Five of Africa’s hidden gem destinations worthy of adding to your 2023 travel bucket list

A baby gorilla takes a ride on mom’s back in Rwanda. Picture: Unsplash

A baby gorilla takes a ride on mom’s back in Rwanda. Picture: Unsplash

Published May 24, 2023


Africa has plenty of experiences to offer the modern traveller.

Africa is known as the “cradle of humankind”, the only continent with fossil evidence of human beings, showing their ancestors through each key stage of their evolution and giving the continent a unique place in human history.

While it’s also known as the “mother land”, the continent has some of the most extensive nature and wildlife viewing opportunities from mountains, lakes, rivers, sea and animals.

When we talk of Africa, it’s very easy to think of popular great destinations like South Africa’s Cape Town or Kruger National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, the archipelago of islands in Zanzibar and Mauritius or the thundering waters of Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe.

There are many other places to see and visit on the continent, and this Africa Month, we also highlight some of the continent’s hidden gem destinations, worthy of your attention on your next trip to the continent.

Catch the sunrise at Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia

The moring light over the Sossusvlei Desert in Namibia. Picture: Unsplash

According to, Namibia is a one-of-a-kind destination that is often overlooked when planning trips to the continent.

The country has plenty of adventures and landscapes you won't find anywhere else on the continent, including the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei.

Sossusvlei is a giant, flat salt pan surrounded by a sea of red and orange sand that has been sculpted into an otherworldly landscape of towering dunes and desolate valleys sprinkled with petrified dead trees that is part of Namib-Naukluft National Park.

It is especially spectacular at first light, when the rising sun brings the dunes into focus and makes them glow.

Up close and personal with mountain gorillas, Rwanda

A portrait of an African gorilla at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Picture: Unsplash

With Rwanda being one of Africa’s smallest countries, the country’s Virunga Mountains are home to more than half of the remaining wild population on the planet so trekking to see the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is on the bucket list for many animal lovers and a once in a lifetime experience.

Volcanoes National Park is where the treks to see these majestic primates take place and explorers are required to join a guided trip that requires a permit as you can’t go on your own.

The gorilla trek is 2.5 hours from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital and one of the cleanest city’s in Africa, making this emerging tourist destination a breeze to explore.

Lake Malawi, Malawi

The sunset over Lake Malawi, part of Africa’s Great Lakes system. Picture: Unsplash

Lake Malawi is the 3rd largest lake in Africa spanning 3 countries, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Lake Malawi at 29 600 square kilometers, is part of the African Great Lake system, and its age is estimated to be about 1 or 2 million years.

The majority of tourists visit the Malawi side of the lake, however, the lake is called Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique.

The Lake is home to more kinds of fish than any other lake on earth making fishing a popular activity here.

Swimming and snorkelling in the warm and clear water is allowed, however, you'll want to take a short course or a fast-acting antibiotic after doing so to protect yourself from bilharzia, which is found here.

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa

Blyde River Canyon, Mpumulanga, also the 2nd largest canyon in Africa. Picture: Unsplash

Blyde River Canyon, also known as Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve, is the 3rd largest canyon in the world with impressive lush scenery.

This South African nature reserve is a growing favourite amongst tourists due to its proximity to Kruger National Park and covers 29 000 hectares stretching from the misty highlands down to the hotter and drier lowveld at the Blyde Dam.

Blyde River Canyon Reserve is situated against the Greater Drakensberg escarpment and includes natural wonders such as the Bourke's Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels, Pinnacle Rock and God's Window.

There is ample accommodation throughout the area with several hiking trails meandering through the reserve that cater for all ages and levels of fitness.

It also offers a variety of adventure sports such as white water rafting, abseiling and quieter activities like fly-fishing.

Discover ancient civilizations at The Great Ruins, Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe or The Great Ruins of Zimbabwe. Picture: Instagram

No visit to Zimbabwe is complete without a visit to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, south east of Masvingo, near Bulawayo.

The ruins consist of 3 main areas, the Hill Complex, the Valley Complex and the Great Enclosure. Exploring the 722 hectares of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site is an absolute “must-do” for travellers to take in the remains of the stone buildings that were constructed without the aid of mortar in the 11th century.

During a tour of the city one will be able to learn more about some of the 18 000 inhabitants that once lived in the prosperous city.

Great Zimbabwe is believed to have become increasingly influential as it began to trade porcelain, cloth and glass, in exchange for gold and ivory, with the Portuguese and Arabs that were sailing down from Mozambique.

This list was sourced from and Siyabona Africa.