1. Abu Simbel in Egypt
The entrance at one of the temples at Abu Simbel. Image by: Fredhsu
The two temples at Abu Simbel Egypt are best known for two reasons: their dazzling magnificence, and their historic relocation from their original cliff. These monumental temples were originally carved out of a sandstone cliff near River Nile over three millenniums ago, during the reign of the great Pharaoh – Ramesses II. The temples were dedicated to the Egyptian gods and to Pharaoh Ramesses II.
Recently, in the 1960s, when the Egyptian government was constructing the Aswan High dam, the temples faced the danger of being submerged under the resultant Lake Nasser. The Egyptian government sought the assistance of UNESCO and the international community to help salvage and relocate the temples to an artificial mountain. The relocation entailed dismantling the two temples then reassembling them in exactly the same form and relationship to each other and to the sun. In their new location, the temples are surrounded by an artificial mountain. A photo exhibition of this historic relocation can be seen at the dome at Abu Simbel.
2. Mt Kilimanjaro
Uhuru peak Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest point. Image by: Chris 73
At 19340 ft, Kili – as Mt. Kilimanjaro is popularly known – is the highest mountain in Africa. Kili is also the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. Fortunately, its highest point, Uhuru peak, is easily accessible to anyone of moderate fitness level.
The experience of being on top of Africa is, to say the least, exhilarating. The scenery at the peak is breathtaking, with the huge glaciers forming a white heaven. Add to this the fact that the region around Kilimanjaro is home to some of Africa’s premier wildlife parks and reserves, and you can see why a visit to Kilimanjaro is indeed an African must-do.
3. Victoria Falls on the Zambia – Zimbabwe Border
The main falls at Victoria falls. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The grandiose Victoria Falls is a waterfall found on the Zambezi river at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The waterfalls have the reputation of being the “largest curtain of falling water on earth”. The locals call them “Mosi-oa-Tunya”, literally meaning “smoke that thunders” because of the columns of spray that can be seen from miles away.
The Victoria falls are a must-see site in Africa because of their unusual form, and the diverse wildlife in their vicinity. On the Zambian side, it is possible to swim in relatively safe natural pools at the top of the falls.
4. The Great Pyramids at Giza Egypt
The Great pyramid at Giza and the Sphinx. Image by: Ahmed Dokmak
The Egyptian pyramids perhaps need no introduction, being the icons most associated with Egypt. Most of the pyramids (there are over 100 pyramids in Egypt) were built as tombs to preserve the mummified bodies of the dead pharaohs. In these massive tombs, the pharaohs’ bodies would continue receiving food offerings long after their death.
The greatest of these pyramids is the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Pharaoh Cheops), found at Giza, a few kilometers south of Cairo. Also found at Giza is the great Sphinx, a half-human half-lion statue considered one of the world’s largest and oldest statue.
5. Valley of the Kings – Egypt
The entrance to the valley of the kings. Image by: Haloorange
The Valley of the Kings in Egypt is so called because for a period of about 500 years between the 16th and 11th centuries BC, it was the place where tombs for kings and other nobles were constructed.
The valley of the Kings is found near Luxor, on the west bank of river Nile and is known to contain 63 such tombs. Most of the tombs contained priceless Egyptian antiquities, some of which have unfortunately been stolen over a period of time. The valley became famous after the discovery in 1922 of the intact tomb of Tutankhamun and is today one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
6. Fish River Canyon in Namibia
The magnificent Fish River Valley Image by: Giraud Patrick
Regarded as the second most spectacular canyons in the world (after the Grand Canyon of America), the Fish River Canyon is indeed a sight of astonishing grandeur. The spectacular canyon features a 160km ravine which is up to 27km wide and 550 metres in some places. In the belly of the ravine flows the Fish River.
Several animal species are present in the canyon, including wild horses, mountain zebra and Kudu. The canyon has a prolific birdlife with over 60 bird species found there.
7. Sossusvlei in Namib desert Namibia
One giant sand dune at Sossusvlei. Image by: Harald Süpfle
Located in the Namib Naukluft park, Sossusvlei is a huge clay pan enclosed by giant sand dunes, some of which go to heights of over 300 meters. These dunes are often referred to as the highest in the world. On the rare occasions when it rains, the Sossusvlei fills with water. Since the clay layers only allow very slow infiltration, the resultant turquoise lake remains for some time in the vlei.
The Namib Naukluft park, where Sossusvlei is located, is reputedly the largest conservation area in Africa, and fourth largest in the world.
8. Wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara and Serengeti
Wildebeest crossing a river during the migration. Image by: Pnoid00
Many people who have witnessed the the wildebeest migration regard it as the most spectacular natural event of the modern world. The wildebeest migration takes place within the open plains of Maasai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania. It is undoubtedly the greatest wildlife show on earth. During the event, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebras migrate to greener pastures as the seasons change, followed closely by a number of predators waiting for the opportunity of striking at weak prey.
The wildebeest migration is a spontaneous and somewhat unpredictable event, varying year after year. The best time to catch the wildebeest migration at the Maasai Mara is between July and September, especially when the wildebeest and zebra congregate to cross the Mara river.
9. Karnak Temple Complex – Egypt
The Karnak Temple Complex Egypt. Image by: Tizianok
Karnak is one of the largest and most impressive temple sites in Egypt. The Karnak Temple Complex is a conglomeration of three main temples and several smaller ruined temples.
Karnak is located near Luxor, a region which is home to other impressive sites. It is only the main temple area of Karnak – the Temple of Amun – that is currently accessible to tourists and the general public. The Temple of Amun is by far the largest, and easily the most impressive.
10. Okavango Delta in Botswana
Okavango delta. Image by: Teo Gómez
Okavango delta (often wrongly called the Okavango Swamp) is the world’s largest inland delta, covering an area of over 17000 square kilometers.
This unique water feature was formed after the drying up of Lake Makgadikgadi thousands of years ago. The Okavango river drains its water onto the plains of Kalahari desert in Botswana, forming a magnificent labyrinth of inland lagoons, islands, and lakes – the Okavango delta. The water at the delta is very pure due to little agricultural and industrial activities along Okavango river. The delta is therefore a magnet for the many wild animals that depend on its waters for survival in an otherwise very dry Kalahari desert.
11. The Virunga Mountains in the DRC/Rwanda/Uganda borders
A mountain gorrila in the Virunga mountains forests. Image by: Ramon Azofra
The Virunga Mountains are a chain of volcanic mountains found along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Apart from their spectacular beauty, the forests of the Virunga mountains are the only remaining homes of the endangered mountain gorillas. Other interesting animals found there include Chimpanzees, the Okapi, and forest elephants.
There are eight major peaks in the Virunga mountain range, the highest of which is Mt. Karisimbii. Mt. Nyirangongo and Mt. Nyiragira are still active volcanoes, having last erupted in 2006.
12. Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania
Aerial view of the Ngorongoro crater
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera, measuring about 19km across, 600 metres deep from the rim of the crater to its floor, and with a total floor area of 260km². The crater was formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself approximately three million years ago. Ngorongoro crater is considered a “natural enclosure” for wildlife, with many animal species found on the crater floor.