People tend to think of Africa as a country, not a continent. But with 54 countries calling it home, Africa’s topography, landscape, and activities vary drastically by region. I’ve been to the continent 26 times, yet each time I go I’m surprised at just how many new things there are to see and do.
Where to Go in Africa
To make it easier for you to plan a trip, I’ve highlighted some of the most popular countries and best places to go in Africa, as well as what to see and do there, when to go, and where to stay. Hopefully this primer will get you motivated to hop on a plane—it’s worth the long flight to get there.
Why go: One of only three countries in the world where you can trek to see mountain gorillas in the wild (there are only 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the world), the experience in Uganda is truly amazing
Kenya and Tanzania
Why go: Kenya and Tanzania are often combined into one trip. Many people consider these two counties among the best places to go in Africa because they’re where you can see the Great Migration—where 2 million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle make a migratory circle from the Masa Mara in Kenya to the Serengeti in Tanzania and back again.
Zambia and Zimbabwe
Why Go: Head to these two countries to see Victoria Falls, the largest waterfalls in the world. Plus, you can go white water rafting down the Zambezi river, chock-full of crocs and hippos (it’s an amazing experience and one I highly recommend).
Why go: In Namibia, you can climb some of the highest sand dunes in the world (or better yet, take a hot air balloon ride over them). The scenery is dramatic and vaults Namibia into the discussion for one of the best places to go in Africa.
Why go: This country’s focus is on high-end, low-impact tourism, so the properties are all very luxurious and the crowds you see in East Africa are noticeably absent here. It’s where to go in Africa for up-close wildlife experiences, sans crowds.
Why go: From shark cage diving and malaria-free safari zones to experiencing the flavors of Durban, an enclave of Indian culture in Africa that rests right on the Indian Ocean, South Africa combines a European and African flair.
Why go: Visiting the pyramids and taking a cruise up (yes up) the Nile River is a bucket list adventure for good reason. “Egypt is the cradle of Western civilization. Few experiences can measure up to the massive scale of the pyramids and the sphinx,” says Claudia Worth, Product Manager of Abercrombie &Kent.
Why go: Visit the famous spice markets and entrench yourself in Arab culture. “With a history stretching back nearly 10,000 years, the country’s great cities—Marrakech, Tangier, Fez and Rabat—offer a look into ancient traditions,” says Worth.