Where To Travel In Your Downtime In Africa

If your expat assignment takes you to Africa, why not travel to these recommended places in your time off?

 

Marrakech, Morocco

The new Travellers' Choice #1 Destination in the world, Marrakech 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 you may only step inside if you are Muslim).

 

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, #9 on the list of Travellers' Choice Destination World Winners, glistens at the southern tip of the African continent. Picture-perfect 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 sombre note, travellers can visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years.

 

Fes, Morocco

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 mediaeval 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.

 

Ukunda, Kenya

Ukunda cosies up to the spectacular Diani Beach, beloved for its clear shallow waters and tangerine sunsets. Snorkel and dive among colourful sea creatures or admire them from above via a glass-bottomed boat excursion. Book a private or group safari to get up close and personal with African wildlife, or be awestruck by the enchanting Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest. Seeking a special meal? Dine at Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant for a mix of archaeology, gastronomy, and romance.

 

Knysna, South Africa

Knysna stands out on South Africa's famed Garden Route thanks to the sandstone cliffs that dramatically separate its tranquil lagoon from the pounding surf of the Indian Ocean. It's also home to the country's largest indigenous forest. Hop aboard a ferry for a ride through the scenic highlights. The Millwood Mines at Jubilee Creek, site of a major gold rush in 1885, provide a picturesque spot for a picnic. Be sure to try some local oysters during the renowned annual festival.

 

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.

 

Essaouira, Morocco

Portuguese, French and Berber architecture frame the maze-like streets of Essaouira, a charming and vibrant port and resort town on the Atlantic Ocean. Nearby, couples and families stroll the beaches of Cape Sim and Sidi Kaouki, which also attract surfers of all types. Relaxation is easy to find here, as is a bus to Marrakech, for those looking for a daytrip.

 

Merzouga, Morocco

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.

 

Franschhoek, South Africa

The village of Franschhoek (French Corner), tucked into the Cape winelands of South Africa, is known as the country's food and wine capital. Galleries and antique shops fill the tree-lined streets, and vineyards established more than 300 years ago cascade over the hills just outside town. Local activities range from wine-tasting tours to trout fishing and hiking. The Huguenot Memorial Museum honours the town's early settlers, who fled religious persecution in France.

 

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

The caves of Plettenberg Bay are wrinkles in time, lined with ancient artefact that date to the Middle Stone Age. Under the sun, Robberg, Central and Lookout beaches are pristine stretches of white sand, magnets for tourists, seagulls and dolphins, who bob playfully just offshore. Wildlife lovers will delight at the Birds of Eden aviary and Monkeyland. (How can you not have fun in a place called Monkeyland?)

 

Source: Travellers’ Choice Awards 2015, Tripadvisor