Africa's biodiversity, which ranges from the Sahara desert to tropical jungle, from snow-capped volcanic Mount Kilimanjaro to the beaches of East and West Africa, may be its greatest asset. There is the excitement of stalking big game in the African bush, the thrill of whitewater rafting through the gorges below Victoria Falls, and the awe of seeing the Egyptian pyramids at sunrise. Ecotourism provides leisure complexes that take advantage of game parks, golf courses, beaches and beautiful scenery. Adrenalin junkies can raft the rapids on some of the world's biggest rivers, plunge from the highest bungee jump, or climb a snow-capped volcanic peak on the equator. There are beaches along most of Africa's coastline along with fabulous African golf courses and places to sip a cocktail while watching the red African sunset over a waterhole as elephants come down to drink. Then there are those familiar African tourist attractions such as Egypt's Pyramids in the North, Cape Town's Table Mountain in the South, the mysterious markets of Timbuktu and Marrakesh in the West, and the coral reefs of Zanzibar and Nosey Be in the East.
The Middle East has so many highlights it is difficult to know where to begin. Visit the atmospheric souk of Aleppo and the ancient city of Damascus, the beautiful hidden mountain monastery of Mar Moussa and a stunning desert palace. For the more active, there is time to swim - or float - in the Dead Sea, snorkel over the coral reefs of the Red Sea, and take a 4WD into the amazing landscape of Wadi Rum and spend a night under the stars. The highlight of any vacation is likely to be the magnificent “Rose-red City” of Petra, carved directly into the rocks of southern Jordan, a true wonder of the world. Add the immense ruins of Palmyra, the fantastic Roman sites of Baalbek and Jerash, and the Crusader sea-castle at Sidon and you’ll have all the ingredients for an unforgettable Middle Eastern experience.
Below are some of the regions most visited countries and cities:
South Africa is an exciting place to visit. Cape Town, with its vibrant nightlife, stylish young people and beautiful surroundings, has become one of the most desirable destinations in the world. South Africa's natural attractions are as appealing as ever: the green vineyards and rocky coast of the Cape; the arid landscape of the Karoo; the rich farmlands of Gauteng and Mpumalanga; the snowcapped peaks of the Drakensberg range; and the verdant hills and wide beaches of KwaZulu-Natal. The country also has more than 300 game and nature reserves, along with some of the finest lodges on the continent. Your surroundings can be as wild or as genteel as you want—or both. South Africa is described as a nation of incredible spirit, a perfect place for those who drink up life and toast all that the world has to offer. Usually these praises are for the people of South Africa—a country of warmth and wonder which has become one of the most exciting places in the world to visit. But these praises can just as easily be applied to the country’s incredible wines and cuisine.
Cape Town: Cape Town is South Africa's most beautiful, most romantic and most-visited city. By far the most striking—and famous—of its sights is Table Mountain, frequently mantled by clouds, and rearing up from the middle of the city to provide a constantly changing vista to the suburbs below. Table Mountain is the city's solid core which divides the city into distinct zones with public gardens, wilderness, forests, hiking routes, vineyards and desirable residential areas trailing down it's lower slopes.
Johannesburg: Often affectionately called Jo'burg, Joeys or Jozi, Johannesburg was founded in 1886 on one of the richest gold reefs in the world. Johannesburg has a wealth of urban attractions, such as art galleries, museums, parks and zoos. Gold Reef City (the oldest and last of Johannesburg's gold mines to be shut down) is now a theme park and mine tour, where visitors can explore Johannesburg's legacy of gold mining.
Cape Winelands: Visitors to the Cape Winelands - with its various wine routes elegantly winding through picture-perfect landscapes of mountains, riversides and coastlines, will enjoy a number of manicured wine estates waiting to uncork their finest. Cape wineland is just the beginning. From the wine regions of Constantia, Durbanville, Darling and Stellenbosch to Helderberg, Paarl, Franschhoek, Wellington and Walker Bay, proud, local sommeliers warmly welcome guests for wine tastings, as well as picnic lunches and fine-dining dinners created from the purest, freshest local ingredients.
