Across Africa, Part 2: Discovering North Africa’s Ancient Wonders, Diverse Landscapes, and Stunning Seas

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  • Rich and diverse culture shaped by civilizations such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and colonial powers. This rich cultural mosaic is reflected in the region’s architecture, languages, cuisine, and traditions.
  • The world’s most renowned historical sites, including the ancient pyramids and temples of Egypt, the Roman ruins in Tunisia, and Morocco’s medieval medinas.
  • A diverse range of landscapes, from the vast Sahara Desert and rugged mountains to lush river deltas, picturesque oases, and vibrant coral reefs, offering activities like trekking, sandboarding, and diving.
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Common Queries Before Traveling to North Africa:

  • What is North Africa? It’s a region of Africa that includes several countries located along the Mediterranean coast and extending into the Sahara Desert. North Africa is known for its significant Arab population, with Islam being the dominant religion. The region’s economies encompass agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and tourism.
  • How many countries are in North Africa? The scope of North Africa is not universally agreed upon. The most widely accepted definition of the region includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Western Sahara—a territory contested between Morocco and the partially recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
  • Where to travel in North Africa? Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia are the region’s top travel destinations. Each country offers a unique blend of cultures and histories. From the sweeping dunes of the Sahara Desert to the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean, these nations boast diverse natural landscapes. They are renowned for their vibrant markets, hospitable locals, rich cuisines, and well-developed tourism infrastructure. Conversely, travel to Libya and Western Sahara is generally advised against due to political instability, safety and security concerns, and inadequate tourism infrastructure.
  • When is the best time to travel to North Africa? North Africa can get extremely hot, especially in the Sahara Desert areas during the summer months, with temperatures often exceeding 40°C (104°F). Therefore, the most favorable time to visit this region is from autumn through early spring, roughly from October to April, when temperatures typically range from 10-25°C (50-77°F). Traveling during these months may also coincide with various cultural and religious festivals, offering a deeper insight into the local culture and traditions.
  • How much does it cost to travel to North Africa? There’s a diverse array of North Africa travel packages and tours that cater to various interests and budgets, boasting an impressive average guest rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. According to Budget Your Trip, the average daily cost of these tours is a reasonable $210. Most are easy in terms of physical activity and primarily use coach/bus transportation, making them ideal for families, honeymoons, or romantic getaways. Although flights to Africa can be costly, services like Ovago provide affordable options. For instance, as of mid-May 2024, the cheapest round-trip economy flight from San Francisco to Casablanca (Morocco) costs just $369—an exceptionally good deal. Check out our current air fares to Morocco
  • How to travel to North Africa? Traveling from the US to North Africa involves several key steps and considerations to ensure a smooth journey: 1) Decide which country you wish to visit; 2) Check for visa requirements and travel advisories; 3) Book your flights to a major travel hub with developed transport infrastructure, such as Cairo in Egypt or Tunis in Tunisia; 4) Plan and book your accommodations and transportation; 5) Purchase travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and baggage loss; 6) Familiarize yourself with the local customs, basic language, and cultural norms of the country you are visiting.
  • Where in North Africa is it safe to travel? Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia are generally safe for tourists, particularly in popular coastal resorts and major cities such as Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Tunis, Carthage, Sousse, Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor. In contrast, some regions of Algeria, especially near borders, pose higher risks due to political instability and armed groups. Libya and Western Sahara are deemed unsafe for travel due to ongoing conflicts and political instability.
  • What vaccines are required to travel to North Africa? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) advise travelers heading to North Africa to get vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, anthrax, and meningitis. Additionally, they recommend updating routine immunizations such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap), influenza, chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, and polio.
  • Do I need North Africa travel insurance? Before traveling to Africa, securing travel insurance is crucial. Across Africa, healthcare costs can be high, whether at private or state hospitals, where all treatments and medications are chargeable. To avoid hefty medical bills, ensure your travel insurance provides substantial coverage. Ovago, in partnership with XCover, offers straightforward, hassle-free protection for your journey. XCover simplifies the claims process with digital filing and instant payment for approved claims, supported by a responsive customer service team ready to assist you.
  • What do you need to travel to North Africa? When packing for North Africa, make sure to take: 1) Clothing: lightweight, breathable fabrics, long sleeves and pants, warm layers, comfortable footwear, hat, sunglasses, and scarf or shawl; 2) Gear: durable backpack or daypack for excursions, reusable water bottle to stay hydrated, power adapter and voltage converter for charging devices; 3) Health: travel-sized toiletries including sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and a basic first aid kit with medication for common ailments.
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Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization

  • Visa Requirements: US citizens need a visa
  • Official Language: Arabic
  • English Proficiency Index Score: 463 (Low Proficiency)
  • Basic English is spoken in the service sector
  • Global Peace Index Score: 2.267 (Moderate Level)
  • Currency: Egyptian Pound
  • Plug Type: C and F
  • Weather: Arid desert climate, hot dry summers, mild dry winters
  • Main Travel Hub: Cairo
  • Major International Airport: Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • those fascinated by the history of Egypt and archaeology
  • those interested in exploring Arabic culture
  • those eager to explore diverse landscapes, such as deserts and the scenic Nile River
  • snorkeling or diving enthusiasts keen to explore amazing coral reefs and marine life
  • Begin your journey at the Egyptian Museum, one of the foremost repositories of ancient artifacts in the world, where you can admire an unparalleled collection of items including statues and mummies of the pharaohs.
  • The majestic Pyramids of Giza lie just a short drive from the bustling city center. Stand in awe before the Pyramid of Cheops, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and explore nearby marvels like the enigmatic Sphinx.
  • Stroll through the winding alleys of Khan Al-Halili Bazaar, a bustling market filled with precious metals, exotic spices, and intricate handicrafts, offering a perfect glimpse into Cairo’s rich merchant past. 
  • In Old Cairo, a melting pot of religions, you can explore sacred sites such as the Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, the Roman Babel Tower, and the historic Ben-Ezra Synagogue, each telling stories of the city’s diverse spiritual heritage.
  • Admire the Nile River. No visit to Cairo is complete without experiencing the life-giving waters of the Nile River. Cruise along the longest river in the world, enjoy the tranquil flow and scenic views, and see modern-day Egyptians thriving on its banks just as their ancestors did. 
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  • The Amun Temple Enclosure and Karnak complex await, where colossal columns and intricate hieroglyphs narrate tales of divine kingship and mythic battles. 
  • Journey through the Valley of the Kings, a royal burial ground for pharaohs, including the legendary Tutankhamun, whose secrets have captivated the world.
  • Explore the vividly decorated tombs and Medinat Habu, a testament to ancient architectural prowess.
  • Don’t miss the Luxor Museum, a treasure trove of artifacts that offers a deeper understanding of the Luxor region’s rich history. Each exhibit tells a part of the story of a civilization that has shaped not just Egypt, but the entire world.
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  • Visit the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, whose legacy continues to illuminate the city’s rich maritime history.
  • Explore the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a striking tribute to the famed ancient Library of Alexandria, which today hosts a vast collection of books and an array of cultural events.
  • Venture underground to the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, a fascinating multi-level blend of Roman and Egyptian burial practices, featuring intricate carvings and a haunting atmosphere. 
  • Step into the Roman Amphitheater, Egypt’s only known Roman amphitheater, where the layers of Alexandria’s Greco-Roman history are vividly on display.
  • Try ancient underwater diving to discover ruins from the Greco-Roman and Pharaonic periods. A must-visit is Cleopatra’s Underwater City near the Eastern Harbor, where Roman columns and sphinx statues remain in their original positions.
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Tunisia: A Travel Destination That Star Wars Chose as a Filming Location

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  • Lose yourself in the maze-like streets of the medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you’ll find hidden treasures and bustling souks. 
  • Visit the majestic Zitouna Mosque, a symbol of Tunisian Islam.
  • Enjoy panoramic views of the city from Cafe Panorama in the heart of the medina.
  • Explore Place de la Kasbah and Tunis New Town, where you can admire architectural wonders like the iconic Hôtel du Lac.
  • Don’t miss the renowned Bardo Museum, home to one of the world’s finest collections of Roman mosaics.
  • Escape to the picturesque village of Sidi Bou Said, with its whitewashed buildings and stunning sea views.
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Morocco: the Land of the Sunset

  • Visa requirements: US citizens can stay visa-free for up to 90 days
  • Official language: Arabic
  • English Proficiency Index Score: 478 (Low Proficiency)
  • Basic English is spoken in the service sector
  • Global Peace Index Score: 2.020 (Relatively High Level)
  • Currency: Moroccan Dirham
  • Plug Type: C and E
  • Weather: arid deserts with hot summers and mild winters and the coast with wet winters
  • Main Travel Hubs: Casablanca and Marrakech
  • Major International Airports: Mohammed V International Airport (CMN), Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK)
  • history enthusiasts can explore ancient ruins, medieval cities, and historic landmarks
  • culture seekers can indulge in festivals, traditional music, and flavorful cuisine
  • adventure lovers can trek through the Sahara Desert, hike in the Atlas Mountains, or surf along the Atlantic coast
  • photographers will be enchanted by Morocco’s stunning architecture and breathtaking scenery
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Algeria: Off the Beaten African Gem

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