The Best Honeymoon Destination in Africa – For All Budgets

The Best Honeymoon Destination in Africa – For All Budgets

The Best Honeymoon Destination in Africa – For All Budgets

This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on the link, I may receive a small commission.

Let’s discover the

Best Honeymoon Destinations: Africa Edition!

When I backpacked East Africa for 3 months with my best friend,  Jordan, it was a common occurrence for one of us to turn to the other and say, ” Wow, this place would be perfect for a honeymoon.”

We would joke how we wish we were here with a significant other instead, so we could fully appreciate these romantic beach honeymoon destinations.

We still had our fun and found ways to show our platonic love in these beautiful African destinations. Pictured below is us in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Don’t we look happy?!

best honeymoon destinations in africa

We both vowed that once we found our forever partners, we would return to Africa for our honeymoons.

Why should you have a honeymoon in Africa?

1)  There are stunning locations,

2) that aren’t overcrowded by tours,

3) and once-in-a-lifetime adventure activities.

4) Also, you can earn some street cred and travel somewhere more adventurous.

5) Plus, Africa is huge, so you are bound to find something that tickles your fancy.

Although it’s too early to plan my honeymoon, it never hurts to know where I could potentially go with my future partner.

I decided to ask 12 other bloggers:

“What are the best honeymoon destinations in Africa?”

and compiled all their answers in this post!

Whether you are currently researching your honeymoon, or you are like me and just preparing yourself for when the time comes, here’s a

Guide to the Top Honeymoon Destinations in Africa

 

Note: The budgets included for each location can vary drastically, depending on if you want a cheap versus a luxury experience.  The budgets in this guide are estimates for midrange to high-end accommodations, to provide a comfortable, and honeymoon-like experience. If I recommend a hotel in this guide, then it is incorporated into the estimated budget for that destination.

This post highlights the best honeymoon destinations in Africa. If you want more country-specific details, I recommend purchasing a Lonely Planet guidebook.

Buy an Africa guidebook from Lonely Planet!

 Off The Beaten Path Honeymoon Destinations in Africa

Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

Perfect for: Couples who want an under-the-radar & remote island paradise

Best Time To Visit: May to April

When rainfall and temperatures are lower.

Estimated Budget for 2 people: $1000 for 4 nights

Contributor

Kesi Irvin, Kesi To and Fro

honeymoon destinations in africa

Quirimbas archipelago is one of the top honeymoon destinations in Africa, because of it’s beautiful, untouched islands.

Quick Stats

  • Activities 60% 60%
  • Popularity 5% 5%
  • Food 60% 60%

The Quirimbas archipelago is not easy to get to, but it is the perfect location for a honeymoon if you want to get off the beaten track. You can base yourself on Ibo island, where there are only a few different hotels. All the hotels are admirable, but they range from more budget-friendly, $80 a night, to ultra-luxury $800 a night.

Recommended hotel: Mwani House

When I visited Ibo island in 2018, this hotel just finished construction but was closed to the public. Jordan and I invited ourselves to check out the property. It was gorgeous with a pristine design and beach facing bungalows. The rooms, pictured below, aren’t even that expensive (less than $300 a night). 

mozambique honeymoon

Recommend hotel for budget: Miti Miwiri

This hotel provides excellent value since rooms are ~$80. The owner has an interesting story. He originally came to Ibo islands years ago before there were any hotels. Ask him what made him stay.

best honeymoon africa

Things To Do:

The main activity is an overnight camping or glamping excursion to the other remote islands.  An example of a trip:  Taking a catamaran or dhow to the different islands, having one of the local fishermen catch a fresh octopus and cook it over a fire for lunch, and then camping under the brightest stars. The next day you can enjoy the beach, which is essentially private since this area receives very few tourists.

Visiting Matemo Island is a must since it is the MOST BEAUTIFUL beach I’ve ever been to, and it feels like a private oasis. The beaches are as beautiful as the Maldives, but it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to visit.

Other activites include kayaking or diving.

Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar

Perfect for: Outdoor adventure lovers

Best Time To Visit: April – December

During the dry season

Estimated Budget for 2 people: $1000 for a 5-day guided tour

Contributor

Joss, Little Green Globetrotter

Joss writes about sustainable travel for adventurous families at Little Green Globetrotter

Avenue-of-Baobabs-Madagascar

Traveling through Madagascar is excellent for adventurous newlyweds. 

