Have you ever yearned to climb Table Mountain and marvel at one of the most beautiful cities in the world sprawled out beneath, or wanted to experience the excitement of the Big Five in the Kruger National Park, or dreamt of gliding along the many waterways of the Okavango Delta, or even imagined yourself floating high above Kenya’s expansive landscapes teaming with wildlife in a hot-air balloon? This magical continent offers you all this and so much more with its vastly varying landscapes (from mountains to deserts to the great plains), some of the world’s top beaches, diverse marine life, incredible floral kingdom and of course abundant wildlife.
If it’s always been your greatest wish to discover the allure of Africa and her people, here are our six top African travel destinations that we think are a ‘must see and do’ for anyone eager to experience this beautiful continent, as well as our favourite spots in Africa.
1. South Africa
If you are looking for a summer adventure (sunshine and South Africa go together like peanut butter and jelly) that offers you great value for money, with vastly varying experiences and landscapes, South Africa is the country for you.
Your first stop should be Cape Town which consistently rates as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And it’s not hard to see why. With its golden beaches, abundant vineyards and superb wines, imposing Table Mountain, world-class restaurants and vibey markets, effortless style and diverse culture coupled with its breathtaking natural beauty it has captured many hearts and remains one of the favourite tourist attractions in Africa. Walk in Nelson Mandela’s shoes by visiting Robben Island, visit Cape Point the most southern point of Africa, and experience the abundant Cape Floral Kingdom all around you. Marvel at South Africa’s marine life in the coastal towns situated close to Cape Town such as Hermanus, as well as those dotted along the famous Garden Route by going whale-watching, great white shark cage diving and seeing dolphins and penguins frolic in the ocean.
Head up north to South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park with its award-winning luxury safari lodges and come face-to-face with the majestic Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo). There is nothing quite like going on a game drive at sunset and experiencing the raw beauty of the African bush and its inhabitants!
South Africa offers visitors world-class infrastructure and an array of luxurious five-star hotels, one even more sublime than the next. With its diverse natural beauty (from epic mountain ranges such as the Drakensberg Mountains, to rain forests, deserts, bushveld and the celebrated Garden Route – this really is the world in one country.
For one of the most exclusive and sought-after safari destinations in Africa, Botswana stands out with its natural beauty, extraordinary eco-systems and wildlife.
Experience gliding along one of the world’s largest inland deltas (the Okavango Delta) in a traditional dug-out Mokoro and see the multitude of animals and birdlife that congregate here all-year round from this unique vantage point.
Botswana offers the visitor iconic African landscapes with vast stretches of wilderness teeming with wildlife: from the black-maned lions that can be seen in the Kalahari Game Reserve to the zebra migration, blooming desert in spring and the strange, lunar-like landscapes found in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. You will also have the chance of meeting the descendants of the Bushmen who have lived in this desert-like land for centuries.
See the largest concentration of elephants in Africa in the Chobe National Park and experience the majestic big cats; this region is home to everything from the endangered African wild dogs to a multitude of bird species. This country is a photographer’s dream with its magnificent sunsets and incredible night skies. Botswana is a leader in Ecotourism and offers a large selection of accommodation options ranging from private luxury camps to intimate lodges perfect for honeymooning couples or multi-generational family travel.
With daily flights into Botswana, English as the official language and no visa requirements for the US and Canadian citizens, this truly is one of the most extraordinary safari destinations in Africa!
If you are seeking an African Safari experience with some of the most iconic tourist places in Africa, then Kenya has it all.
Kenya’s Masai Mara is one of the most popular safari destinations on earth with big cat encounters (such as cheetah and lion) almost a certainty. Known for its vast savannahs scattered with immense herds of wildlife and the natural spectacle of the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra, snow-capped mountains on the equator, and its rich, colourful Masai tribe, this truly is a country filled with many vastly different experiences.
Renowned for its excellent local guides, Kenya is also a great family destination offering many fun, educational activities with lots of quality bonding time for the whole family and time away from devices and screens. Nairobi is a hub for access to most of East Africa and a good layover city with a wide choice of restaurants, excellent shopping and animal encounters.
There are a wide range of accommodation styles on offer to cater for every need from romantic mobile tented camps (perfect for honeymooning couples) to luxury lodges with interlinking rooms, ideal for families. Kenya’s beautiful coastline is littered with sandy white beaches and turquoise waters which make it the perfect ‘Bush & Beach’ holiday destination.
For a chance to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World in one of Africa’s most prized game-viewing destinations, have a look at what Zimbabwe has to offer.
Not only does this country offer great value for money, but its also rated as one of the fastest growing tourism markets in the world! Add to that the dramatic landscapes of vast open woodlands, rolling savannahs and farmland with spectacular wildlife, friendly people and enchanting accommodation options which range from luxurious lodges (perfect for honeymooners) to intimate tented camps hidden along the Zambezi River and you have one of the best tourist places in Africa.
