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Africa and the Middle East are about the romance of adventure - and countless other impressions, for within their seemingly boundless confines you'll experience pretty much everything.
At first try a gentle landing, whether it be Egypt of the pharoahs and the five-star Nile cruisers; exhilarating, post-apartheid South Africa and its sexy, sophisticated showpiece city of Cape Town; or solidly modern Namibia, where traditional cultures and mod cons make a marvelous mix. In the Middle East, there's nowhere quite as spectacular as Dubai, a pleasure palace in the desert.
AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST TOURS:
BOTSWANA Tours, Travel and Activities
Beyond the narrow eastern corridor where the majority of the population is concentrated, Botswana is a largely roadless wilderness of savannas, deserts, wetlands and salt pans. Skinflints and softies beware: this remains a destination for the intrepid, well-heeled traveler.
Compared to the rest of the African continent, Botswana still has tremendous wealth and stability. Botswana's government is regarded as pragmatic and pro-Western, although there are concerns about the country's increasing military expenditures.
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DUBAI (United Arab Emirates) Tours and Travel
Dubai (part of the United Arab Emirates or UAE) is the quintessential home of sand, sun and shopping. A century ago, it was a tranquil town whose coral-and-gypsum huts housed Bedouin traders and pearl divers.
Today the merchants have gone international and science-fiction skyscrapers stand alongside the mosques and wind towers of Old Dubai. Don your Gucci sunglasses - Dubai is rich, lavish and abfab.
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EGYPT Tours, Travel and Activities
Egypt's awe-inspiring monuments, left by the pharaohs, Greeks and Romans as well as by early Christians and Muslims, attract thousands of visitors every year. Yet the pyramids, temples, tombs, monasteries and mosques are just part of Egypt's fascination.
In the gargantuan city of Cairo the sound of the muezzin summoning the faithful to prayer competes with pop music and the screech of car horns. And everywhere there are people: swathed in long flowing robes or western-style clothes, hanging from buses, weaving through an obstacle course of animals and traffic.
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JORDAN Tours, Travel and Activities
Bible stories, lost cities, Lawrence of Arabia - Jordan has romantic associations up to its eyeballs. It's a country that ought to be awash with tourists, but the Middle East's bad reputation has kept them away in droves. Don't be fooled: Jordan is, on the whole, peaceful.
More than that, it's one of the most welcoming, hospitable countries in the world. Where else could you leave your belongings on the street for hours at a time, and find them there when you get back? Where else do total strangers with nothing to sell invite you into their homes?
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NAMIBIA Tours, Travel and Activities
Wedged between the Kalahari and the chilly South Atlantic, Namibia has deserts, seascapes, bushwalking and boundlessness. Blessed with rich natural resources, a solid modern infrastructure and diverse traditional cultures, it is a beautiful country of vast potential.
Namibia's Central Highlands are dominated by its small, Germanic capital, Windhoek. Set at the geographical heart of Namibia, it serves as the nerve centre of the country's business and commercial operations and boasts Namibia's international airport.
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OMAN Tours, Travel and Activities
Westerners in Oman often have the sense of inhabiting a parallel universe: there are all the familiar expressions of the mobile-phone culture, and then there are the camels.
Camels cruise through Muscat, head and hump sticking out of a Toyota pick-up, apparently at home in the fast lane. Or they plod in from the dunes at Bowsher, transporting a be-sandaled passenger along the slow lane of the motorway - in the wrong direction.
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SOUTH AFRICA Tours, Travel and Activities
South Africa is an exhilarating, spectacular and complex country. With its post-apartheid identity still in the process of definition, there is an abundance of energy and sense of progress about the place. Travelers, too, are returning to a remarkable land that has been off the trail for way too long.
The infrastructure is constantly improving, the climate is kind and there are few better places to see Africa's wildlife.
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ZAMBIA Tours, Travel and Activities
Zambia has excellent national parks teeming with birds and other animals, as well as the spectacular Victoria Falls and Zambezi River.
Apart from sightseeing, these places are also centers for activities ranging from canoeing to white-water rafting and bungee jumping.
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