Exploring Africa is underrated.
As someone who calls the continent of Africa home, I’ve never thought that Africa could hold anything that interested me; I always looked to Europe, with its rich history and stunning architecture. Over the years, I’ve learned how stupid I was, and how much beauty and boundless history Africa holds. Where else would you be able to find such a stark contrast – jungles in the East and deserts to the North; Africa has so much to offer!
In light of this revelation, I’ve decided to put together a list of 5 African countries that need to be on your (and my) bucket list:
I’ve had countless friends visit this dream destination and sang its praises, but somehow it’s a destination that’s always eluded me. Mozambique is a tropical paradise nestled along the coastline of southern Africa, boasting popular beaches and a vibrant Afro-Portuguese atmosphere, it’s a dream for any tourist looking to chase the sun. A short 1-hour flight from Johannesburg will get you to the capital city of Maputo; a modern city that offers endless luxury hotels, delicious seafood, and that’s teeming with history. Explore the coastline of Mozambique by heading to Tofu, a popular beach town well-known for snorkelling and spotting Manta Rays.
Why It Should Be On Your Bucket List?: Mozambique is a country bursting with delicious flavours and culture, and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and mostly unspoiled beaches are a must if you’re a regular beach bum. I love a destination that’s yearning to share its culture with you, and Mozambicans are eager to share their country with tourists.
What’s Not Great: Travelling Mozambique will take a bit of effort, as I’ve heard numerous stories of having to offer policemen bribes after being pulled over. While the roads are mostly pothole free, travelling with the transport system might leave you deflated as it’s basically non-existent, aside from Chapas (a van taxi that often picks up people along the way). Renting a car is another option, although there are not many rentals companies in Maputo so the alternative would have to be South Africa (another issue in itself). For more information, check this out.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve made it my mission to explore Africa is all thanks to Botswana. This landlocked country is the epitome of everything Africa has to offer: wild animals, bustling cities, friendly locals, and endless adventures. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into your very own wildlife documentary, and Botswana definitely has plenty of wildlife to offer. Explore “Africa’s Last Eden”, the Okavango Delta, an adventure on its own, either by lightweight plane or mokoro (a type of canoe). If you can’t get your animal viewing fill, head further inland to Chobe National Park, Botswana’s first national park, where you’ll find large herds of elephants and mesmerising sunsets.
Why It Should Be On Your Bucket List?: Botswana has consistently been named one of the safest countries in Africa, making it a great destination to spot wildlife and travel solo. The country’s vast open spaces and famed delta make it a paradise for animal viewing. Public transportation is limited to major cities and routes, but renting a vehicle is a great way to travel around Botswana and explore every crevice that this country is eager to show you.
What’s Not Great: Travelling Botswana won’t come cheap, especially if you’re looking to explore the major attractions like the Okavango. However, there are ways to minimize costs, such as camping outside and cooking your own food.
Stare in awe as the sun sets beyond the red-tinged waves of the Sahara desert as you move to the rhythm of the camel you’re riding; a traditional Moroccan campsite has been set up for you, and it’s the perfect spot to eagerly gaze at the thousands of stars in the night sky. Morocco is a fairytale filled with endless beauty and wonder, and it’s not difficult to see why it’s become one of the fastest growing travel destinations in the world. Explore the twists and turns of the Medina’s, the historical heart of each Moroccan city, as you gorge yourself on couscous bursting with flavour, and delicious mint tea. Morocco is such a culturally diverse country, and nowhere is it more evident than in its architecture. From striking mosques to traditional riads, this North African paradise is a traveller and architect’s dream!
Why It Should Be On Your Bucket List: Uhm, delicious food! Morocco is filled to the brim with colour and diverse flavours, and their food (dare I say) could be the most delicious in the world. If you’ve had your fill of the desert, head to Morocco’s serene coastline, where you’ll find the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean with plenty of beaches to relax on.
What’s Not Great: It’s important to remember that Morocco is a Muslim country, so dressing modestly is encouraged. If you’re a solo traveller make sure you avoid walking alone at night (a bit of an obvious one), and because a solo female traveller will attract a bit more attention, make sure you’re vigilant during the day to avoid any harassment! Other than that, Morocco is a pretty safe country.
Barren is the perfect word I would use to describe Namibia. You’ll find no white sandy beaches and lush greenery when you visit, but it’s an incredible country that holds plenty of great memories for me. For my crown birthday, I thought it would be a great idea to travel through Namibia, this was both the best and the worst decision I’ve ever made. If you’re entering Namibia without a solid plan – forget about it – the desert will surely eat you up and spit you out. Travelling through this southern African country can be tedious since there’s almost nothing for hours at a time, apart from sand and the odd oryx, but once you enter places like Etosha and Sossusvlei, you’ll fall in love with its desolate beauty.
Why It Should Be On Your Bucket List: If you’ve ever wanted to explore a ghost town, see the Big 5, and climb the highest dune in the world (Dune 7), then book your plane ticket today! As with most African countries, Namibia has some seriously friendly locals and delicious food to try, and travelling around is pretty safe too. Namibia’s coastline is renowned for having the Namib desert run right alongside it, providing a stark contrast and a unique beach experience. Head to Swakopmund or Walvis Bay for a chilly swim in the ocean, or take a drive to Skeleton Coast for an intriguing look at this perilous coastline.
What’s Not Great?: Namibia is enormous, and what would take you two hours to get to, would unequivocally take you four. If you’re someone who loves exploring everything a country has to offer, make sure you have lots of time, and take it slow. If I could give you one major piece of advice when travelling Namibia, make sure you rent a 4×4 as many of the attractions, such as Etosha National Park and Sossusvlei have no tarred roads, and potholes are everywhere. A friend and I rented a Volkswagen TSI, and it was HORRIBLE – be smarter than us!
One of the many reasons I’m so keen to give Rwanda a visit is due to the “female factor”. While the world struggles with unequal gender representation in politics, Rwanda’s got it down to a tee with 64% of the positions in government being filled by women. While its name may conjure images of the brutal genocide that occurred more than 24 years ago, this small east African country has done plenty to bounce back and embrace the promising future that lies ahead. Known as “the land of a thousand hills”, Rwanda will provide you with plenty of “eyegasms” thanks to its picturesque rolling hills, lush greenery and sparkling lakes. There are so many great things about Rwanda, but one of the MAIN reasons it’s on my bucket list is thanks to the mountain gorillas that roam the bamboo forests.
Why It Should Be On Your Bucket List: Rwanda offers tourists something truly unique – gorilla tracking. Half of the world’s remaining gorilla population can be found in Rwanda, making it a great destination for the adventurous traveller looking to do a bit of primate spotting. Along with spectacular views and amazing jungle safaris, Rwanda is considered one of the safest countries in the world.
What’s Not Great:
Do you have any great places in Africa you’d like to add to your bucket list? Make sure to let me know in the comments!