Quick Stats

  • Activities 90% 90%
  • Popularity 40% 40%
  • Food 80% 80%

Madagascar has to be one of the best honeymoon destinations in Africa. My husband and I spent the month of October (this is towards the end of the dry season and a great time to visit) hiking in Madagascar’s National Parks for our honeymoon and were struck by just how varied the landscapes are across this island nation. Every park offers something different, but for us, the highlight was the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.

The 10-hour bumpy drive and river crossing to get there is an adventure in itself! The photogenic Avenue of Baobabs is en route, and newlyweds must stop for a photo at the ‘Lovers Baobab,’ so named because of the two entwined trunks.

The park itself is spectacular, and I highly recommend the Broadway Route in the Grand Tsingy park, which will take you atop the limestone tsingy, through caves, across suspension bridges, and amidst the rainforest, where you are likely to see several species of lemurs, chameleons, geckos and more.

Three days here is a minimum (one for the Petit Tsingy, one for the Grand Tsingy and one for a relaxing and historically insightful trip on the Manambolo River), and you’ll find a range of accommodation options for different budgets. Adventurous newlyweds also won’t want to miss the extraordinary biodiversity of Ranamofana National Park. For those that want a beach fix, the pristine waters and white sand of île Sainte Marie will surely hit the spot! 

Grand Tsingy Suspension Bridge

Kesi To and Fro note: I am definitely adding Madagascar to my bucketlist. I love finding unique places, like Grand Tsingy pictured here.

grand-tsingy-suspension-bridge

Seychelles

Perfect for: Couples who want something totally unique with a lot of activity choices.

Best Time To Visit: April – November 

Estimated Budget for 2 People: $1400 for 4 days

Contributor

Amy Alton , Out Chasing Stars

seychelles honeymoon destination

Celebrities and royal families frequent the Seychelles for a honeymoon. 

Quick Stats

  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Popularity 70% 70%
  • Food 70% 70%

As an island cluster off the east coast of Africa, Seychelles is extremely popular as a honeymoon destination.  Celebrities and royalty like Prince William and Kate Middleton and Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston honeymooned in Seychelles.

Part of the reason is the ease of travel, as flights arrive directly from Dubai and Qatar.  Part of it is the uniqueness of hotels in Seychelles; there are not islands upon islands of cookie-cutter luxury resorts here.  But the biggest reason to visit Seychelles for your honeymoon is that it has some of the best beaches in the world.

National Geographic calls Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue island one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, though I found beaches beautiful enough to rival Anse Source d’Argent everywhere I went.

Honeymooners can choose from a wide variety of hotels: five-star resort to self-catering.  Seychelles is also great for hiking and endemic species such as the giant tortoise.  Octopus curry is the national dish, and seafood is on the menu everywhere.  There is a rum distillery and several marine parks.  You can be as active as you want, or you can lounge on some genuinely perfect beaches!

Benguerra Island, Mozambique

Perfect for: Couples who want a full-service luxury experience that’s off-the-beaten path

Best Time To Visit: May – November 

During the dry season, while the weather isn’t too hot

Estimated Budget: $5600 for 3 days at an all-inclusive resort

Includes all meal, drinks, activities, and other even a “butler” who’s with you for the duration of your stay.  

Contributor

Agnes Groonwald, Travel On the Reg

best honeymoon destination in africa

This is the second time Mozambique is mentioned. Is Mozambique the future hotspot for honeymoons in Africa? 

Quick Stats

  • Activities 80% 80%
  • Popularity 50% 50%
  • Food 100% 100%

Mozambique, which neighbors South Africa, may not be on the radar for many honeymooners. But the islands off the coast of Vilankulos are the perfect way to bookend an adventurous safari trip or as a standalone option for travelers looking to relax.

Benguerra Island is the second-largest island in the archipelago and where you’ll find both luxury accommodations and a diverse range of excursions no matter what kind of honeymoon you’re after.

You can snorkel or dive in the beautiful surrounding reefs. Situated within the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, the waters are teeming with marine life. If you’re lucky, you may spot a dugong, a marine mammal in the manatee family. They’re rare but don’t migrate, so there’s no time of year that’s better or worse for dugong spotting. 

