It’s safe to say most travel lovers have ‘Africa’ on or near the top of their list. Fifty-three nations make up this continent, reaching from Algeria to South Africa. Africa may be unparalleled in diversity and vibrancy, and the continent’s cultural richness is rivalled only by its natural wonders. The continent is huge, the cultures expansive, and the experiences abound, so making this dream a reality can easily overwhelm. If you’ve always wanted to go to Africa, let this list of the top ten places to visit in Africa guide your planning process.
Simplicity, leisure and luxury are the foundations of an African holiday; you just need to know where to find them. Honeymooners often choose the Seychelles, Mauritius, or South Africa for the incredible beaches, golfing opportunities, and to simply be inspired by the sea.
The Seychelles is a nation made up of over 150 islands north of Madagascar. The island presents spectacular diving and snorkelling opportunities, especially around coral cays like Denis Island. Temperatures hover in the low-80′s (F) all year-round. There is no visa or vaccinations required to enter the Seychelles, adding even more ease to planning your trip. Every day can be a perfect day.
Mauritius is another gorgeous island nation, and one of the world’s best luxury travel destinations. Located east of Madagascar, and 2,000 km off the coast of Africa, Mauritius offers a warm, clear sea where dolphins abound, alongside spectacular tropical flora and fauna. The people of this multi-cultural island are friendly and welcoming to guests; hospitality is taken seriously in Mauritius – the hotels are well designed and well run.
If you want to be near the sea, South Africa has a huge coastline, though offers a different experience to the previously mentioned islands. A visit to South Africa could combine a city break in Cape Town, a beach holiday in Plettenberg Bay and a safari in the Kruger all in one holiday. Don’t forget about the incredible wines that come from South Africa – a visit to the Winelands could involve travel by luxury train, fine-dining and wine-pairings, as well as relaxation in one of the many excellent spas. Many of the safari lodges and luxury hotels in the country are rated among the best in the world.
Tanzania and Kenya are also destinations that offer the chance to easily combine a safari experience with time spent on the beach. Tanzania is known for the annual large-scale wildebeest migration, a must for wildlife enthusiasts, who can also enjoy the splendour of the country’s beautiful landscape, protected by Tanzania’s many national parks. Tanzania is a popular choice for adventurers who seek to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, although there are plenty of more moderate hikes to explore as well. A trip to Tanzania is complemented by a stay on the island of Zanzibar, where unique culture and delicious cuisine abounds, as well as beautiful white sand beaches.
A safari in Kenya is almost guaranteed to provide sightings of the ‘Big 5′ – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard – making it ideal and exciting for a first-time safari goer. Kenya is also home to a broad spectrum of bird life, most of which are found in the region of the Great Rift Valley, Lakes such as Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru are a haven for flamingos. If you head south-east there are breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean from the beaches of Malindi or Watumu. You might have never imagined finding white sand beaches like these in Kenya!
The Warm Heart of Africa, Malawi, is justly famous for its hospitality and welcoming people. Compared with other African nations, Malawi is tiny, but with a wide diversity of scenery and wildlife. Lake Malawi covers more than 20% of the country and is its most distinctive and important natural feature. You might combine a visit to Lake Malawi with one of the more traditional safari experiences offered in neighbouring Zambia or Tanzania. The lake is a superb location for snorkelling, diving, kayaking and fishing.
Uganda is lush, green and fertile, lying in the Nile basin. This landlocked country may be another of Africa’s smallest offerings, yet the variety of ecosystems found within provides an excellent reason to visit. These ecosystems are home to a wide range of wildlife, including the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. The country is also home to Lake Victoria, the source of the River Nile and the largest lake in Africa.
It can be easily argued that Botswana is the best safari destination in Africa. The importance of tourism balanced with conserving the country’s delicate ecology has given rise to small lodges following strict environmental standards. A landscape as diverse as it is beautiful; Botswana is a mix of saltpans, grassland, giant baobab trees and the waters of the Okavango Delta, all of which makes the perfect home for a diversity of species, including the rare African wild dog and the famous black-mane Kalahari lions.
Namibia is a land for adventurers. Self-drive safaris are a popular choice for travellers in this part of the world. Discover diverse bird life and over 100 mammal species in Etosha National Park, including the rare black rhino. Explore the natural wonder of The Skeleton Coast, a desert which stretches 300 miles along the Atlantic coastline. The mountainous range of Kaokoland is home of the semi-nomadic Himba tribe.
The real Africa, as Zambia is often referred to, is a grand mesa bordered by land on all sides. A trip to Zambia must include a stay near Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, if that is not already the main focus of your visit. The Falls are one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and truly supersede all expectations. All of this water makes Zambia rich in plant and animal life. Walking safaris are popular, and noteworthy experiences include Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi National Parks, some of the last unspoiled wilderness areas in Africa