Being the second largest continent in the world, Africa is filled with exciting things to see and places to go that will make any vacation there a memorable event. There are over 50 countries as well as several stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites and natural landmarks, such as the Giza Pyramid Complex, the Serengeti, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Visitors there shouldn’t miss seeing the art at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, drink the wine in the winelands of South Africa, or meet the tribespeople living in the Omo Valley. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
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Found on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Visitors are in for an exhilarating outdoor adventure while exploring the scenic terrain and swimming in the Devil’s Pool. There are so many activities for visitors to participate in, such as scenic helicopter flights, bungee jumping, abseiling, ziplining, microlight flights, and whitewater rafting. Some of the more unique activities include riding horseback on surrounding trails, going on elephant-back safaris, and even walking with lions. The bush walks are enthralling and make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will let visitors learn about the culture and traditions of the local people.
Mosi-o-tunya Road, Livingstone, Zambia
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Known for its sparkling beaches and lush forests, the Banana Islands are a group of islands consisting of Dublin, Ricketts, and Mes-Meheux. They lie off the coast of Yawri Bay in Sierra Leone and are mostly surrounded by the Freetown Peninsula. Visitors can access the islands, which have about 900 inhabitants combined, by boat, ferry, or helicopter. There are many things to see and do other than sunbathe and swim at the beach, and visitors can scuba dive to see coral and shipwreck ruins, visit the ruins of a church built on Dublin Island in 1881, and meet with the tribal chief of the islands.
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Located in Cape Peninsula, Boulders Beach got its name from the 540 million year old granite boulders that surround it. The sheltered beach, which is part of Table Mountain National Park, is a popular tourist stop. This is mostly because of the colony of African penguins, which are only found along the coastline of Southern Africa and are a fun and unique sight to see. Visitors can go swimming, walk the boardwalk, and see almost 3,000 penguins at close range as they wander around freely in the protected natural environment.
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4.Cape of Good Hope
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The Cape of Good Hope is a popular excursion and visitors can combine this day trip with one to Boulders Beach. The coastal scenery and amazing sights are incomparable and allow visitors to get up close and personal with African penguins. The adult and fluffy baby penguins are adorable and make for a fun way to spend the day; some visitors take it one step further and take a refreshing swim with the penguins. Other than appreciating the wonderful views and the friendly animals, visitors can also spend their time hiking, climbing up the lighthouse at Cape Point, or whale watching during the summer months.
5.Cueva de los Verdes
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Visitors can pick one of many tour guides to explore Cueva de los Verdes, located on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, with all its peculiarities and characteristics. The unique mythological cave is full of natural heritage and culture that visitors can explore in detail. The extraordinary beauty and landscape will leave people in awe, especially after they learn of the legends of the land. This impressive hidden wonder was used as a hideout in the 16th century, when pirates would often attack the area; visitors will be able to see this and the remnants of a natural volcanic sanctuary. The spectacular rocky structures are amazing and a must-visit when there.
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Less than an hour away from Nairobi, the Giraffe Centre is an environmental conservation sanctuary that allows visitors to come in extremely close contact with the world’s tallest endangered animal: giraffes. The center was founded in 1979 and has been the home to over 300 Rothschild’s giraffes since then. Visitors will be able to meet them, hand-feed them, and even get a kiss from the friendly animals. While there, visitors will also be able to hike the center’s nature trail and see one of the many bird species that visit the area. Other aspects include a tea house with refreshments and giraffe watching as well as gift shop to get some keepsakes and souvenirs.
Duma Road, Nairobi, Kenya, Phone: +25-42-08-07-08-04
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7.Giza Pyramid Complex
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One of the most recognized and renowned architectural structures in the world, the Giza Pyramid Complex comprises several buildings and structures including the most famous, the Pyramid of Khufu, also known as the Pyramid of Cheops. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and was originally built as a tomb for the pharaoh in 2560 BC. Though visitors cannot enter the pyramid itself, a tour of the attraction will give them endless information about its construction and the chambers located inside the Great Pyramid as well as the smaller pyramids and temples.
