The vast expanse of the African continent spans several different climatic regions and contains everything from dry deserts to rainforests to snow-covered mountaintops. Check out some of the most-impressive physical features found in African continent.
1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
At 5885 m (19 308 ft) high Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Actually it is a volcano, composed of three distinct cones. It is not a very difficult mountain to climb – you don’t have to be a professional. However, the sickness due to the altitude often prevents from reaching the 5,895 m (19,341 ft) tall peak. On the top of it there are glaciers that are really pretty. Africa’s highest mountain has a variety of more or less difficult routes to choose from. If you won’t climb, there’s plenty to see in the Kilimanjaro National Park.
Photo by Marcel Staron
2. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
It is the most visited park in Africa. The tropical and subtropical savanna covers 14,763 km2 of area. t is famous because of its vast majority of animals. Predators and their prey form the dramatic scenery. Lions, zebras, crocodiles, buffaloes, black rhinoceros, elephants, flamingos, giraffes, leopards and other species are grazing free in the park. The visitors are offered to go on a safari: not particularly to hunt, but to observe and photograph the animals, birds and nature. With a guide the tourists have an opportunity to explore, discover and learn about the African wildlife.
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Photo by Phil Page
3. Avenue of the Baobabs, Menabe, Madagascar
The dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina is known for the group of these giant trees growing around this section. The road is one of the most popular and visited places in Madagascar. The dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina is known for the group of these giant trees growing around this section. The road is one of the most popular and visited places in Madagascar. The avenue is considered to be one of the world’s most exciting roads.
4. Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
The iconic peak is overlooking the vibrant city and attracts hikers as well as climbers. Although it is easily accessible on foot, there is also a cable car, which is so popular among the visitors. Moreover, the innovative cars’ floors rotate, thus giving an extra excitement and views to the city, ocean and the mountain. Visit the mountain and its popular Lion’s Head – a peak that protrudes above the abyss, admire the panoramic and breathtaking views from the top
5. The Victoria Falls
Bordering two countries – Zambia and Zimbabwe – the gorgeous waterfall is one of the most popular in the world. The waterfall was named after Queen Victoria by a Scottish explorer David Livingstone. However, the locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya – the smoke that thunders. Moreover it has an unusual Devil’s Pool – a natural pool on the Zambia’s side. The site is very popular among the tourists, therefore many buses and trains drive here, making it an easily accessible spot
This spectacular Southern African waterfall, considered to be among the greatest in the world, is located along the Zambezi River and straddles the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The awe-inspiring nature of the waterfall is in part due to its enormous width—more than 5,500 feet (1,700 meters). The waters plunge as far as some 355 feet (108 meters) down and drop not into an open basin but into a dramatic-looking chasm. Victoria Falls is known for its veil of mist visible from miles away; the name given to the falls by an indigenous group is Mosi-oa-Tunya (“The Smoke That Thunders”). Victoria Falls and the adjoining areas were collectively designated a World Heritage site in 1989.
6. Namib Desert, Namibia
One of the most fascinating views we have ever seen is found in Namibia, where Namib Desert meets Atlantic Ocean. However, there is no other way seeing it but from the plane. The vast desert sprawls for thousands of kilometres before it drops into cold and tempestuous waves. However, there are dunes that can be approached on tour and also Kolmanskop – a ghost town, ruined by the desert, today a popular tourist destination. Namib-Naukluft National Park, however, is accessible for the tourists. The distinctive feature of this location is the red dunes, that create a truly beautiful landscape.
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This coastal desert covers parts of three Southern African countries, from north to south: Angola, Namibia (home to the greatest portion of the desert), and South Africa. Its name, which has its origin in the Nama language, loosely translates to “an area where there is nothing.” Yet “nothing” is not an entirely true description of some parts of the desert. The Namib’s vast expanse across different regions means that the scenery is diverse and not what one might consider to be typical of a desert. The desert’s immediate coastal area derives moisture from the near-constant level of fog, allowing succulent shrubs to thrive there. Farther inland there are random mountains. Elsewhere there are vast amounts of sand, dunes, gravel plains, and rock formations, which, depending on the region, are dotted with bushes, grasses, or trees. The Namib’s varying regions are also home to a variety of wildlife, including beetles, snakes, birds, antelope, and elephants. This is of course one of the physical features of African continent
7. The Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Probably the most beautiful canyon in the world stretches for 25 km (16 mi) to the north of the Drakensberg. It certainly is the biggest green canyon on Earth: lush foliage covers the precipitous red sandstone cliffs. Besides the thick forests, the canyon is also home for various species: hippos, antelopes and numerous primates. It also features several waterfalls and viewpoints. Tourists explore the site by hiking trails or even horse riding. There also are various other activities: rafting, hot-air ballooning, fly-fishing, biking, tours and boat trips on the Blyde Dam. This is of course one of the physical features of African continent
8. Underwater Waterfall, Mauritius
The remote island in the Indian Ocean, 2,000 km (1,200 mi) away from Africa, is a very attractive tourist destination. The underwater waterfall, located on the southwestern shore, might serve as a signature of Mauritius. It isn’t an actual waterfall, but an optical illusion: the sediment of sand and silt create this dramatic site. The reason for this is that the island is relatively new and a formation of it is still present, causing an underwater slope. Tourists are offered to relax in the white sandy beaches and enjoy the warm water, explore the mountains, a reef and underworld world. This is of course one of the physical features of African continent
9. Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
An active volcano is famous for housing the biggest lava lake in the world. The volcano’s slopes are steep and lava is very fluid, thus enabling it to flow in high velocity when it erupts. However, the lava lake is not constantly present. It takes years to form and after that it is a question of days when the walls of the crater will crack and lava erupt. The last eruption took place in 2002. As for today, the volcano’s activity is being carefully monitored, lava is again slowly rising and forming a lake.
