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Top ten destinations in Africa

Top 10 destinations in Africa

Africa – the name, the word itself reminds me of the song from Toto. The second biggest continent, Africa, possesses a wide variety of vegetation and culture.  Whether it is the beaches and the bars or the game drives and hikes, travelers can’t get enough of Africa.   

No matter how hot or how windy the weather may be, Africa successfully makes you feel closer to nature. Witnessing the Big Five: Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo on your game drives makes you calm while being out in the wild. 

With 54 countries with equally beautiful places in each state, it is quite hard as a traveler to choose destinations to put on your bucket list. 

Worry no more; I am here to help you pick the right one. Join me while we get lost into the top 10 destinations of Africa.

Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

Masai Mara National Park
Masai Mara National Park

While watching National Geographic or Discovery Channel, you have probably seen a big herd of Wildebeests, Gazelles, and Zebras make a trip from one place to another for food and water.

That my fellow travelers are called the great migration from Serengeti, Tanzania to Masai Mara. 

Masai Mara National Park is situated in the southwest of Kenya along the Tanzanian border. It is one of the most famous safari destinations in Africa for its excellent concentration of wild animals.

It is home to all the Big Five members and houses more than two million wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes. This national park is also home to over 450 species of birds.

Masai Mara Tribe
Women from Masai Mara Tribe Celebrating

What makes Masai Mara famous among all the National Parks in Africa is that one can witness the Great Migration and encounter Leopards and endangered black rhinos on their game drive. 

Besides that, Masai Mara is also famous for its other activities like:

  • Hot Air Ballooning
  • Nature Walks
  • Photographic safaris
  • Cultural experiences

Entry Fees: The entry fees are $80 for foreign adults and $40 for children.

You can find several lodges and tented camps for your stay while on your trip to Masai Mara. Some of the nearest camps are Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp, Klien’s Camp and Serengeti Under Canvas.

Table Mountain, South Africa

Table Mountain South Africa View
Table Mountain South Africa View

If you have South Africa on your bucket list but can’t choose where to go—Table Mountain is the answer. 

Table Mountain towers 1086 meters above Cape Town, South Africa.  This mountain does not discriminate. It welcomes both nature lovers looking forward to being awe-spired and the adrenaline junkies looking for adventure. 

Visitors are permitted between 9 AM to 6 PM.  You have three options to reach the Tabletop: Travelling on a cable car, hiking through the trails, or abseiling.

Table Mountain SA Cable Car View
Table Mountain SA Cable Car View

After you reach the Table Mountain, there are a lot of activities waiting for you. You will get to experience abundant flora and fauna and learn about them. It also has a stunning view of Cape Town.

You can also see Robben Island from the top, where Nelson Mandela was held as a prisoner for 18 years.

Entry Fees: The entry fees for a one-way ticket on a cable car for adults are $5.34, and the return ticket is $10.68. The entry fees for one-way tickets for children are $2.67, and the return ticket is $5.34.

Victoria Falls, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls in Africa

Also known as Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world. Located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is also one of the World’s Seven Wonders. The beauty of the vegetation and the clouds formed by the roaring water can be seen from both sides of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

You may be thinking that there’s nothing more than sightseeing and taking photos while you’re in front of the curtain of water. Here’s good news: many other activities will make your trip to Victoria Falls worthwhile such as:

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  • Go white-water rafting
  • Check out the local flora and fauna.
  • Hike your way to Victoria Falls
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Helicopter flight
  • Gorge Walking
  • Sunset tours, and so much more.

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Since this beautiful place falls between two countries, you have two options on how to reach there:

FROM ZIMBABWE: You can fly from Johannesburg, South Africa to Victoria Falls on a two-hour flight.

OR, FROM ZAMBIA: You can fly to Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, or from Johannesburg to Livingstone Airport (also known as Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport). From there, it is just 6 miles from Livingstone. 

Victoria Falls Zambia and Zimbabwe

Tourists need to apply for KAZA Univisa, which allows you to travel between Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana for 30 days.

It is a hot place with lots and lots of rain and water. You are encouraged to put sunscreen on and bring waterproof gears and jackets. Sunglasses are a must too. You should carry your own water bottle as there won’t be places selling clean drinking water near the border bridge.

Entry Fees: The single entry cost is $30 (as of May 2018).

