearest exit.
If you have enough energy you can attempt the climb up the ridge of the 390m Big Daddy, reported being the highest dune in the world. Why not roll all the way down its face into Deadvlei as we witnessed some people doing?
Stay tuned for the next 5 experiences of Caz and Craig’s backpacking trail through Africa on Highlights of a Kenya to Cape Town Backpacking Trail – Part Two.
About the Author:
Caz Makepeace has been living and traveling the globe since 97, both solo and as a couple and now with a three-year-old. They believe life is all about the memories and their travel tips and stories at yTravel blog and their fan page aim to inspire and teach others how to make their life a story to tell.