Five Must Visit Countries in Southern Africa
The African continent is usually visited by region, due to its vast size, and also inherently different travel experiences. As such, tourists will either head to East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and around), French-speaking West and North Africa or the most popular region, Southern Africa, which includes more than the keystone country of South Africa.
Without question, South Africa is the region’s most popular destination, and for good reason, as it has excellent tourism infrastructure, including Western style restaurants, five-star hotels and sophisticated shopping. Plus it is beautiful, with varied scenery, from surf beaches along its massive stretches of Indian and Atlantic Ocean coastlines to mountains to a wine region, vast wildlife reserves for world class safaris and two world class cities: Cape Town and Johannesburg. Often compared to Los Angeles and New York, Cape Town is more laid back, and absolutely stunning in the looks department with a coastline that actually resembles Orange County’s, while edgy Jo’burg is filled with history, dining and lots of nightlife.
Namibia is unlike any country on earth. Here you will find a wild, untouched landscape with a very low population density – the entire country has just over 2.3 million people! Making it a great place to get purposefully lost. The towering red sand dunes around Sossusvlei are the biggest attraction, and well worth the effort it takes to get to. Trekking around the dunes, which rise as high as 900 feet, is a hauntingly beautiful experience that takes you into the heart of one of earth’s oldest, and driest, eco-systems. Try visiting at sunrise if possible. Other highlights of this country include exploring the safe, charming capital of Windhoek, the adventure town of Swakopmund and see the Skeleton Coast.
Zimbabwe has had a rough time in the tourism department in the last decade, but is making a comeback, and is safe to travel to again, especially the area around it’s main tourist attraction, Victoria Falls. This not to miss waterfall can be viewed from both the Zambian and Zimbabwe sides, but the view from the Zimbabwe side is more sweeping and impressive. While in Zim, pay a visit to nearby Hwange National Park, to see magnificent elephant herds.
Home to the absolutely amazing, UNESCO World Heritage designated Okavango Delta, Botswana is truly a safari focused destination. It’s capital city of Gaborone is not really one you’d go out of your way to stay in – it’s not unsafe, just not particularly tourist focused. Instead, travelers head to Botswana for the immense wildlife viewing opportunities with safari options including travel by mokoro (a dug out wooden canoe), foot and traditional open top jeep vehicle.
Mozambique is an up-and-coming Southern African destination with more than 2,500 miles of coastline and hundreds of offshore islands, it is best known as a tropical beach destination. The Bazaruto Archipelago, off the central coast, is one top destination for luxury travelers and is close to amazing dive sites like Two Mile Reef. For the ultimate high end getaway, fly to Medjumbe Private Island, in the northern Quirimbas Archipelago. It is perfect for adventurous honeymooners.