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Discover the top traveler picks for the best places to visit in Africa in 2024, from safari adventures to vibrant cities and stunning national parks 🦁🌴🐘

Africa is a vastly diverse continent full of incredible natural beauty, rich cultures, and amazing wildlife encounters. With 54 countries across different regions, deciding where to visit in Africa can be overwhelming for first-time travelers. This African travel guide covers some of the top destinations and attractions across the continent to help you plan your adventure.

Spectacular South Africa

South Africa is one of the most popular places for travelers going to Africa for the first time. As one of the continent’s most developed countries, South Africa offers world-class infrastructure along with spectacular scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Some of the best places to visit in South Africa include:

Cape Town and Table Mountain

The vibrant coastal city of Cape Town is nestled on the slopes of Table Mountain, providing visitors with a scenic backdrop of sheer cliffs rising over 3,500 feet from the sea. Ride the cable car up Table Mountain to admire panoramic views of the diverse landscape, from the shimmering Atlantic coastline to the valley vineyards of Stellenbosch. Cape Town also boasts fantastic food, wine, beaches and an energetic harborfront area.

Kruger National Park

As South Africa’s largest game reserve, Kruger National Park provides a quintessential African safari experience. Spot the “Big Five” wildlife species – lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos – along with giraffes, zebras and over 500 bird species inhabiting the savanna and forest ecosystems. Safari lodges and camps offer comfort and prime access to morning and evening game drives through Kruger’s 7,500 square miles of protected wilderness.

The Garden Route

Stretching along South Africa’s southern shoreline, the scenic Garden Route features secluded bays, beach towns, old-growth forests and the dramatic Outeniqua mountain range. The charming village of Knysna allows visitors to try oyster tasting or explore seafront nature reserves. Further east along the Garden Route, resort towns offer whale watching, bungee jumping and other adventures set against verdant landscapes.

Magnificent Botswana

Known for having some of Africa’s most pristine wilderness, Botswana is a top destination for safari-goers and wildlife enthusiasts. Though understated as a luxury safari location, Botswana offers exclusive lodges and diverse ecosystems to explore on game drives.

Okavango Delta

The lush Okavango Delta in northern Botswana hosts a spectacular array of wildlife within seasonally-flooded wetlands and thicket forests. Visitors can experience specialized safaris through the unique landscapes, gliding through papyrus swamps on traditional canoes (called mekoro) or traversing islands on elevated footpaths. Top spots to see elephants, big cats, endangered African wild dogs and 400 species of birds are Selinda Reserve and Moremi Game Reserve located in the Okavango Delta.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

As Africa’s second largest game reserve, Central Kalahari Game Reserve protects a huge tract of the Kalahari Desert, including fossilized river valleys and sparse grasslands. Self-driving safaris can encounter wildlife like black-maned Kalahari lions, brown hyenas, springboks grazing near ancient riverbeds and endangered African wild dogs. Access to the expansive reserve is limited, adding to its unspoiled and remote atmosphere.

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

Unique to Botswana’s safari destinations are the Makgadikgadi Pans, one of the world’s largest salt flats transforming into an arid desert landscape during winter months. From June through September, the dry pan allows visitors to walk amid scattered baobab trees and observe immense zebra migrations gathering along the Boteti River. Quad biking across the cracked salt crust or camping under the Milky Way galaxy provides magical experiences, accompanied by the calls of jackals in this peaceful wilderness.

Nature Lovers’ Paradise – Kenya

From wildlife conservancies to tropical coastlines, Kenya entices adventurers with its exceptional nature and conservation efforts across various ecosystems. Must-visit destinations for your African bucket list are:

Masai Mara National Reserve

The sweeping grassland savanna of Kenya’s iconic Masai Mara National Reserve hosts one of nature’s most spectacular events every year – the Great Wildebeest Migration. Over a million wildebeest and zebras traverse the Mara River and roam the endless plains, racing to avoid swift predators like lions, leopards and hyenas. Visitors can observe daily dramas unfold on exhilarating game drives and walking safaris year-round. Luxury safari lodges provide front-row views of the migration river crossings.

