best African countries to visit
Africa has over 3,000 tribes, each with its own rich culture and history. Source: AFP

The summer holidays always summon the picture of relaxing by a beach in a tropical country, shopping until you drop in metropolitan cities abroad, or even having a fun little hiking adventure somewhere where nature is lush and untouched.

According to Statista, Thailand greeted 2.49 and 2.47 million foreign visitors in the summer months of July and August for the 2023 summer holidays. This is the highest number of visitors in comparison to other months. 

Similarly, the Bali Central Bureau of Statistics released that during those two months, they received the highest number of visitors at 541,272 and 522,063. 

Destinations like these are hot on the summer holiday list, including places like Crete and Ibiza, but one part of the world is often overlooked: Africa.

The road less travelled by

Africa, a continent of breathtaking diversity, will take your breath away at every turn. It is home to the world’s longest river, the Nile, and the largest hot desert, the Sahara.

As the second-largest continent in the world, Africa boasts 54 countries, including Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya. This vast land is culturally rich, with over 3,000 tribes and an estimated 1000 to 2000 languages spoken, such as French, Creole, Swahili, Zulu, Arabic, and Hausa. Its religious landscape is equally diverse, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and traditional religions specific to ethnic groups. 

From ancient pyramids and thousands of ethnic tribes to wildlife and white sandy beaches, Africa is a place of wonders waiting to be explored.

9 best African countries to visit for your summer holidays 

African island countries:

best African countries to visit

Madagascar has the most reptiles, plant life, and mammals that exist nowhere else on Earth. Source: AFP

1. Madagascar

If you like to move it, you can explore the wonders and beauty of Madagascar. The country is the fourth largest island in the world, and 95% of its reptiles, 89% of its plant life, and 92% of its mammals exist nowhere else on Earth, making it one of the best African countries for animal lovers to visit.

For a truly immersive experience, you can go lemur trekking at Isalo National Park or participate in sea turtle monitoring programmes on the remote beaches of islands surrounding Nosy Be. 

Located just off the coast of Africa, you can dive into various water activities in Madagascar at one of its beautiful beaches. From kitesurfing, windsurfing, snorkelling, kayaking, boat trips, and fishing, there are plenty of activities to do while you soak in the sun and enjoy the waters. 

Things to do in Madagascar: 

best African countries to visit

Mauritius is the best place to sit back and relax while enjoying beautiful landscapes and beaches. Source: AFP

2. Mauritius

Just 600 miles off the coast of Madagascar, Mauritius is home to the world’s third-largest coral reefs and beautiful landscapes.

Surrounded by a ring of dormant volcanoes, streams, waterfalls, and rivers, Mauritius offers nature and adventure-seeking activities, making it one of the best African countries to visit.

You can sunbathe on its white sandy beaches, mountain bike Black River Gorges National Park trails, and explore the Chamarel Seven Colored Earth Geopark. Plus, you can view one of the world’s “underwater” waterfalls by hiking the UNESCO World Heritage site, Le Morne Brabant.

Suppose you’re just looking for a place to sit back and relax. In that case, Mauritius has an extensive list of luxurious and high-standard hotels for you to choose from: Canonnier Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa, La Maison D’Été, or Maradiva Villas Resort and Spa.

Things to do in Mauritius:

best African countries to visit

Seychelles is home to crystal clear waters and the world’s largest giant tortoise population. Source: AFP

3. Seychelles

While it may be the smallest country in Africa, Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands. The islands are the world’s oldest ocean islands, with the largest raised coral and a long list of attractions.

It’s a great place to visit during your summer break if you’re looking for any water activities. There are five marine national parks and coral reefs to snorkel or dive, or if you’re looking to surf, head down to Grand Anse Beach or Anse Gaulette in Mahe for crystal clear waters. 

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous giant tortoises, make your way over to Curieuse, La Digue, Aldabra, or St. Pierre. There, you’ll get to feed them and learn the history of their existence, laying your eyes on tortoises that weigh up to 250 kilograms in size and are up to 250 years old. 

Things to do in Seychelles:

Southern African countries:

best African countries to visit

Botswana has over 130,000 elephants living within its boundaries and is one of the last strongholds for African elephants. Source: AFP

1. Botswana

Roughly the size of Texas, Botswana is also home to the world’s largest elephant population. It offers the world’s most immersive safaris, ideal for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Located in the northern part of Botswana, the Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta or seasonally flooded grassland where visitors can experience several activities, from mokoro safaris and wildlife spotting. You can take a trip on Mokoros, also known as dugout canoes, to explore the delta and navigate past crocodiles, elephants, and hippos.

