The Best Of Johnny Africa – Top Moments Traveling Through Africa

All good things must come to an end. Some day I’d have to leave this beautiful continent I was able to call home. Immersing myself in South African life and traveling through much of Africa, I can’t say I have any regrets. I was fortunate enough to do everything I wanted and herein is my last post from my time in Africa! I’ve compiled a list of the top places to travel in Africa! To commemorate my two years in Africa, and the twelve countries I visited, here is a post of my top everythings. Think of this as a one post summary and ranking of all the traveling I did.  The things on this list are all from my experiences, pictures all taken by myself, and all based on opinion. I’ve traveled to all the continents except Australia and Africa is truly something special. The rankings are purely my opinion, from the experience that I had at the time. Whether you’re looking for the best place to safari in Africa, or the best beaches Africa has offer, or where to take in the best sunset because Africa’s sunsets cannot be beat, I’m confident this list encompasses the best destinations, countries, and things to do in Africa!

Here are the 12 countries I visited in Sub-Saharan Africa that will comprise the lists below.

  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • Botswana
  • Zimbabwe
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Swaziland
  • Lesotho
  • Mozambique
  • Madagascar

 

Best Views


Noordhoek Beach

Driving through Chapman's Peak from Cape Town to Cape Point was probably my favorite drive in South Africa because of the views of Noordhoek Beach. While the beach itself is frigid and not meant for swimming, the views from high up on the mountains watching the endless waves crashing into the beach are always good for 10 minute stop (both ways). »Read More

Isalo National Park, Madagascar

One of Madagascar's many beautiful parks, Isalo was particular stunning during sunset as the sun reflecting off the rocks really made the colors pop. »Read More

Tsingy Stone Forest, Madagascar

For those adventurous enough (and with a lot of time) to get here, prepare for breathtaking views off martian like landscapes of jagged rocks rising up to the sky. This place is incredible. Unlike anything else I've seen. Pictures do this place zero justice. It's certainly one of those places that is best saved in your memory. »Read More

Delaire Graff, Stellenbosch

In my opinion, the most stunning wine farm I've ever visited, in South Africa and every other wine region. Doesn't hurt that the wine is also amazing and tastings are in true South Africa fashion; cheap and plentiful. Forget Napa Valley, if you're into stunning views and tastings that aren't trying to rip you off, come to South Africa's wine country. »Read More

Lions Head, Cape Town, South Africa

Best view of a city hands down. The hike up Lions head is a tiring but fun hike.The views make it all worthwhile. It's better than Table Mountain in my opinion as the mountain is closer to the ocean and there are numerous rocks at the peak to take amazing pictures like this one. »Read More

Bazaruto Island, Mozambique

The biggest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, the island of Bazaruto is unlike anything else in the world. Giant dunes 100m high are surrounded by blue water making for an incredible view. Throw in the countless sandbars that appear/disappear depending on the time of day, this place is something else. »Read More

Sossusvlei, Namibia

The dunes of Namibia wins out for my top views. The flaming red colored dunes, combined with the endless salt pans and dead Acacia trees offer the some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. The view atop the dune Big Daddy, with deadvlei on one side (the salt pans), and endless red dunes on the other side, is something truly special. »Read More

Andringitra Madagascar

Andringitra Mountains, Madagascar

Driving up on Madagascar's highest mountain range feels like you've gone back in time hundreds of years. Even for a country like Madagascar of which I think is the least developed of any place I've visited, this area felt even more so.  I never got to climb to the top of this mountain, in which I'm sure the view is stunning, but just seeing it from afar was a special moment. »Read More

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Also known as Mosi Oa-Tunya, or "The Smoke That Thunders",  it indeeds lives up to its name with waterfalls spanning a kilometer and a half, and water plunging 100m down into the Zambezi river. This picture was taken from a helicopter ride but the views are pretty spectacular from all angles, although I preferred the Zimbabwean side of the falls vs the Zambian side. »Read More

 

Best Beaches


It’s no mystery the nicest beaches in the world are nestled in the Indian Ocean. Thankfully, one half of Africa’s coastline is Indian Ocean. I was fortunate enough to visit some of the most beautiful and isolated beaches in the world. Obviously, I didn’t see them all, and there may be more beautiful ones in Africa (never made it to Seychelles or Mauritius) but this is just from what I saw!

