A country of imperial cities that ring with the cries of muezzin and souk stall-holders. But head to the mountains, covered in walnut blossom in spring, and trek trails alive with birdsong. Essaouira, a charming laid back coastal town that offers a break from the hubbub of Marrakech. The Medina of Essaouira is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city, with quite impressive ramparts, built on the cliffs.
Inspiring delight and contemplation, Cape Town is set amongst some of nature’s best work. The magnificent Table Mountain invites hardy walkers and Seal Island beckons adventurous great white shark seekers. Alternatively, District Six, Robben Island and even the chic V&A Waterfront are vivid reminders of the city’s rich history.
3.5 million years ago, the plateau around Johannesburg, was home to the first hominids. You can see them at the Cradle of Humankind, about an hour’s drive away in the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. For contrast, in the city at the SAB World of Beer Museum you can discover the history of beer since its Mesopotamian beginnings.
From Nairobi’s colourful bustle to dusty wildlife reserves, Kenya has much to offer. But not many know about the lost remains of a Swahili city on the east coast. Built in the 13th century, and mysteriously deserted 400 years later, The Ruins of Gedi were only discovered in the depths of the Arabuko Sokoke forest in the 1940s.
From the cultural hive of Accra to the savannah grasslands of the Upper West Region, Ghana offers so much to see. In the heartland of Brong Ahafo, at the village of Nsuta, you can see the distinctive KyenKyen cloth being woven. Or travel to the rolling hills and mangrove swamps of the Volta and visit the ancestral caves of Likpe.
From the mystical burial mounds of the Kasubi Tombs in Kampala to the snowy peak of ‘Mountain of the Moon’ Mt. Rwenzori, Uganda is a country of wonders. Pack your boots, rucksack and a friendly smile and look forward to meeting gorillas, topi, zebra, elephants and, of course, warm-hearted locals who greet you with “Hello Mzungu!”
Visited by Alexander the Great, the Oasis of Siwa is tucked away on the edge of the Great Sand Sea. Fed by sweet waters, delicious dates grow there, picked by zaggala (stick-bearers). For startling contrast, travel south to the Snow White Desert and marvel at the wind-sculpted forms that mirror surreal heads and giant mushrooms.
Whether it’s the historic waypoint along the silk and spice route, the empty crystalline beaches that stretch for miles, or the lesser known ancient ruins of the fort at Yapahuwa that you seek, you’ll find Sri Lanka offers everything from peace and outstanding beauty to the heady culture of a vibrant, modern country.
If giant pandas in their natural habitat get your heart racing, visit Bifengxia Panda Reserve about 1½ hours from Chengdu. Less crowded than the Chengdu Research Base, you can wander through this verdant gorge with its cascading waterfalls, watching pandas eat, play and looking after their young.
City of Pearls, City of Nawabs, Biryani City, Cyberabad – Hyderabad is a city of contrasts. Visit the 2,000 ton marble wonder of the Birla Mandir Temple in the evening for the Lord’s darshan, and then relax on the balcony drinking in the view of the sun setting on the 450 year old, man-made lake, Hussain Sagar Tank Bund.
Steeped in spirituality, Chennai offers you the Temple of Annamalaiyar with its 1,000 pillared hall, the serene Cholmandal Artists’ Village where you’re welcomed into the studios, and a tempting choice of restaurants where you’ll enjoy richly flavoured southern dishes such as sambar, rasam or kootu.
This is a city to get to know the porteños, as the locals are called. Join them, and iguanas, in a picnic in Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. See some of the greatest art by Frida Kahlo, Diego Riviera and Fernando Botero at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. Then tango the night away at a local Milonga.
Stroll through the heart of Mexico City and you’ll come across the ‘wall of skulls’ – part of the 14th century Aztec Templo Mayor. And just a 50 minute drive away, step back to 100 AD and in the Avenue of the Dead you’ll find the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, part of the ancient civilisation of Teotihuacan.
From exotic carnival-costume stalls to the elegantly restored colonial grandeur of past times, Brazil is a kaleidoscope of visual delight. It would be a shame to miss Christ the Redeemer’s views from Corcovado Mountain, but there are also sculpture parks, art galleries, rain forests and frequent film festivals on offer.
A city hewn into red-rose rock by Nabataeans, a crusader fort perched on a rocky mountain overlooking Shoubak, a sea where Herod the Great and Cleopatra bathed, Roman amphitheatres, and nature reserves that provide a haven for plants, birds, mammals and marine life – Jordan opens up a world of discovery.
Combine sea and desert activities for the perfect Oman adventure. Dive or snorkel the aquamarine waters, then relax under a date palm. Explore Oman's ancient desert forts and hike to lush oases. Climb Jebel Shams, Oman's highest mountain. No trip to Oman would be complete without visiting Muscat's mosques, museums and markets.