Consider visiting these 10 African countries

It is easy to forget there are 54 countries in Africa.

Regulars on Instagram see people living their best life in Morocco every month (because only Marrakech has aesthetically pleasing markets and hotels in Africa). We also see travelers with giraffes in Kenya (because a visit to Africa is incomplete without opportunities to get close to and personal with animals) or at Table Mountain in South Africa (because everyone loves hiking).

Google searches on travel in Africa return lists including Egypt (because pyramids), Tanzania (because Zanzibar) and Senegal (because colorful pirogues and buildings). Ghana is another favorite (because of a large arch featuring a black star, a five-star beachfront hotel, and the white walls of a building with a very dark past). Madagascar (because baobabs) and Seychelles (because perfect for Instagram) are increasingly popular too…

Source: Conde Nast Traveler

Sarcasm and jokes aside, as an African, I am happy to see a growing interest in tourism in Africa. I am especially pleased to see the photos of non-black travelers on the continent. To me, they are signs that efforts put into changing Africa’s image in the media effectively send the message that (many) African cities are suitable travel destinations. Still, it seems that we limit conversations about travel on a continent of 54 independent and internationally recognized nations to a handful of countries and cities…

Last week, I researched African countries that people do not visit frequently or do not recommend visiting. Travel Geek UK’s list of least visited countries includes Guinea, where I stayed in a great hotel. The Africa Review mentioned Niger, where I took some of the most popular photos on my Instagram, in theirs. Nigeria, my home and that of 170+ million people with hundreds of languages, foods and traditions to share with the world, is on Answers Africa’s list of dangerous countries and TopTens.com’s list of worst countries in Africa.

I acknowledge that people use carefully designed metrics and statistics to make those lists. I also recognize my privileges. But I feel for people who are afraid to go to some countries or unaware of their existence and miss chances to have wonderful experiences. So I made a list of ten of the least visited and/or unrecommended countries worth a visit. Some countries are part of a bucket list of places I hope to visit before turning 30 (yes, I have subgoals for the #54before54 goal).

Source: The Nation Online Nigeria

Consider visiting these 10 African countries

Cabo Verde/ Cape Verde

I added CV to my bucket list to see pirogues on beautiful beaches outside continental Africa. Besides that, the following island hopping itinerary looks appealing: Praia (Santiago island) and its colonial buildings, beaches and resorts in Santa Maria (Sal), bars and clubs in Mindelo (Sao Vicente), then the hills and volcano on Fogo. Further, Cape Verdean food is apparently good.

Comoros

I, too, forget it is one of the 54 countries sometimes. But locals and visitors take stunning pictures on this island nation off the coast of Mozambique.

Eritrea

Asmara seems worth the time it will take to adjust to its high altitude. Located at 7,628ft or 2325m above sea level, it is one of the most elevated in the world. Further, its wide tree-line avenues and Art Deco buildings earned Asmara a place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites last summer. Unusual Traveler also shared appealing reviews of the Tank Graveyard and Massawa.

Gabon

It is “Africa’s Eden” for a good reason: more than 10% of the country is part of protected Natural Parks. There are also nice beaches in Libreville and the tropical climate makes it a suitable travel destination year-round.

The Gambia

Personally, I want to see the river that was so important to the British they created a country around it. Further, besides the beaches in Banjul, Serekunda and Bakau seem worth a visit. Finally, Gambian jollof rice should be the best in the world since Gambians created the dish.

Mali

Besides listening and dancing to great music in Bamako, the Festival of the Desert looks like a wonderful experience. Dogon people also have a rich culture to share with travelers to Mali. Further, the country has many touristic sights, many of which are in the world-famous ancient city of Timbuktu. Lastly, a fun fact: many assume it is a Senegalese dish, but maafe is from the Mandinka and Bambara people in Mali.

Mozambique

Its beaches rival those in Thailand, Indonesia, Seychelles, Maldives or Mauritius, and are likely less crowded. Travelers to Mozambique can also enjoy natural parks, wildlife and the historical gem that is Ilha de Moçambique. Seafood in Moz is also very tasty, apparently.

