More and more African countries are opening up their borders to welcome tourists. Safari destinations like Kenya and South Africa have become favourites among travellers proving that, when it comes to safari explorations, Africa is the only place for this one of a kind experience.
Cape Town and the island of Zanzibar also became popular for their beaches with Table Mountain in Cape Town and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania facing off as Africa’s best.
These destinations have become popular to the extent that some have seen tourists staying beyond travel peak season.
However, there is more to Africa than just these destinations. The continent has plenty of countries waiting to be explored and the beauty in this is that Africa is becoming more accessible due to increased air traffic and the waivering of visa requirements in some parts.
If you are looking for off the beaten track destinations to explore in 2024, these are some of the continent’s hidden gems.
One of the less frequented islands in the Indian Ocean and the 4th largest island in the world, Madagascar won the award for the Indian Ocean’s Leading Green Destination twice at the World Travel Awards.
According to The island’s tourism authorities, the Great Island is fascinating due to its biodiversity but also by its cosmopolitan culture, with origins from both Asia and Africa.
The Great Island has rich fauna and flora, breathtaking landscapes and idyllic beaches, and a visit to the island would not be complete without exploring the Tsingy of Madagascar, fossilised shells' formations that will remind you of the ‘Jurassic’ era.
The other attractions include the Baobab Valley, a unique forest of baobab trees some more than 800 years old; and, Nosy Be, the main island of an archipelago of a dozen small islands known as the island of perfumes because of its scents of ylang ylang, vanilla, sugar cane and spices.
You can also meet the island’s famous lemurs of the island, a monkey species endemic to Madagascar found at national parks, natural reserves and rainforests.
Where to stay: The Masoala Rain Forest Lodge near the Masoala National Park is the perfect base for your exploration. Prices vary according to the length of stay as the lodge offer three to 10 nights packages.
St. Helena is one of the world’s most remote islands. It is a subtropical paradise where the mountainous terrain and microclimates create an astounding diversity of landscapes all within a few minutes’ drive.
The island boasts clean air, a sparkling ocean environment, and a safe community with a population of about 4 439.
St. Helena is an off-the-beaten-track, bucket-list destination boasting more than 500 plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth and the island is also renowned for its diving and marine experiences.
According to Conde Nast Traveller, there’s a rich history to dig into once you land and some tours detail the island’s past, from its enslaved African population to Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile and death on the island.
Whale sharks visit St. Helena’s clear waters from December to March and snorkellers might spot turtles and devil rays, and there are several wrecks to explore by scuba. On land, trails cut through lush forests and up rugged hillsides.
Where to stay: In the historic capital Jamestown, the Mantis St. Helena remains the smartest hotel on the island and a stay starts from R4 165 a night for 2.
Mozambique has some of the most pristine dive sites in the world. Its reefs of the Bazaruto Archipelago are home to over 1 200 species of marine creatures including the rare Dugong.
The southern African country has over 2 500km of unspoilt beaches making it the ideal secluded beach destination.
The deep channels that flow off the coast of Mozambique offer some of the best big game fishing for marlin and sail fish in the world and the country is also a popular cruise destination for cruise ship.
The Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos are some of the most romantic and secluded beach destinations in the world, ideal for a honeymoon and Mozambique is also famous for the quality of its fresh seafood including the Portuguese influence in dishes such as peri-peri prawns and chicken.
You can also visit the the Gorongosa National Park, one of the wildest and unspoilt national parks in Africa where visitors can have a true wilderness experience.
Where to stay: Polana Serena is a perfect 5-star hotel in Maputo with prices starting from R 3526 a night for 2.
Northern KwaZulu-Natal aka Zululand, South Africa
Northern KwaZulu-Natal also known as Zululand is a hidden gem safari destination waiting to be explored.
KwaZulu-Natal is home to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the oldest proclaimed game reserve in Africa. This 96 000 hectare Park is home to the Big Five and is also known as King Shaka Zulu’s hunting grounds.
You can also visit the Elephant Coast stretching from the world heritage site of Lake St Lucia in the south to Kosi Bay, near the Mozambique Border.
The Elephant Coast is regarded as the ecotourism mecca of the Zulu Kingdom where sand dunes blend with swamps, coastal forests, rocky shores, coral reefs, mangrove swamps, woodlands, savanna grassland, and the largest protected wetland in southern Africa, iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
The region is perfect for both land and sea safaris perfect for travellers wanting the bush and beach experience.
Where to stay: There are plenty of safari lodges to choose from, however, mFulaWozi Private Game Reserve has the Mthembu and Biyela Lodges to consider starting from R12 375 for a luxury suite for 2.
Chobe River, Botswana
The Chobe River is the northern boundary of the Chobe National Park, where the great elephant concentrations occur on the river during the dry season.
The national park encompasses a vast area that also includes Savuti.
For elephant lovers and safari fanatics, the great elephant concentrations on the Chobe River occur during the winter months of May through to September/October.
However, for serious birding enthusiasts the Chobe area is spectacular in the wet summer months when the migrant birds are in full colour, and antelope start dropping their young.
Chobe is also a game-viewing region, particularly in winter from March to July.
Where to stay: Consider a river safari and stay on Zambezi Queen Collection Chobe Princess from R6 950 a suite.
∎ The list was sourced from the “Condé Nast Traveler”.