Opening Hours: Summer: 6 AM- 6 PM

                              Winter: 6:30 AM – 6 PM

Amboseli National Reserve, Kenya

Amboseli National Reserve in Kenya Wild Life

Amboseli National Reserve is another beautiful place in Southern Kenya. 

Yes, it may not be as big as the Masai Mara National Park, but you will surely be astonished by Mount Kilimanjaro’s grandeur view as a backdrop to the beautiful reserve upfront.   

‘Amboseli’ means ‘salty, dry place’ in Kenya’s native language. You can find lush primeval swaps to dry places in the same reserve.

Amboseli National Park is the best place to see the free-ranging elephants up close. This reserve has more than 1500 elephants, 40 species of birds, and over 80 different mammals.  

Amboseli National Park Reserve Wild Life
Amboseli National Park Reserve Wild Life View

For the Kilimanjaro’s best view, you will have to be an early bird and go on an early-morning game drive. The best time for game viewing is from June to October

But if you are an avid photographer and want to take the best photos while on your game drive and bird watching process, November to May is the best season to go since the skies will be clear of dust.

However, road conditions can deteriorate due to the rain.

Besides game viewing, you should also visit the Masai village and soak on their culture and history. 

Entry fee: The entrance fee is $60 per non-residents of Kenya, which is valid for 24 hrs. If you have a car, you need to pay a separate $2.83 per vehicle for 24 hrs.

Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira, Morocco
Essaouira, Morocco

Located in Morocco’s western region of Marrakech, Essaouira is an old city (Medina), which is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2001. It has a rich history of his existence.  

Most people think about Marrakech when they think about traveling to Morocco.  So why go to Essouira instead? Because Essouira takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city area and touristy areas and serenades you with the same authentic cuisines, markets, rich history, and beautiful views of Morocco. Essaouira is a perfectly fine place to relax and lay back. 

Marrakech City
Marrakech City

If you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones series,  Essaouira is the place you would want to visit. Essaouira was depicted as the kingdom of Astaphor in the series, and yes, it is as beautiful and culturally rich as you had seen on the screen.  

You can either fly or take a bus from Marrakech to reach Essaouira. 

There are plenty of activities to do in Essaouira like:

  • Explore the Medina, formally known as Mogador.
  • Try the seafood from the coasts of Morocco.
  • Try a traditional Hammam—a middle eastern version of steam bath
  • Walk on the beach
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try windsurfing or kitesurfing.
  • Visit the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah Museum
  • Immerse yourself on Morrocan culture and sign up for a cooking class.
  • Have a drink viewing the sunset at the beach.

The Sahara Desert, Africa

Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert, Africa

A trip to the African continent and not having the Sahara desert on the list is a big NO. The Sahara Desert is bigger than many countries combined and it is not as easy to reach there as you might think.

It is listed on the World Heritage Site, and trust me; you would want to experience the feeling of standing on the top of the vast dunes and soak on the feeling of being amidst the land where you don’t see an ending. 

According to many travelers, it is easier to fly to Morocco and book a Sahara desert tour, which will allow you to stay in the Sahara dunes for the night.

There are one-day or two-day trips from Marrakech. You will need at least five days to explore the Sahara Desert.

Quarzazate Maroc gateway to the Sahara Desert
Quarzazate Maroc, Gateway to The Sahara Desert

The Sahara can be visited all year round; however, since it is a hot place, you should skip the hot summer months of July and August.

Sandstorms are more frequent between January and May. 

You may be thinking there is nothing besides going to Sahara and just camping, but wait, there are more activities in the store like:

  • Go to the Atlas Mountains because Sahara is not just deserts and sand.
  • Visit the UNESCO Mud-villages built by Berbers ( The natives of Africa who have Sub-Saharan, Arabian and Black African ancestry)
  • Climb the dunes
  • Drive along the canyons and oasis
  • Stay in a desert camp and sleep under the stars, and wake up to the view of the vast dunes.
  • Walk around the oasis and get lost in the beauty of the natural lagoons and palm trees

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, located in the southwestern corner of Uganda is Uganda’s smallest national park. It is home to the Batwa’s – the original inhabitants of the forests. 

As the name of the national park suggests, it is a place that protects the rare gorillas and endangered golden monkeys.

Mgahinga is the best place for hiking and walking in Uganda with gorilla sightings as well as the view of the three volcano mountains: Mount Sabinyo, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Muhuvura.

It is mandatory to have a park ranger with you.

