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The Most Popular Travel Destinations in Africa

The Mother Continent mesmerizes with its grasslands, crystalline waters, white-sand beaches, exotic wildlife, and majestic mountains.

Panorama of Cape Town, South Africa. The city beach against magnificent mountainskavram/Shutterstock

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is a rich tapestry of cultures, religions, flavors, and landscapes. The magnificent, flat-topped Table Mountain may be the star—and one of the most stunning hiking trails in the world—but it’s far from the only scenic spot. Case in point: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Point Nature Reserve, and Green Point Urban Park. Of course, the Mother City is more than natural beauty, it’s also steeped in history. Bo-Kaap is dotted with colorful facades washed in shades of lilac, lime, magenta, and turquoise. And Robben Island, the former prison where Nelson Mandela served the majority of his sentence, is now a memorial and museum.

Don’t miss these cheery photos of the most colorful towns in the world.

Lush green vegetation of Serengeti National park. Aerial view from the hill on Serengeti National park, TanzaniaSun_Shine/Shutterstock

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park, in northern Tanzania, is known for its massive annual migration of wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras. It’s also (arguably) the most famous safari destination in the world. Each year, this spectacular setting draws upwards of 350,000 visitors to its grassy plains, savanna, hills, crocodile-infested rivers, and woodlands. And when it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of options inside the park, from luxury lodges to rustic and more budget-friendly campsites. Don’t miss these 11 unforgettable bucket list trips that won’t break the bank.

Panoramic view of Marrakech or Marrakesh with the old part of town Medina and minaretSavvapanf Photo/Shutterstock

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Inside the rosy-hued pisé ramparts is the medina, a treasure trove of cobbled corridors, and crowded souks selling aromatic spices, hand-woven textiles, and bronze lanterns. Its beating heart, Djemaa el-Fna is a bustling square filled with food vendors, storytellers, and performers. The zellige-ornamented Ben Youssef Madrasa and Koutoubia Mosque are masterpieces of Islamic architecture. The “Red City” is also home to more than 800 riads (traditional Moroccan houses with central courtyards), many of which—El Fenn, Dar Darma, and Riad Jardin Secret to name a few—have been converted into tranquil respites for travelers looking to escape the frenetic pace. And you can even sleep under the stars at Royal Mansour.

beach on Mahe island, SeychellesIakov Kalinin/Shutterstock

Mahé, Seychelles

Despite being the largest and most developed island in the Seychelles archipelago, Mahé hasn’t fallen victim to the pitfalls of over-tourism that plagues so many vacation hotspots. On the contrary, it retains the scenic beauty—white-sand shores, verdant rainforests, majestic mountains, and exotic flora—that makes it so appealing in the first place. Whether you opt to stay on a remote stretch of the west coast or near the vibrant capital of Victoria, you can’t go wrong when the destination is this amazing. If you have extra time, take a 35-minute flight to Desroches Islands. The Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, opening spring 2018, is the only resort on the coral island and is well worth the side trip. For other great getaway ideas, check out the beaches with the clearest water in the world.

Skyline aerial view of skyscrapers in business district of Johannesburg - Architecture concept with modern buildings of skyline in South Africa biggest city with southafrican flag painted on wallsView Apart/Shutterstock

Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg is on the rise. Once defined by segregation, now by diversity and freedom of expression, new construction and urban-renewal projects are helping to reinvigorate the bustling metropolis. Maboneng is a shining example. This industrial precept turned hip neighborhood has emerged as a hub of art, entertainment, and culture. Of course, Johannesburg, like the rest of South Africa, can’t escape its past. Both the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill serve as ever-present reminders of the very real and recent struggle to end segregation that existed until the early 1990s. Experts swear by these travel pillows– buy one before your next flight.

Dead trees in Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Namib Nauflutf National Park, Namib desert, Namibia.Hector Ruiz Villar/Shutterstock

Sossusvlei, Namibia

We often think of sand as it relates to the beach, but Sossusvlei, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, is one of the most striking stretches without an ounce of water in sight. Salt and clay pans surrounded by red dunes so tall they seem to meet the deep-blue sky make it Namibia’s most popular and widely photographed attraction. But beyond aesthetics, there’s adventure to be had, namely climbing the massive dunes—a feat not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights.

Tanneries of Fes, Morocco, Africa Old tanks of the Fez's tanneries with color paint for leather, Morocco, AfricaLukasz Janyst/Shutterstock

Fes, Morocco

Morocco’s oldest city and cultural capital is steeped in ancient allure—much of it unchanged centuries later. Fes El Bali, the UNESCO-listed walled medina, is a maze of winding alleyways, blind turns, medieval Marinid architecture, lively souks, tanneries, and mosques. It remains the world’s largest car-free urban area. Fes is also an under-the-radar foodie destination: Dar Hatim is a wonderful family-run restaurant. Karima and Fouad’s welcome diners into their actual house for warm hospitality and the finest chicken pastilla you’ve ever tasted. Craving something utterly unique? Make a reservation at Nur. Each night, chef Najat Kaanache executes a wildly creative multi-course menu of contemporary twists on Moroccan classics.

 Mauritius island. beautiful Le Morne beachleoks/Shutterstock

Mauritius

Few things do justice to this Eden on earth, save the words of Mark Twain: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius.” (If ever there was a tourism slogan it would be that, right?) This island nation is as idyllic as described—and posher than perhaps you imagined. Among the lavish lodgings is Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, which promises contemporary sophistication, picture-perfect views, and plenty of privacy. Spend your days soaking up some rays at your five-star hotel or endeavor to try more active pursuits, such as snorkeling, surfing, kitesurfing, and horseback riding.

Anse Lazio beach at Praslin island, Seychelles Lucky-photographer/Shutterstock

Praslin, Seychelles

Praslin, the second largest island in the Seychelles, is beloved for its unspoiled shores, laid-back vibe, and luxurious resorts like Constance Lemuria—golf enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity to play 18 holes on the championship course. Of all the beautiful beaches, none quite compare to Anse Lazio, a paradise of golden sands, turquoise waters, towering palm trees, and giant granite boulders. To the south is Praslin National Park, a forested nature preserve dominated by coco de mer and other endemic fauna. Discover these secret (and gorgeous) island escapes around the globe.

panoramic view from a herd of zebra's walking and grazin on a golden grassfield with the city of Nairobi on background, Kenyarjmiguel/Shutterstock

Nairobi National Park, Kenya

Located just seven miles south of the city center (so close you can actually see the towering skyscrapers in the distance) is Nairobi National Park, the world’s only game reserve within the precepts of a nation’s capital. Kenya’s first game reserve wins points for accessibility and abundant wildlife. It’s one of Africa’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries. Visitors can catch a glimpse of endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffalo, zebras, and more than 400 species of birds. There are also picnic areas, trails, and campsites.

Find out the destinations you need to go to in 2018.