Victoria Falls International Airport is easily accessible from Johannesburg, which makes traveling from a long haul destination so much easier with the chance to relax and catch up on some sleep in one of Johannesburg’s hotels before departing on safari.
Zimbabwe’s National parks are excellent and the famous Victoria Falls (a UNESCO World Heritage site) needs no introduction. For large herds of elephant plus the Big Five along with an authentic safari experience, head to Hwange National Park, or be a spectator at Vic Falls (which arguably has the best views from the Zimbabwean side) for a chance to marvel at the mighty Falls, or go adventure canoeing or on a walking safari around the wild Mana Pools which are home to lots of hippo and crocodiles. Zimbabwe is well-known for its well-educated and experienced guides that speak perfect English.
For one of the best authentic, exclusive and personal safari experiences, we suggest visiting Zimbabwe.
5. Rwanda Or Uganda
If coming face-to-face with one of nature’s most powerful (yet gentle) and closest human relatives is something you’ve always yearned for, then going gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda should be at the top of your bucket list.
Critically endangered (there are only about 700 gorillas left in the wild today due mainly to deforestation) it’s a real treat to experience these magnificent creatures up close in their natural habitat. Experienced guides are on hand to guide you safely through the rain forests, and to get you as close as possible to these gentle giants. By supporting sustainable trekking tourism you will also be contributing to the protection of these incredible animals and their habitat for future generations to enjoy.
An eye-to-eye encounter with a magnificent Silverback Gorilla is a once-in-lifetime wildlife experience that is sure to live on with you forever.
If you’re looking for the ultimate desert adventure in raw pristine nature, you’ve got your eye the right country! With its stark beauty, dramatic landscapes, vast horizons, endless blue skies and spectacular star-filled skies, Namibia is a photographer’s dream with adventures and strange desert adapted wildlife at every turn.
Namibia has excellent infrastructure and is the perfect family destination. The youngsters will love to go quad biking or sand boarding; there are camel rides through the desert or you can explore the many nature trails and ancient rock art sites, or even climb one of the highest sand dunes in the world at Sossusvlei! This is a magical place where you can soak up the solitude, peace and sheer expanse of the desert. Or you can gently float in a hot-air balloon over Sossusvlei’s red sand dunes (which we rate as one of Africa’s most inspiring places to visit) or drift over the Skeleton Coast. The remote Kunene and Damaraland regions offer encounters with Namibia’s extraordinary indigenous tribe – the Himba people.
There is no shortage of fascinating wildlife in Namibia: experience the incredible desert-adapted species like the Oryx and elephants in Damaraland, witness Africa’s big game against the desert landscape of the Etosha National Park, or experience Namibia’s ‘Living Desert’ which is packed full of weird and wonderful plants such as the Quiver tree and the million year old Welwitschia. You can explore the wild Atlantic Coast off Walvis Bay via boat trips in search of dolphins, seals, pelicans and even rose-tinted flamingos.
Namibia also boasts the NamibRand Reserve, Africa’s first Dark Sky Reserve, so this African gem is perfect for honeymooning couples and the most incredible star gazing that you will ever encounter. Namibia is one of those destinations that will get under your skin and you will never quite lose the yearning to return.
For one of the wildest and untamed African safari destinations with astonishing wildlife, mighty rivers and some of the friendliest people in Africa, Zambia is your dream destination! Home to both the mighty Victoria Falls and Zambezi River and renowned as one of the best walking safari destinations, Zambia is one of the last great wilderness frontiers; vast, remote and utterly captivating.
Known as one of Africa’s hidden gems, Zambia is the perfect destination for safari first-timers and those seeking an authentic wildlife experience away from the hustle and bustle (and greater visitor numbers) of some of the big game reserves. With spectacular parks and the promise of consistently great big game viewing (never mind its incredible bird life) it easily rates as one of Africa’s premier safari destinations for anyone wanting to experience its abundant wildlife or hone their wildlife photography skills.
Zambia is also legendary for its walking safaris where you have the opportunity of immersing yourself in its pristine wilderness and soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of the bush while walking in perfect safety with an armed ranger. Chances are very good that you will experience the thrill of a lion encounter, particularly in the South Luangwa region known for its big game encounters on foot. Zambian guides are also consistently known as Africa’s best, often walking away with International awards.
Game drives along the Luangwa River should also be at the top of your activity list as the concentration of game around here is some of the densest in Africa, and you can cover greater ground than on foot, thereby maximizing your wildlife sightings. With the exception of rhino, expect to see herds of elephant, large numbers of lion and leopard, as well as species found only here such as the Crawshay’s zebra and Thornicroft’s giraffe
Zambia certainly has no shortage of diverse experiences on offer: drift along the shimmering waters of the Zambezi River in a canoe past incredible landscapes, hippos, and elephants, as well as the odd Nile crocodile basking on a riverbed in the sun. But nothing prepares you for the thrill of watching the Zambezi River thundering over the edge (500 million liters of water per minute to be exact) at Victoria Falls, as it crashes down below throwing up a swirling mist. The main falls lie on the Zimbabwean side but viewing the falls from the Zambian side is equally impressive, especially during the high flow months from February to May. If adrenalin-packed experiences are your thing, you’ve come to the right place: take a dip on the edge of Vic Falls in the infamous Devil’s Pools, see the falls from an entirely different perspective as you fly over them in a helicopter, go white water rafting or even take the plunge in a bungee jump … whatever you chose we can guarantee that you’ve never felt more alive!
