Top 10 destinations in Africa

By Mark Hodson and David Wickers, Sunday Times Travel writers

What are the top destinations in Africa? Where are the best places to go for a safari, or to lounge on a tropical beach? And where would you go for a bargain break?

Start planning your big trip now. Follow the links below for more details of dates prices. If you’re travelling solo, see our pick of the best singles holidays in Africa.

Madagascar

An island like no other, its entire nature having evolved in isolation from the rest of the planet, making one of the top 10 Africa holiday destinations. Combine Madagascar‘s unique flora and fauna, including the iconic, much adored lemur, staying in national parks, with gorgeous beaches, Crusoe islands and unspoilt coral reefs as a tempting finale.

Kenya

Kenya is our most popular destination in Africa for a safari holiday, partly because it has such amazing national parks including the endless savannah horizons of the Masai Mara, the elephant-rich Amboseli, Tsavo and Samburu, but also because the camps are so elegant and luxurious. Check out Sanctuary Olonana, for example. Kenya’s other trump card is its Indian Ocean coast where you can wash off the dust at a choice of outstanding hotels such as Hemingways Watamu. See a full selection of Kenya holidays.

Zambia

The South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is one of the most beautiful places to view game – everything from big cats, elephants, hippo and wild dogs. It has some superb fixed lodges and tented camps, and is great for walking safaris. It also combines nicely with a trip to Victoria Falls where you can wonder at the spectacle and have a go at white water rafting.

Morocco

For a country so close to our home shores, Morocco is jaw-droppingly exotic. Options range from a city break in Marrakech, with its lively souk, choice of traditional riad townhouse houses and bewildering main square of Djemaa el Fna, to self-drive tours around the villages of the Atlas Mountains or doing as little as you like on the coast at Essaouira.

The Gambia

They call it the ‘smiling coast’ but it would be a mistake just to stick to the beaches and confine your activities to along the string of beachfront hotels. Inland, The Gambia – a long skinny finger of a country – lies a fascinating insight into rural Africa, villages that seemed to have stepped straight off the pages of national geographic, with superb birdwatching in the country’s varied habitats among the best in Africa.

Tanzania

The Serengeti, most famously the stage for the annual wildebeest migration, the greatest free show on earth, is easily combined with seeing the incredible diversity of wildlife in the World Heritage Ngorongoro crater. You also need to add Lake Manyara, the Selous, Tarangire National Park and other habitats to this incredibly rich natural pot, plus the tempting tropical beaches and islands include Zanzibar. Check out this safari and beach combo, ideal for families.

Botswana

Botswana is an enthralling natural wonderland, both from copious wildlife and a broad spectrum of habitats which include grasslands, wetlands, marshlands, woodlands and saltpans. When you factor in a selection of Africa’s finest camps and lodges, which offer a choice of walks, drives and safaris by traditional mokuru canoes on the legendary Okavango delta, Botswana is an ideal place to let Africa get under your skin. Find details of holidays in Botswana.

South Africa

If you list the most popular criteria for a perfect winter sun destination, taking in variables such as weather, beaches, scenery, prices and accessibility, South Africa comes out on top of the world. Add vineyards, the famous Garden Route along the southern shores of the continent and superb safaris, from the world famous Kruger National Park to malaria-free reserves, and the scoreboard rises even further. There are summer options too, including KwaZulu Natal offering everything from beaches to battlefields, scenery to game. South Africa also offers malaria-free safaris at game reserves such as Madikwe and Pilanesberg, which are ideal if you are travelling with kids. You can also take a once-in-a-lifetime ride on South Africa’s luxury Blue Train.

Namibia

Easy to explore independently, Namibia offers its visitors both fascinating wildlife experiences, including sightings of big game in the Etosha National Park and the cheetah and other cats cared for by the Africat Foundation in Okonjima, and remarkable wild landscapes arguably topped by the Skeleton Coast, described as a ‘journey to the ends of the earth.’ See this range of  holidays in Namibia.

Egypt

Don’t ask what’s new in Egypt … this is a destination that’s all about the classics. The classical sites, the ancient mysteries of the Pharoahs, the tombs and temples, and the timeless beauty of the Nile. Most tourists follow a similar path, but the difference is how you do it. Book with a good tour operator such as Abercrombie & Kent and you’ll have the best guides, the best places to stay, the best cruise boats. It’s the details that count. Try this 10-night Classic Egypt private tour for size. But also bear in mind that there is more to Egypt than monuments: Cairo is one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world. Take some time to enjoy it.

Last updated: 4 April 2022

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