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Archive for africa

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.

The Forgotten Pyramids

By Linda Tancs

If you thought that Egypt had a lock on pyramids, then you’ll be surprised to learn that the country with the most pyramids is actually Sudan. Situated in the Nile Valley, the country’s smaller, more navigable pyramid structures outside Khartoum are a relic from a forgotten civilization, memorials to Nubian kings who once ruled the ancient Kingdom of Kush. In the middle of nowhere, this off-the-beaten-track destination affords easy entrance without the queues so common in Egypt. You can even camp there.

The Hills of Kampala

By Linda Tancs

Kampala is Uganda’s largest city and seat of the Buganda Kingdom dating to the 14th century. Like Rome, it was originally built on seven hills. Today, greater Kampala stands on at least 20 hills, all the better for panoramic views, like those from Uganda National Mosque. Some notable attractions are the Royal Mile (from the parliament building to Lubiri Palace), the Kasubi tombs (burial place of Buganda kings), the Independence Monument and Bahai Temple, the seat of the Bahai faith in Africa.

Falling Water in Namibia

By Linda Tancs

In the Herero language, “Epupa” means “falling water.” That might be a bit of an understatement for Epupa Falls, a Namibian waterfall with a drop of about 130 or so feet near the village of Epupa. You can thank the Kunene River for this spectacle, one of the country’s five perennial rivers. Nonetheless, April and May are reportedly the best times to view the falls.

On Route 62

By Linda Tancs

Offering a scenic alternative to the N2 highway, Route 62 is South Africa’s tourist route (much like Route 66 in the U.S., after which it was modeled). Meandering between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the highway is reputedly the longest wine route in the world and includes views of red soil, stark cliff faces, mountain passes, green valleys, rivers, orchards and indigenous scrub. The area’s dams and wetlands are known to host the blue crane, South Africa’s national bird, an endangered species often spotted along the route. Some popular stops are Montagu (known for its mountain views), Oudtshoorn, the principal town of the Little Karoo, a semi-desert), Robertson (the heart of the route) and Worcester (the commercial center).

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