5. Sardinia Bay, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Okay so most people would probably choose Clifton or Camps Bay to represent South Africa but I wanted to go with something out of the ordinary. Sardinia Bay, near Port Elizabeth is one of many off the beaten path garden route and wild coast beaches in South Africa. I thought this one was the most stunning as the water is still warm enough to swim in (they are not so in Cape Town), and dramatic sand dunes lead right into the water. »Read More

4. Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar has miles and miles of beautiful and picturesque beaches. Most of its coastline is built up by large resorts however so it can get pricey. Nevertheless, the beaches, snorkeling, and diving are top notch and it's the perfect place to go after some game viewing in the Serengeti or a long hike up Mount Kilimanjaro. »Read More

3. Bazaruto Archipelago

Located in Central Mozambique, the Bazaruto are six islands that are already incredible but look even more amazing from the air. Dramatic sandbars appear and disappear with the tide making this place the closest thing to Australia's Whitsunday. The only downside to this beautiful piece of paradise is the only way to stay on the island is to stay at one of its ultra-lux hotels going for way more money than I can afford. »Read More

2. Ile Aux Nattes, Madagascar

If a deserted island in the sun with crystal clear water is your cup of team, Ile Aux Nattes is for you. Located on the east coast of Madagascar, this little island is surrounded by water like this. Some of the best snorkeling I've done is a short swim from the shore and best of all? There's hardly anyone here. »Read More

1. Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

Mozambique is blessed with a whole coastline of ridiculous nice beaches. The Quirimbas are the best in my opinion, and easily my favorite and the nicest beach of my African travels. The water is beyond dramatic, the sand is blindingly white, and once again, there are no tourists here. This place is one of the few remaining beach getaways still hidden from mass tourism and I am so happy I could experience it before it likely becomes commercialized. »Read More

 

Best Game Reserves


Likely the first thing that most people think of when they think of Africa, I was able to visit many game reserves during my time in Africa. This was one thing that I never tired of. Yes you sit in a car for hours on end and see the same animals, but nevertheless who can possibly tire of seeing a pride of lions on the prowl or a herd of elephant just a few feet from you?

5. Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha, meaning "place of dry water" is Namibia's biggest game reserve. It's famous for its numerous watering holes that you can sit behind a fence and watch animals come in and out in their natural setting. Because of Namibia's extreme arid climate, the dry season forces the animals to all congregate near these watering holes allowing for spectacular game viewing. The Etosha also features of the world's largest salt pans, a shimmering endless white backdrop in the middle of the reserve. »Read More

4. Chobe National Park, Botswana

One of Botswana's many game reserves, Chobe is known for its huge population of elephants. In fact, this park has the highest concentration of elephants of all the parks in Africa. If you want to see elephants, there is a 100% change to see many many of them here. Add in the lake cruises where there are so countless hippos and elephant crossings, this place is incredible. »Read More

3. Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania

East Africa has the best game viewing in my opinion. The Ngorogoro crater, the world's largest caldera, a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, features seemingly endless amounts of wildlife viewing. It's not as big as the other national parks in Africa but the dense concentration of animals will make this a once in a lifetime experience. »Read More

2. Masai Mara, Kenya

Located a few hours outside of Nairobi, this is Kenya's national treasure when it comes to tourism. It's one of the most expensive game reserves in Africa. It is also home to the most amazing spectacle in all of African animals, the migration of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. »Read More

1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

For myself, this place was what I thought a safari would be like and now what I compare all other reserves to. Endless savanna grass, acacia trees, intense sunsets, and an abundance of animals make this place my favorite game reserve in Africa. Fun fact, The Lion King movie was based off this reserve. »Read More

