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North Africa has some of the most exciting and exotic cultures and landscapes in the world.

The region has an edgy energy – almost a breathless quality – about it: the intense, relentless heat; the surreal, mystical labyrinthine souks and medinas, some of which look so unearthly they have been used in films set in space (some Star Wars scenes were set in Tunisia); the ruins and temples scattered about the land like sweets waiting to be discovered afresh.

These places create shapes on the horizon; extraordinary landscapes that tell of a civilisation much more cultured than our own today. You will wonder if the pyramids of Giza or Abu Simbel were built by aliens as, according to the architects of today, we would have issue with creating buildings of this scale, design and quality today, even with our modern technology. Then there’s the Red Sea; rich in tropical fish and coral and WWI wrecks; a stunning underworld kingdom, flocked to by divers wanting to learn or improve their skills while exploring the clearest, warmest and most fascinating of waters.

You don’t need to read books to learn about the history of Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan and Libya – just walk among the many archaeological sites and Seventh Wonders and stand and breathe it in, for a moment letting go of the iPad, camera or iPhone which renders you once removed from what’s in front of you. Simply look with your own eyes.

In Libya and Sudan, alcohol is banned, and during Islamic holidays such as Ramadan, which is in July and/or August, it is not available in the other countries. Visas are required for Libya, Sudan and Algeria, and you are able to obtain a visa on arrival in Egypt.

Each country has made the news pages for civil war and political unrest over recent years, providing a living history for a region that has had its share of internal conflict through the ages, like a live volcano simmering. Keep this in mind when making a big trip to Northern Africa: check the government website so you are fully prepared. Explore and enjoy, but tread with care, confidence and always respect.


Big Trip: It began in (North) Africa
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