Africa is the second-fastest-growing tourist destination in the world, second only to Asia. There are plenty of reasons why a trip to Africa should be on your bucket list. The Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Great Wildebeest Migration in Kenya and Tanzania, the tropical beaches of Seychelles, the national parks of South Africa, and the cultural heritage of Morocco just to name a few. However, when one is spoilt for choice as one is with tourist attractions in Africa, picking a country to visit can prove difficult. Of course, if you had your way, you would simply visit each and every one of them. Unfortunately, that is not the case. At best, instead of having your way, you probably only have a two-way ticket to one country and that’s as much as time and money allow. So which African country is best to visit? We attempt to answer this to ensure that you make the most informed choice possible.

Summary

Here’s our list of top 10 countries to visit in Africa:

  1. South Africa – safaris, beaches, history
  2. Kenya – safaris, beaches, history, culture
  3. Tanzania (including Zanzibar) – safaris, beaches, history, culture
  4. Egypt – culture, history, beaches
  5. Morocco – culture, history, beaches
  6. Seychelles – beaches, wildlife
  7. Mauritius – beaches, wildlife
  8. Botswana – safaris
  9. Rwanda – gorilla trekking
  10. Namibia – safari, beaches

Define Why You Want to Visit Africa

Firstly, what are the main reasons why tourists visit Africa? Safaris, beaches, history, and culture. Knowing what type of experience you are looking for out of your trip to Africa is probably the first step. Some countries have a richer plethora of wildlife, making them more suitable for a safari trip than others. On the other hand, other countries may have the most pristine tropical beaches with world-class beach resorts to match. Others still are blessed with multiple kinds of attractions offering up a more wholesome experience of what Africa has to offer. Certain landmarks such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia can be cornerstone items on your itinerary that compel you to plan your trip in the country in which a landmark is located.

Safaris

Seeing elephants on a game drive in Masai Mara

In general, east and southern African countries have the best safari experience. Countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Rwanda usually have plenty of wildlife and safari camps to curate an adventurous safari. In these countries, there is a booming safari industry with special 4X4 safari vehicles, safari-themed camps and lodges, English-speaking tour guides, national parks and game reserves, souvenirs shops and a host of other amenities geared toward providing an unforgettable safari experience.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Well, which is the best country among the ones stated above for a safari? One thing’s for sure. A safari in any of these countries will live up to expectations. Considering safaris exclusively, Botswana is perhaps the most ideal country for a safari. Botswana’s low-density tourism model gives tourists an intimate venture into a seemingly undisturbed wilderness for the most authentic safari experience possible. In Botswana, it is the case that just two or three camps or lodges have exclusive access to large tracts of a game park’s land. This, however, also means that these few safari camps are usually luxurious establishments that could break the bank, especially in the high season. That being said, the low season can be quite affordable and a good value for money.

Kenya also stands out as a prime safari destination. In fact, the term, and possibly the concept of safaris, originated in Kenya. Two words: Masai Mara. This world-renowned game park is arguably the best place in the world to observe the Big Five (lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, elephant, and rhinoceros). The annual Great Wildebeest Migration is also observed here (as well as in Tanzania) during the months of July to October with the highlight of the migration being the Mara River crossing.

Rwanda and Uganda offer a unique safari experience in gorilla trekking. If gorilla trekking is something you are keen on then these two countries are really the only ones you need to consider on this list. DR Congo also has Gorilla trekking but there are safety concerns about this part of the world. Rwanda has a reputation for being quite safe and may be the most ideal destination for gorilla trekking. It feels like such a disservice not to mention Kruger National Park in South Africa or highlight the great safari experiences in Tanzania or really all of the other ‘safari countries’ mentioned above because they all offer amazing safaris.

To sum it up here is an attempt to rank the countries for the best safari experience:

  1. Botswana – luxury safaris
  2. Kenya – Great Wildebeest Migration
  3. Tanzania – Great Wildebeest Migration
  4. South Africa
  5. Rwanda – gorilla trekking
  6. Mozambique
  7. Namibia
  8. Zambia
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Uganda – gorilla trekking

Beaches

The jury’s out on the best beach destination in Africa. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on this. On a positive note, that just shows how competitive the quality of beaches in Africa is. When considering beach destinations in Africa a few countries should quickly come to mind namely Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, Egypt (the Red Sea), South Africa, Zanzibar (off the coast of Tanzania), and Mozambique. The best beach destinations in Africa are countries bordering or surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Seychelles and Mauritius, in particular, are island countries surrounded by the Indian Ocean. These tropical islands’ main tourist attractions are their beaches and the accompanying beach resorts.

