Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent in the world. It consists of 52 official countries and two disputed countries. Each of these has its own unique culture and history making them fascinating places to visit. Regardless of where you go in Africa, you will find plenty of things to see and do that will suit all tastes and interests. There are large cities that offer visitors interesting architecture and an urban buzz and there are large rural areas with spectacular landscapes and a diverse range of wildlife to enjoy. If you are visiting Africa, there are many attractions you should consider adding to your vacation itinerary. Here are 20 of the top attractions you must see in Africa.
20. Apartheid Museum, South Africa
Apartheid in South Africa is a significant element of the history and culture in this part of the world. It is something that has impacted on the lives of those who once lived in this country and it continues to have significance to the lifestyles of those who live in South Africa to this day. The museum is located in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the focus of the museum is on both Apartheid and 20th-century history in South Africa. This attraction has been open to the public since 2001 and is owned by Gold Reed City Casino.
19. uShaka Marine World, South Africa
While many of the attractions in Africa are historical structures or natural features of the diverse African landscapes, there are also fun things to see and do. One of the best examples of this is uShaka Marine World. This theme park covers 40 acres and attracts more than 790,000 visitors each year. It is home to over 10,000 animals. The attraction is located in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The park is divided into five sections; uShaka Kids World, uShaka Village Walk, uShaka Beach, uShaka Wet ‘n’ Wild, and uShaka Sea World. Further to these sections, there is also uShaka Sea Animal Encounters Island where visitors can get up close and personal with some of the animals. For example, they can dive with sharks or swim with dolphins. It was first opened to the public in 2004 and has continued to grow in popularity.
18. Valley of the Kings, Egypt
The Valley of the Kings stands on the west bank of the River Nile. It is home to the tombs of many Pharaohs and powerful nobles from Ancient Egypt. The valley has been heavily excavated since the end of the 18th-century by archaeologists who were keen to uncover the mysteries of this area. The West Valley is where the majority o the significant tombs are located although there are many more tombs in East Valley. The discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun made this one of the most famous and historically significant sites in the world. In 1979, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is now also a tourist center in the Valley of the Kings. The majority of the tombs are not open to the public. In fact, there are only 18 that can be viewed but these are not always open at the same time as restoration work takes place regularly. Usually, there are between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors to the Valley of the Kings each week. However, when Nile cruises are taking place, there are as many as 9,000 visitors.
17. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a protected area in the Crater Highlands of Tanzania. The conservation area is named after a volcanic crater which is now home to some of the most beautiful unchanged wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Tourists flock to Ngorongoro Conservation Area to enjoy the wildlife. Some of the animals that can be seen there include rhinoceros, East African lions, Cape buffalo, hippopotamus, gazelles, wildebeest, leopards, and cheetahs. It joins with the Serengeti National Park to the northeast. The first European to visit this area was Oscar Baumann in 1892. While hunting was once a popular pastime in Ngorongoro, it is now forbidden and there are strict laws in place to protect the wildlife.
16. Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta is located where the Okavango River reaches the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari at a tectonic trough. It is a large, swampy inland that was the 1000th site to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Due to its magnificence and scale, it was included in the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in 2013. The delta has many islands, the largest of which is Chief’s Island which is 70 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide. When the waters rise, this is where much of the wildlife gathers. Many of the smaller islands are formed of salt which gathers at the roots of plants and then eventually forms an island. Okavango Delta is home to 71 species of fish and the most populous large mammal is the lechwe antelope.
15. Majorelle Garden, Marrakesh, Morocco
Majorelle Garden is an artist’s landscape and botanical garden in Marrakesh, Morocco, that covers two and a half acres. It was designed and created by Jacques Majorelle, a French Orientalist artist. Although the garden was started in 1923, it took over 40 years to complete. One of the features of the garden is a Cubist villa which was designed in the 1930s by Paul Sinoir, a French architect. In addition to the gardens, tourists can enjoy the Berber Museum and the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakesh, both of which are located within Majorelle Garden. The garden was once owned by fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and this is where his ashes are buried.
