How do you capture the essence of Africa on paper without using up every cliché in the book? No other continent comes close to it for scale, variety and pure, raw impact. Africa offers a travel experience a thousand kilometres from the well-backpacked, air-conditioned tourist trails of Southeast Asia or the cash-cow theme parks of Australia or Europe.
Africa’s natural history alone would make a dozen visits worthwhile – where else on earth can you fall asleep to the sound of lions roaring, or watch a million flamingos take off from the waters of a remote soda lake? Parts of Africa boast scenery so spectacular they’ll damn near blow your mind, but the essence of this incredible continent isn’t in any desert, mountain or lake. It’s the spirit of the people – pushing, shoving, sweating, dancing, singing and laughing – that infects so many visitors with a travel bug so powerful they’ll never stop coming back, sometimes against all sense or reason.
Debate with venerable merchants among the cool, narrow streets of an Arabic medina, dance to the thumping reggae beats coming from a West African market stall, or shoot the breeze with fishermen under Indian Ocean palm trees, and you’ll be struck more than anything else by the honesty, warm-heartedness and vitality of the African people.
Africa’s not always an easy place to travel in. It can be frustrating and challenging at times. Hardships and logistical disasters can happen. But don’t believe everything you see on TV: Africa’s not a hell hole full of civil war, plague, famine and violent crime. It’s a fantastic, enlightening, surprising and intriguing continent. Try it once, and we guarantee you’ll dream about coming back for the rest of your life.
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Best places to stay in Africa
Africa travel guide
Something special about Africa touches the soul; it is a continent of 54 immensely diverse countries that is both deeply troubled and profoundly uplifting.
Most action-packed jungles
Make like Tarzan and take on one of these truly original rainforest adventures. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Battlefield crossing, Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea Hiker on the Kokoda Track. Image by Andrew Peacock / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images.
Africa's World Heritage sites
Africa's music hotspots
Southern Africa - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Southern Africa starts here. You'll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on organising your ultimate safari.
Every country in the world displays some diversity, but South Africa), stretching from the hippos in the Limpopo River to the penguins waddling on the Cape, takes some beating.
Lonely Planet's travel nightmares
Even the most careful travellers occasionally find themselves getting lost, failing hard at local etiquette, or otherwise blundering and puking around a new destination. And while we’re seasoned explorers, Lonely Planet’s writers and staff have experienced their fair share of travel disasters.
Africa's top ancient sites and early civilisations
West Africa - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to West Africa starts here. You'll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus inspirational images of West African experiences.
Kilimanjaro - Rongai Route
Summit Africa's highest mountain via the Rongai Route
Best of Morocco
Travel to Morocco and visit the best of the country's attractions from Casablanca to Marrakech. Travel from the snow-capped Atlas Mountains to the endless sands of the Sahara, and from the medieval old town of Fes to the spice markets of Marrakech, the rich history and natural beauty of Morocco await.
These adventures will keep kids and grown-ups smiling while exploring the world. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Step into a fairy tale in Prague, Czech Republic Prague Castle. Image by Fandrade / Flickr / Getty Images.
Africa - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Africa starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on safaris.
Sights in Africa
Activities in Africa
Tours in Africa
Restaurants in Africa
Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Perhaps no other people in the world say ‘Welcome’ so frequently – and mean it every time.