From the rolling grasslands of the soul-stirring Serengeti and the majestic peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro to the sandy palm-fringed beaches of Zanzibar and the lush water-logged deltas of the Okavango - Africa takes you into her embrace and leaves an indelible mark on your soul. Africa is a land of diverse terrains, rich cultures and time-honored traditions, and magnificent wildlife, all of which come together to create a unique ecosystem on Earth.
1.Kruger National Park
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Spanning more than two million hectares of land in the northeastern part of South Africa and home to over 1,000 species of animals and birds, Kruger National Park is the pride of the country. World-renowned for its immense size, abundant diversity of wildlife, and significant conservation history, this incredible park is an unrivaled haven for some of Africa's most magnificent fauna and flora. Wild bushveld, dense woodlands, and waving grasslands fold into one another to create an unspoiled wilderness for the wildlife that lives here. The park is home to the Big Five, including well over 10,000 elephants and 20,000 buffalo as well as endangered black and white rhino, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, and a variety of antelope. Stylish camps offer an array of exclusive extras, from exhilarating unfenced accommodation with deluxe amenities and mouth-watering cuisine to privately guided game drives in open-top vehicles with armed rangers and professional Shangaan trackers, who share their extensive knowledge of the region's game and habitats.
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The small town of Victoria Falls is about 1 mile south of the Zambezi River and the border to Zambia and is a vibrant hub for visitors to the world-renowned Victoria Falls. Easily reached from the parks in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, Victoria Falls Town is the perfect base from which to start or end any safari and can be accessed by the Victoria Falls International Airport. Famously known as "the smoke that thunders," Victoria Falls is arguably one of the most spectacular waterfalls on earth. Forming the border between Zambia to the north and Zimbabwe to the south, waters from the mighty Zambezi River spill into a 320-foot-deep canyon that is over 1 mile wide, making it the largest waterfall on the planet.
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Spectacular island scenery, beautiful beaches, rugged mountainscapes, and picturesque colonial towns await visitors to the isle of Gran Canaria. The third largest island in the archipelago of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, Gran Canaria is home to magnificent golden sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and a variety of cultural attractions such as breathtaking baroque churches, museums, and traditional festivals. Top attractions around the island include the golden arc of Playa de las Canteras beach, the spectacular dunes of Maspalomas, the magnificent gardens of the Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo (Canary Gardens), and the Old Town of Vegueta.
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Once a tiny and unimposing fishing village on the shores of the Red Sea, Hurghada has grown into a vibrant, bustling, and energetic metropolis and today is the most visited tourist destination in the whole of Egypt. World-renowned for its spectacular beaches and world-class snorkeling and scuba-diving, Hurghada is one of the best places in the world to learn to dive and marvel at the breathtaking beauty and colors of the underwater reefs and marine life. Home to hundreds of hotels that line the seafront, Hurghada is a significant tourist destination in Egypt, with visitors often combining visits to other prominent locations along the Nile Valley with a trip to this stunning seaside locale.
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South Africa's biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, Johannesburg began as a 19th century gold-mining settlement and quickly grew into a sprawling metropolis. Once regarded as merely South Africa's central business hub with nothing else to offer, Johannesburg has grown in leaps and bounds and is becoming a flourishing center that is well worth a visit in its right. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes, Johannesburg has experienced an inner-city transformation akin to that of any big European city. The cultural district of Newtown boasts a plethora of contemporary theatres, restaurants, museums, and jazz clubs, while the progressive streets of Melville capture the heart and soul of the city. The township of Soweto, which was once home to Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is home to museums that recount the struggle to end apartheid such as the somber Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill.
