Sometimes the best part of travel is just under the surface. For water-babies, there are so many options when it comes to exploring Africa. You can experience the ultimate zen of getting deep underwater in the crystal-clear lakes and tropical reefs, or ride insane waves on some of the best breaks in the world. Here are some of the top trips we’d recommend for travellers wanting to explore Africa’s Big Blue.
1.Fly fishing in the Seychelles
When people think of the long island chain known collectively as the Seychelles, they usually think cocktails, icy blue water, and frangipani flowers. Fly-fishing? Not usually high on that list. But the fly-fishing options around the shallow flats around the island of Alphonse is some of the best in the world. So many of the Seychelles’ islands are conservancies, meaning that the biodiversity is incredible — from bonefish to milkfish, there is a wild variety of species, and fishing opportunities that’ll suit everyone from beginner to expert.
2. Scuba diving over Africa
Ask a diver about the best places to dive across Africa, and you’ll be in for a long talk. The reefs and teeming sealife of Egypt’s Red Sea is usually the best-known attraction, but that’s only where it begins. In Cape Town, if you can stand the colder water, you can get up close to the terrifying-looking (but harmless to humans) cow shark. On South Africa’s east coast, divers can catch front-row seats to the yearly movement of billions of sardines known as the Sardine Run (although the drama is often caused by the birds, sharks, seals, and other wildlife they bring along). It’s as extraordinary as the great migration — but underwater. And for specialists who are more interested in the finer details, get up close to the cichlids and other incredibly beautiful species in the warm, fresh waters of Lake Malawi. Tribal Tourist is connected with the best dive operators across Africa — get in touch if you’d like us to put together a custom trip for you.
3. Swim with hammerhead sharks in Sudan
Egypt isn’t the only place that one can dive the Red Sea, of course. For those who are interested in going outside of the usual tourist bubble, the waters of Sudan are pristine, and rich with marine life. There are even options to dive among schools of weird and beautiful hammerhead sharks, which few people get to see in their natural habitat. Many people choose a liveaboard experience for a Sudan trip, where you stay onboard a ship for your entire stay.
4. Kitesurfing in Zanzibar
The shallow waters of Zanzibar’s east coast were made for kitesurfing. From beginners to experts, there’s a wide range of options for getting some air, and enjoying the warmer temperatures. That’s also not where the waterbound options end — you can’t visit Zanzibar with going on a dhow, enjoying the sun splitting over the Indian ocean with a glass of champagne in hand. If you prefer making a DIY itinerary, we can recommend Villa Zanzibar as the perfect base for your kitesurfing trip.
5. Turtle watching across Africa
Turtles are some of the most captivating marine creatures. Virtually unchanged for the last 220 million years, they can be found all over the world, but there are many nesting sites dotted along Africa’s western coast and islands. Sadly, many species of turtles are currently endangered, which is one of the reasons getting up close to them can be such a moving experience. On moonless nights during nesting season, travellers can carefully watch from a distance, as loggerhead and leatherback turtles haul their heavy bulk up onto the sand to lay their eggs. In January and March, the hatchlings make their brave break back towards the waves. Turtle watching occurs in numerous islands off the coast of Africa, from Zanzibar to the Seychelles — get in touch and we can advise which trip could be the right fit for you.
6. Swim with whale sharks in Madagascar
Madagascar is an incredible biodiversity hotspot, and travellers come from all over the world to see its lemurs, primates, and baobabs. What many people don’t know is that this diversity extends below the water too. Madagascar is one of the best places in the world to dive, and the waters around the island of Nosy Be include turtles, barracuda, and even whale sharks. With their dappled bodies and incredible size, they are a glorious species to experience up close. And because they swim close to the surface, you don’t need scuba gear to get close to them — it’ll just take a snorkel and a mask.
7. Surfing in Mozambique
Ponta do Ouro has been Mozambique’s water adventure highlight for decades, and there’s good reason for that. It’s a surfer’s dream, and with the right conditions you can ride the wave for over a kilometre. And if there are a few days when the surf isn’t cooperating, there are palm trees to lounge under, dolphins to spot, and ice-cold beers to test out. It’s the perfect spot for getting in touch with your inner beach bum.
If you think variety is the spice of life, Malawi should be high on your travel bucket list. Diving in the freshwater of Lake Malawi, with its hundreds of iridescent tropical fish, is a completely different experience to the reef dives you’ll find elsewhere. And for those who prefer a more active adventure, kayaking along the crystal clear waters is a great workout — and it means that you can get far away from the rest of the tourists, and explore the isolated paradises of Mumbo and Domwe islands. If you can’t leave without a more traditional bush experience, you can pop over the border to Zambia, where the South Luangwa National Park is an opportunity to get up close with the sights and sounds of a walking safari.
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