Additional excursions include indulging in the delicious food and cocktails inside the resort cabanas, island hopping to the nearby dunes, deep-sea fishing, visiting the local village, and taking sunset cruises on a dhow, which is a long wooden boat used by the locals for fishing.

Your resort will be able to arrange any excursion you’re interested in, even if it’s just romantic dinners on the beach. Resort options on the island include the Benguerra Island Lodge, Azura Benguerra Island, and &Beyond, the newest complex.

To get to Benguerra Island, you’ll need to fly into Vilanculos Airport, on the mainland of Mozambique. From there, you’ll need to arrange either boat or helicopter transfer to Benguerra Island; the option you choose will largely depend on your budget, as a boat transfer is a more economical choice.

Safari Honeymoons in Africa

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Perfect for: Couples who love authentic and ethical wildlife adventures

Best Time To Visit: December – February or June -September

But can be done year-round

Estimated Budget: $3500 for 4 days

Contributor

Dani Ward, Diapers in Paradise

gorilla trekking uganda

Q: Why is Bwindi one of the best honeymoon destinations in East Africa?

A: Two words. Gorilla Trekking.

Quick Stats

  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Popularity 20% 20%
  • Food 50% 50%

Making a long, arduous, and uncomfortable journey deep into something called the Impenetrable Forest (also known as the Place of Darkness) doesn’t really sound like the ideal honeymoon at first. And yet, most people who do it describe it simply as “life-changing”. It’s a surprisingly powerful and moving experience, sure to deepen your bond with your partner.

People don’t come to Bwindi for a relaxing vacation or nightlife. There is one primary thing to do in Bwindi: gorilla trekking.

Trekking means following the tracks left by families of mountain gorillas, and hiking for hours until you find them. When (if) you find them, you stay there for only one hour. That is because of strict regulations protecting the gorillas. Bwindi and the nearby Virunga range are the only two places in the world that mountain gorillas live. They do not survive in captivity.

That’s largely why gorilla trekking is actually one of the most ethical animal tourism experiences you can have. It is extremely carefully managed by the governments, it is limited to very few people each day, and the funds go directly to conservation efforts and protections for local communities.

It’s an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and a unique way to start your future together.

Recommended hotel: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge

This is ranked as the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor in Bwindi National Park. This lodge is situated in the clouds, with the most tremendous view. After gorilla trekking, this is the place to pamper yourself. 

honeymoon accommodation uganda

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Perfect for: Newlyweds fascinated by wildlife and want a honeymoon in the lap of luxury, with a side of adventure!

Best Time To Visit:  Winter – June to August

It’s still warm during the day with refreshingly cool nights. Also in winter, the animal concentrations are at their highest, so its best for game-viewing. You can also visit in the ‘green season’ of November to February but it will be very hot and humid.

Estimated Budget for 2 people: $1400 for a 4-day safari

Contributor

James , The Travel Scribes*

*Find more posts by James at  The Travel Scribes, a mid-thirties traveller who loves itineraries, photography and all things social.

best honeymoon destinations south africa

Kruger National Park is one of the top honeymoon destinations in South Africa because it caters to different budgets, and you can witness the “Big 5.”

Quick Stats

  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Popularity 80% 80%
  • Food 80% 80%

What better way to celebrate your nuptials than spending your nights in absolute opulence and your early mornings watching the sunrise over the South African plains with giraffes and zebras feeding right before you? There’s no doubt that an African safari honeymoon is great, and there is no more famous location than the Kruger National Park. 

If ticking off the Big 5 – buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino – from your bucket list is your thing, the ‘Kruger’ is the ideal way to spend your post-wedding week. One of the world’s largest national parks stretching nearly 20,000 square kilometers, the Kruger is a veritable feast for the eyes as you can see some of the globe’s most beautiful mammals, birds, and reptiles in the oldest conversation area in Africa.

It’s the perfect location for a romantic getaway as the area offers everything from budget-friendly boutique resorts to expensive luxury lodges complete with candlelit cuisine, private walking safaris, and almost unrivaled indulgence. No matter your budget, the Kruger National Park is an unforgettable honeymoon spot in Africa.

Spectacular Honeymoon Excursions in Africa

Hot Air Ballooning

Sossusvlei, Namibia

Perfect for: For the adventurous, luxury honeymooner

Best Time To Visit: All year

(It is closed from mid-Jan to mid-Feb)

Estimated Budget for 2 people: $1000

 (includes transfer, hot air balloon ride and champagne breakfast)

Contributor

Marlo Delforge, Along Came An Elephant

namibia honeymoon

Looking down on one of the most beautiful pieces of nature brought to us by Mother Earth. 

