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The Gap Year Blog

6 Best Travel Destinations in Africa for First-Time Travelers

14 Jan 2020 11:05 AM

Africa’s tourism industry is not the second-fastest in the world.

Inbound visitor growth in Africa is predicted to grow at least 5% in the next three years, showing that Africa will remain one of the most attractive destinations in the upcoming years:

Last year, Africa overtook popular Middle-Eastern and European destinations like Dubai, France, and Italy. According to Quartz, following the Asia Pacific, Africa saw a rise of 7% in the number of tourists last year.

Apart from avid visitors, who visit African countries regularly, Africa has become more attractive for first-time travelers – tourists who earlier would not consider visiting African countries because of the alleged lack of conveniences.

However, there are plenty of choices and attractive destinations in African countries that can offer first-time travelers unique experiences. So, based on the chart above, let’s consider different African countries for first-time travelers who want either a luxury vacation or a more authentic experience, closer to the native culture of this country.

Luxury Experiences

1. Mauritius

This quiet island is the perfect escape for those who want to escape from the noise and receive luxury treatment.

Last year, the number of tourist arrivals to Mauritius topped 1.3 million, surpassing its population size 1.2 million. This helped Mauritius top the Quartz’s chart of the most visited destinations in Africa.

What does Mauritius offer to first-time travelers?

Being a small island, Mauritius positions itself as a holiday destination for beach-resort tourists. Nevertheless, there are quite a few places on Mauritius offering unique sights for first-time travelers to visit:

● Port Louis – the capital of Mauritius with French colonial architecture, museums and the Central Market, where you can purchase handicraft items from the locals.

● Grand Baie – a seashore village in Mauritius with public and private beaches and a few secluded places like a sheltered Grand Baie cove.

● Black River Gorges National Park – a place where first-time travelers can admire the pristine nature of the island, with an abundance of hiking trails and picnic areas.

Active tourists can also enjoy spending time in La Vallee Des Couleurs Nature Park by walking along the longest aerial ropeway.

2. Seychelles

Known as the greatest luxury destination in Africa, Seychelles already welcomed almost 400,000 tourists this year, occupying the third place in Quartz’s ranking.

Seychelles offer an abundance of hotels and great beaches, where first-time travelers can enjoy their time, go diving and fishing.

Among many beautiful locations, first-time travelers can admire:

 ● La Digue – one of the islands with unique sights and wildlife, as it’s the home for a few critically endangered species. First-time travelers can also admire the island’s unique cuisine. La Digue is the home for different ethnic groups, and its cuisine is a blend of different world cuisines, which is a real treat for gourmands.

● Curieuse Island – one of the smallest islands in the group, Curieuse is the home for Curieuse Marine National Park – a conservation park that was created to preserve the island’s native wildlife, which struggles a lot after the 1967 fire destroyed much of the island’s vegetation. Today, it’s one of the most picturesque destinations in Africa.

● Anse Source d’Argent – place worth visiting as it is one of the most beautiful and photographed beaches in Seychelles. First-time visitors can enjoy great beach experience, go kayaking and try local fruits.

The islands, in general, offer a lot of sights where first-time travelers can experience the beauty of the nature of Seychelles.

3. Cape Verde

Another group of islands, Cape Verde is a popular destination with luxury resorts. Listed as the most underrated winter sun destination by The Telegraph, Cape Verde has a lot of luxury destinations for first-time travelers who want to escape winter and bathe in the warm African sun.

Cape Verde’s incredible volcanic landscape offers first-time travelers a variety of unique sights to visit:

● Sal island – the place with the majority of luxury resorts. Island’s extinct volcano gifted the island inhabitants therapeutic salt waters, which prompted them to open their island to visitors from around the world.

● Praia – the capital of Cape Verde, where first-time travelers can enjoy the sight of the Atlantic Ocean from the old town center, and buy unique handicraft pieces from locals.

● Saint Nicholas island – one of the most breathtaking destinations in Capo Verde with nature parks and a great view of the Atlantic Ocean from the island’s cliffs.

First-time visitors will admire the mild climate of Cape Verde islands, perfect for winter vacations.

Authentic Experiences


One of the destinations in Africa, where culture and history stand out, is Morocco. Nearly 8 million tourists visited Morocco by the end of July this year, making it one of the most visited African countries.

Morocco tops our list of African countries offering the best authentic experiences. In Morocco, first-time travelers will be able to enjoy a unique culture that they won’t be able to experience anywhere else.

The top cultural destinations in Morocco include:

● Marrakesh – one of the major cities in Morocco, and, of course, our top pick. Bahia Palace, Koutoubia, and Jama El f’na market – all these places allow first-time travelers to immerse themselves in Moroccan unique culture and experiences.

● Fez – an important religious and cultural center in Morocco. Fez was the capital of Morocco for 400 years, so you can imagine the grandeur that this city represents.

● Essaouira – one of the most visited beaches in Morocco, Essaouira is the place where first-time travelers can escape the heat of the city, enjoy kitesurfing and admire fresh seafood in one of the local restaurants.

Of course, we couldn’t mention one of Morocco’s best destinations, located on the edge of Erg Chebbi dune sea – Merzouga. This small town is the gateway to the Sahara Desert, where you can ride camels and meet Bedouins.


The gem of the desert, Namibia is a very unusual country for first-time travelers to visit. With the Namib Desert covering most of the country’s geography, Namibia is the place where first-time travelers can get the most authentic African experience.

Despite some misconceptions, this country has a wonderful tourist infrastructure. Because Germany used to have colonies in Namibia, some of the inhabitants in small villages, however, still speak German, so you might need German translation services that can be found on TheWordPoint when you arrive there.

Namibia’s unique landscape is full of sights and places, where first-time travelers can get the most authentic African experiences:

● Fish River Canyon Park – the African Grand Canyon, this place has the largest canyons in the world. The canyon is formed by the Fish River, one of the longest rivers in Africa, creating one of the most popular hiking destinations in Namibia.

● Etosha National Park – this place is the home for the thousands of flamingos, zebras, and antelopes, making it a perfect spot to enjoy African wildlife.

● Namib-Naukluft National Park – the largest game park in Africa, this place is perfect for safari.

To take a rest from admiring the desert, first-time visitors can enjoy Luderitz, a coastal town with German architecture and cuisine.

South Africa

We’re closing our rank of authentic African experience with South Africa. This year, South Africa welcomed more than 16 million tourists, making it one of the most popular destinations on the continent.

 Saturated with beautiful places to visit, South Africa is known for the following sights, popular among first-time travelers:

● Cape Town – this port city is one of the most popular destinations in South Africa, where first-time visitors can spend time hiking, admire incredible views, and visit the unique Kirstenbosch National Botanical Graden.

● Cape of Good Hope – the place with the most picturesque views in South Africa, definitely worth visiting for its landscape.

● Johannesburg – South Africa’s biggest city, this place is full of museums and art galleries, where first-time visitors can admire and learn about unique local culture and history.

South Africa also has a variety of national parks, like Kruger National Park, where tourists travel for hiking.

Put Africa on Your Bucket List!

By Erica Sunarjo - Frontier Guest Writer

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservationcommunityteaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!