Most loved places in Africa? These top 5 tourist destinations surprise and delight

These five places ranked as the most-loved travel destinations in Africa for their beaches, culture, and more, per Tourism Sentiment Index. Photo from Christian Cacciamani via Unsplash

The pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, are iconic, and a wildlife safari near Nairobi, Kenya, is always worth it. But are those the most loved tourist destinations in Africa? Not according to the Tourism Sentiment Index, a ranking by Think! X Innovations. The 2022 index is based on digital “word of mouth” — millions of pieces of publicly available content posted online about places around the world, according to the report’s methodology.

The index analyzes whether people are posting positive, negative or neutral reviews about everything from the events to the accommodations in a particular tourist destination. These scores are totaled then ranked. The result? These places were identified as the top, most-loved spots in five African countries — and the destinations will both surprise and delight you:

5. Namibia

Namibia’s scenery and sights are as astonishing as they are varied. Ranging from the Namib desert, a vast and beautiful wilderness covering the country in sandy plains, dune seas, and savanna, to the dramatic Skeleton Coast, there’s endless beauty to be had.

Add to that the rugged granite mountains adorned with ancient rock art, the giant cracked salt pan of Etosha National Park, and the dizzying depth of the Fish River Canyon, and you’ve got a plethora of natural wonders to admire.

Fish River Canyon Namibia
Fish River Canyon Namibia

Adventure is always just around the corner in Namibia. Whether tackling a challenging 4×4 route in a remote area, hurtling down a dune on a sandboard, or skydiving above the desert, there are countless ways to experience the country with some adrenalin-filled fun.

4x4 in Namibian sand
4×4 in Namibian sand

The network of well-maintained roads, excellent tourism infrastructure, and a wide range of lodging options means that Namibia is one of the safest and easiest countries in southern Africa for self-guided traveling and a strong contender for the world’s best road-tripping destination.

4. HERMANUS, SOUTH AFRICA

On the opposite side of the continent is Hermanus, South Africa, a beloved whale-watching spot. The city is about 75 miles southeast of Cape Town and along Walker Bay. Observant visitors can spot several different species of whale frequenting the bay. Every late summer into fall, the waters are “converted into a big whale maternity room” and baby calves can be seen. Beyond the coast, the area boasts hiking and biking trails, golf courses, zip-lining and vineyards. The city itself has beautiful art galleries and thriving weekly markets. Hermanus scored 31.02 points in the Index, ranking No. 18 globally. The city’s wildlife viewing was the highlight, rankers said.

3. ZANZIBAR, TANZANIA

Zanzibar is an island off the coast of mainland Tanzania in east Africa. The island’s main city, also named Zanzibar, is a blend of east African and Arabic influences where English, Swahili and Arabic are all commonly spoken. The island is known for Stone Town, an 18th century Swahili trading town and UNESCO World Heritage sight. Visitors can wander the alleyways, peruse the still-thriving market and confront historical justices and injustices at the site “where slave-trading was finally terminated.”

Zanzibar is ringed by white sands and crystal blue waters, where visitors can soak up the sun or grab a snorkel and dive into the water. Zanzibar scored 32.3 points with the Tourism Sentiment Index, ranking No. 16 worldwide. The highlight? Its beaches, according to the ranking.

2. MOZAMBIQUE

The beauty and allure of the coastline along the Indian Ocean are compelling reasons to visit Mozambique Africa.

The coastline is characteristic of calm islands and historic settlements. You can experience a safari on Niassa Reserve, traditional silversmithing on Ibo, and snorkelling amid colourful reef fish at Bazaruto.

You could also take in the Afro-Mediterranean flavour of Maputo’s bustling marketplaces; or relax on a stretch of uninhabited beach in the country’s coastal city.

Whatever plans and motivation you have for travelling down to Maputo, you will surely enjoy your stay for various reasons. Mozambique’s cuisine, music, and art reflect the region’s deep cultural roots.

1. Uganda

It may not be as famous as Rwanda, Kenya or Tanzania but Uganda is undoubtedly one of Africa’s most stirring destinations. Roads are lined with mango, jackfruit and banana trees, rolling hills are home to working tea and coffee plantations, and lakes and rivers are flanked by thickets of tall elephant grass. This is Africa’s emerald Eden, where greenery is juxtaposed with red fertile soil and dense jungles are a wild sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas – their survival dependent on our attention.

Winston Churchill coined the nickname “The Pearl of Africa” in 1908, to convey the beauty, variety, and natural wealth of the land. Since then, Uganda has grown into one of Africa’s most coveted travel sojourns. It is one of only three countries in the world where it is possible to join the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat without fences, and is home to the highest number of them. With an experienced tracker, there is only bated breath between you and the wisdom reflected in the eyes of one of the world’s most majestic creatures.

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