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15 Best Places to Visit in Africa in 2023

Africa may not always register on the average traveler’s radar, but those who visit have the chance to experience the perfect blend of ancient and modern, wild and urban, and East and West. From Cape Town’s coastal beauty to Tanzania’s game reserves, choosing your adventure on the second-largest continent can be difficult.

To help you start planning, U.S. News ranked the best places to visit in Africa based on accessibility, affordability and the variety of things to do, as well as user votes and expert opinions.

1. Serengeti National Park

If you’re enamored with the prospect of coming face to face with elephants, giraffes, zebras and wildebeests, then a safari tour through Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is the bucket-list adventure for you. The price will be steep, but a journey here affords an unforgettable African savanna experience. To save some coin, book one of the park’s campgrounds instead of staying at a high-end safari lodge or luxury tented camp. Plan on arriving in January or February (calving season) or between June and October (dry season and prime migration time) for the best game-viewing conditions. 

2. Victoria Falls

Outdoorsy types travel far and wide to admire this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in Mosi Oa Tunya National Park, Victoria Falls is roughly twice as deep and wide as Niagara Falls, making it one of the world’s most jaw-dropping waterfalls. To see this natural wonder at its prime, plan a visit in April or May when the region’s rainy season has concluded. Popular vantage points include the Knife-Edge Bridge, Livingstone Island and Devil’s Pool. When you’re not enjoying the view from above, go whitewater rafting in the Zambezi River to admire the falls from a different angle.

3. Tanzania

Most tourists head to Tanzania to go on safari, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t save time for the country’s other must-see treasures. In addition to its animal-filled plains, Tanzania boasts otherworldly natural wonders, including red-hued Lake Natron, Ngorongoro Conservation Area’s expansive crater and Mount Kilimanjaro – the tallest mountain in Africa (and largest free-standing mountain on Earth). For the ultimate adrenaline rush, book a climbing excursion up the continent’s famous mountain through a local tour operator.

4. Mauritius

Mauritius appeals to vacationers in search of a bit of everything. Though its main draws are its powdery sands and luxe beach resorts, this small island nation east of Madagascar also charms visitors with its mix of cultures; friendly locals; lively festivals and tasty teas and rums. After a day of exploring some of the island’s nature reserves and soaking up the sun, retreat to one of its premier properties to savor fresh seafood while watching a traditional sega dance performance or the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

5. Masai Mara National Reserve

Home to cheetahs, elephants, lions, wildebeests, hippos and more, Masai Mara National Reserve is one of Kenya’s premier spots to see wildlife. Sign up for a safari to explore this protected area’s 373,000-plus acres of rolling grasslands. (Tip: Look for companies with guides certified by the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association.) For an extra dose of adventure, opt for a horseback riding excursion or hot air balloon safari. To increase your chances of spotting the big five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes) and other migrating animals, time your visit between July and October during the Great Migration.

6. Zanzibar

Zanzibar offers something for everyone, whether you’re in search of beautiful white sand beaches or an unforgettable adventure. After trekking to this Indian Ocean archipelago off the coast of East Africa, you’ll instantly feel at ease as you lounge on quiet beaches like Matemwe and Kiwengwa. Next, visit UNESCO World Heritage-listed Stone Town, where you’ll find the ruins of a 19th-century palace and a graveyard with ties to Zanzibar’s former Arab royals. And no trip would be complete without taking a spice tour in the countryside and exploring Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. As an added bonus, you’ll find this is a surprisingly cheap tropical destination.

7. Seychelles

A grouping of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles has long attracted those looking for a truly relaxing, off-the-beaten-path getaway. Spend your days lounging on pristine, crowd-free beaches like Anse Lazio and Anse Source D’Argent, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Or, head deep into the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Vallée de Mai nature reserve to gaze at its unique flora and fauna. Keep in mind that lodging here is expensive (especially at the luxury resorts), so it’s best to save up and book in advance. 

