Throw in that sense of being in a place that hasn’t changed for centuries and sometimes millennia, and you get some of the most inspiring, and inspired, spots on the planet.
1. The great migration, Tanzania
A photo won’t capture the thunder of hooves on dirt as more than a million wildebeest and several hundred thousand zebra make their annual migration, but still, this is one for the top of the pile.
The migration is actually a year-round event as the animals move from Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Reserve in January, up through the Serengeti around June and hit Kenya’s Masai Mara around September, before journeying south again.
2. Table Mountain, South Africa
Table Mountain makes Cape Town, one of the world’s best beach cities, also one of the world’s most photogenic.
Cable car rides are available to the top of the mesa, giving great views, fantastic sunrises/sunsets and a great photo. Challenge: try and limit yourself to 50 pics.
3. Djmaa el Fna, Morocco
The world’s most exciting town square, Djmaa el Fna reminds you you’re in Africa. In the heart of the old city of Marrakech, snake-charmers, henna-painters, story-tellers, date-sellers and orange juice vendors set up their stalls in the sleepy heat of the afternoon.
As night falls, the vendors are joined by tribal drummers, ladyboy dancers and mobile restaurateurs selling delicious grilled meats, bread and salad as the smoke rises above their stalls till past midnight.
4. Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia
Sossusvlei means “the gathering place of water” but you’ll need to bring your own if you don’t want to dehydrate at this, Namibia’s most outstanding attraction.
The dunes have developed over millions of years, the result of material flowing from the Orange River into the Atlantic, carried north and returned again to land by the surf.
Climbing the dunes yields breathtaking views, including the Deadvlei, a ghostly expanse of dried white clay punctuated by skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees.
5. Mountain gorillas, Rwanda
A close encounter with the mountain gorillas of the Rwandan rainforest will stay with you for a lifetime.
Various operators run tours tracking silverbacks and their troupes in the dense forest.
6. Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
One of the world’s most majestic water spectacles, Victoria Falls (also called Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Cloud That Thunders) — were reportedly first seen by a European when Scotsman David Livingstone journeyed here in 1855.
Since then thousands have enjoyed the spray from the 108-meter high cascade, which was once recorded flowing at 12,800 cubic meters per second — double that of Niagara’s highest flow.
7. Spitzkoppe, Namibia
The Spitzkoppe feature various granite peaks in Namibia’s Namib Desert, with the highest peak hitting nearly 1,800 meters.
Activities in the area include bouldering and rustic cave camping as well as multi-day safaris.
8. Sahara dunes, Morocco
The most user-friendly part of the Sahara is accessible from the northern edge of Morocco. You can trek with Berbers from the town of Zagoura, or camp out in Tazzarine where runners from all over the world complete the week-long Marathon des Sables every spring.
The foot of the Merzouga Dunes is the ultimate location for star-gazing, totally free of light pollution.
9. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The most famous of the structures at Giza, near Cairo, the Pyramid of King Cheops was built around 2650 BC from 2.5 million blocks of limestone.
Its sides are oriented exactly to the north, south, east and west.
The Chephren pyramid, built by Cheops’ son, is similar in size and incorporates the entrances to a burial chamber which still contains the large granite sarcophagus of King Chephren.
The pyramid of Mycerinus is smaller than both and all three are surrounded by other smaller pyramids and dozens of tombs.
10. Nyika Plateau National Park, Malawi
Nyika, Malawi’s largest park, is one of the most unusual in Afric with a plateau cut by numerous rivers that reach Lake Malawi by way of waterfalls off the eastern edge of the mountains.
The eastern border of the plateau forms the wall of the Great Rift Valley.
The great domes of hills have gentle slopes, making Nyika perfect for both trekking and mountain biking as well as Jeep exploration.
Antelope and zebra abound, and the park has one of the highest densities of leopard in Central Africa.