16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Seychelles

Stunning and unspoiled, the Seychelles star in countless tropical island fantasies. Beautiful boulder-strewn beaches, virgin jungles, thriving coral reefs, and UNESCO-listed nature reserves are just some of the many attractions of the archipelago’s 115 coral and granite islands, which are the peaks of a vast underwater plateau.

The Seychelles lie east of Kenya, near the equator. Almost half their total land area is protected, and many of the islands and atolls are contained within marine sanctuaries. Popular things to do in the Seychelles include hiking the mountain trails, basking on the ravishing beaches, rock climbing, photographing the unique flora and fauna, and dining on mouthwatering Créole cuisine.

Aquatic pursuits abound in the clear, azure water. Diving, snorkeling, surfing, and sailing are all world class, and the Seychelles encompass some of the richest fishing grounds in the world.

The larger granitic inner islands of the Seychelles (primarily MahéPraslin, and La Digue) are the most developed for tourists, with many luxury five-star Seychelles resorts.

Mahé is home to the small capital, Victoria, as well as the international airport, the cruise ship port, and the beautiful Morne Seychellois National Park.

On Praslin Island, you can explore the UNESCO-listed Vallée de Mai, while sleepy La Digue shelters some of the Seychelle’s most breathtaking beaches. The outer islands are mainly uninhabited, low-lying sand cays and small coralline islands and atolls. Fishing is superb here, and anglers will find exclusive fishing lodges on Alphonse Island and Farquhar Atoll.

1. Anse Lazio, Praslin

Anse Lazio, Praslin
Anse Lazio, Praslin

On the north shore of Praslin Island, Anse Lazio (Chevalier Bay) is one of the Seychelles’ most beautiful beaches. You have to hike over a hill to access the beach, but it’s worth the effort.

Flanked by rounded granite boulders, this long stretch of soft blond sand merges with crystal-clear waters in dreamy shades of blue. Takamaka trees and coconut palms fringe the beach, providing patches of shade for relaxing, and hungry bathers can refuel at restaurants on both ends of the beach.

The best time to visit Anse Lazio is during the early morning or late afternoon, when most of the tour buses have left.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Anse Lazio

2. Anse Intendance, Mahé

Anse Intendance, Mahé
Anse Intendance, Mahé

One of Mahé’s best beaches, this small and secluded crescent of sand on the island’s south coast is a favorite surfing spot thanks to its frequent big swells and wild waves.

The lack of a protective reef makes swimming a little rough when trade winds blow from the southeast, but sunbathers, beachcombers, and photographers will enjoy this picturesque, palm-framed strand at any time of year. Turtles nest along the powdery shores here.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in the Seychelles

3. Baie Lazare, Mahé

Baie Lazare, Mahé
Baie Lazare, Mahé

The pretty village of Baie Lazare on Mahé was named after 18th-century French explorer Lazare Picault, who landed here when the French government sent him to explore the islands.

One of the area’s main tourist attractions is the neo-Gothic Baie Lazare Church, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, which provides a panoramic view of the area.

The stunning beaches of Anse Soleil and Petite Anse are among the best beaches in the Seychelles, with their striking azure water and dazzling white sand.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Baie Lazare

4. La Digue Island

La Digue Island
La Digue Island

The fourth largest island in the archipelago, La Digue is a haven for nature lovers. It’s also a great place to visit for anyone seeking a glimpse of traditional island life – bicycles and oxcarts are popular modes of transport.

Stunning white-sand beaches and granite rock outcrops rim the coast, and beach connoisseurs will find one of the planet’s most picturesque stretches of sand and sea here: Anse Source D’Argent. You do need to pay to access the beach at the nearby L’Union Estate, where your admission includes a tour through this old copra factory and vanilla plantation.

Another sightseeing attraction is the Veuve Nature Reserve, home to the endangered black paradise flycatcher, also called “the widow” because of its streaming black tail feathers.

Diving and rock climbing are also popular things to do on the island, and hikers will enjoy La Pass to Grand Anse Trail, which threads past French colonial houses through woodlands and marsh areas to gorgeous Grand Anse beach.

Accommodation: Where to Stay on La Digue Island

5. Curieuse Island Day Trip

Giant tortoise on Curieuse Island
Giant tortoise on Curieuse Island

Once known as Île Rouge due to its russet-toned earth, Curieuse Island is now home to a breeding program for giant tortoises, which roam freely around the sandy coves.

Most of the island is covered with takamaka and casuarina trees, which shade the white-sand beaches, but the island is known for another botanical distinction: Curieuse is the only place besides Praslin where the coco de mer palm grows naturally.

The island was also once a leper colony, and you can explore the ruins of the leprosarium on the south shore, as well as the doctor’s house, a preserved national monument.

Curieuse Island is accessible by boat tours from Praslin Island.

6. Morne Seychellois National Park

Morne Seychellois National Park
Morne Seychellois National Park

Nature lovers and hikers will be in heaven in Morne Seychellois National Park. This is the largest national park in the Seychelles, covering more than 20 percent of the area of Mahé.

Within its lush borders lies the mountain chain named after its highest point, Morne Seychellois, which reaches a height of 905 meters and overlooks the capital of Victoria. Wildlife includes several notable species of birds, including the Seychelles scops-owl, bulbul, and sunbird, and the lush vegetation varies from several species of endemic palms to pandanus, pitcher plants, and ferns.

You’ll find some of the best hikes on the island here. Hiking trails ascend into the park from the village of Danzil, passing tea plantations and offering spectacular views of the southwest coast of Mahé from the mountain slopes. The moderate Morne Blanc hike is one of the most popular trails and offers spectacular views from its summit.

Walking west through the park, hikers will reach the Baie Ternay and Port Launay Marine Parks. To the northwest lies the hamlet of Bel Ombre and the isolated beach at Anse Major.

Official site: https://www.snpa.gov.sc/index.php/national-parks/morne-seychellois

7. Ste Anne Marine National Park

Aerial view of Moyenne Island in the Ste Anne Marine National Park
Aerial view of Moyenne Island in the Ste Anne Marine National Park

Encompassing six islands a 15- to 20-minute boat ride off the coast of Mahé near Victoria, Ste Anne National Marine Park became the first national park in the Indian Ocean in 1973.

Snorkeling, scuba diving, and glass-bottom boat excursions reveal the rich diversity of marine life in the park’s coral reefs, and you can explore most of the islands within the reserve on day excursions from Mahé. You can also stay overnight on a few of the islands.

Sainte Anne Island is an important nesting site for hawksbill turtles. In spite of its mangroves and crocodiles, the island was the site of a 1770 French settlement, the first in the Seychelles.

On Round Island, a former leper colony, you can enjoy a nature walk and stay overnight at the JA Enchanted Island Resort.

Île Cachée is an important breeding site for noddies and a designated nature reserve. At Cerf Island, you can swim, snorkel, or dive along the beautiful reefs, or bask on the uncrowded beaches. You can also base yourself here at the Cerf Island Resort or L’Habitation Hotel.

Privately owned Moyenne Island features nature trails, reconstructed settlers’ homes, pirate graves, a small thatched chapel, and giant tortoises.

Accommodation: Where to Stay on Ste Anne Island

8. Beau Vallon Beach

Beau Vallon Beach
Beau Vallon Beach

Beau Vallon’s alluring curve of glittering sand, on Mahé’s northwest coast, is a magnet for both tourists and locals. Looking out to sea, mountainous Silhouette Island shimmers on the horizon providing a picturesque view.

If you’re looking for buzzing beach action, this is a good choice. Hotels and restaurants fringe the shore, and on weekends, locals come here for beach barbecues. You’ll also find a variety of water sports on offer here, including Jet Skis, water skiing, banana boats, and paddleboarding.

Lifeguards patrol the beach, and the sea is usually calm, especially during the southeast trade winds, making this a good choice for families with small children.

Address: Beau Vallon Beach Road, Beau Vallon, Mahé

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Beau Vallon

9. Anse Volbert

Anse Volbert
Anse Volbert

On the northeast coast of Praslin, Anse Volbert (also known as Côte d’Or) is one of the island’s most popular beaches. Warm, shallow water laps the sun-bleached sands, and coral reefs beckon just offshore. The calm waters are also safe for swimming with small children.

Anse Volbert is one of the island’s main resort areas, and you’ll find many hotels and restaurants lining the shores, including the Hotel Cote D’Or, with thatched bungalows tucked amid the tropical foliage.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Anse Volbert

10. Vallée de Mai National Park, Praslin

Vallée de Mai National Park
Vallée de Mai National Park

Need a break from all the sun, sand, and sea? Head to the cool, shady recesses of Vallée de Mai National Park. This is one of the best places to visit in the Seychelles for nature lovers.

UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the island of Praslin, this lush palm-studded park preserves a prehistoric forest that contains at least 4,000 examples of the rare giant coco de mer fruit palm, which is endemic to the Seychelles.

Before you head off on the hiking trails, stop by the visitor center to learn more about the park’s ecology and see some of the coco de mer’s seeds, which are among the largest in the world. Other plants that flourish in the park include vanilla orchids, palmiste, latanier, splayed traveler’s palm, and Chinese fans.

It’s easy to explore this reserve along the well-marked nature trails. You can choose from three different routes that take between one and three hours to hike. Towering trees form an overhead canopy, keeping the trails shaded for most of the way, and huge boulders lie along the forest floor.

The valley is home to many species of lizards and rare birds, such as the Seychelles bulbul; fruit pigeon; and the national bird of the Seychelles, the black parrot.

Hiring a guide is highly recommended so you can learn more about the plants and animals. Note, too, that there is a fee to enter the park.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Vallée de Mai National Park

11. Cousin Island Day Trip

Fairy tern on Cousin Island
Fairy tern on Cousin Island

One tiny bird is responsible for the preservation of this beautiful island: the rare Seychelles warbler. Cousin Island Special Reserve was established in 1968 to protect this rare species, as well as many other endemic bird species. It is also the most important nesting site in the entire western Indian Ocean for the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

Cousin Island is also the world’s first carbon neutral nature reserve.

The island lies about two kilometers from Praslin Island, and you can organize day trips through local tour operators. Once you arrive on the island, one of the reserve’s wardens will take you on an approximately 75-minute tour, sharing details about the island’s unique ecology.

Keep an eye out for some of the resident birds, including the Seychelles magpie robin, the Seychelles brush warbler, the Seychelles turtledove, and the wedge-tailed shearwater. The reserve also encompasses breeding grounds for lesser noddies, fairy terns, and tropicbirds.

Official site: http://www.natureseychelles.org/visiting/cousin-island

12. Aride Island Nature Reserve Day Trip

Gecko on Aride Island
Gecko on Aride Island

The northernmost of the Granitic Seychelles, Aride Island Nature Reserve is the breeding ground of 18 species of seabirds, including frigate birds, red-tailed tropicbirds, and the world’s largest colonies of lesser noddy and roseate terns.

Nature lovers will find the highest density of lizards anywhere on Earth, as well as several endemic species of flowers. Wright’s gardenia, or bois citron, is unique to this island.

Most hotels on Praslin Island can organize day trips to Aride, but note that the island is often closed to visitors from May through September due to rough surf. Visits by helicopter can also be arranged.

Official site: http://www.arideisland.com/

13. Silhouette Island

Silhouette Island
Silhouette Island | Fabio Achilli / photo modified

In a marine park, 30 kilometers off Mahé’s west coast, mountainous Silhouette Island is renowned for its rich biodiversity. It’s the only other island in the Seychelles besides Mahé with a mist forest, which cloaks the 731-meter peak of Mont Dauban.

The third largest of the granitic islands, Silhouette Island has rugged terrain that has helped preserve its natural beauty. The park protects more than 2,000 species, including birds, geckos, chameleons, turtles, and skinks.

You’ll find plenty of things to do here. You can explore caves; bask on beaches with wonderful swimming and snorkeling opportunities; and see diverse flora and fauna such as carnivorous pitcher plants, coco de mer palms, millipedes, slugs, and snails.

To get to the island, you can catch a 45-minute ferry operated by the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, the island’s only hotel, from the Bel Ombre jetty on Mahe. Better still, book a room and stay here. Alternatively, you can arrive by private boat transfer or a scenic 15-minute helicopter flight.

Accommodation: Where to Stay on Silhouette Island

14. Victoria, Mahé

Victoria, Mahé
Victoria, Mahé

Named Port Victoria in honor of the British queen after her coronation, the small capital of the Seychelles, on the island of Mahé, is the only seaport in the country.

It’s easy to see the main sites here in a day. One of the main tourist attractions is the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens. Established almost a century ago, the gardens encompass 15 acres of native and exotic plants as well as flying foxes, giant tortoises, and an orchid garden.

In the city, modern buildings of concrete and glass have sprouted up in recent years, and the few remaining colonial buildings lie around Freedom Square. The most prominent historical structure is the clock tower. Erected in 1903, it was modeled on Little Ben, a small version of Big Ben in London.

Overlooking the square, St. Paul’s Cathedral is built on the site of the first church of the Seychelles, which was destroyed by a freak cyclone in 1862.

Shoppers head to Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, where locals sell fish, fresh fruits, and vegetables, and the many craft shops offer souvenirs, ranging from ship models to pearl jewelry.