Morocco has been mythologized for good reason. Travelers extol the country's unique living history, its shimmering light and its extraordinary art. Morocco is the ideal African starting point for the traveler. An easy hop from Europe, it is hectic but friendly and stimulating as well. Open-air markets throughout the country are piled high with rugs, woodwork, jewelry and leather which is said to be the softest in the world. Morocco's dazzling mosaic of Arab and Berber cultures—with a dash of African and European influence—is at once unique, romantic and alluring. It's little wonder that Morocco has regularly drawn seekers of the exotic.
Marrakech: Known as the "Pearl of the South," is an oasis in southwestern Morocco at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, with rose-colored ramparts and a thousand year old palm grove. Sumptuous and exuberant, it radiates splendor and mysticism and casts a magic spell on all who visit. Marrakech has the largest berber market (souk) in Morocco and also hosts the busiest square in Africa. Marrakech, like Fez, is a genuinely Islamic city in both its genesis and traditions. Marrakech has impressive monuments dating from that period: the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, the battlements, monumental doors and gardens. Other architectural jewels include the Bandia Palace, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian Tombs and Place Jamaa El Fna, an open-air theater.
Casablanca: As Morocco's largest and most modern city, Casablanca is well known because of the Humphrey Bogart film of the same name. The Place Mohammed V is the heart of the city; the main boulevards branch out from here. Casablanca is the kingdom's commercial capital where most of the cultural activities are concentrated, from art galleries to excellent international restaurants. The Hassan II Mosque, completed in 1993, is among the largest in the world, boasting the tallest minaret. Casablanca is no doubt Morocco's window on the world and is a fast-paced cosmopolitan city where trends are created and modernism parts company with traditionalism or tries to blend them.
Atlas Mountains: The Atlas Mountains are a series of mountain ranges in northwestern Africa, running through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The tourist industry is popular in the High Atlas region of Morocco, where visitors can enjoy luxurious Kasbah accommodations in picturesque villages. Activities include mountain biking and hiking, or even winter sports in the Middle Atlas, where long snow-covered slopes can be found.
Sahara Desert: Enjoy dramatic landscapes of sand dunes and memorable sunsets while visiting Morocco's Sahara Desert.
The Middle East contains some of the world's most ancient metropolises from Jerusalem to Ephesus to Istanbul. Explore the exquisite architecture of churches and mosques, visit souks and bazaars from the most vibrant cities in the region and travel the magnificent desert landscapes among many more experiences the Middle East has to offer.
Jerusalem: Situated high in the Judean Hills, Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world, presenting a unique combination of ancient history, spiritual sanctity and colorful cultures. Established 3000 years ago by King David, Jerusalem is a fascinating city of many contrasts and diversities. It is a city where old and new, holy and secular, pure nature and beautiful architecture mix into magical harmony of smells, sounds and sights. Sacred to the world's three main religions, Jerusalem is a captivating city, whose visitors are left touched and inspired by the shining glow of its religious shrines, picturesque scenery and magnificent golden limestone. A visit to Jerusalem, known as the "City of Gold" is an unforgettable experience.
Haifa: Holy Land to three of the world's major religions, Israel has a great emotional and spiritual effect on its visitors through its magnificent religious shrines and tenacity of a nation that, against all odds, made the desert bloom. Haifa, one of Israel's largest cities, is built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean. Its sloping streets and boulevards wind up and down the mountain. Haifa is also the site of Elijah's cave, held sacred by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.
Jordan: Jordan is, on the whole, peaceful. It's one of the most welcoming, hospitable countries in the world. It's also home to two of the most spectacular sights in the Middle East. Petra, the ancient city of the Nabateans, is one of the world's most atmospheric ruins. The startling desert scenery of Wadi Rum enraptured Lawrence of Arabia and has caused travelers to don a kaffiyeh and gaze defiantly into the distance. Main attractions of Jordan include Roman ruins, Bedouin culture, Byzantine mosaics, Crusader fortresses, desert oases and nature reserves.
