35 Amazing destinations in Africa for a lifetime experience
Not until several thousand years ago, very little was known about Africa by foreigners and it used to in fact be called the Black Continent.
Even now, there are still some misconceptions about Africa by people in Diaspora. An example is thinking Africa is a country and not a continent.
Africa in fact has 54 countries calling it home. And each country varies drastically by topography, landscape, and activities.
Thanks to the modernization and industrialization of so many African countries, a lot is now known about most African countries unlike several centuries ago.
It wouldn’t be fair if I also didn’t mention the importance of tourism as a driving force behind the new perception of Africa.
Now people have the chance to experience the perfect blend of ancient and modern, of wild and urban, of East and West.
Africa is indeed a beautiful continent and is definitely one worth exploring. And that is why I am bringing you the top 30 destinations in Africa.
Where to Go in Africa
Africa like the other continents has top tourist destinations that keep the heart yearning and makes millions of tourists all over the world hop on planes to get there.
I hope that by the end of this article you’ll be restless enough about visiting Africa.
1. The great migration, Tanzania
The thunder of hooves as more than a million wildebeest and several hundred thousand zebra on dirt make their annual Great Migration can’t be well captured in a photo. You really have to see it for yourself as it is such a beautiful scene.
The Great Migration is actually a year-round event as the animals move from Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Reserve in January, up through the Serengeti around June, and hit Kenya’s Masai Mara around September, before journeying south again.
2. Table Mountain, South Africa
‘Postcard’ is what comes to mind when describing South Africa’s Table Mountain. Such is the beauty of this mountain and its environment.
Table Mountain makes Cape Town, one of the world’s best beach cities, also one of the world’s most photogenic; remember when I said postcard-esque?
You can take cable car rides to the top of the mesa with great views and fantastic sunrises/sunsets.
3. Djemaa el Fna, Morocco
Djemaa el Fna is the largest market in Morocco and the biggest in Africa. Djemaa el Fna is the most exciting town square in the world and is located in the heart of the city of Marrakech.
You can find snake-charmers, henna-painters, storytellers, date-sellers, and orange juice vendors in the snaring heat of the afternoon.
They are usually joined in the evening by musicians, tribal drummers, and ladyboy dancers. You can later find time to wander around the many souks adjacent to the Djemaa el Fna to buy things like spices and teapots. Mobile restaurateurs also set up stalls to sell delicious grilled meats, bread, and salad well past midnight.
4. Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia
Namibia is best known for its impressive game reserves but the Sossusvlei tops the list as one of the places to be in Namibia.
The word Sossusvlei is almost an irony. It means “the gathering place of water” but don’t be surprised that you’ll need to bring your own to escape getting dehydrated at one of Namibia’s best attractions.
It has taken millions of years for the dunes to form. The dunes formed from material flowing from the Orange River into the Atlantic before being carried north and returned again to land by the surf.
One of the most enjoyable things to do here is climbing the outstanding dunes to get breathtaking views of other destinations like the Deadvlei. Deadvlei is a ghostly landmass of dried, white clay littered with skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees.
5. Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda
Gorillas have the most distinct similarities with humans and even share about 90% DNA with us. So it’s always nice coming in close contact with one. Seeing silverbacks live in action is even a rarer experience as there are only about 1000 of them left in the world.
A close encounter with the mountain gorillas of the Rwandan rainforest is an experience that will stay with you forever. You can find several operators running tours tracking silverbacks and their troupes in the dense forest.
The Nyungwe National Park is an isolated region located at an elevation of more than 6,000 feet. It traverses East Africa’s highest canopy and covers more than 386 square miles across southwest Rwanda. It is a normal occurrence for tourists to come in contact with a vast range of primates.
6. Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Awe-inspiring beauty and Grandeur is the best way to describe Victoria Falls. Located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, it is considered to be the largest waterfall in the world with a width of 1,708 m. It is also one of the seven natural wonders of the world. You can get a great view of Victoria Falls from both sides of the two countries.