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Pristine palm-fringed beaches, dense forest-filled valleys, deep caverns and secluded bays, rugged volcanic landscapes, and a temperate climate all year round, this tiny island packs a punch when it comes to beautiful beaches, exciting sights, and a plethora of adventures and activities to enjoy. The fourth largest island in the chain, Lanzarote is home to a small population, adding to its irresistible charm. Known the "Island of Eternal Spring," the island is sprinkled with quaint towns, diverse artist communities, and sprawling seaside resorts that attract visitors from around the globe to soak up this idyllic island paradise. The island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and boasts an array of spectacular and intriguing terrains, which are starkly juxtaposed with lush palm-filled valleys, powder-white sandy beaches and gin-clear waters that attract pleasure-seekers and adventurers alike.
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Once the home of pharaohs, Luxor, or the "City of the Sun," is one of Egypt's major tourist attractions and travel destinations. Situated on the east bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt, the bustling city rests on the site of ancient Thebes, the pharaohs' capital during the 16th to 11th centuries BC, when they were at the height of their power. Today, the two surviving ancient monuments of the Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple, along with the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, attract thousands of visitors every year. In addition to these ancient royal monuments and tombs, Luxor also boasts spectacular desert and river scenery and a myriad of cultural excursions and tours to enjoy, earning it the label of being the "world's greatest open-air outdoor museum."
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Fondly known as Portugal's "Pearl of the Atlantic," the islands of Madeira boast soaring green-sloped volcanic mountains, dense tropical forests and fragrant orchards of exotic fruit, white sandy beaches, and quaint fishing villages, all surrounded by the deepest blue hues of the ocean. Located in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa, Madeira is a sub-tropical archipelago comprising four islands and is an autonomous region of Portugal. It is renowned for its beautiful year-round subtropical climate, delicious tropical and exotic fruit, and exceptional namesake wine, which is exported around the world. The populated islands of Madeira and Porto Santo attract visitors to soak up the sun and enjoy the relaxing, laidback island way of life.
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Once an imperial city in western Morocco, Marrakesh is now a major economic center and one of Morocco's major tourist attractions. Blending ancient traditions with modern-day culture, the medina is the beating heart and symbol of the city, with a tall Moorish minaret of the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque visible for miles. Dating back to the Berber Empire, the densely packed medieval-walled town is home to a network of mazelike alleys lined with thriving souks selling traditional pottery, textiles, and jewelry. Bright colors, heady scents, hollering vendors, and jiving street artists in the Jemaa el-Fnaa and the buzzing bazaars seamlessly merge to create what seems to be another world. Further afield, the city is home to hundreds of beautiful mosques and palaces and lush, tropical gardens, which offer a refreshing respite from the heat of the day.
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The picture-postcard beauty of Mauritius is breathtaking - sugar-white sands kissed by tranquil turquoise waters and fringed by swaying coconut-laden palms. Hailed as one of the most "relaxing and restorative destinations in the world," the island offers a wealth of beautiful and secluded coves and beaches to lend a healing hand. The northern shores of the island are quite developed, so the beaches tend to be busy, however, a short drive along the coast will reveal many a picturesque, blue nook to investigate. The lesser developed areas on the southern shores are home to what is left of the forests that used to cover the island, and beaches are rugged and slightly wild, with pretty and secluded stretches of sand. No wind, calm seas, and perfect, sandy beaches with palm trees make this side of the island the quintessential island paradise. While packed with hotels and tourists, the beaches are beautiful and full of good, holiday vibe.
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Boasting a melting pot of cultures and languages more akin to Northern African cities like Dar es Salaam or Dakar, Mombasa exudes a unique blend of Africa, Arabia, and India to create an exotic oasis on the coast of Kenya. Despite being East Africa's biggest and most international port, Mombasa oozes a gritty charm and grace with beautiful architecture, a rich and fascinating history, and friendly, welcoming locals. The exotic old town is the beating heart of Mombasa, where visitors find themselves lost among narrow winding streets that are lined with stunning examples of Arab architecture and where the warm breezes carry the heady scents of spices. Modern Mombasa boasts incredible diversity and a burgeoning economy, where tradition meets the future in a slow yet methodical African way of life.
