When we say Africa, you dig out the binoculars and khaki trousers and begin practising your best David Attenborough voice, right? Wrong! While safaris might hog most of the African holiday limelight, there is so much more to this supremely diverse continent, from mind-blowing scenery to culture and history, and as many gastronomic treats as you can consume in between. And we're here to give you the inside track on all the very best non-safari related experiences in Africa…
Battlefield Tours, South Africa
Anyone with an iota of interest in history (or anyone who enjoyed the film Zulu) will love touring the region where of some of the most significant battles in the Anglo-Zulu war were fought, namely Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift. Stay at Fugitives' Drift Lodge, which overlooks Isandlwana and is itself jam-packed with relics and memorabilia of the war, where you will be treated to some truly amazing guided tours that will bring the brutal battles to life. Combine with a few nights on the beach at the Oyster Box Hotel and you're onto a winner.
Island Hopping Dhow Safari, Mozambique
While it may have the word 'safari' in the name, we can guarantee no lions will be seen during a dhow safari in Mozambique. If you want to get off the beaten track and explore some of the most remote parts of this beautiful country, there is surely no better way. Stay at Ibo Island Lodge on the undisturbed Quirimbas Archipelago and head out on their exclusive dhow to sail around (as well as kayak between) Mozambique's most far-flung and beautiful islands. You can sleep on board or the crew will set up camp for you on the deserted islands you visit - all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
The Festival of Timkat, Ethiopia
Ethiopia is full of surprises; a country that is all at once elegant, biblical, raucous, fascinating and challenging. The Festival of Timkat in January takes you straight to the heart of Ethiopian culture and you will not only observe but participate in processions, music, dancing and the ceremony of baptism itself. This country's incredible combination of beauty, culture, adventure and exotic tribes-people is bound to leave an indelible mark on all who visit. Lucky for you, our very own Amelia Stewart is leading a small group tour to Ethiopia this January, get in touch for more details.
Soak up the Scenery in Namibia
Namibia may be home to a significant amount of safari game but the real star of the show is its frankly mind-boggling scenery. The stark and barren Namib Desert is a cacophony of colour with burnt orange desert set against a backdrop of deep blue sky, while the Skeleton Coast, nicknamed by local bushmen as 'the land god made in anger' (they should really work on that), is typified by deep green sea crashing into seemingly endless sand dunes. All this space is reflected in the fact that Namibia is one of the least light-polluted places on the planet, and one of the best for stargazing - we can arrange a night of stargazing with a NASA accredited astronomer who will be able to point out some of the wonders of the universe, in this galaxy and the next…
Food & Wine in South Africa
They say (read: we say) that the best way to the heart of a country is through its collective stomach, and your stomach won't be left wanting while working your way around Cape Town and the Cape Winelands. Cape Town offers everything from the finest dining to artisanal burgers served out of chef Nigel Wood's driveway (the wonderfully named 'The Dogs Bollocks'), while eating and drinking your way around the restaurants and wineries of the Cape is one of the all-time great epicurean experiences.
Northern Morocco is having something of a moment. Instagram feeds and glossy magazines the world over have suddenly discovered the irresistibly photogenic city of Chefchaouen, hidden beneath the shadow of the rugged Rif mountains and culturally somewhat separate from the rest of Morocco. Then there's the old classic of Fez, widely considered to be the spiritual heart of Morocco, a city that barrages the senses and has beguiled visitors for centuries. Further north still is Tangier which, having suffered from something of an image problem, is dusting itself off and slowly returning to its former glory as a city of vibrance and accessibility.