Sao Tome and Principe

It is probably enriching to listen to music and eat cuisine with heavy Portuguese influences in the heart of Africa. Further, Boca de Inferno looks like an interesting site to visit on a break from “beach livin.'” Lastly, as cheesy as it sounds, I added ST&P to my bucket list partly because I have never visited a country named after two islands.

Sierra Leone

The beaches of “Salone” are inviting and Bunce Island reminds us that the slave trade also impacted Sierra Leone. More importantly, the Sierra Leonean tourism industry and economy need our help to recover from the losses they suffered recently.

Swaziland

I’m curious about this landlocked kingdom sort of within yet fully independent from South Africa. Aren’t you?

photo-swaziland-lorikemi-post-african-countries-consider-visiting

Source: The Kingdom of Swaziland

In my opinion, the countries listed above are worth the same attention as frequently visited countries in Africa. They are not any more dangerous than the places social media users know best and love most (South Africa is on TopTens.com’s list as well). With that said, I do not necessarily recommend visiting them on a first trip to Africa. I just hope to discourage you from limiting your idea of a trip to Africa to a list of 6-8 countries out of 54.

What are you really curious about regarding Africa? What countries do you want to visit and why?

 

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10 Comments

  1. 14 November 2017 / 5:28 am

    Most of these countries were on my list (except and Gabon Comoros sha). Cape Verde was on for this year but its not happening…i’ve been really wanting to do for like 5 years. 2018 is the year (let me speak it into existence). I was looking to go a weekend in Gambia or Senegal over Christmas but the flight prices though, no ma’am! I also thought Jollof was Senegalese!

    The other deterrent is the whole visa situation, I couldn’t go to Botswana in August because I simply ran out of time to apply for and get the visa between needing my passport for work purposes, and applying for the South African visa.

    I’m way behind on the African exploration but one new country a year is my goal lol (as long as I live away from the Continent). Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the low-cost airline coming to West Africa!

    Ps, how did you solve the spam issue please? having similar challenges.

    • Oluwakemi Loriade
      1 January 2018 / 8:28 pm

      I owe you sincere apologies for the delay in responding to this comment, Dee. Thanks for reading the post and sharing your thoughts on this topic. Like you, I tried to travel to Gambia and Cape Verde a few times. Same with Senegal before I moved here. It’s really expensive to travel to those countries, especially from Nigeria/ Africa. I paid $500 on a one-way ticket from Lagos to Dakar via Abidjan in August! I kind of envy the fact that it’s much easier and more cost- and time-efficient for you to travel in Europe… You have been able to visit so many exciting spots and must have great memories in places I’m not sure when/how I’ll visit. So enjoy that! Having said that, I think your goal for travel in Africa is very realistic and wish you well – I look forward to reading about and seeing photos from your trip(s) this year and I wish you an exciting new year!! x

  2. 13 November 2017 / 6:31 pm

    This is really a conversation we need to have. I love the idea of visiting lesser known African countries now. To be honest, this was not always the case. There is a reason why the first few countries you listed have better numbers in terms of tourism. As we say in Nigeria ‘They are selling their market well’. Countries like ours (Nigeria) have done very little (in my opinion) to change the narrative of what visiting their country would be like. So it’s only the ‘very adventurous’ people who know nothing prior to that visit that would even dare to come.

    Also, like Expat Panda said, cost of actually visiting some of these places are killing (time and money-wise). The time one is even the worst! Imagine flying 5-6 hrs to a destination that should be a 1hr flight? And then paying almost twice the price it will cost you to visit the more ‘Instagram-able’ places? lol.

    Having said that, I love this list and would definitely plan to visit some of these countries in the coming months…I’ve always harbored the dream of doing a West African tour along the coast, from Lagos to Marrakesh. I’m inching closer and closer to that dream and Ivory Coast will be my next stop. I’ve also enjoyed visiting Liberia (which is lesser known/visited as well) and look forward to increasing the list.