For an overview of the flora and fauna of the Seychelles, visit the Natural History Museum, which also displays a few historical artifacts.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Victoria

15. Bird Island

Bird Island
Bird Island

Once known as Îles aux Vaches for the dugongs (sea cows) in the area, Bird Island harbors a population of migratory sooty terns, which swells to 1,500,000 birds during the May to October breeding season. Birders and photographers can climb raised observation platforms for clear views of the nests.

Other species on the island include fairy and noddy terns, cardinals, ground doves, mynas, crested terns, and plovers. Giant land tortoises are also in residence, and the nearby Seychelles Bank is renowned for its big-game fishing.

The only accommodation on the island is the Bird Island Lodge, a no frills eco-lodge. You can access the island via a 30-minute flight from Mahé.

Accommodation: Where to Stay on Mahe

16. Aldabra Atoll

Giant tortoise, Aldabra Atoll
Giant tortoise, Aldabra Atoll

UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aldabra is the world’s largest raised coral atoll. The central lagoon fills and empties twice a day through four channels, revealing mushroom-shaped pinnacles known as champignons.

Tiger sharks and manta rays often prowl the shallows, and the atoll is home to thousands of birds, including the white-throated rail (the only flightless bird in the Indian Ocean). Also on view are lesser and great frigate birds, red-footed boobies, dimorphic egrets (found only here and in Madagascar), Aldabra sacred ibis, greater flamingos, and the Malagasy kestrel.

In addition to its rich avian life, Aldabra is the habitat of 200,000 giant tortoises – five times as many as the Galapagos.

Visiting this remote island is challenging – you can only access the atoll by chartering a private boat, and you need to contact Seychelles Islands Foundation first to obtain permission.

10 Best Places to Visit in Namibia

1. Etosha National Park[SEE MAP]

Etosha National Park

The second largest of Namibia’s game reserves after Namib-Naukluft, Etosha National Park surrounds the vast Etosha salt pan. The pan itself is usually dry and only fills with water briefly in the summer, but is enough to stimulate the growth of a blue-green algae which lures thousands of flamingos.

Most of the wildlife, including herds of zebra, wildebeest and antelope, can be seen around the waterholes that border the pan. Etosha is served by five well established rest camps and offers a great self-drive safari experience.

2. Namib-Naukluft National Park[SEE MAP]

Namib-Naukluft National Parkdreamstime/© PCC

As the name suggests, the Namib-Naukluft National Park contains both the Namib Desert and the Naukluft Mountain Range. It’s also the largest game park in Africa and a beautiful setting. Much of the park is made up of red sand dunes, a shifting landscape that you have to see to believe. You’ll be able to see lunar-esque landscapes and spot some of the more remarkable high dunes in person.

The most famous area of the park is Sossusvlei, Namibia’s most popular strip of sand, where gargantuan dunes tower more than 300 meters (1000 feet) above the ground. You should also check out the Kuiseb Canyon, through which the Kuiseb River runs when it is not just a sandy riverbed.

3. Fish River Canyon Park[SEE MAP]

Fish River Canyon Park

At Fish River Canyon Park, you’ll be able to see one of the largest canyons in the world. Known in Afrikaans as the Visrivier Afgronde, the canyon is formed by the Fish River, one of the longest in Africa. There are several fantastic ways to view and experience Fish River Canyon Park in person.

If you’re up for a hike, the Fish River Canyon Trail is very popular. Keep in mind that the full length of the trail is more than 80 km (50 miles). You can also take a scenic flight over the top of the canyon or even go for a swim right in the Fish River.

4. Swakopmund[SEE MAP]

Swakopmund

If you want to see where local Namibians go on vacation, check out the coastal destination of Swakopmund. Originally a German colonial city, Swakopmund boasts a lot of colorful and historic architecture.

It is known as the adventure capital of Namibia, and it is easy to see why. if you visit Swakopmund, you’ll have the chance to go quad biking in the desert, set off on camel safaris, try sandboarding on nearby dunes or just relax on the beach. There are also dozens of great international restaurants and several fantastic bars serving up locally brewed beer.

5. Luderitz[SEE MAP]

Luderitzdreamstime/© Pytyczech

As a former German colony, Namibia has a lot of German influences on its culture, language and cuisine. One of the most obvious places to notice this influence is in the coastal town of Luderitz. With Art Nouveau architecture and countless German street names, it is easy to feel like you’re in Bavaria rather than Namibia.

On a visit to Luderitz, you can spot the Deutsche Afrika bank building, old Lutheran churches and the popular Troost House. Don’t miss a chance to see the nearby ghost town of Kolmanskop, which was once a hub for diamond mining. Sand dunes have now overtaken the town, making it both eerie and beautiful.

6. Waterberg Plateau Park[SEE MAP]

Waterberg Plateau Park

Located in Northern Namibia, the Waterberg Plateau Park is a large sandstone plateau of red rock that serves as a sanctuary for endangered animals. Most visitors come for a guided tour that allow you to spot buffalo, rhinoceroses and antelope.

The park is also home to more than 200 species of birds, and it is a breeding ground for Cape vultures. A few adventurous travelers each week can set off on extensive hikes through the Waterberg Plateau Park.

This is only allowed between April and November, and all hikers need to have the appropriate permits and guides. There lodges and campsites just outside of the park providing amenities and accommodation to travelers.

7. Windhoek[SEE MAP]

Windhoekdreamstime/© Demerzel21

The most common place to visit in Namibia is the capital and largest city of Windhoek. If you’re setting on a lengthy safari, there is a good chance that it will start in Windhoek. However, there are several reasons to stick around and enjoy some time in the city.

If you’re interested in Namibian history, be sure to check out the Parliament of Namibia as well as the old Lutheran church called the Christuskirche. If you’re hoping to pick up some souvenirs, Windhoek is a great place to go shopping. Along with some of the smaller local markets, there are bigger shops located in the Maerua Mall.

8. Skeleton Coast National Park

The Skeleton Coast got its name from how dangerous it was to sail a ship along the coast in centuries past. To this day, the desolate coastline is still known as the world’s biggest ship graveyard. The Skeleton Coast National Park is mostly uninhabited, with a few sparse villages dotting the landscape.

Most visitors come specifically to see the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. The reserve is historically significant because it was the 15th century landing spot of the first European to visit the Namibian Coast. More importantly for most visitors, it is now a breeding colony for more than 200,000 cape fur seals.

9. Walvis Bay

Walvis Bay is a major port on the Namibian Coast. It is also a hugely popular destination for travelers and locals in search of desert sports. At the lagoon, you can try kitesurfing thanks to strong winds on the water.

Head inland and you can try out dune boarding, a hotter take on snowboarding that makes the most of the sandy desert landscape. Back on the coast, you can go fishing or set off on a dolphin or seal-watching cruise. There are lots of opportunities for birdwatching, particularly at the wetlands where flamingos congregate.

10. Epupa Falls[SEE MAP]

Epupa Falls

On the border between Namibia and Angola, in the region known as Kaokoland, you’ll find Epupa Falls. These waterfalls are created by the Kunene River, and they are spread out over a mile. Surrounding the falls are colored rock formations, palm trees and fig trees.

Although Epupa Falls is remote and only accessible by 4×4 vehicles, it remains a popular attraction in Namibia. Most travelers who visit Epupa Falls opt to stay overnight in one of the surrounding lodges. If you want to add some adrenaline to your day, you can also try out some whitewater rafting along the river.

15 Best Places to Visit in Angola

Angola may have its issues, a civil war that ravaged the country and many of its national parks, poaching problems and difficult to obtain visas but that should not stop you visiting this country. It is after all the largest country in Africa and has plenty to offer.

From nature at its most spectacular with springboks, lions, elephants and gorillas, to forgotten but beautiful buildings from the Portuguese colonization here. Angola boasts an expansive coastline of Atlantic Ocean beauty and a beautiful blend of grasslands, savannas, tropical forests and urban expanses inland.

Angola is a country trying to make a name for itself on the global stage. It claims to be the fastest growing economy in the world, with various forms of mining exports supporting the claim and the tourist industry is attempting to grow in the same way.

Advice against visiting the country is fairly common but there is also useful advice on places that can be reached and how to enjoy them safely. Obtaining a visa can also be made easier or harder depending on where you are travelling and who will be accompanying you. With all the bureaucracy aside however, Angola is undoubtedly a beautiful and mysterious country that will reward any traveller adventurous enough to embark on a journey to the country. So let’s explore the best places to visit in Angola.

1. Luanda

The capital of Angola is full of stark contrasts. The beautiful Atlantic Ocean views are disrupted by busy ships and the high rise modern looking buildings are contrasted by lean to huts built to accommodate people in the rapidly expanding city. Over-population is apparent in other ways too, namely the insane morning traffic and the stink that regularly trouble the city. Despite all these problems however, Luanda certainly has its charms and is another side to Africa that is worth experiencing.

2. Kissama

Only a 70km ride south from Luanda is the Parque Nacional de Kissama, a wildlife sanctuary that has utilized stunning natural settings to protect and preserve many African species. The park began life as a nature reserve in 1938 and subsequently evolved into a National Park in 1957. During the Civil War years, the park was neglected and fell victim to poaching but its population of buffalo, elephants and even sea turtles are now going strong. The park even received 10 Elephants by air mail from Russia in 2000.

3. The Tunda Vala Fissure

The Tundavala Fissure is one of the most spectacular natural sights in Angola. It can be found between the cities of Lubango and Namibe at an elevation of 2,600m above sea level. At this height it goes without saying that the views are phenomenal and the visible vistas are some of the best on offer in Africa. Commonly reached by thrill seeking hikers, the view of the descent back down to sea level is dizzying steep. As well as the sheer rock faces the Tundavala also has patches of savanna, grass and forest landscapes.

4. Dilolo Lake

This mythical lake can be found in Moxico, eastern Angola. It is the largest lake in the country and serves as an important tourist spot. Despite being situated just outside of the Cameia Park boundaries, the lake is teeming with wildlife including rare bird species and aquatic life. The lake is an impressive 12km in length and sits at roughly 1000m above sea level. The reason for the myths surrounding this lake are the unusual waves that always head to the east of the lake. In folklore these waves are believed to be a supernatural force to scare people from fishing the lake. If you fancy a dip in the lake, September is the best month with pleasant temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius.

5. Dala Waterfalls

Situated in Lunda Sol, the Dala Waterfalls are about 60m high and conjure a spectacular scene with the mist and spray created from the crashing of the water on the rocks below. The waterfalls can be comfortably viewed from a bridge near the base of the falls or, for those who truly love the scene, a hotel is built only 50m away from the waterfalls. The waterfalls, also referred to as the Chiumbe River falls, should not be confused with the Cassengo falls which are smaller but situated in the same area of Angola.

6. Benguela

The city of Benguela in western Angola is situated on a bay of the same name and is an important tourist destination for the country. The early economy of the city was established on mining and then the slave trade to Cuba and Brazil. Tourism is actively promoted in the city and an international railway is located nearby. The main attractions of the city are its beautiful ocean-side location coupled with the breathtaking Portuguese architecture. The beaches are fantastic places to unwind and the people are very friendly.

7. Maiombe Forest

The Maiombe Forest is one of the most spectacular natural areas in Angola. It boasts more than 400 square km of forest and is rather fittingly referred to as the “Amazon of Africa”. The forest is a fantastic location for wildlife lovers with hundred of rare species, many of them unique to the area. Animals include gorillas, elephants, chimps, rare birds and butterflies. The woods in the forest are equally as rare as the animals and include ebony and mahogany. The biggest town in the reserve, Buco Zau, has a small guesthouse with basic facilities for those wishing to fully immerse themselves in the nature.

8. Lobito

The port and town of Lobito is situated within Benguela and is both an important part of the export and the tourist economy. The port and coastline here are popular with anglers trying to land a whopping Giant Tarpon which can weigh up to 200lbs. For the less extreme, the beach here is a great place to relax and watch the sunset or there are plenty of restaurants and old Portuguese buildings here which can be worth taking the time to explore for a day or two.

9. The Arch Lagoon

The Arch Lagoon is located in the Namib Desert not far from the town of Tombwa. The lagoon takes its name from the stunning natural arch rock formations that have been shaped by nature over many years. As well as offering the opportunity to view these amazing formations, the lagoon is a great place to relax due to its tranquil nature and peaceful surroundings. While relaxing at this oasis, visitors may also glimpse some of the rare and exotic wildlife species that inhabit the are surrounding the Arch Lagoon.

10. Iona National Park

The largest national park in Angola, the Iona National Park is situated in the most southwesterly point of the country. It covers an expansive area of over 15,000 square kilometers. Although the national parks were hit hard by illegal animal poaching during the civil war, efforts to replace and restore the wildlife in the park are underway. As well as animals such as Springbok, Ostrich and Cheetah, the park is also home to indigenous people who, according to scientists are the most “culturally intact” people on the continent.

11. Cangandala National Park

Another beautiful area of National Park in Angola, the Cangandala National Park is the smallest of the parks in Angola but it still has plenty to offer. The area is home to the amazing giant sable antelope, the rarest antelope in the world and the national symbol of Angola. The park is well served with road access and airports within the province. The park, like many others in Angola faces a battle against illegal poaching and many ongoing efforts are ongoing in order to protect the park and indigenous wildlife.

