Roads Less Travelled

FRENCH FOOTSTEPS

Flights into Senegal's Dakar (p477) are cheap and its vibrant nightlife, the beautiful colonial architecture in St-Louis (p484), the wildlife-watching opportunities of Pare National du Niokolo-Koba (p488) and the spectacular birdlife of the Sine-Saloum Delta (p488) all make it a good place to start. Most people then head southeast to Guinea.

After checking out some fine beaches, Guinea's pumping music scene and the beauty of walking in the Fouta Djalon highlands (p375), it's easy to cut up into Mali by shared taxi. The vast, ornate mud mosque in Djenne (p402), the vibrant port at Mopti (p403), trekking in the fascinating Dogon country (p410) and the legendary desert outpost of Timbuktu (p406) are among the highlights to be discovered along the Niger River. Camels and Tuareg nomads are found in Agadez (p445), Niger's premier ancient city, while the desert scenery of the Air Mountains (p448) and Tenere Desert (p448) leaves powerful memories.

From Niger you have a couple of options: head south through Nigeria to Cameroon or southwest to Burkina Faso and on to Ghana. Ghana's national parks are excellent, but the beaches and colonial coastal forts on the Gulf of Guinea draw the most travellers.

GABON

Pack a French phrase book and hone your sign language for a trip through the sights and sounds of West Africa.

GABON

SWAHILI GHOSTS

Begin in Mozambique's capital, Maputo (p939). Head north via Inhambane (p944) and Vilankulo (p945) to Beira (p946), where the ruins of the legendary gold-trading port of Sofala lie. Continue north to Nampula (p947), then cross to llha do Mozambique (p947), an important port in the Swahili heyday, with its Arab-influenced stone houses and carved wooden doors. North from here you'll start to hear the lilt of the Swahili language with its mixture of African, Arabic and Portuguese words and sounds.

North again to Pemba (p949) and the Quirimbas Archipelago (p949) for a multiday sailing safari in a traditional Swahili dhow (a wooden boat with a huge triangular sail) around these stunning islands. If the wind's in the right direction and the captain's in the right mood, you might even be able to pick up a dhow from Mo^imboa da Praia (p949), in Mozambique's far north, all the way to Mtwara (p780) in southern Tanzania. From Mtwara it's a rough bus trip (there are interesting Swahili ruins on the way), or an overnight boat journey to Dares Salaam (p751) and thence to Zanzibar (p757). Here the Swahili legacy is most strongly felt in the ancient mosques that sit among the palm trees, the stone bridges that cross the town's narrow streets and the Persian festivals that are still celebrated with music and dancing. If you've got a bit more time, you can carry on right up the East African coast to Mombasa (p700) in Kenya, once an Arab stronghold, and on to Lamu (p705), a Swahili island so peaceful it seems to be lost in time.

This rarely done trip follows the land and sea routes of the 10th-century Swahili sultans, slavers and merchants who once ruled the East African coast.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

DODOMAt,» Zanzibar

JMciimbca da Praia

Famba -) Quirimbas MALAWI I Archipelago

ZIMBABWE

BOTSWANA

Tropic of Capricorn

ZIMBABWE

INDIAN OCEAN

SURFING HIPPOS & NESTING TURTLES

Fly into Cameroon's capital, Yaoundé (p280), then head east via lazy beaches around Limbe (p288) to explore Mount Cameroon (p288) and the Ring Road (p291), a circular route through rolling hills and mountains, lakes and waterfalls in the heart of Cameroon's northwestern highlands. Put in some time in Islamic Foumban (p292) then head south via the white sandy beaches of Kribi (p293) to Ebolowa (p294) and onwards across the Gabon border to Bitam (p590). Northern Gabon is uncharted territory and ripe for exploring off-off-off the beaten path. Some remaining Pygmy tribes are even rumoured to live in the northern forests. After exploring to your heart's content continue south to uncover the mind-boggling highlights of Gabon's many newly created national parks, which include watching surfing hippos on the beaches at Loango (p591 ) or tracking the vibrant mandrill troupes of Réserve de la Lopé (p592). Most of these unique ecotourism opportunities are only accessible by plane from Libreville (p584), Gabon's capital, so you may have to base yourself here and shuttle back and forth - it's not cheap, but for the chance to see some of Africa's most pristine natural areas before mass tourism takes hold, it's worth it. Accessible by road is Lambréné (p591), the site of Albert Schweizer's famous hospital, which nestles in the heart of an impressive lake network. Finish the trip with a jaunt to one of Africa's smallest countries, Sâo Tomé & Principe (p598), a land of nesting turtles, perfect tropical beaches and ghostly old plantation houses.

Throw yourself into some of

West Africa's

CAMEROON

CONGO

Equator

NIGERIA

CAMEROON

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

most unexplored natural regions with this way-off-the-beaten-track itinerary. Throw in several tribal kingdoms and sultanates, and it's an ecotraveller's paradise.

CONGO

Equator

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.

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