Of course, the sites on your must-see list will vary depending on your specific interests and tastes, but here are ten of Africa’s most evocative, iconic, and unmissable destinations that will make a trip to Africa unforgettable, starting with fragrant Marrakech.
1. Marrakech, Morocco
The imperial city of Marrakech, located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, is a riot of colour and sound. It is one of the continent’s most charismatic cities, with so much going on.
For a unique visit, stay in the medina at a traditional riad while surrounded by the old city’s souks, food stalls, and maze-like streets. The medina’s heart and personification of Marrakech are Djemaa El-Fna Square, while Majorelle Gardens provide a respite from the city’s bustle as does the Royal Mansour if you’re looking for your own peace and quiet to enjoy.
2. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is the crown gem of South Africa, known for its world-class culture, breathtaking beauty, and gourmet restaurant scene. Cape Town is undoubtedly in the top three when listing the most picturesque cities globally, from the distinctive shape of Table Mountain to the beautiful beaches of the surrounding suburbs.
It’s also a fantastic starting point for visiting the rest of the Western Cape, particularly the nearby vineyards of Paarl and Franschhoek. Cape Town is also known for being one of Africa’s most culturally diverse cities, offering a mix of old and new, fashionable and traditional all in one place.
3. Victoria Falls, Zambia
A mysterious mist of spray will be the first thing you see before you notice the plummeting, thundering water of Victoria Falls. “The Smoke that Thunders” is the dramatic name for the falls, and there’s nothing quite like experiencing its majesty from one of the mist-shrouded viewing spots. During peak flood season, nearly 165 million gallons of water spill over the edge per minute, making Victoria Falls the world’s most extensive sheet of falling water. The falls are on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border and can be seen from both countries.
4. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park makes up the broader Virunga Conservation Area and is viewed as the top spot if you want to witness the endangered mountain gorillas.
Extinct volcanoes and deep, cloud-topped forests makeup Mgahinga’s mysterious scenery. Part of the Virunga Range, this park stretches through Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is home to one of the last remaining mountain gorilla habitats.
Not many mountain gorillas remain in the wild, so seeing them in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a select few.
5. The Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya offers an unparalleled safari experience, where breathtaking natural beauty, a rich cultural tapestry, and exceptional wildlife encounters converge. When combined with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, it creates the ultimate destination for Big Five safaris in South Africa.
Visiting the Maasai Mara promises daily sightings of the Big Five and the chance to witness East Africa’s iconic wildebeest migration. Moreover, embarking on a hot-air balloon safari in the Maasai Mara adds a touch of magic to your safari adventure, ensuring a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
6. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Egypt is a great destination, especially if you’re thinking of traveling in 2021. The Giza Pyramids are one of man’s most outstanding architectural achievements. The Great Pyramid of Giza, built over 5,000 years ago, is one of the world’s oldest tourist sites and the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to have survived time intact.
The Pyramid of Khafre, the Pyramid of Menkaure, and the Great Pyramid of Khufu are the three main pyramids at Giza. The mighty Sphinx stands in front of the pyramids marking out the entrance to one of the great wonders of the world.
7. Djenné, Mali
Djenné is one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest cities, having been founded in 800 AD. Djenné, a natural hub for 17th and 18th-century traders who shuttled their goods between the Sahara Desert and the forests of Guinea, was located in central Mali on an island in the Inland Niger Delta.
Djenné was historically known as a centre of Islamic learning, and the majestic Great Mosque still stands in the lively market square today. Djenné is famed for its adobe architecture and is located a few hundred miles downstream of Timbuktu.
8. Omo River Region, Ethiopia
A white-water rafting adventure on Ethiopia’s Omo River is recommended for those seeking authentic African wilderness.
The Omo River Region is largely walled off from the outside world, with only limited access by vehicle. As a result, the tribes who live there have kept their old practices and way of life, and a visit to this secluded location provides a fascinating glimpse into indigenous culture. It is strongly recommended that you join an organised tour to travel securely and better grasp the local culture.
9. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
There are few more challenging difficulties than climbing up the world’s largest free-standing mountain. Africa is well known as one of the top destinations for adventure travel, and that reputation is more than justified. Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania rises to 19,340 feet (5,895 metres) and takes between five and nine days to climb.
Even though the trip does not require specialist climbing equipment or knowledge, anyone with a reasonable degree of fitness can reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Altitude sickness can be an issue for inexperienced hikers; therefore, it’s a good idea to do some pre-climb training.
From Tanzania, we finish in Zanzibar, the birthplace of the late great Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen.
10. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Surrounded by the tropical seas of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar is a small but exotic island off the coast of Tanzania. It is known for its breathtaking beaches and rich spice trade history. Under its Arab masters, Zanzibar’s dark history reveals itself as a slave trafficking site, and visitors can still see the influence of this terrible time in the architecture of Stone Town, one of the island’s top attractions.
The island of Zanzibar is a scuba diver’s paradise. On land Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring beautiful medieval buildings, narrow alleyways, a Sultan’s castle, and numerous mosques. With so much choice, there will never be a dull moment.
The African continent is rich in culture, nature, and wildlife. Wherever you end up, you’ll be sure to experience a vacation to remember.