 

Best Places to See…


Rhinos

Of all the animals I saw, Rhinos were probably my favorite sighting. They were also the most difficult to see for me sadly due to the extreme poaching throughout the continent. I saw more leopards than I saw Rhinos during my game reserve visits, that is until I went to Hlane National Park in Swaziland.  This park is known for its abundant population of white rhinos, the largest species of rhinos in the world. It's almost a guarantee to see these beautiful animals as they visit the watering hole every day to cool off, which also happens to be located right next to your campsite. 

Best Place to see an Elephant

Elephants are on everyone's bucket list on a safari. Elephant populations are on the higher end as they have no predators, and poaching seems to have taken more of a toll on rhinos than elephants. Nevertheless, not all game reserves are equal. The Chobe National Park in Botswana has easily the highest density of elephants in Africa at over 100,000 in this park. In comparison, Kruger, also a good place to see elephants, has just over 10,000. It's pretty much a 100% guarantee to see elephants in the Chobe. Hell, we saw elephants before we even entered the park! 

Lions

The king of the jungle is not an endangered animal but they're still not the easiest animals to see. East Africa, specifically Tanzania. The Serengeti has the largest population of lions in Africa and we had no shortage of lion sightings here. In fact, we saw so many, we were tired of them near the end. We did however, camp in the middle of the Serengeti and could hear lions roaring at night which was amazing. We were also told to avoid going to the bathroom at night and pee outside the tent. It's unlikely to see anything interesting happen during the day, most lions just sleep and chill out. It's only at night when they are the most active.

Hippos

I find these animals the strangest but also the coolest. They are massive animals, do nothing but eat and fart all day, and they just look so funny when they move. They're easy to spot all over Africa but Uganda certainly takes it to the next level. Not only is the Queen Elizabeth park teeming with hippos but our campsite for was located near the lake where there is a huge hippo population. Hippos come on land at night to eat and can travel 30km inland to find food. We saw hippos EVERY night, and I even accidentally got no more than 5 meters to one at night when I raised my flashlight. 

Zebras and Wildebeest

Why bunch these two animals together? Because the best place to see them is without question in the Masai Mara or Serengeti during The Great Migration. Over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in the month of August, and wildebeest and zebras lead the charge. If you visit these game parks during August and don't see a Zebra and Wildebeest, it's time to demand a refund. Zebras take very good pics, and wildebeest are well, kinda strange looking but I still like them.

 

Best Adrenaline Activities


My travels through Africa were not just filled with amazing beaches and animals. Well it definitely had a lot of those things, but every now and then, you have to mix it up with something to get your blood flowing.

5. Cage diving with great whites, Gans Baai, South Africa

Located a few hours outside of Cape Town, this is one thing on many people's bucket list and for good reason. It's not every day you get to be so close to the most famous sharks. You're pretty much guarenteed to see great whites in Gans Baai. In fact, most of the shops will give you money back if you don't see any. I did this activity numerous times and it never got old. Getting a foot away from a great white with only a cage separating you, while they ram the cage, is awesome.  »Read more

4. Devils Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia

Located on the Zambian side of Victoria falls, and only available for visits late Aug-Dec (low water season), this was something I had seen pictures of many times and I knew I had to go. It lives up to its billing. You get to sit in a pool on the very edge of the waterfall and gaze over a natural rock-formed pool with endless streams of water pumping into the abyss. This was my absolute favorite thing to do in Victoria Falls.  »Read more

3. Abseiling in Lesotho

Located in the center of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, the abseiling done in Semonkong is the highest in the world at over 200m high! The view is absolutely stunning, as well as the whole country of Lesotho. The abseiling is done adjacent to the large waterfall which adds to the adrenaline experience as you eventually get engulfed by its huge streams of water.  »Read more

