No one who goes to Africa—mother continent to all humanity—returns the same person. The Serengeti Plain is surely one of her most extraordinary spots, a blend of still, and silence, yet framed by the constant movement and buzz of life in all its marvelous expressions. There is nothing—believe us—that compares to seeing a lion, an elephant or a giraffe in the wild. But keep your eyes open for little delights, too, in everything from creatures you never imagined to landscapes you could only dream of, or a smile of friendship that transcends time itself.
Uninhabited for most of human history, this former British crown colony, today’s independent Republic of the Seychelles, draws the world’s most glamorous “beach bums” (think of honeymooning Prince William and Kate Middleton) to an Indian Ocean archipelago off Africa’s central coast. The solitude is a splendid mix of brilliant jungle green and cobalt blue, with silent beaches like so much granulated sugar. In-suite tropical drink flights and special floral set-ups in fabulous, with-view bathtubs; private beachside meals; Creole cooking classes. And when you max out on chill, need to move, some of the planet’s most amazing snorkel and scuba is just outside your door. Then center with a couple’s yoga session in a setting so beautiful you may not have to sweat Nirvana.
With each new day, the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer from 1001 minarets. Yes, the urban energy borders on madness as you take that new path, Cairo reveals secret gardens, surprising refinements and mysteries you unlock. Touristy or no, the Pyramids at Giza are as fabulous as you dreamed—so don’t be too cool to take that camelback snap. Back in the city, wander neighborhoods full of ancient architecture, the ghosts of the past and thousands of fascinating, modern-day personalities. Splendid, crumbling downtown Cairo, or the Nile island of Gezira—is a hypnotic mix of medieval and modern; Zamalek, another river isle, is home to great museums, hip venues and and striking Cairo Tower, perfect for smooch-with-a-view at sunset. Dive deep into the Islamic quarter before it gets too hot or dusty; the intricate geometries in filigree and tile at magnificent Al-Azhar and Sultan Hassan mosques will move and inspire. Then poke into the backstreets of Khan el-Khalili, the market quarter, for great antique and textiles shopping.
A vibrant metropolis whose natural setting could not be more splendid—smack between soaring mountains and marvelous beaches clinging to the namesake Cape of Good Hope—Cape Town is a glistening jewel, full of diversity and adventures both natural and urban. A destination in itself, it’s also a grand gateway to Africa in all its beauty and variety.