Not many people plan on going to Africa for a vacation, but there’s more and see to do there than you could ever imagine. From week-long safaris to world-class beaches, this country is enriched with a culture worth putting on your bucket list.
A place for travelers to unlock the natural wonders of the world, including the famous Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe is for those who love adventure. With three geographical regions, the country is filled with attractive sites and astonishing views. Boasting multiple national parks that are home to the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo), you’ll …
Nomading by African Country
Africa’s a vast continent with so many different things to offer. Whether you’re looking to see the Big Five in person, spend time in the water, or visit a World Heritage Site, you can do it in Africa. These are among the most popular countries on the continent for travelers.
Map of African Countries
African Countries and Capitals
|South Africa||Cape Town; Bloemfontein; Pretoria|
Welcome to Africa!
Given the nickname “The Cradle of Life,” Africa is famous for being the origin of all modern humans. Hundreds of thousands of years of history have made the continent an enigmatic destination rich in ancient traditions.
Home to tribal cultures that still reign throughout the continent, Africa’s wildlife and landscapes are unlike anything else on Earth, leaving many who visit astounded by its natural beauty. With a range of climates and one of the world’s biggest deserts, a trip to any country within the continent will leave you with memories for years to come.
The Beginning of History
Africa is the heart of human ancestry. Homo sapiens, our genus, came into existence in the Horn of Africa, which is the Eastern part of the continent. Countries in this area include Ethiopia and Somalia.
Even before H. sapiens, human ancestors have been traced back to areas in Southern and Eastern Africa. Mrs. Ples is one of the most famous fossils, which was found in Sterkfontein, South Africa. Other fossils that became world-famous include the Taung Child and Lucy.
Yet, fossils are only a fraction of Africa’s ancient history. Northern Africa is the cradle of Egyptian civilization, which began over 5,000 years ago. Egypt has become a popular destination due to its long history. Antiquities and iconic landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings frequently sit at the top of travelers’ must-see lists.
Africa’s Epic Landscapes
The words, “going on safari” have become synonymous with Africa. Just as history draws in travelers, so too does the continent’s wildlife and epic landscapes. Known as the Big Five, lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and Cape buffalo are some of the animals tourists are most eager to see as they travel through the Great Rift Valley.
South Africa tops the list with one of the continent’s most visited wildlife viewing areas, Kruger National Park. Further north in Tanzania, the Serengeti National Park is the king and home to the millions-strong herd of wildebeest, which annually migrate across the African plains.
Kenya is another top safari destination, whose Lake Nakuru National Park is flushed pink with flamingos, which recently returned to the area in late 2020 after an eight-year absence.
A dramatic change in the landscape will lead travelers to Tanzania, which is where Mount Kilimanjaro rises above the African plains. A dormant volcano, the mountain is the tallest in Africa as it rises over 19,000 feet above sea level. Visitors can view it from the open plains, whereas only experienced mountaineers dare venture to the summit.
Amongst the wildlife and landscapes, Africa boasts a smorgasbord of cultures. Diversity presents itself on a platter where Arab customs rule the north, colonial power is still present, and ancient tribes still roam the land. Arab culture is ingrained in Northern Africa, where tourists flock to top destination spots in Egypt and Morocco.
Egypt is synonymous with mummies, pyramids, and tombs. Long gone are the days of the Pharaohs and only remnants of their power remain standing. However, new developments are made every year as forgotten tombs are unearthed. The Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo is a must-visit destination for every traveler eager to dive into Egyptology.
Morocco is the other most visited destination in Northern Africa, which is famous for its Marrakesh markets and Sahara Desert dunes. The country’s cities explode with color and bustling streets. Coffee and mint tea are ingrained in the culture as a way to connect with others.
When you aren’t sipping a hot beverage, it’s time to explore the cities. Urban areas like Casablanca have been modernized. The true Morocco lies in the medinas, which are the preserved areas of the oldest part of towns and cities. In the medinas, travelers will find the soul of Morocco as it winds through narrow streets and past sacred mosques.
Colonialism is still present throughout Africa and its influences continue to shape countries today. East Africa reels from the slave trade and is it often called the “Land of Tears”. In South Africa, traces of Apartheid still exist as the gap between wealth and poverty grows.
The contrast is most present in Johannesburg, where change is still a hard pill to swallow. Yet, the future is bright as new generations are born without government-sanctioned racism.
Travelers who want to head into the roots of Africa should seek permission to visit a native tribe. The Zulu tribe is Africa’s most popular and largest in South Africa. Members of the tribe call themselves the “People of Heaven” and they strongly promote a united front. As a modern tribe, the Zulu people take great care in honoring their ancient cultural practices.
One of the older tribes in Africa that have become famous is the Maasai Warriors of Tanzania and Kenya. Unlike other African tribes that have lost some traditions to time, the Maasai people have worked hard to preserve and honor their way of life.
The men of the Maasai are warriors who don brightly colored robes and sharp spears. The tribe’s ritualistic rite of passage was once to kill a lion. In recent years, the tribe has turned towards conservation to protect the now-endangered big cats.
Africa’s Hidden Gems
Africa is a large continent and not every country gets to make the list of top destinations. In 2019, 72.4 million tourists visited Africa with most venturing to the continent’s highlights. Comoros, São Tomé, and Príncipe as well as Sierra Leone are Africa’s least visited nations.
The few who have been to Comoros will eagerly call it Africa’s “Hidden Gem”. This country lies between Madagascar and Mozambique. With abundant wildlife and quiet villages, Comoros is the ideal destination for eco-tourists. Clearwater and its amazing beaches aren’t too shabby either.
Consisting of two islands, São Tomé and Príncipe is the second smallest nation in Africa. Comoros is the hidden gem, but São Tomé and Príncipe have been named Africa’s “Best Kept Secret”. Sitting in the Gulf of Guinea, the two islands embody the definition of paradise.
The picturesque coast provides the most beautiful sights, though inland there are lush rainforests waiting to be explored.
Ebola and a devastating civil war have long kept tourists away and prevented them from visiting Sierra Leone. However, the days of the virus and war are over. With the country back on its feet and recovering, now is the time to explore Sierra Leone.
Situated on the coast of West Africa, seafood lovers will rejoice at the abundance of lobsters, crabs, and oysters. Visitors might also be amused as they set out in the jungle to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s rarest creatures — the adorable pygmy hippopotamus.
Picking a destination in Africa can be a difficult choice and it’s impossible to see everything in one trip. But that’s what makes the country so special; no matter how much you explore, there is still more to uncover.
Whether you’re a first-time traveler or a frequent visitor to this continent, Africa is guaranteed to enchant your eyes and capture your soul. As a continent that is well suited to building your own adventure, you can find your own rhythm as you explore Africa’s culture, wildlife, and landscapes.
Discover the best of Africa’s thermal springs to add to your itinerary, on our sister site, Top Hot Springs.
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