14. Virunga National, Democratic Republic of Congo
Virunga National Park was the first African National Park as it was established in 1925. It is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo and stretches over 3,000 square miles between the Virunga Mountains and the Rwenzori Mountains. The park also border the Rwenzori Mountains Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda and the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The primary aim of the national park when it was founded was to protect the mountain gorillas who lived on the Virunga Mountains in the forested areas. In 1979, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its exceptional biodiversity as it is home to more species of mammals, reptiles, and birds, than any other protected site in the world.
13. Lake Malawi, Malawi
Lake Malawi is an African Great Lake located in Malawi that is part of the East African Rift System. It is also on the borders of Mozambique and Tanzania. It is the second deepest and third largest lake in Africa and the ninth largest lake in the world. This lake has more species of fish than any other in the world. These include over 700 species of cichlids. Lake Malawi is approximately 360 miles long and 47 miles wide. The Mozambique section of the lake has been declared a reserve by the Mozambique government. The Malawi section of the lake is part of the Lake Malawi National Park. Visitors to the lake can enjoy a ferry ride form a variety of locations around the lake as there have been public ferries in operation on Lake Malawi since 1935.
12. Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Fish River Canyon is one of the most important tourist attractions in Namibia. It is the largest canyon in Africa and features a 100-mile long ravine that is 27 kilometers wide in some places. Fish River is also the longest interior river in this country and often floods during the summer. At one end of the river, there is a hot springs resort called Ai-Ais which is popular with tourists. Some parts of the canyon are privately owned, but tourists can view the canyon from a campsite near Hobas that is part of the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. It is a popular spot for hiking, fishing, and marathons.
11. Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, South Africa
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is located on the Atlantic Coast in Cape Town, South Africa. It is part of Table Bay Harbor next to Table Mountain. The complex was designed by Adrian van der Vyver. Its name was given following a visit by Prince Albert. The first basin of the Navy Yard was named after him while the second bay was named after his mother, Queen Victoria. It is still a working harbour and fresh fish is brought there every day. Other than to enjoy the coastline, tourists flock to this area to visit the 450 retail units that are housed there. The waterfront is home to other attractions, including Chavonnes Battery, the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island, the Zelt Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Breakwater Lodge, Nobel Square, and Two Oceans Aquarium.
10. Atlas Mountains, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia
The Atlas Mountains is a 1,600 mile stretch of mountains that is part of the Maghreb. This mountain range passes through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Measuring 13, 671 feet, Toubkal is the highest mountain in the range and this is located in southwestern Morocco. The mountains are home to many species of flora and wildlife that are unique to Africa. The mountains are divided into different ranges which include the High Atlas, Anti-Atlas, Saharan Atlas, Tell Atlas and Aures mountain ranges. Two of the most popular activities that tourists enjoy when they are visiting the Atlas Mountains are hiking and cycling. However, there are many other outdoor activities that visitors can enjoy in this area.
9. Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakesh, Morocco
Jemaa el-Fnaa is one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world but it isn’t your typical shopping mall. This square and outdoor market is located in the heart of Marrakesh in Morocco in the city’s medina quarter, which is the old city. There are various translations of the name of the market. One is ‘the congregation area’ and another is ‘assembly of the dead’. While the former relates to its current use, the latter refers to its previous use as the square was once where public executions took place. The types of stalls and entertainment you will see in the market depends on the time of day you visit. In the morning, there are orange juice and water stalls with snake charmers providing the entertainment. Later in the day, there are peddlers selling traditional medicines and handcrafted goods. Dancers and musicians arrive for entertainment. At night, the market is filled with food stalls.
8. Garden Route, South Africa
The Garden Route is visited by thousands of tourists each year who want to explore the coastline of South Africa and admire the various sights along the way. It is a 190 mile stretch along the south-western coast of the country that offers spectacular views across the Indian Ocean. Travelers can also enjoy the stunning backdrop of the Tsitsikamma Mountains and the Outeniqua Mountains. The Garden Route passes through towns and cities including George, Mossel Bay, Nature’s Valley, Knysna, Little Brak River, and Plettenberg Bay. Other features that are along the Garden Route are the Tsitsikamma National Park, Fairy Knowe Railway Station, vineyards, and lakes.
7. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia
Victoria Falls is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The waterfall is part of the Zambezi River and it is located on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. British explorer David Livingstone was the first European to see the waterfall and he named it in honor of Queen Victoria. Although this waterfall is not the highest or the widest in the world, it is still recognized as the largest. This is because of its combine width and height. At 354 feet high, this waterfall is almost twice the height of Niagara Falls in America. Victoria Falls is 1,708 feet wide and this is more than twice as wide as the Horseshoe Falls. The falls were already attracting 400,000 visitors each year by the end of the 1990s. It is expected this figure will rise to one million annual visitors over the next decade. It is possible for visitors to cross the borders between the two countries to view the waterfall from different perspectives.
6. Kruger National Park, South Africa
This is one of the largest game reserves in Africa as it covers 7,523 square miles. It is located in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces in South Africa. In 1926, it became South Africa’s first national park. It is a designated UNESCO International Man and Biosphere Reserve. The park is divided into different camps and there are nine main gates allowing access to these. Visitors head to this national park to observe the wildlife. Some of the animals they can see include rhinoceros, elephants, wildebeest, zebras, lions, crocodiles, hyenas, antelope and warthogs. It is also home to 114 species of reptiles, 50 fish species, and 33 species of amphibians.
5. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
When thinking of Africa, it is an image of the Serengeti National Park that most people conjure up in their minds. This park is an ecosystem that exists in the Mara and Simiyu regions of Tanzania. It was established as a national park in 1951. Most people who visit the national park do so to experience the landscape and wildlife. Some of the most famous creatures that live in this part of the world are zebras, wildebeest, crocodiles, and honey badgers. The park covers 5,700 square miles and includes woodlands, savanna, grassland plains, and riverine forest. An estimated 350,000 people visit the Serengeti National Park each year. Serengeti Park is the flagship tourist attraction of Tanzanai. Traditionally, the Maasai were residents in the location of the park, but when it became a national park they were evicted and told to live in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area instead. Human habitation is now forbidden in the park with the exception of staff working for the Tanzania National Parks Authority and visitors staying in lodges, hotels, and campsites.
4. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Measuring 16,100 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. It is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania and is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the world. The mountain is a dormant volcano and has three volcanic cones; Kibo, Shira, and Mawenzi. The first people to have reached the summit of the mountain were Ludwig Purtscheller and Hans Meyer in 1889.
3. Robben Island, South Africa
Robben Island is one of the most beautiful destinations in South Africa. The island is located in Table Bay, just off the coast of Bloubergstrand in Cape Town. The Dutch name of the island translates as ‘seal island’. It is a small island that measures just two square miles. It was on this island where former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years of the 27 years he spent in prison. Of the four inmates who were imprisoned on the island, three have gone on to become the President of South Africa. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a South African National Heritage Site. It is home to large colonies of African penguins and seals.
2. The Pyramids of Giza and The Great Sphinx, Egypt
Some of the most iconic landmarks in Africa are the structures that are found in Giza, Egypt. It is in this location where both the Pyramids of Giza and The Great Sphinx are found. The Giza Pyramid complex is on the outskirts of Egypt’s capital, Cairo, It is an archeological site that includes the three pyramids that are known as the Great Pyramids, the Great Sphinx, a worker’s village, several cemeteries, and a former industrial complex. The pyramids have become emblems of Egypt and are one of the seven wonders of the world and are the only one of the wonders that still exists in the modern world. The three main pyramids in the complex are the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure. The Sphinx dates from the reign of king Khafre and is a statue of a mythical creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. It is 238 feet long and 66.3 feet high.
1. Table Mountain and National Park, South Africa
Table Mountain National Park is one of the best-known and most visited tourist attractions in the whole of Africa. It is Located in Cape Town, South Africa, and is also known as Cape Peninsula National Park. The park covers 85 square miles and is included as a UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site. Two of the most famous aspects of the national park are Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope, which is the most southwestern point of Africa. Many people visit the part to hike up Table Mountain. However, for thos who want to enjoy the spectacular views without making the physical effort, there is the Table Mountain Cableway that takes visitors from Kloofneck Road to the top of the mountain. The park is also home to Boulders Beach which is just south of Simon’s Town. There is a large colony of African penguins in residence on the beach, so it is a popular spot with nature lovers. Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope are two of the most scenic spots in the park.
Written by Garrett Parker
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