Africa is made up of countless astonishing elements, each playing a unique part in what makes it so special. To write about and elaborate on every single one of these would take a lifetime, therefore, let’s select a handful to take a closer look at. To narrow down our medley, let’s take an alphabetical approach…
Let’s start at the beginning with the animals of Africa. The most quintessential part of Africa is truly its unique and iconic wildlife. Across the continent we find wildly diverse creatures big and small; ones that fly and ones that swim, ones that hunt and ones that hide, ones that run and ones that glide. The African elephant is of the most iconic members of the Africa family and the largest land animal on planet earth. These giant behemoths carry ancient wisdom in their blood and emit a gentleness that completely contradicts their size. Regardless of their staggering build, they walk almost as if on air, silently floating across the plains. Another gem of Africa is the giraffe, the tallest animal on earth. These peculiar, quirky and peaceful animals can be seen poking their heads through the treetops, their spotted coats moving gracefully among vegetation, and always keeping a close eye on everything below them. Additionally, when one thinks of Africa, the lion always seems to come to mind. This superior predatory cat is both powerful and regal, both intelligent and ruthless. As mentioned, Africa is home to a multitude of other dazzling animals too, each with its own beauty and character; from the smallest shrew on the ground to the birds that soar above, the animals who make water their home and the ones who live beneath the earth, Africa is just bursting with extraordinary life everywhere you look…
Next, the incredible biomes of Africa. From the lush rainforests of the Congo, to the vast wetlands of the Okavango, the sacred deserts of Namibia and the rich grasslands of Tanzania, all of these biological sanctuaries thrive off of the same powerful continent. The rainforests are the lungs of Africa, densely populated with tall trees that support a host of vibrant life forms. Here, we also find the iconic and endangered Silverback gorilla, residing high up in the misty mountains. The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta, a natural phenomenon unlike any other. Winding crystal waterways cut through plush green grass, roads become rivers instantly and palm trees intermingle with iconic African trees to create a truly picturesque and distinctive landscape. The deserts of Namibia are ancient and revered, keeping the secrets of the world in its tiny grains of sand. Namibia is home to the oldest desert in the world, the Namib, where many wildlife species have adapted to life in this harsh environment, prospering in new and astonishing ways.
We now explore the cultures of Africa. Across this magnificent continent, diverse traditional cultures are vast. Africa is home to many distinct groups who celebrate their world and Africa in different and fascinating ways. The Masai People of Kenya are a proud and vibrant tribe who celebrate their land and heritage through electric song and dance. The Himba Tribe of Namibia decorate themselves in red clay and rejoice in the harsh yet powerful beauty of their Motherland. Closer to home in South Africa, the Khoi San people left behind incredible rock art paintings to tell us stories of their ancestors and Africa’s past. These moments frozen in time on the rocks, are a shining symbol of the old world and culture that has been cultivated over so many centuries in Africa. Even with our own beliefs, we can truly learn more about ourselves through exploring, respecting and listening to the words and actions of these astonishing cultures.
Diversity is next on the list, and one could unmistakably say that Africa in itself is the definition of diversity. From its wildlife to its landscapes, climates and biomes, people and traditions, there is nothing too out of the ordinary for Africa to possess. Great pride taken by the people of this continent for the unending diversity that their continent supports. There are people from all walks of life who work and live here, unique cultures which each demonstrate the shared message of respect, passion and love for others and the earth, varying habitats that couldn’t be more opposite but that support hundreds of thousands of animals nonetheless, wildlife that taps into the imagination and bends the mind and unearthly, mysterious and magical places that literally take your breath away. When one decides to visit Africa, they are not simply visiting one place when they arrive at a destination, as every one place has countless layers and its own complexity. There is truly no greater place to indulge your senses, open your mind and enrich your soul than this diverse continent overflowing with distinctive treasures.
Lastly, experience. Experience is perhaps the most important of all the facets of Africa, as this is how we internalize and take in all that we have spoken on. The experiences one has in Africa are not surface level, they are multifaceted and much more meaningful than could ever be imagined. Here, the experiences are not simply external, but prominently internal too. Everything that is presented to a visitor of Africa is likely to change them in some way, enlightening them right at their core. Africa is a place of raw emotion and deep insight. Many come to Africa with the idea that they will visit some towns or cities, buy a few souvenirs for their family and friends back home, or go on a few game drives and hopefully spot a lion. However, until you have been here yourself, until you have seen what mother Africa brings to your life, there is little one can do to explain it. You are not the same person when you return home, you leave with a deeper sense of awareness and become so much more in tune to the world around you. To experience such a wild, raw and astonishing place, one that is so extremely disconnected from the fast-paced world many of us live in, is a truly precious gift to receive.
Africa is unlike anywhere else on earth. It attaches itself to your heart and soul, opens up your eyes to feelings and emotions you never thought possible, and makes the world seem so much bigger and far more extraordinary. The truth is that as much as we may try, and as much as we may write, Africa is at its core a personal awakening to each individual. The enchantment it bestows on a person can only be felt firsthand, and this is essentially the true magic of it all. Without being here oneself, without feeling Africa’s essence fill your veins, frankly even all of the letters in the alphabet could never truly describe all of the wonders one could see, learn, feel and discover here.
Written by Jeannette Joynt