Victoria Falls was first encountered by Scotsman David Livingstone in 1855. Natives also call it “The Cloud That Thunders” and is one of the most majestic water spectacles in the world. Ever since being discovered, the 108-meter high cascade spectacle has become a staple for tourists. It was once recorded flowing at 12,800 cubic meters per second which is double that of Niagara’s highest flow.
The best time to experience the full floods and beauty of Victoria Falls is to go at the end of the rainy season, which is March-May. Experiencing this during the dry season will mean crossing over to Zimbabwe to see the main falls.
7. Spitzkoppe, Namibia
Unlike some other African countries, Namibia is not all about safaris and games. What makes Namibia stand out from its peers is its postcard-esque dynamic landscapes. Another of Namibia’s desert structures worthy of mention is the Spitzkoppe.
The Spitzkoppe’s highest peak is about 1,800 meters high. It is a group of granite peaks in Namibia’s Namib Desert. It is a go-to destination for climbers, geologists, stargazers, and weaver bird watchers.
It is really a fascinating place to be.
8. Sahara Dunes, Morocco
Perhaps there is no other African country where you can get a feel of the cultural blend of African Arabian flair quite like Morocco. With a rich historical backing stretching back almost 10,000 years, Morocco is really a place to be. From its cobble-stoned streets, washed walls to famous spice markets, you get to immerse yourself in Arab culture.
The Sahara dunes are accessible from the northern edge of Morocco. From trekking and having tea with Berbers from Zagoura to camping out and sleeping under the stars in Tazzarrine, there is really a never-ending adventure here. Every spring, runners from all around the world complete the weeklong Marathon des Sables in Tazzarrine.
You can gaze at the stars at the foot of the Merzouga Dunes. It is incredibly free of light pollution.
9. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
By cultural and historical heritage alone, Egypt should be the most popular African country. From Hollywood movies to Biblical references, the adoration of the Egyptian experience knows no bound. For thousands of years, Egypt has been and continues to appeal to not only history buffs and folks interested in cultural journey but also the neutral folks.
The structures in Egypt are almost unmatched anywhere else in the world. The Pyramid of King Cheops is the most famous of the structures at Giza, near Cairo. It was built from 2.5 million blocks of limestone around 2650 BC. An incredible feature here is that the pyramid’s sides are oriented exactly to the north, south, east, and west.
Built by Cheops’ son, the Chephren pyramid is similar in size to the Giza and is the entrances to a burial chamber that still contains the large granite sarcophagus of King Chephren.
The pyramid of Mycerinus is much smaller in size than both but they are all surrounded by other smaller pyramids and dozens of tombs.
10. Nyika Plateau National Park, Malawi
Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa is well underrated as one of the best places to visit in Africa. But its spectacular islands and extensive lakes are really one of a kind and deserve a mention.
Nyika is the largest national park in Malawi and its topography is quite unusual. It is a plateau cut by numerous rivers that reach Lake Malawi through several waterfalls off the eastern edge of the mountains.
The eastern border forms the wall of the Great Rift Valley around the plateau. The domes of hills are perfect for trekking, jeep exploration, and hiking thanks to its gentle slopes.
The park is also renowned for having one of the highest populations of leopards in Central Africa. Antelopes and Zebras are also common features.
11. Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
Botswana’s Tourism experience stands out from its peers as a result of the focus on high-end, low-impact tourism. So you shouldn’t be surprised at the absence of crowds unlike its East-Africa counterparts and very luxurious properties on display. It’s the go-to African country for close-up wildlife experiences without crowds.
But straying away from that is the Makgadikgadi Pans. Due to the vast area of dried-up salt pans in the Kalahari Desert, there is a belief that you can almost hear your own blood flow. The Makgadikgadi Pans is a landscape formed by a huge lake that dried up many years ago.
But this shouldn’t fool you as it can transform instantly during winter when rainfall is good. The accompanying lush grass sprout brings a stampede of wildlife like zebra, wildebeest, and flamingos to break the silence.
