If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you are probably starting to find yourself thinking of summer with more than a little longing. And if you are in the mood for a little travel, but find yourself constrained by a tight budget, then a visit to Africa might be just the ticket! Take a look at some of these less well-known small town escapes in Africa, where affordable travel and gorgeous sunshine await:
Its combination of laid-back coastal living, breathtaking beaches, and rich heritage make Lamu in Kenya the ideal breakaway for the busy city dweller. As one of Africa’s best preserved Swahili settlements and a UNESCO heritage site, complete with Arab and Portuguese forts, medieval towns, various museums, and the deserted ruins of Swahili outposts, it is as much as a treat for history buffs as for those just wanting to soak up the sun. The old town is a joy to stroll around and hiring a traditional dhow boat for a relaxed cruise around the archipelago is a must. Shela village has even become popular as a retreat for the rich and famous, so who knows who you might bump into?
Beaches of Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Although, technically part of Spain, the Canary Islands are actually much closer to Africa than they are to Europe, so we think they deserve a spot here. Even more so considering that many of the gorgeous golden beaches associated with the islands are composed of sand, which originates from the great Sahara Desert! There are six major beach resorts and its cafes, restaurants, and amusements make it as vibrant by night as it is by day. Watersports, sailing, windsurfing, and scuba diving are all popular activities, with several dive schools located in the area. If you would prefer a land-based adventure, than make sure to tour the dunes in the traditional manner via the back of a dromedary camel!
Bloemfontein, South Africa
With wildlife adventures, art galleries and museums, excellent shopping and dining, botanical gardens, flea markets and farmers markets to enjoy, you certainly will not be short of distractions in South Africa’s favorite small town. For cat lovers, the Zanchieta Wild Cat Farm is a must-visit attraction. Home to all sorts of fascinating felines, from lions and cheetahs to the elusive caracal, serval, and small spotted cats, the farm acts mostly as a rehabilitation center. A variety of hotels, guest houses, and lodges provide suitable accommodation Bloemfontein options for every kind of taste and budget.
The single biggest attraction (quite literally) in Niassa is, of course, Lake Niassa or Lake Malawi, which stretches all the way along the border between Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique. This lake is home to an almost unbelievable variety of tropical fish, many found nowhere else, and is an environment unlike any other on the face of the planet. The small town of Niassa is an excellent spot to enjoy it from, as the road down to the lake is only accessibly via 4X4, meaning the region has remained incredibly pristine and unspoiled. A visit to southern Africa’s largest game reserve, the Niassa Reserve, is also a must where you can see lion, elephant, buffalo, and wild dog among many other species. Nearby Lichinga has a local airport, as well as most modern facilities and services.
This Ugandan town is home to a great limestone rock, which travelers enjoy hiking, with short routes that take about half an hour as well as longer routes available. Once at the top, it is the ideal spot for a picnic. One of the most budget-friendly options on our list when it comes to accommodation at around $16 a night for a decent hotel, there is still plenty to keep visitors entertained. Make sure to explore the source of the great Nile and the historical temple at Jinja, tour the beautiful Bufumbo and Wanala Forests and experience the wildlife of the Mount Elgon National Park.
Home to the great Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, Mosi-oa-Tunya and the mighty Zambezi river dominate the action, and quite rightly so, in Livingstone. Whether you are seeking romance, adventure, or a little bit of both, it certainly will not disappoint. White water rafting, ziplining, helicopter, flips, and bungee jumping are all available for the adrenalin junkies, or take it easy with a sunset river cruise down the river or a stroll along the falls, just make sure to take a raincoat to protect your camera from the spray though!