We say Africa, you think safari right? Wrong! A safari holiday may be the first thing to spring to mind when imagining Africa but it's not all there is to this fabulously diverse continent. As such, we've picked our top 3 places to visit for a non-safari adventure in Africa...
Cape Town and the Winelands, South Africa
No time to spare for an all-springing, all-prancing African safari? How about a long weekend of wine, walking and whales in and around captivating Cape Town instead? The beauty of South Africa is the minimal time difference (GMT +2 hours) and overnight flights from the UK that mean you can hit the ground running for a very realistic short break. Take in the bistros and bars of Cape Town - the undisputed foodie capital of Africa at present - safe in the knowledge that you won't descend from bikini babe or beach boy to beached whale because there's so much outdoor activity to enjoy as well. Climb iconic Table Mountain, sea kayak with (actual) whales and cage dive with great white sharks before heading to elegant Franschhoek in the heart of South Africa's Winelands for yet more gratuitous gourmandising. All in all, the perfect Big Short Break.
The Namibian Tourist Board might not major on the nicknames for their country such as 'The land God made in Anger' and 'The Gates of Hell' but Namibia is a country with truly staggering natural landscapes. Exhibit A: the staggering bright red sand dunes of the Sossusvlei, some a mere 900ft tall. Then there's also the red (hence the Hell references!) mountains of the nearby NamibRand Desert and finally the wild and remote Skeleton Coast, home to shipwrecks and seal colonies and best explored on a flying safari. Finally, spend time with the extraordinary Himba people, one of the last true nomadic peoples in Africa, or see leopards in the National Parks of Etosha and Damaraland. Basically, Namibia is a truly 'Original' Destination.
Thanks to the quirks of the Ethiopian calendar, thirteen months of sunshine and a warm welcoming people await. Ethiopia continues to confound expectations on every level and with so much to see and do your only concern is how to fit it all in. There are pristine mountains, rainforests and the Rift Valley for adventurers and walkers to explore, and a first luxury lodge recently opened in the Bale Mountains. Ethiopia is home to an extraordinary array of rare plant and wildlife species and over 100 endemic bird species for the avid twitcher. History and culture buffs can get their fix in Lalibela - home to 10th century rock hewn churches that are testament to the very distinct form of Christianity practiced here and at Axum, the alleged final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Please take note, Dr Indiana Jones. Meanwhile the south is home to many tribal peoples whose cultures and traditions should be glimpsed before they tragically disappear forever.