A diverse continent with an amazing variety of wildlife, habitats, climates and civilizations, Africa is home to the world’s highest sand dunes, longest river and largest hot desert. From the arid Sahara to the lush jungles of the Congo, Africa is brimming with fascinating species such as wildebeest, rhinos, gorillas, gazelles and lions. Here are 12 of its most notable natural features including the magnificent Victoria Falls in Uganda and the stunning rock formations of Tassili n’Ajjer.
(image via: gusjer)
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls is thought to be the largest waterfall in the world with a width of 5,604 feet. Located on the Zambezi River in between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa, Victoria Falls was named after the British queen by the first European to view them, David Livingstone. The full width of the Zambezi River drops off into a deep chasm known as First Gorge. Livingstone wrote, “No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” Th native name for the falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders.”
The Sahara Desert
(image via: fighting irish 1977)
The world’s largest ‘hot’ desert stretches more than 3.6 million square miles, covering most of North Africa – almost the size of China or the United States. The Sahara boasts sand dunes that reach up to 590 feet in height, and its name comes from the Arabic word for desert. Thousands of years ago, when the desert was much wetter than it is today, people thrived along its edges, but today it is sparsely populated, mostly by nomadic peoples such as the Berber and Tuareg tribes. One of the harshest climates in the world, the Sahara Desert receives very little rain, very rarely. It’s divided into eight distinct eco-regions, each with its own climate and characteristics, and is home to species such as dromedary camels, deathstalker scorpion, dorcas gazelle and the Saharan cheetah.
A large volcanic caldera within the Crater Highlands of Tanzania, the Ngorongoro Crater formed when a massive volcano exploded and collapsed about two to three million years ago. The largest natural feature in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, this crater is 2,000 feet deep and covers 100 square miles. It’s thought of as a ‘natural enclosure’ for a wide variety of wildlife including wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. An estimated 25,000 animals live within it. One side receives heavy rainfall throughout the year and is covered in trees, while the west wall is grassland and bushland. The variety of animals present makes the Ngorongoro Crater a very popular tourist site.