From the bustling city of Accra in Ghana to the coast of Senegal or the serene lagoons of Gambia, West Africa is a spot on the continent that has hidden jewels that have recently come out of the dark and attracted tourists onto their lands. Here are some of the West African nations that are coming up on the ladder of popular destinations to visit.
Cape Verde is a country that is overlooked by tourists who travel around West Africa, with the small country being overshadowed by larger countries like Senegal or Cote d'Ivoire.
Situated 550kms from Senegal, Cape Verde (or Cabo Verde) is a chain of seaside villages, islands and jaw-dropping scenery provided by the mountains.
The West African nation offers the ultimate opportunity to go island hopping and exploring the cultural aspect of the country, meeting its residents and sunbathing on the beach.
Travellers who arrive on the cluster of islands get to experience the Barlavente Trio islands [Sal, São Vicente and Santo Antão], explore the villages, beaches and nightlife of the São Vicente & Santiago island and dancing to the rhythmic beats of Cape Verde's morna music.
The outstretched finger-shaped land of The Gambia is seen as Africa's best-kept secret. With the offering of wildlife, beautiful sandy beaches and vibrant culture, The Gambia is definitely a country to explore.
Known as "the smiling coast" for its friendly people, The Gambia offers so much with its history, its scenic lagoons and outstanding food - it could be a great destination for a family vacation.
The West African nation offers a number of activities for both the adventurous traveller and the relaxed traveller. Tourists are given the opportunity to check out the Kachikally crocodile pool (where you can interact with crocodiles) or visit the Eagle Heights Conservation Centre.
Tourists who wish to relax in the Gambia can take a cruise along the river Gambia, exploring the mangroves and oyster creeks while on a traditional Gambian-style pirogue.
After dealing with the turbulent civil war, Liberia is slowly making its way back into the world of travel, with its beautiful destination spots coming out of the dark and attracting many tourists.
Located between Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone, Liberia boasts the largest rainforest in West Africa, enormous hills that are filled with coffee and rubber plantations. The West African nation also boasts golden beaches and blue lagoons that are great relaxation spots for tourists, while they relax at resorts like the Libassa Eco Lodge in Marshall.
São Tomé & Príncipe
São Tomé & Príncipe is a safe and welcoming destination to visitors, particularly ecotourists, for whom the advancing jungle is a delight.
The second-smallest island on the African continent (after Seychelles) is a wonderful world of luscious natural scenery and culture placed between the two islands, and despite the small size, the island can keep tourists occupied during their stay.
Activities on the two islands include snorkelling, hiking, birdwatching and fishing - and for those who prefer to become immersed in the culture - the island offers full-day tours around the northern and southern parts of the island of São Tomé, where tourists can experience the towns around the island, the cuisine and some of the historical landmarks from the colonial era.
One of the more popular destinations in West Africa, Cameroon is a destination that is pure ethnic beauty and
Surrounded by the smells of roasted plantain and grilled fish, accompanied by the friendly nature of Cameroon's people, the West African nation is one that can keep tourists on their feet as they stroll through the capital city of Yaounde, or take the leap and wander up the famous Ring Road.
Cameroon offers tourists the opportunity to hike up Mount Cameroon - locally known as Mongo ma Ndemi ("Mountain of Greatness") - which is West Africa's highest peak at 4 040 metres. Although an active volcano, it has not erupted since 2000, and it makes for an interesting trip for those who enjoy nature.
Senegal can be described as giving tourists the best of both worlds. The West African nation offers destinations that are made for the tourists who wishes for a peaceful holiday, as well as destinations that are culture hunter or the adrenaline seeker.
From the Park National des Oiseaux du Djoudj (Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary) to the Siné-Saloum Delta, tourists are given the opportunity to look at Senegal's wildlife (like flamingos and kingfishers) while also relaxing on the beaches of Dakar, and enjoying some of the country's finest delicacies like chicken stew with rice.IOL