8. Cape Town

With numerous hiking trails, miles of dramatic scenery and stunning beaches (including one with wild penguins), this South Africa hub caters to both adventurous and laid-back travelers. Getting to Cape Town won’t be cheap, but your dollar will go far once you arrive. Make sure you take the aerial cableway up Table Mountain, visit Nelson Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island and explore the world-renowned Constantia Valley wine region. You’ll also want to save time to trek through the Cape of Good Hope, which lies 40 miles south of Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa.

9. Cairo

Cairo can be overwhelming, as there’s so much to see and do everywhere you turn. From Islamic Cairo’s bustling Khan El-Khalili bazaar to the ancient Pyramids of Giza to the picturesque Nile River, you’ll be immersed in this Egyptian city’s history and culture before long. Though winter offers the most pleasant weather of the year (with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s), it’s also the busiest season, so consider visiting in spring or fall when room rates are lower, temps are bearable and crowds thin out.

10. Marrakech

Like other historic Moroccan cities, Marrakech buzzes with life: Performers vie for your attention in Jemaa El Fna (an open-air square in the heart of the Medina of Marrakesh) while vendors hawk aromatic spices, homemade textiles, ornate lanterns and more at the bazaars along the alleyways. When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, unwind at a hammam, visit the Jardin Majorelle or head to a rooftop bar and relax before retiring to your riad. During your visit, keep an ear out to hear the striking tones of the nearby mosques’ calls to prayer.

11. Kruger National Park

You’ll spot plenty of animals – ranging from lions to rhinos to elephants to giraffes – in this massive game preserve in South Africa. Kruger National Park’s network of paved roads makes it easier to navigate than Serengeti, and it tends to be cheaper to visit. However, its popularity (especially from May to October, which are the best months for wildlife viewing) means you’re more likely to encounter hordes of visitors during game drives. Consider visiting one of the park’s private game reserves for a more exclusive experience, and to ensure lodging, flight and tour availability, you’ll likely want to finalize your trip at least a year in advance.

12. Madagascar

The habitat on the island of Madagascar is unlike any other in the world: Most of the landscape is unspoiled, giving visitors a chance to see animals in their natural environment. Travelers should look out for the country’s signature animal: the lemur. Madagascar is home to more than 100 species of these creatures, as well as 11,000-plus plant species, including majestic baobab trees. Some of the best places to see wildlife and Madagascar’s geological wonders include Isalo National Park and Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve. Be sure to save some time to island hop to Nosy Be for its world-class beaches. 

13. Malawi

Despite its small size and landlocked location in southeastern Africa, Malawi draws visitors with its gorgeous lake, diverse wildlife and friendly people. At Lake Malawi, one of the deepest lakes in the world, travelers can enjoy water sports activities like kayaking and sailing, soak up some sun on a white sand beach or dive beneath the lake’s surface to look for colorful cichlid fish. The tiny country also features nine national parks and wildlife reserves, making it an excellent less-crowded option for a self-drive or a guided safari. For the best wildlife viewing, arrive during the dry season, which lasts from May to October.

14. Botswana

Adventurous travelers who dream of spending their vacation surrounded by nature will love Botswana. A less crowded alternative to nearby safari destinations like South Africa and Tanzania, Botswana has a strong conservation focus and offers ample opportunities to spot rhinos, elephants and more in protected areas like Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve, the oldest reserve of the Okavango Delta. Plus, adrenaline junkies can participate in all kinds of heart-pumping activities, including quad biking, mokoro (canoe) safaris and helicopter tours.

15. Nairobi

Kenya’s capital city offers the perfect blend of urban pursuits and natural splendor. With museums highlighting its pre- and post-colonial heritage, bustling street markets and a thriving nightlife scene, Nairobi is a cultural hub. But its proximity to (and preservation of) wildlife is what makes Nairobi one of the world’s most unique cities. The city boasts its own national park – Nairobi National Park, whose grassy plains host 100-plus mammal species including black rhinos – as well as wildlife conservation parks such as the Giraffe Centre and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. What’s more, scenery seekers can also visit the urban Karura Forest or hike the surrounding Ngong Hills.

Source: usnews