8.Hassan II Mosque
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The Hassan II Mosque is a beautiful place of worship in Casablanca. It is the largest mosque in Morocco and has the tallest minaret in the world, at 689 feet high. The mosque was designed by renowned French architect Michel Pinseau in 1993 and stands on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The structure is built with hand-crafted marble and can hold over 105,000 people inside and on the outside grounds. In addition to the marble, visitors will also see beautiful mosaics, Zellige tile work, and carved and painted wood ceilings. One aspect that shouldn’t be missed is the retractable roof, which allows worshippers to pray under the warm sunlight or the stunning stars on a clear night.
Boulevard de la Corniche, Casablanca 20000, Morocco
9.Hell's Gate National Park
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As ominous as the name sounds, Hell’s Gate National Park is a national park in Kenya that is known for its stunning scenery and varied wildlife. Having been established in 1984, the park includes three campsites, three geothermal power stations, and the Maasai Cultural Center, which is dedicated to showcasing the culture and traditions of the Maasai people. Visitors will be able to see views of gorges, lakes, hot springs, and two extinct volcanoes in addition to the number of the many other natural sites the park houses. Fauna that visitors may run into include lions, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, gazelles, hyenas, and vultures. Other activities include hiking, bicycling, motorcycling, mountain climbing, and camping.
10.Karen Blixen Museum
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Located in Nairobi, the Karen Blixen Museum lies at the foot of the Ngong Hills. It is the former home of famed Danish author Karen Blixen, now a museum for visitors to enjoy. The structure itself was built in 1912 by Swedish engineer Ake Sjogren as part of a coffee plantation. Visitors can head to the museum any day of the week and go on a guided tour that covers the structure and layout of the bungalow and surrounding grounds. They will be able to walk through the spacious rooms and see the architectural detail as well as the decor.
Karen Road, Nairobi, Kenya, Phone: +25-42-08-00-21-39
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The Karnak Temple dates to 2055 BC and was constructed as a dedication to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. It took over 2,000 years to build and still overshadows many of the more modern wonders of the world. The site covers over 200 acres and was a place of pilgrimage for a long time. Visitors will be able to see the remnants of Hypostyle Hall, the main sanctuary, several small temples, and a vast sacred lake. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is extremely popular and has been featured in many movies, such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Lara Croft, and the Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me.
El-Karnak, Luxor, Egypt, Phone: +20-2-22-61-73-04
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Located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania, Lake Malawi is also known as Lake Nyasa. It is the second largest lake in Africa as well as the second deepest. Locals and visitors from all over head there to learn about the culture, enjoy the landscapes and scenery, and come face to face to with the area’s wildlife. There are many opportunities for watersports, such as kayaking, snorkeling, water skiing, scuba diving, and sailing in addition to swimming. Visitors will be able to explore the fishing villages, meet the locals, and learn about the beautiful location.
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Loro Parque, which translates to “parrot park,” is a 33-acre zoo that houses an extensive collection of plant and animal species. Visitors of all ages will enjoy spending a day at one of the biggest and most fun attractions on the Canary Islands. The park opened in 1972 and now has over 4,000 parrots, making it one of the largest collections in the world. Other famed exhibits include a dolphin show, a shark tunnel, and the world’s largest indoor penguin exhibition. Visitors will also enjoy getting close to exotic fish, tigers, iguanas, and Galapagos tortoises.
Av. Loro Parque, s/n, 38400 Puerto de la Cruz, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Phone: +34-9-22-37-38-41
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Jardin Majorelle, or Majorelle Garden, is one of the most visited attractions in Morocco. The stunning artist landscape and botanical garden was created by French orientalist artist, Jacques Majorelle. Visitors will also be able to see the cubist villa designed by French architect, Paul Sinoir; the villa now houses the Berber Museum, the Islamic Art Museum as well as the Musee Yves Saint Laurent. There is an extensive collection of sculptures and cacti in the gardens, many of Majorelle’s paintings in the Berber Museum, and many North African textiles in the Islamic Art Museum from Saint Laurent’s personal collection.
