JONNA SIMON highlights some of the many diversities of the ‘dark’ continent
Sunset in Nairobi

THE large continent of Africa embodies many connotations to a multitude of people from around the world – the dark continent of the 19th century explorers, the birthplace of modern mankind as proved by doctors Leakey in the Ngorongoro Crater, the historical imperial cities of Morocco, the snowcapped Kilimanjaro towering over the plains of Amboseli, big game safaris through Kruger National Park or the splendours of Sun City in South Africa – whatever preferences a traveller may have Africa, with its diverse people, culture and scenery is bound to satisfy even the most discerning traveller.

Nairobi, the capital of Kenya and seat of government, is the commercial and cultural centre of East Africa. A hundred years ago it came into being as a tiny station on the newly-built Uganda Railway.
Today, with its first class hotels, modern buildings and flower-bordered avenues, it is an attractive city, just 160km south of the Equator. At an altitude of 1800m, Nairobi has a pleasant semi-tropical climate. Nairobi’s unique position means that it is only a short distance away from what many people term as the real Africa – the Africa of magnificent scenery, fascinating people and, above all, wildlife. Further afield, but easily accessible are mountains, lakes, picturesque historical towns and a coastline of unsurpassable beauty.
Right on the doorstep is the Nairobi National Park. But also visit the city’s National Museum, where there are unique examples of fossils showing the earliest man walked n this part of Africa.
Safari is the Swahili word for travel, and you will probably be visiting East Africa in order “to travel”. You can make Nairobi the gateway for exploring three amazing national parks.
Drive to the Lake Manyara National Park in the Great Rift Valley, said to be home to no less than 380 species of birds, then continue to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where you overnight at a lodge. The Ngorongoro is the largest unbroken crater on earth, rising high above the plains rich with wildlife. From there, the safari takes you to the Serengeti National Park, where you can join an optional balloon trip floating over lions, cheetahs and hyenas.
From here, many vacationers fly to Arusha and on to the Ambosli Park, where you can often spy rhinos, zebras, giraffes and other big game animals in the wild.

Many people would disagree with the “Modern Wonders” tag for Sun City, the Las Vegas of South Africa, which is located some two hours drive from Johannesburg, but this manmade resort with its grand Lost City is one of the most extraordinary tourist spots on the globe. As well as “The Palace” with its themed architecture and legendary sculptures and décor, Sun City offers a selection of the finest hotels, night clubs, casinos shops, children’s activities, in fact, a complete holiday programme for the whole family. Even a nearby Pilansberg National Park for an early morning viewing of wildlife plus an adjoining Golf course.
No visit to South Africa would be complete without a trip to the Kruger National Park. The easiest way is to fly to the National Park to meet your driver-guide, who will accompany you all through your stay.
Your guide will take you to your rest camp and the first day drive to a game path or waterhole, where you are certain to be awarded with the sight of lions, cheetahs or elephants.
Most of the major safari camps are air conditioned and, at the main centre of Skukuza, a doctor and a bank are also available. Other safaris worth participating in include private game reserves such as Trimbavati and Sabia sands, where there are professional armed game rangers and skilled tracker guides. Game lodges include Thorny Brush, Singita, Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi – just the exotic names should make you smile! And, if you have the time, you can fly to Cape Town and marvel at its picturesque harbour.