    • Oluwakemi Loriade
      14 November 2017 / 1:09 am

      Thanks for reading, sharing your thoughts and feedback, Amarachi! You’re absolutely right that we – especially Africans – need to have this conversation. It’s true that the more popular countries have mastered how to do what so many others have not and that is why they get more visitors every year. It’s actually quite impressive. I also think, however, that people like yourself and myself who travel a lot and have an audience play a huge role in selling that market, especially on social media. Sure, we can’t change things like visa policies, hotel room rates or the cost of airfare, but we can help increase interest and (hopefully) later demand in travel to some of the lesser known or popular destinations (our dear country included!) that will ultimately change some of the things that are out of our hands right now… At least that’s my hope.

      Regarding the time and cost of travel in Africa: girl, don’t even get me started… I have in mind to write a post or two because I gave up a few travel dreams after I realized how much it’ll cost and how long it will take to get to my destination from Dakar… But I’m waiting to chill so the posts can be rational and helpful instead of just angry rants lol. I should say, I’m inspired by your ability to travel internationally on very strict budgets – I definitely want to try that sometime!

      Also, I can’t wait to read more about and see pictures of said trip! Since I grew up in CIV and love that country I’m ecstatic to hear about your plan to go there and hope you’ll have a lovely time!! (PS: CIV will be mentioned in my next post in the ‘Travel’ series so do check it out!) x

  3. 13 November 2017 / 5:23 pm

    I LOVED Swaziland! I am guilty of doing more of the mainstream destinations in Africa but I will admit that its more because the flights to lesser known destinations in Africa are just too expensive. Put Botswana & Zambia on your list too… they are SO worth visiting. Namibia and Mozambique are my next African destinations I think 🙂

    • Oluwakemi Loriade
      13 November 2017 / 11:09 pm

      Hi and welcome to my blog, Expat Panda! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts – I appreciate that. You’re right – it’s true that cost is an important factor to consider when planning trips to or within Africa. The “mainstream destinations” seem to have mastered how to attract visitors in a more cost-effective way than the destinations I mentioned. I hope that with an increase in demand over time – if we all start considering travel to those destinations – there will also be an increase in the number of options to get there without breaking the bank… Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, I don’t know… Also, I’ve been talking about exploring more of East and Southern Africa for a few years now and I think it’s time to make it happen… I’ll take your suggestions into account when I start planning the trip(s) – thanks! PS: I actually drafted a follow up post earlier today in which I included Botswana on my list of new/next recommendations so stay tuned!

  4. Dolo
    12 November 2017 / 6:46 pm

    Gambians created Jollof rice??! I thought it was Senegal. I’ve lied to so many people. Also, awesome list! I’ve always been curious to visit Comoros and Cape Verde (because of friends I have from there), so this is an extra push in that direction. It would be cool to see this list with quick tips to plan your travel, like airlines that frequent it or easy ways to add this to your multi-country tour, because idk how difficult figuring out travel itineraries to these countries might be.

    • Oluwakemi Loriade
      13 November 2017 / 11:13 pm

      Haha! I keep reading Gambians created it but I also read it’s originally from “Senegambia” so I guess you’re right/ haven’t been lying to anyone :).

      Thanks for reading, sharing your thoughts and feedback, Dolo. I like what you suggested – I’ll work on creating such a list as a follow up to my follow up post (which I hope you’ll come back to read!:)). I hope you’ll make those trips to Comoros and Cape Verde sometime, and look forward to hearing about it (and seeing the pics!). x

  5. 11 November 2017 / 6:38 pm

    I love this post. It’s been weighing really heavy on my mind to travel Africa next year so this is very timely. I’d admit, I was thinking Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania but honestly, it’ll be great to throw in one of these “lesser-visited” countries in the mix somewhere.

    Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed.

    • Oluwakemi Loriade
      12 November 2017 / 9:58 am

      Thank you for reading the post and sharing your feedback, Ufuoma! I appreciate your honesty and am glad I inspired or encouraged you to add a couple more countries to your itinerary/ travel plans. It’ll be exciting to see your photos and posts on your trips to African countries – I can’t wait!

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