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The bustling, energetic capital city of Kenya, which never seems to sleep, Nairobi has risen from the ashes like a phoenix over the past century, transforming from a brackish uninhabited frontier town to a thriving modern capital. Renowned as being the "Safari Capital of Africa," Nairobi is a cosmopolitan city with luxury hotels, award-winning restaurants, and a plethora of bars and nightclubs with a touch of the African wilderness within reach at Nairobi National Park. Located just outside the city, Nairobi National Park is home to giraffes, lions, and zebras and is world-renowned for its breeding program for the critically endangered black rhino. The highly acclaimed David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage is next to the park, both of which peg Nairobi as being an excellent jumping-off point for safari trips elsewhere in Kenya.
13.Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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While Africa holds many treasures of unsurpassed natural beauty, none is quite as breathtaking and majestic as Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater. Created over three million years ago by a massive volcanic eruption, the deep depression measuring 12 miles across spans the vast open plains of Central Tanzania and is teeming with life. Standing on the edge of the crater rim offers endless, awe-inspiring views of the wildlife haven below, where lush swamplands are packed with wallowing hippo and wading birds. Thick riverine forests provide shelter for giant-tusked elephants and shy antelope, while golden-green grasslands hide prides of rare black-maned lions as well as cheetahs and packs of roaming hyenas. Permanent springs bubble up from the crater floor from Lake Magadi, which turns pink in the rainy season as thousands of flamingos descend to the lake to feed on its mineral-rich water.
14.Nxia Pan National Park
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In a shimmering display of Botswana's natural power, Nxai Pan National Park features a striking 15-square-mile fossil lakebed and a world-renowned cluster of millennia-old baobab trees known as Baines' Baobabs, named after adventurer Thomas Baines. Located in the northeastern part of the country, Nxai Pan National Park consists of the Nxai Pan, one of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, which are the very antithesis of the watery world of the Okavango Delta, Chobe River, and Linyanti Marshes, located just a few miles away. Once the bed of a massive inland lake, the hallucinatory, horizon-less landscape of burnished oranges, blinding whites, and golden grasslands form an impressive network of salt pans that are mesmerizing in their scope and beauty.
15.Nyika National Park
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Resting high above sea level in northern Malawi, Nyika National Park boasts vast rolling plateaus of montane grasslands, densely wooded valleys, and majestic mountain outcrops that are home to a diverse species of animals and birds. Resting on the high-altitude Nyika Plateau, the temperate climes offer a refreshing haven for a variety of animals such as herds of antelope and elephant and giant eland. Extensive moorlands are covered in a spectacular array of wildflowers, and dense woodlands, which canvas the craggy foothills at the edge of the plateau, hide the ever-elusive leopard as well as the odd pride of lions. Nyika National Park's untamed wilderness is ideal for outdoor activities, such as mountain biking and horseback safaris and wilderness trekking.
16.Serengeti National Park
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Known as "The Land that Moves on Forever," the Serengeti is Africa at her most extravagant. Home to the world's greatest concentration of wildlife as well as its most spectacular natural migration, vast rolling grasslands give a soul-stirring feeling of space and is home to thousands of wildebeest and zebra as well as other species such as buffalo, elephant, and giraffe. Swaying golden grasses, thorny acacia trees, and distant blue hills create the picture-perfect "Out of Africa" image as herds of wildebeest roam majestically across the plain and stately giraffes lope among them. Zebra spar energetically with each other, while prides of lions lie hidden in the long grass and crocodiles sun themselves on the banks of watering holes.
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Boasting a year-round warm and breezy tropical climate, footprint-free white sandy beaches, gin-clear turquoise waters, and colorful Creole heritage, the islands of the Seychelles promise an idyllic and luxurious beach holiday like no other. One of 115 islands making up the archipelago in the Indian Ocean off East Africa, the Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off East Africa, best known for its beautiful beaches, colorful coral reefs, world-class diving, and outstanding nature reserves packed with rare wildlife. Home to the world's most beautiful (and mostly empty) beaches, the tropical waters surrounding the islands are one big playground for multiple watersports, including snorkeling, diving, fishing, and kayaking.