Rue Yves St Laurent by A-Maps, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco, Phone: +21-25-24-31-30-47
15.Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
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Though Mgahinga Gorilla National Park may be Uganda’s smallest national park, it is one of its most diverse. While there, visitors will be able to see mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and various bird species. There are many fun activities at the park, such as gorilla or golden monkey tracking or going on an 8-hour hike to the summit of Mount Muhabura to see the three Virunga volcanoes. Another popular option for adventurous visitors is hiking the Batwa Trail with actual Batwa guides; during this excursion visitors will learn more about the Batwa people and how they have lived in the Mgahinga Forest alongside the gorillas.
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Found in northern Tanzania, on the border of Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro is visited by trekkers and mountaineers from around the world. The inactive stratovolcano towers at 19,340 feet and is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Though it’s considered a relatively easy ascent, the healthier and more fit a climber is, the higher the chances of them reaching the summit. Dedicated training sessions prior to the climb will allow visitors to relax more and enjoy the panoramic views that surround them. It is best to visit Mount Kilimanjaro in January and February, which are the warmest months, thereby making it easier to climb.
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17.Mud Mosque of Djenne
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Generally, mosques have a stunning architecture that encompass various styles and patterns throughout the structure. The Mud Mosque of Djenne has a more unique perspective, as the entire mosque is constructed with mud. The central mosque in the Mali town was built in 1907 and is a rare sight; everything from the spiraled walls to the minarets are made from mud. Visitors will be interested to learn that many other buildings in the historic town are made from mud as well, using an architectural tradition that was passed down from long ago. Depending on when visitors are there, they may get a chance to see the mosque being re-plastered, something that needs to be regularly done so that it can keep its form.
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Known for its culture and diversity, the Omo Valley is one of the most unique places on Earth, and while there, visitors will come across the many people and animals that inhabit the valley. The tribes that live there have some of the most fascinating cultures in the world and visitors will be able to meet people from the Bumi tribe, the Mursi tribe, and many others. Tours are offered to several villages and towns in the Omo Valley, and visitors will also get a chance to see the Omo River. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is sure to be a life-changing experience and will introduce visitors to a culture and people that can’t be experienced anywhere else.
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Ouzoud Falls is a beautiful multi-step waterfall in the Moyen Atlas mountain range near Marrakech. There are many tour companies that will take visitors to the stunning site on a day trip from the town. The river plunges nearly 110 feet in various drops, making for a picturesque view for visitors to capture while there. Getting there is half the fun, as there are gorgeous green valleys and lush orchards to see along the way. The roar of the water at the bottom of the falls along with the gorgeous olive trees that surround it will ensure it to be one of the most memorable moments of a trip to Morocco.
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Spanning over 12,000 square miles, the Serengeti is in Tanzania and Kenya. Identified as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the land is renowned for its large lion population as well as the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. Visitors can head straight to Serengeti National Park to start their guided exploration of the flora and fauna through woodlands, grasslands, swamps, and forests. Other than lions, visitors will also be able to see leopards, zebras, wildebeests, gazelles, and many other animals in their natural habitat. A Jeep safari is one of the best and safest ways to explore the land and can be scheduled through numerous tour companies in the area.
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Mji Mkongwe, also known as Stone Town, is the former capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate and played a major role in the 19th century spice and slave trades. Due to these diverse influences, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has a unique mixture of European, Arabic, Indian, and Persian elements. The art and architecture that can be seen there date back predominantly to the 19th century and include historical buildings such as the House of Wonders, the Old Fort, the Palace Museum, and the Nasur Nur Mohamed Dispensary. Visitors can head to the market before leaving to try some delicious local cuisine and buy trinkets and souvenirs to bring back with them.
