List of 16 Must-See African Destinations
By Becca Blond and Carri Wilbanks. Latest revision: February 10, 2023.
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In addition to her many trips to Africa, including one in June 2022, author Becca Blond considers the city of Cape Town to be her "second home."
The continent of Africa is truly one of the most captivating places on Earth. More than 50 countries and territories make up this incredible continent, making it difficult to choose just a few top destinations.Photograph of a giraffe in Kenya
There is something for every kind of traveler in Africa, from the bustling cities of Cape Town, Cairo, and Marrakesh to the safaris in Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania.
Natural wonders like Victoria Falls, which straddles the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia and is frequently called one of the seven natural wonders of the world, can also be found on the African continent. There are also towering mountains, the tallest of which is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, rising to an altitude of more than 19,000 feet.
In addition, there are the beaches of Africa. The magical islands off the coast of Tanzania and Mozambique, such as Zanzibar and the Bazaruto Archipelago, are a great place to relax and enjoy the warm waters and white sand beaches that dot Africa's extensive eastern coastline.
We guarantee that no matter where in Africa you go, you will come away with a deeper understanding of the allure of this hospitable, colorful, and culturally diverse continent.
You can use our recommended African destinations as a starting point for your travel plans.
Cape Town, South Africa, is a popular tourist destination because of its location near the point where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, known as the Cape of Good Hope. It's easy to fall in love at first sight with this city, which boasts a stunning landscape and a thriving cultural scene.
Beautiful white-sand beaches, such as Clifton and Camps Bay, line the Atlantic Ocean coast, with Table Mountain in the city center and the striking Twelve Apostle rock formations beyond.
Cape Town is packed with amazing attractions. There are physical challenges, such as climbing Lion's Head at dawn. And there are significant historical sites to see, such as Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner for 27 years before the Apartheid regime fell.
Many cultural institutions, unique shops, and luxurious hotels can be found in this metropolis as well. Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and the downtown area between Long Street and Greenmarket Square are both worth your time.
Just a little further out, you can visit Boulders Beach, home to African wild penguins, or take surfing lessons in the beachside suburb of Muizenberg.
Location: The Finest Cape Town Hotels & Resorts
Stone Town, the island's sole city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and getting there is like traveling to a different era.
Located in the Indian Ocean not far from the coast of Tanzania, this island is home to traditional Arab dhows (fishing boats). Stone Town is a beautiful place to get lost in, with its winding lanes and ancient mosques, bustling markets, and riads with ornately carved doorways.
Away from the "city" (really it feels like a small town), the rest of the island is filled with gorgeous beaches where days are spent lounging on white sand and snorkeling and diving in the vibrant coral reefs that surround the island. More than 500 marine species call these their home, so they are clearly still alive and well.
Nungwi, located at the island's northernmost point, is a popular tourist hotspot. There are several places to stay, including the popular The Z Hotel Zanzibar. All of the rooms at this trendy beachfront boutique hotel have floor-to-ceiling glass doors that lead out to balconies with stunning views of the ocean or the lush tropical garden. Beds are dressed romantically with mosquito nets.
Zanzibar's Top Hotels and Resorts
From atop a camel, you can get an unforgettable view of the sunrise or sunset over the Pyramids of Giza.
Egypt's most well-known landmarks are its pyramids and the Great Sphinx, both of which were constructed in the 26th century BCE.
Cairo, Egypt's capital and largest city, is easily accessible from Giza and is just as interesting a tourist destination as the Pyramids. Located on the Nile River, Cairo is a frantic and busy city that never seems to rest, even in the middle of the night.
Here, the city's ancient past and present coexist. Seeing the Egyptian Museum is a must if you're in Cairo.
Take advantage of the Fairmont Nile City's panoramic views of the river and the distant Pyramids of Giza by reserving a room on a higher floor. The spa at this five-star hotel is perfect for relaxing after a long flight, and the hotel's rooftop pool and restaurant offer equally breathtaking views.
Lodging Options: Recommendations for Cairo
If you ever want to know why the locals call Victoria Falls "The Smoke That Thunders," a visit during the wetter months will do the trick. "
Water crashing over rock and plunging to a pool 300 feet or more below makes a rumbling noise like thunder, and the mist that rises up from the pool looks like thick smoke. The sight is truly breathtaking.
Victoria Falls, located on the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This waterfall is remarkable not only because of its height, which makes a 1 curtain of water 7 kilometers long as it falls
If you want to see the entire waterfall, you should go to the Zimbabwean side, where there is a walking trail leading to different vantage points (though you might get wet if the water level is high).
