When we look at the map of the Earth, one of the first things that we see is that its surface is divided into land and water. The land consists of several continents and millions of islands, and the water is all the oceans and seas. We, humans, live on continents and islands. Do you know which continent lies almost perfectly on both sides of the Equator? This is Africa- a continent full of adventures, biodiversity, mysteries, and challenge. Now, let’s learn about Africa, and explore its extreme geographic points.
Let’s open the map of the world. Africa looks like one of the most perfectly-shaped pieces of land. It is not cut into deep gulfs, peninsulas, and nearby archipelagos like Eurasia, but its shape is strongly homogenous.
Africa is the second-largest continent, connected with Eurasia by the Isthmus of Suez. Its northern coastline lies in the northern subtropical zone, and it is the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. On the west is the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and the coastline makes a beautiful curve around the Gulf of Guinea. On the east is the coast of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Only there you can see something like a peninsula, called „The Horn of Africa”. Both the eastern and western coastlines smoothly meet in South Africa, reaching the southern subtropical zone. And everything inside is tropics, on both sides of the Equator.
Mainland and islands
Now, let’s define the extreme geographic points of Africa and try to reach them. But to do this, we have to define the mainland of the continent only, as well as the whole continent including its shelf and nearby islands. Fortunately, it is much easier than in the other continents on the Earth.
On the north, the shelf of Africa is connected to the shelf of Europe (Eurasia) through the straits of Gibraltar and Messina. There are only a few islands belonging to Africa, and one group of them, called Galite Islands, on the continental shelf, lies north of the northernmost tip of the continent.
On the south, there are not any African pieces of land beyond its extreme mainland tip. But how about the East and the West? On the west, we can see the archipelago of Cape Verde. Does it belong to Africa? Politically and culturally- yes. But geographically- no. It is located beyond the shelf edge of the continent, so it is just an ocean archipelago, separated from any continents. Thus again, the westernmost point of Africa is on the mainland only.
The other “double” extreme point is on the east. There is the island of Socotra, which lies east of the easternmost point of the mainland, and belongs to the African shelf. How about the large island of Madagascar? Again, it is separated from the continental shelf, thus it belongs to Africa only culturally and politically.
The extreme geographic points of Africa
Now we have the extreme geographic points of Africa- four of them (north, west, south, and east) are the mainland extreme geographic points, and there two extreme island points- Galite Islands on the north, and the easternmost point of Socotra Island. So, let’s make a crossing journey through this amazing continent and reach its extreme points!
If we want to reach the westernmost point of Africa, we had to look at Senegal, a former French colony, now a developing country with developing tourism. And particularly, we had to focus on its capital Dakar.
The westernmost point of mainland Africa- Les Almadies in Dakar, Senegal
Dakar is established on a small peninsula. It is a big city with a lot of interesting places to visit. And to reach the westernmost point of Africa, you have to go to the city’s westernmost neighborhood, called Les Almadies. There, on the southwest tip of the Dakar Peninsula is the sign showing our goal- the “Furthest point west on the African continent”. There is no spectacular cape with high cliffs, but only a small beach on a low coast.
But, to be more precise, there is another point beyond the mainland, which lies west of it. It is several rocks located about a kilometer (less than a mile) from the mainland, called Chaussee des Almadies, and technically one of these rocks should be the “westernmost island point of Africa”.
How to reach the westernmost point of Africa
It is easy. You can reach Dakar by plane from many parts of the world, especially from France, or from the neighboring African countries. Once you arrive in Dakar, you can use public transport- the Dakar Coming and Going bus network to reach the western neighborhood of the Senegalese capital. You can also take a taxi, or just walk on foot. Once arrived there, you can enjoy the beautiful coast of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as some beaches, resort areas, and restaurants with delicious seafood.
Now, let’s cross Africa to its easternmost extreme geographic points.
As I mentioned above, the extreme east of Africa is more complex than the other extreme geographic points, because the continental shelf proceeds beyond the easternmost point of the mainland. So, we will reach the end of the African mainland on the east, but there are more pieces of land further east, and we should search the island easternmost point of Africa on Socotra Island. But first, let’s start from the mainland.
The easternmost point of mainland Africa- Cape Ras Xaafuun (Ras Hafun), Somalia
We can see it clearly on the only big peninsula of the continent- the “Horn of Africa”. The land of its extreme tip is hilly, covered by deserts and semi-deserts. You can notice two points, “pretending” to be the easternmost point of Africa- Cape Guardafui, located exactly on the extreme end of the peninsula, and Cape Ras Xaafuun, formed like a mini-peninsula south of Cape Guardafui and located a bit further east, so, it is our goal.
Cape Ras Xaafuun is located in today’s Somalia, in the region called Puntland. Its mini-peninsula is almost an island, and only a narrow sand strip connects it to the mainland. Unlike the westernmost tip of the continent, it is much more remote, but at the same time, much more beautiful and exotic.
How to reach Ras Xaafuun, the easternmost point of mainland Africa
Quite difficult. First, it is located in one of the most dangerous countries to visit in the world. Although Somalia today has a government, it hasn’t control over the whole country, and anarchy, terrorist attacks, and kidnapping of foreigners are still present. For this reason, there is almost no tourism in this part of the world.