22.Valley of the Kings
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Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt that held tombs cut from the rock for powerful nobles and pharaohs for over 500 years. From the 16th to the 11th century BC, the land was shaped to become the final resting place of Ramesses VII, Seti II, Thutmose III, and over 60 other prominent people. The site is one of the most visited archaeological destinations in the world, and many excavations still occur in the present day. The site is open throughout the year and there are many tour companies that provide day trips to the tombs. A ticket covers the viewing of any three tombs of a visitor’s choice, while separate tickets are available for the tombs of Tutankhamun and Rameses VI.
Luxor, New Valley Governorate, Egypt
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23.Winelands of South Africa
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The winelands of South Africa stretch from rugged mountains to open plains and encompass 27 diverse districts from the Eastern Cape to the KwaZulu-Natal. There are over 200,000 acres of vines in more than 300 vineyards, making South Africa one of the largest wine producers in the world. The region produces everything from vintage sauvignon blanc to the famed red Pinotage. The most popular months to visit the winelands are from March to May, and one of the most popular ways to get around is to go on a guided bicycle tour. Visitors will get to try some of the delicious wines, eat local cuisine, and meet the people who live in the surrounding area.
24.Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
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Zeitz MOCAA, or the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, is a contemporary art museum that accumulates, preserves, studies, and displays 21st century art from Africa. There are over 100 galleries of temporary and permanent exhibits spread over the nine-story structure. The LGBTQI+ exhibit is one of the most visited projects and investigates the issue of homophobia and the oppression of gay rights in South Africa. Other exhibits include Now and Then by El Loko and Kyle Morland, Yinka Shonibare’s Dusthouse, and Regarding the Ease of Others by Zimbabwe artist Kudzanai Chiurai.
V&A Waterfront, Silo District, S Arm Rd, Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa, Phone: +27-8-73-50-47-77
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25.Abu Simbel Temples
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The Abu Simbel temples, the Small Temple of Nefertari and the Great Temple of Ramesses II, are two rock temples found in southern Egypt. The temples are a part of the Nubian Monuments complex, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The twin temples were initially carved out of a mountainside in the 13th century BC and were then transferred to their current location in 1968. Visitors will be able to see many statues, rock carvings, and paintings at the iconic structures, which are a shrine to Ramesses and his wife, Nefertari.
25 Best Things to Do in Africa
- Victoria Falls, Photo: Courtesy of gudkovandrey - Fotolia.com
- Banana Islands, Photo: Courtesy of ck-africa - Fotolia.com
- Boulders Beach, Photo: Courtesy of schame87 - Fotolia.com
- Cape of Good Hope, Photo: Courtesy of bennymarty - Fotolia.com
- Cueva de los Verdes, Photo: Courtesy of Tomasz Czajkowski - Fotolia.com
- Giraffe Centre, Photo: Courtesy of volk1945 - Fotolia.com
- Giza Pyramid Complex, Photo: Courtesy of Dan Breckwoldt - Fotolia.com
- Hassan II Mosque, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Hell's Gate National Park, Photo: Courtesy of paulos1 - Fotolia.com
- Karen Blixen Museum, Photo: Courtesy of kubikactive - Fotolia.com
- Karnak, Photo: Courtesy of Patryk Kosmider - Fotolia.com
- Lake Malawi, Photo: Courtesy of erichon - Fotolia.com
- Loro Parque, Photo: Courtesy of Imants Ozolins - Fotolia.com
- Majorelle Garden, Photo: Courtesy of Henry Schmitt - Fotolia.com
- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Photo: Courtesy of F.C.G. - Fotolia.com
- Mount Kilimanjaro, Photo: Courtesy of IndustryAndTravel - Fotolia.com
- Mud Mosque of Djenne, Photo: Courtesy of Natasha Owen - Fotolia.com
- Omo Valley, Photo: Courtesy of hecke71 - Fotolia.com
- Ouzoud Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Elena Odareeva - Fotolia.com
- Serengeti, Photo: Courtesy of Janos - Fotolia.com
- Stone Town, Photo: Courtesy of tr3gi - Fotolia.com
- Valley of the Kings, Photo: Courtesy of donvictori0 - Fotolia.com
- Winelands of South Africa, Photo: Courtesy of Frank Gärtner - Fotolia.com
- Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Photo: Courtesy of petert2 - Fotolia.com
- Abu Simbel Temples, Photo: Courtesy of suronin - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of khanbm52 - Fotolia.com
More Ideas: Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert is the largest “hot” desert in the world, as well as being the third largest desert in general (after only the Arctic and Antarctica). Due to its extreme size, there is an almost endless set of permanent attractions, events, dining, shopping, and other activities to do when visiting.
