Africa is not a destination - it is a point of origin. The continent holds a very special place in the psyche of the human race, and many of the earliest explorers of Africa found that once they visited, there was no return. The African land mass held them there, captivated by the beauty of its land, the wild jungles and savannahs, and the amazing mix of cultures that have flourished. Underlying the face of modern Africa, beneath the veneer of colonial artifact, is a brief glimpse at the most archetypal of human endeavors and imagination - the pyramids, tribes of Zulu and Masai, wild life red in tooth and claw. Today's visitors will often speak of how Africa is in some mysterious way a life-changing experience. At the very least, it is the experience of a lifetime.
Africa is the planet's second largest continent, with 54 countries and more than 11 million square miles of surface area. Its highest point is the snow capped Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, rising some 19,340 feet above sea level. Its longest river is the Nile, which runs more than 4,000 miles from Burundi to Egypt. Lake Victoria, Africa's largest body of water, is surrounded by Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. The great Sahara Desert forms the northernmost boundaries to the continent, while the untamed waters surrounding South Africa are the original trading route of the former European colonialists with India, Asia and the South Pacific.