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 dams and water holes for wildlife to splash in 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 river’s tributaries and sleepy canals, if you are a lover of water like I am, you’ll find your alace here.
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 the ideal place to spend some time soaking up the atmosphere. Here the Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort is one of those that holds court, but there are a few. Found on a private stretch of land that juts out of allure blue waters, here I found an exclusive paradise escape that is perfect for water sports; from snorkelling the underwater world to water skiing and kayaking. I prescribe a walk around the island at low tide, a distance of just on 5,3km, for some true ocean therapy. The water is so clear you see all the way to the bottom.
MOKORO RIDING IN THE OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA
Known as the jewel of the Kalahari for good reason, 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. There are also drives from some camps and bush walks too, but this is peace personified.
ISLAND HOPPING OFF MADAGASCAR’S NOSY BE
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 golden in the evening light. Yet it’s the islands off Nosy Be that hold the magic for the water lovers. Easily reached by flight from Johannesburg, I recommend you book a 4, 5 or 7 day catamaran charter, hopping between the remote islands to visit a lemur sanctuary, spend time in local fishing villages, eat fruit just harvested in the wild and take guided walks in the forests. That is when you’re not scuba diving or snorkelling off the boat of course. 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.
GETTING SOAKED AT 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 is 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 World. With 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. Be prepared to get soaked!
WHALE WATCHING IN HERMANUS, SOUTH AFRICA
South African whale watching territory runs from coast to coast, but the densest numbers of southern right whales are undisputedly found in the sheltered bays of Hermanus in the Overberg. Having established a reputation for the best land-based whale watching in the country, their advantage is the scenic clifftop walk along the shoreline, which allows the whales to come in close to the shoreline for close observation. You’d do well to find the Whale Crier near the Old Harbour, who can point you towards the best sightings too.
Besides the whales, Hermanus is rich in scenery with great accommodations, upmarket shops and adventure options, making it easy to understand why it is a popular place to linger. Just further along the shoreline, De Kelder and Witsand and their smaller villages may suit those who prefer a quieter setting. Wherever you choose to do it, get up close to these gentle giants for some very special whale appreciation.
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 beautiful land.