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Hailed as the "Island of a Thousand Experiences," Tenerife boasts beautiful natural landscapes and scenery, spectacular white sandy beaches, towering mountains, cobblestoned old towns, and fun-filled theme parks, meaning there is something for everyone. Located off the coast of West Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, Tenerife is the largest of Spain's Canary Islands and is dominated by the dormant volcanic peak of Mt. Teide, which is also Spain's tallest mountain. Best known for its Carnaval de Santa Cruz, a massively popular pre-Lent festival with themed parades, live music and dancing, and brightly colored costumes, the island as an array of other attractions to explore. Enjoy beautiful beaches, which range in color from sun-bleached yellow to volcanic black, eight professionally designed championship golf courses, which offer pristine year-round conditions, and some of the best whale watching spots in the world.
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One of the shining jewels in East Africa's crown, Zanzibar, also known as Unguja, can only be described as a picturesque slice of tropical heaven. Azure blue waters gently lap miles of palm-fringed beaches; traditional wooden dhows with billowing white sails cruise on warm sea breezes; and vibrant spice markets fill the air with a heady mix of Middle Eastern and African scents that leave you breathless. Located in the Indian Ocean, 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania and comprising two large islands fringed by many more, the Zanzibar Archipelago vies with the Serengeti as Tanzania's most precious natural asset, able to mesmerize even the most jaded traveler into meditative contemplation.
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Set deep in the highlands bordering the Great Rift Valley, Ethiopia's quickly-evolving and sprawling capital, Addis Ababa, is the country's commercial and cultural hub. Towering 2,400 meters above sea level on the Abyssinian plateau, the multifaceted metropolis is one of Africa's greatest success stories with a variety of things to see and do from acclaimed museums, galleries and historic sites to award-winning restaurants, world-class shopping, and hip nightlife. Top attractions in the city include the National Museum, which showcases traditional Ethiopian arts and crafts, and prehistoric fossils, the neo-baroque architectural landmark of the magnificent copper-domed Holy Trinity Cathedral, and tomb of the 20th-century Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie.
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Lying at the foot of Mount Meru surrounded by rolling green farmlands and cool climes, Arusha is a vibrant, bustling African city and the undisputed gateway to the legendary Northern Tanzania safari circuit. Arusha is not only packed with the dynamic energy and lively culture of any other African city, but it also presents an endless array of opportunities to venture out into the wild. The Arusha National Park, which is often overlooked by visitors heading off to the better-known reserves is home to elephant, buffalo, and giraffe, which roam the vast tracts of open savannah, while leopard and hyena hide in the shade of acacia scrublands that dot the landscape. Swampy wetlands are packed with wallowing hippos and prostrate crocodiles, while over 400 species of birds make this their park home. Explore the foothills of Mount Meru on foot, enjoy a canoe safari on the Momela Lakes, or sample one of the area's cultural experiences and tour local villages, farms, and markets.
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Located on the banks of the Nile River, Egypt's sprawling capital, and hailed Umm Ad Dunya - 'the Mother of the World,' Cairo is a mega-city that is packed with rich culture, ancient history and millions of people. Enveloped by a cacophony of bellowing car horns, muezzins' call to prayer from dueling minarets and the distorted roar of traffic, the dynamic, energetic city is home to a trove of antiquities, ranging from iconic pyramids and royal mummies to gilded King Tutankhamun artifacts. World-renowned historic sites include the site of Giza, which is home to the Great Sphinx and Pyramids, dating to the 26th century BC, the vibrant Tahrir Square and the cavernous Egyptian Museum. The leafy Zamalek district on Gezira Island features the Cairo Tower, which towers 316 feet about the city and boasts incredible views of the capital and the Nile River.
