Is it your first adventure, and you are wondering about the best places to visit in Africa for first timers? Many people only consider visiting Africa for safari vacations or popular places like Cape Town. This is a shame because Africa has so much more to offer, and people should think of it as a diverse collection of cultures and landscapes with endless possibilities.
For a first-timer, deciding where to go for a holiday in Africa can be challenging due to the continent’s size. Africa is made up of 54 nations on one landmass, as well as islands, and also has thousands of languages. However, you can discover the top places to visit in Africa that you should consider by reading on.
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What is the Easiest African Country to Visit?
Rwanda is the easiest African country to visit due to its visa-free policy/open-door policy. This beautiful country has everything a traveller might need, such as hotels, restaurants, transportation services, and sights to see. All these factors make it an ideal destination for those who want to explore the African continent.
Where Should I Go for the First Time in Africa?
1. The Seychelles
If you’re our regular reader, you know we adore Seychelles and wouldn’t dream of leaving it out on the list of the best places to visit in Africa for first timers. What makes me love the country so much? Seychelles has stunning beaches with clear waters and white-sand shores that are considered some of the best in the world. It also has many attractions, such as snorkelling, Scuba diving and hiking in Morne Seychellois National Park. If you like animals, you can see cute Giant Tortoises in a few locations on the islands.
The place also boasts numerous luxury hotels, making it tough to choose where to stay (but a delightful problem to have). It’s no surprise it’s the best place to visit.
2. The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
If you’re intrigued by the fantastic wildlife in Africa, I highly suggest visiting the Serengeti. Come and witness a truly unique experience where you can witness the Great Migration. Every year, this event attracts many visitors who can go and witness millions of wildebeest move from Serengeti National Park to the Masai Mara in Kenya. These creature herds living in the Serengeti, include lions, elephants, and zebras, among others.
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Although you may have seen it before on a nature documentary, seeing it in person is truly awe-inspiring. To see it live, plan to visit the park between the end of June and August.
3. Mt Rwenzori, Uganda
Mount Rwenzori is located in the Great African Rift Valley and is one of the most spectacular mountains on the continent. The Rwenzori Mountains are among the most exciting and challenging mountain ranges to trek. If you love adventure, be ready to explore 996 square kilometres of thick vegetation, rocks, cliffs, snow-capped peaks, and a mystical world.
The height of the peaks may not match the tallest mountains in the world, such as the highest point – Mount Stanley’s Margherita Peak, which is 5,109 metres (although Mt. Rwenzori is still the 4th highest peak in Africa!). But its remote location, the weather conditions, viewpoints and low visitor numbers combine to thrill adventurous first-time trekkers looking for a very special experience.
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The mountain’s lower slopes are lush with vegetation, while the higher slopes are covered in snow and ice. Trekking up Mount Rwenzori requires a trained guide, as you must navigate ice walls and significant snowfall to reach the peaks.
4. Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is one of the best places to visit in Africa for first timers. As the largest freshwater swamp in the southern part of the continent, it offers great bird-watching opportunities, especially during the wet season. With over a hundred bird species to spot daily, it’s a top destination for bird enthusiasts, similar to Steve Martin’s character in The Big Year. Grab an opportunity to explore the African wilderness while canoeing or taking a mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe. During your trip, you can get up close with giraffes, zebras, and other animals as they wander through the area.
5. The Moroccan City of Marrakech
If you are a first-time traveler to Africa, consider visiting Marrakech, a city with a rich history, culture, and plenty of excitement. Marrakech has a lot to offer, including admiring the ornate architecture of the Koutoubia Mosque, admiring the City of Seven Saints and strolling around the Majorelle Gardens. While in the city, you can also explore the souks/markets and grab yourself souvenirs.
Bahia Palace is also a must-visit for interior design and architecture enthusiasts with its stunning zellige tiles and articulately-made iron features. Marrakech offers a diverse selection of cuisine, including traditional Moroccan dishes like tagine and couscous, which makes it an ideal destination for food lovers.
6. Victoria Falls, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, also known as “The Smoke That Thunders” by the locals, is a natural wonder. These waterfalls are located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and offer visitors a chance to experience the incredible force of nature up close. It is one of the best places to visit in Africa for first timers, with the most breathtaking sights you can find anywhere in the world.
Watching the water drop 300 feet with the huge mist it creates is truly magnificent. For optimal views of Victoria Falls, it’s recommended to be on the Zimbabwean side. If you want a romantic experience, you can book a sunset dinner cruise on the Zambezi just before the falls. Different activities are available, such as helicopter tours, white-water rafting, or relaxing at one of the lodges or hotels in the area that offer breathtaking views.
7. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar, a tropical paradise located off the coast of Tanzania, is one of the top vacation destinations in Africa. The island has breathtaking beaches, clear blue waters, and beautiful coral reefs that are great for exploration. With over 500 marine species, witness an array of colourful fish by taking the Mnemba Atoll snorkelling tour, which includes tasty snacks.
Remember to explore Stone Town, with its beautiful mosques and vibrant bazaars. It’s a great place to take a leisurely walk in the morning, but don’t forget to head back to the beach for a nap in the afternoon.