2. White water rafting on the Zambezi, Victoria Falls, ZImbabwe

The Zambezi is one of the top white water rafting spots in the world. It certainly doesn't disappoint. Going in low water season is key as the water is so much crazier and we had no shortage of adrenaline pumping action. We were splashed, thrown around, and even flipped over in numerous grade 4 and 5 rapids. This was my first time white water rafting and what a great place to do it! »Read more

1. Bloukrans bungy jump, South Africa

Well for someone who's never bungy jumped before, doing it for the first time at the highest bungy bridge in the world is big welcome to the activity. I was absolutely terrified when I did this, thinking about my inevitable doom days before I was scheduled to jump. The secret is not to look down, but of course that is the first thing I did which made me even more terrified. Nevertheless, the jump only lasted five seconds but it was the best thing I could have done and would highly recommend it to anyone driving through the Garden Route in South Africa.  »Read more

 

Best African Sunsets


It’s no surprise that African sunsets can’t be beat and I have just the pictures to prove it. One amazing sunset after another was what I could always expect to see living in Johannesburg. Traveling around Africa and seeing sunsets in different countries were just a bonus. At the end of the day, there are stunning sunsets to be had everywhere. This is just a collection of the best ones I experienced (and could get a picture of).

5. Namib Desert, Namibia

After a long day of driving through Namibia, we finally stopped for a tour with a local bushman that taught us the ways of his culture, old and new. The tour was amazing as our guide literally just randomly found the door to a trap door spider in the middle of the desert. The cloud really added to the intensity of this sunset as we soaked in the desert views. »Read More

4. Avenue of the Baobabs

If the baobab trees weren't cool enough already, seeing the sun set between two of these strange trees was the icing on the cake. Sunset is absolutely the time of day to visit the baobabs as it really brings out the colors in the trees. »Read More

3. Quirimbas, Mozambique

One of my last sunsets in Mozambique, this picture was taken from Ibo Lodge on Ibo Island. With mangroves, ocean, and islands in the distance, I made sure to come to this very expensive lodge every night to enjoy the sunset over some beers. Every night, for a week straight, this was my view. Hard life... »Read More

2. Chobe National Park, Botswana

Well couldn't have picked a better timing with this sunset. The sun was so intense, and there was a herd of elephants (over 100), enjoying the sunset with us. This was one of those moments where we sat there, stayed as the sun set completely, snapping countless pictures trying to get the best shot when I eventually realize you know what? I need to just enjoy this moment. It won't come around too much. »Read More

1. Victoria Falls, Livingstone, Zambia

Of all the epic sunsets I got to see in Africa, none were more intense and dramatic as this one in Victoria Falls. Having sundowners from the deck of the ultra-lux Livingstone Hotel, we saw the sun gradually set, getting brighter as it set. Never did I see the sun so close, large, and vibrant. This will always be something I remember! »Read More

 

Best Hikes


Hikes probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Africa. Getting driven around in a 4×4 with the roof down, seeing animals left and right probably are. Prepare to be amazed. The landscapes and geology of the continent is so unique and so conducive to some otherwise epic hikes. I made sure to soak it all in.

5. Robberg Peninsula, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

Nestled along the garden route, Plettenberg Bay is a beautiful beach town and popular vacation destination for South Africans. It's also home to beautiful beaches, hikes, the infamous Bloukrans bungy jump, and Robberg Nature Reserve. It's essentially a large peninsula that you can hike around. The full hike around the peninsula is three hours and while we planned on this, the weather took a turn for the worse and we had to turn back. Nevertheless, we got a small taste of this hike, and for anyone needing a break from being lauded to sleep in this relaxed town should definitely come here. »Read more

4. Isalo National Park, Madagascar

Madagascar has seemingly endless amounts of incredible hikes. There's so much unique nature and other-worldly landscapes that on a single hike, we could see hundreds of fauna and flora that we'd never see again (unless we returned to Madagascar of course). Isalo park is filled with all of the above. We saw beautiful mountains, plants we'd never see before, lemurs, birds, and enormous canyons.  »Read more