Dead Sea: There are many reasons why the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth and the largest "Natural Spa" in the world, is also one of the world's true natural wonders and a unique tourism destination. Starting with the Dead Sea itself, it is a one-of-a-kind body of water, 1,373 feet below sea level with mineral-rich waters and mud flow with natural health and beauty benefits acclaimed globally. Visitors to the Dead Sea come to a world of blue skies, year-round sunshine, magnificent natural landscape, and extraordinary touring options, such as thrilling encounters with history and exploration of the living desert.
The contrasts between old and new in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are not only dramatic—they're often deliberate. The UAE is a fascinating mix of bedouin life and international commerce which continues to draw travelers with new hotels and diversions that have made cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi global hotspots. You can easily maneuver between past and present in the UAE: You can venture into the desert on a camel trek and then indulge in a new sport—sand skiing.
Dubai: Now modernized, Dubai attracts many with its international facilities and its exotic, yet cosmopolitan lifestyle. Dubai's rapid transformation has left it with a slice of old Arabia and a chunk of modern infrastructure. You'll find souks selling gold jewelry and traditional wares not far from modern shopping centers selling electronics and luxury items. The biggest contrast can be seen in Dubai's landscape: a splendid coastline and beaches are backed by an expansive desert, which is a magnificent paradox of impressive sand dunes and starkly beautiful mountains.
Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi is one of the most modern cities in the world. It is the center of government and business life and the second-largest city in the UAE. The architecture of its modern buildings and skyscrapers is the finest in the Middle East. Date palms nestled between the glass and steel high-rises give the city a bit of soul. There's a vibrant downtown with interesting streets and abundant sidewalk cafes, and a growing number of prestigious museums. Notable souvenirs from Abu Dhabi include spices, gold, jewelry and carpets.
If you enjoy delving into intricate cosmologies and thrive on sensual overload, then India is one of the most elaborate and rewarding dramas unfolding on earth, and you'll quickly develop an abiding passion for it. Nothing in the country is ever quite predictable; the only thing to expect is the unexpected, which comes in many forms and will always want to sit next to you. The country's glorious diversity means there's an astonishing array of sacred sites, from immaculately kept Jain temples to weathered Buddhist stupas; there's history around every corner, with countless monuments, battle-scarred forts, abandoned cities and ancient ruins all having tales to tell. There are beaches to satiate the most avid sun-worshipper.
Delhi: Ancient and modern India collide in Delhi: cars jostle for space with elephants and camels on the city's streets. Delhi is the third-largest city and consists of Old Delhi and New Delhi. Officially two separate cities, the old city of Delhi, which the Mughuls built and lived in, and New Delhi, built by the British and expanded since Independence in 1947, are really two parts of one sprawling metropolis known simply as Delhi. In addition to its historic interest and role as government center, Delhi is a major travel gateway. The architectural designs and sophistication that buildings in Delhi like Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, Connaught Place and various administrative buildings like the South and North blocks along the breathtaking view available from Raj Path, show British influence. Modern Delhi has a cosmopolitan culture that nurtures festivals of all faiths and religions. Theatre, drama and entertainment of all sorts including discotheques are there.
Goa: Goa is the smallest state of the republic of India and one of its prime tourist destinations, thanks to its picturesque location on the Mandovi River, between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The state's Portuguese past is most apparent in its plazas, cathedrals and architecture, and a few Portuguese insist that Goa retains more old-world heritage than most of Portugal, especially in Old Goa, which was once (in the 1600s) touted as the "Lisbon of the East." Long, sandy beaches, fringed with coconut palms, make Goa a tropical paradise for visitors. Other tourist attractions are the colonial buildings from the 1500's, built when Goa was headquarters of Portugal's Asian empire. Today, Old Goa is half-hidden in the jungle.
Mumbai: Mumbai—or Bombay, as it was known until 1997—remains India's city of dreams. Today this bustling city offers a seemingly endless array of sights and cultural activities. Mumbai is the glamour of Bollywood cinema, cricket on the maidans on weekends, bhelpuri on the beach at Chowpatty and red double-decker buses. Mumbai has vital streetlife, India's best nightlife and more bazaars than a visitor could ever explore.