Although I no longer work in the travel industry, I still take particular interest in what’s happening in the sector. I think it’s obvious now that Africa will soon be THE place to holiday. At the moment there’s still a bit of fear surrounding travel to Africa, because much of what we hear about the continent is negative – wars, droughts, pirates etc. But, in having lived there for much of my life, and now having invested there, I think it’s one of the most beautiful, interesting, cultural and exciting continents in the world.
The Marriott International hotel group has been buying up sites across numerous countries for a while now, and really investing in tourism, so it’s clear they’re getting ready for the boom. They’re ahead of the pack at the moment. The Marriott International is now the biggest hotel group in operation in Africa! And it’s a fantastic position to be in. They’re setting themselves up for the future, and I’m certain they’re going to reap the rewards when it becomes ‘trendy’ to travel to places such as Tanzania, Mozambique, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria and Mali.
I think the most striking thing about Africa is the natural wonders it holds – both its environments and the animals which inhabit them. Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia for instance, as well as Mt Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania are really phenomenal places to behold. The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is also extremely impressive, and the Okavango Delta in Botswana. More than just the environment, it’s the wildlife that is one of the continent’s biggest attractions. Africa has a very unique set of animals – unlike anywhere else in the world – and people are willing to travel great distances to see the Big 5 in the wild. Where else can you see elephants, lions, rhinos and hippos roaming free?
If you visit the Rwanda Rainforest, you’ll get to watch mountain gorillas in their natural environment. And at Lake Nakuru in Kenya, you’ll be able to see hundreds of thousands of flamingos at one time, making for a truly spectacular sight.
The cultural and historic sites that you find in Africa are also very distinctive. Of course, Egypt is the prime example. But there’s also places like Timbuktu in Mali that a lot of people wouldn’t have visited, or even know actually exist. A lot of people assume Timbuktu is just a made up place, but it’s actually one of the most sacred places in Africa, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site now.
The beaches are also some of the most beautiful you’ll ever see. In South Africa, Longs Beach, Clifton and Camps Bay are three of the most impressive. But all up the east coast (particularly Tanzania and in the Seychelles) you’ll find spectacular stretches of sand.
Once people catch on to what Africa has to offer, and the negative ideas surrounding it disappear, there’ll probably be no better place to holiday in the world. I suppose as a native, I’m a bit biased.