Features // Africa

14 things you need to know before backpacking Africa
14 things you need to know before backpacking Africa

For intrepid and adventurous backpackers, the enigmatic African continent will always possess a particular allure. But Africa is not for the faint-hearted, and even more seasoned travellers will undoubtedly face a steep learning curve during their time here. From dealing with deadly fauna to falling foul of dodgy juice, here are some of the things you need…

A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Marrakesh
A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Marrakesh

The last few years have seen Marrakesh well and truly established as Morocco’s capital of chic, attracting the rich and famous from Europe and beyond. Yet the city has always had a mystique about it. It’s a place of immense beauty, sitting beneath the dramatic peaks of the High Atlas mountains – its narrow alleys beg discovery while its…

7 Amazing African Journeys
7 Amazing African Journeys

Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on a rickety old railway one day and standing atop a crescent-shaped, rust-coloured sand dune the next. As American author John Hemingway once said, “If I have ever seen magic, it…

Aiming high: 6 of Africa’s most epic mountain climbs
Aiming high: 6 of Africa’s most epic mountain climbs

It might be better known for bush and beach holidays, but Africa also has its fair share of magical, high-altitude mountains that deserve a place at the top of every hardy trekker’s wish list. They can be tough, torturous and knee-trembling, often involving mud-drenched trails in hot and humid rainforests, snow right on the equator and…

27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia
27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

Namibia has some of the world’s most astonishing landscapes. It’s home to the world’s oldest desert, a long and undeveloped coastline and national parks that teem with wildlife. After spending ten days exploring this vast land, Lottie Gross shares some of her favourite photos from Namibia. Namibia is such a pleasure to view through a lens,…

17 striking portraits of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley tribes
17 striking portraits of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley tribes

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundaries, and few tourists are allowed the pleasure of a genuine experience with local people. Here, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper tells us about his experience photographing…

23 incredible pictures of Kenya
23 incredible pictures of Kenya

Beyond the wildlife, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper took an intrepid trip through Kenya to visit remote tribes and see stunning landscapes. Here, he shares his favourite pictures of Kenya with us.  Like Kenya itself, the country’s capital is a place of absolute contrast. It’s hard to believe that just a short drive from Nairobi’s…

Exploring Zimbabwe’s most accessible highlights
Exploring Zimbabwe’s most accessible highlights

With the arrival of a new airport at Victoria Falls, Stuart Butler explores the area and its offering to the influx of tourists Zimbabwe’s government is hoping to see. Carefully I turned it over in my hands. It was heavier than I expected and larger. It was also kind of drab to look at. I…

Nanyuki: the Kenyan town where your Valentine’s roses are grown
Nanyuki: the Kenyan town where your Valentine’s roses are grown

When you receive your Valentine’s bouquet this year, will you wonder where it came from? Probably not, but it’s possible your flowers are better travelled than you. Sitting just below the horn of Africa, Kenya is the largest exporter of flowers to the European Union, meaning your pretty petals may have crossed equators and oceans…

Beneath the Mountain of God: Tanzania’s Lake Natron
Beneath the Mountain of God: Tanzania’s Lake Natron

Just a stone’s throw from some of Africa’s most celebrated safari destinations, the astonishing Lake Natron remains irresistibly isolated and under-explored. But with so much to offer and with the world outside drawing ever nearer, Christopher Clark is left wondering what the future holds for this hidden highlight. The air seems hotter and drier with…

Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures
Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Today Ethiopia is celebrating Christmas. Following the Julian calendar, this East African, Orthodox Christian nation celebrates Christmas on the 7th January each year. In Lalibela, one of the holiest sites in Ethiopia, tens of thousands of pilgrims gather for mass in the town’s 12 rock-hewn churches. All through the night there’s chanting, singing, swaying and praying…

Why the Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s must-see destinations
Why the Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s must-see destinations

The Northern Cape, home to diamond mining capital Kimberley and wilderness of the Kalahari Desert, remains South Africa’s least visited province. But it just doesn’t make sense, according to writer Meera Dattani. Here she tells us why it’s one of South Africa’s top destinations. So why should I go? If empty roads flanked by saltpans, sand dunes,…

Cape Town’s irrepressible township revolution
Cape Town’s irrepressible township revolution

Many visitors to Cape Town leave with a fairly limited view of the Mother City. They see the whitewashed beachfront restaurants and hotels, take the cable car up Table Mountain and top up their tan before heading home with a suitcase full of overpriced carved wooden animals that were actually made in China. The overwhelming…

Dhow boats and dawas: it’s time to come back to Kilifi, Kenya
Dhow boats and dawas: it’s time to come back to Kilifi, Kenya

With the recent lifting of the British High Commission’s travel ban on parts of the Kenyan coastline, you should once again think about Kilifi when planning your trip to Kenya. At this lesser-known resort around two hours north of Mombasa, you can still sail on dhows in the pristine Indian Ocean and soak up the golden sun on…