12. Mupa National Park

The Mupa National Park was originally founded in 1964 whilst the area was still a Portuguese colony. The main purpose of the park was to protect a sub species of the giraffe however these were all sadly wiped out: mainly due to landmines left over from the civil war. Other mammals within the park include wild dogs, lions, leopards and hyenas. The park is also a haven for a variety of rare bird life although mineral mining is currently a threat to these species.

13. Huambo

Huambo is a large province in Angola with 11 municipalities and a population of around 1.7 million people. The climate in Huambo is tropical with a dry and cold season and a hot, wet season. The National Forest Reserve of Kavongue can be found in the province and is a great place for adventurers with many taking to the reserve for activities such as rappelling, canyoning, paragliding and canoeing. The city of Huambo is industrial and has its roots in mining.

14. Cabinda

This oil rich city in Angola has been marred somewhat by the shooting of the Togo national football team during the Africa Cup of Nations in 2010. It is also rather a difficult place to obtain a visa to visit, however if this can be overcome, the city and province have some exceptional spots worth visiting. The M’Buco-M’Buadi Cemetery houses the remains of Cabinda kings as well as a range of marvelous sculptures. There are also ruins of a 16th Century cathedral and the forest reserve of Kakongo.

15. Malanje

As well as being home to the Cangandala National Park mentioned earlier, the province of Malanje is also home the Black Stones of Pungo Adongo; a strange stone natural rock formation formed over millions of years. The area is also home to many waterfalls, forests and natural areas which all make for great places to take safaris or try out an extreme excursion such as canyoning or bungee jumping.

13 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in South Africa

South Africa, officially known as the Republic of South Africa, is a great place to visit for a first-time safari. You’ll find classic African scenery: golden savannah, great gaping gorges, and hauntingly beautiful deserts, as well as an awe-inspiring cast of African creatures — and, as a bonus — all the creature comforts.

Apart from the big-name game parks of Kruger and the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, South Africa is home to some of the world’s most luxurious private game reserves and lodges. Wildlife lovers come here from all corners of the globe in search of the “Big Five”: lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino, and elephant, and often they find it, and so much more.

Giraffes in Kruger National Park at sunset
Giraffes in Kruger National Park at sunset

Coral reefs, dragon-backed mountain ranges, white-water rafting, and golden beaches lapped by legendary surf breaks are some of South Africa’s many other attractions.

Traveling around this vast land and touring the vibrant cities, you can learn about the nation’s turbulent history — in Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities; in Durban, a melting pot of cultures and cuisines; at the poignant museums and galleries in Johannesburg; and in Soweto, birthplace of Nelson Mandela, who helped birth democracy here.

Discover the best places to visit in this diverse nation with our list of the top tourist attractions in South Africa.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces

Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces
Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces

Kruger National Park is one of the best game reserves in Africa, and one of the oldest in South Africa. If you’re a wildlife lover, this famous park definitely needs to be on your South Africa itinerary.

The park lies about a 3.5- to 4.5-hour drive from Johannesburg and offers visitors the chance to see the “Big Five”: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino, as well as an astounding diversity of other wildlife. It’s also home to San (bushman) rock paintings and archaeological sites.

You can explore Kruger National Park on the large network of sealed roads; organize a walking safari; or soar over the vast grasslands, gallery forests, and river systems in a hot air balloon.

One of the best things about Kruger National Park is that the accommodation caters to all budgets — you can stay in basic campsites, book a thatched bungalow, or relax in a luxury lodge.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Kruger National Park

2. Cape Town, Western Cape

Cape Town, Western Cape
Cape Town, Western Cape

Cape Town, South Africa is one of the planet’s most breathtaking cities. Nature surrounds this multicultural city, which nuzzles between a rugged range of mountains and the sea.

One of the top things to do in Cape Town is visit Table Mountain, the flat-topped peak presiding over the city. For a spectacular overview, hike to the summitor glide up on the cableway. The hour-long hike up Lion’s Head also provides panoramic city vistas.

On Table Mountain’s eastern slopes, the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens lie within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cape Town’s coast is also full of natural wonders. Strolling along the waterfront boardwalk, you might see whales spouting from the harbor. Penguins waddle along the golden beaches in False Bay, and south of the city, Cape Point is home to abundant wildlife and diverse botanical beauty.

Cape Town is also known for its beautiful boulder-flanked beaches. Camp’s Bay is a favorite, with plenty of chic shops and cafés nearby.

Cape Town residents love their coast so much that at sunset, they stake a spot along spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive to toast the sunset in a dusk ritual known as “sundowners.” Celebrating nature’s beauty in this way is one of the unique things to do in South Africa, and something you might encounter on your travels at various locations around the country.

Another one of Cape Town’s top attractions is the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, reminiscent of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Here, you can shop, dine, and enjoy the many entertainment venues, including Two Ocean’s Aquarium.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cape Town: Best Areas & Hotels

3. The Garden Route

Aloes blooming at the Garden Route National Park
Aloes blooming at the Garden Route National Park

Along the country’s southeast coast, the Garden Route runs for about 200 kilometers through some of South Africa’s most breathtaking coastal scenery. The route stretches along the Indian Ocean from Mossel Bay, in the Western Cape, to the Storms River, in the Eastern Cape.

This popular driving route passes through rolling green hills, pretty coastal towns, lagoons, lakes, and coastal cliffs. Highlights of the Garden Route include the charming town of Knysna, snuggled between dense forests and a sparkling lagoonthe beautiful Garden Route National Park, with its gorges, tidal pools, and thick forests; Oudtshoorn’s ostrich farms and Cango Caves; and the seal colony of the Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg Bay.

Adventures along the way run the gamut, from elephant experiences and whale watching trips to bungee jumping and tree canopy tours.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near the Garden Route

4. Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape

Black-maned lion in the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape
Black-maned lion in the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape

A merger of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the largest wilderness areas in the world.

Established in 2000, it is Africa’s first officially declared transfrontier park and one of the top places to visit in South Africa’s Northern Cape. Gnarled camel thorn trees, red sands, golden grasslands, and deep blue skies provide a bold backdrop for photographs and game viewing.

Among the huge diversity of wildlife, this vast conservation area is home to the famous black-maned Kalahari lion; stately gemsbok, with their V-shaped horns; the sprawling nests of sociable weavers; meerkats; and many birds of prey.

Other predators such as leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas are also found here. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for some of the minor rugged roads or for those venturing into Botswana.

5. Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Stellenbosch, Western Cape
Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Stellenbosch is one of the most picturesque towns in South Africa. A mosaic of farms, old oak trees, and white-washed Cape Dutch dwellings, it’s one of the best preserved towns from the era of the Dutch East India Company.

Today, it’s a university town, with a vibrant feel and fantastic scenery. Foodies will love it here. Stellenbosch is home to some of South Africa’s best restaurants, as well as many sidewalk cafés.

History buffs can take a walk back in time at The Stellenbosch Village Museum, a group of four restored houses and gardens dating from 1709 to 1850. Rupert Museum displays important works by South African artists, and strolling around the Botanic Garden at the University of Stellenbosch is another top thing to do here.

In the surrounding area, nature buffs can hike and bike on the wilderness trails in the breathtaking Jonkershoek Nature Reserve.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Stellenbosch

6. The Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

The Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal
The Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

The spectacular Drakensberg, meaning “Dragon Mountains,” is one of the top places to visit in KwaZulu-Natal and a popular vacation destination for South Africans. It’s also home to the country’s highest peaks.

The region encompasses the World Heritage-listed uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, a region of jaw-dropping beauty, with jagged basalt buttresses and San rock art, and Royal Natal National Park, home to the awe-inspiring Amphitheatre, a magnificent cliff face and source of South Africa’s main rivers.

The Giant’s Castle Game Reserve in the region protects large herds of eland. Dense forests flourish in the sheltered valleys, and the area is home to more than 800 different species of flowering plants, as well as a rich diversity of wildlife.

In the summer, the mountain landscapes are lush and fertile, with gushing waterfalls and crystal-clear streams. In the winter, snow cloaks the dramatic peaks.

Visitors flock here to hike and bike the scenic mountain trails, fish for trout, rock climb, abseil, parasail, and raft the waters of the fast-flowing rivers. Hot air balloon rides are a great way to appreciate the dramatic topography.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in the Drakensberg region

7. Pilanesberg National Park

African wild dogs, Pilanesberg National Park
African wild dogs, Pilanesberg National Park

Are you short on time but want to see Africa’s Big 5? Pilanesberg National Park is home to prolific wildlife and a dazzling diversity of birds about 2.5 hours away from Johannesburg and Pretoria. Easily accessible from these major cities, it makes a great day trip or multi-day stay. It’s much smaller than massive Kruger National Park but as a consequence, it has a higher concentration of game.

Pilanesberg lies in a transition zone, between the parched Kalahari Desert and the rain-soaked lowveld, which means you can see a rich variety of animals here. Besides most of the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, and buffalo), you have the chance to spot African wild dogs, herds of zebra, the magnificent sable and roan antelope, giraffes, and more than 350 species of birds.

Accommodation caters to different budgets. Choose from permanent safari tents, self-catering units, bed and breakfasts, or luxury guest lodges.

Best of all, this park is malaria free, making it a great choice for family safaris.

Official site: https://www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org/

8. iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal
iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal

iSimangaliso means “miracle and wonder” in the Zulu language, and it’s a fitting name for this World Heritage Area, home to Africa’s largest estuarine system. Formerly the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, iSimangaliso lies on the northeastern coast of Kwazulu Natal and connects eight interwoven ecosystems, including coral reefs, croc-filled rivers, lakes, towering coastal dunes, swamplands, and savanna.

Not surprisingly, the area supports an incredible variety of wildlife. More than 526 species of birds inhabit the reserve, as well as leatherback and loggerhead turtles, leopards, rhinos, and Africa’s highest concentration of hippos and crocodiles.

This unique wilderness area offers you the chance to combine a classic safari experience with coastal adventures in the marine reserve, such as kayaking, fishing, diving, and snorkeling.

Official site: http://isimangaliso.com/

Accommodation: Where to Stay in KwaZulu-Natalhttps://4107abede8fc00330bf20bdb12dda4eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

9. Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga

Beautiful Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve (also called Motlatse River Canyon) is a favorite stop on the drive between Johannesburg and Kruger National Park. The park is home to Africa’s second largest canyon, as well as a rich diversity of wildlife and plants. Lush subtropical foliage, waterfalls, glistening rivers, and lichen-covered rock formations create a striking canvas of color and texture.

Game viewing can be particularly rewarding, with all the common species of South African primates and many hippos and crocodiles.

The best way to explore this spectacular park is via the scenic driving routes or by hiking the extensive trails. Panoramic viewpoints include Three Rondavels and the aptly named God’s Window.

Boat trips and whitewater rafting are also available on the rivers.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mpumalanga

10. Robben Island, Western Cape

Robben Island, Western Cape
Robben Island, Western Cape

In Table Bay, World-Heritage-listed Robben Island is a haunting reminder of the horrors of apartheid. Nelson Mandela spent 18 years imprisoned in a tiny cell here along with other political dissidents and social misfits.

Perhaps the best part about this experience is that ex-prisoners are usually the guides, sharing poignant first-hand accounts of the atrocities they endured.

Tours to the island begin with multimedia exhibits in the museum at the Nelson Mandela Gateway in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Sightseers then board boats to Robben Island, often braving rough swells on the 30- to 45-minute ride. Be sure to book early, as the tours can fill up fast.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Robben Island

11. Durban’s Golden Mile, KwaZulu-Natal

Durban's Golden Mile, KwaZulu-Natal
Durban’s Golden Mile, KwaZulu-Natal

The sweeping waterfront promenade called the Golden Mile is a legendary Durban tourist attraction and a great starting point for a tour of the city. Long blond beaches lure swimmers, surfers, and anglers, while the bustling promenade feels like Miami Beach with its high-rise hotels, shops, restaurants, and flashy entertainment complexes.

You can stroll along the promenade or rent a bike or Segway. Besides the beach scene, top attractions along this stretch include uShaka Marine World, a wonderland of sea-themed attractions; Moses Mabhida Stadium; and Mini Town, a tiny replica of Durban with a miniature rail network, airport, and harbor scene.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Durban: Best Areas & Hotels

12. Cage Dive with Great White Sharks

Cage Dive with Great White Sharks
Cage Dive with Great White Sharks

Climb into a thick iron cage, plunge into the ocean, and come face-to-face with a great white shark. Believe it or not, this is one of South Africa’s top attractions — for thrill seekers. The sport has become so popular that new tour operators keep sprouting up every year.

The best time to try the dive is April through October, but great whites swim these waters throughout the year thanks to healthy populations of seals and fish.

Cape Town tour operators organize shark cage dives to areas such as Simon’s TownSeal IslandDyer IslandMossel Bay, and Gansbaai, the self-proclaimed “Great White Shark Capital of the World.” Trips can also be arranged out of Durban and Rocky Bay.

Since divers are enclosed in the custom-designed cages, no diving certification is required. For a little less excitement, it’s also possible to watch the action from the boat.

13. Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng

Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng
Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng

Johannesburg, also known as Jo’burg, is the largest city in South Africa by population and a gateway for many travelers on safari. Named the “City of Gold” for its rich deposits of the precious metal, it’s also the economic engine and vibrant heart of the country.

Top Johannesburg attractions include the Apartheid Museum, a poignant look at the oppression of apartheid to the birth of democracy; Constitution Hill; and Gold Reef City, which traces the region’s history through mining-themed attractions.