12. Draa Valley, Morocco
Cities like Marrakech, Tangier, Fez, and Rabat are the most popular in Morocco and are worthy of a visit.
The Draa is an impressive landscape sitting between the Atlas Mountains and the dunes of the Sahara. It is an expanse of date plantations interrupted by kasbahs rising against the sky.
You can find really good hotels and restaurants in Zagora, which is at the southern end. Through a route across the Atlas Mountains, it will take about five hours from Marrakech to the Draa. It is advisable not to self-drive.
13. Sphinx, Egypt
Egypt is home to some of the biggest innovations and structural wonders of the world. Speaking of structures, the massive scale of the sphinx just like the pyramids is almost unmatched anywhere in the world. There is little wonder as to why Egypt is called the cradle of Western civilization.
You will find the colossal temple of the Sphinx on the way down to Egypt’s Valley Temple of King Chefren. The Sphinx features the body of a lion with a human head and is about 70 meters long and 20 meters high.
There has always been a debate about the gender of the Sphinx. Many believe it is a female while many scholars believe the face is that of King Chefren.
14. Mount Mulanje, Malawi
There is rarely a mention of the best places to visit in Malawi without referencing its landscape and water bodies.
The Mulanje Massif imposes over the lush land that surrounds it with a height of about 3,000 meters. The Fort Lister Gap splits Mount Mulanje in two.
Giant basins of rock and narrow gullies cut by fast-flowing streams are two prominent features here.
And you can get really nice viewpoints if you take the strenuous hike up the mountain. It is normal to see butterflies, monkeys, hares, voles, and a carpet of enchanting wildflowers after the rain.
15. Riding safari, Kenya
Kenya is home to some of the most extensive populations of wildlife in Africa. Sights like 50 elephants in a herd are not an uncommon sight in Kenyan safaris. Chances are that on your very first drive, you will see the Big Five (lions, rhinoceroses, Cape buffalo, elephants, and leopards). The Big Five are the must-see list of iconic Megafauna.
The best way to experience Kenya’s zebras? From the back of a horse. Travellers can gallop alongside the stripey beasts in the Masai Mara, covering up to 100 kilometres (62 miles) in a week.
If that doesn’t sound like an awesome experience then I don’t know what is.
16. Wonders of the Nile, Egypt
You can either choose to take a romantic felucca or a crowded tourist boat to cruise down the Egyptian Nile. Either way, it reveals relics of one of the world’s most ancient civilizations.
Valley of the Kings, with its monumental statues, and the magnificent Kom Ombo Temple are high points.
A cruise down the Nile is a truly magical experience.
17. Flamingos, Kenya
Home to about 1 million flamingos, Lake Nakuru National Park is one of Kenya’s most unforgettable sights. It is probably one of the greatest bird spectacles in the world with several birds filling the lake and sky.
18. Lower Zambezi, Zambia
South Luangwa National Park and the Lower Zambezi National Park are two of the best walking safaris in Zambia. In addition to the game drives and walks, you can also go canoeing and fishing. The game in Zambia is a very good experience and almost feels as raw as Kenya was 30 years ago.
You can easily sight hippos, elephants, and other animals drinking from the rivers and tributaries in the safaris of the Lower Zambezi.
Fishing lovers can also stay at various camps and lodges on the banks of the river.
19. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
Naturally, Mozambique wouldn’t come to mind as a top destination to visit in Africa but it really is. But thanks to popular beaches like Tofo beach, offshore marine parks, the Quirimbas Archipelago, and Bazaruto Archipelago, it is definitely one of the best places to visit in Africa.
The helicopter ride from the Bazaruto Archipelago to the Azura Retreats lodge on Benguerra Island alone is mind-blowing.
Set on a desert island, this boutique hotel is located within a Marine National Park, which gives you the chance to see whales, dolphins, and dugongs.
20. Nxia Pan National Park, Botswana
The Baines baobabs at the entrance of Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park were named after a series of watercolours by Thomas Baines, a Victorian explorer, and artist.