You can get up close and personal with Victoria Falls on the Zambian side, and even brave a dip in Devil's Pool, which is perched right at the top of the falls before they begin their dramatic descent. It's possible to find places to stay and eat on both sides of the conflict.
Where to Stay Near Victoria Falls
The stunning city of Marrakesh in Morocco is an ideal starting point for exploring this intriguing North African country, which can be reached from southern Spain via an overnight ferry.
The city of Marrakesh, Morocco, is the country's fourth-largest and is located in the country's western region. This fortified Medina was originally built by the Berbers. You can spend a day sight-seeing in Marrakech, exploring the city's winding alleyways and the countless souks (marketplaces) where you can buy everything from spices and jewelry to brightly colored traditional robes and slippers.
The 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque, whose Moorish minaret dominates the skyline of Marrakesh, is one of the city's most popular tourist destinations.
Schedule a morning hot air balloon ride to see this vivacious, chaotic, and utterly lovable metropolis from a new angle. As you float above Marrakesh, you can see the sun set over the city's rooftops.
Places to Stay in Marrakesh, Morocco: Top Neighborhoods and Hotels
Many animal lovers have on their "to-do" lists the experience of trekking to see endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. More than half of the world's wild population of mountain gorillas can be found in Rwanda's Virunga Mountains.
Treks to see these regal apes take place in Volcanoes National Park. There is a mandatory guided tour that you must be a part of in order to obtain a permit for independent travel.
Kigali, Rwanda's capital, has been lauded as one of Africa's cleanest cities, despite the fact that Rwanda is a relatively small country. Also, it's only a 2-minute drive from where you are right now This new tourist attraction is only 5 hours away from the gorilla trekking, making it convenient to visit.
Top Rwanda Tourist Attractions and Activities
Namibia, in the southwestern part of Africa, is a rare gem that is often left out of itineraries. In no way ought this to be the case. The Namib Desert and Sossusvlei are just two examples of the unique landscapes and experiences that can be found in this African country.
Sossusvlei, in Namib-Naukluft National Park, is a vast, flat salt pan surrounded by a sea of red and orange sand that has been sculpted into a surreal landscape of towering dunes and desolate valleys dotted with petrified dead trees. At first light, when the dunes come into sharp relief and the sun illuminates them, the scene is especially beautiful.
Etosha National Park is one of Africa's best game reserves, and the Skeleton Coast is famous for its shipwrecks, which gave the area its name.
Tunisia is the most northerly African country, and it faces the Mediterranean coast of Europe. It's a beautiful, sun-soaked spot where European and Arab cultures meet.
Tunisia is a popular winter sun destination for Europeans thanks to its long stretch of gorgeous Mediterranean coast. The island of Djerba is an ideal location for some R&R.
The Sahara Desert awaits you afterward, with even more breathtaking vistas. The Grand Erg Oriental is the most beautiful part of the desert that spans the entire interior of Tunisia. Orange sand dunes roll under a clear blue sky in this location. Explore the area on a camel, dune buggy, or foot.
The town of Douz is the area's adventure tourism hub, so it's from there that you'll want to arrange any of the above trips.
Mount Kilimanjaro (or "Kili" for short) in Tanzania is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest mountain in the world that is not part of a range. Its peak rises an impressive 19,341 feet above sea level. It is a dormant volcano that rises from the Serengeti plains and provides a breathtaking backdrop for wildlife safaris.
The main reason people travel to Kili is to reach the peak. The fact that the hike requires neither mountaineering experience nor special equipment contributes greatly to its fame.
You also won't have to deal with the dangerous conditions that come with summiting the highest mountains on other continents, like Mt. Everest You should be in good physical shape and acclimatized to the high altitude. You'll need a minimum of six days and a guided tour to make it to the peak.
Best Tanzania Tourist Attractions - Click Here to Learn More
The Kruger National Park in South Africa is a popular safari destination and one of the oldest protected areas in all of Africa.
There can be found in this massive park, which extends into eastern Mozambique, the greatest concentration of South Africa's incredibly varied wildlife. Animals can freely move between it and the neighboring posh private reserves like Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Kruger National Park is a popular safari destination because it is accessible to travelers of varying means. Due to Kruger's status as a national park, guests can choose between camping and staying in lodges during their explorations.
