At Destinations Africa we know Africa like the back of our hand! But do you?
Here are 9 things we bet you didn’t know about this amazing, diverse continent!
1. It is massive
Africa is a huge continent – larger than the USA, China, India, Japan, Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland all combined.
2. It is home to the Small Five
You may know Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, and elephant – so named because they were regarded as the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot!) However, you probably don’t know the Small Five (antlion, leopard tortoise, rhino beetle, buffalo weaver and elephant shrew). There is also an Ugly Five (hyena, hippo, warthog, marabou stork, vulture) – the marabou gets my vote as the clear winner of the ugly prize!
3. It is home to an unusual river
The Okavango River bucks the trend and, instead of flowing to the sea, dissipates in the Kalahari desert in Botswana, creating what is thought to be the most pristine wetland in Africa (and probably in the world). The Okavango Delta extends to about 16,000km² (an area around half the size of Belgium) and was nominated as UNESCO’s 1,000th World Heritage Site.
4. The largest manmade lake in the world is found in Africa
Lake Kariba, located on the Zambezi between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is the largest manmade lake in the world with a capacity of about 180 cubic kilometres.
5. A sea of sand with a mind of its own exists here
Sossusvlei in Namibia is often referred to as the sand ocean, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and a rocky mountain escarpment. Famous for its enormous sand dunes which have to be seen to be believed, seem to have a life of their own and are “walking” inland – a few centimetres every year!
6. Africa offers camping of a different kind
Accommodation in “tented camps” is not necessarily in tents, though these rooms are usually made of canvas. They are normally equipped with an ensuite, as well as air-conditioning and other modern conveniences. Even the term “glamping” is inadequate to describe the comfort level that some of these tented camps can provide – which can go from the basic to the sublime to the completely ridiculous!
7. It’s home to a mountain fit for any occasion
Table Mountain is so-called because of its table-flat top. However, what you may not know is that the clouds that hover over the mountain sometimes take the shape of a tablecloth, which I didn’t believe until I saw it with my own eyes! Another interesting detail about Table Mountain is that you can climb or hike up it and then abseil down (rather than take the more sober option of the cable car).
8. A unique feature of Africa’s famous falls
At the height of the Zambezi’s flood season (February to May) the spray from the falls rises to about 400 metres and can be seen from as far as 48 kilometres away. Hence the name given to it by the locals – Mosi-oa-Tunya – which translates to “the smoke that thunders”.
9. Africa is where it all began
The Cradle of Humankind is located just outside Johannesburg and is so named because artefacts have been found here that indicate that it is the birthplace of humanity. The Maropeng Visitor Centre nearby is an exciting, world-class exhibition, focusing on the development of humans and our ancestors over the past few million years. It’s well worth a visit!
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