Nubian Pyramids, Sudan

Nubian Pyramids
photo © Wufei07

Less famous than the Egyptian pyramids but not less fascinating, those burial monuments belong to the ancient kingdom of Kush, a rival to Egyptian settled from 2500 BC in the Nubian Valley (modern Sudan) to AD 350, when the kingdom of Axum invaded and conquered the capital Meroë and ended the Kushite dominance.

Compared to the Egyptians, they are more recent (built a thousand years after), smaller (the highest is less than 30 meters, Giza’s is 139 meters), and with steeper sides. There are around 200 pyramids in the Nubian Valley, more than in Egypt.

Meroë, located 240 kilometers north of Khartoum, is the biggest and best-preserved sacred area, where 30 kings, eight queens, and three princes are buried.

Although relatively unknown (the last group of pyramids was discovered between 2009 and 2012), the Nubian pyramids are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

It seems a bit weird that a river doesn’t reach the sea, but this is what happens to the Okavango, the fourth longest river on the African continent. It rises on the Angolan mountains to finish his race in Botswana, flowing into a sandy sea: the Kalahari desert.

The origin of this phenomenon dates back to the ice age, when the river flowed into the great Makgadikgadi lake, now a desert.
 
At its mouth, it forms an internal delta, a cradle of unbelievable biodiversity considered one of the best-preserved natural areas where huge quantities of animals can be found, of almost all the species of the African continent.

Irta’Ale volcano, Ethiopia

Irta'Ale volcano
photo © Petr Meissner
The Irta’Ale (or Erta Ale) volcano, located in the northern area of Ethiopia, Danakil depression, is one of the few existing volcanoes with permanent lava lakes (since the beginning of the 20th century). 
 
613 meters high, it is one of the most spectacular formations of Northern Africa (like the nearby Danakil depression).
 
From Addis Abeba and Makelle there are organized tours for tourists: the ascent is about 3 hours, rather easy, but pay attention to the hot temperature.

the White Desert, Egypt

The Sahara el Beyda, well known as the White Desert, is one of the most spectacular deserts in the world. Its chalk rock formations, after millions of years of wind and sand erosion, have bizarre shapes like, for example, the rock named “The chicken and the mushroom”.

The area is a National Park located about 50 km North of the town of Farafra, Egypt.

The desert was also the location of the music video of the song Echoes, the first single released by the British rock band Klaxons, from their second studio album, Surfing the Void.

Unfortunately, due to the armies and Islamist militant presence, the area is not safe, though local agencies organize trips for tourists.

Tassili n’Ajjer Nat. Park, Algeria

Tassili n'Ajjer
© Arche Caracalla

The Tassili n’Ajjer National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, is an outstanding plateau of about 70.000 km² composed mostly of black and red sandstone that, due to the erosion, has spectacular shapes of canyons, natural rock arches and volcanic ridges.

The National Park, located in the south-eastern area of Algeria at the borders of Mali, Niger and Libya, reachable from the town of Djanet, is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, with a well-preserved collection of remains and over 15,000 rock engravings and drawings dating back to the Neolithic era.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater
© Vincenzo Gianferrari Pini

With 16 km of diameter and 265 square km area, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera. Formed three million years ago by a massive volcano, it is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania). Due to its climatic conditions, the crater area has its own, unique, ecosystem.

 
Around the Magadi Lake, in the middle of the crater, live an impressive variety of animal species, among which elephants, black rhinos, leopards, lions, buffalos, hippos, hyenas, crocodiles, cheetah and thousands of pink flamingos, giving the area the appearance of a large water park for wild animals.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the only one Tanzania’s Park in which the Masai population can live and move freely.

Gara Medouar, Morocco

Gara Medouar
photo © mytouristmaps

Located outside Erfoud, Morocco, along the N12 road connecting Merzouga to  Alnif, the Gara Medouar is a sedimentary rock formation which by the erosion processes had taken on the appearance of a crater.

Gara Medouar map

Nicknamed the Portuguese Prison due to his use as a sheltered area for the slave trade from Africa to Portugal, the rock formation was also used as a Moroccan military base.

Fascinating movie landscape, Gara Medouar has appeared in many films: Spectre (2015), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), The Mummy (1999), The Mummy Returns (2000) and the TV series The Secret of the Sahara (1998).