The natural wonders of Africa
The original lists were divided into categories – with the only African representative, Victoria Falls, appearing under the seven natural wonders of the world. Recently, however, the great wildebeest migration of East Africa has begun to appear on a number of lists.
Wonders of the world lists may depict many of the great attractions around the world but what most lack is popular input from Africa – arguably the richest continent in diversity of species and landscapes. Africa is renowned for its dramatic wildlife but it is in the landscapes that the continent truly surpasses all expectations. Deserts and swamps, mountains and rivers, lend themselves to experiences of superlatives.
Seven natural wonders of Africa
There is any number of Africa’s attractions that would grace a list of wonders of the world – such is the diversity and drama of the continent. From the world’s highest free-standing mountain to the greatest waterfall and the oldest desert on earth, Africa can truly be considered the showpiece of the planet. A small selection of these attractions follows
As dramatic as the great mountain ranges around the world are there can be no more awe-inspiring site than a single peak rising into the clouds from vast game-filled plains. What makes Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free-standing mountain, even more dramatic than it is, is the effect of the landscape around it. With few features to hinder the view Kilimanjaro can be seen from up to a great distance away on a clear day.
The only one of Africa’s attractions to be featured on the original list of seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls situated on the Zambezi River which forms the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is the waterfall with the most amount of water flowing over per annum. Neither the highest nor the widest, the Victoria Falls is nonetheless one of the most sought-after tourist sites on earth.
Quite possibly the least known of all of Africa’s wonders, the Albertine Rift is nonetheless the most species-diverse region on the African continent. Formed by the Great Rift Valley, the Albertine Rift is a place of spectacular mountains, life-giving lakes and a vast menagerie of flora and fauna – most notably the last of the mountain gorillas on earth. The Albertine Rift, mysterious and enticing, is the western rift of the Great Rift Valley.
Considered by many to be a man-made theme park the Ngorongoro Crater is in fact an eco-system developed over time after the volcanic explosion of a Kilimanjaro-style mountain. The mountain literally collapsed into itself and over time windblown sands settled in the crater and seeds took root. Animals moved in and seldom moved out – and a natural them park was born. Today the crater is home to almost 24 000 animals at any one time.
The Great Plains
The great plains of East Africa stretch out beyond the imagination. Formed by the splitting of the African continent, and perfected by the explosion of one of the highest mountains, the plains of the Serengeti and Masai Mara have been immortalized in print and screen. The great wildebeest migration across the plains is the most recorded and celebrated natural phenomena on the planet. Referred to as the ‘greatest show on earth’ the migration is considered by many to be one of the true wonders of the world.
Kruger National Park
Possibly the greatest man-managed park in the world Kruger has reached legendary status among conservationists and safari travelers alike. With the highest species diversity of any park in the world the Kruger is also the most visited national park in Africa with more than 1 million visitors per annum, and although some areas fall to overcrowding it is still possible to have a personal safari in Kruger.
The Great Lakes
The great lakes of the Rift Valley host a concentration of wildlife seldom seen on the continent. Many of the lakes are home to millions of flamingoes and other birds, painting a pink hue on the landscapes, and some are parks set aside for the preservation of some of Africa’s most endangered mammals. The world’s second deepest lake, Lake Tanganyika, hosts unique species of fish and is considered the cleanest body of water in Africa.
Many wonders in Africa
Lists can proclaim the wonders of the African but these lists will always be lacking due to the incredible variety of the continent. An example of this variety can be found in the coastline which varies from arid desert-scapes through spectacular mountains and post-card beaches to tropical swamps and forests.