Anyway, if you are ready to risk your life, you can try. First, you have to enter Somalia. The easiest way is to arrive in Bosaso, the third-largest city in the country, located in its northeastern corner. It is relatively safe, and you can fly to Bosaso from Dubai, Addis Abeba, or Nairobi.
The road from Bosaso to Ras Xaafuun
But the dangerous part starts from there. First, you have to rent a car- a task that is difficult to resolve by a reservation online in advance, anyway, you can still find some local rental car companies, with the risk of scams and fraudulence. Then, you have to drive at least 10 hours to the town of Hafun, on desert mountainous areas, partly controlled by ISIS.
Once you reach Hafun, you are a bit safer, and you can walk to the easternmost tip of Africa, preferably with a local guide. You can also find accommodation there, and relatively safely enjoy the peninsula and the stunning coastline around, remaining at least several more days (it is really not worth risking your life just to take several photos in the easternmost tip of Africa, then immediately repeat the same back to Bosaso). Then, you have to back. But again- you are warned that currently, a whole journey of this kind is dangerous!
But now, let’s reach the easternmost piece of land that belongs to Africa, not in the mainland, but on the African island of Socotra.
The easternmost island point of Africa
Socotra Island is one of the most beautiful islands on Earth, full of biodiversity and unique species that can’t be found anywhere else. You can see the local Dragon Blood trees, that look like strange alien plants. All this, combined with the stunning mountainous landscape make this island a fantastic paradise.
The island of Socotra is prolonged from west to east until it turns into a tiny strip that suddenly disappeared into the Indian Ocean. There, on the last rocks of the island is the easternmost land spot of the African continent.
How to reach the easternmost tip of Socotra
Currently, it is not easy. Socotra Island belongs to Yemen, a country suffering civil war, starvation, and human madness. Although Socotra is not a battlefield of the war, it is reachable only by plane with highly reduced flights- only once a week (every Wednesday), and only from Cairo through Seiyun in Yemen.
Once you arrive there, the situation is relatively safe, but be ready for unexpected changes. Various powers try to control this or that on the island- Yemen government, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or local terrorist groups, including even Al Qaeda and ISIS.
The other problem is how to travel around the island. There isn’t a developed road network and public transport. At the same time, of course, your goal would not be just the easternmost point of the island, but to explore the whole of it- there are so many amazing places to see- beaches, caves, plants, canyons, natural pools, as well as Beduin villages.
And if you go there independently, it would be quite difficult and challenging (but of course, not impossible if you enjoy adventures!) to explore all these wonders. So, an easier way is to join a tour company. HERE you can find more information on how to travel to Socotra Island!
Now, let’s go to the north.
The northernmost points of Africa look much easier to reach, mainly because they are close to the touristy Europe. These points belong to Tunisia, technically not far from Italy, but there are still some specific details in their visit. So, let’s start with the mainland.
The northernmost point of mainland Africa- Ras ben Sakka
Look at the northern coast of Africa. This is the southern Mediterranean coast, in the subtropical geographic zone. The eastern branches of the Atlas Mountains make a natural border between the mild and humid Mediterranean land and the dry hot Sahara Desert in the south. This Mediterranean land looks not so different than southern Italy or Spain.
Ras ben Sakka is the northernmost point of this land. It is a low stony coast, with small beaches around it. But there is another point, about a kilometer west of Ras ben Sakka, which is much more spectacular, with cliffs and raging waves when the sea is stormy- Cap Angela. And if you are looking for a monument, showing the northernmost tip of Africa, you can find it on Cap Angela, however, Ras ben Sakka is some 30 m further north. So, maybe the best you can do is to visit both of these spots and enjoy the stunning seacoast landscapes between them.
How to reach Ras ben Sakka
It is not so difficult. First, you have to arrive in Tunisia, in the capital of Tunis. From there, you can take a bus from the Carthage International Airport to Bizerte. Or you can go there by train too- from Tunis Ville to Bizerte. The whole trip is around 1 hour and a half and can be even shorter if you take a shared van.
Once you arrive in Bizerte (don’t be quick to leave the city, it has a lot of historical sites to visit!), you can easily take a taxi to Ras ben Sakka, for around 12 mins. Or you can just walk for 2 hours, it would be a nice walk. Then you can spend the day there enjoying the beautiful seacoast and its beaches.
But as I already mentioned, the northernmost piece of land belonging to Africa can be found in the Galite Islands.
The northernmost island point of Africa- Galite Islands
This is a small archipelago of volcanic origin, still belonging to Tunisia, and geographically- to Africa, on its continental shelf. It consists of one large island and several small islets around it. The main large island is called La Galite, and it is the only inhabited island of the archipelago, with only several fishing families on its southern coast. All the other islets are not only uninhabited but also almost inaccessible.
And the northernmost African piece of land is not on the main island, but on a small group of islets, called East Galitons. They are located northeast of La Galite and are almost impossible to access. East Galitons consist of three rocks. The northernmost of them is the largest and highest, rising more than 100 m above the sea. It is called Gallo (which means „Rooster” in Italian), and its northern tip is the point we are looking for.
