Post Summary: The best places to visit in Africa!
I know it sounds cliche, but there is just nothing like traveling Africa. There are so many amazing places to visit in Africa it’s really hard to narrow down the list.
There are so many amazing places to see, food to eat, and people to meet. And honestly, there is nothing better than watching the sun set over the African horizon.
We spent a year self-driving crossing through so many amazing African countries and no other trip will ever compare. It’s hard to not walk away smiling after seeing a herd of elephants or pack of wild dogs in the wild. Here is a list of the best places to visit in Africa and our favorite countries in Africa.
The Best Places to Visit in Africa
When we set out to travel Mozambique we were unsure of what was in store. However, after a month in the country it turned out to be one of the best decisions we made in Africa. Traveling the Mozambique coast has not just been a highlight of our time in Africa, but has been one of our favorite regions to travel ever. It’s one of the best places to visit in Africa, and still relatively untouched by tourism.
There is a side to traveling Mozambique that comes with an interesting history, Portuguese architecture, warm hospitable people, stunning beaches, and amazing Afro/Portuguese food. Every day I dream of empty beaches and delicious seafood on the African coast.
Don’t let the news deter you from visiting, it’s seriously a beautiful country with downright amazing beaches!
Traveling to South Africa is a great decision as it’s one of the best places to visit in Africa. It’s definitely one of the easiest countries to travel on the African continent yet still offers creature comforts Westerners might be used to. Even though South Africa is the most modern country in Africa it still provides visitors with that “Africa” experience and has an interesting culture.
Before our long vacation in South Africa, the nation was one I knew little about. I watched the Color of Friendship like any little girl addicted to The Disney Channel and was introduced to apartheid. I watched nature documentaries showcasing the beautiful visuals of the Cape and the effects of the two colliding ocean currents. And of course, I knew of the inspirational Nelson Mandela. After 90 days, and getting banned from the country, we fell completely fell in love.
We entered Namibia after buying a car in South Africa and were ready to tackle the desert for the next month. Namibia is truly an unworldly country. The country is filled with vast landscapes, chilling coastlines, amazing wildlife, and a unique Africa.
The name Namibia even comes from the world’s oldest desert that covers much of the country. No country on earth can compete for the type of natural beauty that awaits travelers in Namibia. You can find towering red sand dunes, dead tree valleys preserved in time, and utterly unique wildlife.
Elsewhere you can find massive canyons and rock formations at Fish River Canyon, Damaraland, and Spitzkoppe as the Naukluft Mountains rise out of the desert sand dunes. Namibia does not end there as the East stretches into the endless plains of the Kalahari and the Caprivi Strip turns into an oasis of floodplains and rivers teaming with wildlife.
Namibia is entrancing, there is no doubt about that. It’s one of my favorite countries I have been to and I dream about returning one day. If you asked me my opinion of five places to see before you die, Namibia would be at the top of that list.
After a month in Namibia, we arrived in Botswana with little expectations, but left knowing it was one of the best places to visit in Africa. Of course, we have seen Planet Earth and watched the wildlife from television so we had some idea. However to witness the spectacle that is Botswana in person is entirely different
Chobe National Park for example has some of the best game viewing in Africa and it was here that we got to see elephants bathing, newborn impala, dozens of fish eagles, and even four lion cubs eating a warthog.!
Also a short plane ride away is the Khwai Game Reserve and Linyanti Concession. Khwai literally borders the Okavango Delta and is a wildlife haven. You can expect to see just about everything here and take a mokoro ride next to a drinking elephant. Linyanti is a very quiet and relatively unheard of region in Botswana with only a few lodges. Its exclusivity means you’ll likely never run into another game viewer and you’ll be spotting things like wild dogs and leopards without any other vehicles around.
The nation of Botswana is also one of the more well off countries in Africa. Actually, Botswana has previously had one of the highest average economic growth rates in the world. Since its independence, the economy has flourished due to diamond mining. It’s one of the most expensive countries to go on safari in Africa, but it’s well worth it!
For many, Tanzania may be the most well-known country in Africa. It is the country that has become synonymous with the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar.
People from all over the world flock to Tanzania to have a safari and live out their “Lion King” moments in some of the best national parks in the world. The country is staggeringly beautiful, populated by a warm Swahili culture, and home to some of the best wildlife on this planet. There are plenty of things to see and do in the country and you don’t have to choose between beautiful beaches, unique wildlife, and vast mountain landscapes. Oh no – you can have it all!