Gorilla

So besides hiking and taking photos of the gorillas, here are some of the activities that you’ll want to do on your visit to the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park:

  • Go on a Batwa Trail and know the lifestyle of the inhabitants of Uganda.
  • Go on a Mountain Gorilla Trekking and Golden Monkey Tracking
  • Mountain climbing
  • Nature walks
  • Volcano hiking
  • Garama Cave explorations
  • Birding trip to Mgahinga

The best time to visit Mgahinga is from June to August month or December to January as the grounds are not slippery and muddy due to the yearlong rain. 

Entry fee: The cost of a gorilla permit is $600 per person, which includes park entrance fees, park ranger fees, conservation fees, and government taxes. It also provides a security fee as you will need this while walking at a national park. Food and accommodations are excluded.

Spitzkoppe, Namibia

Spitzkoppe Namibia
Spitzkoppe Namibia

You cannot only travel to Namibia and not visit the incredible bald granite peaks of Spitzkoppe. Located between Usakus and Swakopmund in the Namib Desert of Namibia, Spitzkoppe is one of the tourists’ hotspots where you can hike and chill at the same place. 

You must arrive at Spitzkoppe in daylight to witness the sunset. If you are not a camping person, you can make a reservation at a lodge.

However, if you decide to camp, you will wake up to the magnificent view of the vast landmark of Spitzkoppe.

Sunset Spitzkoppe
Sunset at Spitzkoppe. Image source: https://www.thefivefoottraveler.com/spitzkoppe/

One of the attractions of Spitzkoppe besides hiking and camping are the cave paintings which date thousands of years back. The paintings depict animals, and it was used as a communication method by the nomads.  

The activities at Spitzkoppe are:

  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing
  • History walk
  • Sightseeing
  • Chilling at a restaurant/bar

Entry fee: The entrance fee for adult day visitors is $5.37 and $2.69 per child. The cost per vehicle with nine passengers is $6.04.  The price for camping on site is $12.96 per adult per day and $8.73 per child per day. After paying the small entrance fee, you can choose to set up your camp wherever you want.

Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt
Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

The Great Sphinx of Giza is located on the west bank of Nile in Giza, Egypt. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the mystery behind its archeologically precious sculpture is an experience to be witnessed by your own eyes. 

The Great Sphinx is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx (a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion). It is situated close to three large pyramids called the great pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chephren) and Menkaura (Mycerinus). 

Khafre one of the largest Pyramid
Khafre one of the largest Pyramid

The Great Sphinx of Giza sits on the Giza plateau in front of Giza’s great pyramid and shimmers with the rising sun each morning.  You must visit this historically rich place and experience the camel rides and the pyramids, which even fascinated Napoleon. 

You can travel to Giza by bus, taxi or metro. A one-way trip from Cairo to the Pyramids will cost you no more than $3; however, you need to show your bargaining skills to the local Egyptians.

Entry Fee: The entrance ticket for the Pyramids of Giza is $5. 

Lamu Island, Kenya

Lamu Island Kenya Coast
Lamu Island Kenya

I have saved the most relaxing place in Africa for the last. I’ve written about all the national parks, safaris, and the colorful Masai Tribe of Kenya. But, there is more to Kenya than just that. 

Lamu Island is a small city just off the shore of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. It is historically rich and influenced by Arab culture. It is also one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa.

Swahili Traditional Costume
Swahili Traditional Costume

The Swahilis are the people who originated from the Bantu speaking inhabitants and settled at the coast at the beginning of the first millennium. 

Lamu Island is also a UNESCO world heritage site. If you’re looking for a quick break from your hectic schedule and want a real vacation then here are some activities that can make your vacation fruitful in Lamu Island:

  • Relax at Shela beach
  • Watch the sunset on a traditional Dhow boat at Manda Island
  • Shop Swahili items
  • Eat Swahili food
  • Go for dolphins or turtle watching
  • Visit the ruined city of Takwa
  • Or, just walk around Lamu town. 

So these are the top 10 destinations of Africa I’ve curated for you. Africa surely takes pride in its majestic wildlife, the beautiful glistening beaches, and its rich history. It is hard to pick a destination, while if you can, you’d select all of them. 

What places have you visited in Africa? Do you recommend any place that should be on our list?

If you have never visited Africa, which one do you want to include in your list?

About the author

Currently pursuing her bachelor's degree, Malika is a curious cat who believes writing is a therapy. She loves covering the stories of people and places.