By Alexandra Kotchoubei


“Africa has her mysteries, and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them.” – Miriam Makeba

Travelling is on most people’s bucket list, but deciding where to travel can be the biggest challenge. Even with our favourite, regular destinations, we still want to expand our horizons and go somewhere new. This list of hidden gems could be your next discovery across Africa.


South Africa

To many of us South Africa is home but do you know how many people have not even explored their own country’s gems, yet have been to all other corners of the world? Let’s start right here. If you’re looking for beautiful cities, wilderness and rich history, South Africa is a country you’d love to explore. From Table Mountain, the Big Hole in Kimberley, the Kruger National Park and all the way to the Cape Winelands – South Africa has more to it than meets the eye.

Many people are said to love any city that has trams running through them – it brings them to life. South Africa, unlike Europe, is not known for having trams – except in the little French corner of the country: Franschhoek. The Franschhoek Wine Tram offers a European transport experience through the beautiful Cape Winelands, where you can hop on-and-off to wander around various farms and taste the gorgeous wines.

If you take a trip down the Garden Route you will find the world’s first free roaming multi-species primate sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay – Monkeyland. This award winning sanctuary takes you and your family on a walking ‘monkey safari’, introducing you to over 550 primates of various species. Tours are also offered in various languages such as English, Afrikaans, German, French and Spanish.

If you drive further down the Garden Route, towards Oudtshoorn, you will come across the Cango Caves – one of South Africa’s oldest tourist attractions and Africa’s biggest show cave system. Here you can wander in awe at the stalagmites and stalactites on a tour through the cave. A standard tour is for everyone, an adventure tour is for those who are not claustrophobic. Tours are also offered in English, Afrikaans, German and French, as well as other languages depending on the availability of guides.

A World Heritage Site which is a must visit is the Mapungubwe National Park in Limpopo. Not only is it a place of serenity, with beautiful birds and wildlife, but it is a dream for history enthusiasts. This is where you will find southern Africa’s first ancient African Kingdom, which was home to a powerful tribe that flourished on trading with eastern cultures such as China and India. Archaeologists excavated the famous golden rhino and found other evidence of this wealthy African kingdom here.

If you are lucky enough to live in the Mother City, be a local and travel back in time when you visit The Labia Theatre – the oldest independent art-repertory cinema in South Africa. This old school cinema has something for everyone showing the best of circuit, independent movies, foreign and local films, documentaries, classics and others. 



Driving north from South Africa, to the south-west part of Africa, you will find a place where the desert meets the sea: Namibia. The country is home to the oldest desert in the world and a sandy gem you most definitely need to tick off your bucket list. When driving from the port of Walvis Bay to Swakopmund your view is not just the road ahead but the Atlantic Ocean to one side and the sand dunes to the other. Arriving in Swakopmund is like entering a little African Germany. The architecture resembles that of a German ‘Altstadt’; signs and buildings’ names are in German and locals communicate in English, Afrikaans, German.

If you pack up your 4×4 and hit the tar road travelling into the desert you will reach the gravel roads that take you to Sossusvlei – one of the most well-known attractions in Namibia where you will find the red dunes which are also some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 metres. This destination is a must for photography enthusiasts. With many lodges to choose from for your stay, one activity you have to experience is floating through the air on a Namib Sky Safari and seeing the desert from the best bird’s eye view – in a hot air balloon.

Fun fact: the Namibian Dollar is 1:1 with the South African Rand and South African currency is accepted there. 



If you don’t believe that beauty can leave you breathless then you have not yet visited the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe! It is the only place in the world where elephants have learned to stand on their hind legs to reach the top branches, which is literally defying gravity for a creature of such size, and guests are guaranteed great encounters. They also have walking safaris like no other because it is one of the only parks in Africa where you are allowed to walk without a guide. This is, of course, only recommended if you have bush experience. Overall, this unique ecological wonder is somewhere you should experience.



Ibo Island is situated off the Mozambican coastline and has a long and interesting history. It was the centre for the slave and ivory trade and visitors can go on tours of the islands where locals share stories about pirates, slaves, ivory and gold. Not only that, the island is also one of the most pristine beach destinations in the world, falling within the Quirimbas National Park which has some of the most unspoilt reefs in the world. This is a top diving destination where divers can see turtles, dolphins, whales and the rare Dugong. Be sure to add this destination to your dream board.

For accommodation you can stay at the Ibo Island Lodge in the Quirimbas Archipelago, which are three 150-year old mansions that have been restored to offer you nothing but luxury, from the inside to the gardens.



If you are a football fan, you would have come across the sideline advertisement boards telling you to ‘Visit Rwanda’. Now we are telling you, too.

Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda’s stunning scenery and people bring about a unique experience. But what is there to actually see and do? For leisure travel you can go hiking, cycling, or caving. You can see a volcano and you can go gorilla tracking, which is said to be a life changing experience by many. 

Even though this is a great place for leisure travel, it is even better for business travel as Rwanda was ranked as the second easiest place to do business in Africa by the World Bank. It was ranked as the 9th safest country in the world by the World Economic Forum in 2017. Rwanda also has one of the most clean and green mindsets with their lands being possibly the cleanest in Africa thanks to the efforts through every one of their communities, including a ban on plastic bags dating back to 2008.


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