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10 Most Visited Countries in Africa

Africa is the land of diversity. From hot deserts to breezy coastlines, from white snow-capped mountains to green savannahs, from lizards to Big Five; Africa has it all. Tourism has always been a major contributor to the economic development of many African countries, and here are ten most visited countries on the continent.

 

1. South Africa

When it comes to diversity, Africa always has one country to be proud of: South Africa. Among only 17 megadiverse countries all over the world, South Africa is the only African country to make it to the list by Conservation International. Please understand that megadiverse and like-minded megadiverse are quite different; some countries in Africa are recognized as the latter. Biodiversity and ecotourism are two of the strongest South Africa’s attractions. The existence and conservation efforts of large mammals such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, giraffes, and even white rhinoceros are great assets to promote and encourage tourism in the country. Some of the most popular destinations include:

• Kruger National Park
• Kalahari Desert
• Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
• Zululand
• Thohoyandou Arts & Culture Center

Apart from its diverse wildlife and landscape, another major attraction in South Africa is its local history. Many museums exhibit remembrance of the country’s upheaval history during the apartheid era; learning about the country’s true identity will help you understand how far South Africa has moved forward from its tearing past.

 

2. Morocco

Perhaps Morocco does not have the kind of diversity that South Africa does, but it makes up for that with great coastlines and cultures. Another good thing is that Morocco has been one of the most stable countries in Africa for a long time, giving the country plenty of time and such conducive-environment to develop its tourism industry. Some of the most popular destinations include:

• Four Imperial Cities: Fes, Meknes, Marrakesh, and Rabat (historical capitals of Morocco)
• Casablanca: it is the largest city in the country and home of the world’s tallest minaret
• Ouarzazate: a fortified village and one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
• Beach resorts in Agadir and Tarfaya

Many people consider Morocco the gateway to Africa. It is a historically diverse countries filled with iconic ancient cities, mountain ranges, deserts, and of course locals’ hospitality. In many cases, enjoying Morocco takes nothing more than laid-back attitude and paying attentions to the interactions happening all around you.

 

3. Tunisia

Popularly known for its golden beaches, Tunisia is home to affordable luxuries. Among major tourist attractions are the ancient ruins of Carthage, Jerba (Muslim and Jewish quarters), and cosmopolitan city of Tunis. It has the right combinations of relaxing holiday and Africa’s characteristics, blending historical cultures with modern sun-sand-and-sea resorts. The highlights, however, are the beach resorts. Most popular resorts with percentage of nights out are as follows:

• Djerba-Zarzis - 40%
• Sousse-Monastir-Mahdia - 36%
• Nabeul-Hammamet - 24%
• Tunis-Zaghouan - 10%
• Tabarka-Aïn Draham - 2%

The popularity of those beach resorts somehow overshadows the vast majority of other destinations in the country; they are underrated, and this always means good things for certain groups of tourists who prefer adventurous trips to partying. There is the Saharan sand in the south, and if you look careful enough, some parts of the coastlines are still forested. For some tourists, exploring the landscapes is equally (if not more) rewarding as spending times in those luxurious resorts.

 

4. Algeria

African is filled with many large countries, and Algeria is the largest of them all. It is located in North Africa on the Mediterranean Coast; if you are visiting from Europe, Algeria is actually just a short hop. Algiers and Constantine are two charismatic cities in the country with excellent backdrop of beautiful coastline and snow-capped mountain. There are also two perfectly-preserved Roman towns in the country: Timgad and Djemila. In addition to those four cities, here is a list of Algerian tourism highlights:

• Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad – Hammaid Empire once used the city as the capital
• Cirta - capital of Kingdom of Numidia
• Belzma National Park
• Hammam Guergour
• Babors mountains
• The Tassili du Hoggar
• Timgad
• Tebessa – the antique Theveste
• Kabylie coast

Well-developed historical cities exist in Algeria, so is a splendid view of the Saharan region. There is only sand as far as your eyes can see, and even the mountains look red from afar. All in all, Algeria is a country where you can have the pleasures of modern civilized getaway in the city and adventurous edgy trip at the same time.

 

5. Mozambique

As far as tourism is concerned, the best phrase that represents Mozambique is all in one. The country has diverse wildlife, relaxing coastlines sprinkled with palm trees, and cultures like nowhere else. In mainland Mozambique, you’ll be pleased to see and experience a combination of colonial-style architecture and vibrant modern nightlife. Far to the north, you are provided with remote archipelagos to spend your days doing nothing but admiring natural beauties comprised of colorful fish and pristine corals covered in turquoise waters. Popular destinations in Mozambique include:

• Mozambique Island
• Lake Niassa
• Quirimbas Archipelago
• Maputo Special Reserve

One thing that sets Mozambique apart from others is that sometimes discovering those beauties are not easy. Some of the best locations are hidden away from plain sight to the point where you have to endure long and slightly uncomfortable journey on public transportation. There is a sense of adventure in the trip, which makes the destinations more rewarding when you get there.