3. Lion's Head, Cape Town, South Africa

Every time I visited Cape Town, I'd make sure to hike up Lion's Head. Not only is the view world class, but the hike is a challenging, but not overly so. The hike is so engaging, with a mix of mountain climbing, rock climbing, and ladders. It's the perfect length of time (45 min-1hr) providing for a great workout without being too overworked. Table Mountain on the other hand takes almost 2 hours and it's purely a stair-master hike. Capetonian's are lucky SOBs being able to hike this mountain anytime they please.  »Read more

2.Tsingy Stone Forest, Madagascar

Not only was this a challenging hike that took the majority of the day, but it involved some serious physical fitness to meander along the jagged rocks, all sharp enough to seriously injure you if you fell on them. The rewards however, far outweigh the risks however as the geological features of this place is only found in this part of Madagascar and in Yunnan, China. Except China doesn't have lemurs to go along with these rock formations...  »Read more

1b. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

Uganda is home to hiking with primates. Gorillas are the main attraction here but their frequently forgotten cousins, the chimpanzees I thought were just as good of a hike if not better. Our hike through the bushes were not quite as challenging as hiking for gorillas in the Bwindi impenetrable forest, but chimps move a hell of a lot more than gorillas. We were constantly on the move, chasing the calls and yelling sounds of the chimps as they swung from tree to tree high above us. That is, until we got right in front of one, and realized we should probably give it some space as it is an incredibly strong animal.  »Read more

1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Saving the absolute best for last, I mean how can you really compare to hiking around the jungles of Uganda, in a place called the impenetrable forest, searching for a family of wild gorillas? You really can't. This is a huge bucket list item for many people and for good reason. The hike itself can be gruesome depending on the conditions, and can range anywhere from 30 minuets to 8 hours. This is not a zoo after all. But being able to spend an hour up close and personal with the gorillas (I was no more than 2m from it) is something I will never forget.  »Read more

 

Best African Cities


Africa is not a continent known for its cities. You won’t find any renaissance architecture nor will you find Baroque museums. There’s not much to see/do in most African cities and most of them showcase fully what the third world, and life, is like. Truth is, most African cities were not in development until European colonization, meaning most towns are no more than a century old. For a continent that is the birthplace of all humanity, its cities are some of the newest cities in the world. For the sake of this list, I won’t include South Africa as South Africa is so much more developed versus its neighbors and this list could be completely made up of South African cities if I did.

5. Kampala, Uganda

The capital of Uganda, Kampala is a place most will likely not be able to avoid if gorillas are on your itinerary. Still, as far as African capitals go, this place has more to see than most. Take a ride up to the Muammar Gaddafi Mosque, a huge and incredibly beautiful mosque gifted by the former leader of Libya for Uganda's muslim population. As far as museums go, the old parliament building is available for tourists and in it are the torture chambers of Idi Amin (Last King of Scotland movie) which are creepy as hell but cool to see. Lastly, Kampala is quite safe for tourists and the Ugandans are incredibly friendly. 

4. Antananarivo, Madagascar

Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo is for the most part a huge shitshow. The traffic is terrible, there's millions of people, and the infrastructure (as far as a capitals go) is nearly non-existent. You'll have to fly into this airport no matter what and unless you're flying straight out of Ifaty airport to another destination within Madagascar, driving through Antananarivo is inevitable. Nevertheless, as far as African capitals go, Tana as the locals call it, is more scenic than the others. It is located in the Madagascan highlands with its dramatic rolling hills and mountainous scenery. The houses are unique, I'm not sure if it's French, local, or a mix but there could be worse things to look at if you had to stay in a city for a night.

