The “Red City” of Marrakesh is a magical place, brimming with markets, gardens, palaces, and mosques. Exploring the intimate courtyards and snaking alleyways of the historic Medina can easily eat up a day. Find inner peace at the serene Jardin Majorelle or take in the beauty of one of the city’s historic mosques (taking note that, unless you are Muslim, you are not allowed to enter).
Bask in glorious sunsets and channel your inner sheik while you ride a meandering camel across the windblown dunes of Erg Chebbi. Merzouga, a small village in southeast Morocco, gives visitors a taste of desert life, and treks to nearby villages will reward you with African revelry, including music and dance. Ask your hotel to arrange a guided tour.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Cape Town glistens at the southern toe of the African continent. Tourist brochure-views at Blaauwberg Beach and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are within easy driving distance of "The Mother City." The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve provides sweeping sea vistas, hiking trails and wildlife encounters. On a more somber note, travelers can visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years.
The oldest university in the world isn’t Oxford or the Sorbonne—it’s the University of Al-Karaouine, and you’ll find it in Fes el Bali. This walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will transport you back to medieval times. Visit the ancient maze-like quarters of the Medina to Fes el-Bali and the four imposing Gates of Fes, with their distinctive Moroccan tile work. You can walk, or, if you're brave, take a taxi—the daredevil drivers will have you hanging on for dear life.
Arusha is Tanzania's gateway to the northern circuit of stellar national parks and the starting point of many a memorable safari. It's also a large, sprawling city with all the contradictions that brings.
The town offers a nice break from the rigours of life on the African road – it has excellent places to stay and eat and, for the most part, it's lush and green and enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year, thanks to its altitude (about 1300m) and its location near the foot of Mt Meru.
As the safari capital of northern Tanzania, though, Arusha is also where you're most likely to encounter touts offering safaris, souvenirs and all manner of deals, some genuine, many of them not. Their main haunts are the bus stations and along Boma Rd. The city's downtown area and the main road towards Dodoma are noisy and packed with people and traffic.
Diani Beach, Kenya
About an hour south of Mombasa, the sparkling white sands and lush greenery of Diani invite you to relax under a beach umbrella with a refreshing drink. Try a camel ride for the tourist experience or book a bike tour inland for a glimpse of life in local villages. Diani is also a base for several safari companies.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Rainbows are cool. But what trumps rainbows? Moonbows. If you visit Victoria Falls during a full moon, the light of the moon through the waterfall spray produces a lunar rainbow, or moonbow. More of a daredevil? Then try what’s been called the world’s best white-water rafting.
Zanzibar Island, Zanzibar Archipelago
The Zanzibar Archipelago, located in the Indian Ocean 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, is a breathtaking spot to escape from the world. You’ll enjoy clear, turquoise-blue water; shallow sandbars perfect for wading; and many small, nearly deserted islands virtually unvisited by tourists. Explore the World Heritage Site of Stone Town, Zanzibar City’s old quarter. Or just go beach to beach between tiny fishing villages—each one's better than the next.
Named after the famous Victorian missionary explorer, Dr David Livingstone, who explored this area extensively, Livingstone Town was established in 1905.
As a major European settlement, being close to the Zambezi River crossing over to Southern Rhodesia, the town was made the capital of Northern Rhodesia in 1911. As the capital, it enjoyed excellent facilities far superior to anything elsewhere in the country, as can be seen from the surviving Edwardian buildings that line the city’s main road. Livingstone even had the distinction of having the country’s first newspaper. The capital was moved to Lusaka in 1935 and the bustling city has become a quiet town, but still retaining a special charm. A major event in 2011 was the installation of the town’s first set of traffic lights! The proximity to the Zambezi River and the spectacular Victoria Falls has led Livingstone to become a base for travelers from all over the world wanting to explore this Wonder of the World.
Nosy Be, Antsiranana Province
“Nosy Be?” Is that a typo for “Noisy Bee?” Nope. It means “big island” and it is just that; a large island off the northwest coast of Madagascar. Here you’ll find volcanic lakes, lazy lemurs, rum distilleries, Ylang Ylang plantations and intricate coral reefs that are practically begging to be explored. Flora and fauna lovers will be in seventh heaven at the beautiful Lokobe Nature Special Reserve. Audiophiles should visit in May, to experience the four-day Donia Music Festival.