The Nxai Pan Park is popular for its lions, leopards, cheetahs, and large herds of giraffe. From here you can get a great view of the vast salt-rich pans of the Kalahari.
Botswana also offers stunning landscapes like the Okavango Delta with its sprawling green plains and lush vegetation.
In Botswana, you also get to substitute traditional game drives by vehicle for Mokoros (dug-out canoes). This brings you eye-level to bathing hippos, elephants, and crocodiles. You can experience this in the Moremi Game Reserve which occupies the East and Central areas of the region.
21. Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Namibia’s Fish River Canyon is second only to the Grand Canyon in size. It has a depth of 500 meters and more than 160 kilometres long.
You can see beautiful turquoise pools during the dry season.
Namibia isn’t really known for its game but Etosha National Park offers a good game experience if you want one. But from climbing some of the highest sand dunes in the world to hiking through the Fish River Canyon or taking hot-air balloon rides over them, you might not be thinking about the game.
Other destinations of note in Namibia are the Living Desert Tour, Ghost Town tour, and the skeleton coast.
22. Rhinos at Solio Reserve, Kenya
Silio Reserve is home to about 250 black and white rhino. Given the rarity of these species, this is one of the best places to see them. It can be found in the valley between the dramatic slopes of Mount Kenya and the peaks of the Aberdare Mountains.
23. Nyiragongo Volcano, Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park)
The Democratic Republic of Congo is perhaps more popular for the river it is named after – River Congo. The river flows throughout the country and is also the deepest and world’s second-largest river by discharge.
The Nyiragongo Volcano makes the list as one of the best places to visit in Africa. It is located inside Virunga National Park.
A whopping two kilometres (1.2 miles) wide and usually containing a lava lake, Nyiragongo Volcano is one of Africa’s most active volcanoes, with an eruption in 2002 displacing half a million people.
24. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Tanzania is also home to one of the most iconic and popular hiking destinations in the world – Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro being Africa’s highest peak is one of the go-to places in Africa with its lush rainforests and alpine meadows.
25. Lake Malawi, Malawi
Lake Malawi dubbed “Lake of Stars” a century and a half ago by Dr. David Livingstone is one of the largest lakes in the world.
The lake is home to more tropical fish (1,300 species) than any other lake in the world. The freshwater diving here is really cool.
The lake has not gone unnoticed by UNESCO who made Lake Malawi National Park, the world’s first freshwater park, a World Heritage Site.
26. African Renaissance Monument, Senegal
Senegal is more widely known for its footballing talents like Sadio Mane, El Hadji Diouf, Demba Ba, and Henri Camara to name a few.
Senegal itself is famous for its delicious cuisine with culinary inspirations from French and North African influences. Also worthy of mention is that the popular African food – Jollof rice – was originally from the Senegambia region of West Africa. Even though Nigerians and Ghanaians fight seasonally for supremacy over this dish.
The African Renaissance monument is definitely one of the top places to visit in Africa. It sits on a volcanic hill overlooking Dakar. The African Renaissance Monument in Senegal is the tallest statue in Africa. And it is higher than the Statue of Liberty in New York.
If you manage to get to the top, a breath-taking view of Dakar awaits you.
27. Lekki Conservation Centre, Nigeria
Nigeria for all its global recognition and controversies isn’t best known for its love of tourism but there are indeed beautiful tourist attractions scattered all over the country. One of them is the Lekki Conservation Centre located in Lagos, Nigeria. It is the longest canopy walk in the whole of Africa.
A walk on this canopy is a great way to explore Nigeria’s natural beauty.
The Lekki Conservation Centre offers a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of Nigeria’s commercial capital.
28. Nzulezo, Ghana
Ghana, the infamous bout partner of Nigeria on social media platforms, the quarrels are mostly about supremacy for beauty and dishes and are mostly friendly bants.
Ghana is one of the most popular countries in Africa and it is famous for its lush forests, diverse animal life, and miles of sandy beaches.
