The 32 best places to visit in Africa reveal why the continent is still a great travel gem to be discovered, filled with abundant wildlife, diverse aquatic life, ancient sites and some of the world’s best beaches and friendliest people.
1. Great Migration, Tanzania and Kenya
The great migration is one for the top of the pile. The annual event sees over a million wildebeests and several hundred thousand zebra and antelope migrate from Tanzania’s plains to Kenya’s Masai Mara and back again in search of water and pasture.
The great migration is one of the eight wonders of the world. Among the highlights of the trek is when the animals have to cross the crocodile infested Mara River.
2. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 m above see level is an item on thousands of bucket lists, seeing more than 35,000 climbers yearly trying to reach its peak.
Rising through lush rainforests and alpine meadows, climbers finally cross a barren lunar landscape to reach the twin summit. There are 7 to 12 days guided Mount Kilimanjaro climbing tours via the popular climbing routes.
3. Diani Beach, Kenya
About an hour south of Mombasa, the sparkling white sands and lush greenery invite you to relax under a beach umbrella with a refreshing drink. Diana Beach has constantly been voted Africa’s leading beach destination. Enjoy snorkelling and diving among colourful sea creatures, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, standup paddle boards, jet skiing, speed boats as well as whale and dolphin watching.
Book a private or group safari to the nearby safari destinations such as, Tsavo East and Amboseli or biking tour inland for a glimpse of life in local villages.
4. Giza, Egypt
Giza is the gateway to Egypt’s most iconic structures. The city is 5.1 km south-west of Cairo (the capital of Egypt), on the west bank of the Nile. The Pyramid of King Cheops is the most famous of the structures at Giza, built around 2650 BC from 3 million blocks of limestone.
You can also tour the Sphinx — a colossal temple 70 meters long and 20 meters high having a lion’s body and a human head, several smaller pyramids and a number of incredible museums helping to explain the role of the pyramids and their significance in Egyptian history.
5. Masai Mara, Kenya
Masai Mara is located is southwestern Kenya and is famous for its abundant wildlife including the elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, leopard, hippo and birds — 570 species recorded and great scenery. It is the best place in Africa to visit if you want to see big cats. The great wildebeest migration is in the reserve between July and October each year. The area nearby is dotted with villages (enkangs) of the Maasai people.
6. Table Mountain, South Africa
Table Mountain situated near the south-west tip of South Africa, overlooking Cape Town, the capital and Table Bay, rises to a height of 1,087 m (3,563 ft). The mountain makes Cape Town, one of the world’s best beach cities and one of the most photogenic.
Cable car rides are available to the top of Table Mountain, giving great views, fantastic sunrises/sunsets and great pictures. Other attractions to explore in South Africa include the colorful homes in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, Robben Island where political prisoners like Nelson Mandela were once held and wine fields.
7. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is named after the Ngorongoro Crater, a volcanic caldera in the center of the preserve that’s more than 2,000 feet deep with a floor covering over 100 square miles. The crater is a highlight, and so is the steep ravine called Olduvai Gorge where Hominin fossils dating back millions of years were found.
The conservation area is one of the best places to visit in Africa for nature lovers, some of the wildlife that can be seen include lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant, buffalo, hippo and huge herds of wildebeest and zebra.
8. Mountain gorillas, Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the best places in Africa to visit to see gorillas. Uganda is home to more than half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas – about 300 individuals. A close encounter with the mountain gorillas will stay with you for a lifetime. Gorilla trekking tours can easily be combined with bird watching, kayaking and savanna safaris in Uganda.
It is also possible to combine a gorilla safari with an East Africa safari in Kenya or Tanzania.
9. Djmaa el Fna, Morocco
Situate in the old city of Marrakech, Morocco’s third largest city after Rabat and Casablanca, Djmaa el Fna reminds you you’re in Africa, snake-charmers, henna-painters, story-tellers, date-sellers and orange juice vendors set up their stalls in the sleepy heat of the afternoon.
As night falls, the vendors are joined by tribal dancers, acrobats and mobile restaurateurs selling local delicacies such as meats, bread and salad as the smoke rises above their stalls till dawn.
10. Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia
Sossusvlei is Namibia’s most outstanding attraction. The dunes are, the result of material flowing from the Orange River into the Atlantic ocean, carried north and returned again to land by the surf. These has repeated over millions of years.
Climbing the sand dunes yields breathtaking views, including the Deadvlei, a ghostly expanse of dried white clay dotted by skeletons of camel thorn trees.
11. Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Among the best place to visit in Africa, Victoria Falls is one of the eight wonders of the world. The 109 meters high falls are also known by the native name Mosi-oa-tunya, ‘the smoke that thunders’. Visitors can marvel at huge clouds of spray rising up into the air as six spectacular waterfalls plummet to the chasm below.
Other activities include bungee jumping, swimming, birding and canoeing. One can also explore the falls on a helicopter.
12. Spitzkoppe, Namibia
Situated in the Namib Desert, which extends for 1,200 miles along the Atlantic coast, from the Curoca River in SW Angola through Namibia to the border between Namibia and South Africa. The Spitzkoppe has various granite peaks, with the highest peak being nearly 5,900 ft.
13. Horseback riding safari, Kenya
The best way to experience Kenya’s ungulates wildebeest, zebra, antelopes and giraffe is from the back of a horse. The wild animals accept you as one of their own. Travellers can gallop alongside the animals in the Masai Mara and other parks, covering up to 100 km (62 miles) in a week.
14. Sahara dunes, Morocco
Merzouga is a small village in the Sahara Desert surrounded by enormous sand dunes known as the Erg Chebbi. It is a popular destination for travellers in Morocco. The foot of the Merzouga Dunes is the ultimate place for star-gazing, totally free of light pollution.
If you visit, you can join a camel safari into the dunes to see the traditional Berber lifestyle as well as try birdwatching in the spring, when a wide range of birds migrate through the area.
15. Flamingos, Kenya
Lake Nakuru is home to the greatest bird spectacle in the world. Lake Nakuru National Park boasts a million resident flamingos — both lesser and greater, and other water birds including pelicans. The park is also a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino.
16. Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Second only to the United States’ Grand Canyon in size, Fish River Canyon is some 500 m deep and more than 160 km long. Visitors can trek along the Fish River Canyon trail, or take a scenic overhead flight to admire the multicolored rock canyon contrasted with the turquoise water of the river.
17. Luxor, Egypt
The ancient city of Luxor in Egypt is divided into halves by the River Nile. On the West Bank, you’ll be able to explore both the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings is one of the most iconic destinations in Africa, as it served as the burial place of many Egyptian kings.
On the East Bank, you’ll find the famed Luxor Temple as well as unique museums like the Luxor Museum and the Mummification Museum.
18. Nyika Plateau National Park, Malawi
Nyika Plateau National Park is the largest wildlife park in Malawi and one of the most unusual in Africa with a plateau cut by numerous rivers that reach Lake Malawi by way of waterfalls off the eastern edge of the mountains.
The eastern border of the Nyika Plateau forms the wall of the Great Rift Valley, which stretches 4,285 kilometers from Syria to Mozambique. The great domes of hills have gentle slopes, making Nyika perfect for both mountain biking, hiking as well as exploration on a 4×4.
Zebra and antelope abound, and the park has one of the highest densities of leopard in Central Africa.
19. Rhinos at Solio Reserve, Kenya
Solio Reserve is situated between the beautiful slopes of Mount Kenya and the rolling peaks of the Aberdare Ranges. The reserve is a wildlife conservation success story being home to around 300 black and white rhino. It is considered the best place to see these increasingly rare and magnificent species.
20. Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
Also known as Mud Brick City, Ait Benhaddou is an ancient fortified stop that was a haven for travellers going between the Sahara Desert and the city of Marrakesh. It is located on the edge of the Atlas Mountains.
During a visit, you can tour the mud buildings, explore the ancient Granary at the top of the hilltop city and even tour the Mausoleum of Ben-Haddou.
21. Wonders of the Nile, Egypt
The Nile is the longest river in the world, it rises in east central Africa near Lake Victoria and flows 6,695 km generally northwards through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt to empty through a large delta into the Mediterranean. A cruise down the River Nile, ideally on a romantic felucca as opposed to a crowded tourist boat, reveals relics of one of the world’s most ancient civilizations.
The highpoint is the Valley of the Kings, with its monumental statues, and the magnificent Kom Ombo Temple, north of Aswan on the east bank.
22. The Southern Cross, Zambia
Few places offer better vantage points than on an open-air safari in Luangwa, Zambia of the iconic formation of the Southern Cross constellation. It is stunning at dusk when the sun is setting and very early in the morning, but even more gorgeous at night.
23. Draa Valley, Morocco
The Draa, a mass of date plantations punctuated by kasbahs made of rammed red earth rising against the sky is one of Morocco’s most splendid and rewarding landscapes. It is situated between the Atlas Mountains and the dunes of the Sahara.