3. Ilha de Mozambique, Mozambique

Hauntingly beautiful. These are the right words to describe this town. Once the colonial capital of Mozambique under Portuguese rule, this town was a thriving hub for trade and commerce in the Indian Ocean. Portuguese architectural influences are all over the island as museums, forts, and houses were built in that style. When the Portuguese left, all their buildings remained but have slowly decayed over the years making this place feel like a city lost in time. Pictures will not this place no justice, nor will anything I write about it. It's a place that needs to be scene in person.

2. Swakopmund, Namibia

Sandwiched between endless white dunes, and the Atlantic ocean, this former German colonial town still has numerous buildings with Bavarian influences which when you think of where you are at the moment, it's a big wtf moment. Nevertheless, this town is a great stopover before or after seeing the incredible dunes of the Namib desert. There's numerous activities that can be done here like quadbiking, sandboarding, and skydiving. The restaurant scene is amazing here as well. Game meats are readily available for the adventurous and oysters are world famous here.

Cape Town, South Africa

Okay so I promised I wouldn't use South Africa in this list but I have to give a shout out to Cape Town. It's the most beautiful city I've ever seen when it comes to natural beauty. Sure, there are no medieval museums or renaissance architecture to speak of, but the views of the mountains, beaches, and ocean is beyond compare. It's no surprise the New York Times rated Cape Town as the #1 city to visit for 2014!

 

Best Food


Perhaps surprising to some, Africa is not the place to be for the culinary fanatics. Food is pretty plain, not so flavorful, and uninspired. Go to Thailand and SE Asia for the best food based travels. The African palate is almost all based on maize meal, or better known as pap in South Africa, Sadza in Zimbabwe, nShima in Zambia, Ugali in Eastern Africa, and banku in West Africa. For how different all the African cultures are, somehow they all share the same base of food. I suppose that’s similar with Asia and rice. I’m not a fan of pap so my culinary options were limited. Nevertheless, there are still some gems to be had in Africa.

5. Uganda

Uganda was blessed with a large Indian population (many of which were subsequently deported during Idi Amin's reign) and many of their culinary influences stayed. Along with the ample amounts of street foods available like grilled chicken, beef skewers, and the chapati, also what I'm eating in this picture. 

4. Madagascar

Madagascar has so much culinary diversity, it is hard to pinpoint what "Malagasy" food is. There is much French influence here that most tourists will see this side of its cuisine more than the local stuff. Either can be great. The food along the coast is far superior as spicy curries combined with so much seafood is amazing. Like food spicy? Just ask for sakay, chili peppers with ginger and oil, that is available at any and all Malagasy restaurants. 

3. Zanzibar, Tanzania

Tanzania is not known for its food but the beautiful island paradise of Zanzibar has delicious food. Zanzibar is famous for its spices and culinary influences from all around the world have influenced the food here making it a delicious combination of Indian, Middle Eastern, and African food. 

2. Mozambique

Mozambique is famous for its endless amounts of seafood for cheap. It is also home to peri peri sauce; a tangy, spicy sauce that goes good with pretty much everything. Whether you want to buy seafood from the Maputo Market, or freshly caught from fisherman at the beach, seafood lovers won't be going hungry here. I LOVE seafood and I don't think I was in a more happy state than the three weeks I spent in this country, eating lobster and prawns by the kilo every day. 

1. South Africa

Well there's not much surprise here. South Africa has some of the best food in the world. Cape Town is a culinary hub nowadays with so many different cuisines available. If delicious steak and top quality wine for cheap sounds good, look no further than South Africa. Seafood is readily available as well making South Africa a place I miss daily because of its delicious food. Oh, and don't even get me started on the biltong. Oh the biltong!!!

 

Most Undeveloped Country


Madagascar

Of all the countries I've visited in my life, Madagascar is at the top for the least developed. Sure, many of the other African nations I visited are just as poor as Madagascar from a GDP per capita basis but from an infrastructure point of view, Madagascar is at the very worst. To me, this adds to its allure as you really feel like you've ventured somewhere really out of the normal realm of travel destinations. 

Continued...

