If you are landing on the continent for a first-time visit and want to see the best of the country here are the African countries that you simply have to see. With a large diversity of language, culture, and landscapes, Africa is a destination that appeals to many travellers.
As the 2nd largest country in the world with a population of over 1 billion people, there is plenty to choose from. Africa has a landmass that spans no less than 6 climate zones. Regions range from lush tropical and Meditteranean, all the way to dry, arid desert lands. Big game, volcanic mountains, miles of beaches and vibrant cities characterize this exciting and culturally diverse continent.
For some of the best beaches on the Mediterranean and warm weather, sun-worshippers will enjoy the sunny climate of Tunisia. With over 800 miles of gorgeous coastline featuring high-end resorts and luxury hotels, it’s an ideal place to relax and unwind. For those that like a bit more adventure and sightseeing, Tunisia is home to no less than 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites and some of the best Roman ruins on the planet.
Shoppers will love the thriving marketplaces full of local food and handmade crafts. Restaurants and cafes are plentiful, and for new visitors to this vibrant African county, there is plenty to see and do. Luxury spas, top-class golf courses, and a pulsing nightlife scene make Tunisia a great place for fun and sun.
This southern African country with its rich wildlife is a must for new visitors. Namibia is often referred to as ‘Africa for beginners’ and with its beautiful landscape and big game animals, it’s a place that should be at the top of any travel list. Although bordered by a windswept and sometimes barren coastline, it’s the area’s natural beauty and wildlife reserves that tend to attract most visitors.
Etosha National Park is one of the prime areas for seeing Africa’s wildlife species. Elephants, rhinos, and big cats are in abundance here and many photographers capture amazing photos of species in their natural habitat. For history lovers, there are plenty of museums throughout Namibia that tell the story of this complicated culture and shares their traditions and beliefs.
This landlocked east-central African country contains the biggest lake and the tallest mountain range on the continent, the Rwenzori’s. Lake Victoria attracts tourists and locals alike for its range of activities. Fishing and hiking are popular here as are boat rides that provide stunning views of the natural landscape and impressive terrain. For real water lovers, the challenge of ‘rafting the Nile’ is an adrenaline-charged experience.
One of the main draws of Uganda is Gorilla trekking, a favourite for new visitors to this African country. Nestled on the slopes of the Virunga mountains mist swathed jungles are traversed by tourists eager to see the large primates. Lots of animal species can be seen along the way, but the real prize is a glimpse of the large Silverback gorilla in the wild.
Known as one of the most friendly African countries, new visitors are warmly welcomed in Ghana. Being so close to the equator restricts the weather in this area to just 2 seasons. Hot and dry, or wet. This leads to the diverse landscape which ranges from lush tropical rainforests and beaches to sandy dry desert terrain.
Colonisation by various European countries has created a chequered history and culture in the region. This can be seen in some of the architecture, including 40 different castles. The northern and southern areas of the country differ greatly in culture and traditions. Strong links to the Ashanti Empire are still visible with Kente cloth and gold, the source of Ghana’s wealth, featuring largely in the daily clothing of the local people.
Home to some of the most iconic African features, new visitors will be mesmerized by Tanzania’s landscape and unparalleled beauty. Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and a wealth of National Parks and big game reserves make this country one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa.
A hot spot for wildlife viewers, climbers, and cyclists that can take advantage of one of the many specialized bike tours in the region. Tanzania is welcoming, warm, and hospitable and tourists can see almost all of Africa’s popular wildlife species in this region.
No visit to Africa would be complete without a trip to Egypt, with its famous Sphinx, iconic Pyramids, and mysterious Valley of the Kings. A historian and sightseer’s dream, Egypt has attracted visitors for decades who come to see ancient temples and view cryptic hieroglyphics carved into the stone monuments.
There is no shortage of activities for new visitors to this north African home of the Pharaohs. Take a cruise down the Nile, or shop at the famous Khan El Khalili Bazaar with its vivid sights and sounds. Local goods, crafts, and a large number of street food stalls are available for newcomers to sample local delicacies. Common dishes are hamman mashi, or stuffed pigeon and feeter, Egyptian pancakes that come in sweet or sour varieties.
From the heavily populated capital of Lagos to the cool mountainous regions, Nigeria, despite its recent unsettled history, is a place awash with sights, sounds, and colours. For market lovers, there is a bargain on every corner and local goods, art, and souvenirs can be bought at one of the many outdoor shopping areas.
Art deco is typically not associated with Africa but in the city of Ibadan, the iconic style of the 1920s and 30s can be seen adorning buildings and is strongly featured throughout the area. The famous Emir’s Palace is a must-see for new visitors, and this African country also has its share of nature. Elephants, giant elands, and endangered species can be viewed at Gashaka National Park.
Lying just to the north of Tanzania, Kenya is famous for its huge number of National Parks and safari tours that bring visitors up close to spectacular big game species like lions, rhinos and elephants. New visitors to this African region can find large cities like Mombasa and Nairobi where the region’s culture can be experienced shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals.
Parks in the region provide some of the best possible viewings of Africa’s big game and smaller species. The annual wildebeest migration passes through this area, making it a popular site for many tourists. There is a lot to see and do in Kenya and visitors can find an array of wonderful and exciting ways to spend their time.
For a true African adventure, new tourists should consider a stop in the Gambia. It is Africa’s smallest country but its big on culture, activities, and entertainment, Golden sandy beaches beckon visitors to spend lazy sun-soaked days by the ocean. While wildlife can be viewed in one of the Gambia’s many nature reserves. Famous for bird watching, there are hundreds of species here to be viewed, and many can be seen by taking a cruise along the Gambia River.
Several markets are scattered throughout the area and provide colourful handmade clothing, jewellery, and craft items. Bakau is one of the most famous and is renowned for its hand-crafted wood carvings. Also located on the river are floating lodges that are popular with eco-conscious visitors.
Located on the Gulf of Guinea this east African country is not always the first pick for new visitors but it holds a wealth of impressive attractions. This region comprises volcanoes, rainforests, and beaches. The varied landscape is reflected in the linguistic diversity of the region. Over 250 different languages and dialects are spoken throughout Cameroon.
There are still many traditional African villages to be found in Cameroon and while some areas are a no go for tourists, the rest of the region is easy to travel. Hikers, climbers and adventurers will prefer the western mountains while game reserves and sandy beaches appeal to those seeking a more relaxing holiday.
On the southern tip of the continent lies South Africa with miles of beautiful, rugged coastline, surrounded by crystal blue waters. A holiday favorite for many tourists this region has attracted visitors from all over the world. People come to enjoy the beaches, vineyards, and cities like Cape Town.
Kruger National Park with its elegant giraffes and other big game is one of the area’s top attractions. To enjoy some of the local flora and plant life Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens displays much of the region’s colorful tropical species over its 5.28km area. Amazing views across the park can be experienced from the recently installed Tree Canopy Walkway.
If you are looking for the best places to see on your African trip, new visitors should check out the countries on this list. Opportunities for wildlife viewing, beach holidays, and getting immersed in the local culture are plentiful. There are activities and sightseeing trips to satisfy every eager tourist and Africa’s dramatic landscape is widely varied and captivating to those not from the country.