The moment the hot air balloon leaves the ground, it’s like you’re leaving a lesser part of the paradise you’ve been enjoying so far while being in Sossusvlei, Namibia. Immense rusty sand dunes with twisting ridges, laying beneath you like slain dragons.

The higher the balloon takes you, the more you realize pure heaven is above us all, up there in the Namibian sky. The views turn from amazing towards spectacular while slowly ascending—your personalized stairway to heaven.  No wait, more like an escalator to heaven! It’s so smooth.

Once you’re fully up in The Namibian sky, you no longer only get overwhelmed by the beauty of Namibian nature, but you’ll get utterly flabbergasted. Looking down on what is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of nature brought to us by Mother Earth. It humbles you while at the same time, a sheer moment of happiness turns the biggest of smiles on your face—emotion overflow, without exaggerating one bit. 

And what better way to celebrate admiring this beauty than with a glass of champagne? Your trip ends with a champagne breakfast in nature’s largest and most beautiful restaurant: right among the Sossusvlei sand dunes!

Volcano Trekking

Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

Perfect for: Thrill-seeker couples who want to partake in a one of a kind experience

Best Time To Visit: December to Mid-March or Mid-June to September

(It is closed from mid-Jan to mid-Feb)

Estimated Budget for 2 people: $850

 (includes cook, park permits, porter, warm weather gear, camping facility)

Contributor

Kesi Irvin, Kesi To and Fro

The Democratic Republic of Congo typically does not show up as a honeymoon destination. But if you are looking for an active, uncommon, and adventurous honeymoon, then the DRC is perfect.  At the summit of the Nyiragongo volcano is the largest lava lake in the world. I’ve seen many volcanos throughout my travels, and Nyiragongo is on a whole other level. Volcano trekking in the DRC is one of the top two things I’ve ever done in my life. Gorilla trekking is the other activity in my Top Two list, and you can enjoy both of these experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

To read the guide for hiking the Nyiragongo volcano click here

Stellenbosch Winelands, South Africa

Perfect for: Foodies & oenophiles (wine lovers), and adventurous couples that enjoy luxury

Best Time To Visit: February or March 

Great weather and you miss the December and Easter holiday crowds

Estimated Budget for 2 people: $200-$300 per day

Contributor

Campbell and Ayla, Stingy Nomads

Stellenbosch wine estates Tokara

Stellenbosch Winelands is one of the best honeymoon destinations in South Africa, especially for food and wine lovers.

Quick Stats

  • Activities 80% 80%
  • Popularity 80% 80%
  • Food 100% 100%

The spectacular Winelands around Stellenbosch in South Africa is a world-class destination for honeymooners. The Winelands offer a vast variety of suited activities, world-famous for food and wine with adventures ranging from hiking, mountain biking to scuba diving, and parasailing, and of course, go to a game park to see the famous African Big 5 for the day.

The main activity here is wine tasting around Stellenbosch, driving between wine farms, tasting the award-winning wines. Combining this with an outstanding culinary experience is popular. The wine estates around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch have several world-renowned fine dining restaurants with accomplished international chefs and some of the most spectacular views in the world. The accommodation on the wine farms ranges from friendly guest houses to exclusive 5-star luxury hotel spas. Cape Town, Table Mountain, and the famous V&A Waterfront are only a quick drive away.

Cheap Honeymoon Destinations in Africa

Lamu Island, Kenya

Perfect for: Couples who want to experience Swahili culture and “ball out” on a budget.

Best Time To Visit: July to September

The dry season

Estimated Budget for 2 people: $1000 for 4 days

This is a very high budget for Lamu and includes staying at the recommended eco-hotel, Kizingo.  You can easily spend less

Contributor

Debi Pati, The Visa Project*

*Deb Pati runs an initiative called The Visa Project, with a mission to have updated info on visas and making people visa smart.

lamu kenya honeymoon

Note from Kesi To and Fro: Jordan and I visited Lamu Island and realized it was a perfect, affordable honeymoon destination in Africa. We snuck some photos at this gorgeous-beach front villa. To my future husband, be warned, I love Lamu.