15 beguiling pictures of Uganda
15 beguiling pictures of Uganda

I’m an Aussie girl and have been living and working in Uganda for the past fifteen years. Apart from my “regular” day job, I’m also a freelance photographer. I arrived in Uganda in August 2000, with my husband, after an eight-month 4×4 overland journey we started in London, in December 1999. It was during this journey I…

12 beautiful Kiswahili proverbs from Tanzania
12 beautiful Kiswahili proverbs from Tanzania

Kiswahili is the glue that binds Tanzania together. It’s essentially a Bantu tongue, enriched by thousands of loan words, primarily Persian and Arabic, but also Hindi, Portuguese, German and English. Kiswahili is pronounced exactly as it’s written, with the stress nearly always on the penultimate syllable. Where an apostrophe precedes a vowel (eg ng’ombe; cattle), the…

7 things you probably didn’t know about Senegal
7 things you probably didn’t know about Senegal

Say Senegal or mention West Africa and misinformed mutterings of ebola start to spread quicker than the virus itself. Sitting on the western shoulder of Africa, Senegal is frequently overlooked by travellers – but for little good reason. While the excellent birding and beaching in The Gambia – the country that slices Senegal’s coastline in two…

Passport to write: the runners-up!
Passport to write: the runners-up!

After weeks of deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce the results of the Rough Guides and Journeys are made @gapyear.com writing competition. The winning piece can be read here, but we’ve also picked two fantastic runners-up.  Kyle Cunningham chose the theme “my greatest adventure”, writing about several days of searching for the rare silky sifaka in the lemur-filled jungles…

Quiz: can you locate these national parks?
Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

National parks are some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural places, taking in mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and forests (sometimes all in the same one), but how much do you know about them? Can you tell these national parks apart? Compare flights, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

Fez: Morocco’s new culinary capital
Fez: Morocco’s new culinary capital

Morocco‘s third-largest city tends to go overlooked, and it certainly isn’t shouted about as a culinary hotspot. Even getting here – with limited flight connections and rail services – requires some effort. And once you’re inside the largest medina in Africa, a colossal walled labyrinth of around ten thousand lanes, things get even trickier. It’s a…

How Africa became the new music festival destination
How Africa became the new music festival destination

With events to rival America and Europe, Africa is now drawing music festival fiends in their thousands. Harriet Constable finds out more. Demand worldwide for music festivals shows no signs of slowing, and Africa – home to the most diverse cultures, sounds and achingly beautiful locations on earth – is starting to host some of the most exciting…

Nyamirambo: Kigali’s coolest neighbourhood
Nyamirambo: Kigali’s coolest neighbourhood

Rwanda’s capital is often described as a city that sleeps, rather than one that doesn’t. Rwandans are, by nature, more reserved than Kenyans, or other Africans. Loud music isn’t tolerated after 8pm and bars tend to close early. Some may call it boring, but Kigali’s residents embrace the city’s quiet calm. Yet, the oldest part…

Boda boda tours: getting under the surface of Uganda’s capital
Boda boda tours: getting under the surface of Uganda’s capital

There’s only one way to avoid the traffic-burdened streets of Uganda’s capital, Kampala: hop on the back of a boda boda, the city’s motorcycle taxi. The motorbikes got their name from the slang term “border border”, because back in the 1960s and 70s people took motorcycle taxis as a fast, and inexpensive way to cross…

Discover Nairobi’s flourishing foodie scene
Discover Nairobi’s flourishing foodie scene

Compile a list of the world’s top foodie destinations and it’s a pretty safe bet that Kenya wouldn’t make the cut. Up until now, the country has failed to gain any kind of glamorous status for its food culture, predominantly because traditional eats are created to be filling and inexpensive. Staple meals like ugali –…

Video of the week: Vive le Maroc
Video of the week: Vive le Maroc

YouTube and Vimeo are a treasure trove of stunning travel video. From round-the-world epics to underwater exploration, you can visit almost anywhere in the world at the click of a button. Each week, we’re going to highlight one of our favourite videos from the moving image ether. First up, we’ve been whisked away to Morocco…

9 of the world’s best white­water rafting spots
9 of the world’s best white­water rafting spots

Rough Guides’ adventure sports expert Helen Abramson gives us her top tips on some of the world’s best adrenalin­-pumping whitewater rafting. Rapids are classified from I–VI, where grade VI is “un-runnable”, so the Grade V rivers listed here are essentially as thrilling as it gets. 1. Zambezi River, Zimbabwe Africa’s most exhilarating rafting is found on…

Chefchaouen: Morocco’s best-kept secret
Chefchaouen: Morocco’s best-kept secret

Morocco’s tourist track isn’t well-beaten, it’s been thumped flat. Ask anyone who has been and the chances are they’ll have visited some combination of Marrakesh, the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains and Essaouira – and they’ll probably have a small stuffed camel and a leather purse to prove it. These are all worthwhile destinations in…

Quiz: can you name these famous sights?
Quiz: can you name these famous sights?

