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AFAR: Where to Go in 2022 (Africa)

Updated: May 3, 2022

Where will 2022 take you? Below, you’ll find destinations where your visit will really count. Locals tell AFAR what’s new, exciting, and worth the trip in the coming year.

(Africa selections appear below. For full article, please visit AFAR.)

Luxor, Egypt

Sometimes, the most enchanting experiences can be found outdoors.

Find me a treasure in Luxor, Egypt, that can’t be savored in the open air—I challenge you. In three years of wintering in this city on the banks of the Nile, about 400 miles south of Cairo, I haven’t found one. Luxor is often called an open-air museum, a place where antiquities are as common as mosques, schools, or fruit stands. A visitor could stroll the grounds of Karnak Temple—not to mention Luxor Temple, Valley of the Queens, Valley of the Kings, or the Colossi of Memnon—for days and still find obelisks to marvel at, all while breathing in fresh Sahara Desert air.

Luxor is where I met my husband, and it’s where we now live part-time (when not in Alberta, Canada), in a mud-brick house on the city’s quieter, more rural-feeling West Bank. It’s located on the edge of Medinet Habu Temple, parts of which date to 1500 B.C.E. I joke that we’re basically “glamping in the desert”—never fully inside, because the dust, the donkey braying, and the call to prayer easily find their way in through the corners of our earthen abode. No need to set an alarm clock, since the whoosh of hot-air balloons overhead stirs us awake by sunrise.

For the full story from Colleen Kinder, read Get Outside in Luxor, Egypt, to Walk Among the Kings.

Jinja, Uganda

This Nile-side city in eastern Uganda abounds with outdoor adventures.

Set along the nile river in eastern Uganda, Jinja is home to misty views marked by rapids and waterfalls, as well as roads blanketed by red dust that spools onto the skin with a vengeance. My father’s work in the petroleum industry frequently took him to Jinja, 140 miles west of my hometown, Kisumu, Kenya. As a child, I often tagged along to explore the natural wonders of the area.

On a recent visit, I based myself at the Nile Porch, a hotel with semi-tented, high-ceilinged rooms. I discovered Adrift Uganda, which offers trips along the Nile River that include Class VI rapids, and booked a trip. I was relieved when my group voted to tackle a Class III rapid called Bubugo—until I learned that it means “condolences” in the Lusoga language of Uganda.

Later that afternoon, on a less harrowing quad-biking excursion with All Terrain Adventures through nearby Kyabirwa Village, I charged past farms bursting with maize; kids ran out from the open doorways of mud-brick homes to wave hello.

The next day, as I paddled on flat waters with Kayak the Nile, observing cormorants and kingfishers while otters lazily swam past me, I was reminded of that feeling of limitless adventure that continues to lure me back. —Wendy Watta

Karoo, South Africa

This valley northeast of Cape Town reveals a less explored side of South Africa’s interior.

My love affair with the Klein Karoo—a semidesert valley 200 miles from Cape Town, on the southern edges of the Karoo region—blossomed late. In part, moving far away from Cape Town to New York City allowed me to appreciate this area with fresh eyes when I returned.

The Klein Karoo contains a 215-mile stretch of Route 62 that runs parallel to the more famous Garden Route. I traveled the entire road in January 2021, and my first stop was the country’s Sanbona Wildlife Reserve at the foot of the scrubby Warmwaterberg Mountains. The terrain, with its ancient rock formations and indigenous fynbos vegetation, is the only place to see the region’s nearly extinct white lions. At Dwyka Tented Lodge, set in an amphitheater of rock, there’s peace in the deafening silence.

An hour west lies Montagu, a handsome town framed by farms and the jagged Cape Fold Mountains. One of my favorite hotels is Jonkmanshof, a guesthouse set between two restored Cape Dutch buildings. When I return to the region next, I’ll check into Stil, a monochromatic retreat with a sculpture garden that opened in 2021. I’ll also take a morning hike along the Keisie River, where weaverbirds and shrikes soar above. And I’ll follow it with a latte in the tree-shaded garden of the Barn on 62, a coffee shop at the foot of those magical mountains. —Mary Holland

Turkana, Kenya

Explore the northwestern corner of Kenya, where archaeological sites and the blue waters of Lake Turkana await.