Lamu Island is influenced by both African and Arab cultures, which is seen in the cuisine.

Quick Stats

  • Activities 83% 83%
  • Popularity 47% 47%
  • Food 80% 80%

With the best beaches in Kenya, medieval stone towns of narrow streets, world-class villas, delicious local cuisine with a blend of African and Arabic cooking,   Lamu archipelago has a vibe that’s both chic and bohemian.

You can visit the Lamu town, a world heritage site. If you like adventures, you can go snorkeling in the coral reef that surrounds the Kiwayu Island,  swim with dolphins, sail down the Kenyan coast in traditional dhows, and a lot more.

As far as honeymoon destinations are concerned, Lamu is the kind of place that’s got everything you could ask for. And if you are on a budget, you can easily visit Lamu without burning a hole in your pocket.  Although, if you want to splurge, there are luxury hotels and high-end restaurants to do so. The best time to visit is from July to September when it’s the dry season. Lamu is not very expensive. A dinner for two can cost around $12, and you can choose various accommodations based on your budget. I would say $200-300 USD for 3-4 nights is a reasonable estimate for Lamu, if you aren’t staying in the ultra-luxury hotels. 

Recommended hotel: Kizingo

Kizingo is an eco beach resort. It’s more expensive than most places on Lamu, but it is highly reviewed. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the price. This is the place to stay if you want to be disconnected and detox from your phone and become one with nature. The service here is impeccable.

mozambique honeymoon

Mauritius 

Perfect for: couples who want to spend quality time with each other in a paradise surrounded by white sand beaches, turquoise seas, and palm trees

Best Time To Visit: May to December

The weather is cool, dry, and sunny. Avoid the monsoon season (January to March) as Mauritius is prone to cyclones. 

Estimated Budget for 2 People: $700 for 4 days

Contributor

Anwesha Guha, Going Places With Anwesha

Mauritius_beach honeymoon

Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius’. By Mark Twain

Quick Stats

  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Popularity 80% 80%
  • Food 100% 100%

Mauritius is blessed with pristine white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, and an abundance of natural beauty. With a laidback ambiance amidst the picturesque surroundings, Mauritius makes an ideal choice for newlywed couples.

Whether you like to watch the sunset at the beach or take part in adventurous activities with your better-half, Mauritius never ceases to amaze you. Mauritius offers a ton of activities like scuba diving, paragliding, whale watching, submarine rides, walking with Lions at the Casella Nature Park, and many more. After the hustle-and-bustle of your wedding, a calm and relaxing holiday on this island will add spark to your relationship.

Enjoy each other’s company while tasting some fresh seafood dishes. Mauritian cuisines are best known for their seafood dishes but they have a lot of things to offer for vegetarians as well. Mauritian cuisines are heavily influenced by the Chinese, European and Indian flavors. My favorites were Dholl puri and spicy King prawn Rougaille.

Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

Perfect for: Couples who want a Santorini, Greece experience without the massive crowds.

Best Time To Visit: March to June or October to December

Estimated Budget for 2 People: $800 for 4 days

Contributor

Stephanie Craig, History Fangirl

tunisia honeymoon destination

Quick Stats

  • Activities 60% 60%
  • Popularity 40% 40%
  • Food 80% 80%

If you’re looking for a dreamy African beach honeymoon away from crowds, Sidi Bou Said is a simply stunning whitewashed Mediterranean village in Northern Tunisia. The white-and-blue color theme is reminiscent of a Greek island, but the lush Tunisian interiors turn the beauty up to eleven. You can enjoy walking the town’s streets, enjoy the village’s fabulous seafood restaurants overlooking the water, and soak up the atmosphere at the sidewalk cafes. For culture and history, you can spend time in nearby Carthage, the ancient Carthaginian and Roman ruins. Nearby is also the stunning French St. Louis Cathedral.

You can enjoy Tunisia’s beaches during the day as well since Sidi Bou Said is right on the water.

I suggest you spend four or five days here before moving on to Tunis or Sousse. Alternatively, you can enjoy ten days here if you want to really spend time soaking up the sun and relaxing.

Tunisia is a great budget destination. Your accommodations will determine your overall budget. You can easily visit on $75 a day per person with some luxury, but for a honeymoon, you might want to increase your budget.

