Africa Wonders

The Giza Pyramids

The Giza Pyramids, built to endure an eternity. Egypt’s pharaohs expected to become gods in the afterlife. To prepare for the next world they erected temples to the gods and massive pyramid tombs for themselves, filled with all the things each ruler would need to guide and sustain himself in the next world.

The first Giza pyramid, 2550 BC, is the largest in Giza, rises 147 meters above the plateau. Its estimated 2.3 million stone blocks each weigh an average of 2.5 to 15 tons.

Khafre’s Pyramid is the second tallest and second largest of the Pyramids of Giza.

We visited Giza Pyramids in 2012 as part of our 17-day G Adventures Egypt & Jordan,  followed by an independent visit to Israel.

The Abu Simbel

The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples at Abu Simbel, a village in Nubia, southern Egypt.  The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the 19th dynasty reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. They serve as a lasting monument to the king and his queen Nefertari, and commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh.

The temples of Ramses and Nefertari. Worth every second of the 2.5 hours one way drive to see it.

We visited Abu Simbel in 2012.

Karnak temple

Karnak is an ancient Egyptian temple precinct located on the east bank of the Nile River in Thebes (Luxor). It covers more than 100 hectares. It is a city of temples built over 2,000 years and dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu.

Entrance to Karnak Temple, the world’s largest ancient religious site, covering an area of 100 hectares.

We visited Karnak temple in 2012.

A Nile cruise between Luxor and Aswan

The Nile was the lifeline of ancient Egyptian civilisation.  Lying 420 miles south of Cairo, Luxor is the most dramatic historical site in Egypt, often referred to as the world’s greatest open air museum. Aswan is the “Jewel of the Nile”. Pink and grey granite thrusts upward through the Nubian sandstone, forming mountains, cliffs and jagged outcrops. There are many options to cruise the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, from luxury cruise ships, yachts, to traditional felucca (traditional wooden sailing boats).

Cruising the Nile River on a felucca.

We did the Nile cruise in 2012.

Valley of the King

The Valley of the Kings, also known as the Valley of the Gates of the Kings, is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom. The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes (Luxor), within the heart of the Theban Necropolis.

Underground walks through the tombs was impressive, but a hot air balloon ride over the Valley was equally amazing.

We took the balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings in 2012.

Sand dunes of the Sahara

The Sahara is the largest hot desert and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. Its area of 9,200,000 square kilometres is comparable to the area of China or the United States.

Our camel ride in the Sahara desert.

We visited the Sahara desert in 2013 as part of our 8-day G Adventures tour, followed by our independent tour of southern Spain, Portugal and Wales.

The Hassan II mosque in Casablanca

The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, is the largest mosque in Africa, and the 5th largest in the world. Its minarets are the world’s tallest minaret at 210 metres. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean.  A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside grounds.

The incredible Hassan II Mosque.

We visited Casablanca independently in 2013 prior to joining our 8-day G Adventures Morocco tour.

Nightlife on the Djemaa el-Fna square
Djemaa el-Fnaa is Marrakech’s main square and the most important part of the medina. Here, inhabitants and tourists gather both during the day and night to have something to eat, shop or observe the various shows taking place. It is a constant assault on the senses in ways that are both good and bad, mostly good.  It’s insane, madness, loud and unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. At night it turns into another world and hundreds of vendors set up their food stalls. You can get just about anything here and it is all fantastic.

Fresh snails one of the most popular food. Adventurous eaters can try sheep tongues, intestines and goat brains. Those with less adventurous stomachs can eat cooked fish, kebabs and veggies.

We visited Marrakech in 2013 independently after our 8-day G Adventures Morocco tour.

Medina of Fez

The medina of Fez was founded in the 9th century at around the same time that Islam arrived in Morocco and the imperial rule that would create the country began. It grew in the 12th and 13th centuries to about the size that it is today.

The tight-knit buildings of the Medina is an intricate web of alleys, passages and tiny squares where people bake bread, dye leather, weave cloth and hammer metals as they have done for centuries.  Ancient mosques and madrasas, street-side water fountains, souks offering every conceivable product, palaces, hammams and traditional inns provide points of reference among the bewildering maze of streets.

Chouara Tannery, the largest in Fes, has been washing, treating, smoothing, and coloring animal skins into soft, leather goods for over a thousand years.

We visited Fez in 2013 as part of our 8-day G Adventures Morocco tour.

Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is a unique wetland area in the northern part of Botswana, and contains 95% of all Botswana’s surface water. It is the largest inland delta in the world. It is home to  a large variety of animals and bird life. Elephants and buffaloes roam the area, often in large herds, while  hippos navigate their way through the existing channels, or create new ones.

The Okavango delta’s only form of transportation is via Mokoro canoe, poling along the water way. This was our fantastic poler throughout the 3 days in the delta.

We visited Okavango delta in 2010 as part of our 20-day G Adventures  Cape Town to Victoria Falls trip.

Sossusvlei Dunes

Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. The Sossusvlei is more than 300 kilometers long and 140 kilometers wide and consists of seemingly endless sand dunes.  Sossusvlei is a perfect specimen of Nambia’s unspoilt desert beauty.

Hiked up Dune 45, the most famous dune in the park at 200 metres tall.

We visited Namibia in 2010.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. It is a popular tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to the top. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. Table Mountain is home to a large variety of fauna and flora, most of which is endemic.

We hiked up to Table Mountain. Clouds started to roll in just as we finished.

We visited Cape Town and Table Mountain independently in 2010 prior to our  20-day G Adventures  Cape Town to Victoria Falls trip.

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The majority of trails occur on the Zambian side of the falls, however the Zimbabwean side of the falls provides visitors with the greater panoramic view of the falls. Sightseers and photographers can see approximately 80% of the falls as compared to about 25 to 30% from the Zambian side.

Tom riding a Ultralight over Victoria Falls.

We visited Victoria Falls in 2010.

Amphitheatre of El Jem

The impressive ruins of the largest colosseum in North Africa, a huge amphitheatre which could hold up to 35,000 spectators, are found in the small village of El Jem. This 3rd-century monument illustrates the grandeur and extent of Imperial Rome.  El Jem is a short day trip from Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.

El Jem is still in excellent shape and we saw only 2 other tourists during our visit.

We visited Tunis in 2017 as part of our trip to southern Italy and Sicily.

See next: Western Europe Wonders

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