Our three and a half months in Africa were extremely varied: we marveled at some beautiful landscapes, had some wonderful wildlife experiences, got to travel with friends, summited a mountain, endured some really rough and uncomfortable overland travel, dealt with some frustrating logisitcal setbacks, and overcame a bit of a "what are our goals here?" phase. Overall, we will remember Africa fondly and cannot wait to get back and explore this humongous continent that we barely scratched the surface of. What follows is a list of some of our favorite places and experiences in South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Best City: It's a tie between stunning and fascinating Cape Town, South Africa and Stone Town, Zanzibar Island, Tanzania, which maintains a surprisingly genuine feel despite the number of visitors this small city receives.
Friendliest People: It was unexpected, especially after the famously friendly people of Malawi, but we thought Tanzanians were tops.
Best Accommodation: This one is tough, but we concluded with a tie between Wild Spirit (Nature's Valley, South Africa), where we immediately felt at home with the warm family who runs it, and Lake Shore Lodge and Camping (Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania), where we treated ourselves to a bit of modern luxury and pampering, western Tanzania style!
Best Safari Park: Decisions are tough, so another tie: Serengeti National Park (Nick's pick) because of the cats and Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area (Claudia's pick) because of the scenery and sheer numbers of animals (both in northern Tanzania).
Best Sidetrip: Hands down our three-day horseback trip from the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa into Sehlahatebe National Park in Lesotho.
Best Wildlife Experience: We were enamored with our experience chimp tracking in Gombe Stream National Park, Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania.
Best Diving: Nothing beat the colorful fish, morays, and huge manta ray in the gorgeous blue water at Giant's Castle, Tofo, Mozambique.
Best Adrenaline Rush: We had a blast Class V White Water Rafting on the Nile River in Bujagali Falls, Uganda.
Best Lake: We couldn't get enough of the beautiful and serene Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania.
Best Border Crossing: Our horseback crossing from South Africa to Lesotho and back sure beats public transportation!
Best Sunset: Seeing the sun go down over the Nile River near its source (Bujagali Falls, Uganda).
Best Live Music Experience: Seeing a reggae band play in Nkhata Bay, Malawi.
Best Beer:Another tie: Castle Milk Stout (Nick's pick), South Africa, and Nile Special (Claudia's Pick), Uganda.
Best Hot Sauce: Nali Hot Sauce, Malawi.
Best Meal: Grilled lobster and tons of other delicacies on New Year's Eve at the Karafuu, Michamvi Penninsula, Zanzibar.
Best Cuisine: Cape Malay food, a fusion of Indian, Malaysian, and European influences, in Cape Town, South Africa.
Best Chicken and Chips: We never thought we'd be praising this dish after having to eat it more times than we care to remember, but the perfectly cooked and seasoned fried chicken and chips from a stand in the Mengo neighborhood roadside market (Kampala, Uganda) was a fitting final meal on our last night in Africa.
Best Burger: We still daydream about the burgers we ate at Royale Eatery, Cape Town, South Africa (and the milkshakes were great too!).