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Unrivaled natural beauty, blue-flag beaches, rolling patchwork vineyards, and rich and vibrant culture and history, Cape Town is undoubtedly one of the sparkling gems in South Africa's crown. Standing sentry over the city is the majestic Table Mountain, one of the natural wonders of the modern world, and Lion's Head, whose peak is climbed by locals and visitors alike on a daily basis for spectacular views of the city and peninsula. Embraced on either side by two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian, this dynamic city never fails to deliver, with a vast array of things to see and do from swimming with with penguins on Boulders Beach and watching the two oceans crash together at Cape Point to enjoying picnics at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and tasting some of the world's best wines along one of several wine routes around the city.
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Renowned for its rich French colonial legacy and beautiful blend of Moorish architecture and European art deco style, Casablanca is a must-visit for those wanting to get a real taste of Morocco. Often skipped by tourists for the exotic beaches of Essaouira and Tangier or the bustling souks of Fez and Marrakech, the romantic port city, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, is a gem in its own right. Boasting magnificent Mauresque architecture, which reflects its rich French heritage, the city is home to the enormous Hassan II Mosque with its near-700 foot minaret facing Mecca.
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Often called the country's cultural capital, Fez (Fes) is located in the northeastern part of Morocco and is best known for its magnificent medieval Marinid architecture, its Fes El Bali walled medina, the vibrant color and aroma-soaked souks, and the quaint, Old-World ambiance. The Fes El Bali walled medina features ancient theological schools such as the Al Attarine and Bou Inania, both of which date back to the 14th century and boast ornate hand carvings and tile works. Situated 240 miles northeast of Marrakesh, the city's medina is still entirely inaccessible to cars and promises an authentic and traditionally Moroccan experience.
25 Best Places to Visit in Africa
- Kruger National Park, Photo: Courtesy of lnichetti - Fotolia.com
- Victoria Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Steven - Fotolia.com
- Gran Canaria, Photo: Courtesy of Valery Bareta - Fotolia.com
- Hurghada, Photo: Courtesy of grafikplusfoto - Fotolia.com
- Johannesburg, Photo: Courtesy of WitR - Fotolia.com
- Lanzarote, Photo: Courtesy of karlosxii - Fotolia.com
- Luxor, Photo: Courtesy of dietwalther - Fotolia.com
- Madeira, Photo: Courtesy of Manfred - Fotolia.com
- Marrakesh, Photo: Courtesy of monticellllo - Fotolia.com
- Mauritius, Photo: Courtesy of tobago77 - Fotolia.com
- Mombasa, Photo: Courtesy of Fiona - Fotolia.com
- Nairobi, Photo: Courtesy of Aleksandar Todorovic - Fotolia.com
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Photo: Courtesy of yurybirukov - Fotolia.com
- Nxia Pan National Park, Photo: Courtesy of 2630ben - Fotolia.com
- Nyika National Park, Photo: Courtesy of Michael Meijer - Fotolia.com
- Serengeti National Park, Photo: Courtesy of Papa Bravo - Fotolia.com
- Seychelles, Photo: Courtesy of kbarzycki - Fotolia.com
- Tenerife, Photo: Courtesy of Feliz Photo - Fotolia.com
- Zanzibar (Unguja), Photo: Courtesy of nyiragongo - Fotolia.com
- Addis Ababa, Photo: Courtesy of derejeb - Fotolia.com
- Arusha, Photo: Courtesy of makasana photo - Fotolia.com
- Cairo, Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- Cape Town, Photo: Courtesy of Kushnirov Avraham - Fotolia.com
- Casablanca, Photo: Courtesy of Juanamari Gonzalez - Fotolia.com
- Fez (Fes), Photo: Courtesy of Jose Ignacio Soto - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of berangeresundari - Fotolia.com