Tunisia is beautiful year-round, but it does get too cold in winter to enjoy the beach.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Perfect for: Honeymooners on a budget who want to explore more cultural nuances of a destination.

Best Time To Visit: June – October

Estimated Budget for 2 People: $600 for 4 days

Contributor

Madhurima, Orange Wayfarer

gorilla trekking uganda

Note from Kesi To and Fro: Just me and my fake lover, enjoying our favorite beach in Zanzibar, Kendwa Beach. 

Quick Stats

  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Popularity 60% 60%
  • Food 50% 50%

Clear waters of the Indian Ocean surround the small island of Zanzibar, a 2 hours ferry ride off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar has seen it all, from the sheiks of Oman and their lasting legacy to a somber history of the slave trade, followed by a series of colonial powers from Europe.

The first place you’ll see is Stonetown, which is beautiful chaos. Wake up early to roam around the dingy old lanes of Stonetown, and explore the iconic Zanzibari doors. Swahili, Arabic, Indian, and even Chinese traders inspired the doors. You can make a day trip to the nearby Prison Island, and meet old tortoises. Try to book a stay with the Dhow Palace Zanzibar during your stay at Stonetown.

On a stark contrast to Stonetown, Uroa and Jambiani beaches on the east coast of Zanzibar are serene. There are a few local fishing villages in the distance, and resorts that sprung up in recent times. There is also a unique tidal system. During low tide, you can walk as far as 2 KM on the sea bed, while at night, the ocean comes almost to your doorstep! A dhow boat cruise during sunrise is an essential part of a trip to Zanzibar, so is eating Zanzibari pizza.

Make it a point to visit the Kendwa rock beach for one sunset! The beach is one of its kind in entire Africa!

Recommended Restaurant: The Rock Restaurant

If you want a beautiful view while dining in a unique building, then visit the Rock Restaurant. Depending on the tides, you can either walk, swim or take a boat to the restaurant. This restaurant is more expensive than others on Zanzibar, but worth it for the scenery and experience.

And yes, that is me and Jordan, enjoying a romantic meal at The Rock. 

rock restaurant zanzibar

Merzouga Desert, Morocco

Perfect for: Couples that enjoy camping under the stars.

Best Time To Visit: October – February

Estimated Budget for 2 people: $500 for 3 nights

Contributor

Place of Juma

Merzougha honeymoon

Quick Stats

  • Activities 80% 80%
  • Popularity 30% 30%
  • Food 80% 80%

Merzouga in Morocco is a fantastic destination for all types of honeymooners who are looking for a mix of adventure and romance. Camel trekking on the vast dunes, watching the most incredible Sahara sunset, singing songs next at the Berber camp, camping underneath the brightly shining stars, and spending the night in a desert camp are just a few of the highlights on any trip.

For a perfect honeymoon, we recommend staying in Merzouga for at least three nights. Book one night in a desert camp (there are also luxury options), and the other two nights spoil yourself with an awesome desert hotel. The best time to go there is in autumn, winter, or spring. Avoid summer; it will definitely be too hot. The budget can be variable, depending on your needs. But at least you should calculate with 80 Euro per night.

  Best Honeymoon Destinations in Africa Conclusion

Africa has a lot to offer, from safaris to pristine beaches to Meditteranean vibes. I hope after reading this article, you are inspired to have a honeymoon in Africa.

Now that you have gone through this epic list, where in Africa do you want to have your honeymoon? Leave a comment below!

Want to learn more about traveling in Africa? This post shares 15 different travel blogger’s favorite country in Africa.

Now that you know the best countries to travel in Africa, are you convinced to visit? I recommend purchasing country specific Lonely Planet guidebooks for more travel information on Africa.  

Click on the Lonely Planet picture below for the current deal going on.

 

Pin this post to reference later!

honeymoon destinations in africa
Honeymoon in Africa
Best African Countries to Visit

Best African Countries to Visit

Bazaruto Island, Mozambique – one of the most beautiful places in Africa.

Best African Countries To Visit 

According to 17 Travel Bloggers

This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on the link, I may receive a small commission.

Let’s discover the best places in Africa!

Africa! Africa! Africa! My favorite continent to travel!

Strangely, Africa is often referred to as one country when it is actually 54 different countries. With so many places to visit, how should one narrow down where to go?

Well, I asked 17 travel bloggers,

“What is the best country in Africa?” 

and compiled their responses.

