Africa’s astonishing beauty and diversity needs no introduction. From the red dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia to the ever-changing waterways of the Okavango Delta, beyond the rainforests of the Congo river basin and up to North Africa’s Sahara Desert, Africa’s endless natural wonders support some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet.
To explore and take in the plethora of wild attractions on the continent will take a lifetime, and each traveler will undoubtedly be drawn in by different sights and sounds. Some attractions, however, stand out more than others and this is where the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa comes in.
Selected by a panel of conservation experts in Arusha, Tanzania in 2013, these seven hotspots are located within no fewer than 20 of the 54 countries that make up Africa and span colossal swaths of sand, enormous bodies of water, soaring mountains and rare wildlife phenomena.
Did you know? The mighty Victoria Falls is not on the list as it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and instead serves as an ambassador wonder to Africa’s seven natural wonders.
Read on to find out more about the awe-inspiring places that make up Africa’s top natural wonders.
Rightly chosen as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the Okavango Delta is one of the largest interior deltas on Earth and serves as a striking contrast to Botswana’s arid Kalahari Desert. Extending over an area of up to 18,000 square kilometers, this vast water environment supports an enormous amount of fauna that changes with the seasons. Flying over the Okavango from Maun provides a birds-eye view of its watery splendor of islands and oxbow canals. At ground level, the dry season’s contours of dead foliage give the Delta an eerie yet fascinating look. Moremi Game Reserve makes up one third of the Okavango Delta and is home to some of the highest concentrations of wildlife on the continent. Very easily accessible, the reserve boasts well-maintained trails and ultra-luxurious lodges.
The Sahara Desert is an arid wonder to behold. The largest hot desert on the planet and the third largest desert after the ice fields of the Arctic and Antarctica, it covers an area of 9,200,000 square kilometers. So vast, its size is comparable to that of China. It extends over eleven countries, stretching from the Mediterranean in the north and the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, where the scenery progressively transforms from desert to coastal plains. Officially recognized as the hottest place on earth, one would think this absorbing landscape would be totally devoid of life. Yet, a wide array of species call this desert home. Dama gazelle, red-necked ostrich, sand vipers, single-humped camels, goats, various species of fox and the Saharan cheetah have all adapted to survive and thrive in this harsh terrain.
Approaching Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the great travel experiences in Africa, whether you come to climb it or simply marvel at this amazing, snow-capped tropical peak. It rises from refined farmlands on the lower slopes, through verdant rainforest to elevated grasslands, and eventually across a lunar landscape to the twin summits of Mawenzi and Kibo. Located in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania, this natural wonder is the continent’s highest mountain. It is also one of the world’s highest volcanoes and the highest free-standing mountain on the planet. A safari in neighboring Kenya’s Amboseli National Park provides remarkable views of this iconic, age-old phenomenon.
Often dubbed the world’s ultimate wildlife spectacle, the Great Wildebeest Migration, also referred to as the Serengeti Migration, is the largest and longest movement of wildlife on the planet. Gazing upon an estimated 1,5 million western white-bearded wildebeest and just under a million plains zebras on the endless rolling grasslands of the Serengeti and Masai Mara makes it easy to understand why this epic event is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. Not to mention the unrivaled drama of the inevitable Mara and Talek river crossings. An annual occurrence, the migration reaches its peak every July and August, where the immense herds migrate to the Masai Mara National Reserve in search of rich grass, only to depart for greener pastures in the south in October and November.
Another one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, without question, is the majestic Nile River. At 6,650 kilometers, this mighty river is the second longest river in the world after the Amazon River in South America. Uniquely, this vast source of life flows northwards through eleven nations on its way to Egypt’s Nile Delta, where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Nearly every significant cultural and historical monument in Egypt is located along the banks of the Nile, which is also where ancient Egyptian civilization first emerged. The Nile still serves as the main source of water for the whole population of Egypt and Sudan. Further south, along the tributary of the White Nile in Uganda, the river is home to a host of adventure activities for travelers to indulge in.
Also referred to as “the Garden of Eden” because of its breathtaking beauty and status as a haven for wildlife, the Ngorongoro Crater is crucial for preserving biodiversity due to the presence of internationally threatened species. One of the largest continuous calderas in the world that isn’t a lake, it measures 19 kilometers wide and covers a surface area of 264 square kilometers. The crater floor’s broad grasslands, wetlands, and acacia woods serve as the scene for an astounding natural drama as predator and prey stalk and graze their way through this unique ecosystem. This natural wonder of Africa is populated by about 25,000 large animals, making it an attractive tourist destination and it is particularly well-known for having the world’s highest density of lions.
Located between the Middle East and Africa, the Red Sea is a long, narrow estuary of the Indian Ocean. At its broadest point, the surface measures 355 kilometers wide, 2,250 kilometers in length and 438,000 kilometers square. With more than 1,000 species of fish, 10% of which are native to the Red Sea, the enormous network of shallow shelves of the Red Sea is renowned for its diversity of coral and marine life. Whatsmore, more than 44 different species of sharks frequent the Red Sea’s reefs to feed and breed. Due to its excellent visibility and abundance of marine life, this aquatic paradise is a popular location for scuba diving and boasts some remarkable recreational diving sites such as Ras Mohammed, Elphinstone Reed and Daedalus Reef in Egypt.
Talk to one of our expert LuxVenture® designers today about organizing your trip to experience one or more of these breathtaking natural phenomena.