Monday, February 15, 2016

Best Tours in Africa 2016

By Margaret Loftus
Namibia: Pedal Power
Cycling along the Swakop River and in Skeleton Coast National Park are just two options on this Namib biking itinerary. Highlights include seeing the sun rise over the Sossusvlei sand dunes and visiting a Himba village. H&I Adventures: “Mountain Biking Safari in Namibia,” 12 days; $3,910 (plus $544 for bike rental); www.mountainbikeworldwide.com
Malawi: Giving Forward
Spend five days in the village of Njobvu, where you’ll help build, farm, and teach. You’ll stay in thatch-roofed huts and dine on traditional food in this sustainable community. A visit to adjacent Liwonde National Park features sightings of elephants, rhinos, and hippos. Elevate Destinations: “Malawi Service and Safari,” 9 days; $2,500; elevatedestinations.com
Sudan: The Other Pyramids
Although this nation just south of Egypt remains off most travelers’ radar, word is spreading about Sudan’s rich cultural patrimony, including temples, painted tombs, and more pyramids than Egypt. Mountain Travel Sobek: “Ancient Kingdoms of Sudan,” 12 days; from $4,995; www.mtsobek.com
Tanzania: Stalking in the Serengeti
Serengeti National Park has granted veteran outfitter Mark Thornton Safaris permission to lead walking safaris in its interior. The result: this multiday trek through backcountry known for its savanna—and sightings of big cats. Digs are walk-in tents furnished with comfy cots. Mark Thornton Safaris: “The Great Serengeti Traverse,” 11 days; $9,990; 
www.thorntonsafaris.com
Kenya, Tanzania: Go for the Joe
Most visitors to Africa come to see animals, but this look at Kenya and Tanzania is through the filter of coffee, which has helped shape the modern history of both lands. Taste fair-trade roasts, meet the crew at Kenya’s Nyeri Coffee Estate, and bed down at local lodges, including Arusha Coffee Lodge. Between tastings, take game drives in nearby parks to spot leopards and lions. Micato Safaris: “Sourcing the Perfect Cup: A Coffee Connoisseur’s Tour,” 11 days; $19,550; www.micato.com
Zambia: This Park Is Made for Walks
Explore a remote region of South Luangwa National Park, which is considered one of Africa’s great wildlife sanctuaries, as you look for animals—hippos, buffalo, elephants, lions—on foot with this seasoned operator. Robin Pope Safaris: “Mobile Walking Safari,” 8 days; $4,345; www.robinpopesafaris.net
Mozambique: Wild Archipelago
Discover the subtropical Quirimbas Archipelago aboard a dhow, snorkeling pristine reefs and lounging on white-sand beaches. Retire to mobile eco-camps on uninhabited islands to sleep under starry skies. Wind up with a visit to the once prosperous trading center of Ibo Island, with its ancient forts and pirate lore. CW Safaris: “Ibo Island Dhow Safari,” 8 days; $3,498; www.countrywalkers.com
Algeria: Hidden North Africa
Venture into a country largely untouched by tourism, from the white-washed capital of Algiers—with its ancient Casbah and fanciful Ottoman architecture—to the World Heritage site of Djemila, one of the best preserved Roman sites in North Africa, to the oases and sculpted sandscapes of the Sahara. Wild Frontiers: “Algeria Colours,” 9 days; $3,032; www.wildfrontierstravel.com
South Africa: Outward Bound
With dozens of mountain ranges and hundreds of miles of coastline, South Africa is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. This adventure weaves in hikes in the Drakensberg Mountains, kayaking to a penguin colony, and a safari in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. REI Adventures: “South Africa Ultimate Adventure & Safari,” 11 days; from $7,199 for members; www.rei.com/adventures
Contributing editor Margaret Loftus has reported and written “Tours of a Lifetime” for the past nine years.

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