Heading south, Botswana is one of the best African countries to visit if you want to hang out with meerkats in the remote Kalahari Desert. The fun does not stop there; you can also participate in adventurous activities such as quad bike safaris and horse riding within the Makgadikgadi salt pans of the desert. 

Things to do in Botswana:

best African countries to visit

Victoria Falls is one of the world’s largest waterfalls, with a height of 354 feet. Source: AFP

2. Zambia

Zambia is not only one of the best African countries to visit but also one of the most water-rich. It is home to five lakes, three rivers, and at least 17 waterfalls, including Victoria Falls, one of the largest and most famous waterfalls in the world.

For daredevils and adventure-seeking peeps, Zambia’s the best playground you could ever ask for. You can zip through the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls by white-water rafting or bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge, one of the highest bridge jumps in the world. 

If you want to explore the nature and wildlife scene, visit one of Zambia’s 20 national parks, including Kafue National Park, Kasanka National Park, or Lochinvar National Park.

Things to do in Zambia:

best African countries to visit

Zimbabwe is easily one of the best African countries to visit if you want to immerse yourself in a safari. Source: AFP

3. Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is one of the best African countries to visit for a safari holiday. Here, you can experience luxurious lodges and world-class adventures at wilderness destinations.

Zimbabwe is world-renowned for its authentic safari experiences, safari guides, and Zimbabwean hospitality. You can visit Hwange National Park, home to 40,000 elephants, and spot these gentle giants during your visit. In the northern region of Zimbabwe, you’ll find the Mana Pools National Park, a great spot for walking and canoeing to view wildlife.

Things to do in Zimbabwe:

East African countries:

best African countries to visit

Kenya is the place to visit if one would like to experience safaris and wildlife. Source: AFP

1. Kenya

Along the Indian Ocean, Kenya is an East African country known for its scenic landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, vast wildlife preserves, and towering mountains. 

With several family-friendly options, Kenya offers all-year-round safari destinations, making it one of the best African countries to visit, even outside the summer months. It has over 60 national parks and reserves, including Nairobi National Park, Tsavo East National Park, Amboseli National Park, and Masai Mara National Reserve. 

From July to October, you can witness the Great Migration. Over 1.5 million wildebeests, zebras, antelopes, and gazelles trek from southern Serengeti, Tanzania, to Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, for this yearly national phenomenon.

Things to do in Kenya: 

best African countries to visit

Tanzania is the best of both worlds as one can visit both safaris and beautiful beaches. Source: AFP

2. Tanzania

Tanzania is filled with adventures, home to safaris, beaches, islands, and a rich heritage. It is home to spectacular wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, easily making it one of the best African countries to visit.

It is also the country with the most wild lions in the world, which amounts to roughly 14,500 wild lions. The Serengeti National Park itself houses close to 3,000 of the lions. The king of the jungle can also be seen at the Ruaha National Park, Tarangire National Park, and Mikumi National Park, along with other animals, like cheetahs, elephants, and giraffes. 

If you’re looking to hike Africa’s highest mountain peak, Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro is where you’ll start your quest. Sitting 5,895 meters above sea level, visitors can take about five to nine days to summit the mountain. Those not into hiking can visit Kilimanjaro National Park and its routes: Chala Crater Lake and Olpopongi Maasai Culture Village.

Things to do in Tanzania:

best African countries to visit

Endangered mountain gorillas roam the mountains of Volcanoes National Park, and visitors can get close up to see them live among the green mountains. Source: AFP

3. Rwanda

Often referred to as the “land of a thousand hills” or “le pays des mille collines” in French, Rwanda is decorated with mountains stretching across the land and is filled with historical and wildlife experiences.

Rwanda is home to several endangered mountain gorillas along its volcanic mountain range. Visitors can trek Volcanoes National Park to spot over 1,000 mountain gorillas in the wild. If gorillas sound intimidating, you can visit Nyungwe National Park to join the chimpanzee trekking tour and see what a day in their lives looks like.

If you’re a history buff, check out the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a site dedicated to the Tutsis, the victims of the genocide. 

Things to do in Rwanda:

  • Camping at Akagera National Park
  • Boat cruises at Lake Kivu
  • Kigali‘s cultural and historical city tour
  • Coffee experiences at Giseny