Two small wildlife parks in the south – Liwonde and Majete – are relatively accessible and should satisfy your safari fantasies. At Liwonde, you can take a boat safari for a unique experience. Another great wildlife park is in the far north: Nyika. There you’ll see zebras and a range of antelope and bird species among gorgeous rolling hills that resemble the Scottish Highlands. While you’re in the north, stop by the charming town of Livingstonia to get a taste of Malawi’s English colonial history. Lake Malawi, lined with white-sand beaches, is Malawi’s other major attraction. The third largest lake in Africa, its deep, clear water is safe for swimming. Go snorkeling to see the colorful mouth-breeding cichlids that live nowhere else, or enjoy a range of other watersports.
Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in Africa but it’s packed with things to do by land and by sea. Most trips start in the capital of Djibouti City, an interesting place to check out the markets and eat international foods such as Yemeni oven baked fish and bread. A must-do activity is a two-day jeep trip to the Mars-like terrain of Lake Abbe and overnight stay in the nomad encampment. You will see an oasis, nomadic villages and wildlife on the way. Before returning to the city you can float in Lake Assal, a stunning lake that is saltier than the Dead Sea and the second lowest place on earth. By sea, there are excellent scuba and snorkel opportunities in the Gulf of Tadjoura.
Mozambique is one of the most amazing off-the-beaten-path countries. The country has a gorgeous coastline, friendly people and amazing food. Head to Tofo for surfing, swimming with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks, amazing SCUBA diving and some amazing beach bungalows right on the sand. Just up the coast a bit more, visit Vilanculos with amazing sand bars that appear during the day creating a layered look of baby blue water and white sands. It’s simply stunning and not being a tourist favorite by any means, is still raw, gorgeous and somewhat untouched by tourism.
Travelling to Madagascar independently is not for the faint hearted, especially if it’s your first time in Africa. The south and western parts of the island covers locations like Baobab Avenue, Ranomafana and Isalo National Parks and the spectacular Tsingy. One of the reasons why travelling to Madagascar can be quite an exhausting is the lack of infrastructure – roads are in terrible condition and public transport is almost non-existent. Save for taxi brousse or shared minibuses mostly used by locals. The upside is pristine nature, unique flora and fauna and no tourists except for a few daredevils. Make sure you pack some patience if you plan to tour the country independently using local transport!
Tanzania is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Africa and has all the wonderful experiences on offer. From climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa to the incredible white sand beaches of the Zanzibar archipelago or the amazing African plains of the Serengeti National Park where a million wildebeest migrate annually – you can even take a hot air balloon ride above the park! There is also the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation area, famous for it’s Big 5, access to Lake Victoria – one of Africa’s Great Lakes and some amazing African towns and cities that are packed with culture and give you a taste of African life including Arusha and Stone Town Zanzibar.
While most touristic destinations in Kenya are based in the southern part (such as the beautiful Masai Mara & Masai Mara National Reserve, Diani Beach and Amboseli National Park), the northern part of the country is a rather untouched and wild place. It’s very sparsely populated and infrastructure is rudimentary, but offers some of the most stunning landscapes. Take the town Nanyuki as your base and head up north into the Samburu National Reserve, home to the wild and remote Samburu tribe. You can hike to the top of holy Mount Ololokwe, offering breathtaking views on the vast and dry landscape of Kenya. The southern tip of the island is almost deserted besides some remote resorts (such as lovely Kizingo), where you’ll have the beautiful beach all for yourself for miles and miles.
Go on a safari and see Africa like Attenborough. Check out South Luangwa National Park, one of the best to visit and choose between dawn and dusk game drives, where you’ll witness an epic African sunrise/sunset and an abundance of wildlife unmatched in most African national parks. Expect to see many leopards (the park is famous for its leopard population), along with every kind of game, lions, elephants, the rare Thornicroft giraffe, hippos, vervet monkeys, crocodiles, and cape buffaloes. South Luangwa River and National Park is one of the only places in Africa which allow real ‘walking through the wild savannah where lions and leopards roam in the morning light’ style safaris!
Uganda is best known for amazing primates and you can track both chimpanzees and mountain gorillas, coming face to face with humanity’s closest relatives. Over a thousand species of birds call Uganda home and it’s the safest place to reliably spot the formidable shoe-billed stork. We encountered lush fields of tropical fruits at every turn and sampled the freshest and juiciest pineapples and mangoes we’ve ever tasted. Of course, if the Big 5 is your thing, you can see more traditional African wildlife in Uganda too.
