14 February 2013 by Alex Stewart
If, like us, you have ever been wowed by David Attenborough describing Africa on the BBC then you may be wondering how to improve on the stunning visuals in your living room by seeing the settings for yourself.
To help, we've rounded-up seven ways to experience this diverse, extraordinary destination. We can't guarantee your trip will be narrated by the great man himself but we can ensure that you'll have a unique, memorable adventure on one of the greatest continents on earth.
Paddle the Okavango Delta in Botswana
The Okavango Delta, described as 'the river that never finds the sea' is the world's largest inland delta; the Okavango River simply dissipates into the sands of the Kalahari. Paddle a mokoro, traditional dugout canoe, through the maze of waterways and islets here to get close to the wildlife that lives amidst the watery wonderland.
Vast and virtually untouched, the Delta is considered one of nature's masterpieces and one of the best places to see hippo, buffalo, lion, leopard and wild dog as well as a wealth of amphibians and birdlife. With a range of activities on offer and retreats including fly-in lodges available for people seeking somewhere to escape, the Delta delivers.
Explore the Okavango Delta
Stay in the Okavango Delta
Track gorillas in Rwanda
The Parc National des Volcans, a chain of seven volcanoes, is the definitive place to track rare and enchanting mountain gorillas. One of the most stunning landscapes on the continent, the densely forested slopes are powerfully atmospheric and evocative, whilst encountering a family of gorillas in their natural environment - no bars, no windows, just you, eye to eye with a silverback - is simply one of life's most unforgettable moments.
Africa's easiest and most accessible gorilla treks can also be combined with further exploration of Rwanda or the chance to venture into neighbouring Uganda, where the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to a population of these great apes that's actually increasing.
Track gorillas and other primates
Stay in Parc National des Volcans
Two of Africa's most famous and celebrated national parks, the Masai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania offer unparalleled wildlife watching opportunities. The greatest spectacle though is the annual wildebeest migration, with a million animals on the move this is the world's greatest concentration of animals and Africa's most extravagant safari.
Learn how to follow the migration before planning your trip but set aside as much time as possible for the greatest show on earth. This though is the home of the safari and there are a host of parks to visit, each with a distinctive habitat and range of animals living there, as well as a wealth of luxury lodges and mobile tented camps in which to stay.
See the greatest show on earth
Stay in the Masai Mara and Serengeti
Discover empty parks & untouched beaches in Mozambique
A traveller hotspot in the 70s, Mozambique fell off the radar during a savage civil war. Since then though, the country has slowly but surely reasserted itself as one of the continent's best beach holiday destinations. Its 2,500km long Indian Ocean coastline is full of secluded and unspoiled beaches, whilst offshore archipelagos offer exceptional diving and snorkelling opportunities with dugongs, whale sharks, turtles and dolphins.
To see elephants and other large land animals though, explore Gorongosa National Park, a 'lost Eden' whose biodiversity and animal numbers are returning as a result of sustained conservation efforts in the wake of the civil war.
Take an island safari in Mozambique
Stay on the Indian Ocean
Experience the desert in Namibia
Namibia is one of Africa's most exciting destinations, an ancient and almost limitless land of wild beauty. The vast sands of the Kalahari and Namib are star attractions, with steepling, shifting dunes such as Sossusvlei unlike anything anywhere else.
The landscape also supports populations of black rhino and desert elephant, as well as a quarter of the world's cheetah population, making it an essential stop for Africaphiles. And that's before you explore the Skeleton Coast, descend into Fish River Canyon or stake out a waterhole in Etosha National Park, one of the greatest wildlife parks on the continent.
Explore Namibia under your own steam
Stay in the desert amidst the dunes
See snow on the equator in Tanzania
Although there is wildlife in Kilimanjaro National Park, the main draw is the eponymous mountain. Come and gaze at the majestic slopes rising from the savannah and take advantage of the chance to climb to the roof of Africa. At 5896m, Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest peak on the continent, yet it can be climbed with no technical skills what so ever.
Strap on a sense of adventure and put one foot in front of the other (repeatedly) and ascend through cloud forest, high alpine desert and barren scree slopes to finally catch sunrise bursting from beyond the Indian Ocean, high above the clouds and plains far below.
Stay close to Kilimanjaro
Watch whales in South Africa
The Cape of Africa boasts a wild, rugged coastline. From June to December every year this stretch of shore, especially the section close to the town of Hermanus, hosts some of the best land-based whale watching in the world; humpback whales and killer whales are frequently spotted, whilst southern right whales use the sheltered spots to raise their calves in safety.
At hotels such as the Marine you can even see whales from your bedroom window. Of course, the region is right by South Africa's fabled Winelands as well, so you're sure to be able to toast every sighting with a decent vintage. We're sure Sir David would approve.
Combine whales and wine
See whales from your window
If any of the above whets your appetitie for wildlife watching, see our round-up of the best African safari experiences as well to discover what more you could be doing and seeing on this continent of superlative experiences.