The main highways of Madagascar are 1.5 lane, pot hole infested, and is used equally by cars as it is by people with ox carts. There is not a single traffic light in the entire country and street lights are far and few in the major cities. If there were no cars or no modern technology (phones etc.), it'd feel as if you were transported back to medieval times.  I remember pulling into Antsirabe at night time on our first day in Madagascar, and I had no idea we had arrived in one of Madagascar's main cities.

 

Best Animal Interactions


What’s a list of Africa’s best without animals?? No better place to interact with animals than the source. Forget the zoo my friends, I definitely will be for the rest of my life. If you wanna see and play with animals, come to Africa.

5.Warthogs in Kasane, Botswana

Well I can't chalk this up to actual physical interaction with a warthog. They aren't as cuddly as the Lion King makes them out to be, and they're a lot bigger and a lot meaner than they look. While stopping to pick up some supplies before our safari in the Chobe National Park in Kasane, Botswana, we spotted a bunch of warthogs walking in the town. Townsfolk didn't seem to be bothered by them at all but we were so intrigued, the locals probably just looked at us laughing at the fact that this wild pig entertains us so much.

4. Knysna Elephant Park

I've ridden elephants in Asia before but that's with a guide coddling you the entire time. The Knysna Elephant park let me do whatever I wanted next to these gentle giants. I was petting, hugging, and even playing with the elephants big ears and as you can tell by the picture, the elephant couldn't be any less bothered by me. A definite good stop along the Garden Route for elephant lovers.

3. Madagascar Lemurs

Visiting Madagascar, you certainly won't have a shortage of lemur sightings or lemur interactions. Are lemur pets a big thing in Madagascar? Not from what I saw. But if they could be pets, they would make damn good ones. They have 100x the personality of cats or dogs, and they can fly around tree branches. I ended up playing with lemurs a bunch during my time in Madagascar, including this Ring Tailed lemur that wouldn't take no for an answer when it spent the night in our room.

2. Free State Lion cub interaction

Most visitors to South Africa will visit the Lion Park in Johannesburg to check off the lion cub interaction box. Sorry, that's childs play compared to many other things you do can in the country if you know the right place. The Lion Park allows you to spend maybe 5 minutes if you're lucky and if the cubs are sleeping? Tough luck. I was lucky enough to visit a game farm specializing in raising lions and there were no shortage of lion cubs to play with and no limit on time. Does playing with a lion cub ever get old? Hell no.

1. Thandeka Private Reserve

One of the best things about South Africa is the endless number of private game reserves where you can just pop over for the weekend and relax while going on game drives seeing the big 5. Thandeka Private Reserve took that to another level as they happened to have a few white lions raised in captivity. These lions were raised about people their entire lives and wanted nothing more than to play with the guests. Thing is, the lions (when I visited in June 2013) were already a year and a half old, and over 100kg so "playing" might not be the best term to use here. These lions are definitely fully grown as I write this in 2015 so I'm not sure if guests are still allowed to play with them but what an experience that was!

Bonus: Ankole Cows of Uganda

Well I'm not sure if this counts as an animal interaction but I got pretty damn close to them. This species of cows are native only to Uganda, Sudan, and Kenya. They have the largest horns of any cow species in the world with an individual horn able to reach 1m! I've seen cows everyone I've been in Africa (it's the most important livestock), but only in Uganda did we specifically ask our driver to stop so we could take pictures of the cows! 

 

The Travels Continue


Well it’s been a great run traveling through Africa. I visited every place I wanted to see, and what a great experience. I’ve since moved back to America after two great years in South Africa. I’ll be back in Africa again without a doubt, but until then, there are other places to see in the world and I will continue to write about it on this blog!

If I left any categories out of this list, please leave a comment!

Showing 14 comments
  • Douglass Ornelos
    Reply

    How did xenophobic violence explode in South Africa, a country that tries to portray itself as a diverse rainbow nation?

