I bet you'll be surprised to learn that Africa is full of diverse travel opportunities. Africa is overflowing with vibrant culture, rich history, unique wildlife, stunning landscapes, and lovely people.
If you are craving a rich cultural experience that will shift your worldview and inspire a scene of wonder, then you need to visit any of these incredible destinations in Africa.
As a continent, Africa has a sad history of war, civil unrest, and poverty that makes most Westerners hesitate to visit. In many cases, that hesitation is justified. But there are many beautiful and safe destinations throughout Africa; you just need to know where to look.
Things to know before you go
Keep an eye on the news and travel alerts.
Get your vaccines!
Research the "bad areas" before you go to avoid them.
Even if a country is safe to visit, you still want to be vigilant against theft. Don't wear expensive jewelry or high-end clothing. Don't open your bag or wallet in public places. Always ensure your car is locked, windows are closed, and belongings are hidden. Research and plan your accommodations ahead of time to avoid scams.
The most popular countries to visit in Africa are Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa. Everyone knows these are incredible destinations with endless activities and sights to see. But there are so many other lesser-known destinations in Africa that will change your life.
The 6 Lesser Known African Destinations You Need to Visit
1 - Cape Verde
Africa isn't always the first place you think to look for gorgeous beaches, but you might be surprised. Cape Verde (also known as Cabe Verde) is a beautiful island nation off the coast of West Africa near Mauritania, Senegal, and the Gambia. This island oasis is the home of striking volcanos, relaxing beaches, and vibrant festivals.
The nation comprises ten islands spaced apart on the North Atlantic Ocean. Visit Sal to find stretches of glistening golden sand met with azure water—a true lover's paradise. Foro is home to striking volcanoes. And on Sao Vincente, you'll find the capital city, Mindelo, which hosts incredible Creole and Portuguese food and carnivals.
Is it safe to travel to Cape Verde?
Cape Verde has a relatively low crime rate and is safe for travelers if they follow essential travel and water safety practices.
2 - Tanzania
When most think about vacationing in Africa, they first think of African plane safaris where they can ride through grasslands and see wildlife only native to the continent. Tanzania is home to the Serengeti National Park, the best park for an African safari adventure. In this iconic wildlife area, wildebeests, zebra, gazelles, and more graze expansive grasslands littered with distinctive Acacia and Balanites trees.
But safaris aren't the only thing you'll find in Tanzania. It also happens to be home to the tallest freestanding mountain on Earth, Kilimanjaro, which you can hike to photograph from afar. Whatever suits you. If hiking is something you enjoy and you've always wanted to see chimpanzees up close, visit the Mahale Mountains. This forested mountain is home to 60-strong habituated Mimikere ('M' group) chimpanzees. It's a trek but well worth it. Don’t forget the tropical beaches of Zanzibar!
Apart from the natural wonders, Tanzania is made up of 120 different tribes. They each have their own language and way of living, but together, they create the beautiful tapestry of Tanzanian culture.
Is it safe to travel to Tanzania?
As of 2023, Tanzania is safe for tourists. You still have to take basic precautions against theft and violent crime. Beware if people seem overly friendly, inviting you to stay in their homes or offering a free ride.
3 - Seychelles
Seychelles is a true tropical paradise off the coast of Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa. It consists of 115 little island oases floating in the Indian Ocean. You can quickly bounce from island to island, enjoying the beautiful beaches, diverse culture, exotic locals, and unique, sometimes endangered, wildlife.
Visit Anse Lazio for good snorkeling and swimming, Anse Cocos for exploring, or Anse Marron for a private, natural saltwater pool. Seychelles is home to endangered nesting turtles. You can visit them at Anse Intendance or cruise to Cosmoldo or Astove to experience giant tortoises. For a real-life "Garden of Eden," check out the Vallee de Mai Nature reserve on Praslin island. If you visit in April, stop by Capital City, Victoria, on Mahe Island. Every year, they host the International Seychelles Carnival, a massive party that celebrates the multi-ethnic culture of the island. There's live music, parades, and world-class food.
Is it safe to travel to Seychelles?
Crime levels in Seychelles are low. The only risks are petty crimes like theft. Travelers are advised to practice standard precautions to avoid theft. Travel in pairs and protect your belongings.
4 - Namibia
Drive alongside elephants, lions, and giraffes at Etosha National Park. Climb sand dunes in the Namibian Desert, or explore shipwrecks on coastline beaches. This relatively unknown nation in Southwest Africa is the perfect destination for anyone exploring Africa for the first time.
Namibia is safe, beautiful, and easy to explore independently. The official national language is English, so it's much easier to get around if you fly solo. Namibian culture blends African and European elements. The majority of Namibians still live in rural areas. There aren't many big cities, making it an incredible place to experience authentic culture safely.
Is it safe to travel to Namibia?
It is incredibly safe! Petty crime is higher in Windhoek and other large towns.
Head to Sao Tome and Principe for a fusion of African and European cultures in a tropical island setting. Sao Tome is full of Romanesque churches and ornate colonial buildings. You can find the Presidential Palace, Independence Square, and Central Market in their capital city, home to incredible local cuisine. In southern Sao Tome is Obo National Park, full of salt-washed mangroves and rainforests.
For more natural wonders, check out Boca de Inferno, a geological marvel poking out along the eastern shores, greeting swells from the Atlantic. Or visit the turtles on the golden sands of Jale Beach.
Principe is small, with most of the population (just above 1000 people) living in the capital city, Santo Antonio. Friendly locals, age-stained colonial edifices, and mud-splattered pueblo-style homes there will greet you. The legacy of Portuguese rule is still evident throughout the culture.
Is it safe to travel in Sao Tome and Principe?
Generally speaking, it is very safe for travelers. It is a relatively peaceful country with no current threat of terrorism. You can safely walk the capital's streets almost any time of day.
6 - Ghana
We saved the best for last…
Be prepared to be struck by the vivid expression of culture brimming with family values, ethnicity, and merriment. The people of Ghana have a true zest for life and love to celebrate every aspect of it. Its unique healthy economy and long-time stable democracy make this nation a stable gem on the continent.
During your stay, there is no shortage of incredible places to visit. The canopy walkways in Kakum National Park give you a bird's eye view of the rainforest and its inhabitants. You can visit the elephants, leopards, and antelope that roam the Mole National Park. Or, for a glimpse at the nation's sad history, visit St George's Castle in the fishing town of Elmiana. It was once a hub for the slave trade. Visit the innovative community of Nzulezu, a small village built on stilts over a lagoon.
Is it safe to travel to Ghana?
It is a safe country in general. Some places are more dangerous than others. Do your research and exercise precautions; avoid traveling solo or to remote locations.
In the end…
Africa is the ideal destination for experiencing diverse cultures, landscapes, and wildlife. The people are, generally speaking, warm and inviting. As long as you take precautions and use safe traveling practices, plenty of beautiful nations exist to explore. Whether it's the jungles of Tanzania or Ghana or the island beaches in Seychelles or Cape Verde, you are bound to make life-altering memories.
Which of these lesser-known African destinations do you want to visit? Would you like to learn more about any of these African nations? Let us know in the comments.