One of the most diverse continents on the planet, Africa has it all. Vast deserts, lush jungles and tropical paradise islands. Sadly for many countries, it is still run by corrupt officials making mainstream tourism rather off-putting because of all the red-tape. Many people regularly visit places like Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, but do you have any idea where the least-visited places are in Africa? Let’s find out…
The list is compiled with statistics from the World Bank who calculate overnight stays by International visitors. I have found Africa an incredibly hard continent to compile statistics for, many countries don’t provide up- to-date information and I’ve had to source from several other places. I have been unable to locate statistics for South Sudan as tourist figures are joined together with Sudan. Somalia has been excluded due to a lack of accurate data and information.
– Average International visitors per annum (approximate) 6,000.
Equatorial Guinea is officially the least visited country in Africa! Despite efforts to boost tourism by offeringUS/American Samoan citizens visa-free entry, this still hasn’t attracted many visitors.
This country is rather unique as it’s split into two parts, Rio Muni is on the mainland, whereas Bioko is an island in the middle of the Gulf of Guinea, which houses the country’s capital city Malabo. Equatorial Guinea had been colonised by both Portugal and Spain. Only recently, oil has been discovered and is bringing substantial wealth to the country.Like many other African nations, the country is now promoting itself as an eco-friendly destination with opportunities to see incredible beaches and wildlife.
São Tomé & Principe
– Average International visitors per annum – 10,000*
São Tomé achieved independence from Portugal in 1975, ever since it has struggled to find ways to boost the economy and now relies on exports of cocoa to help with its finances. These two tiny islands are situated in the Gulf of Guinea to the west of Gabon and south of Nigeria.
Although there are regular flights linking the island with its former rulers, once you arrive, you’ll need a visa, which must be applied for prior to arrival, making a visit to São Tomé and Principe a little more complicated than you’d like it to be. I’m sure many of the 10,000 visitors discovered the incredible clear waters place by doing one of the magical diving trips.
– Average International visitors per annum – 21,000*
*This figure was stated in a World Travel & Tourism document
It’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of this island, if you have you’ll either be a French national or a complete travel geek! The Comoros is an island nation off the coast of East Africa, just north of Madagascar. As one of the world’s poorest nations it’s no wonder that the Comoros islands are so far off the tourist map, simply due to a lack of infrastructure and opportunities.
If you decide to visit the Comoros islands you won’t be disappointed, you’ll have the opportunity to trek to the crater of the Karthala volcano or even swim with dolphins. At certain times of the year, there’s potential to see giant sea turtles laying eggs on Moheli island.
– Average International visitors per annum – 29,000
Firstly, Mauritania doesn’t seem to have released any official tourism figures since 2008; even their official Government website no longer works, making me suspicious if they even want to receive tourists.
However, this country has never attracted mass tourism due to its strict laws and a visa regime that makes North Korea look like Disneyland! There are quite a few unique things to do or see, including hopping on the world’s longest cargo train, which looks like a really cool but dirty experience.
It’s advised not to travel here at the moment due to several tourists being kidnapped and also a few terrorist attacks having taken place by Al-Qaeda militants.
– Average International visitors per annum – 30,000 *UN Data
A former Portuguese colony, Guinea-Bissau is located in West Africa between Senegal and Guinea. It’s a shame that more people don’t visit this country, the jewel for tourism potential lies within its 20 tropical islands. On many of these Islands, you’ll have the opportunity to see hippos and even turtles.
There is so much potential here, the country now has a new direction and is starting to promote itself as an “eco tourism destination”. With the introduction in 2015 of an electronic visa application system, this will make Guinea-Bissau much easier to visit, I’m very tempted myself.
– Average International visitors per annum – 56,000
To make things complicated, in Africa there are three countries that all include Guinea within their name, this is the most visited of them all, but sadly, it still receives very few foreign tourists. Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom, but has very little infrastructure, making it an incredibly hard country to get around.
Although rich in natural resources, this former French colony also offers wonderful untouched beaches, hiking opportunities and local home-stays to encourage the adventurous traveller.
– Average International visitors per annum – 63,000
Djibouti is one of the driest places on earth, not very enticing is it? Well you’d be wrong, two of the most famous attractions include Lake Assal and the Red Sea. With incredible diving opportunities, several diving enthusiasts have ventured to the country to discover reefs with an abundance of sea life.
Central African Republic
– Average International visitors per annum – 71,000
Often abbreviated as CAR, sadly this country is in the midst of a brutal civil war with no end in sight, often described as one of the most dangerous countries in the world with many Western Governments advising citizens to stay clear. Due to the country’s remoteness, many visitors go to see “true” Africa with the possibility to see wild elephants and gorillas. CAR is rather underdeveloped, making flying the only viable option in most circumstances. This means that the country is often quite expensive to visit and this could explain the low visitor numbers.
– Average International visitors per annum – 81,000
A country with real tourist potential, Sierra Leone has had an incredibly tough few years fighting the Ebola crisis, which has almost decimated the already low International visitor numbers.
With some of the best beaches in the world, I’m certain it won’t be long before tourists begin to return. However, it’ll need some incredible marketing to encourage visitors. One of the most popular places to visit is Banana Islands, a true depiction of tropical paradise.
Average International visitors per annum – 93,000 *UN Data
It’s no huge surprise that Libya has very few tourists, ever since Western Governments ousted Gaddafi, the country has been on a total spiral out of control with jihadist’s taking control and setting up splinter groups. It’s an incredibly sad situation for one of the most promising countries that several years ago had considered opening up for Mediterranean cruises. Once Libya is back on its feet, hopefully there’ll be some historic sites left to see. The most famous is Leptis Magna, a prominent city of the Roman Empire that is still mostly intact. So, unless this situation changes, I know this is something I want to see when I visit.
This article was written by Matt Baron.