 

6. Zimbabwe

Thanks to the presence of large numbers of medieval-era cities, Zimbabwe has its own way to bring forward its tourism industry. One of the most among popular those ancient cities is the Great Zimbabwe ruins located in Masvingo. In the age of Kingdom of Zimbabwe, somehow the city survived and now it is a major tourist destination. Other notable cities are Naletale, Khami Ruims, and Dhlo-Dhlo. Those historical cities are still only parts of the attractions because Zimbabwe also shines for its natural wonders including Victoria Falls and of course Africa Big Five comprised of lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos, and rhinoceros. Popular spots in Zimbabwe include:

• Victoria Falls National Park
• Great Zimbabwe
• Mana Pool National Park
• Matobo National Park
• Harare

The combination of Victoria Falls and Big Five alone makes Zimbabwe a must-visit during your trip to Africa. Even better, you can see it along with backdrops of lush mountains archeological sites, and some small laidback towns to complete the picture.

 

7. Kenya

For a country that largely depends on tourism industry for economic development, Kenya has no choice but to make sure that its landscape and wildlife are well-preserved; 19 national parks and game reserves are undeniable proofs of the country’s efforts to make tourism thrive. From Kenya, you can actually see the view of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest mountain in Africa, across the border of Tanzania. Other must-visit destinations are Great Rift Valley and the mosques at Mombasa. Some of the most popular destinations in Kenya are:

• Maasai Mara National Park
• Mount Kenya
• Nairobi National Park
• Amboseli National Park

If there is one country to represent Africa’s tourism industry in general, Kenya should be the first one to consider. Apart from its successful wildlife conservation efforts, Kenya offers a unique mixture of snow-capped mountain and sight of hot deserts. Let us not forget about one thing: Maasai Mara National Park is the grand stage of the Great Migration where millions of herbivores take an annual trip to follow the rains.

 

8. Uganda

National parks are highlights of tourism in Uganda. Coming back from political instability and the lost of great number of wildlife, Uganda is certainly making its comeback in good way. Its tropical forests remain largely intact, and the country has half of the population of the last remaining mountain gorillas. Popular destinations in Uganda include:

• Murchison Falls National Park
• Queen Elizabeth National Park
• Kidepo Valley National Park
• Lake Mburo National Park
• Rwenzori Mountains National Park
• Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
• Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
• Semliki National Park
• Kibaale National Park
• Mount Elgon National Park

Uganda is not particularly big country, yet it packs a lot of attractions to keep visitors coming. Uganda is home to Rwenzori Mountains (the tallest mountain range in Africa), Big Five, and water bodies. The countries location in African Great Lakes region also opens the opportunities to enjoy water sports such as kayaking and rafting.

 

9. Namibia

For the uninformed, Namibia is probably not in the list of their destinations in Africa. One thing is certain: Namibia is one of the best places to witness wildlife in Southern Africa. Etosha National Park has always been major attraction for safari where you can see elephants, big cats, and black rhinoceros in the wild. A slightly underrated attraction is Damaraland filled with the largest population of free-ranging rhinos; it is also home to desert-adapted elephants. Popular destinations in Namibia include:

• Etosha National Park
• Sossusvlei
• Fish River Canyon
• Swakopmund
• Skeleton Coast

There are only few countries all across the world that can match the diverse landscapes on Namibia. Namib Desert, Skeleton Coast, dead-tree valleys of Sossusvlei, and one-of-a-kind sand dunes are only small portions that the country has to offer.

 

10. Senegal

Biodiversity and thriving city life make two big portions of Senegal tourism industry. Located on the west coast of Africa, the country is rich in history of French colonial heritage. Dakar, the capital, is a city filled with sparkling nightlife and home to the ancient Medina at the same time. While Dakar stands out thanks to its vibrant life, the nearby cities such as Yoff and Ile de Goree are known for their slow laid-back attitudes. Saint-Louis is another major city in Senegal; formerly the capital of French West Africa, it is one of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Filled with colonial architectures and national parks, the city has a personality of its own. Tourism highlights in Senegal include:

• Cap Skirring
• Saint-Louis
• Dakar
• Sine-Saloum Delta
• Casamance

National Parks and Reverse System are still small in Senegal, but they are developing at rapid rate. Both Langue de Barbarie National Park and Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary are in just around the mount of Senegal River near Saint-Louis, providing good opportunity to have boat excursion activity while enjoying the sights of hundreds of bird species.

Conclusion

Africa is different, peculiar, unique, and sometimes strange but always beautiful. The landscapes, wildlife, and cultures in many different countries in the continent are not found anywhere else in the world. Conservation of wildlife has always been a major highlight of Africa’s tourism industry; in the right countries at the right time, however, you’ll find thriving nightlife, secluded beach resorts in remote archipelagos, and outdoor adventures of a lifetime.

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