Welcome to another edition of High Five, the weekly blog post that sees me counting down five awesome things to do in a city, country or region that I reckon is worthy of your precious holiday days.
Over the past few weeks I’ve given the mighty High Five accolade to Jordan, raised my hand in the air for South Australia, and gone palm to palm with Sri Lanka. This week, I’m going bigger, broader and, dare I say it, even more adventurous. Today, I’m slapping Northern Africa with a big High Five!
This sprawling region boasts an exciting mish mash of history, culture, adventure and relaxation. Though certain areas are experiencing civil unrest and should be avoided (always check the FCO website for travel advise before venturing abroad), Northern Africa has plenty of glistening gems that are just begging to be explored.
Five reasons to visit Northern Africa
From beautiful and bustling Morocco to ancient Egypt and across to the diverse beauty of Tunisia, here are my top five things to do in Northern Africa.
1. Walk like an Egyptian
The most famous ancient monuments in Africa, if not the world, the Pyramids of Giza are synonymous with Egypt. You may be familiar with images of the pyramids, but seeing these impressive structures close up will take your breath away.
My tip: get there early, shake off the touts and find a quiet corner to full appreciate the size, age and story behind the only wonder of the ancient world that’s still intact. Check out our Best of Egypt tour, which includes a trip to the pyramids, as well as the Egyptian Museum, to give you a real insight into the history.
Prepare to be fully amazed at the Pyramids of Giza | Image courtesy of Egypt Tourist Authority
2. The madness of Marrakech
There’s nothing quite like a stroll round the medina of Marrakech to remind you that you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. In fact, stroll is too leisurely a word. A fast-paced, adventure filled assault on the senses would be a more accurate way to describe this buzzing Morrocan city.
Practice your haggling skills at the markets, feel a huge sense of achievement when you manage to dodge the cars crossing the roads, and reward yourself with a cup of sweet mint tea and a tasty tagine from a food stall at the end of the day.
3. See red
You’ve learned the history, you’ve experienced the culture – now bring on the beach! Head to Egypt’s coastline and take a dip in the Red Sea. Avoid the package holiday hordes at Sharm el Sheikh and head down to Dahab.
It’s backpacker heaven, with cheap but great quality accommodation, beautiful beaches and a general chilled out vibe. The Red Sea is famous for its awesome scuba diving, so make sure take some time to explore its colourful depths. Make the most of Dahab on our 5-day Dahab Beach Break.
Take a dip in the Red Sea in laid back Dahab, Egypt
4. Use the force in Tunisia
It may not be Hollywood, but Tunisia has its fair share of claims to fame. My personal favourite is that it’s home to Luke Skywalker’s house. Seriously! The Sidi Riss hotel is the mixture of underground labyrinths and rooms that’s used in both the original film and The Phantom Menace.
If you’re not a Star Wars fan, immerse yourself in Tunisia’s more traditional cultural side instead and take a ride along the country’s old mining tracks on the Red Lizard Train. You’ll pass the Seldja Gorge and get up close to some fascinating rock formations as you rattle through the slightly surreal rocky landscape.
5. Retreat to the mountains
After bartering with the best of them in Marrakech, a trip into the Atlas Mountains could be just what the travel doctor ordered. One of the most scenic parts of Morocco, the Atlas Mountains lie just a few hours south of the capital, but you’ll feel as though you’re in a different country.
The view from the Atlas Mountains is worth the climb
Serenity is the order of the day here; go for the trekking and stay for the awesome views. Visit on a one day tour, or join our epic 7-day Atlas Mountain Trek, where you’ll get to stay in a Berber home and participate in projects to aid the local community.