Culture and tradition are important to the people of the Nzulezo community.
Nzulezo which means “surface of the water” gets its name from a local Ghanaian language, Nzema.
Built entirely on stilts on Lake Tandane in western Ghana, Nzulezo village offers a glimpse into what it’s like to live entirely on water. Akpeteshi, a local gin made from Raffia palm is a must-try for visitors.
29. Cape Verde Archipelago
Located in the North Atlantic and consisting of ten volcanic islands, the Cape Verde archipelago is a cultural blend of African, Iberian, and Brazilian influences.
Cape Verde is a complete adventure from water sports and hikes through volcanic landscapes to leisure times at beautiful beaches.
The annual Cape Verde carnival in the cultural capital of São Vicente is a must-see event. It happens between February and March.
30. Lake Retba (Lac Rose), Senegal
Pink lakes are not a common occurrence and there are only a few of them in the world. Lake Retba in the Cap-Vert peninsula in Senegal is one of the few.
Lake Retba, also called Lac Rose by locals, is one of the highest saline body of water in the world. Its pink colour is from safe bacteria that produce a red pigment to absorb sunlight in the water.
Can a pink lake get pinker? Well, between November and June during Senegal’s dry season, the lake is usually at its pinkest.
31 Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
If you want to have an unforgettable experience of the pearl of Africa, you really need to visit this park.
The park was founded in 1952 as Kazinga National Park but it was renamed two years later to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit.
Within this park are the Maramagambo Forest and borders the Kigezi Game Reserve, the Kyambura Game Reserve, and the Kibale National Park in Uganda.
You surely will have a good time seeing the wildlife including hippos in the Kazinga Channel and leopards on Mweya Peninsula.
32. Eco-camp and Lodge, Gambia
The Gambia is one of the best hottest holiday destinations in Africa.
You can have a wonderful experience at the Mandina River Lodges around the famous River Gambia. Choose to stay in the floating lodges on the River Gambia or in safari tents and experience nature.
The tributary of the River Gambia offers you to stay on beautifully designed lodges hidden in the bush for an unforgettable experience around nature.
33. Go back to nature at La Dique in Seychelles
This island of Africa is made up of about 115 islands. This is a paradisiacal archipelago in the amazing and unspoiled Indian Ocean
La Digue is one of the unique islands you can visit in Seychelles. You can go back to nature in La Dique because this island has been properly managed to avoid development. There are very few cars and only very few surfaced roads.
The beaches here are secluded and unspoiled so you can enjoy the natural environment in this perfect hidden gem.
If you love birds, you have a chance to spot the black paradise flycatcher, one of the rarest birds in the world.
34. Enjoy the best chocolate in São Tomé and Príncipe
This small island in Africa was inhabited in the 15th century by the Portuguese who brought cocoa to the island.
In 1913, this small island was the largest producer of cocoa beans in the world because of the volcanic soil which is suitable for growing cocoa.
There are a lot of wonderful beaches you can visit but something really unique you can do is to enjoy the best quality chocolate from the local factory
Experience bean-to-bar process at the famous chocolatier Claudio Corallo’s laboratory in São Tomé.
Treat yourself to intense 100 percent cacao chocolate bars.
There are a lot of other things to do here including stepping back in time to experience the 16th-century fort São Sebastião in Ana Chaves Bay, São Tomé, which houses the National Museum.
Previously called Swaziland, the country was renamed by the King to eSwatini. The country is one of the landlocked countries in Africa and bordering Mozambique, in the southeast of Africa.
The country is lush and blessed with beautiful mountains.
Hlane Royal National Park in eSwatini provides you with the opportunity to see lions, elephants, and rhino. You will also have access to diverse collection of species of birds. How about watching the breeding white-backed vultures in a beautiful natural environment.
Other destinations in this beautiful country are Malolotja Nature Reserve & Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve, picturesque Ezulwini Valley, Mantenga Nature Reserve including Mantenga Cultural Village which is a recreation of Swazi life in the 1850s.