Kevin Fraser says ‘Africa is not just a place, it’s a feeling’. Travel Photographer Kim Paffen swears by it. And she’s not the only one. Many of my travel friends who travel Africa, find it very hard to resist the ever calling African siren call after ‘that first time’.
I reached out to Kim for tips on my upcoming Kenya trip and asked her to shed some light on her everlasting love for Africa.
“Africa will touch your heart and after your first visit you will never be the same. It’s one of the most beautiful continents in the world and I can think of a million reasons why you should visit. I will try to narrow it down to 5”
1. Africa has the most varied wildlife and bird species in the world
The origin of the ‘Big 5’ (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino), is from the days when hunters considered these animals the most dangerous to pursue. Except for the Buffalo, all are tragically endangered, making them more important than ever to protect and cherish.
Africa would not be Africa without these magnificent creatures. And logically this is the main reason why most people travel Africa. Africa has the most varied wildlife and bird species in the world. A game drive (or walk) gives you the chance to see different types of wildlife in their natural habitat. From the Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (better known as Zazu), bush babies and baboons to antelopes, giraffes, hippo’s and the well-known ‘Big 5’.
2. Africa has one of the most beautiful sunsets on earth
As the sun sets, the grass on the savannah glows gold. The silhouette of an acacia tree appears on the horizon and the sky turns from blue and purple to orange and red.
At the end of an exciting day of game viewing on the plains of Africa it’s a tradition to stop for a sundowner – a cold beer, wine or a gin-tonic to enjoy the sunset. Whether the sun sets above the open savannah, on a lake, the colorful dunes, the mountains or the sea, you will never get tired of it.
And it doesn’t stop there. The African night skies host millions of bright stars and the sunset is a real teaser to experience as well. A perfect way to start another incredible day in Africa.
3. Travel Africa with the ever-changing landscapes
Africa is blessed with magnificent diverse landscapes: from tropical beaches, to jungles, deserts, mountains, open savannahs and everything in between. As you travel through Africa the landscape constantly changes, but it’s beauty always remains.
If you are looking for white beaches go to East-African countries like Tanzania (Zanzibar), Kenya and Mozambique. Visit Victoria Falls – one of the 7 natural wonders of the world – if you like a bit of adventure. I jumped off the 111-meter high Victoria Falls Bridge and had a swim in Devil’s Pool on the edge of the falls. It’s an exhilarating (bucket list) adventure.
Would you like to see savannah with typical Acacia (umbrella) trees? Visit the wide-open spaces of the Mara and Serengeti. If you love deserts and dunes, then travel to Namibia and climb Dune45 to watch the sunrise.
All the different landscapes are breathtaking and there are spectacular views everywhere.
4. African Beauty has many faces
Africa is a diverse continent where tribes, strong traditions and stunning beauty coexist. Africa teaches you that beauty has many faces. South Africa alone, has eleven official languages and tons of tribes or ethnic groups. That is why South Africa is called ‘Rainbow Nation’.
The iconic nomadic Maasai are one of the most famous tribes of Eastern Africa who live in traditional villages near the Maasai Mara and Serengeti. They are incredibly welcoming and love to share their culture with you. In the Southern part of Africa are the Zulu (South Africa) and Himba people (Namibia) among the most well known tribes. It’s an incredible experience to Travel Africa and visit these indigenous tribes, to learn more about their history and traditions.
5. Africa is not just a place, it’s a feeling
Like Kevin Fraser once said ‘Africa is not just a place, it’s a feeling’. And that is exactly what it is. The beauty of the places, the people, as well as the difficulty experienced by those living there, make you feel both very grateful for what you have, and in a strange way also longing for more simplicity.
“Africa will make you feel more grounded, connected to nature, the people and yourself. It forces you to be in the moment, because you don’t know what the next minute will bring. Being so close to nature makes you feel alive and free.”
Thank you my dear Kim. I can’t wait to go see this African beauty myself.
Follow her Africa travel on Instagram here: @kimpaffen!