Black and white illustration of Maria O'Sullivan's headshot
Written by
Maria O'Sullivan

Published on: April 8th, 2024

Last modified: April 9th, 2024

Africa is the second-largest continent on earth, encompassing 54 different countries and home to nearly 1.5 billion people. It also boasts some of the world’s most spectacular destinations and natural wonders, as well as an endless array of activities for travellers to choose from.

We’ve asked our expert travel designers to highlight some of the continent’s can’t-miss experiences. From scenic safaris to whale watching and wine tours, here are their picks for the best things to do in Africa.

hot air balloons over the Masaai Mara

1. Soar over Kenya in a hot air balloon

There’s no question that the Maasai Mara is among Kenya’s essential destinations. During the annual Great Migration, massive herds of wildebeest arrive in the area after crossing the Mara River – but there’s plenty of other incredible wildlife to see here as well. 

Take a thrilling hot air balloon safari to get a bird’s eye view and watch the sunrise over the sweeping savannahs. We suggest staying in the private Mara Conservancies bordering the national park, which feature safari camps that partner with Maasai communities.

Walking safari at Wilderness Usawa, Serengeti, Tanzania

2. Traverse the Serengeti on a walking safari

Serengeti National Park is one of the most well-known destinations for an African safari, home to zebras, lions, giraffes, elephants and countless other iconic species. There are many ways to discover its enormous expanses of wilderness, but we’re partial to the classic walking safari. 

Traversing the landscape on foot allows you to fully immerse yourself in the environment and notice details that you might otherwise overlook. Stay at the mobile Wilderness Usawa Camp to follow the path of the Great Migration in Tanzania.

Lioness and cub

3. Track big cats in Botswana

If your ideal safari involves lions, leopards and other big cats, make a beeline for Botswana. The Okavango Delta in particular is a fantastic place to find feline predators, including lesser-known species like the serval and the African wildcat.

Stay at Wilderness Jao Camp at the edge of the Moremi Game Reserve for prime access to Chief’s Island – known for its lions and leopards – and the rest of the delta. Or head to Wilderness Mombo Camp in the Mombo Concession, nicknamed ‘the predator capital of Africa.’

Gorilla trekking at Wilderness Bisate

4. Go gorilla trekking in Rwanda

For something a bit different than the usual safari scenery, visit Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Its lushly forested slopes are home to majestic mountain gorillas, which you can encounter in their natural habitat on daily guided treks.

Here you can also spot golden monkeys and abundant birdlife or visit the former research camp of primatologist Dian Fossey. Wilderness Bisate Lodge is the perfect home base for exploring the area, and invites guests to make a positive impact through its reforestation programme.

Milky way and stars in Namibia

5. Stargaze in the Namib Desert

Sossusvlei is certainly one of the best sights in Africa. This surreal ancient landscape is usually bone-dry, but comes to life during the rainy season from January to April. It’s located in Namibia’s Namib Desert, which is also one of the top places on the planet for stargazing.

Head south from Sossusvlei’s undulating red dunes to find NamibRand, a designated Dark Sky Reserve. Spend a few nights at Wilderness Little Kulala, which is just as luxurious as it is remote, and gaze up at the stars from your private rooftop terrace.

Whale watching in South Africa on the Whale Coast

6. Spot whales in South Africa

Located only two hours from Cape Town, South Africa’s Whale Coast is brimming with beaches, bays and beautiful creatures. Set out on a whale watching expedition to see southern right whales in the wild – and possibly the rest of the ‘marine big five’ as well.

When it comes to accommodation, it doesn’t get much better than Grootbos Private Reserve. This massive property includes suites in two different lodges and two private villas. Set right at the heart of the Whale Coast, it offers whale watching tours on land, at sea and even by plane.

A rock art tour in Namibia

7. Marvel at ancient rock art in Namibia

Tucked into the rocky terrain of Damaraland – a sparsely populated region in northwestern Namibia – you’ll find Twyfelfontein. This site boasts an incredible array of ancient rock engravings, including fascinating images of animals and geometric patterns.

To fully enjoy Damaraland, settle into one of Wilderness Doro Nawas’ cosy chalets. This luxury lodge in the Aba-Huab River Valley is conveniently close to Twyfelfontein and also offers hikes, game drives and cultural visits to local communities.

Wine tasting in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

8. Sample world-class wines in South Africa

Food and wine lovers should place South Africa’s Winelands at the top of their travel bucket list. This gorgeous region just outside Cape Town is a haven of wineries, fine dining and verdant vineyards, producing a vast selection of globally renowned wines.

For the ultimate escape, the elegant Leeu Estates is a clear choice. This boutique hotel, spa and winery makes the most of its location in the Franschhoek Valley. Indulge in expertly curated wine tastings at its Wine Studio or Great Heart Wine Boutique.

Rovos rail in South Africa

9. Embark on a luxury train journey

Of all the alluring activities in Africa, crossing the continent by train may be the most magical. The historic Rovos Rail is at once glamorous and delightfully comfortable. It’s also one of the best ways to explore South Africa, though it offers routes to nearby countries as well. 

Choose the three-day journey between Cape Town and Pretoria to see the highlights of South Africa’s interior, or cross the border into Zimbabwe and continue on to Victoria Falls. Longer itineraries are designed around safaris, golf courses and other specific attractions and interests.

A selection of very colorful Moroccan tajines (traditional casserole dishes)

10. Discover the delicacies of Moroccan cuisine

There are plenty of reasons to visit Morocco, whether you’re interested in ancient culture, Saharan adventures or high-altitude hikes – but no trip is complete without sampling the country’s culinary specialties. 

Moroccan cuisine reflects diverse influences from Arab, Berber and Moorish traditions, creating a quintessentially local combination of flavours. Make sure to try tagine, couscous, street food and as many sugary sweets as possible… and of course the ubiquitous mint tea. 

Sunset boat cruise on the chobe river

11. Glide down the Zambezi River at sunset

When it comes to Africa’s natural wonders, Victoria Falls is a must-visit. Boasting the title of the world’s largest waterfall, it provides the opportunity for all kinds of activities – from whitewater rafting and bungee jumping to helicopter tours and even swimming at certain times of year.

That said, we also highly recommend a relaxing cruise down the Zambezi River, which forms part of the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Matetsi River Lodge on the Zimbabwe side of the falls organises sunset river cruises, as does Wilderness Toka Leya on the Zambia side.

A tropical island paradise

12. Soak up the sun in the Seychelles

A tropical paradise might not be the image most commonly associated with travelling in Africa, but there’s no better way to describe the Seychelles. This archipelago comprises no fewer than 115 islands, including several secluded private island resorts.

Although the Seychelles are definitely a worthy destination in their own right, they also make for the ideal end to a safari trip. After enjoying some of the unforgettable activities that the rest of the continent has to offer, relaxing in the sun on a pristine sandy beach may be just the thing.

Trip Inspiration

Get inspired with our Africa example trips and then get in touch to plan your own adventure

Whatever you want from your African adventure, our team of expert travel designers are ready to help.