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Archive for africa

South Africa’s Spice Route

By Linda Tancs

Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest city, established in the 1600s as a refueling station along the Spice Route for eastbound ships. The story goes that ancient mariners would blow their horns to signal their arrival at Cape Town harbor, inviting farmers to trade. That spirit is captured today along the modern Spice Route, a tourist destination in Paarl featuring arts and crafts, local wines, draft beer and dark chocolates. The artisans chosen to participate in the route represent the best of the culture, art and taste of South Africa. The site is just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town’s city center.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Art in Zimbabwe

By Linda Tancs

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe is a gallery in Harare (and other locations) dedicated to the presentation and conservation of Zimbabwe’s contemporary art and visual heritage. Part of that heritage is Shona sculpture, an ancient, stone-working tradition that has emerged as a contemporary artistic movement. It takes its name from the Shona tribe, a collective of similar groups of people who are the largest in Zimbabwe. Much of the stone is locally sourced and belongs to the Serpentine family. Among other collections, the gallery boasts a permanent exhibition of exquisite stone carvings.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

South Africa’s Garden Route

By Linda Tancs

The Garden Route is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa. It was discovered by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias. A museum devoted to him is located in Mossel Bay, the official starting point of the route. It ends at Storms River. Needless to say, the 124-mile trek is a popular self-drive destination. The region comprises beaches, lagoons, coves, indigenous forest, beautiful flowers (giving the area its name) and quaint towns like George, known as the “Gateway to the Garden Route.” Another town worth a visit is Oudtshoorn, center of the ostrich industry, which rests conveniently along the wine route. You’ll enjoy pleasant temperatures year round.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Mountain of Dragons

By Linda Tancs

Drakensberg translates roughly to “mountain of dragons.” It’s one of South Africa’s most spectacular natural wonders, the highest mountain range in the country, reaching over 11,000 feet above sea level. Its peaks, favored by shutterbugs and trekkers alike, include Giant’s Castle, Cathedral Peak and Mont-Aux-Sources. For those seeking an easy day hike, try the Hlatikulu Forest Trail at the foot of the mountains and near the Mpofana River Valley. It boasts some stunning forested areas in some places as well as carpets of wildflowers (in season) in others.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

An African City of Bridges

By Linda Tancs

Constantine is the third-largest city in Algeria, currently named for Emperor Constantine the Great, who restored the city following its destruction during a war before his succession. It’s popularly known as the “city of bridges,” an unsurprising title given the precipitous gorge through which the Rhumel River flows. Of the eight bridges, the most spectacular is arguably Sidi M’Cid, which at one time was the highest suspension bridge in the world. Its eastern side leads to Monument aux Morts, a memorial built to honor the French soldiers from Constantine who died during World War I. From there you can enjoy panoramic views over the plateau (some 2,000 feet above sea level) on which the city sits.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Baths of Roman Africa

By Linda Tancs

The ancient Phoenician city of Carthage, a seaside suburb of Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, is known for its ancient archaeological sites. One of the most complex and imposing is the Park of the Antonine Baths, considered to be one of the largest of Roman Africa. Construction of the baths began under the reign of Hadrian and was completed under the reign of emperor Antoninus. Once three levels high and topped with cupolas, the vast complex is one of the largest built in the Roman Empire. One of its indoor pools was even as large as an Olympic pool. Ruins of the ground floor service area are all that remain today, amply signposted to guide your visit.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Thousand Minarets

By Linda Tancs

Its preponderance of Islamic architecture has earned Cairo, Egypt, the moniker “the city of a thousand minarets.” Indeed, there’s no shortage of minarets piercing the city’s skyline. One of many standouts is the Alabaster Mosque (alabaster being very common to ancient Egypt and Greece), reported to be the most visited mosque in Egypt. Its unusually high minarets offer sweeping views, including the Giza Plateau. Another mosque, Al-Azhar, sits in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Not only is it almost as old as Cairo itself but it also houses the world’s oldest university and claims to have originated the black graduation gown worn universally today.

Africa’s Longest Suspension Bridge

By Linda Tancs

Towering over Maputo Bay in Mozambique is the Maputo-Catembe suspension bridge, Africa’s newest and longest suspension bridge. The nearly two-mile-long span connects Maputo on the northern bank of an inlet of the Indian Ocean to Catembe on the southern bank. It also provides a road link to the South African border, potentially boosting trade and tourism between the two countries.

Africa’s Best-Kept Secret

By Linda Tancs

Portuguese is the official language of São Tomé and Príncipe, a country located in central Africa on the Equator in the Gulf of Guinea. It consists of two main islands—São Tomé and Príncipe, and several rocky islets. Its colonial heritage is evident in the capital city of São Tomé (Portuguese for Saint Thomas), dotted with pastel-colored, colonial-era buildings with arched windows and ornate balconies. The dry season extends from June to September in the northeast but scarcely anywhere else, which makes for lighter tourism than other places in the region. Nonetheless, intrepid travelers will reap the benefits of unspoiled nature in Ôbo Park, quiet beaches and spectacular volcanic plugs.

A Gem Off the African Coast

By Linda Tancs

Formerly a Portuguese colony, Cape Verde (or Cabo Verde) is an archipelago about 300 miles off the African coast. It boasts the first European colonial outpost in the tropics, Cidade Velha, built by the Portuguese in the 15th century. With miles of pristine sandy beaches, a Creole culture and traditional morna music, it’s one of the best kept secrets in the mid-Atlantic. Book an island-hopping tour so you don’t miss the craggy peaks of Santo Antão, the music and culture on São Vicente or the powdery beaches and indigo-blue waters of Sal and Maio.

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