It was intriguing to hear the various perspectives about different countries, from popular destinations like Egypt to places I’ve never thought about visiting like The Gambia.

Whether it’s your 1st, 2nd, or 10th trip to Africa, I hope you inspired by this list of the

 Best African Countries To Visit,

 

and find new places to add to your bucketlist.  

 

This post highlights the best African countries to visit. If you want to learn more about where to go in Africa, I recommend purchasing a Lonely Planet guidebook.

Buy an Africa guidebook from Lonely Planet!

My Personal Favorites

Best African Countries to Visit

I figured before I share other bloggers opinions, I should start with my top countries to visit in Africa – Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’ve been to 12 countries on the continent and am eager to go to more travel destinations in Africa.

Kesi Irvin

Travel Blogger, Kesi To and Fro

MOZAMBIQUE

Quick Stats

  • Budget 27% 27%
  • Popularity 45% 45%
  • Food 45% 45%

Suggested Duration: 3 Weeks

Why is Mozambique one of the top places to visit in Africa? 

Mozambique is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  secluded, beautiful beaches

♦  swim with whale sharks

♦  great for diving

Although Mozambique was the most challenging country I’ve traveled in, it was also the most rewarding.

If you like to get off the beaten path and discover areas that others don’t know about, then make your way to the Quirimbas archipelago in the north of Mozambique. Theses island have the best beaches that are equal in beauty to the Maldives but are a fraction of the cost. I did not see one other tourist when I was visiting the beach of Matemo and Ibo island. The Quirimbas archipelago is a pain to get to, but it is worth it!

In the south of Mozambique, there is the backpacking haven, Tofo, filled with travelers and locals who love to surf, dive, and swim with whale sharks. It’s a comfortable place to extend your stay because of the social atmosphere. If you like African prints than Tofo is a great place to get a customized jacket or backpack. I paid less than $40 for a colorful bomber jacket that I receive many compliments for.

Bazaruto Islands is one of the most beautiful places in Africa, and is a couple hours north of Tofo. You can take a day tour around the islands and observe how  the turquoise water changes with the tide and forms different shapes with the pure white sand.

Mozambique is a challenge because the infrastructure is awful. Each traveler you meet will have a horror story in regards to transportation. But, these challenges create a common bond amongst travelers, and make us more appreciative of the destination, since it took hard work to get there! I recommend at least spending 3 weeks in Mozambique, since the top tourist spots are spread out and it takes a long time to travel between them. 

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Quick Stats

  • Budget 90% 90%
  • Popularity 25% 25%
  • Food 18% 18%

Suggested Time: 5 days

Why is DRC one of the best places to visit in Africa? 

DRC is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  Nyiragongo volcano 

♦  cheapest gorilla trekking permit

♦  off the beaten path

Many people fear to travel in the DRC due to corruption and political instability, but Virunga national park in the DRC is a must-see in Africa. My two favorite travel activities in the world are in Virunga: gorilla trekking and the Nyiragongo volcano trek. Both of these experiences are expensive, but they are mindblowing and worth it.

To read full the complete guide to gorilla trekking in the DRC click here.

To read the guide for hiking the Nyiragongo volcano click here

Most Visited

Countries in Africa

If you have never been to Africa before, it’s a smart idea to start with the more popular places in Africa. The countries in this section are accustomed to tourists and are more comfortable countries to get around than the less frequented countries mentioned in a later section.

Shortcut to: Egypt, Morocco, KenyaTanzania, Tunisia

EGYPT

Giza Pyramids – One of the famous landmarks in Africa

Quick Stats

  • Budget 25% 25%
  • Popularity 78% 78%
  • Food 50% 50%

Suggested Duration: 2 Weeks

Why is Egypt one of the top African countries?

Egypt is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  ancient world wonder

♦  cruise the Nile

♦  second largest city in Africa

When thinking of the best countries to visit in Africa, Egypt has to make the shortlist as one of the most historical places in Africa. After all, it has the only remaining wonder of the ancient world, the Giza Pyramids. Only, it’s not just the pyramids that draw millions of visitors every year but the entire Nile River valley kingdoms. From the Ptolemaic port at Alexandria to the spectacular temples at Abu Simbel, the Nile River has been a hub of civilization for over 4000 years. You can visit the heart of ancient Egypt in style on a Nile River cruise between Luxor and Aswan. Highlights along this stretch include the Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the Valley of the Kings.

