Early this year, I came across an article about the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism adding “curvy and sexy women” to the list of tourism products.
As someone has been to Uganda multiple times, I don’t deny that there are beautiful and well-endowed women in the East African country. However, should they be used to market the tourism industry of the East African nation? Isn’t that outright objectification of women?
‘Miss Curvy Uganda’
To give the initiative further impetus, the country’s tourism minister said a beauty pageant dubbed ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ had been launched as part of his promotion to attract foreign visitors.
The contest’s organizer says the initiative was “designed to promote an appreciation of beauty in diversity.”
As would have been expected, there was outrage amongst the public and the political class, including cabinet ministers. There were calls for the pageant to be
Uganda’s Tourism Board distanced itself from the pageant, saying it will concentrate instead on promoting the country’s current attractions.
So, what are the real (and exciting) tourists’ attractions that can be found in Africa? I’ve rounded up some amazing attractions and activities in Africa that every tourist should have on their bucket list.
1. Amazing wildlife
One thing that probably pops up in people’s minds when they think of Africa is its remarkable wildlife. It is the home to the Big Five – the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo.
The term ‘Big Five’ refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. It was coined by big-game hunters. These animals can be found in 13 sub-Saharan African countries.
All the big five animals can be found in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, which has more species of large mammals than any other African game reserve (at 147 species).
Chobe National Park in Botswana is renowned for its large elephant population in Africa, estimated to be around 50,000.
If you’ve never seen the African penguin, then South Africa and Namibia are the places you’ll want to include in your itinerary.
This spectacle takes place between the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
The wildebeest migration, is one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World” and also known as “The World Cup of Wildlife”, according to the Maasai Mara reserve.
Tourists have a chance to come close to one of man’s closest relatives – the mountain gorillas. These gentle giants are found in some of the remotest places in the beautiful continent of Africa. They can be found in the Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks in Uganda, as well as the Virunga National Park in DR Congo.
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is another favorite tourist destination for gorilla trekking.
Dining in the wild
Imagine having breakfast, lunch or dinner at the park? It has become a key component of many tour-package offers where you get to dine and wine in the wild.
Maasai Mara, Kruger, Serengeti and Aberdares (Kenya) are some of the many locations that will allow you have a meal in the wild.
Feeding the animals
You can also feed the animals in a park setting in places like the Giraffe Manor and David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (both in Kenya), the Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe, among other places.
2. Magnificent beaches
If you love relaxing by the ocean or under the shade of palm trees, then Africa is the go-to place that isn’t talked about enough. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea, the continent is a favorite for tourists who enjoy coastal settings.
One notable feature about the beaches is that they are very expansive and experience good weather most of the year. Africa is generally a tropical region and receives heavy rain only twice a year. March-May, and October-November. You’ll, therefore, enjoy the good weather.
Other than basking on the beach, you can also enjoy sailing. You can go the traditional way using dhows, dugout canoes, rafts or simple wooden boats. Alternatively, you can go modern and enjoy yacht sailing, windsurfing, speedboats or travel by ferry from one region to another.
For instance, super-fast ferries ply between Zanzibar and Tanzania. During the trip, you may be lucky to see sharks, dolphins and other marine creatures.
3. Remarkable physical features
When it comes to some of the outstanding physical features, Africa, without a doubt, is a force to reckon with. The continent has some of the largest and longest rivers in the world.
The Nile River and the Congo River pass through several countries. Africa is also home to the world’s second largest freshwater lake – Lake Victoria – which is shared amongst the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda
Mt Kilimanjaro, which stands at about 5900 meters above sea level, is the tallest ice-capped mountain in Africa, located in Tanzania.
Other mountains include Mt Kenya (5,199), the Ruwenzori ranges in Uganda, Table Mountain in South Africa, Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Besides viewing the mountains, you can also climb them if you are physically fit.
4. Take safari walks (or marathons!)
Forget taking walks or jogging in the well-paved streets of New York. In Africa, you can run, jog or trek in the wild. Besides enjoying the cool fresh air and the beautiful scenery, you can spot many animals.
You will also get to learn about the flora and fauna. For instance, you can get to know how animals get drunk from the fruits of the Amarula tree.
Popular places for walking safaris include the South Laneway National Park in Zambia, the Maasai Mara, Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania and Kruger National Park.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya hosts an annual marathon where participants run in the wildlife reserve. The unique thing about this marathon is that there are no physical barriers separating the runners from the wildlife. Security patrols of armed experienced rangers guard the course to ensure the safety of the runners.
This event is aimed to raise funds for numerous community development and wildlife conservation efforts; and attracts visitors from all over the world.
5. Cultural diversity and hospitable people
One thing that makes the Africa holiday experience unique is the diverse cultures. Did you know that there are more than 3,000 tribes? With 1.2 billion people and 54 countries, you can expect to be immersed in an extraordinary experience.
Visiting the region gives you the chance to interact with the locals and also learn and understand their way of life. For instance, a visit to the East African region gives you the opportunity to mingle with the Maasai people who have preserved most of their cultural practices.
6. Amazing cuisine
To many people, food plays a vital component in creating a memorable and fun experience fun and memorable. You don’t want to eat what you are used to. Instead, you want something completely new. Africa is certainly the destination that will fulfill your wish.
Meat lovers and vegans will find something that appeals to them. You can sample the famous injera dish from Ethiopia, kapenta in Zimbabwe, Matoke in Uganda, acheke from Côte d’Ivoire, chichinga from Ghana, among many others.
What’s a meal without something to down it with? South Africa, more specifically Cape Town, is a center for wines. You can take a tour of the many wineries and vineyards in the regions.
In each culture, you will find a local brew made from normal food ingredients such as pineapples, bananas, sugarcane, honey, and coconut.
7. Unique activities
- In DR Congo, tourists have the chance to visit a town near Mt Nyiragongo that is fully built on hardened lava.
- Victoria Falls in Zambia and the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa have an awesome bungee jumping experience.
- Shimoni caves in the Kenyan coast give you an opportunity to walk inside bat-filled dark caves that eventfully lead you to the shores of the Indian Ocean.
- You can opt to take desert-guided treks on the largest desert in the world, the Sahara desert.
- Watamu and Malindi waters in Kenya give you a chance to swim with dolphins.
Whatever destination appeals to you, an Africa holiday experience should definitely be on your bucket list.