If Johannesburg is the heart of South Africa, the shanty towns of Soweto, are its soul. An abbreviation for “southwestern townships,” Soweto birthed the freedom movement, which created South Africa’s new democratic constitution. One of the popular things to do in Johannesburg is take a guided tour of the townships, which often includes a visit to the Mandela House, now a national monument.

Close in distance, but a world away in feel, Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa. It’s a city of parks and gardens, and home to popular attractions like the Voortrekker Monument and Heritage Site and the highly-lauded Freedom Park.

Blog is curated by Vikram Kakri.

Blog Link: https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/south-africa-saf.htm

15 Best Places to Visit in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a curious beast. Ravaged by wars and civil strife, it had a particularly tumultuous exit from the age of European colonialism in Africa. And while there are still lingering human rights complaints and authoritarian tendencies in the government here, the general consensus is that those dangers are slowly but surely subsiding. That means Zimbabwe is once again entering the safari fold, and beginning to re-magnetize intrepid travelers with the promise of its inselberg-studded backcountry, its teak forests and cypress-spattered hills; with its rugged Eastern Highlands where curious monkeys huddle against the cold breezes and its deep caves and underground riverways.

Of course, there are some mainstream attractions, not least of all the roaring wonder of Victoria Falls, and the up-and-coming metropolis of Harare – certainly one to watch! So, if you’re feeling adventurous and ready to throw caution to the wind, it’s worth considering this lost jewel of the African south for sure.

1. Victoria Falls

There’s a clear reason why tersely-named Victoria Falls is one of Zimbabwe’s must-see places.

Like the eponymous towns of Niagara in the US and Canada, the settlement is just a stone’s throw from the roaring waterfalls that gave it its moniker.

Thousands of people flock here to see the awesome sight every year too.

They join the baboons in the jungles and delve into the Victoria Falls National Park just to the south of the center, gawping and gasping as the great curtain of water comes into view, cascading dramatically off its black-rock cliffs in plumes of steam and mist.

2. Harare

Nearly three million people call the metropolis of Harare their home, making it not only the capital but also the largest city of the nation.

Sat up on plateaus of Zimbabwe’s central highlands, it certainly looks the part.

Endless steel-clad skyscrapers shoot up from its CBD – the economic kingpin of the country – and First Street and the downtown buzz with purring traffic and shoppers from morning until night.

And there’s history too, poking out with the great preservation of the National Gallery, in the national archives, and the Queen Victoria Museum, not to mention the wealth of old colonial builds.

Apart from that, visitors here can wallow in the pretty parks and wander between the jacarandas that famously pepper the roadways.

3. Bulawayo

Bulawayo belies a sort of New Orleans vibe.

It’s got age-stained colonial frontispieces that ooze art deco and Victorian regal styles.

It’s got swaying trees dotting its old avenues, and the occasional Anglo-esque public house occupying the arcades.

But this second city is more than just a historical relic.

It’s also an industrial and economic hub, once known for its smoke-belching factories, and still crisscrossed by more railway lines than you can shake a Ndebele tribal trinket at.

The town is indelibly green and flowery, with bougainvillea cascading over the rooftops and palms peppering the roundabouts.

Between it all you can see elegant governmental buildings, go shopping for trinkets, or plan your next safari out to the south-western parks.

4. Matobo National Park

The legendary Matobo National Park is a cross-shaped reserve found just south out of aforementioned Bulawayo.

Famed since time immemorial for its curious array of inselbergs and hoodoo rock formations, it’s a land of sculpted granite peaks and anthropomorphic bluffs.

These have been a shelter for man for millennia, and today it’s possible to spy out remnants of southern Africa’s pre-history carved into the stone at spots like the Nswatugi Cave.

Meanwhile, others come to stalk ungulates in the Hove Wild Area – the dedicated game park here; a land of sable antelope and wildebeest, baboon packs and leopards.

5. Nyanga National Park

The home of the Highveld is a wild and wonderful place.

Perched on the very roof of Zimbabwe, more than 1,800 meters above sea level, it’s formed by hulking hills of dolomite rock, and suspended boulders that creak in the cool breezes.

Dressed in groves of msasa trees and cypresses that are rare to these regions, the habitats here can host a truly otherworldly array of creatures.

Many are endemic, like the Old World Samango monkeys, with their white-brushed throats that can only be found in these parts.

You’ll also find a smattering of leopards and lions, just in case you wanted a taste of the quintessential African safari!

6. Hwange National Park

Bringing up the forefront of Zimbabwe’s ecotourism offering with its nigh on 15,000 square kilometers of protected landscape, the Hwange National Park rarely fails to impress safari goers making their way through this section of southern Africa.

Inside its boundaries is a mosaic of Kalahari woods and teak groves, grass plains and flood flats, all of which are peppered with bulbous termite mounds and the occasional pan – a watering hole that makes this one a perfect destination for lion stalkers.

And apart from the kings of the plains, it’s also possible to see hyenas and wild dogs, leopard and cheetah, all lurking amidst the fossil-spotted river banks and bubbling hot springs.

7. Mutare

The gateway to the farthest eastern fringes of Zimbabwe and the Nyanga National Park besides, Mutare makes its home between the steep-side valleys of Manicaland.

All around you can see the serrated tops of the Bvumba Mountains that enfold the town, making this one something of an enclave of civilization in the deep southern African wilds.

Today, the place has developed a nice clutch of backpacker guesthouses and cheap hostels, giving it the rep of a fine stopover on route to hike the hills or stalk the curious Samango monkey atop the rugged Eastern Highlands.

8. Masvingo

Welcoming travelers to the deeper reaches of Zimbabwe, Masvingo is one of the prime drop off points for VIP buses heading through to the southern edge of the country.

And what a welcome it is! Sat neatly on the edge of the Mutirikwi National Park, the place has plenty in the way of outdoors exploration up its sleeve.

However, the real treat has to be the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Great Zimbabwe, which lurks between the bush some 20 kilometers away.

These 700-year-old ruins crumble and crack under the sun, revealing tales of the nation’s old Shona-speaking folk.

The so-called Hill Complex and Great Enclosure there are hailed as perhaps the most awesome example of drystone architecture on the globe!

9. Lake Mutirikwi National Park

In the shadow of the sculpted Beza Range and the undulating hills of southern Zimbabwe, the Lake Mutirikwi National Park is one of the country’s more off-the-beaten-track areas for outdoors recreation.

Small and compact, it completely ensconces the reservoir of erstwhile Lake Kyle, which flooded the valleys here after the construction of a dam in 1960. As you flit between the empty banks and the smooth granite hills of the surrounding area, you’ll keep the company of ostriches and buffalo, not to mention local fishing folk searching for bass and bream beneath the waters.

10. Chinhoyi

A small crossroads town on the main way west from Harare to Lusaka across the border in Zambia, sleepy Chinhoyi is a kind of picture of rural Zimbabwe.

It sits nestled between the rising ridges of the Mashonaland West Province, and comes with a sleepy vibe and a set of essential services – a bank, hospital and the like.

However, Chinhoyi is famed mainly for one thing and one thing only: its caves.

Known simply as the Chinhoyi caves, these carve their way into the cliffs just west of the center.

They occupy their very own national park, and divers come from far and wide to try ultra-technical deep descents into the cool subterranean waters that hide in the gaping caverns.

11. Mana Pools National Park

The Mana Pools National Park is fed by the lifeblood of the Zambezi River, which spills over onto the plains and grasses here when the rains fall to create a patchwork of watering holes and pans during the wet season.

Of these, it’s the largest four that gave the area its name (mana means ‘four’ in the local vernacular), but there are actually countless little puddles to see.

The main upshot is that animals gather at the sites to drink, making Mana Pools a game viewing destination of the top order.

Despite being underdeveloped, there are more crocodiles and hippos here than you can rattle a baobab tree at, and visitors during the monsoon are virtually guaranteed a sighting!

12. Matusadona National Park

Clinging to the southern banks of Lake Kariba, on the Zimbabwean side of the great water body, Matusadona National Park is a relic of the former state of Rhodesia.

After becoming subsumed by Zimbabwe following the upheavals, the area retained its protected status.

And it’s easy to see why! First off, the whole region is beautifully untouched and untrodden, with Cape buffalo and elephants by far the most common mammalian inhabitants.

Secondly, there’s the waters of Kariba itself, which have created ample grazing lands since the creation of the Kariba Dam, allowing ungulates and predators alike to thrive along its fringes.

13. Gonarezhou National Park

You could be forgiven for thinking that you were strolling through Colorado or Arizona as you move between the rock-ribbed, rust-colored escarpments that dominate the vistas in the North Gonarezhou National Park.

This wild land covers a whopping 5,000 square kilometers, which is just a portion of the colossal Limpopo conservancy, set to sprawl out across the frontier into Mozambique when its fully established.

Elephants and giraffe are common sightings, while you’ll also be able to spot wild dog packs and zebra between the mopane woods.

14. Kadoma

Deep in the very heartlands of Zimbabwe, the town of Kadoma actually started life as a ramshackle gold rush town, housing the miners and prospectors who flocked to the central provinces here to chip away at the ground.

After gold was found, the spot developed quickly, slowly giving rise to hotels and banks and businesses.

Today, Kadoma is a richly-imbued place, with some colonial-style church towers and a lively local population of nearly 80,000. Come here to learn about Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth, and see cotton fields swaying in the African breezes.

15. Kariba

The kingpin of the Kariba Lake region and the Zambezi Valley, this little lakeside town draws thousands of visitors a year to the extreme northern reaches of the country.

Set just on the edge of Zambia, it offers access to the breathtaking Kariba Dam – one of the most awesome engineering feats in these parts.

It’s also the place to come for hiking and outdoor explorations around the edges of the water, or to watch the red-pink African sunsets in the company of locals, as the evening hues descend over Antelope Island in the distance.

15 Best Places to Visit in Algeria

The largest country in the continent of Africa, Algeria has a diverse landscape and lots to offer travellers. The journey from Europe is only a short one but the difference between the two continents is immediately noticeable and provides a sense of adventure and intrigue for tourists.  Algeria has many charming cities with winding streets and stunning architecture, Mediterranean coast, lush landscapes and roman ruins to rival anywhere in the world.

The main attraction in the country however is the Saharan region where the never-ending sand and the mysterious and lively cities are enough to indulge even the most seasoned traveller’s imagination.

Despite advise about the country not being safe to travel and certain regions being off limits. Most Algerians greet tourists with warm welcomes and are happy to share their way of life with any guests to their country. All the same, any trip to this beautiful country should be well researched to ensure that all travel rules are adhered with. Let’s have a look at the best places to visit in Algeria!

1. Algiers

Algiers, Algeria
Algiers, Algeria

Algiers is the capital city in Algeria and has an estimated population of around 3,500,000. The city was founded by the Ottomans and is rife with history and beautiful architecture. The ancient Casbah is a winding urban maze, with streets flowing through the old town like streams. Also worth exploring is the Dar Hassan Pacha, which was once the city’s most decedent mansion. The interior of the house has been under renovation since 2005 and is unfortunately closed to the public. The city of Algiers offers visitors from the west a stark and beautiful contrast and an intriguing glimpse into the past, present and future of Algeria.   25 Most Beautiful Medieval Castles in the World

2. Atakor

Ahaggar National Park
Ahaggar National Park

Although difficult to reach without your own transport, the Atakor Plateau, situated in the Ahaggar National Park, is worth any of the effort or inconvenience. The landscape is a red-brown dry landscaped dotted with harsh sheer peaks. The terrain is like something straight out of a sci-fi flick and is a sight that will stick with you for a long time. The highlight of the plateau is the Assekrem Peak. Assekrem in the Tuareg language means “the end of the world” which is a fitting way to describe the view from the peak and the rugged harshness of the landscape.

3. Tamanrasset

Tamanrasset
Tamanrasset

Tamanrasset, sometimes referred to as ‘Tam’ is a modern and lively town that you will find if you travel south through Algeria towards Niger. Tam has everything you might expect from a modern town including a number of shops, restaurants, banks and travel amenities. The town is a great base for exploring the Ahaggar National Park whilst retaining comforts of a well equipped town. For various reasons, the town is considered unsafe to visit at present and it is only possible to visit as part of a fully guided tour. Proof of a guided tour must be provided upon arrival in the town. Although this is currently a requirement it is not necessarily a bad things as it improves the safety of visitors and several fun excursions such a 4×4 tours are often included.https://compare.thecrazytourist.com/n3/crane/v0/render?t=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJpYXQiOjE2MzkyMDQ0MTYsImF1cmwiOiJodHRwczpcL1wvd3d3LmNsaWNrdHJpcHouY29tXC94XC9hcGlcL3YwXC9hcmVzdWx0P2F1aWQ9MzAxODI1NGUtOTBiNy00OWY1LWI4MTMtNGYxNzFmNDJlZGQ0Jl9jdHVpZD0zZjMxYzM1Ny1iNmE4LTQ2OTItOWFhMi1kMzRjMjc0M2ZjOGUiLCJoZyI6eyJpZCI6IjMwMTgyNTRlLTkwYjctNDlmNS1iODEzLTRmMTcxZjQyZWRkNCIsInBpZCI6MTYzOTIwNDQxNiwib3AiOiJHZXRQYXJhbGxheCIsInYiOiIyMDIwLjQ5IiwidHlwZSI6InBhcmFsbGF4In19.zCn5XnXGVUqPoVQYDLcQSdc86CA757Qk0aQSLuhK0r8

4. Oran

Oran
Oran

Oran is the second city of Algeria, it is a lively port city with heaps of character and beauty. Oran is an attraction in its own right and has historical buildings a plenty to explore including beautiful mosques, the Casbah and Le Theatre. The range of beautiful architecture is possibly the best of any city in Algeria. Oran is also a great place for scuba diving, sampling Algerian cuisine and listening to lively Rai music which has its origins in the city. Despite many positive reasons to visit the city there are also many signs of the country’s political troubles in the 90s are visible in Oran. The city filled novelist Albert Camus with so much dread that he based his novel ‘The Plague’ here.