10. Namaqualand, Namibia and South Africa
The location does not look impressive at all – it is dry, arid and plain. However during spring it changes into something surreal. Thousands of colorful flowers start to bloom and spread a fragrant cloud over Namaqualand. Tourist often come to admire the site. Richtersveld – a part of Namaqualand – is a national park and a World Heritage Site. Many visitors come to see the phenomenon during spring.
11. Nile River
Known as the father of African rivers, the Nile is about 4,132 miles (6,650 km) long. This vital waterway is the longest river in Africa and, depending on what you believe, the longest river in the world. Some maintain that the Amazon River in South America should be considered the longest river in the world: It is home to many different species of fish and reptiles, the Nile perch and the Nile crocodile perhaps being the most well known. The Nile’s flow, which heads northward into the Mediterranean Sea, puzzled the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Another mystery surrounding the river was its source, which was pondered for millennia and at times the subject of much debate, particularly after exploration expeditions began in the 17th century. The Nile has several sources rather than just one. Its farthest and most-southern headstream may be regarded to be the Kagera River, which rises in the highlands of Burundi just south of the Equator and near the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The Kagera then flows into Lake Victoria, the chief source of the Nile. This is of course one of the physical features of African continent
12. The Ituri Forest
This dense tropical rainforest is located in Central Africa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Ituri Forest covers some 24,300 square miles (62,900 square km). It takes its name from the Ituri River, which flows through the forest. The tropical rainforest, with some trees towering some 170 feet (52 meters) into the sky and blocking much sunlight, has a dark humid interior filled with constant background noise from the buzzing of insects and the screeches and squawks of the forest’s diverse variety of animal life. Some visitors are struck by the magnificence of the rainforest; others find it ominous and oppressive—the famed author Joseph Conrad called the forest the “heart of darkness.” The forest supports the greatest diversity of primates of any similar such area in the world. In addition to monkeys and chimpanzees, other animals found in the Ituri Forest include hyenas, antelopes, elephants, and hundreds of species of birds. This is of course one of the physical features of African continent
13. The Sahara
The Sahara, which takes its name from the Arabic word for “desert,” is the largest hot desert in the world. With a total approximate area of 3.32 million square miles (8.6 million square km), it encompasses almost all of northern Africa, spanning from the Atlantic Ocean on the western side of the continent to the Red Sea on the eastern side. About one-fourth of the Sahara’s surface consists of sand sheets and dunes; other principal features include sand seas, gravel-covered plains, rocky plateaus, abrupt mountains, shallow basins, and large oases. In general, vegetation in the Sahara is limited to areas around oases, wadis (riverbeds that are usually dry outside the rainy season), and the highlands. The desert has a perhaps-surprising amount of wildlife, including hundreds of types of birds (including resident as well as migratory birds), gerbils, jackals, mongooses, frogs, lizards, cobras, and snails that can remain dormant for several years until they are revived by rainfall. This is of course one of the physical features of African continent.
14. Congo River
Congo River: hydroelectric dam at Inga Falls
The hydroelectric dam on the Congo River at Inga Falls, near Matadi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Coursing through the heart of Africa, the Congo is the continent’s second longest river, after the Nile. It is contained primarily in, or marks the border of, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The river is approximately 2,900 miles (4,700 km) long and, with its many tributaries, forms the largest network of navigable waterways in Africa; this is in spite of the difficulty in navigating the lower course of the river, which has 32 cataracts (waterfalls). The Congo River is home to hundreds of species of fish, many of which are endemic to the river. There are few aquatic mammals in the river, but various types of reptiles, such as crocodiles, semiaquatic tortoises, and water snakes, reside there.
15. East African Rift System
The East African Rift System, with a length of about 4,000 miles (6,400 km) and with an average width of 30–40 miles (48–64 km), is one of the most far-reaching rifts in the world. It runs from the Middle Eastern country of Jordan in the north and heads south through eastern Africa before ending in the southeastern African county of Mozambique. The East African Rift System has two branches: the Eastern Rift Valley, which runs the entire length of the rift, and the Western Rift Valley, which runs northward from the northern tip of Lake Malawi and forms an arc that includes several other eastern African lakes: Rukwa, Tanganyika, Kivu, Edward, and Albert. The rift system is responsible for much of eastern Africa’s most-breathtaking scenery, including the snowcapped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Ruwenzori mountain range, and numerous valleys (and the aforementioned lakes).