If you’ve ever wanted to travel to a less frequented tourist destination but felt unsure about the newness, here are a few ideas for traveling off the beaten path in Africa- the continent where the human journey began.
Open up to Africa’s vast variety
King Tut’s treasures or the pyramids of Egypt, Roman ruins or lively markets in Morocco, bustling urban Kigali or rural Rwanda’s mountain gorillas, rainforests or European slave forts in Ghana, picturesque mosques or nightclubs in Senegal, safaris or beaches in Tanzania- the diversity of Africa will astonish you.
Delight in music, dance, textiles and architecture
World music icon Youssou N’Dour still performs regularly in Senegal. Weavers create bold geometrical patterns in Ghanaian tapestries. The fountains and doorways of Fez inspire amazing photographs. Ethiopian orthodox monasteries on tiny islands conceal surprising medieval paintings.
Try food you don’t recognize
Eating greens that only grow in eastern African hills, using fufu as a spoon for goat stew, sampling surprisingly tasty pigeon pot pie in Fez: these are only a few of the pleasures that await the adventurous palate.
Learn history the fun way
Did you know that in Ethiopia you can easily visit multiple millennia-old churches carved from solid rock? Just reading the historical information in your Lonely Planet guidebook will leave you eager to know more.
Communicate across barriers
Learning to say “Hello. How are you?” and “Thank you” in the local language will take you a long way. Smiles and facial expressions speak wonders.
If you have the opportunity to experience even a tiny fraction of the artistic and natural beauty of Africa, any stereotype propagated by news media will fade into irrelevance.
Challenge yourself and be rewarded.
Gerise Herndon is professor of English and director of the Gender Studies Program.