Zambia offers great safari accommodation options for families with comfy tented camps which feature campfire dinners serenaded by owls, hyenas and the distant grunting of hippos; but its soul really lives in the smaller, more remote bush camps which are often owner-run and therefore have a more intimate feel.
If you’re thinking of combining a thrilling mix of classic big game safari with culture, adventure, and a tropical beach vacation then Tanzania should be at the top of your short-list!
Set in the heart of East Africa, Tanzania is filled with iconic and diverse destinations from the Ngorongoro Crater (the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera teeming with wildlife), to the golden-grass savannahs of the Serengeti (the backdrop for the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra) that merge into mountainous rainforests, to an encounter with the red-robed Masai, a chance to climb Africa’s highest mountain Kilimanjaro, and the pristine white sandy beaches and dazzling turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean islands – all of which can be combined into a single, multi-experience holiday. In fact, seven of the World Heritage sites are located in this country: the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Stone Town, Kiwa Ruins, The Selons, Kondoa District and Kilimanjaro.
Tanzania is a vast country (easily twice the size of California alone) with some of Africa’s finest game viewing especially in the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. It also boasts Lake Tanganyika (one of the world’s most picturesque lakes), as well as Lake Manyara (a personal favourite of Ernest Hemingway) known for its flocks of rose-coloured flamingoes. For a completely different safari, visit the rainforests of the Mahale Mountains (only accessible by air and boat) for wildlife encounters with chimpanzees and other primates, forest mammals, and a multitude of colourful birds.
Many of Tanzania’s lodges offer visits to nearby farms and sustainable projects, as well as the chance to meet the local Masai – an experience that will provide you with greater insight into Tanzania’s rich culture and one that is bound to deeply touch your soul.
Only in Tanzania are you afforded the opportunity of climbing (or simply admiring) snow-capped Kilimanjaro, as well as exploring the continent’s paradise Indian Ocean islands! Visit the island of Zanzibar where you can experience an exotic cultural melting pot of Swahili, Arabic, Portuguese and Italian colonial influences in Stone Town (Zanzibar’s ancient trading post); or simply relax on one of its many silvery beaches with powder-soft sand and aquamarine waters. There are a number of romantic private islands (just off the coast of Zanzibar) waiting to be discovered. Mnemba and Pemba Island are two such examples that offer the ultimate romantic dream-beach-getaway: utterly luxurious with superb scuba diving and snorkeling, deserted beaches, turquoise waters, incredible seafood, and sunset dhow cruises – what better way than to end off your safari.
If you’ve always dreamt of whiling your days away under a glorious African sun with swaying palm trees, footprint-free beaches and the sounds of waves gently lapping on the shore, then Mozambique’s Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos is your ideal romantic African Island paradise destination – perfect for honeymooners or those seeking a spoil-me-rotten vacation!
Think miles and miles of rugged, pristine coastline where long, white beaches melt into the warm, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Mozambique is famous for its incredible beaches, colourful reefs and mouthwatering seafood (with spicy tones harking back to its Portuguese influence), as well as being known as one of Africa’s top water sports playgrounds. To experience Mozambique’s magic take a sunset cruise aboard one of its ancient dhows (with their distinctive white sails that look almost like a marlin’s dorsal fin); with the sun painting the horizon a crimson colour and a warm breeze on your skin, this may very well be one of the most romantic things you’ll ever do!
Mozambique certainly has no shortage of superb diving spots: head to the Quirimbas Archipelago (the largest protected marine area in Africa just off the northern coast of Mozambique) for its warm waters, great visibility, and reefs teeming with magical multicoloured sea creatures. There are a number of exclusive beach resorts to choose from set on beautiful, (mostly uninhabited) private islands, boasting some of Africa’s finest snorkeling and diving.
This country offers many sustainable, eco-friendly tourism initiatives and ticks all the boxes if you are looking for a classic ‘desert island’ holiday destination.
Our Top 10 Things To Do In Africa
- Take the Cableway up Table Mountain
- Get up close to the Big Five in the Kruger National Park
- Witness the Great Migration, one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth, in East Africa
- Drive along South Africa’s picturesque Garden Route
- Experience the mighty Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World
- Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda or Uganda
- Glide along the many waterways of the Okavango Delta
- Float in a hot-air balloon over Kenya’s spectacular Masai Mara
- Climb the world’s highest sand dunes in Namibia’s Sossusvlei
- See hundreds of elephants in the Chobe National Park