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Top 10 unusual destinations

Africa abounds with secret destinations just waiting to be discovered. Here are the favorites of the ANA team!

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is a salt pan – with an area of 3,900 kilometers. Situated in the middle of the dry savanna of north-eastern Botswana. It is one of the largest salt flats in the world. Lying south-west of the Okavango Delta and surrounded by the Kalahari Desert.

This area of salt flats formed by a huge lake that dried up thousands of years ago turns, as soon as the rain comes, into a green landscape where you can see a rush of wild animals.

Zebras, wildebeest and flamingos are the only other visitors to this unknown part of northeast Botswana. The zebra migration in Botswana begins when the first rains fall, usually between late November and early December.

The floating village of Nzulezo, Ghana

With stilt structures over water and houses built from branches of raffia palm, Nzulezo in Jomoro district of western Ghana could pass for a less elaborate version of Venice, Italy.

The village, 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Accra, Ghana’s capital city for many centuries has coexisted with nature and is a perfect symbiosis of people and Earth. Built over the Lake Tandane, Nzulezo derives its name from a local language, Nzema, meaning “surface of water.”

More than 500 others live in Nzulezo where all of life’s daily chores from the preparation of meals to children going to school take place on water.

The legend is that Nzulezo ancestors were led by their god who appeared in the form of a snail to Lake Tandane in today’s Ghana. The spirit told them to build their houses on the water for safety and security.

Many centuries after, residents in Nzulezo still live on wooden structures.

Nzulezo, which is on the tentative list to be one of the world’s cultural heritage sites, is also known for its rare turtle species, monkeys and crocodiles.

Tsingy de Bemaraha, a Forest of Limestone Needles – Madagascar

Madagascar is known as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’ because about ninety percent of the fauna and flora is found nowhere else on Earth, distinctly different to the ‘plains of Africa’.

The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is an otherworldly destination where few have trodden, far from the tourist crowds. The park is dominated by two spectacular limestone plateaus known as Great Tsingy and Little Tsingy.

Scattered between the plateaus are areas of forest, savannah, lakes, and mangroves, creating an astounding variety of different habitats. A network of aerial suspension bridges was built, making it possible to explore this region by climbing from one peak to the next with the help of a trained guide.

Draa Valley, Morocco

About a 5-hour drive from the touristy city of Marrakech, between the Atlas Mountains and the dunes of the Sahara lies one of Morocco’s most splendid and rewarding landscapes: the Draa, a mass of date plantations punctuated by kasbahs made of rammed red earth rising against the sky.

Dominating the river of the same name, oued Drâa is the longest river of Morocco with 1 100 kilometers. Its valley has an inhabited part with many oases in the middle Draa, it is the classic “valley of Draa” of tourist Morocco, and a desert part downstream from Mahmid el Ghizane

Zagora, at the southern end, makes a good base with decent hotels and restaurants.

Quirimbas Archipelago – Mozambique

Mozambique’s best-kept secret for many years, the Quirimbas Archipelago has become a sought-after seaside destination but retains its exclusivity. You’ll be met by the unspoilt beauty of powder-soft sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and inviting turquoise waters.

This Archipelago is made up of over 27 offshore islands, strung along the coast of Mozambique. Each island has its own story to tell – some boasting ancient architecture and others dubbed the most romantic honeymoon destinations on Earth. Barefoot luxury tempts with stays at luxurious lodges right at the water’s edge, letting you disappear from the modern world.

These private islands are accessed by light aircraft or helicopter flights. When you aren’t scuba diving or snorkelling among pristine reefs, you’ll be admiring the setting sun kissing the ocean during a traditional dhow cruise.

Kolmanskop Ghost Town, Lüderitz – Namibia

Lüderitz is a picturesque port town on the Atlantic coast of Namibia, surrounded by the Namib Desert. In addition to sampling fresh ocean lobsters and oysters in one of the local restaurants, walking around and admiring the colorful art-deco architecture is a popular pastime

Just ten kilometers inland from Lüderitz, you will find the ghost town of Kolmanskop. It came to life when diamonds were discovered in 1908 and was eventually abandoned, leaving the town intact since 1954.

Today, it is a haunting, desolate destination where the sands of time have swallowed up much of the once vibrant 1920s culture. Photographers from around the world travel there to capture stunning images of this singular place.

Lekki Conservation Center – Nigeria

Nigeria is home to the longest canopy walkway in Africa.

A walk high above the ground on Africa’s longest canopy walkway is a great way to explore Nigeria’s natural beauty.

The Lekki Conservation Centre offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Nyiragongo Volcano, Virunga National Park – Democratic Republic of Congo

A whopping 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) wide and usually containing a lava lake, Nyiragongo Volcano is one of Africa’s most active volcanoes, with an eruption in 2002 displacing half a million people.

Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano that features the world’s largest active lava lake. The volcano’s forested lower slopes are home to various animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, bushbuck and the three-horned chameleon, which makes the walk even more rewarding. The more adventurous will dare a trek…

Mafia Island – Tanzania

Many people head to the Serengeti when they visit Tanzania or head to the famous Ngorongoro Crater – and who can blame them? Tanzania is one of Africa’s most incredible safari destinations and it’s easy to overlook the lesser-known gems. But the glorious island of Mafia is truly a little slice of paradise hidden in a world of rivers, lakes, mountains, arid landscapes and migrating beasts. Located 75 miles off the east coast of Dar es Salaam, this dreamy white sand paradise is virtually untouched.

Stone Town – Zanzibar

Stone Town in Zanzibar is architecturally striking with a unique mix of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. A UNESCO World Heritage Site – in the heart of Zanzibar City – it is a tangle of winding alleyways that have remained true to character since the 19th century.

Stone Town is undoubtedly one of the most amazing places to visit in Africa, yet you won’t feel like you are in Africa. Exploring these narrow cobblestone streets infused with Arab-style and a distinct Swahili atmosphere is the best way to let your feet follow your curiosity.

This ancient city is a gateway to the past, where you can peruse the Forodhani Gardens night market, or meander the Beit el-Ajaib (House of Wonders), a former sultan’s palace. Little known to many, Stone Town is the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, and you’ll also find a museum honoring the late lead singer for Queen.

Being a tropical paradise, it delights with a profusion of water-based activities. Sail serenely on a traditional dhow, swim with dolphins, and explore beautiful coral reefs. Few island destinations offer such intimate access to the ocean paired with perfect conditions.

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