But if you want to maximize your chances of seeing the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino), we suggest signing up for a guided game drive where you can ride in an open vehicle and have access to knowledgeable guides who know where to look.
South Africa's Most Highly Recommended Luxury Safari Lodges
What to See and Do in South Africa, Ranked
The Great Migration is an annual event where millions of hoofed animals such as wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle travel from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. Many of the grazing animals are killed by hungry lions and other predators as they attempt to cross the Mara River, making it the most perilous part of the journey.
Crossings typically occur in July or August, but this can vary from year to year. Numerous nature lovers time their safari trips to Kenya's Serengeti Plains to witness the Great Migration.
Recommended Reading: Kenya's Best Tourist Attractions
Originating some The Ngorongoro Crater, formed some 5 million years ago, is the largest inactive, unfilled, and unbroken volcanic caldera on Earth. It's a popular safari destination in Tanzania and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World (along with Victoria Falls).
It also serves as a starting point for the Great Migration route, so during the appropriate season, large herds of wildebeests, zebras, and other grazing animals can be seen here.
The lodges lining the crater's rim are a popular choice for visitors, who can then enjoy daylong game drives below.
On the crater floor, you can see all of the Big 5 African animals (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and Cape buffalo) with one exception: giraffes. The steep rocky slope and lack of cover makes this an unattractive option. With fewer trees to obscure your view, you'll have no trouble spotting the big cats or any other wildlife on your safari.
The Bazaruto Archipelago Marine Park is a collection of islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique that is home to some of the most stunning beaches in all of Africa.
Guests can choose from a wide variety of low-cost to high-end lodging options on the main island of Bazaruto. However, there are also uninhabited islands and those with only a few hotels.
These islands are well-known for their dazzling white-sand beaches, which are framed by coconut palms and sand dunes. The park provides a safe haven for a thriving coral reef system, and the water is a beautiful shade of turquoise.
Another well-known southern African safari destination is Botswana.
The Okavango Delta is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country's northern region. When the rains come, this vast inland river delta becomes a one-of-a-kind safari destination. When that time comes, you'll be able to take a dugout canoe down the river and observe the hippo and crocodile populations up close while also keeping an eye out for the elephants, giraffes, and other animals that frequent the watering hole.
Many luxurious safari lodges can be found in the Moremi Game Reserve, which occupies a sizable chunk of the Okavango Delta. Maun is the starting point for many inexpensive canoe and land safaris in the delta.
Lake Malawi, spanning the borders of Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania, is the third-largest lake in Africa. It is 29,600 square kilometers in size. It is one of the African Great Lakes and is thought to be between 1 and 2 million years old.
Lake Malawi, known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique, is a popular tourist destination in all three countries.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Lake Malawi is the incredible diversity of its fish population. Fishing is, needless to say, a popular pastime in this area.
You can also go swimming and snorkeling in the clear, warm water, but you should take a quick course of antibiotics afterward to prevent bilharzia.
Explore Africa's Finest Lakes in Detail
Watamu, on Kenya's Swahili Coast, is a fantastic beach resort town. The Indian Ocean is beautiful, with its sugar-white sand beaches and rich underwater world reminiscent of shades of turquoise, aquamarine, and emerald.
In contrast to South African beaches, the water here is pleasant for swimming throughout the year. It's one of the best places to go kiteboarding in Africa, and the climate is always pleasant thanks to the constant breezes from the trade winds.
The sunsets are particularly beautiful from the deck of Lichthaus, which features west-facing hammocks, summertime DJs, and a full kitchen.
Watamu is a tiny town, and its hotels are dispersed along the coast for miles. Bodu bodus, the local motorbike taxis, make getting around very simple and only cost about $1 for a ride.
Hemingways Watamu is the most opulent accommodation in town. On the beachfront, guests can choose from a variety of room types and even private villas. The homes are especially high-end.
They have up to two bedrooms, a full kitchen, a wall of windows, and a gorgeous modern design. Mozzie nets cover the beds so you can listen to the waves while you sleep. Even better than the outside restaurants is the in-house dining.
Alternatively, Temple Point Resort is a favorite among couples and friends' groups (although families are welcome, too). It is situated on a beachfront, and its expansive grounds are covered in lush landscaping.
Fantastic common areas and a separate space for telecommuting are provided. The restaurant's international menu includes some fantastic pasta options. Inviting bungalows with whitewashed decor provide lodging, and each has its own distinct style. Scuba diving with whale sharks and vibrant coral reefs are both options available through the resort's on-site dive center.
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