Explore the seven natural wonders of Africa

Africa has got very may natural wonders but this is the ultimate list of the seven natural wonders of the continent that was approved after the voting on February 11, 2013.

1. River Nile

<em>River Nile<em>

River Nile tops the list of the 7 natural wonders of Africa and it’s by no surprise, being the longest river in the world.

The Nile has a record number of 11 countries where it passes including Sudan and Egypt where it acts as the primary source of water for both domestic and industrial activities.

Along its 4,132-mile course, the Nile passes through Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Egypt. 

The Nile is now known to be originating from the source of the Rukarara River in South Rwanda as it was confirmed by a 2005/2006 expedition up the river with modern navigation equipment.

The origin of the Nile is also the furthest source from its mouth in the world and it stands at an elevation of 7,966 feet with its mouth ending in a large delta where it drains into the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt.

River Nile is considered to be the mother of the Egyptian civilization and the Sudanese Kingdoms with most of the major historical and cultural sites of Egypt situated along its banks.

2. Mount Kilimanjaro

<em>Mount Kilimanjaro<em>

Though a dormant volcano, Mount Kilimanjaro stands as the highest mountain in Africa. From its base, Kilimanjaro rises about 16,000 feet to an altitude of 19,341 feet above sea-level.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular climbing destination in Africa and also a central feature of the Kilimanjaro National Park which has also got other wildlife species.

Kilimanjaro is the highest volcano in the world outside South America. The mountain is made up of three separate cones including Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira.

To ease hiking along the mountain, there are official trekking routes that have been laid leading hikers to its peak with the Machame route highlighted as the most scenic one.

Trekking to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is much cheaper compared to that of the Himalayas or Andes peaks though measures have still been taken to avoid any eventual deaths of hikers.

The government has set up some guidelines which hikers have to adhere to in order to ensure their safety while climbing the mountain.

3. Sahara Desert

<em>The Sahara Desert<em>

The Sahara is the hottest desert in the world and the third-largest after Antarctic and Arctic deserts.

The Sahara covers much of the north African region with the exception of the Nile Valley of Egypt and Sudan, the Atlas Mountains of Maghreb and the Mediterranean Sea coast.

The desert dominates the northern part of Africa and also extends to some parts of the northwest, and central Africa in the process covering up to 11 countries, including Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara.

The 3,500,000 square mile desert can be compared to the size of the United States.

Surprisingly, contrary to what many would assume, the Sahara Desert is not lifeless with several species living in it as their home.

Some of the desert species commonly seen in the Sahara include fox, dama gazelle, addax, monitor lizard, Saharan cheetah, African wild dog, sand vipers, desert crocodiles, red-necked ostrich, dromedary camels, Saharan silver ant, and goats.

There are also some desert tribes living in the Sahara who are nomads settling around the oases of the desert.

A desert safari to the Sahara will allow you to enjoy activities like camel riding, wildlife viewing, camping, cultural tours, among others.

4. The Serengeti Migration

<em>The Serengeti wildebeest migration <em>

The Serengeti ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya hosts the world’s largest terrestrial mammal migration.

The ecosystem extends from northern Tanzania to Southwestern Kenya hosting several game reserves in addition to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya.

The area hosts a huge variety of wildlife including lions together with 70 other species of large mammals and over 500 bird species.

The vast area of Serengeti is made up of varied landscape of grasslands, woodlands, riverine forests, and swamps.

The annual migration of great wildebeest in Serengeti begins in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of the park with about 2.5 million animals beginning to migrate between January and March. This huge number is composed of about 260,000 zebras, 470,000 gazelles, and 1.7 million wildebeest.

At the initial stages of migration around February, the animals graze in the short grass of Serengeti’s southern section where they also give birth to about 500,000 calves. They continue their movement northwestwards by the end of the rain season in May and they temporarily settle around River Grumeti until the end of June.

By August the animals have crossed over and settled in Kenya in Maasai Mara National Park.

This great migration of animals witnesses both the birth and death of animals with about 250,000 wildebeest dying each year due to predation, thirst, and hunger.

5. Ngorongoro Crater

<em>Ngorongoro Crater<em>

Part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Arusha, Tanzania as the main feature, the Ngorongoro Crater is a well-protected World Heritage Site. It is the largest inactive and intact unfilled caldera in the world.

The Ngorongoro Crater is believed to have been formed 2-3 million years ago through volcanic action after a massive explosion led to the collapse and sinking of the volcano on itself.

Montane forests cover the eastern side of the crater highlands while the western side is covered by grassland and bushland due to low rainfall amounts received on this side.

Open grasslands with wooded areas dominated by fever trees cover the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater.

6. Okavango Delta

<em>Okavango Delta<em>

The Okavango Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring a massive stretch of swamp and an inland delta.

The delta was formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough that stops its waters from reaching the ocean.

Though the waters of the delta evaporate during the dry season, it did not stop the existence of great diversity of wildlife in the area including the African bush elephant, hippos, southwest African lion, South African cheetah, African buffalo, rhinoceros, greater kudu, chacma baboon, among others.

7. Red Sea Reef

<em>The Red Sea Reef<em>

The Red Sea is located between Africa and Asia, the Middle East in particular as an inlet of seawater from the Indian ocean connected by the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el Mandeb strait.

The Red Sea Reef that underlies the sea has been named as one of the seven natural wonders of Africa.

Corals and marine life dominate the sea’s extensive network of shallow selves with over 1,000 species of invertebrates and about 200 hard and soft corals species present.

There are more than 1,200 fish species in the Red Sea of which 10 percent are endemic in nature while the fringing coral reefs in the sea are thought to have been formed 7,000 years ago.

Several features including lagoons, platforms, and cylinders occupy the reef habitat and about 44 shark species visit the Red Sea reefs annually.

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