5. Annaba

Annaba
Annaba

There were many geographical reasons for the Phoenicians to found Annaba that are still apparent today and are the reason for the cities relative prosperity. The city has a natural port which handles many of the country’s exports but for travellers, the city’s history and culture, especially Hippo Regius, is the main attraction. The ruins of Hippo Regius are surrounded by olive trees on one side and the sea on the other. The ruins include mosaics, bronze trophies and ruins of villas and temples.

6. Constantine

Constantine
Constantine

Constantine is a natural marvel that has transformed over the years into a stunning spot for tourists. The city was the Capital of Numidia and after that Roman Numidia and it goes without saying that politics and power have always played a part here. The majority of buildings in the city can only be reached by crossing the bridge across a large canyon. This gives the city a feeling of fantasy that has been retained since the time of the Romans. Despite the unique way the city looks, and its astonishing history, there is not much to see here in terms of attraction and tourists may find that a couple of days here is enough.https://95c8a23e8805dd5a33aeca6be75447c2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

7. Ghardaia

Ghardaia
Ghardaia

Ghardaia is part of a five town cluster right on the edge of the Sahara Desert but is also the name often used to refer to the entire cluster. Ghardaia is almost a country in its own right with its own dress, religion and social traditions. Guides are required in order to access the beautiful old town or the Sidi Brahim mosque. Food and accommodation here, as in most Algerian cities, varies immensely in price and quality. If you choose to visit Ghardaia whilst in Algeria you may leave feeling like you have visited more than one country.

8. Tlemcen

Tlemcen Old Town
Tlemcen Old Town

For stunning Moorish buildings in Algeria there is only one option: Tlemcen. The buildings here can compete in beauty with those in Southern Spain or Morocco. The town was important for the Romans but sadly not much evidence has survived from those times. Sights include the Great Mosque, the Eiffel Bridge and waterfalls in the nearby National Park of Tlemcen. Tlemcen has its sights firmly set on the future and is currently in the process of building what will be the largest university campus in the country.https://95c8a23e8805dd5a33aeca6be75447c2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

9. Setif

Setif
Setif

Another of Algeria’s cities which was founded by the Romans, Setif is situated in the Little Kabylie region of Algeria and is over 1,100 meters above sea level. The roman ruins here are well worth taking time to study. In addition to the Romans, the French have also left their mark on the city. Sights in the city include the main square with its Roman sculptures. Tourists are a fairly rare sight in this city which for some may be a reason to visit and see the ‘real Algeria’ far from the beaten track but it does have its disadvantages and western tourists should exercise caution.

10. El Oued

El Oued
El Oued

Intriguingly nicknamed ‘the city of a thousand domes’, El Oued is an oasis of a city in what seems to be an endless sea of sand. The reason for the nickname comes from the many domed roofs on buildings in the city. The reason for the domes is protection from the intense heat from the sun in summer. One of the main reasons tourists visit El Oued is to shop, the city is arguably the best place for shoppers in the country. Popular items include carpets and affanes (traditional Algerian slippers). Do not even think about entering the market unless you intend to barter like a local to get the best bargain. The souqs can get busy especially on a Friday.https://95c8a23e8805dd5a33aeca6be75447c2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

11. Djanet

Djanet
Djanet

Djanet almost looks like a Mediterranean town with its white buildings and blue roofs but it is in fact the the main town in the Tassili region of Algeria. Set in a palm tree oasis, the town feels almost tropical. The town is picturesque but has a very small centre with only a post office, bank and a handful of restaurants and shops. The town bursts into life at the weekend as French tourists arrive to experience the peacefulness and exotic surroundings on offer in Djanet.

12. Batna

The Municipal People's Assembly, Batna
The Municipal People’s Assembly, Batna

Batna is not far from Constantine but it feels entirely different. Separated from Constantine by harsh salt flats, Batna is the capital of the Aurus Massif, a region of Algeria made up from a continuation of the Atlas Mountains. Batna’s history is nowhere near as extensive as some of the cities in Algeria and has only existed since a decree in 1848 signed by Napoleon III. Due to its location in a valley, the summers are very hot and the winters very cold. There is a lively student scene here due to the city’s population of over 30,000 students.https://95c8a23e8805dd5a33aeca6be75447c2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

13. Timgad

Timgad
Timgad

Only 40km away from Batna but a different attraction entirely, Timgad is the expensive ruins of an entire Roman town. The ruins are a little overwhelming at first but reward those that take the time to explore every row and road. There is an entrance fee but it is well worth it for what is arguably one of the most stunning Roman ruin sites in the world. Nothing else in Algeria will prepare you for the vastness of the Roman ruins in Timgad.

14. In Salah

City Gate, In Salah
City Gate, In Salah

In Salah owes its name to its famous (or perhaps infamous) salty water. The water is an acquired taste and is often the only type of drinking water available so come prepared with your own stash if you prefer the none salty variety. The buildings are Sudanese in style and the mosque with In Salah is slowly being encroached by a moving sand dune. The dune moves at a rate of 1m every five years and as it devours one building it often reveals another that has been under the sand for some time.https://95c8a23e8805dd5a33aeca6be75447c2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

15. Bejaia

Bejaia
Bejaia

Bejaia is situated on Algeria’s Mediterranean coastline and this is the city’s primary attraction for tourists. The history of the city is expansive and has been settled by the Vandals, Byzantines and Ottoman Turks. The museum in the city has various artifacts to prove this turbulent history. In addition to the museum there is also an impressive Spanish fortress and the so called ‘Monkey Peak’ which is home to the endangered Barbary Macaque monkey.

10 Best places to visit in Ethiopia

1. Simien Mountains

Nestled in the highlands of northern Ethiopia you will find the spectacular Simien Mountains. This jewel of an area makes you feel lost in time with its remarkable rock-hewn churches and medieval castles. These majestic mountains seemed to have been hand-shaped by nature and are home to a rich cultural heritage. They now draw people here to learn about ancient religious sites and to witness the jagged peaks and seemingly endless vistas. The Simien Mountains are also home to a unique but endangered ecosystem, complete with rare and unusual animals like the Gelada baboon, Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf.

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Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Simien Mountains, Ethiopia – ©Thomas Maluck – CC BY-ND 2.0

2. Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela

Near the small town of Lalibela, there are eleven medieval churches, which are all carved out of massive slabs of volcanic rock! The churches were built in the 12th-century under the direction of King Lalibela. He had a vision of a “New Jerusalem” for Christians who were prevented from making the pilgrimage to the Holy Land because of Muslim conquests across the region. Today it is still a popular pilgrimage site for Coptic Christians. The most fascinating of the ancient churches is the House of Saint George, or Biete Ghiorgis. This church is famed for its cross-shaped design and network of trenches and ceremonial passages which connect it to the other churches. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is truly one of Ethiopia’s incredible places to visit and will leave you in awe of the faith that can move mountains.

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St. George Church in Lalibela Ethiopia (Rock Churches)

3. The Holy City of Harar

Harar is a city in Northeast Ethiopia near the border with Somalia and a great seat of Islamic culture. Its walled city dubbed “Africa’s Mecca,” is home to more than 100 mosques and is also considered the “fourth holy city of Islam”. Harar was built in the 16th century to protect the city against religious invaders. As you stroll down the city’s cobbled and narrow alleys, you will be greeted by friendly Harari women dressed in brightly coloured dresses.

It won’t take long to be told about the legendary “hyena man of Harar”. At the Fallana Gate the “hyena man’ will call out to the hyenas by name in Harari. They come up, one-by-one and take a piece of meat from a stick he has placed in his mouth. If you have the nerve, you can also take a turn hand-feeding these wildly beautiful, but dangerous African predators.

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Harar, Ethiopia

4. Gondar

Nestled in the highlands of Northern Ethiopia, you’ll find the fabled city of Gondar. Once you have reached Ras Dashen, the highest peak in the spectacular Simien Mountains, you will be able to marvel at Gondar, the “Camelot of Africa”. The castle was the medieval home to Ethiopian Emperors and Princesses who led the country for nearly 1000 years. Once you have reached the main site, check out the Royal Enclosure which is home to the main attractions in the city.

Another site not to miss is Fasiladas’ Bath. This is where the annual Timkat celebration takes place. The water is blessed by the bishop and splashed on the crowd of pilgrims that come to renew their faith and to take part in the ceremony that replicates Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River. Whilst here don’t forget to visit Debre Berhan Selassie, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in all of Ethiopia.

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Gondar, Ethiopia

5. Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is the fourth largest city in Africa and is the diplomatic home to the African Union. This vibrant city sits atop the Entoto Mountains and has both an African and international feel. Addis has a mystical aura that seems to act like a portal to the past. It’s a place where you can explore the beautiful orthodox churches and museums.

Make sure to check out the National Museum where you will find the 2.3 million-year-old fossilized hominid “Lucy”. Also visit the Merkato, which is the largest open-air market in Africa. Here you’ll have your senses awakened with the smell of pungent spices and roasting coffee.

At night, the city comes alive with a vibrant nightlife with restaurants serving exotic Ethiopian cuisine. Day trips from Addis should include the Entoto Mountains, the crater lakes at Debre Zeyit and the hot springs at Awash National Park. Pamper yourself by staying at the Sheraton Addis where you will be treated like royalty in one of Africa’s few 5-star resorts.

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6. Blue Nile Falls

Close to the city of Bahir Dar you will find the incredible Blue Nile Falls. The locals call it Tis- Isat Falls (translated as “Smoke of Fire”) and it is the most impressive sight on either the Blue or White Nile. The falls stretch a quarter-mile wide during the flood season and drops into a gorge of more than 150 feet deep. You can see how the falls got their name because it throws up a never-ending mist that drenches sightseers from half a mile away. The rainbows produced are awe-inspiring and creates an Eden-like perennial rainforest of lush verdant foliage. You will not be alone in this paradise; the forest is home to a wide variety of monkeys and exotically coloured birds.

Blue Nile Falls, Ethiopia

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7. Aksum

Head to Aksum and you will see more ancient history that you can imagine. Aksum is one of the oldest cities in all of Africa and is rich in legend and mystery. It is believed to be the home of the Queen of Sheba and the final resting place of the legendary Ark of the Covenant. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed into the church where the Ark is said to be, but you can still check out the ancient Aksumite obelisks found in the Northern Stelae Field. The largest obelisk was recently returned to Ethiopia by the Italian government where it sat for decades after it was taken to Italy during WWII. It’s ruins and ancient legends will fascinate any lover of history. In addition to legends of Sheba and the Ark, locals believe that the roughly hewn tomb of solid rock of King Bazen was actually Balthazar, and the magi carried news of Christ’s birth to Ethiopia.

Aksum in Ethiopia

8. Arba Minch

On the shores of Abaya Lake in Southern Ethiopia, Arba Minch is full of natural wonder and beauty. Arba Minch in Amharic means “forty springs,” and the area is rich in many tiny springs that bubble up from the ground. You can see many of them as you hike through Nechisar National Park.

The most incredible sight in Arba Minch is the cliff top holy spot of Abuna Yemata Church. This rock-hewn church is found only after a mildly challenging climb up the sheer cliff wall. It requires a bit of nerve and a lack of vertigo, but your effort will be greatly rewarded. Views from the church are remarkable and inside this ancient holy church, you will find beautiful and well-preserved frescoes that adorn two cupolas.ADVERTISEMENTCONTINUE READING BELOW

9. Danakil Depression

If you are up a really hot time, then make your way to Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression. The Depression overlaps the borders of Eritrea and Djibouti and is part of the great East African Rift Valley.

The Afar people call this northeastern part of Ethiopia home and against all odds, have not only existed for centuries but still have a thriving community. But beware, the climate is unforgiving and widely considered the hottest (average temp of 94F), driest (4 – 8 inches of annual rainfall) and lowest spot (400 feet below sea level) on the planet. Having said all that, this unearthly landscape is an incredible place to visit.

The lava lake at Erta Ale is one of only six lava lakes on Earth and will leave you in awe. The multi-coloured hydrothermal bubbling lakes and great salt pans will amaze you and have you question if you are still on Planet Earth. The site is also rich in fossils of ancient hominid. The famed fossil of “Lucy” was found in this area in 1974.

Erta Ale
Erta Ale, Ethiopia, Photo by Marc Szeglat via Unsplash

10. The People of the Lower Omo Valley

If you want a cultural experience that you will never forget, then plan a trip to the Lower Omo Valley. Here you can connect with one of more than a dozen indigenous peoples that live in the region.

