With a land surface exceeding 30 million square kilometers that makes it the second largest continent on earth, Africa’s scenery is rich, diverse and unparalleled. Little wonder that when the first tales of early European explorers eventually reached home, they inspired even greater numbers to visit the continent.
Going to Africa is on many people’s bucket lists, none less than wildlife and nature photographers. Still, Africa is too big for anyone to explore all of it in their lifetime. Once you have all the required gear (more info here) the following should feature high up on your list if you have to choose just 5 locations.
Namib Desert, Namibia
Is it possible to find beauty in a desert? When we think of deserts, what comes to mind is barrenness and monotony. You will change your mind when you make it to the Namib Desert. With views that you could easily mistake for a perfect oil painting, the number of scenes calling for a photo will be overwhelming.
Perhaps being the world’s oldest desert is why it’s so unique and breathtaking. Seemingly endless miles of copper and sand dunes dotted with zebra, gemsbok and desert elephants coexist with various reptile, bird, insect and plant species. Dunes can get pretty tall with heights above 300 meters not being unusual.
Most people have heard about the Congo rainforest, the second largest in the world. Despite its name, the rainforest is not confined to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo-Brazzaville. It stretches into the four more countries including Gabon. Gabon’s rainforests are especially enchanting.
A country whose land area is 10 percent larger than the United Kingdom’s but with a population just under 2 million, more than 80 percent of the country is covered in forest. Large tracts of pristine and untouched forests have made Gabon a paradise for forest elephants, chimpanzees, lowland gorillas and mandrills. And if the forest isn’t enough for you, the Atlantic coast beckons where you can capture humpback whales and leatherback turtles in their element.
Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda
The Rwenzori Mountains have a mystical ambience that makes for a unique experience. The snow-capped peaks, soaring glaciers, the sprawling valleys, the nine lakes, rocky cliffs, crags, bearded lichen, montane cloud forests, bamboo forests and tropical rainforests are the dream of every nature photographer.
Changing altitudes takes you past several biospheres allowing you to see nature at its finest. There are multiple routes for ascent and descent meaning you have quite a range of options to choose from the when looking for the route that is most scenic.
Serengeti Plains, Tanzania
You’ve not truly been on an African safari if you haven’t visited the Serengeti. Its name means ‘endless plains’ in the Maasai language. One of the largest and least spoiled wildernesses in the world, the predominant vegetation is grassland and woodland. But people who go to the Serengeti rarely do so for the flora.
The savannahs of Tanzania’s signature national park are home to unrivalled game-viewing. Lions, buffalos, zebras, gazelles, wildebeests, spotted hyenas, crocodiles and vultures are the species you are most likely to run into.
Undoubtedly, the most spectacular event at the Serengeti is the wildebeest migration across the Mara River. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebras move between the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and the Serengeti.
Zambezi River, Zambia/Zimbabwe
Africa’s fourth longest river winds through six countries and stretches 2,700 kilometers. It supports vast numbers of wildlife and millions of human inhabitants. The Zambezi marks the Zimbabwe-Zambia border. Its most iconic section is the roaring Victoria Falls.
Perhaps millions of photos have been taken of the permanent mist rising above the falls but there’s no harm trying your hand too at snapping the perfect shot here. You’ll also be spoilt for choice on the wildlife side where there are large numbers of hippos, elephants, zebra, giraffes, crocodiles, heron fish, bull sharks as well hundreds of bird species.
If you were thinking about going on a photography tour of Africa, these locations would be a great place to start. There’s so much more though and even these superb places mean you are barely scratching the surface.