There is nowhere quite like Africa. From its vast savannahs to its teeming cities, it is a continent of extremes. Unparalleled beauty exists alongside devastating poverty, and the wonder of Africa's wildest places must be experienced to be truly understood. Many have put pen to paper to try and describe Africa's unique magic, however, and in this article we look at a few of the quotes that come closest to getting it right.
If you find yourself inspired, consider planning a visit of your own.
The Magic of Being on Safari
“To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told - that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.” - Beryl Markham
“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne - bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.” - Karen Blixen
"Everything in Africa bites but the safari bug is worst of all." - Brian Jackman
“There is language going on out there - the language of the wild. Roars, snorts, trumpets, squeals, whoops, and chirps all have meaning derived over eons of expression... We have yet to become fluent in the language - and music - of the wild.” - Boyd Norton
The Irresistible Pull of Africa
“One cannot resist the lure of Africa.” - Rudyard Kipling
"Now, looking back on my life in Africa, I feel like it might altogether be described as the existence of a person who had come from a rushed and noisy world, into a still country... So lovely as if the contemplation of it could itself be enough to make you happy all your life.” - Karen Blixen
“The only thing that makes me sad is that I shall be leaving Africa when I die. I love Africa, which is my mother and my father. When I am dead, I shall miss the smell of Africa.” - Alexander McCall Smith
“Why is it you can never hope to describe the emotion Africa creates? You are lifted. Out of whatever pit, unbound from whatever tie, released from whatever fear. You are lifted and you see it all from above.” - Francesca Marciano
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it?" - Brian Jackman
An Unrivalled Sense of Adventure
"You know you are truly alive when you're living amongst lions." - Karen Blixen
"The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa, for he has so much to look forward to." - Richard Mullin
"I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy." - Ernest Hemingway
“Nothing but breathing the air of Africa, and actually walking through it, can communicate the indescribable sensations.” - William Burchell
The Vastness of Africa
"Africa gives you the knowledge that man is a small creature, amongst other creatures, in a large landscape." - Doris Lessing
“The continent is too large to describe. It is a veritable ocean, a separate planet, a varied, immensely rich cosmos. Only with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say 'Africa'. In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist.” - Ryszard Kapuściński
"Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer's paradise, a hunter's Valhalla, an escapist's Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one.
To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just 'home'.” - Beryl Markham
The Philosophy of a Continent
“I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.” - Kwame Nkrumah
“You either get the point of Africa or you don't. What draws me back year after year is that it's like seeing the world with the lid off.” - A.A. Gill
“Africa has her mysteries and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them.” - Miriam Makeba
"We are all children of Africa, and none of us is better or more important than the other. This is what Africa could say to the world: it could remind it what it is to be human.” - Alexander McCall Smith
This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on October 14th 2016.