There’s so much to see and do on the culture-rich african continent. Here are 5 of the best you must not miss
If your adventure list or travel bucket list doesn’t have at least one African city or travel spot on it, then you’re missing out in a big way!
Africa is the second largest continent in the world, with the longest river, the largest desert, and home to some of the most incredible species of wildlife including giraffes, chimpanzees, gorillas, and hippopotamuses that can’t be found anywhere.
It is a continent of over 54 countries, 3,000 ethnic groups and an estimated 2,000 different languages spoken. Dubbed the “mother continent”, the earliest signs of human evolution can be found in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Africa is a diverse continent with no limit to what you can see and do.
Africa is rich in food, people, wildlife and cultural experiences with many uninfluenced native tribes still in existence. There are more than a thousand reasons to visit Africa and you may never be able to experience it all in one lifetime. Not to worry though because we’ve helped you identify the top ten places on the continent you should see if you’re ever visiting or on vacation to the most vibrant continent on the planet.
Here are our top five must-see travel destinations in Africa.
1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The tallest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro stands an impressive 20,000 feet tall making it the highest freestanding mountain in the world. It is located far north of Tanzania with almost every kind of ecological system present including cultivated land, rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert, and an arctic summit.
Should you chose to conquer this mountain, it is advised that you follow the longest route to allow for proper acclimatization. If you are successful, there’s a brown book of winners at the top in which you’ll be able to record your thoughts joining the exclusive list of those who have conquered Kilimanjaro.
Every year more than 30,000 people try to conquer Kilimanjaro with about two thirds of them being successful. There are varying accounts of the oldest, youngest and fastest people to climb mount Kilimanjaro but one thing is certain, it is bucket-list destination for many travelers.
2. Marrakech, Morocco
If you love sweet mint tea, you’d feel right at home in this iconic city where the making of proper mint tea is considered an art.
Founded over a thousand years ago (1062) by religious nomads called Almoravids, the second largest city in Morocco has a rich and enchanting history you can literally feel upon arrival. It is made up of the Old City (Medina, a UNESCO Heritage Site), where all the traditional souks are located, and Modern City (Gueliz), the commercial center of the ancient city.
Though Arabic is the official language of the predominantly muslim city, more than two thirds of its inhabitants also speak fluent French and the local Berber language, Amazigh. Sights to see include the Bahia palace, built around the 1900s, the residences of the fashion moguls Yves Saint Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier, and the ruins of El - Badi Palace built in the 16th century by Saadian sultan Ahmed al-Mansour with money received from the Portuguese after the Battle of the Three Kings.
For a more involved experience, you can stroll down the streets or Marrakech taking in the red walls of old structures, nibble on local treats and watch snake charmers put up a heart stopping spectacle. Be careful of taking pictures as you might be hassled by the locals for this.
When you’re done, remember to pick up a rug or carpet an important aspect of the traditional heritage of this ancient city.
3. Praslin, Seychelles
The stunningly beautiful white sandy beaches make the island of Praslin a top tourist and honeymoon destination. You only need to see it to understand why the second largest island of the Seychelles always makes it to different lists of top wonderful beaches to visit in the world.
Praslin serves as a major point for trips to other neighbouring islands such as Curieuse and Cousine. Things you can do include scuba diving and snorkeling. You can also enjoy an 18 hole round of golf on a championship course, or discover the amazing Coco De Mer, an exotic plant that led to the belief that the Seychelles islands were the true Garden of Eden.
Additional things you can do include swimming on any of the famously named beaches of the Island. There’s an abundance of white beaches to relax on and little or no sights to see. If you’re about calm and peaceful beaches with occasional swimming and diving, then Praslin islands in Seychelles belongs on your travel list.
4. Omo River Region, Ethiopia
This valley is home to about 50 tribes and is located in the southwestern part of Ethiopia. The beauty of this region is that most of the tribes here have managed to stay true to culture and avoid western influences. Their mode of dressing, festivals, lifestyles, and beliefs have largely remained intact.
It is common to see warriors and herders in the different tribes move around with kalashnikov rifles. To a visitor, this may be unsettling at first, but the tribes of the Omo river region are known to be peaceful and very welcoming. The AK-47s are the only visible signs of western influence replacing the traditional spears and being more of a status symbol than a threat.
In 1980, UNESCO declared the Lower Omo Valley a World Heritage Site in recognition of its uniqueness and well preserved customs and still-authentic rituals such as bull jumping and gladiatorial stick fighting continues to attract tourists and visitors yearly. If you love african culture, there’s nowhere better to experience it pure and undiluted than the Omo river region tribes with its rich cultural heritage.
5. Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya
Originally established in 1961 and located in the Great Rift Valley in the southern part of Kenya, The Maasai Mara National Reserve (also known as Masai Mara and by the locals as The Mara) is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya.
It stretches 1,510 square kilometers (580 square miles) and rises 1,500-2,170 meters (4920-7120 feet) above sea level. It is home to the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, African elephant, cape buffalo, and black rhinoceros) – plus popular species like zebra, giraffe, hyena, cheetah, warthogs, hyenas, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, eland, gazelle, and jackals among others.
Travel to Mara between July and October to witness the spectacular migrations of millions of different animals such as wildebeests, zebras, and other animals as they cross from the Serengeti National Park into Kenya.
Do you love bird watching?
Scientists have been able to identify over 570 species of wild birds who migrate to the reserve annually so there’s more than enough varieties of birds to keep your lenses busy. Some of the bird species in the Mara include the red-winged Schalow’s Turaco, white-tipped Crest, Ross Turaco, Orange Buff Pel’s Fishing Owl, wary Guinea Fowl, Jackson’s Bustard, and black-bellied Hartlaubs Bustard.
Don’t forget to meet and interact with the Maasai, the local tribe whose ancestral lands make up most of what the reserve is today. They see the land as part of their lives and something they have to take care of. Due to this, you’ll discover that they rarely hunt preferring to live in peace with wildlife.
The African continent provides a long list of travel destinations and experiences for every adventurer to look forward too. Generally, Africa is safe and the people friendly so there is very little to worry about. Meals are very cheap, hotels and transportation very affordable and most guides including the locals speak basic english or french so communication won’t be a problem.
It is, however, important to do your research well especially with regards to the best times to visit as many of these awesome travel spots may be inaccessible in rainy periods etc.
Here’s to your forthcoming African safari!