How to reach Galite Islands
Since the Galite Islands are almost uninhabited, there is no public transport to them- no ferries, no planes. To reach these islands, you have to travel to Tabarka, the closest big city on the northern coast of Tunisia. From Tunis, there are regular buses to Tabarka, and the whole trip is around 3 hours and a half.
Then, from Tabarka, you have two options. The first option, which is the easiest, is to join a boat cruise to La Galite. The other option is to go there by a private fishing boat, but it can be much more difficult. Galite Islands are a natural protected area with rich sea wildlife, so to visit it requires a permit.
But for Gallo Rock Islet, the northernmost point of Africa, you can only see it from aside. There is no place to anchor the boat, so the boat can only float around it and you can take photos.
Finally, let’s turn to the extreme south of Africa.
In the south, Africa is like in the west. No islands beyond the southernmost tip of the mainland. So, here we have only one extreme point. It is in South Africa and is called Cape Agulhas.
The southernmost point of Africa- Cape Agulhas
Cape Agulhas is the southernmost tip of Africa, and particularly of its southern subtropical zone. This part of the continent is a fertile rural countryside, with subtropical forests. Its coastline is magnificent, with rocky cliffs and long beaches. One of these rocky cliffs penetrates most inside the ocean. This is Cape Agulhas.
Cape Agulhas is not only the southernmost tip of Africa but also this is the place where two oceans- the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean meet. From this point is the imaginary line dividing these oceans. There is a monument on the cape with geographical information, making it a tourist destination. And ahead, there is only water to the coasts of Antarctica.
How to reach Cape Agulhas
Since Cape Agulhas is a tourist destination, it is not difficult to reach. The best starting point for a trip to this point is Cape Town. And the best way to visit the cape and the whole area around is by rental car since there are no direct buses to Cape Agulhas. The fastest route is via Caledon and Bredasdorp. But if you want to travel on a more spectacular road, follow the coastline and stop wherever you want.
Although Cape Agulhas is not as magnificent as Cape of Good Hope, the fact that it is the southernmost point of Africa is attracting travelers. Once you reach it, you can reside as long as you want in the town of Agulhas, as your “base camp”. From there, you can not only go to the cape but enjoy the beaches and the natural reserves in the whole area around.
With this, we crossed Africa from west to east, and from north to south. But to accomplish the continent’s extreme geographic points, let’s penetrate to its center- the African Pole of Inaccessibility.
The center of Africa
Defining the center of Africa is not an easy task. There are various methods, like the point of crossing of the west-east, and north-south axis, or other geometrical ways. But the results are not exactly in the center, at least as it looks like on the map. The point that looks most central, is the Pole of Inaccessibility– this is the farthest spot on the continent from every coastline. So, let’s reach it.
The Pole of Inaccessibility of Africa
The Pole of Inaccessibility of Africa is not a tourist destination. It is a wild place, located in the Central African Republic, near the border with South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The area is almost uninhabited, with exception of some wild villages scattered in the forest. No cities nearby, no agricultural lands, only wild jungle in a hilly area.
The nearest cities to the Pole of Inaccessibility are Obo and Mboki. And the spot is located north of these cities. No roads lead to this spot. There is no monument, or any other marker, the only way to find it is your GPS.
How to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility of Africa
It is very difficult. First, this spot is located in a politically highly unstable region. Around the Pole itself, most likely you shouldn’t have problems caused by crazy people, simply because it is almost uninhabited (although some guerrilla fighters can cross this area too). But to reach it may need weeks, with a high risk of robbery, kidnapping, tropical diseases, and eventually, death, caused by people or by nature.
Such a challenge should be an extreme expedition. First, you have to go to Bangui, the capital of CAR. From there you have to travel to Mboki or Obo, but there is no public transport. You can do it only by local trucks or other local transportation if you can find it (or by bike, if you bring it). And the journey can last a week, 10 days, two weeks, or… “forever”, if some of the dangers happen to you meanwhile.
Once you reach Mboki or Obo, you have to become one of those explorers that cross the wild rainforests on the Earth, surviving in the jungle. Fortunately, the distance is not so long, and maybe you can reach the spot within 3-5 days. Then you can celebrate and take the same road back to Obo or Mboki, then the same risky journey back to Bangui. Or, you can proceed eastward, cross the border with South Sudan and reach the capital Juba, which is not less dangerous and not faster.
This is Africa and its extreme geographic points. There are vast spaces of various geographical zones between the points- deserts, rainforests, savannas, mountains, rivers, lakes, and a great variety of people, cultures, and customs. Some places are well-developed tourist destinations, while other places are wild, politically unstable, and highly dangerous to visit. You can go to some spots like a tourist, and to other spots only like a surviving adventure explorer.
You can cross the whole African continent from north to south, or from west to east. Or you can visit only its easy to reach destinations. No matter how you want to explore this continent, you can enjoy its amazing beauty everywhere.
Check some books about Africa:
Disclaimer: Journey Beyond the Horizon is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites at no additional cost to you.