Do postcards and travel posters paper your walls? Do you pride yourself on your travel knowledge? We’ve selected ten of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights around the world to put you to the test. Can you identify the famous sight from the picture? Be warned, sometimes places can look surprisingly similar…

12 captivating pictures of Egypt
12 captivating pictures of Egypt

Rough Guides author and photographer Anthon Jackson has travelled to over eighty countries, from Morocco to Indonesia and Ethiopia to India, capturing many of his experiences through photography. Here, he shares some of his favourite pictures of Egypt. “I’d been to Egypt a few times before getting into photography, including one stint studying Arabic, so I wasn’t completely…

Quiz: can you identify the country from its outline?
Quiz: can you identify the country from its outline?

Are you a cartographic clever-clogs or due a geography refresher course? We’ve compiled the outlines of ten different countries – large and small – without any rivers, seas, mountains or cities to help you. Can you deduce the country from its shape alone? Take the quiz to find out…

8 off-the-beaten-track experiences in The Gambia
8 off-the-beaten-track experiences in The Gambia

Think of The Gambia and sun, sea and sand package holidays might spring to mind, but visitors are starting to explore beyond the beaches. Lynn Houghton tells us eight of the best ways to get off the beaten track. The tiny West African country of The Gambia is dissected by its namesake, the River Gambia.…

7 unforgettable places to go trekking in Morocco
7 unforgettable places to go trekking in Morocco

Few countries boast such impressive natural diversity as Morocco. From its balmy coastline to the remote landscapes of its interior, the country offers visitors everything from relaxed beach breaks through to mountain escapes. Yet trekking in Morocco remains the highlight for many. Beginners will enjoy gentle forays into the Atlas Mountains in summer, while tacking some of Africa’s toughest terrain in the…

7 places to sample Cape Town’s hedonistic nightlife
7 places to sample Cape Town’s hedonistic nightlife

Whatever your scene, from sweaty electronic music dancefloors to open-air beer gardens, Cape Town has it all. Being a hedonistic city – especially in the summer – Cape Town has plenty of great bars where you can drink and party, especially on Long and Bree Streets where it’s safe and busy, and there are taxis to…

Video: things not to miss in Morocco
Video: things not to miss in Morocco

Trekking in the Atlas Mountains, traversing the Sahara on camel-back, or surfing along the Atlantic Coast: Morocco offers a plethora of things to do and places to explore. Here are 26 of our favourites: Subscribe to Rough Guides on YouTube for more inspirational travel videos >  Explore more of Morocco with the Rough Guide to…

Video: things not to miss in Egypt
Video: things not to miss in Egypt

The oldest tourist destination on Earth, Egypt has a multitude of things to see and do. There are ancient pyramids, crumbling temples and vast deserts to explore – on foot or by camel – not forgetting the great river Nile. Find the top things not to miss in Egypt for your next trip. Explore the…

11 pictures of Morocco at its most magical
11 pictures of Morocco at its most magical

Our roaming author and photographer Anthon Jackson has travelled to over eighty countries, from journeying across Iran and Egypt to researching for Rough Guides in Indonesia and India. Here he shares some of his favourite images of Morocco, a country with “plenty of dreamy spots to wander around with a camera.” “On my first visit to Morocco it…

15 things not to miss in Kenya
15 things not to miss in Kenya

From gorgeous Indian Ocean-lapped beaches to the wildlife-filled Maasai Mara, here are fifteen things you shouldn’t miss on a trip to Kenya. EXPLORE MORE OF THE WORLD WITH THE ROUGH GUIDES YOUTUBE CHANNEL.  Explore more of Kenya with the Rough Guide to Kenya. Book hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Nile be back: why it’s time to return to Upper Egypt
Nile be back: why it’s time to return to Upper Egypt

On a cruise from Luxor to Aswan, along a stretch of the Nile lined by some of the world’s most impressive ancient monuments, Keith Drew makes the most of Egypt’s greatest sights while they’re still crowd free.  “Come closer, my dear family,” says Addy, our Orbital guide, “you need to see this.” We gather round like wide-eyed school…

Cairo through the ages
Cairo through the ages

As visitors slowly return to Egypt after years of political instability and unrest, Keith Drew traces the history of Cairo, the largest city in the Arab world.  Midan Tahrir was strangely peaceful. A handful of tourists milled around waiting for the Egyptian Museum to open its doors for the day. Taxis, trucks and donkey carts…

Travel news: Moscow to Beijing in just two days?
Travel news: Moscow to Beijing in just two days?

Follow us on a whistle-stop tour of the latest travel stories, including news of a super-fast train line between Moscow and Beijing, the suitcase that heats up to kill bed bugs, and the airline that wants passengers to start checking in with their thumbprints.  Two-day Trans-Siberian Riding the Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the world’s…

10 eye-opening underwater videos
10 eye-opening underwater videos

The oceans cover over seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, yet when it comes to travelling most of us stick to dry land. It’s a shame, as there are some amazing experiences to be had underwater – from swimming with whale sharks to diving around World War II wrecks. Thanks to advances in camera technology,…

Video: the world’s friendliest cities
Video: the world’s friendliest cities

Which cities are going to welcome you with open arms? Where will the locals be likely to buy you a beer, and who’s going to invite you in for tea when it’s cold? We asked our social media followers to vote for the friendliest city in the world. These are the results: Explore more of…

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