The valley is dependent on the Omo River to live as it feeds the dry savannah that supports the local communities. Each of the villages has their own customs and language and have lived basically the same lifestyle for centuries. The Mursi and Hamar are proud people who adorn themselves in unusual body art and jewellery and cattle are vital to their existence. They are also very territorial and will fiercely defend their land and way of life. Even though the region is remote, many tour companies operate treks to the Lower Omo Valley and several of its villages. Just be prepared for a pricey and challenging trip–both logistically and physically.

Portrait of Hamer Tribe Men

15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Tanzania

Tanzania is home to some of Africa’s most famous national parks and natural attractions, including majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Consequently, the most popular things to do in Tanzania and the reason many people visit the country, are the safaris and wildlife-related adventures.

Most visitors will find themselves passing through Dar es Salaam and heading out to the wilderness areas and other destinations. For those who want to spend some time soaking up the sun, the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar beckon.

Off Pemba and Mafia islands is another kind of natural wonder, appreciated by the scuba divers and snorkelers who come here from around the world to experience the coral gardens, colorful fish, and crystal clear waters.

Explore your options and discover the best places to visit with our list of the top attractions in Tanzania.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak (5,895 m) and Tanzania’s most iconic image. Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, unlike other parks in northern Tanzania, is not visited for the wildlife but for the chance to stand in awe of this beautiful snow-capped mountain and, for many, to climb to the summit. Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time, although the best period is from late June to October, during the dry season.

Kilimanjaro, a World Heritage Site, was formed over 1 million years ago by volcanic movement along the Rift Valley. Three volcanic cones – Shira, Kibo, and Mawenzi – came to be about 750,000 years ago. The highest point is Uhuru Peak on Kibo, which is one of the Seven Summits of the world.

The mountain rises from farmland on the lower level to rainforest and alpine meadow and then barren lunar landscape at the peaks. The slopes of rainforest are home to buffaloes, leopards, monkeys, elephants and eland. The alpine zone is where bird watchers will find an abundance of birds of prey.

Although no immediate project is in the works, in late 2020 the government approved a plan to build a cable car on Mt. Kilimanjaro. If constructed, it would take visitors to 3,700 meters above sea level.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Mount Kilimanjaro

2. Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park is a vast treeless plain with millions of animals living here or passing through in search of fresh grasslands. It’s most famous for the annual wildebeest migration but you can also see the Big Five here, and nearly 500 species of birds have been recorded on the Serengeti.

As the second largest national park in Tanzania, the Serengeti attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. The best months for wildlife viewing in Serengeti National Park are between June and September. The wet season is from March to May, with the coldest period from June to October.

The annual migration of over 1.5 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and gazelle takes place in May or early June. This migration is one of the most impressive natural events and the primary draw for many tourists.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Serengeti National Park

Read More: Best Game Reserves in Africa

3. Zanzibar Beaches

Zanzibar Beaches
Zanzibar Beaches

The island of Zanzibar, also called Unguja, is a major holiday destination in Tanzania and known for its beautiful beaches. Part of the Zanzibar archipelago, which consists of the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, this island has some of the best beaches in the world. The surf varies depending on what side of the island you are on, but visitors will find soft white sand and clear shallow water, along with traditional boats lining the shore.

The historic city of Stone Town, known for old Arabian townhouses, narrow alleyways, and a busy port, is located in the heart of Zanzibar.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Zanzibar

4. Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and is one of Tanzania’s most popular wildlife viewing areas. This huge volcanic crater has a permanent supply of water, which draws thousands of animals who stay in this area rather than migrating.

Visitors come here primarily for viewing large animals and bird watching. Thousands of animals can be seen on the crater floor, including lions, elephants, rhinos, Thomson’s gazelles, and buffaloes, but wildebeests and zebras account for over half of the animals that call the Ngorongoro Crater home.

Bird watching is superb, especially around Lake Migadi, which attracts flocks of flamingoes to the shallows. Hippos are content to submerge themselves during the day and then graze in the nearby grass in the evening.

The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact ancient caldera in the world, nearly three million years old. The Ngorongoro volcano was one of the world’s tallest mountains before it exploded and collapsed.

Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge

Also of interest in the conservation area is the Olduvai Gorge. This important archeological site has revealed ancient skull and bone fragments that have delivered critical information about early mankind.

The Olduvai Gorge is an archeological site situated on a series of fault lines, where centuries of erosion have revealed fossils and remnants of early mankind. As early as 1911, a German professor found some fossil bones while looking for butterflies in Olduvai Gorge. In a later expedition, the Leakeys collected skull fragments, a skull, and bones determined to be approximately 2 million years old. Tools and hunting weapons from 1 to 1.5 million years ago were also discovered in Olduvai Gorge.

Another exciting find were the famous footprints of a man, woman and child at Laetoli, near Olduvai. These and other discoveries provide more evidence to the theory that at least three hominid species were in this region over two million years ago.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ngorongoro

5. Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park
Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara National Park is comprised of forest, woodland, grasslands, and swamps. Two-thirds of the park is covered by water and Lake Manyara is host to thousands of flamingoes, at certain times of year, as well as other diverse bird life. The highlight of Lake Manyara Park is the large population of elephants, tree-climbing lions, and hippos, which can be observed at a much closer range than in other parks. This park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons in the world.

Wildlife drives, canoeing (when water levels are high enough), mountain bike tours and bird watching are the most popular activities in Lake Manyara National Park.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Lake Manyara

6. Mafia Island

Mafia Island
Mafia Island

Mafia Island draws divers and snorkelers from around the world to the undersea world protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park. The best months for diving are October to March but the best weather on Mafia Island is May to October. March and April are months of heavy rain.

Mafia Island Marine Park has coral gardens, an abundant variety of fish, and a relaxed diving atmosphere. Countless birds and over 400 species of fish can be seen in the area. Mafia Island is also a traditional breeding site for the green turtle, which are unfortunately endangered.

Mafia is also a desirable location for deep-sea fishing, especially tuna, marlin, sailfish and other big-game fish.

This island paradise first saw settlers in the 8th or 9th C, but Mafia became a more important settlement during the 12th to 14th C when it held a key position in the East African trading routes.

7. Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park, established in 1970, is a fantastic area for wildlife viewing. It is best visited in the dry season from July to September when the animals gather along the river.

During the dry season, Tarangire National Park has one of the highest concentrations of migratory wildlife. Wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the lagoons. The park is also known for its large population of elephants, and the baobab trees that dot the grassy landscape.

The park is excellent for birdwatching, with more than 300 species recorded in Tarangire. These species include buzzards, vultures, herons, storks, kites, falcons and eagles.

8. Pemba Island

Pemba Island
Pemba Island

Pemba Island is the northernmost island in the Zanzibar archipelago. Around Pemba are many desert islands and some of the best scuba diving in the Indian Ocean, with visibility that is unparalleled. Coral gardens, colorful sponges and sea fans are all found in the underwater haven. The city of Chake Chake, the main population center on Pemba, is a popular base for scuba divers.

Pemba is less visited than Zanzibar and as a result has a more laidback atmosphere. The island is hilly with deep valleys and it has become popular with mountain bikers who are drawn to the 1,000-meter peaks. Just offshore, one spot not to miss is Misali Island Beach. This incredible white-sand beach is on an uninhabited tropical island.

Pemba is a major world clove producer and is also well known for the juju traditions of medicine and magic. People come from throughout East Africa to learn from the voodoo and traditional healers or seek a cure.

Accommodation: Where to Stay on Pemba Island

9. Stone Town

Stone Town
Stone Town

Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar and little has changed in the last 200 years. The grand old Arabian homes lining the narrow streets and winding alleys give the city its own unique charm. The majority of homes in Stone Town were built in the 19th C when Zanzibar was one of the most important Swahili trading towns in the Indian Ocean. Visitors will notice the bras-studded, intricately carved wooden doors on many of the houses.

As the world’s oldest functioning Swahili city, many of the landmarks in Stone Town have been restored to their original glory. Some of the historic buildings are now museums and tourist attractions. The town also has a couple of interesting old churches of historical significance.

A walk along Creek Road takes visitors to the original Stone Town area and the location of the Darajani MarketBeit el-AmaniCity Hall, and the Anglican Cathedral. Some of the other key highlights include the Forodhani Gardens, the Old Dispensary with its carved wooden balconies, the former home of the sultans known as Beit el-Sahel or the People’s Palace, the Hamamni Persian Baths built in 1888, and the oldest structure in Stone Town, the Old Fort.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Stone Town

10. Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve
Selous Game Reserve

Selous is the largest game reserve in Africa. Established in 1922, it covers 5% of Tanzania’s total area. The southern area is a forbidden zone that is undeveloped, heavily forested, and contains a series of steep cliffs. Travelers are limited to the area north of the Rufiji River. This area of the Selous Game Reserve has large open grassland, woodlands, rivers, hills and plains. The best time to visit is July through October.

The Rufiji River bisects the Selous Game Reserve and has the largest catchment area of any river in East Africa. The river is an important feature of the reserve providing the opportunity to watch the diverse water-based wildlife. A broad range of wildlife can be found including elephants, hippos and rhinos as well as buffalo, antelope, giraffe, warthog, wildebeest, lion, leopard and cheetah. The diversity of bird life in Selous includes over 350 recorded species.

11. Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park, although smaller than most in Tanzania, has a range of habitats that consist of the forest of Mount Meru, Ngurdoto Crater in the southeast section of the park, and Momella Lakes, a series of seven crater lakes. Black and white Colobus monkeys are easily spotted in the forested area while the marshy floor of the crater is dotted with herds of buffalo, zebra and warthog. Momella Lakes is home to a large selection of resident and migrant waterbirds. People come here to see wildlife and also to climb Mount Meru.

Mount Meru is one of the most beautiful volcanoes in Africa and the second highest mountain in Tanzania. The summit is reached by a narrow ridge, which provides stunning views of the volcanic cone lying several thousand feet below in the crater. The ascent is steep but the route passes through parkland, forest, a giant heather zone and moorland.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Arusha

12. Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park

In 2008 Ruaha National Park became Tanzania’s largest park. It is home to large herds of buffalo and gazelle, and has one of the largest concentration of elephants in Tanzania. The Great Ruaha River is the main feature of Ruaha National Park, providing magnificent wildlife viewing on the banks. The river also provides much of the electricity to Tanzania through a hydroelectric dam at Kidatu.

Ruaha National Park is the least accessible park in Tanzania and as a result the landscape remains relatively untouched. Birdwatcher’s can enjoy over 400 species of bird that are not found in northern Tanzania, and the river, spectacular gorges, and majestic trees are especially appealing to photographers.

13. Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe Stream National Park
Gombe Stream National Park | diasUndKompott / photo modified

Gombe National Park, also sometimes called Gombe Stream National Park, is primarily for those who want to get a little off the beaten track and see chimpanzees. This is one of the smallest national parks in Tanzania and is famous for the work of Jane Goodall. This British researcher arrived in 1960 to study the wild chimpanzees and her work turned into what would become the longest running behavioral research program of its kind in the world.

Guided walks take visitors into the forest to observe chimps in the wild. Many species of primates and mammals live in the park. Over 200 bird species have been recorded in the tropical forest, including barbets, starlings, sunbirds, crowned eagle, kingfishers and the palm-nut vulture.

Hiking and swimming are other popular activities; a trail leads into the forest to a waterfall in the valley.

14. Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park
Katavi National Park

Katavi National Park is located in a remote region offering unspoiled wilderness. A predominant feature in Katavi is the enormous flood plain, split by the Katuma River and several seasonal lakes. The lakes support enormous groups of hippos, crocodiles and over 400 species of birds. One of the spectacles in Katavi is the hippos at the end of the dry season, when as many as 200 try to squeeze into a pool of water. The male rivalry heats up causing territorial fights.

The dry season brings Katavi National Park to life, herds of impala, reedbuck, lions, zebras and giraffes can be seen at the remaining pools and streams. Thousands of elephants and buffaloes also converge on the park when the flood waters retreat.

15. Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and is bordered by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This lake is the source of the White Nile and provides an income for millions of residents along its shores. The Tanzanian section of Lake Victoria is one of the least visited regions in the country, however the towns of Bukoba, Musoma and Mwanza have a number of attractions.

Near Mwanza and Musoma are many islands, some have become wildlife sanctuaries. Bird watching and fishing trips are popular excursions, and boat trips or hikes can be arranged around Lake Victoria.

Rubondo Island National Park, which includes several other smaller islands, is on the southwest shores of Lake Victoria.

15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Kenya

Kenya – the name is almost synonymous with the word “safari.” Few other places on the planet conjure such a spirit of adventure and romance. The diversity of things to do in Kenya dazzles all who visit, and viewing the country’s abundant wildlife tops the list.

See throngs of wildebeest thundering across the savanna during the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara; come eye-to-eye with elephants in Amboseli; or marvel at Lake Nakuru, flecked with thousands of flamingos. In these sun-soaked lands, ancient tribes, such as the Maasai, Kikuyu, and Samburu, retain their traditional customs, living in relative harmony with the natural world.

Amboseli National Park with Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance
Amboseli National Park with Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance

Beyond the world-famous safari parks lies a trove of coastal treasures. You can snorkel and dive fish-rich coral reefs, relax on pearly beaches, experience the melting pot of cultures and cuisines in Mombasa and Malindi, and explore tropical islands steeped in Swahili history.

Topographically, Kenya is stunning. Surrounded by calderas and mountain ranges, the Great Rift Valley divides the country. To the east of this sweeping valley, you can climb the snow-cloaked equatorial peaks of Mount Kenya and fish for trout in crystal-clear streams. Hell’s Gate National Park harbors obsidian caves and hisses with natural geysers and hot springs.

