The most southern tip of Africa is a diverse Eden which stretches from majestic waterfalls, to inland savanna's teeming with wildlife, through mysterious red deserts, over spectacular mountain ranges, into dense forests and open country carpeted with flowers, down valleys of lush vineyards, finally reaching wild and pristine coastlines overflowing with unique marine life.
The Victoria Falls on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia are truly astonishing. They are the largest of their kind in the world, creating a powerful stream of water that releases water spray into the air which transforms the entire landscape around them. In December 2019 however, the worst drought in over a century upstream from the Zambezi River reduced this powerful force to a tame trickle of water. With the impact of climate change only set to get worse, it remains to be seen what the permanent impact will be on the falls, and how long their great flows of water will remain.
The west coast of Namibia is one of the driest places on Earth, with the largest sand dunes on Earth. The region has many untouched nature areas with beautiful desert scenes and star-filled night skies unmatched by most places on Earth. The 2020 calendar is filled with astronomic events that could not be viewed much better than they would be viewed here. Quad-bike tours through the desert or hot-air balloon rides over the desert leave much to explore that is completely unrelated to the night skies as well, in a landscape few city dwellers ever come across and almost everyone would find memorable in some way.
The Okavango Delta arises as the Okavango River’s waters from the north flood a 15000 square kilometer area of the Kalahari annually during the peak of Botswana’s dry season annually－ a seasonal oasis that lures animals here from throughout the region. It is the world’s largest inland delta and a prime location for game and bird watching alike. Few places boast having such a diversity of animals and birds gathering year upon year, however, the future of this place, like so many other natural wonders, is uncertain in the face of what climate change may mean for the seasonal rains that make this spectacular phenomenon possible.
The Kruger National Park is one of the largest and most varied protected areas in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. With habitats ranging from mountain bushveld in the very south, to mopane-dominated woodland areas in the north, open grassland areas in the centre-south and a whole range of other variations of the savannah biome in between. Safaris and game viewing are some of the activities you may enjoy here in 2020, with the big 5, cheetahs, wild dogs and black rhinos are just some of the rare mammals you might see here.
Cape Town is arguably South Africa’s most culturally rich city, with beautiful beaches and nature areas and the country’s leading gastronomic scene all contributing to its place on this list. Table Mountain and the surrounding Table Mountain National Park, along with Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are perfect for nature lovers, while nearby Boulders Beach and its colony of endangered African Penguins definitely warrants a visit. The city itself also has much to offer, with a vibrant culinary scene, a beautiful waterfront and and architecture dating back to the first European colonists in the country.
The idea of a tropical paradise has long been a popular one among holiday goers and honeymooners, though few places encompass this idea better than the archipelagos of Quirimbas and Bazeruto off the coast of Mozambique. Both groups of islands are the epitome of privacy, luxury, relaxation and exclusivity. The pristine beaches, bright blue waters and warm weather make this place a perfect getaway that may bear a resemble to a scene at the end of a spy movie, with a similar feeling of seclusion and comfort.
The Chobe National Park, in the north of Botswana, is another prime safari, game viewing and birding destination, with beautiful views of Forest and Savannah habitats. The area was once retained as part of the British Monarchy’s personal property before Botswana’s independence, a fact that serves as an ode to the regions beauty. The big 5 can be found around every corner here, though elephants in particular. There are many natural water sources scattered throughout the park where the regions many elephant often gather to cool off, and where visitors may enjoy sunset views alongside these gentle giants.
The Garden Route is a beautiful region bordering the south coast of South Africa that got its name from the diversity of plant-life found here. The forest areas around Knysna and Tsitsikamma are some of the only forests in South Africa, while the fynbos that covers most of the western regions of the Garden Route are part of a floral kingdom found nowhere else on Earth. The coastline also has much to offer, with dolphin and whale sightings, beautiful views and beaches that are popular among surfers.
Meandering roads and beautiful hills, with vineyards and Cape Dutch farmhouses as far as the eye can see– a fitting background to the fine grapes and master winemakers that have made the region what it is today. Apart from wine, cheese and even olive oil tastings, there are also a number of food and wine-centred festivals here throughout the year. There are also a number of restaurants dotted between the age-old farms here, where the food is guaranteed to pair well with your wine.
The Sabi Sands is a private game reserve bordering the western regions of the Kruger National Park. There are many exclusive lodges in the reserve, where visitor comfort and experience are virtually unmatched, and game viewing means close-up sightings of all the big mammals of the region, including the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, cheetah and an array of antelope species. It is most certainly a nature photographer’s paradise, and an ideal location to explore the wilderness in a relaxed and care-free setting.