Wondering where Zanzibar is? Well, it’s technically it’s part of Tanzania, but it has its own culture. Essentially it is an island in the Indian Ocean, a two hour (15 miles) ferry ride from Dar Es Salaam, a major city in Tanzania. Whether you are on an African honeymoon, finishing up your Kilimanjaro Trek, or exploring the plains of the Serengeti one thing is for certain – you should end it with a trip to the beach.
Zanzibar has those drool-worthy beaches you see in the photos, warm water, fantastic food, and friendly people.
We spent three weeks traveling Zanzibar island taking a beach break from our long overland trip that started in Cape Town.
When we first decided we would travel around Africa, we knew that a trip to Kenya could not be missed. After selling our beloved Land Cruiser in Uganda we hopped on a flight over to see what Kenya had to offer.
From exploring the buzzing capital of Nairobi to laid back Swahili beach this African nation has a lot going for it. It’s one of the best countries in Africa to go on safari and has an amazing amount of wildlife in some of the top African parks. It’s seen as less stable than nearby Tanzania and therefore draws in fewer crowds than the Serengeti, but the Masai Mara eco system is the same!
In 1908 Winston Churchill declared Uganda the “Pearl of Africa” in his 1908 Book My African Journey. More than a century later, visitors still flock to find this pearl. After our self-drive in Uganda, I can’t disagree with Mr. Churchill. The country is filled with birdlife, vast plains, jungle, rolling hills, and some of the friendliest people in Africa.
We entered Southern Uganda from Rwanda with low expectations for the country. Sure, they hold the world’s largest population of mountain gorillas – but what else would we find? Well without spoiling too much we found friendly chimps, mesmerizing craters, and one of the largest lakes in the world!
We debated about traveling to Zimbabwe on our overland trip through Africa. We had heard rumors of fuel shortages, cash restrictions, power cutoffs, and harsh police roadblocks. However, this is Africa, and we decided that crossing into Zimbabwe was right on our route and could not be missed.
What a good choice we made! Zimbabwe is one of the most interesting countries in Africa. Despite having one of the highest unemployment rates in the world Zimbabwe remains safe and with friendly people. A safari here feels different and unique, places like Mana Pools, or Hwange truly are amazing and have I mentioned Victoria Falls?
It was after we were the only campers for days in Kasanka National Park that I knew I loved this country. Zambia feels rural, and exploring here is like navigating “true Africa.” The open spaces here transport you to another time.
A safari here is downright beautiful. In a game drive here visitors will cross a varying landscape from thick mopane forest, dazzling winterthorn trees, and huge acacias. What makes the park shine brighter is the wide range of safari activities on offer. You can paddle, walk, cruise, and drive in search of bountiful game.
Rwanda has come a long way since the 1994 Genocide. Now when you enter Kigali, the capital city you’ll see nothing but clean modern streets, little traffic, and no crazy driving. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air for an African nation.
Rwanda is one of the last remaining places you can see the mountain gorillas, and you can also go chimp trekking here. Besides that Rwanda packs a whole lot of punch for such a small country. Lake Kivu, is a rewarding place to relax and unwind for a few days on a beautiful lake.
Besides the fact that Malawi is one of the smallest countries in Africa, and directly on our overland route through Africa, Malawi was a country I knew little about. I’ve met people that had traveled to Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, and all the other “popular” African nations – but never had I met anyone that had been to Malawi.
I knew that I had to visit Malawi while we were venturing around Africa. We crossed over the Chitipa Border Post from Zambia with very little expectations, and what we found shouldn’t be missed by anyone traveling around Southern and Eastern Africa.
Malawi is dubbed the “warm heart of Africa,” and once you arrive you will see why. The people here are known for being the friendliest in Africa. No one is pushy, most areas are safe, and locals just walk around with a smile on their face. There’s also a lake, a big one at that, called Lake Malawi which is where you’ll want to take a drip or go for a kayak.
Lesotho is an African country that many seem to give a skip, but we found ourselves wishing for more time here. The country is staggeringly gorgeous and a remote destination. Here you won’t find tour buses of people, large hotels, lodges, or really much of any infrastructure. However, the infrastructure in the capital is improving and the lack of the other is all the more appealing.
Here it is just the visitor and the unspoiled Basotho culture. The Basotho are the predominant culture of Lesotho and were driven up into their remote mountain hamlet by the Zulu. Here, they brave the harsh winters and mountain conditions. Lesotho is a fierce country, but fiercely beautiful and immensely rewarding.
