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