Africa is huge, like seriously, it’s a vast continent that’s so varied and filled with a melting pot of cultures, identities, beautiful nature and history. It’s a continent that has so much diversity that is sometimes forgotten when we hear ‘Africa’ mentioned as a place to go to. It really is hard to bottle down the essence of Africa into a singular destination, even though we see this happen time and time again on television, radio and in print.
Thankfully, travelling opens all our eyes to these naiveties and makes us appreciate how wonderfully diverse the continent of Africa is. Whether you’re dreaming of white sandy beaches, cosmopolitan cities like Cape Town, visiting the Atlas Mountains of Morocco or getting up close to the big five on safari, Africa is sure to have a place on your travel bucket list. The world’s second-largest continent has a lot to offer even the most seasoned of travellers. Take a look at some of the very best countries to visit in Africa this year!
Bordering on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco has everything to offer, from quaint seaside towns to snowy mountains and with enigmatic cities in between. Its mixed heritage makes it a particularly fascinating country to explore: You can see evidence of European, Berber and Arabian influence on the culture wherever you go.
Ethiopia is a country of ancient culture, with archaeological finds dating back 3 million years, including the 12th-century churches in Lalibela and the ruins of the ancient city of Aksum. It’s the place to visit if you’re a history geek like me. They have a vast array of historical and archaeological sights that are just too good to miss, especially Gondar Castle. If you’re more into your natural landscapes, make sure to visit Simien Mountains National Park and Nechisar National Park – both are just stunning and are well worth spending a few days visiting. As with any trip, make sure you always listen to local advice and follow safety precautions… especially around those bigger animals.
Seychelles has a reputation as one of the world’s most idyllic places to visit and it’s easy to see why. If you ‘re looking to do more than just lie back and relax on the beach, there’s plenty to explore. Many of its smaller islands have been protected as national parks, showcasing the heritage and beauty of this slice of paradise.
Make sure to visit the unbelievably gorgeous Curieuse Island and snorkel the beautiful Sainte Anne Marine National Park.
Botswana is a real jewel of Africa in terms of wildlife and natural land. As a country, it’s committed to wildlife and environmental conservation, making it the ideal country to visit if you’re interested in African wildlife. The Okavango Delta, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and Chobe National Park are just a few of the places you can head to for a safari. To top it off, Botswana is also famous for its stunning watercolour-style sunsets and the friendly welcoming attitude of its locals towards tourists.
As one of Botswana’s neighbouring countries, Namibia is similarly rich in wildlife and great for an adventure through some of Africa’s incredible landscapes.
Etosha National Park is a must-see as it’s home to 114 families of mammals and 300 species of birds. For an unforgettable trip, you can also take a quad bike tour across the Namib Desert, visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and explore the ghost town of Kolmanskop.
This landlocked country in southern Africa is often forgotten about by us travellers in light of its more popular sisters, Kenya and Tanzania. Boasting a geographically diverse landscape, from the impressive peaks of Mount Mulanje to the sprawling grasslands of the Nyika Plateau, and not forgetting Lake Malawi, it really is a special place to explore. Whether you come here for the hiking and kayaking or to enjoy some of its rich cultures, Malawi is a country of amazing beauty. Don’t forget to try a local foody favourite of Nsima, it’s made from ground up corn that can be served with roasted meats and vegetables.
Rwanda is the number one African destination for gorilla fans as you can possibly catch a glimpse of the Mountain Gorillas up close at Volcanoes National Park. It’s not cheap, but the profits are put into the park’s outstanding conservation efforts, as well as going towards building schools and health centres for the surrounding community. You can’t ignore this country’s tragic history, but you can make an unforgettable visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to understand and reflect upon the horrors so they are never forgotten.
Make sure to try some yummy Matoke, which is mainly made from steamed plantains.
If you’re a mountaineer or hiker who can hear the highest mountain in Africa calling your name, it’s time to head to Tanzania. Mount Kilimanjaro dominates the landscape, and even if you’re not up to climbing it (not many of us are!) it’s a once-in-a-lifetime view even below. Of course, Tanzania also has a whole lot more to offer; you can see the ‘Big Five’ on a safari at Serengeti National Park, or head out to the tropical island of Zanzibar for complete relaxation.
Gambia is a beautiful (and relatively small country to visit) when it comes to Africa. Like most of the other countries on this list, Gambia has an abundant wildlife population that’s just too good to miss.
If you visit Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve you can see monkeys, hippos, hyenas, leopards and several species of rare bird. The vibrant capital of Banjul is also great to visit too, with its fascinating National Museum of Gambian history, and the beaches aren’t far away either… in fact, they’re famed in Gambia.
South Africa is a country that seems to have it all. Cosmopolitan cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, delicious vineyards, the incredible Kruger National Park and even its own penguin beach! I’ve visited South Africa a few times and just love going back, it’s one of my favourite places to explore.
Make sure you head to Hermanus to spot some whales, and grab a bite to eat at Kloof Street House in Cape Town, it’s incredible. If you’re looking to drive, consider the Garden Route for an epic exploration of this beautiful country.
This article was written by Yaya & Lloyd.