To experience the romance of Kenya’s colorful colonial history captured in the film Out of Africa, head to Nairobi. This bustling capital is the gateway to one of the world’s most evocative and exciting travel destinations. Discover more places to visit in this fascinating country with our list of the top tourist attractions in Kenya.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Maasai Mara National Reserve

Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara National Reserve

Maasai Mara National Reserve (also “Masai Mara”) is one of Africa’s most magnificent game reserves. Bordering Tanzania, the Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti and forms a wildlife corridor between the two countries.

It’s named after the statuesque, red-cloaked Maasai people who live in the park and graze their animals here, as they have done for centuries. In their language, Mara means “mottled,” perhaps a reference to the play of light and shadow from the acacia trees and cloud-studded skies on the vast grasslands.

The park is famous for the Great Migration, when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti, from July through October.

In the Mara River, throngs of hippos and crocodiles lurk. The park is also known for providing excellent predator sightings, thanks to its relatively large populations of lion, cheetah, and leopard – especially in the dry months from December through February.

Thanks to the park’s altitude, the weather here is mild and gentle year-round.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Maasai Mara National Reserve

2. Amboseli National Reserve

Amboseli National Reserve
Amboseli National Reserve

Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, Amboseli National Reserve is one of Kenya’s most popular tourist parks. The name “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “salty dust,” an apt description for the park’s parched conditions.

The reserve is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Other wildlife commonly spotted in the park includes big cats, such as lion and cheetah, as well as giraffe, impala, eland, waterbuck, gazelle, and more than 600 species of birds.

Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here, ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulfur springs, savannah, and woodlands. Look for the local Maasai people who live in the area around the park.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Amboseli National Reserve

3. Tsavo National Park

Tsavo National Park
Tsavo National Park

Kenya’s largest park, Tsavo, is sliced in two: Tsavo West and Tsavo East. Together these parks comprise four percent of the country’s total area and encompass rivers, waterfalls, savannah, volcanic hills, a massive lava-rock plateau, and an impressive diversity of wildlife.

Midway between Nairobi and Mombasa, Tsavo East is famous for photo-worthy sightings of large elephant herds rolling and bathing in red dust. The palm-fringed Galana River twists through the park, providing excellent game viewing and a lush counterpoint to the arid plains.

Other highlights here include the Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow; Mudanda Rock; and the Lugard Falls, which spill into rapids and crocodile-filled pools.

Tsavo West is wetter and topographically more varied, with some of the most beautiful scenery in the northern reaches of the park. Highlights here are Mzima Springs, a series of natural springs with large populations of hippos and crocodiles; Chaimu Crater, a great spot for seeing birds of prey; and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary.

Wildlife is not as easy to see in Tsavo West because of the denser vegetation, but the beautiful scenery more than compensates.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Tsavo National Park

4. Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves

Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves
Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves

On the banks of the palm-lined Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves lie in an arid region in the remote north of Kenya.

Shaba National Reserve is one of two areas where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness, made famous in the film Born Free.

The wildlife in all three reserves depends on the waters of the river to survive, and many species are specially adapted to the parched conditions. These include Grevy’s zebras; Somali ostriches; and gerenuks, the long-necked antelope that stand on two rear legs to reach the fresh shoots on upper tree limbs.

A top attraction in Samburu National Reserve are the Sarara Singing Wells, local watering holes where Samburu warriors sing traditional songs while hauling water for their cattle to drink. You might also be rewarded with sightings of big cats and wild dogs.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Samburu

5. Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park, in Central Kenya, is famous for its huge flocks of pink flamingos. The birds throng on Lake Nakuru itself, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes that covers almost a third of the park’s area.

The park was established in 1961, and more than 450 species of birds have been recorded here, as well as a rich diversity of other wildlife. Lions, leopards, warthogs, waterbucks, pythons, and white rhinos are just some of the animals you might see, and the landscapes range from sweeping grasslands bordering the lake to rocky cliffs and woodland.

The park also protects the largest euphorbia candelabrum forest in Africa. These tall, branching succulents are endemic to the region and provide a bold textural element to the arid landscapes.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Lake Nakuru National Park

6. Lamu Island

Lamu Island
Lamu Island

The small island of Lamu, northeast of Mombasa, oozes old-world charm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited settlement, with origins dating back to the 12th century.

Strolling the labyrinthine streets is one of the top things to do here. You can see the island’s rich trading history reflected in the buildings. Architectural features from the Arab world, Europe, and India are evident, yet with a discernible Swahili technique. Intricately carved wooden doors, coral stone buildings, hidden courtyards, verandas, and rooftop patios are common features.

Sightseeing here is like stepping back in time. Dhows plow the harbor, few if any motorized vehicles exist here, and donkeys still rule the streets as they have done for centuries. Most of Lamu’s population is Muslim, and both men and women dress in traditional attire.

Top attractions on the island include Lamu Museum, with displays on Swahili culture and the region’s nautical history; Lamu Fort; and the Donkey Sanctuary.

If all the history is a little too much, you can bask on one of the island’s white-sand beaches or sip Arabic coffee in a local café.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Lamu

7. Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha
Lake Naivasha

A haven for birders, Lake Naivasha lies at the highest point of the Great Rift ValleyMore than 400 species of birds have been spotted here, including African fish eagles, jacanas, white-fronted bee-eaters, and several species of kingfishers.

One of the best ways to view the wildlife is by boat. Hippos slosh in the water, and giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, and eland graze around the edges of the lake. Keep a lookout for colobus monkeys in the canopies, too.

Near Lake Naivasha, the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary features a wildlife-rich nature trail.

Just south of Lake Naivashathe relatively affordable Hell’s Gate National Park protects a wide variety of wildlife and offers excellent climbing opportunities, with two extinct volcanoes and the red cliffs of Hell’s Gate Gorge.

On the southern shore of Lake Naivasha, you can pop in for a cup of tea at the Elsamere Conservation Centre, the former home of the late Joy Adamson, author of Born Free, and her husband George.

Note that Lake Naivasha has been known to shrink considerably in times of extreme drought, and a flourishing floriculture industry in the area is also impacting water levels and quality. But the lake is typically lush and full of life.

8. Nairobi

Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi
Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi

If you’re looking for things to do in Kenya other than a safari, you’ll have plenty of choices in the country’s capital and largest city. Nairobi is legendary for its colorful colonial history. It was once the capital of British East Africa, luring settlers who came here to stake their fortune in the coffee and tea industries. Today, you can explore the city’s famous historic sites and excellent wildlife-related attractions.

Craving some cultural attractions in Kenya? You’ll find several worthwhile places to visit in Nairobi. The Nairobi National Museum is a great one-stop spot to see exhibits on Kenya’s history, nature, culture, and contemporary art. Green thumbs will also enjoy the botanic gardens on the grounds.

Another popular tourist attraction is the Karen Blixen Museum, the restored residence of the famous Danish author of the book Out of Africa, also known by her pen name, Isak Dinesen.

To see wildlife without venturing far from the city center, visit Nairobi National Park, now a black rhino sanctuary and also home to a diversity of other African wildlife.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Nairobi

9. Nairobi National Park

Giraffe in Nairobi National Park
Giraffe in Nairobi National Park

Who says you need to go far from Nairobi to enjoy a safari? A mere 15-minute drive from the clamor of Kenya’s capital, you can gaze at a snoozing pride of lions or a graceful giraffe strutting through the golden grass at Nairobi National Park.

Visiting this wildlife-rich park is one of the top things to do if you’re staying in Nairobi, and it makes a rewarding day trip – especially if you can’t make it to one of the larger game reserves.

All the classic safari stars here, including buffalo, leopard, zebras, wildebeest, hippos, elephants, and cheetah, and you can also see some of the planet’s most endangered species at the park’s rhino sanctuary.

The Nairobi Safari Walk provides a rewarding opportunity to spot wildlife on foot, and birders will be happy to know that more than 400 species of birds also inhabit the park, including the beautiful grey crowned crane.

And no visit to the park would be complete without popping into the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Nursery at the park’s main gates. Also save time to pop into Giraffe Centre, near the famous Giraffe Manor, where these long-necked beauties eat right out of your hands.

Official site: http://www.kws.go.ke/parks/nairobi-national-park

10. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Nursery

Elephant being fed at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Elephant being fed at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Who can resist a baby elephant? At the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, you can mingle with impossibly cute baby pachyderms and feel good about supporting an important conservation organization at the same time.

This famous wildlife sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants and offers you the chance to see these lovable creatures up close. This is where the youngest elephants are hand-reared until about two or three years of age, and you can watch the keepers bottle-feed the babies.

From the sanctuary, staff relocate the elephants to a reintegration center in Tsavo East National Park before they are eventually released back into the wild.

Watching these playful pint-sized pachyderms wallow in the mud or nudge a soccer ball around is something you will never forget. If you want to do more to help these magnificent animals, consider adopting an orphaned elephant, giraffe, or rhino before you go, and you’ll receive regular updates on its progress.

Conveniently, the nursery sits right at the main gates of Nairobi National Park, so you can visit both of these famous tourist attractions in the same day.

11. Malindi

Malindi
Malindi

North of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast, Malindi has a split personality. This popular beach town is part historic old town, part modern tourist hub. Thanks to its rich trading history, it is also a melting pot of cultures and cuisines.

Travelers, many from Europe, come here to sun on the white sands of Watamu Beach and dive the coral reefs of the Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks. If you’re looking for free things to do in Kenya, you can do worse than bask on a beautiful Malindi Beach.

You can also soak up a dose of Swahili history in the historic town, which dates from the 12th century. Here, you can visit the Jami Mosque; two pillar tombs from the 14th century; and the Church of St. Francis Xavier, one of East Africa’s oldest churches.

On the promontory, the Vasco De Gama Cross is one of the oldest standing monuments in Africa.

Another popular tourist attraction is the Falconry of Kenya, a rehabilitation center for sick and injured birds.

Also worth visiting, about 30 kilometers northeast of Malindi is the Marafa Depression. Also called Hell’s Kitchen or Nyari this set of sandstone gorges sculpted by the wind and rain is like a mini Grand Canyon.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Malindi

12. Mombasa

Mombasa
Mombasa

Mombasa is a multicultural tourist magnet. It’s also Kenya’s second largest city and biggest port. British, Portuguese, Arab, Indian, and Asian immigrants add to the rich cultural mix, and their influence is evident in the architecture, as well as the many different types of cuisine.

Mombasa is actually an island connected to its mushrooming development on the mainland by a causeway, bridges, and ferries. Coral reefs fringe the coast for 480 kilometers, providing fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities, especially at Mombasa Marine National Park and around Wasini Island. Dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing are also popular things to do in Mombasa.

You’ll find plenty of tourist attractions along the Kenyan coast here. History buffs will enjoy exploring the 16th-century Fort Jesus and Old Town with its narrow streets, ancient Swahili dwellings, markets, and souvenir shops.

Other Mombasa tourist attractions cram the city’s north shore, including Mombasa Go-Kart, cinemas, sports, and a cornucopia of restaurants.

This being a coastal hub, beach lovers will find some worthy strands nearby. North of the city, Nyali and Bamburi Beaches are favorites, while the white strands of Shelly, Tiwi, and Diani Beaches are popular spots south of Mombasa.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mombasa

13. Mount Kenya National Park

Mount Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya National Park

In the Central Highlands, east of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that provides the rare spectacle of equatorial snow. It encompasses the country’s namesake highest mountain at 5,199 meters.

Formed by a series of volcanic eruptions, Mount Kenya is actually comprised of three glacier-cloaked peaks. The highest is Batian, although Nelion, the next highest, is a tougher climb. The lowest peak, Lenana, is considered the easiest climb, although unpredictable weather can pose challenges.

Bring your camera. The striking scenery varies from glaciers, lakes, and mineral springs to alpine forest and dense pockets of bamboo.

The diversity of flora and fauna provides rewarding opportunities for safaris. Among the wildlife here, you may spot black and white colobus monkeys, buffalo, elephant, tree hyrax, leopard, and hyena.

Planning to spend a few days here? Nestled in the foothills, the famous Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is a luxury retreat with trout fishing, golf, and tennis.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Mount Kenya National Park

14. Hell’s Gate National Park

Hell's Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park

A hot spot for climbers, Hell’s Gate National Park is one of the few parks in Kenya that allows camping and enables you to explore on foot or bicycle.

Hell’s Gate offers excellent climbing and hiking opportunities, with two extinct volcanoes; the red cliffs of Hell’s Gate Gorge; ObsidianCaves; and the pointed column of rock known as Fischer’s Tower, a former volcanic plug.

Geothermal features include hot springs and natural geysers hissing steam through vents in the earth’s crust. The park also protects a wide variety of wildlife, including leopards, baboons, hartebeest, eland, ostriches, gazelles, and more than 100 species of birds. Eagle and vulture breeding grounds also lie within the park.

The Oloor Karia Maasai Cultural Centre within the park is also worth a visit, with Maasai singing, dancing, and jewelry-making demonstrations.

Interestingly, Olkaria Geothermal Station lies within Hell’s Gate National Park. It generates power from heated, pressurized water underground and is the first of its kind in Africa.

15. Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Rhino's at the Old Pejeta Conservancy
Rhino’s at the Old Pejeta Conservancy

About 200 kilometers north of Nairobi, near Mount Kenya National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a prime place for close-up wildlife encounters.

Conservation and sustainability are key at this 90,000-acre private game reserve, where you can view the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo), as well as other animals such as cheetah, hyenas, zebra, and hartebeest – all set against the breathtaking backdrop of snowcapped Mount Kenya.

The conservancy is perhaps best known for its northern and southern white rhinos, including Baraka, a blind black rhino, who lucky visitors might have the chance to feed.

You can view the wildlife on self-drive or guided tours, and entry includes a visit to the chimpanzee sanctuary. Day visitors are welcome, and if you want to extend your wilderness adventure, you can stay overnight in accommodations that range from bush camps and safari cottages to a charming colonial ranch house.

Official site: http://www.olpejetaconservancy.org/

15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Egypt

Home of the ancient Pharaohs, Egypt is a destination full of dazzling temples and tombs that wow all who visit. It’s not all historic treasures and tourist attractions, though.

With vast tracts of desert for 4WD adventures, the Red Sea’s world-class coral reefs and wrecks for divers, and cruising on the famed Nile River, there are plenty of things to do for all types of travelers.

Beach lovers head to the Sinai or the Red Sea Coast to soak up the sun, while archaeology fans will have a field day in Luxor.

Cairo is the megalopolis that can’t be beaten for city slickers, while Siwa oasis and the southern town of Aswan offer a slice of the slow pace of the countryside.

With so much to see and do, Egypt offers visitors a chance to create itineraries that combine culture, adventure, and relaxation all on one trip.

Plan your sightseeing and find the best places to visit with our list of the top tourist attractions in Egypt.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Pyramids of Giza

Pyramids of Giza
Pyramids of Giza

The last surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza are one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks.

Having awed travelers down through the ages, these tombs of the Pharaohs Cheops (Khufu), Chephren (Khafre), and Mycerinus (Menkaure), guarded by the enigmatic Sphinx, are usually top of most visitor’s lists of tourist attractions to see in Egypt and often the first sight they head to after landing.

Today, sitting on the desert edge of Cairo’s sprawl, these megalithic memorials to dead pharaohs are still as wondrous a sight as they ever were and an undeniable highlight of any Egypt trip.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Giza

2. Luxor’s Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings

Karnak Temple
Karnak Temple

Famed for the Valley of the KingsKarnak Temple, and the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut, the Nile-side town of Luxor in Upper Egypt has a glut of tourist attractions.

This is ancient Thebes, power base of the New Kingdom pharaohs, and home to more sights than most can see on one visit.

While Luxor’s East Bank holds the modern city, with its vibrant souq; the two temples of Karnak and Luxor; and the museum; the West Bank‘s lush farmland and barren cliffs are where the vast majority of Luxor’s tourist attractions sit, with so many tomb and temple sights that it has been called the biggest open-air museum in the world.

Spend a few days here exploring the colorful wall art of the tombs and gazing in awe at the colossal columns in the temples, and you’ll see why Luxor continues to fascinate historians and archaeologists.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Luxor

3. Cruising the Nile

Cruising on the Nile at Luxor
Cruising on the Nile at Luxor

Egypt is defined by the Nile. For many visitors, a multi-day cruise upon this famed waterway that saw the rise of the Pharaonic era is a highlight of their Egypt trip.

Cruising the Nile is also the most relaxing way to see the temples that stud the banks of the river on the route between Luxor and Aswan, plus sunrise and sunset over the date-palm-studded river banks, backed by sand dunes, is one of Egypt’s most tranquil vistas.

The two famous sights on a Nile Cruise are the Temple of Kom Ombo and Edfu’s Temple of Horus, where all the big cruise boats stop.

If you’d prefer a less crowded and slower experience, though, and don’t mind “roughing it” a bit, you can also cruise the Nile by felucca (Egypt’s traditional lateen-sailed wooden boats), which also allows you to create your own itinerary.

The vast amount of cruise boat itineraries depart from either Luxor and Aswan, but feluccas can only be chartered for multi-day trips from Aswan.

4. Aswan

Feluccas on the Nile at Aswan
Feluccas on the Nile at Aswan

Egypt’s most tranquil town is Aswan, set upon the winding curves of the Nile. Backed by orange-hued dunes, this is the perfect place to stop and unwind for a few days and soak up the chilled-out atmosphere.

Take the river ferry across to Elephantine Island and stroll the colorful streets of the Nubian villages.

Ride a camel to the desert monastery of St. Simeon on the East Bank. Or just drink endless cups of tea on one of the riverboat restaurants, while watching the lateen-sailed feluccas drift past.

Make sure to jump aboard a felucca at sunset to sail around Aswan’s islands. This is by far, Aswan’s most popular activity and the most relaxing way to take in the local sights.

There are plenty of historic sites here and numerous temples nearby, including Philae Temple on its island, but one of Aswan’s most popular things to do is simply kicking back and watching the river life go by.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Aswan

5. Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel

Even in a country festooned with temples, Abu Simbel is something special. This is Ramses II’s great temple, adorned with colossal statuary standing guard outside, and with an interior sumptuously decorated with wall paintings.

Justly famous for its megalithic proportions, Abu Simbel is also known for the incredible engineering feat carried out by UNESCO in the 1960s, which saw the entire temple moved from its original setting to save it from disappearing under the rising water of the Aswan dam.

Today, exploring Abu Simbel is just as much about admiring the triumph of this international effort to save the temple complex as it is about gaping in wonder at Ramses II’s awe-inspiring building works, itself.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Abu Simbel

6. Diving the Red Sea

Divers enjoying the underwater beauty of the Red Sea
Divers enjoying the underwater beauty of the Red Sea

Below the Red Sea’s surface is another world as fascinating as the temples and tombs on land.

The coral reefs of the Red Sea are renowned among scuba divers for both the soft corals on display and the vast amount of sea life, ranging from colorful reef fish and nudibranchs, to sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, and even dugongs.

For divers, the most famous town to base yourself in is Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, closest to the reefs of Ras Mohammed National Park, as well as the reefs of the Straits of Tiran.

To dive the sites of the Straits of Gubal head to Hurghada or El Gouna on the Red Sea coast, while advanced divers should check out the resort of Marsa Alam, the nearest base for diving Egypt’s “deep south” dive sites.

Thistlegorm wreck dive
Thistlegorm wreck dive

As well as fish life and coral, the Red Sea is a major wreck-diving destination. The most famous wreck is the Thistlegorm, a British WWII cargo ship that was on its way to resupply Allied troops when it was bombed by the Germans in 1941.

Today the site is regarded by divers as one of the top five wreck dives in the world due to the vast cargo of cars, motorbikes, and WWII memorabilia that can be seen both scattered on the sea bed around the wreck and inside the ship itself.

Dive boat trips to the wreck are organized from both Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.

Read More: Diving in the Red Sea: Best Dive Sites

7. Explore Islamic Cairo

Islamic Cairo
Islamic Cairo

The atmospheric, narrow lanes of the capital’s Islamic Cairo district are crammed full of mosques, madrassas (Islamic schools of learning), and monuments dating from the Fatimid through to the Mameluke eras.

This is where you’ll find the labyrinth shopping souk of Khan el-Khalili, where coppersmiths and artisans still have their tiny workshops, and stalls are laden with ceramics, textiles, spice, and perfume.

Surrounding the market is a muddle of roads, home to some of the most beautiful preserved architecture of the old Islamic empires.

There is a wealth of history here to explore. Visit Al-Azhar Mosque and the dazzling Sultan Hassan Mosque, and make sure you climb to the roof of the ancient medieval gate of Bab Zuweila for the best minaret-speckled panoramas across the district.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cairo

8. South Sinai’s Beach Life

South Sinai
South Sinai

Egypt’s South Sinai region, on the Sinai Peninsula, offers a beach for every type of traveler.

Sharm el-Sheikh is a European-style resort town packed full of luxury hotels, international restaurants, and bags of entertainment options. A favorite with Europeans on winter-sun vacations, many of the resorts here cater to families on one- or two-week sun-and-sand breaks.

Dahab is a low-key beach town with a budget-traveler heart, which is just as much about desert excursions and adventures as the sea. It’s particularly known for its cheap dive-package deals and for its lagoon beach area where windsurfing and kitesurfing are the top activity.

Up the coast, between the port town of Nuweiba and the border town of Taba, are the bamboo hut retreats that offer complete get-away-from-it-all respites from life and back-to-basics beach life.

9. Saqqara

Pyramid and ruins at Saqqara
Pyramid and ruins at Saqqara

Everyone’s heard of Giza’s Pyramids, but they’re not the only pyramids Egypt has up its sleeve.

Day-tripping distance from Cairo, Saqqara is a vast necropolis of tombs and pyramids that was utilized during every era of pharaonic rule.

It’s best known for its Old Kingdom Step Pyramid, which shows how the architects of Ancient Egypt advanced their engineering knowledge to finally create a true pyramid shape.

There’s much more to see beyond the Step Pyramid, though, with some of the surrounding tombs, such as the Mastaba of Ti, showcasing some of the finest tomb paintings you’ll see in the country.

Nearby, the pyramid site of Dahshur is home to the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid, which should be included on any Saqqara visit.

10. Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum
Egyptian Museum

A treasure trove of the Pharaonic world, Cairo’s Egyptian Museum is one of the world’s great museum collections. The faded pink mansion in downtown Cairo is home to a dazzling amount of exhibits.

It’s a higgledy-piggledy place, with little labeling on offer and chronological order severely lacking, but that’s half of its old-school charm.

The museum’s two highlight collections are the haul of golden treasures unearthed from Tutankhamen‘s tomb in the Valley of the Kings and the fascinating Royal Mummies exhibit room.

Every corner you turn here, though, is home to some wonderful piece of ancient art or statuary that would form a highlight of any other museum.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cairo

11. White Desert

White Desert
White Desert

Egypt’s kookiest natural wonder is White Desert National Park, out in the Western Desert, just south of Bahariya Oasis.

Here, surreally shaped chalk pinnacles and huge boulders loom over the desert plateau, creating a scene that looks like icebergs have found themselves stranded amid a landscape of sand.

This highly scenic environment looks like something out of a science fiction movie and is a favorite destination for 4WD desert trips and overnight camping, which are both easiest organized in Bahariya Oasis.

For desert fans and adventurers, this is the ultimate weird playground, while anybody who’s had their fill of temples and tombs will enjoy this spectacular natural scenery.

12. Alexandria

Alexandria
Alexandria

Alexandria has a history that not many others can match.

Founded by Alexander the Great, home of Cleopatra, and razzmatazz renegade city of the Mediterranean for much of its life, this seafront city has an appealing days-gone-by atmosphere that can’t be beaten.

Although today, there are few historic remnants of its illustrious past left to see, Alexandria’s long seafront Corniche road leading to its fort (sitting on the site where its famous ancient lighthouse once sat) remains a favorite summer destination to capture cooling sea breezes for Egyptians and foreign visitors alike.

Underwater archaeological projects here have imbued Alexandria’s museums with interesting exhibits. The modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a contemporary interpretation of Alexandria’s famed ancient library, and the handful of historic sights in town include an atmospheric catacombs site.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Alexandria

13. Abydos Temple

Abydos Temple
Abydos Temple

The Temple of Osiris in Abydos is one of Ancient Egypt’s most fascinating artistic treasures.

The temple, begun by Seti I, sits amid a vast necropolis site where archaeological excavations are ongoing. There a various other temple remnants to see here but for most visitors, the Temple of Osiris is the main reason to visit.

Its hypostyle halls, graced by papyrus-headed columns, contain some of the finest relief-work in Egypt, with various scenes portraying the pharaoh and the gods of Ancient Egypt.

As the temple lies north of Luxor, it isn’t on the main Nile cruise ship route, so it receives much fewer visitors than the temple sites in Luxor itself and the Nile-side temples to the south. This means you are often lucky enough to wander through the temple’s halls with only a few other visitors on site.

14. Siwa Oasis

Siwa Oasis
Siwa Oasis

Sitting in isolation, in the western corner of the Western Desert, Siwa is the tranquil tonic to the hustle of Egypt’s cities.

This gorgeous little oasis, surrounded by date palm plantations and numerous hot-water springs, is one of the Western Desert’s most picturesque spots.

Siwa town is centered around the ruins of a vast mud-brick citadel, known as the Fortress of Shali, which dominates the view, while various temple remnants, including the Temple of the Oracle where Alexander the Great is said to have come to receive advice, are scattered throughout the wider oasis area.

This is a top spot to wind down and go slow for a few days, as well as being an excellent base from which to plan adventures into the surrounding desert.

15. St. Catherine’s Monastery

St. Catherine's Monastery
St. Catherine’s Monastery

One of the oldest monasteries in the world, St. Catherine’s stands at the foot of Mount Sinai, amid the desert mountains of the Sinai Peninsula, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments.

This desert monastery is home to an incredible collection of religious iconography, art, and manuscripts (some of which can be seen in the on-site museum), as well as the burning bush.

For most visitors here, a trip to St. Catherine’s also involves a hike up Mount Sinai to see sunrise or sunset.

Take the camel path for the easy route, or climb the famous Steps of Repentance if you want better views.

The Blog is curated by Vikram Kakri

Blog Link: https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/egypt-.htm

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