  • Tony Hu
    Reply

    This must be one of the best travel posts I’ve read in a long time. It’s so incredible that you got to travel to all those places and even more unique to make the comparisons that you’ve made here (especially your beach pictures WOW). I doubt there’s any other site that has summarized so much of Africa like you. Keep traveling and inspiring!! This post should have 10 times more comments!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hey Tony, thanks for the comments! Much appreciated. Ya I was lucky enough to travel to as much of Africa as I did. If I hadn’t lived in South Africa, there would have been no way but I made it work and can make those interesting comparisons that I couldn’t otherwise!
      Johnny recently posted…48 Hours In Copenhagen, DenmarkMy Profile

  • Abhay Gupta
    Reply

    Truly your blog is very inspiring and the best I have very read in long time. The way you have described your experiences and travels is just pure delight. I will be travelling Sa very soon and the things you have mentioned on your blog are on my checklist.
    Thank you for such an incredible blog… Looking for more!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thank you for the nice comments Abhay! Hope you enjoy South Africa! I tell all my friends to visit without any hesitation and I’m sure you’ll have a great time!
      Johnny recently posted…Cost of Living in Cape TownMy Profile

  • Sine
    Reply

    Hi Johnny – so glad you found my blog so that I could find yours! You have some wonderful information here for other expats, and as I’ve told you before, I may take up one or two of your themes to share with my readers as well. I’ll also be posting links on my FB page. It’ll be great for new expats to read up on how to get internet, banking, insurance, a new car, etc all set up when they fist arrive, and to perhaps get some new tips from your experience with it all. And of course especially your travel tips! I thought I was well traveled in Africa but of course with 4 kids in tow you don’t quite get around so much as you have done:-)

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Sine! I found your blog incredibly useful, especially before I moved to SA.

      We both know traveling Africa isn’t a cheap endeavor and especially with 4 kids wow! I’m surprised you managed to get any travel in outside of South Africa. I’m also not sure hitch-hiking and group taxis are “4 kids friendly”. Nevertheless, the countdown begins till the day all your kids turn 18 and are out of the house so you can return to the place you called home for many years 🙂
      Johnny recently posted…The Best Of Johnny Africa – Top Moments Traveling Through AfricaMy Profile

  • Danielle
    Reply

    Hi Johnny! I’m heading to South Africa next month and starting an overland trip to Victoria Falls. I have some free time before hand and now I’m seriously considering going to Mozambique after your photos. Do you know anything about going from Victoria Falls into Mozambique?? Again, amazing post!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Danielle! If you have the time, then I’d HIGHLY recommend a visit to Mozambique! From Vic Falls, it will not be an easy journey I don’t think. There may be a bus that goes from Vic Falls to Harare (ZIm’s capital), and then to Mutare at the border. From there, you can hitchhike to Beira and then make your way north to the Quirimbas (assuming that’s where you want to go).

      What I think may be a better route is to continue on your overland tour to Malawi (which one are you doing? they almost all continue on to Malawi). Spend some time in Malawi and cross the border into Cuamba, and then from there, take a chappa to Ilha De Mozambique. I met a few people during my time in Ilha that actually came from Malawi and although they said it was a bumpy ride, they made it in one piece!

  • Kary
    Reply

    Another fabulous post! As always, your writing is both inspiring and informative. I’m going on my third year in SA and have traveled quite a bit, but you’ve managed to provide a whole new list of places I want to see and things I want to do.

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Kary! Glad to have been able to inspire. It’s what it’s all about. Looking forward to hearing about your Madagascar trip!

  • Irene
    Reply

    I’m honestly blown away by how much traveling you did. Most people don’t even go to Africa let alone see half the continent like you! Your pics are just amazing too and really capture the moments you’re talking about. I did a safari in Kenya before but now I want to go back again!

  • Sarah Jones
    Reply

    I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now and I so love your style of writing. You pics are incredible and I honestly don’t think I know anyone that’s traveled to the places you’ve been and done as much as you have in such short time.

    So does this mean you’re no longer traveling through Africa???

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