Ethiopia is one of Africa’s great hidden gems, a hugely off the beaten track destination filled with the most breathtaking landscape, the most incredible ancient history, the most unique culture, the most delicious food and the most welcoming people! There’s so much to see and do here, from hiking to the top of active volcanoes in the Danakil Depression to discovering the ancient rock churches of Lalibela, to visiting the Blue Nile Waterfalls of Bahar Dar to visiting the indigenous tribes of the Omo Valley, that you easily could spend a few months traveling in this dazzling diverse country. It’s one of Africa’s top destinations and is certainly one of the best places to visit in Africa.
Morocco is a vibrant and beautiful country to visit. Each city has its own character and a certain Moroccan charm. Even the chaotic Red City of Marrakesh, which seems to create a love/hate feeling for some people who visit. You’ll fall in love with the lively medina, with its bright stalls and fresh orange juice stands. Over on the west coast, there’s the windy city of Essaouira, famous for being one of the Games of Thrones filming locations. There’s plenty to explore in the city from getting lost walking around the old walls of the city or visiting the daily fresh fish market in the harbour. For the adventurous, there are lots of wind-related watersports to try out.
What could be better the visiting a country where ancient kings walked and the layers of history that have shaped the modern world surround you in such a way that you can imagine what it was like all those years ago. Visitors can gaze at the magnificent Pyramids of Giza, look in wonder at the Sphynx, float in the saltiness of the Red Sea and pick up some bargains at the Khan al-Khalili market in Cairo, not to mention cruising the Nile River in a Felucca or visiting the decidedly European-esque Alexandria. Egypt has so much to offer but and no Africa bucket list would be complete without visiting it.
At its heart are the Virunga Mountains, whose majestic summits tower from 10,049 to 14,787 feet: It’s easy to see why the country is called “the land of a thousand hills.” Most people visit to see the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, of which around 900 remain in the wild. But these dynamic landscapes, which stretch from Lake Kivu in the south to Uganda’s Lake Edward in the north, rank among the most beautiful, offering plenty of other adventures for active travellers and nature lovers alike. Trek along to see the endangered Golden Monkeys in the Virungas, visiting Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village and explore Nyungwe Forest National Park. For history, visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and wind down your trip relaxing on the gorgeous shores of Lake Kivu.
The DRC is one of the final frontiers for many an Africa enthusiast. It is home to Virunga National Park, part of the Virunga Mountain range. Here you’ll find Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano and one of Africa’s best hiking destinations. The trek is challenging, but once you reach the top you are rewarded with epic views of the crater and you sleep on the rim as the lava bubbles and glows beneath you. The Virungas are also home to the rare mountain gorillas (there are less than 800 mountain gorillas left in the wild) and there are few travel experiences that top looking one of these beautiful creatures right in the eye.
Gambia relies heavily on its tourism industry and in recent years’ it’s not had it easy. First, the Ebola crisis saw visitor numbers plummet, despite there never being a single case of Ebola in the country. Last year’s political crisis, when the outgoing president refused to leave office, was the last thing the country needed. While there are many tribal languages, the official language is English, so you won’t have any communication problems. The weather is in the lower 30s throughout the year making it a perfect winter sun destination. Plus, the wide sandy beaches are never overcrowded, there’s a vibrant and colourful local culture and fabulous wildlife to enjoy including over 540 species of birds, baboons, vervet monkeys and crocodiles to name but a few.
You will never feel more in Africa then the moment we were on the beach in Mbour waiting for the arrival of the fishermen. Besides visiting Mbour, Senegal has many nice things to offer. Go sea fishing (you need a strong stomach as the sea is very rough) and through a guided tour with a buggy. If you like luxury hotels and excellent food, highly recommended is Le Lamantin Beach in Saly. Saly (where most hotels are located) is about a two hours’ drive from Dakar. Senegal is malaria territory, but in the dry season there are no mosquitoes. If you are looking for a sunny destination in winter that also offers some nice things to do, Senegal is highly recommended.
