There are plenty of travel lists out there with insight on where to go, but if you’re planning to come to Africa, our top 10 is one you won’t want to miss. We compiled predictions from over 20 expert sources including bloggers, travel publications and online media, to discover the best destinations to visit in Southern and East Africa, and asked Instagram to give the final word.
Mozambique is home to some of Africa’s best dive locations, Tofo’s hippy, laid-back ambience appealing to the backpacker crowd and Instagrammers. Kristin Addis, CEO, of Be My Travel Muse, said in a recent CNN Travel article (20 Holiday Destinations The Experts Say Not To Miss), “There was very little online about this coastal country in Southern Africa,” which proves Mozambique is still one of the regions best kept secrets. All the more reason to book a seat on our 14-day Mozambique & Zimbabwe Explorer, the overland tour visiting Tofo, Vilanculos and Bilene.
With “Secrets In The Mist” – a three part documentary charting Dian Fossey’s life, work and mysterious murder over 30 years ago – recently airing in 171 countries on the National Geographic Channel, gorilla permits could well be in short supply. We suggest booking early as places for this activity are limited for reasons of conservation, and even earlier if you’re considering travel to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – permits for Uganda currently half the price of those in neighbouring Rwanda. A safari steal, book yourself on our 6-day Troop to the Gorillas.
If you want to feel the full force of “The Smoke That Thunders,” travel in May and June. On Instagram, the natural wonder was pipped at the post by South Luangwa, the Zambian national park said to be the birthplace of the original walking safari. With more remote places expected to be on our radar in 2018, the park will be one to watch, its 9,050 square kilometres renowned for amazing wildlife sightings, from the hippos that crowd the river to its rare Thornicroft giraffes and even leopards. Visit both attractions on our 21-day East African Explorer.
Zimbabwe secured seventh place, but in the post Mugabe era, the country could well climb even further up the popularity polls. Hwange National Park is home to an estimated 50,000 elephants, many of which are in breeding herds as large as 300. Add in 100 different kinds of mammals (including the endangered wild dog) and around 500 bird species, plus little competition for vantage points, and it’s a no brainer for Africa fans. Obviously, no trip here would be complete without seeing the largest falling curtain of water in the world. Starting and ending at the Victoria Falls, our 7-day Southern Africa Safari includes two game drives in the Hwange National Park.
Iconic Africa, the Serengeti is home to the Greatest Wildlife Show On Earth – Tanzania’s premier national park playing host to the migratory herds. Ideal if your Africa bucket list is on a budget, skip Africa’s dry season and catch the wildebeests in the Serengeti from January through March. In calving season the chance of witnessing a wildebeest birth is high and you can be assured of plenty of predator interaction. Mount Kilimanjaro was hugely popular on the photo sharing site, and with talk of extreme travel trending in 2018, Acacia is expecting plenty more activity from the Roof of Africa on Instagram. See the Serengeti on the 11-day Highlights of Tanzania Overland tour.
Take on Mount Kilimanjaro and trek to the highest freestanding mountain in the world at 5895 metres.
Malawi is a country where overland overcomes the solo challenges of getting around. The ninth largest lake in the world, Lake Malawi is a diver’s paradise, but the time to go is now, as if you’re looking for crowd free beaches its golden sands won’t stay that way for long – the Lake of Stars festival scheduled to celebrate its 15th birthday in 2018. Rachel of The Taylor Made Travels, says “It might not boast any bucket list-worthy attractions, but that doesn’t mean Malawi isn’t magical,”- and being relatively undiscovered is all part of its allure. Dive into Malawi on our 22-day Zanzibar, Victoria Falls & Kruger.
Want to visit places where time stands still? Then you’re one of the world’s new timeless travellers. Yes, going to places where you can feel the absence of progress is now a thing. Namibia does vast expanses of stunning, untouched landscapes like no other African country, which also makes it one of the most popular overland destinations for solo travellers. Sossusvlei is an Insta-hit – climbing dunes, which are amongst the highest in the world, a bucket list activity. Etosha National Park came a close second, and with eight months of wildlife viewing, you can get your game on from May to December. Visit both destinations on our 11-day Cape Desert Safari.
Botswana’s got green travel going on, and with 2018 being tipped as the year sustainable travel goes big, the Gem of Africa will be a stellar safari choice. The Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park took Acacia’s coveted hotspots, and since the now engaged, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, are firm fans of Africa’s last wetland wilderness, a possible honeymoon could see the delta’s popularity sky rocket. More of a real steal than royal, our prices make Botswana a bargain. Visit Chobe and the delta on the 9-day Best of Botswana.
With the chance to book front row seats to the Annual Migration, the world-renowned Masai Mara is a major drawcard for first time safari-goers. The game reserve is clearly still a top contender in the insta-stakes, and combined with Diani Beach – journeys to Kenya’s coastline made even easier by the new Standard Gauge Railway – Kenya secured the number two spot on our “best of” list.
As the Obama’s are rumoured to be heading to Nairobi next year, interest in Africa’s Wildlife Capital could also surge in 2018. Sources say the former president might be planning a June trip, his proposed itinerary including a visit to the African Heritage House, the Pan-African art museum home to American designer and architect, Alan Donovan. Once described as “the most photographed house in Africa,” Donovan’s residence is only a 20 minute drive from the centre of Nairobi. Combine a 4-day small group safari in the Mara with our three day Nairobi Park Stay, the itinerary including a game drive in Nairobi National Park, Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage visit, return airport transfers, all food and drink and twin share ensuite accommodation at a tented camp (inside Nairobi National Park).
1. SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa has been busting the bucket lists recently, the Rainbow Nation landing a much-coveted spot on Lonely Planet’s top 10 Best Countries To Visit In 2018. Its diverse landscape and favourable exchange rate were just some of the reasons to go, South Africa’s many attractions likely to be bolstered by Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018: Be the Legacy, a programme of events aimed at honouring the legendary leader. Cape Town and the Kruger National Park were our two most popular hotspots, the Mother City the jumping off point for Robben Island (where Mandela served 18 years of his 27-year sentence) and the perfect place to feel the Madiba buzz post your Big 5 safari.
One to watch, in 2018 the Otter Trail will celebrate its 50th year. The complete route is a serious five-day trek, but you can experience a taster of South Africa’s oldest hiking spot in a single afternoon on a visit to Tsitsikamma. Visit the Kruger, Cape Town and Tsitsikamma on our 19-day Kruger to Cape Town. The tour also stops in Durban, South Africa’s “seaside playground” partnering with the Discovery Channel in its “Discover Durban” campaign, one of its ambitious aims, to be one of the top 20 destinations in the world by 2022.