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We have updated our top ten list of the most popular destinations to visit in Southern and East Africa, the results compiled from expert sources and Instagram hashtags. In the 12 months since the original data was made available, there have been some significant changes – Uganda taking the top slot from South Africa and Mozambique moving from tenth to third place.  

With Instagram racking up 1 million users in June 2018, its growth outperforming Facebook and Snapchat, the photo-sharing app is clearly well on its way to becoming the most authentic travel brochure in the world. Its power for inspiring our wanderlust has been proven time and again, making Instagram a reliable source of information for destinations which are trending.

The cost of trekking the endangered mountain gorilla in Uganda is still half that of neighbouring Rwanda, and while the price differential might well have drawn more people to visit the country over 2018, we feel our growing concern with over-tourism and eagerness to see places which are less well visited, (or where tourist numbers are more strictly monitored to protect the environment, in this case, the gorillas habitat), as the reason behind Uganda’s rise to fame.

Mountain gorillas in East and Central Africa were taken off the ‘critically endangered’ species list after last year’s census, with the total number of mountain gorillas (living in the Virunga Mountains and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park) now believed to be above 1,000 individuals. In the earlier part of the year there was an exciting baby boom at Bwindi, and in late 2018, Uganda Tourism announced the successful habituation of three new gorilla families and the addition of more permits: 19 gorilla families now available for trekking and the total number of trekking permits standing at 152 per day.

If you’d like to make a date with the Silverback and his band, head overland on one of our camping or accommodated tours to see Uganda’s Mountain gorillas.  Alternatively, explore our Short Safaris & Treks collection to find your perfect primate trip. Year-round departures.

A country where caring for the environment takes precedence over tourism, Mozambique isn’t such a wild card when you consider how much more knowledgeable and informed we are about eco-tourism, as ultimately, those concerns tend to inform our travel plans.

In late 2017, as part of an eco-overhaul, the conservation NGO, African Parks (which manages more than a dozen protected areas in eight other countries on the continent), signed an agreement to take over the management of the Bazaruto National Park for 25 years, the emphasis on creating a conservation-led economy where eco-initiatives benefit local communities. The government set aside the 1,430 square kilometre reserve in 1971, Bazaruto a critical sanctuary for numerous species of marine megafauna including dolphins, sharks, whales, whale sharks, manta rays and turtles.

Book a seat on our 14-day Mozambique & Zimbabwe Explorer, the tour available in camping and accommodated options. March to December departures.

Our research

Our search for independent and expert sources (Expert predictions/Best African countries to visit) on the ‘best travel and safari destinations in Africa’ revealed 16 countries in East and Southern Africa, from which we selected the top ten most frequently mentioned countries. The two most frequently mentioned locations corresponding to each of these top ten destinations were then searched for on Instagram (Instagram data for “Best countries to visit in East & Southern Africa) revealing the number of times the hashtag was used worldwide, and allowing each country’s hashtag total to be ranked from one (most popular) to ten. From this we compiled our list of the ‘best travel and safari destinations to visit in East & Southern Africa as polled by Instagram. In the revised 2019 list, we calculated the percentage increase based on the same hashtags used in the original data.

Original data released December 2017:

1. South Africa

2. Tanzania

3. Kenya

4. Botswana

5. Namibia

6. Zambia

7. Uganda

8. Zimbabwe

9. Mozambique

10. Malawi

Revised data 2019:

1. Uganda

2. Tanzania

3. Mozambique

4. Kenya

5. Namibia

6. Zimbabwe

7. Botswana

8. Zambia

9. South Africa

10. Malawi