Did you know you can ski in Africa? That’s right! The Afriski resort in Lesotho is one of the few places you can take a lift up and ski down some powder in Africa. It’s very well run resort with a full bar, restaurant, shop, snow tubing, and ski school that will make you feel like you’re in Switzerland.
The Kingdom of Swaziland is a landlocked country in Southern Africa between Mozambique and South Africa. It is a small country, but packs in a whole lot of character to make up for its size. Swaziland is in fact one of the last absolute monarchies in the world. Yes, that means a real African King, and a Kingdom.
Besides being small and having a King, Swaziland is home to many unique artisan products, incredibly friendly people, a plethora of hippos, and even an impressive highway network.
We’ve just returned from a fantastic few weeks in Egypt and there is so much to share about this overwhelming, ancient, and mesmerizing country.
Egypt is a place that will frustrate you beyond belief, but at the same time, it will be reeling you into its history and sites, which feel unworldly at times. If you’ve seen Ancient Egypt in movies it’s time to get here now and see it for yourself. I couldn’t believe some of the sites we eere visiting. I mean we’re talking about places that are THOUSANDS of years old and still look like they were freshly painted. It’s jaw dropping to say the least.
Morocco had long been on my “must see” lists. The bright and colorful photos of the country always seemed to captivate me, and the Sahara desert was something I had only seen in movies. Due to Morocco’s proximity to Europe, more and more travelers are hopping on the next ferry out of Spain to visit Morocco for themselves.
It’s an easy African nation to travel to from Europe. As you cross the Mediterranean you are instantly transported to a different land.
Where are the Seychelles and what are they? The stunning 115 islands that make up the Seychelles should need no introduction. The islands lie off the coast of East Africa in the warm Indian Ocean north of both Madagascar and Mauritius, and just about parallel with parts of Kenya. There are 115 islands, but the three main ones frequented by tourists are Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue. I feel like the Seychelles don’t need many words to be described, so here are a couple of photos to get started.
Upon landing in Mahe at 8 am after a red-eye flight from Abu Dhabi with multiple screaming babies, we should have been extremely tired.
However, as soon as we walked out of the tiny airport there was no time to be groggy – we were in a complete paradise. A paradise made up of sparkling granite, crystal waters, and lush green jungles, unlike anything we had ever seen previously.
Our Favorite Parks to Visit in Africa
- Inside Linyanti Region in Botswana • Your Ultimate Safari Guide
- How Ecotourism in South Africa is Implemented at Gondwana Game Reserve
- A Complete Etosha National Park Safari Guide
- The Only Hwange National Park Guide You Will Need
- Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park: The Ultimate Guide
- A Christmas Safari at Musango Safari Camp in Zimbabwe
- A Lower Zambezi National Park Guide: Don’t Arrive to Zambia Without It
- All You Need to Know About South Luangwa National Park
- All You Need to Know About South Luangwa National Park
- Inside Tanzania’s Amazing Ruaha National Park
- All You Need to Know About the Masai Mara National Reserve
Resources to Help Plan for Africa
Overland Tour in Africa
Traveling Africa on your own can be daunting to many travelers. However, there is no need to fear with overland tour companies who will show the ropes and a great time. You can check out some of them here to compare the different companies and possibly score a discount.
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Africa so it’s best not to contribute to the problem of buying plastic water bottles everywhere. The tap water around Africa is generally not safe to drink, but a water purifier, like the Grayl waterbottle, works well!
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about our favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. Our favorite pocket-sized point and shoot camera for quick trips are the Sony RX100V. It takes fantastic photos and video and is the size of your palm.
For more professional photographs we use our Fuji XT-3, and LOVE IT.
A good hat is both stylish and functional. In peak dry season there is little to provide shade, UV rays are intense and can easily burn the unsuspecting traveler. Check out our full break down of the best safari hats here!
Lightweight pants that are made from synthetic material are tremendous to have in your pack. It’s what we wear most days when traveling around Africa as they’re comfortable, antibacterial, and protect our legs from mosquitos (malaria).
You’ll want a safari shirt while on safari. They are lightweight and keep the bugs away. Plus they look ideal in photos and blend into the environment around you!
Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights. Are you going on safari? We always carry our Robert’s Southern Africa Bird Book and a good mammal guide.