Top 10 Life-Changing Experiences You Can ONLY Have in Africa

by Sandy Salle on August 1, 2013

trip to Africa

We all move through this life in search of fulfillment. In fact, one could argue that every move we make is dedicated to producing self-fulfillment and joy—even when we’re helping others, we feel a true sense of happiness and achievement!

So if we’re all looking to live our lives with the same commitment to achieving fulfillment, then why not focus on finding those life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to embrace? Then, as the end of the road approaches, we know we’ve lived our lives to the fullest with no regrets.

Below are 10 must-do, life-changing experiences you can ONLY have in Africa, and I encourage you to add them to your bucket list if you’re looking for travel experiences that are unique, and most importantly fulfilling:

1. Witnessing a gorilla family socializing 

gorilla trekking

When someone asks me “what’s it like to witness a mountain gorilla in person?” I always start my thoughts with a stutter. It’s not because I’m nervous, but rather, it’s a pure loss of words! It’s difficult to describe a feeling, but if I had to associate a few words with a gorilla trekking experience, they would be: emotional, awe-inspiring, humbling, funny, rich, life-changing, enlightening.

To watch as a gorilla cares for her baby, in such similar fashion to humans, and observe their interactions among each other, you can’t help but cry—and laugh at times at the sheer beauty of it all!

2. Interacting with Maasai warriors

nomad tanzania

Image above taken from the Nomad-Tanzania website

Some of the most beautiful and inspiring individuals I’ve ever met, the Maasai people in Kenya, are not only mesmerizing to see in person, with their vibrantly colored traditional dress, but you also feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to have met such a fascinating people.

3. Searching for the Big Five in the Ngorongoro Crater

ngorongoro

Image above of the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (situated at the edge of the crater), taken from the andBeyond Facebook page

Situated in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania, the Ngorongoro Crater is a 5-square-mile volcanic caldera that an abundance of wildlife call home. This World Heritage Site is filled with breathtaking landscape, including grasslands, Lake Magadi, marshlands, and thick forests. The various eco-systems that make up Ngorongoro Crater are havens for all types of different mammals and birdlife, including hundreds of bird species, cheetah, jackal, bat-eared foxes, wildebeest, gazelle, jackal, and, of course, the Big Five.

4. Learning survival skills from Botswana’s Sans Bushmen tribe

An ancient and fascinating tribe, the Sans Bushmen of Botswana still uphold their centuries-old traditions. Visitors on a Botswana safari vacation can embark on interactive bushwalks with the Sans people to learn about their hunting and tracking methods, as well as traditional survival skills, tribal weaponry, and the laws of nature. This is an opportunity that very few in this world will ever experience.

5. Observing lemurs in their natural habitats

lemur

The only place in the world you will ever witness a lemur in the wild is in Madagascar—the fourth largest island in the world that sits off the southeast coast of the African continent. And with nearly 60 taxa (species and sub species) of lemur to witness, you’re sure to see a wide variety of lemur.

6. Running with the Great Migration

great migration

Image above taken from the Singita Grumeti blog

If you’ve ever watched or read National Geographic you know what the Great Migration is (but for those of you who don’t, click here to learn more about the Great Migration) and you are most likely itching to see it in person! It is by far one of the most riveting natural spectacles on Mother Earth and is an absolute must-visit for any discerning traveler looking for a life-changing experience. We suggest taking advantage of game drives around the Great Migration, but also consider horseback riding (where you can actually move and run with the herd!), as well as a hot air balloon ride of the Serengeti or Mara Plains.

7. Viewing chimpanzees in the wild

Deep within Tanzania’s Mahale Mountains is one of the most spectacular populations of chimpanzees on the planet. Visitors on a Tanzania safari vacation can experience these magnificent creatures in an intimate setting that is truly awe-inspiring. The trekking is moderate in terms of intensity and you get to enjoy an hour with the chimps once they are spotted.

8. Discovering the effects of Apartheid on the South African people

apartheid museum

For nearly 20 years now, South Africa has remained Apartheid-free, but the scars of the horrible political legislature and social segregation behind Apartheid is still remembered today at the Johannesburg Apartheid Museum.

As you enter the museum, you must purchase your ticket. Once your ticket prints, it randomly classifies you as either ‘white’ or ‘non-white.’ You then continue through the museum based on your classification. This experience helps visitors to understand what it was like for the people of South Africa to enter a public institution and it is truly a humbling experience. We have many clients who return home from their trip to South Africa with a new outlook on the country’s history and its leftover effects.

9. Standing before Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World

victoria falls

Referred to by locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means “The Smoke that Thunders,” the mist from Victoria Falls can be seen at a whopping 50 miles away! The Falls are nearly 350-feet high and spans almost a mile wide, making Victoria Falls one of the most riveting natural wonders. The Falls can be witnessed from both Zambia and Zimbabwe; however, Zimbabwe tends to provide the best views.

10. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is truly one of a kind as it’s the highest peak in the African continent and is higher than 19,000 feet! Because of its high altitude, picturesque scenery, and adventurous terrain, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most popular peaks to climb.

The great thing about Mount Kilimanjaro is that it’s a tough mountain to summit; however, it is achievable (unlike Mount Everest where you’re not sure if you’ll live or die!). It’s an amazing accomplishment to summit Mount Kilimanjaro and it’s actually a great activity to do with your family (as long as no one has serious medical conditions and everyone is in good physical health).

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