The Sahara Desert is 3,600,000 square miles in size and was named for the Arabic dialectal word for “desert,” making the Sahara Desert literally mean 'desert' in English as well. An interesting fact about the Sahara Desert is that it isn’t always a desert. In fact, roughly 41,000 years the desert turns green. The next time this is scheduled to happen is in about 15,000 more years.
Due to absolutely enormous scale of the Sahara Desert, the best way to enjoy it is by booking a guided tour. These tours can depart for a variety of different destinations in the countries that the desert touches - Algeria, Libya, Chad, Mali, Egypt, Niger, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Tunisia, or Sudan.
For instance, Sahara Desert Tours offers exactly what it sounds like. One of the options they offer is called a Camel Trek. Guests will board one of the tour’s camels and ride through the Sahara. It is a great way to experience the quiet serenity of the desert, the winds swirling around guests as they ride. The camels will travel through the sand dunes (near Merzouga) that stand nearly 50 meters tall. Guests also have the option of climbing the dunes to experience either the sunrise or the sunset during each tour. This is a one-day experience.
For guests who want a longer tour through the Sahara Desert, the company also offers multi-day and night experiences. There are twelve different options, each with a slightly different angle of viewing the desert. Choose from three days and two nights leaving from Marrakech, four days and three nights departing from Fes, eight days spent in the Imperial Cities and the desert, or two nights spent on a camel trek through the Sahara. The choices are customizable. Tours from this company visit the following sites - Erg Chebbi, Ait Ben Haddou, Tizi n Tichka, Dades Gorges, Ziz Valley, Ouarzazate, Berber Villages, Rissani, and/or Skoura Oasis.
Another beautiful place to visit when at the Sahara Desert is known as Cleopatra’s Bath. This permanent attraction is located at the Siwa Oasis and is a natural spring with clear water that is the favorite of many of the visitors to the area. It is located in the very center of Alexandria, Egypt. Be aware that this is a fairly conservative part of the world and wear appropriate swimming attire.
While in the area, visitors should also check out the Valley of the Golden Mummies. Located in the Bahariya Oasis, the “Valley” is said to contain up to a possible 10,000 archaeological mummy specimens. The attached museum offers guests the change to seen ten mummies on display, two of them being specimens of children. Be advised that no cameras are allowed in the museum, both out of respect and also because it can harm the specimens.
As the Sahara Desert takes up a substantial area, there are nearly daily special events.
One of the most popular is the Festival of the Sahara (or Desert Culture). Held in November in the desert near the edge of Tunisia in Douz, the festival is essentially a giant event for people from the desert cultures to get together and celebrate with music, arts, food, and even camel fights. Guests are allowed to even bring their own camels to the festival. There are also belly dancers, acrobats, and public marriages.
In Niger, once a year, the Fulani and Tuareg nomads get together for a week on the outskirts of the Sahara Desert. The festival, known as Curee Salee/Wodaabe Gerewol, occurs in September and is a week of dancing, music, cross dressing, and camel racing. However, in recent years, the Wodaabe have been hosting their own, more private festival in an attempt to keep tourists away. Guests can join a tour in In-gall to truly see and enjoy the public side of these festivals.
Dining and Shopping
There are many different choices for dining, all depending on the region that surrounds the part of the Sahara Desert being visited. For instance, the top-rated restaurant in Hassilabied, Morocco is Cafe Fatima. The majority of the choices focus on local, Mediterranean style cuisine. When shopping at the Sahara Desert, make sure to stop and see the many different Arabic markets and local goods.
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