Amboseli National Park

In the rain shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro lies Amboseli National Park, renowned for its big game and scenic views of Africa’s highest peak. The open grasslands dotted with swamp lakes allow exceptional wildlife sightings of lions, buffalo herds and big tusker elephants wallowing in the marshes. Unique photo opportunities exist with Kilimanjaro’s snow-capped summit posing behind acacia trees sheltering herds of grazing elephants.

Lamu Archipelago

Transporting visitors back in time, the Lamu archipelago off Kenya’s north coast preserves the old Swahili way of life amid tropical island settings. The main island of Lamu Old Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers rich cultural immersion with narrow winding lanes, carved teak doors, vibrant handicrafts and donkey transport. After exploring centuries-old rituals on Lamu, relax at Shela Village on Lamu Island, enjoying fresh seafood by the beach and traditional lateen sailboat cruises

Spectacular Safaris In Tanzania

Offering epic wilderness and Africa’s finest game viewing, Tanzania tops wish lists for safari enthusiasts. Diverse landscapes across northern Tanzania host immense wildlife populations roaming protected savannas, woodlands and the legendary Serengeti plains.

Serengeti National Park

Renowned for the Great Migration traversing its endless grassland plains, Serengeti National Park witnesses millions of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles migrating in harmony with their predators. Early morning game drives provide exceptional sightings of lions, leopards and cheetahs illustrating nature’s spectacle playing out between predator and prey. Central Seronera grants sightings of varied wildlife all year with Ngorongoro Conservation Area bordering this safari mecca.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

A UNESCO World Heritage Site protecting the world’s largest caldera, Ngorongoro Crater hosts incredible game viewing within a collapsed volcano containing grasslands and swamps. Descend 2,000 feet to the crater floor to see an abundance of resident wildlife like lions, elephants, hippos, wildebeests, and endangered black rhinos against the dramatic natural backdrop.

Tarangire National Park

Famous for massive ancient baobab trees dotting dry acacia woodlands, Tarangire National Park hosts excellent dry season game viewing. Migratory wildebeest, zebras, buffalo and elephants flock to the Tarangire River from June through November in addition to resident wildlife like lions, leopards, lesser kudu antelope and giraffes. Diverse bird species flourish across lush swamps, wooded valleys and wide savannas.

Thrilling Zambia and Zimbabwe

The Zambezi River forms natural borders along Zambia, Zimbabwe and other southern African countries, creating thrilling adventures centered around one of Africa’s mightiest waterways. Visitors of Victoria Falls can cross between Zambia and Zimbabwe to experience the world’s largest waterfall spanning over a mile wide on the powerful Zambezi River. Surrounding wildlife reserves deliver exceptional nature encounters away from the falls region.

Mosi-oa-Tunya (“Smoke that Thunders”)

As Victoria Falls’ traditional name denotes, the deafening roar accompanies the awe-inspiring sight of water plunging 353 feet into churning gorges. During Zambia’s wet season around March, over 500 million liters surge over the basalt cliff edge per minute, creating magnificent rainbows within the mist. Unique perspectives are seen from Zambia’s Knife Edge Bridge or through the rainforest along winding paths to Devil’s Cataract. Adrenaline options include swings above the falls or bungee jumping off Victoria Falls Bridge.

Zambezi National Parks

Upstream from Victoria Falls, Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe offers outstanding game viewing and predator sightings along the Zambezi River’s lush riverbanks. Across the border in Zambia, Lower Zambezi National Park contains one of Africa’s grandest wilderness settings for exceptional walking safaris, canoe adventures and tiger fishing excursions amid the Zambezi Valley woodlands.

Leading safari operators run small exclusive camps on isolated islands to provide immediate immersion alongside stunning scenery, magnificent sunsets, and prolific wildlife.

Hwange National Park

Contrasting landscapes beyond Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park hosts over 500 bird and 100 mammal species among fossilized sand dunes, dry savannas and sparse woodlands with waterholes scattered about. 

