Home to much more than just safaris and the pyramids, Africa is both the second-largest and second most-populous continent on Earth. While beautiful beaches and rugged cliffs line its long coastline, its vast interiorencompasses everything from mountains and deserts to tropical rainforests and the Nile river. Home to a vast array of different cultures and languages, Africa offers an intoxicating mix of old and new, as many of its age-old traditions and customs still survive to thisday. Here’s a look at the best countries to visit in Africa.
Nestled away in the southwest of the continent, Namibia is one of the most sparsely populatedcountries in Africa. This is because much of it is made up of arid, desolate landscapes and the unforgiving NamibDesert. Formerly a German colony, it only gained its independence from South Africa in 1990, so some colonial-era architecture can still be seen in its capital, Windhoek. Most people, however, visit for its brilliant national parks, which are home to breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and incredible wildlife. In Etosha National Park, for instance, you can catch glimpses of lions, elephants, and black rhinos roaming around the Kalahari. Another popular destination among tourists is the Skeleton Coast, which has lots of spookyshipwrecks dotted along its dangerous Atlantic Ocean coastline.
Long a popular tourist destination, Tunisia can be found wedged in between Algeria and Libya on North Africa’s Mediterranean coastline. Due to its fabulous warm weather and inviting beaches, lots of Europeans come here to loungeon its golden sands and swim in the sea. There is much more to Tunisia than just sun, sea, and sand however: the country is alsolittered with impressive archaeological sites that date back millennia. This is because, throughout its history, it has been ruled by everyone from the Carthaginians, Romans, and Ottomans to the Arabs and later on French. Of its many historical sights, the stunning Roman amphitheater in El Jem and the remnants and ruins of Carthage are the undoubted highlights.
Home to not only the continent’s tallest mountain range and the source of the Nile, land-locked Uganda also borders the largest lake in Africa. While its tourism industry and infrastructure are quite undeveloped in comparison with neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, this makes its spectacular landscapes all the more exciting to explore. Long overlooked by visitors to the continent due to its tumultuous and tragic past, Uganda is slowly regaining its title of the ‘Pearl of Africa. ’This is in large part because it is one of only three countries in the world where you can see mountain gorillas in the wild. Seeing the majestic creatures up close in the cloud rainforests is an amazing experience, and is simply a must when in Uganda.
While Mauritius certainly takes some getting used to, visitors invariably come away astounded at the incredible beaches, mountains, and waterfalls on show. Located over 1,000 kilometers to the east of Madagascar, its remote setting means it is home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the world. As such, trekking through its mountainous interior really is a treat as flocks of brightly colored birds swirl above the tropical rainforest canopy. Tucked away among the dense foliage, you’ll come across steep ravines, plunging gorges, and sparkling waterfalls. All in all, the volcanic landscapes certainly make for some of the most picture-perfectscenes imaginable. Lying alongside the inviting waters of the Indian Ocean are idyllic white sand beaches and lots of fantastic scuba diving and snorkeling can be had offshore.
With so much to see and do in Tanzania, it can be hard to know where to start. The north of the country alone is home to the marvelous Ngorongoro Crater and the world-famousSerengeti, both of which are must-visits if you want to go on safari and see the Big Five. Here too, you will also find the snow-topped Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak. This wonderful part of East Africa is blessed with a myriad of different landscapes, each more arresting than the last. Just offshore, you can find the awe-inspiring Zanzibar archipelago, which boasts many gloriousbeaches and is a popular tourist destination in its own right. One of the most linguistically and culturally diverse countries in Africa, Tanzania is also home to some very important archaeological sites that date back millennia.
Lying some 1,500 kilometers to the east of mainland Africa, Seychelles is the continent’ssmallest and least populous country. Made up of 115 islands, with the vast majority of them being uninhabited, the archipelagois incredibly beautiful and is surrounded by the glittering waters of the Indian Ocean. While the paradise islands are lined with gorgeous beaches, their interiors are quitemountainous and coated in lush rainforest. Due to their remote location, they are home to all kinds of unique fauna and flora, and most of them are now designated nature reserves. Offshore, the colorful coral reefs and abundant marine life makes Seychelles an unforgettableplace to go scuba diving or snorkeling.
A magical place to visit, Morocco is home to beautiful old cities, medinas, and souks. These lie along the country’s scenic Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines or tucked awayamongst the Saharan dunes and High Atlas mountains. The continent’s north-westernmost country has long attracted different peoples and culturesto its shores, and its rich heritage now draws on African, Arabic, Berber, and Western influences. This amazing diversity is on show wherever you go, with Fez and Marrakech being some of its most popular tourist destinations. Besides exploring the lively Djemaa El Fna and gorgeous mountain towns, visitors canlounge on one of the country’s lovely beaches or head off into the Sahara.
Occupying the southernmost tip of the continent, South Africa boasts some of the best and most well-run national parks and game reserves in Africa. Of these, Kruger is undoubtedly the most well known and most visited, with Addo Elephant National Park also being a popular draw. Known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ due to its multicultural population, South Africa’scities are fascinating to visit, as each of them has its own particular identity. While Johannesburg teems with life, Cape Town is more laidback in nature and is overlookedby the spectacular Table Mountain. Home to towering mountains and arid deserts, South Africa truly is a delight to explore. To top it all off, both its Atlantic and Indian Ocean coastline are riddled with stupendousscenery and fabulous beaches.
One of the best places in the world to see wildlife up close and personal, for many people, Kenya is the home of safari. Its endless savannah teem with life as lions, elephants, and buffalo roam alongside herds of antelope. Its dramatic landscapes are also home to some of the continent’s most famous peoples and cultures, such as the Maasai and Swahili, who each have their own rich traditions. In stark contrast to their age-old ways of life, Kenya is also where you can find one of the continent’s largest cities – its ever-growing capital, Nairobi. Alongside its open plains are freshwater lakes and forests, and the Great Rift Valley which cuts through from north to south. Coupled with the beautiful Indian Ocean coastline makes Kenya one of the best countries to visit in Africa.
Renowned for its ancient monuments and archaeological sites that include the Giza Pyramids, the Great Sphinx, and the Valley of the Kings, Egypt is unlike any other country on Earth. Once home to one of the world’s greatest civilizations history is on show where ver you go, with tombs and temples lying alongside statues and obelisks, all intricately carved. Located in the northeast corner of the continent, Egypt is bordered by the Mediterranean and Red seas, with the Sahara Desert to the south and west of it. Running through Egypt is the Nile river, which is the life source of the country. While many people come to see its historical monuments or explore Cairo, just as many come for its fantastic Red Sea beaches.