Ghana is a great combination of rainforest, wildlife, bustling African markets, beaches and culture. Ghana is joyfully chaotic, friendly, colourful and diverse. You will notice not only the scenery but the buildings change as you travel north – the people change from Christian to Muslim and the landscape changes from rainforest to savanna. Highlights include: Mole National Park which is set on a cliff overlooking a watering hole and is famous for its elephants. You can get up close and personal with them on a walking safari but watch out for the naughty monkeys; There are also Various eco resorts and turtle conservation projects along the coast where you can sleep in mud huts by night and hammocks strung between two palm trees by day.
Bordered on all sides by South Africa, Lesotho is a tiny ‘Kingdom in the Clouds’ with a lot to see. Much of the country is above 3,000m elevation and the mountainous views are hard to beat. It is bordered on the east by the dramatic Drakensberg mountain range which is home to some of the most famous hikes in the world and also the second tallest waterfall in the world. One of the most interesting ways to enter Lesotho is by the Sani Pass, a winding mountain dirt road that eventually leads to Lesotho and the highest pub in Africa
Namibia has a great diversity of landscapes and incredible wild life. Most tourists limit their trip by visiting red-sand dunes of Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon and Etosha National Park but there is so much to discover here. Northern Namibia is quite different from the rest of the country: wetlands instead of desert, giant baobab trees instead of quiver trees, hippos and crocodiles instead of meerkats and cheetahs. The highlights of the Northern Namibia include Epupa Falls, a huge waterfall with impressive baobab trees on the edge; the Okavango River, the forth longest river in Africa, with hundreds of hippos chilling in there; Mahango Game Reserve, a small National park with many animals including leopards and lions on the border with Botswana.
Most visitors base their travels in the country around Victoria Falls town because of a range of activities which center around the Mosi-Ao-Tunya (the locals name for Victoria Falls and translates as ‘the smoke that thunders’) which include bungee jumping, whitewater rafting on the lower Zambezi River, microlight flights, river cruises and so much more. It is in close proximity to the Zambia and Botswana Borders for those considering an overland safari. There are also more incredible National Parks scattered across the country with Hwange, Lake Kariba and Matobo being the most famous. There are also a few of museums scattered around the country and the incredible Balancing Rocks just outside the capital Harare.
The Kingdom of Swaziland is the second smallest state on the African continent with Mozambique and South Africa as neighbours. But the country has a lot to offer such as: Piggs Peak, a small town in a beautiful region of the country. Then there is the Ezulwini Valley with many tourist attractions, from a golf course to a casino. And there is Manzini, another place that is worth a trip that lies right in the center of the country, and on the way there are also wonderful waterfalls. In the west of the country is the Highveld highlands with a height of 1,300 meters that turns west into the South African Drakensberg. The highest elevation within Swaziland is the 1,862 meter high Emlembe.
Botswana is one of the top destinations in Africa due in part to the variety of incredible natural wonders that are located in the country. The Okavango Delta is where you can bush camp in the wilderness surrounded by elephants and hippos. There are further wildlife spotting opportunities at Chobe National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and whilst the expansive Kalahari is a year round destination, if you time your visit between December & April you may get to witness the Zebra migration. There is also the amazing vanishing Lake Ngami; Kudu Island, located in the middle of the Makgadikgadi Pan (salt pans) which are second only in size to the salt pans of Bolivia in South America.
You can’t talk about the best places to visit in Africa and not include South Africa. Whilst it is a lot more Westernized than the rest of the destinations – and thought of by some as not the ‘real’ Africa – it is still an incredible country with lots of amazing places to visit and one that deserves its place on this list. From the well sampled wine region of Stellebosch, beautiful Cape Town is where you can hike Table Mountain or meet the penguins at Boulders Beach, visit one of the most well-known National Park in Africa in Kruger NP and one of the greatest driving routes of all time in the Garden Route. Other attractions are Drakensburg Mountains, Durban and St. Lucia.
If you are looking for the best beaches in Africa then Seychelles should definitely top your list. This stunning archipelago lies in the middle of the Indian Ocean 1,500km from the mainland of East Africa. Unfortunately many travellers think the Seychelles is a place for the rich and famous only and out of reach for the normal traveller, but even here you can travel on a budget. There are affordable guesthouses and local food and transportation is not too expensive either. In the mountainous inlands you can find amazing bush hikes with waterfalls and jungle treks. Of course you have to make sure to go to Le Digue, the most famous boulder beach of the Seychelles with the crystal clear water.