Wings’ top five ‘get set to jet’ guides for three distinct travel types: planners, nature lovers, and those crazy for culture.
Words Alexander Ponsonby
The Wild One
Jaw-dropping destinations for feeling at one with nature
1 Yankari National Park, Nigeria
The heartland of the West African savannah has much to offer nature lovers, with hot springs, rolling hills, and of course the stunning wildlife, from antelope and elephants to hippos and hartebeests. Stay in a bungalow or camp at the Wikki Warm Springs Hotel.
2 Kruger National Park, South Africa
With good air and road links from Johannesburg, 31 camps to stay at, and its huge expanse, Kruger is a natural choice for those hoping to see the Big Five of African wildlife – lions, elephants, buffalo, white rhino, and leopards.
3 Birdwatching in the Gambia
With over 500 species and good travel infrastructure, the Gambia is quickly becoming the destination of choice for twitchers, including professional TV birdwatcher Chris Packham, who runs his own tours.
4 Collines de Niassam Lodge, Senegal
Indulge your inner child at this charming eco resort, with well-appointed rooms set in a baobab treehouse, on a lagoon, accessed by a footbridge, and on the savannah itself. Best of all, the lodge is environmentally sustainable and works in cooperation with the local community.
5 Ankobra Beach, Ghana
Gilligan would be right at home on Ankobra Beach. With crystal blue water lapping against the sand and edged by shady palms, it’s everyone’s idea of a perfect tropical beach. Rent one of the luxury bungalows and pretend you’re a castaway.
The Knowledge Seeker
Innovative and interesting museums for Arik travellers.
1 Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg
The shockingly recent history of apartheid in South Africa is presented sensitively and thoroughly in this Johannesburg museum. With an emotional permanent exhibition, it’s a must-see location to understand the rise and fall of apartheid. (Northern Parkway and Gold Reef Road, Ormonde, Johannesburg, open Tue to Sun 9am to 5pm).
2 Calabar Old Residency Museum, Calabar
This impressive museum documents the history of Cross River since it was discovered by the Portuguese. It’s set in what used to be the old residency building of the British Consul. A curator is on hand during opening hours to guide you on a tour. (Eyo Ekpo Ln, Calabar).
3 Horniman Museum, London
One of the lesser-known museums in London is also one of the most fascinating, with its hodgepodge of collections to sate the most curious of cats, including an ‘African Worlds’ permanent exhibition and displays that take in anthropology, music, and natural history. (100 London Road, Forest Hill, London; open daily 10:30am to 5:30pm, except Christmas period).
4 IFAN Museum of African Arts, Dakar
One of the oldest art museums in the region, this is both an important educational institution and a place for the casual visitor to admire art from across Francophone Africa. (Rue Emile Zola, Dakar; open Tue to Sun 9am to 6pm).
5 Brooklyn Museum, New York
Harried culture seekers would do well to bypass the crowds and head to this museum. It was the first American museum to present African objets as art, and alongside its African gallery also houses masterpieces from Monet to Cezanne. (200 Eastern Parkway, New York, NY; open Wed-Sun 11am to 6pm except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day).
The Prepared Traveller
Five of the best websites for pre-trip planning.
1 Mr and Mrs Smith
With reviews from the likes of Stella McCartney, Raymond Blanc, and Dita von Teese, you’re sure to find the perfect luxury hotel on this site, which boasts 850 hand-picked hotels for you to holiday in style.
2 Secret Escapes
Like GroupOn, but exclusively for travel, Secret Escapes offers discounts of up to 75 per cent on luxury hotels, adventure travel tours, spa breaks and more. It’s especially great for places in the UK.
Not all of us are concerned with chocolates on the pillow. Although you can find that kind of hotel on this site, the idea here is to streamline hotel bookings so you can find the perfect hotel for your needs worldwide, whether it’s business, budget, or boutique.
Locals are the best people to help you explore a new city, and how better to do that than to stay with them? Backpackers will find spare rooms and welcome new friends in thousands of cities across the world on this site. couchsurfing.org
5 The Man in Seat 61
Those of us who harbour romantic dreams of Orient Express-style train travel can often be frustrated by the murderous practicalities of overland travel planning, so replace Agatha Christie with The Man in Seat 61, who has a wealth of information on train travel across the world, including international routes and timetables. seat61.com
Three reasons to visit the heart of Igboland.
- The culture Owerri is home to the Mbari Cultural and Art Centre, an open air museum dedicated to peace and prosperity in Igboland
- The entertainment The newest attraction in Owerri, the amusement park, is a weekend place for families.
- The nature Oguta Lake, once a Biafran naval base, is now a place of placid waters, with lake cruises and a nearby golf course.
Book flights at Arikair.com