The continent of Africa is huge and boasts some of the most hostile and interesting environments on the planet. It seems almost ludicrous to create a list of only seven natural wonders in a land which certainly has many arresting places, but, because I am less familiar with Africa than with other places on the globe, I have tried to narrow things down to the top seven. Here is my list, which will be followed soon by a photo album.
1. Sahara Desert – The largest desert in the world occupies much of the northern part of the continent, making life difficult for those who attempt to settle here. Water is obviously the key element in a desert landscape, so towns and cities can only surbvive with a permanent source of the precious commodity.
2. Victoria Falls – These largest waterfalls on earth are located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, where the Zambezi River plunges 300 feet into the Batoka Gorge. Because the gorge is narrow and the mist from the crashing water makes visibility difficult, one of the most popular views of the falls is from the air.
3. Ngorongoro Conservation Area – This volcanic crater in Tanzania provides one of the best places in the world to view wild game. The savannas which occupy the crater floor are populated with all the members of Africa’s "Big Nine" – Cheetah, Elephant, Water Buffalo, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Lion, Rhinoceros, and Zebra.
4. Mount Kilimanjaro – This iconic mountain, rising dramatically from the savannas of Tanzania and Kenya, illustrates an interesting principle of ecology. Environments on a tall mountain change from bottom to top in a way that is very similar to the change in biome as one travels north from the equator toward the poles. Unfortunately, the mountains glacier are receding due to global warming.
5. Madagascar’s Rain Forests – This large island off the eastern coast of the continent is home to a dizzying array of creatures which are found nowhere else in the world. The classic group of animals associated with the island are the lemurs, unusual, nocturnal monkeys with huge eyes.
6. Nile River – The longest river in the world (a fact disputed these days by the Amazon) winds northward from its sources in Rwanda and Ethiopia to its delta in northern Egypt. The most famous part of the river is its long section in Egypt because it bisects the territories of the Egyptian Civilization which flourished for almost 3,000 years.
7. Table Mountain – The landscape around the city of Capetown, South Africa is both dramatic and accessible. As a result, many travelers describe Capetown as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. If the related area, known as Table Rock National Park, is included, many interesting animals and plants can be seen.
Other sights considered:
Congo River Rain Forests