Zagora, at the southern end, makes a good base with decent hotels, guest houses and restaurants. Allow about five hours to reach the Draa Valley from Marrakech via a spectacular route across the Atlas mountains.
24. Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya, at 5,199 meters is Africa’s second highest peak. It is more varied and difficult compared to Mount Kilimanjaro, it also has far less climbers — 12,000 yearly. There are guided Mount Kenya climbing tours via the popular trekking routes of Naro Moru, Chogoria and Sermon.
25. Mulanje Massif, Malawi
Mulanje Massif, also known as Mount Mulanje, is a large monadnock in southern Malawi only 65 km east of Blantyre, rising sharply from the surrounding plains of Chiradzulu, and the tea-growing Mulanje district.
Its bare rock flanks tower to almost 3000 m, dwarfing all that surrounds it. There are choices between quite gentle walking and serious climbing. Atop magnificent viewpoints await.
There’s plenty of wildlife including the klipspringer, a tiny antelope, monkeys, hares, voles and a variety of birds.
26. Lake Malawi, Malawi
One of the largest lakes in the world and as the name suggests, much of the lake is within the borders of Malawi, but it also stretches into Tanzania and Mozambique. If you want to see the lake, one of the best ways is to visit the Lake Malawi National Park, located on the southern end of the lake itself.
There are miles of hiking available in the park, not to mention countless viewpoints where you can admire the lake and take great pictures. Lake Malawi has more tropical fish than any lake in the world, 1,300 species have been recorded and the freshwater diving is amazing.
The bio-diversity has been recognized by UNESCO, which has made Lake Malawi NP, the world’s first freshwater park, a World Heritage Site.
27. Lower Zambezi, Zambia
The River Zambezi of East Africa rises in northwest Zambia and flows for 2,560 km southwards through Angola and Zambia to the Victoria Falls, turning eastwards along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe before crossing Mozambique and entering the Indian Ocean.
Canoeing safaris are stunning at Lower Zambezi offering sights of hippos, African elephants and other animals drinking from the rivers and tributaries. Bird watching and sport fishing are also excellent. Accommodation is offered at the various camps and lodges on the banks of the river.
28. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
Bazaruto Archipelago is a group of 6 islands off the coast of southern Mozambique. They are known for their white-sand beaches. Bazaruto, with sand dunes, is the largest island. Rare marine animals like dugong can be seen, as well as whales and dolphins. The wetlands, forests and grasslands of the interior are home to many bird species.
29. Nxai Pan National Park, Botswana
Nxai Pan National Park is a national park in north-eastern Botswana, consisting of Nxai Pan, which is one of the Makgadikgadi Pan salt flats. The park is great for viewing the vast, salt-rich pans that characterize the Kalahari Desert and is also known for being home to wildlife including leopard, cheetah, African lion and unusually large herds of giraffe.
30. Zanzibar Island
The Zanzibar Archipelago, located in the Indian Ocean 24 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania, is a breathtaking place for a beach vacation. You’ll enjoy clear, azura water; shallow sandbars perfect for wading; and many small, nearly deserted islands virtually unvisited by tourists. Explore Stone Town, a World Heritage Site, spice markets, mangrove forests and get to see the rare red colobus monkey, found only in Zanzibar.
31. Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta in northern Botswana. It’s known for its sprawling grassy plains, which flood seasonally, becoming a lush animal habitat. It is best discovered on a mokoro canoe to navigate past hippos, elephants and crocodiles or from above on an airplane. On dry land, wildlife includes lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos.
32. Praslin, Seychelles
Praslin is the second largest island in the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean. It’s known for palm-fringed beaches, such as Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette, both bordered by large granite boulders. Anse Lazio has clear water and offers amazing opportunities for snorkelling.
Praslin’s rugged, jungle-covered interior is home to Praslin National Park, which encompasses Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. The reserve is home to countless reptiles and birds, including the very rare Seychelles Black Parrot.
33. Nosy Be, Madagascar
The words “Nosy Be?” mean big island, and this large island off the northwest coast of Madagascar is exactly that. Here you’ll find volcanic lakes, lazy lemurs, rum distilleries, Ylang Ylang plantations and intricate coral reefs that are practically begging to be explored. Flora and fauna lovers will be in seventh heaven at the beautiful Lokobe Nature Reserve. Audiophiles should visit in May, to experience the four-day Donia Music Festival.