North Africa is very different to the rest of the continent geologically, culturally and politically. With flights as short as four hours, North Africa offers destinations that will make you feel much further away from home! Get ready to discover the pyramids of Sudan, travel on camels into the heart of the Sahara Desert on our trip to Morocco or float along the Nile on our Classic Egypt tour.
With their close proximity to Europe, these destinations are most certainly on the tourist hotspot but read on to discover the ways to explore the region without the crowds and to see the alternative countries of Africa.
Linked to North Africa by the Sahara and the Nile, Sudan is one of those magical destinations where the perception of the country doesn’t reflect reality. Very few travellers venture to Africa’s third largest country, but those who do will discover a country with a culture rich in history; there are more pyramids in Sudan than Egypt and ancient temples stand forgotten in the desert. Exploring sites alone, with no other tourists around gives the feeling of being a one of the Victorian explorers in a land where time has stood still. It isn’t uncommon to pass a large group of nomads filling up at a waterhole as you cross the desert or to be invited into a small house for coffee with a newly met family. The warmth and hospitality experienced is a reminder of everything that is great about travel.
Simon Grove, Head of Product at Explore, tells us why he loves Sudan: ‘I loved the vastness of the country and the feeling that I was alone with my group, discovering a destination untouched by others. Whether it was standing at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile, watching shooting stars in the desert or buying dry dates in Karima market it seemed that whatever I did in Sudan was both different and memorable.’
Egypt was first visited on a ‘package tour’ in 1872 and remains on bucket-lists of travellers throughout the world. Egypt has been labelled the ‘cradle of civilisation.’ With history stemming back to ancient times this colourful country is loud, busy and enchanting. Explore have visited Egypt for almost 40 years and it’s remained a firm favourite amongst our customers.
In approx. 450BC the Greek historian Herodotus wrote ‘Egypt is a gift of the Nile’ recognising the importance of the great river that weaves its way through central Africa through the continent to the Mediterranean. This remains true two and a half thousand years later, with the best way to see the country on a cruise along the Nile. Travelling on our Classic Egypt with Nile Cruise trip combines visits to sites that have enthralled travellers since Victorian times with the opportunity to see daily life from an alternative angle as you float along this incredible river.
Morocco is another favourite sitting on Africa’s north-west coastline. Just a short flight from the UK it undoubtedly offers a long haul experience at a short haul price. As it has gained in popularity (and budget airlines!) some of the main cities are now packed with tourists enjoying what is on offer. However, it doesn’t take much to step off the beaten track and to get under the skin of this destination. Travelling on our Marrakesh Express trip takes you on a whistle-stop trip by public transport. Taking the train and local bus you quickly become assimilated into the daily life of the Moroccan people.
Or perhaps you’re looking for something more active? Our Southern Oasis Cycling trip will take you on journey on two wheels through the Draa Valley. The scenery is beautiful as you pedal through Berber communities, passing lush palms, Kasbahs and stunning scenery in an area known as ‘the date basket of Morocco’ palms. Round the trip off by changing your bike for the ‘ship of the desert’ as you take camels into the heart of the Sahara spending a night under the stars in the Chebbi Dunes.