Zimbabwe’s largest herd of endangered elephants, along with lions, wild dogs, giraffes, zebras and abundant gazelles. Diverse safari camps and lodges offer front-row seats to rich wildlife action surrounding prime waterholes within Hwange’s protected acres.

Upstream from the powerful Victoria Falls, these sublime national parks in Zambia and Zimbabwe provide magical wilderness settings away from the popular falls area.

Phenomenal Namibia

Namibia’s bounty of surreal landscapes continuously amazes visitors from the world’s oldest desert and highest sand dunes to a fog-bathed coastal wilderness inhabited by fur seals, penguins and towering sandstone peaks plummeting into the sea. Adding to the magic is spotting free-roaming wildlife resiliently adapted to harsh environments across Etosha National Park and the Namib Desert by day, then gazing upon the heavens glowing over boundless terrain at night.

Sossusvlei & Namib Sand Sea

Characterized by towering burnt-orange sand dunes, the Namib Sand Sea became the first UNESCO-listed desert, protecting over 11 million acres within the Namib-Naukluft Park. Epic sunrises showcase the glowing red-hued sands of Dune 45 and the towering height of Big Daddy rising over 1,000 feet – said to be the world’s tallest sand dune. However the photogenic highlight is Deadvlei’s skeletal acacia trees punctuating a white salt pan surrounded by the mammoth dunes of Sossusvlei.

Etosha National Park

Spanning over 8,000 square miles of saline desert plains and savanna woodlands, Etosha hosts 114 mammal and 340 bird species inhabiting diverse ecosystems around natural springs. Etosha’s habitats include Mopane forests, Namibia’s largest salt pan, and dried-up riverbeds lined by ana trees. Self-driving safaris and lodges overlooking flood-lit waterholes promise prolific sightings of lions, elephants, black rhinos plus springbok, oryx, zebras and giraffes circled around shrinking water sources.

Skeleton Coast & Cape Cross

Along Namibia’s Atlantic coastline, the Skeleton Coast represents the planet’s largest undeveloped coast, presenting a rugged elemental beauty. Rocky and windswept, this fog-bathed landscape harbors enormous Cape fur seal colonies numbering in the hundreds of thousands, best observed at a safe distance from Cape Cross. Further south, the Hoanib River mouth near Palmwag attracts desert-adapted elephants in addition to brown hyenas prowling the coastline washed by frigid tides.

Boasting the world’s oldest desert, tallest sand dunes and a foggy seal coast, Namibia’s iconic attractions stir the senses from sight to sound to smell in these extreme environs. With national parks protecting wilderness and wildlife, Namibia makes an unforgettable impression.

Morocco’s Mystique – Marrakech & Beyond

As a gateway city to losing yourself amid incense-filled medieval souks full ofsnake charmers or getting lost in the Sahara on camelback, Marrakech fuels adventurous imaginations of Morocco. As the country’s third largest city, Marrakech mixes ancient architecture and traditions with cosmopolitan energy across dynamic neighborhoods. Beyond the city limits, Morocco’s impressive terrain stretches from Mediterranean shores and cedar forests to the commanding Atlas Mountains and endless Saharan dunes swirling southward.

Jemaa el-Fnaa Square

By day, UNESCO-listed Jemaa el-Fnaa Square in central Marrakesh hosts snake charmers, henna artists, musicians and street food stalls, with the scene evolving as night envelops this giant venue open to Jemaa el-Fnaa’s vast evening street spectacle. As crowds grow under the stars, rows of open-air grills are fired up for sizzling regional specialties plus fresh-squeezed juices as performers and musicians entertain the lively masses frequenting this cultural must-see.

Hiking the Atlas Mountains

The dramatic High Atlas Mountains scaling over 13,000 feet provide terrain for hardier adventurers to climb North Africa’s greatest peaks on multi-day trekking routes. More moderate day hikes transport nature lovers to see rich biodiversity, waterfall oases, and remote Berber villages across Morocco’s grand mountain range. Drive the thrilling Tizi n’Test pass to glimpse stacked mountain views or hike two hours through Todra Gorge to emerge at 300 foot tall canyon walls in Morocco’s Grand Canyon.