Having lived in Kenya all my life, I never knew how rich and varied the landscapes and cultures of my own homeland could be—until I traveled to Turkana County.

This arid part of the country, often called the cradle of humankind, lies 310 miles northwest of Nairobi. Turkana is one of Kenya’s largest counties, but even with its groundbreaking archaeological finds and distinct traditions, few people visit.

During a recent trip, my first stop is Turkana’s dusty capital, Lodwar, where I head to the Mikeka market, famous for its intricate handwoven baskets made with multicolored reeds. The women who create them use the earnings to supplement their agricultural livelihoods, which are constantly threatened by drought. From Lodwar, I travel east for 45 miles until I reach the azure waters of Lake Turkana. I stop at the fishing town of Kalokol to observe anglers dry tilapia and perch and to view Namoratunga II, a 2,300-year-old ceremonial site composed of 19 stone pillars.

Next I drive 50 miles north along the lake to Nariokotome to see the discovery site of Turkana Boy, the most complete known skeleton of Homo erectus, dating back 1.6 million years. A brass replica of the hominid skeleton stands near the site where it was uncovered; the original resides in the National Museum of Kenya. But the site itself, where I can picture Turkana Boy in the very place he once inhabited, offers a powerful reminder of our ancient roots. —Harriet Akinyi

Ibadan, Nigeria

A three-hour train ride from Lagos, this centuries-old city is rich in history, culture, and hearty cuisine.

Ibadan is the city of my youth, my mother’s youth, and that of her mother before her.

Once an epicenter of Nigerian politics, Ibadan was founded by Yoruba warriors in the 19th century. Today, it’s characterized by its seven hills, colonial buildings, and rusty corrugated roofing. Thanks to the newly modernized Nigerian Railway, my mother and I recently returned to Ibadan from Lagos on a journey that took us past thick rain forests, farmlands, and rural communities.

From the train station, our taxi dropped us at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), founded by Americans in 1967 to improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Spread over 2,400 acres, the IITA headquarters includes farms, offices, and a tree-shaded, utilitarian hotel.

From there, we set off to explore the manicured grounds of the University of Ibadan—Nigeria’s first university—and wandered among the eucalyptus and teak trees at Agodi Botanical Gardens. We haggled for yams and fresh ata rodo—habanero peppers—in the Bodija market. At Amala Skye, a buka (canteen) that serves Yoruba comfort food, we fortified ourselves on green-hued ewedu, a soup made with jute leaves.

As we tasted these familiar flavors and recounted our school days, it occurred to me how much there is to explore in my home country. That thought alone brought me indescribable joy. —Mimi Aborowa

Imlil, Morocco

This small village in the Atlas Mountains exudes a warm, laid-back hospitality.

Moving a household is always stressful. But when I relocated three years ago to Imlil, a tiny Berber village in the heart of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, my biggest worry was trying to figure out if a mule could carry a washing machine up a mountain.

I had found a house in a family compound carved into the rock of one of the high peaks that surround the main street in Imlil. A valley full of walnut and cherry trees stretches out beneath my terrace, and in the spring the landscape is drowned in pink-and-white blossoms. The day I moved in, children screeched around the communal yard, and the cow—who lives under my bedroom—vied with the chickens to make the most noise. I stepped onto the terrace as the first notes of the Muslim call to prayer rang out, bouncing off the peaks painted golden by the sun. I saw the tiny figures of hikers high on the trails.

At 5 p.m., Miriam, my new neighbor, took my hand in her warm one and led me into her house. “It’s teatime,” she said. Women and children sat on the handwoven carpets, chattering like birds.

Miriam poured the sweet mint tea. “Eat, eat!” she said as she presented a feast of hot flaky flatbreads, honey from wild bees, home-churned butter, and walnuts from the trees outside.

And it is that hospitality that makes a visit to these soaring, juniper-clad mountains so incredibly special. Here, you are not a stranger; you are a friend. —Alice Morrison

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