Diani Beach, Kenya

Kenya’s Diani Beach is a multi-award-winning beach. Watamu Beach and Lamu archipelago in Kenya are also notable beach destinations. Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania is also a prime beach destination. Mozambique is an off-the-beaten-path beach destination ideal for a honeymoon. In South Africa, enjoy the privilege of choosing between two oceans for your beach getaway, the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Egypt’s Red Sea is famous for its high salinity enabling swimmers to easily float on its water. This high salinity is also claimed to have health benefits and so salt baths and other mineral treatments are quite common in resorts along the Red Sea.

Again, just as with safaris one cannot go wrong with whichever beach destination in Africa one chooses. Coral reefs, diving, and snorkeling spots are almost synonymous with every single beach destination in Africa. The island countries of Seychelles and Mauritius perhaps stand out a little bit in this category but all the other beach destinations can make a good case for themselves. Perhaps this is a factor to be considered alongside other tourist attractions.

History and Culture

One thing literally sticks out in this category, the Great Pyramids of Giza. Egypt is home to one of the ancient world’s seven wonders. Close your eyes and think about Egypt and the pyramids easily come to mind. Not to propagate any stereotypes but rather the Great Pyramids of Giza and other pyramids in Egypt are a feat of human architectural ingenuity.

North African countries are more renowned for their culture and history. Morocco is a good example. Morocco has various ‘old towns’ that give a glimpse of architecture from centuries past. Cuisines from Morocco are particularly novel to the tongue and make for memorable dining experiences. Marrakesh Medina is the most buzzing old town in Morocco and a good place to really experience local life. The Hassan II Mosque is a cultural and historical site popular with tourists among other sites.

Africa is the cradle of mankind and there are various pre-historic sites especially in East Africa. For example, Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania has been the source of various archeological finds that have convinced scientists almost unanimously that humans did indeed evolve from Africa. If this kind of stuff fascinates you then look no further than eastern and southern Africa.

Safety

Safety is a huge concern for tourists coming to Africa. However, without sounding dismissive, most of that fear is unfounded. Honestly, the countries mentioned so far in this article have thriving tourism industries primarily due to their security and stability. 67 million tourists in 2018 deemed it safe enough to visit the continent. For example, Kenya has had a few terrorism incidences in the recent past, as have many countries in the developed world as well. Worth noting is the fact that most of these attacks, in the rare event that they did occur, were mostly isolated incidences in the northern parts of the country far from any popular tourist destinations.

All in all, it is prudent to be on the lookout for travel advisories from your government and make sure no such advisories are in effect for a country you may be thinking of visiting. Chances are no such advisory has been issued. The issue of safety, however, deserves a full-length article on its own to debunk any myths and misconceptions on Africa’s safety as well as a host of other issues.

Cost

In terms of cost, African safaris can be categorized as budget, mid-range or luxury. According to Safari Bookings, the average cost of a budget safari is $150 per person per night. A mid-range safari on average costs $350 per person per night while a luxury safari could, on average, set you back $750 per person per night. There is also a special category of extremely top safaris that can cost you around $1,500 per person per night.

The accommodation cost of beach resorts varies depending on the star rating of a facility and the season in which one is traveling. Generally, April to mid-July is considered the low season with the exception of the Easter weekend in April. Costs are highest during the Christmas period, i.e., 21st December to 5th January.

Generally, costs do not vary much between African countries for safaris or other tourist attractions. Therefore, the goal is to choose the destination where one gets the most value for money. If a safari trip to Uganda costs more or less the same as one to Kenya, one might as well opt for the latter one as Kenya will deliver a more enthralling safari experience.

Using trusted platforms such as Safari Bookings can help one examine the cost from country to country or from one tour operator to another. Dealing with a local tour company is recommended especially when combining safaris with other experiences such as beach vacations. Tour agents usually have tour packages to cater for every vacationing need. Further still, it is such a time saver to pay for a tour package than to have to build an itinerary from scratch.

Visa

Not much to say here. Getting a tourist Visa to most African countries is a breeze. Applications can even be done online or on arrival.

In conclusion

So which African country is best to visit again? It all depends on what you are looking for. However, we promised a list and here are the top 10 countries to visit in Africa:

  1. South Africa – safaris, beaches, history
  2. Kenya – safaris, beaches, history, culture
  3. Tanzania (including Zanzibar) – safaris, beaches, history, culture
  4. Egypt – culture, history, beaches
  5. Morocco – culture, history, beaches
  6. Seychelles – beaches, wildlife
  7. Mauritius – beaches, wildlife
  8. Botswana – safaris
  9. Rwanda – gorilla trekking
  10. Namibia – safari, beaches
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