by E Francis,
When many people think of Africa, they think of the savannah, the Sahara, areas of sand and bushland filled with animals like lions and herds of gazelles. This is just one facet of the continent – there are whole other ecosystems to explore. One of the best is the African jungle.
The Jungle? Where Can I Find That?
The African Jungle is not a single place – you can find a variety of jungles in different countries, all with their own unique differences. Most of the tropical rainforests are spread out over the equator, though there’s some elsewhere. Some of the most beautiful are:
The Tsitsikamma Forest is a rare example of a coastal rainforest. If you’re worried you might find the jungle atmosphere a bit too clammy for the entire time, this can be a great place to start exploring as you can head out to the shore to get away from it all. There’s a great mix of wildlife to encounter too, thanks to this variety. In the rainforest itself, you might encounter bats, wildcats and even leopards. Heading out into the water, you could see dolphins, dwarf sperm whales and perhaps even a humpback. The sheer diversity of these locations makes it perfect for having your own Tarzan adventure here – especially if you take the opportunity to go on a canopy tour or bungee jump!
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is in Uganda. There’s both jungle and lowland forest, and you can only get around it on foot (hence the somewhat intimidating name). It’s a hugely diverse location, both in terms of animals and vegetation. It’s also home to columbus monkeys, chimpanzees – and most notably, mountain gorillas. In fact, it’s home to almost half of the whole world’s population of these! You can go on tours intending to see these gentle creatures, though you have to walk. It’s a very isolated location, making it perfect for experiencing the jungle in full, and you can either stay in tents or a lodge
We’re counting Madagascar here, as it’s just off the coast of Africa and the biodiversity found here is incredible. Many of the animals and plants you’ll find here are only found (in the wild) on this island, so it’s the only place you can see them roaming free. Such species include the lemurs that live there (there’s over a hundred different subspecies of these!), the fossa and chameleons. If it’s wildlife you want, Madagascar is the place to go.
Nyungwe National Park, set in Rwandais one of the best-preserved rainforests on the continent. There’s a huge variety of land types here – from swamps to bamboo-filled areas. This is a great choice for a real Tarzan experience, as it’s filled with primates like the chimpanzee, the olive baboon and the golden monkey. It has the only canopy walkway in East Africa, meaning you can head up among the treetops, seeing birds and primates close by. Places to stay include a lodge on a nearby tea plantation, or a variety of campsites based around various mountains.
The Congo Basin is home to wetlands and tropical rainforest. It’s so large, and so important, that what happens there affects the weather across the Atlantic! Many unusual creatures roam here, including the rare okapi and the lowland gorilla. The Sangha Tri-National zone is one of the best locations to head out to, containing three protected areas – the Dzanga Sangha Special Reserve, the Nouabale Ndoki National Park, and the Lobeke National Park. For a real thrill, spend some time in each of them. The Dzanga Sangha is out favourite – you can see gorillas, forest elephants, and be led by local guides from the Ba’Aka tribe.
Regardless of what you plan for the rest of your holiday in Africa, allow yourself to be bewitched as the explorers of old were and head out into one of the jungles. Whether you started your journey in the air-conditioned Cape Town villas, or in a caravan out in the savannah, make sure you spend part of it here – in the heart of the world’s jungles themselves.