Wandering the Sahara Desert

Venture into remote corners of the Sahara Desert by joining camel caravans to explore sand seas, traverse volcanic rock formations, and admire uninterrupted starry skies once darkness prevails over isolated camps. Multiple days crossing the dunes and rocky plateaus reveal the immense scale, beauty, and changing terrain carved over eons, passing fossil valleys, verdant oases, and abandoned ancient ruins. Morocco presents limitless landscapes to fuel your spirit of adventure.

Beyond the kinetic energy of Marrakech, Morocco rewards intrepid explorers with cultural treasures: from Fes’ medieval medina maze to Chefchaouen’s bright blue alleyways to camel trekking Saharan dunes illuminated by endless stars arcing overhead.

Egypt’s Ancient Wonders

As the ancient cradle of pharoahs overlooking the Nile River Valley, Egypt unveils archaeological wonders spanning millennia. While cruising the Nile transports you back in time, equally impressive is Egypt’s Red Sea coastline, where underwater reefs astound snorkelers and divers. Regardless of which facet entices you, Egypt’s magnificent history and nature beckon to be discovered from bustling Cairo to architectural masterpieces concentrated along the Lower Nile.

Pyramids of Giza

Undoubtedly Egypt’s most magnificent jewel is the Pyramids of Giza complex, safeguarding the only remaining ancient Wonder of the World honoring pharoahs Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos. Gaze upward in awe at the magnitude of the Great Pyramid erected over 4,500 years ago, took 20 years to construct, and measures 455 feet high and 755 feet wide. Equally fascinating is the Great Sphinx with its lion’s body and regal human face chiselled from solid bedrock.

Cruising the Nile River

A timeless way to trace Egypt’s history is sailing the fertile Nile Valley lined with monumental temples at Luxor, tomb filled Valley of the Kings, and remains of riverside trading towns at Aswan culminating at Abu Simbel’s relocation from flooding Lake Nasser. Onboard Nile cruises also promise palm-lined riverbanks, farmlands and desert beyond while relishing days admiring the towering temple complex at Karnak, Hatshepsut’s Temple, and the Luxor Temple when onshore.

Red Sea Resorts

Brilliant reefs flourish along Egypt’s Red Sea coastline, presenting superb snorkeling and diving in underwater gardens frequented by dolphins, whalesharks and sea turtles. Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada serve as tourism hubs offering liveaboards to more distant reefs like Ras Mohammed National Park or day trips to admire the SS Thistlegorm wartime wreck and other famous dive sites. Beyond water activities, the stark Sinai Desert inland from former Bedouin fishing villages provides otherwordly landscapes.

Egypt continues unveiling surreal desert beauty, thriving coral reefs, and architectural masterpieces memorializing past pharoahs ruling expansive empires over 3,000 years ago. As humanity’s first great civilization centered around the Nile River, Egypt merits exploring this African treasure and the magnificent relics left behind.

Exploring Africa’s Exceptional Beauty

Spanning rainforests, savannas and deserts alongside 16,000 miles of coastline, the second largest continent promises grand adventures showcasing Africa’s exceptional beauty. Its welcoming countries deliver lifetime memories through natural wonders like Victoria Falls’ raging waters, wildlife migrations across the Serengeti, or massive sand dunes glowing golden in Sossusvlei. Immerse yourself in diverse cultures from Marrakech’s spirited Djemaa el-Fna square to tribes like Tanzania’s Maasai people sustaining ancient traditions amid the modern world. Revel in beach paradise along Zanzibar’s coast, hike among mountain gorillas in Uganda’s impenetrable forests, or live your nautical dreams sailing to remote Indian Ocean archipelagos. As one of the last frontiers overflowing with magnificent landscapes, protected wilderness, big game, and hospitable people, Africa guarantees epic journeys tracing our human origins across the cradle of civilization.

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