Egypt is an equatorial country in the middle of the Sahara Desert, so it gets hot there. Winter is the most comfortable time to visit, but it also draws the most crowds. Despite Cairo being the second-largest city in Africa and the recent unrest, Egypt is surprisingly safe for solo female travelers, if they take the right precautions such as dressing modestly, avoiding eye contact, and booking into group tours. Above all else, follow the State Department guidelines to stay out of the border zones with increased military presence.

Contributor: Ed & Jennifer Coleman | Coleman Concierge 

MOROCCO

Quick Stats

  • Budget 38% 38%
  • Popularity 83% 83%
  • Food 95% 95%

Suggested Time: 12 days

Why is Morocco one of the top tourist destinations in Africa? 

Morocco is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  colorful souks and medinas 

♦  great food culture

♦  overnight tour in the Sahara

Morocco is one of the highlights of any trip to Africa.  It has incredible food, beautiful architecture, a vibrant culture, friendly people, and great shopping!  Highlights include Marrakech and Fes, where you can easily spend days just wandering around the souks (markets) of the medina (old town).  A great way to sample the food is to take a food tour in Marrakech, where you can try local delicacies in the medina such as a sheep’s eyeball and date juice!

You will almost certainly get lost when venturing out by yourself, but a shopkeeper can give you directions back to a familiar reference point.  There are great bargains (you will need to haggle) on leather goods and copperware, carpets and clothing, pottery and lamps, and much more.  A highlight of a visit to Marrakech is the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa, where stalls and tiny restaurants are set up at night, and storytellers, acrobats, and magicians entertain people from all walks of life. 

It is worth venturing out of these cities, to Essaouira on the coast or high into the Atlas Mountains.  Other highlights include the desert kasbahs (mud fortresses) – Aid Ben Haddou is one of the best – and palm plantations.  Staying in a traditional home surrounded by date palms and cycling through the narrow lanes to visit a towering desert fortress is a fantastic experience.  You also won’t want to miss overnighting in a desert camp on the edge of the Sahara desert, after riding a camel over golden dunes.  Yet another highlight is the blue town of Chefchaouen, where you can wander steep, narrow streets past picturesque white and blue houses.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit Morocco when the Atlas Mountains are not blocked by snow, and the lower areas are not too hot.

ContributorJames Ian | Travel Collecting

TUNISIA

Quick Stats

  • Budget 14% 14%
  • Popularity 75% 75%
  • Food 88% 88%

Suggested Time: 1 week

Why is Tunisia one of the best tourist places in Africa? 

Tunisia is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  2nd largest Roman colosseum

♦  8 UNESCO World Heritage sites

♦  perfect for history lovers

I adore Tunisia, and I think it’s one of the best countries to visit in Africa because it combines the culture and history of Morocco and Algeria, but it’s far less touristy than Morocco and more accessible than Algeria.

The country is perfect for history lovers. You can explore Carthaginian, Roman, and Ottoman history all within an hour of the capital of Tunis. If you love Roman history, you can also visit the second largest ancient Roman colosseum. Unlike the one in Rome, this one is quiet, and at times you can practically have the place to yourself!

The country boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so it’s a great place to go if you love learning about world history and exploring what makes other cultures special.

Tunisia also has some fantastic beaches, especially in the south on the Mediterranea. Sousse is a popular vacation spot for Europeans wanting to escape to a warmer climate during long stretches of the year. You can visit Tunisia year-round, but in winter it’s too cold to swim.

Tunisian cuisine is a great mix of traditional North African (like tagines and couscous) combined with French cuisine left behind from France’s occupation of the country.

ContributorStephanie Craig | History Fan Girl

KENYA

Quick Stats

  • Budget 80% 80%
  • Popularity 43% 43%
  • Food 70% 70%

Suggested Time: July to Ocober to see the great migration

Why is Kenya one of the most popular countries in Africa? 

Kenya is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  great wildebeest migration

♦  amazing wildlife and game drives

♦  guaranteed to see the Big 5

As an avid wildlife lover, Africa has always been my favorite continent. Kenya is a personal favorite for many reasons. Not only was Kenya my very first introduction to Africa but also my base for witnessing the great wildebeest migrationFor wildlife enthusiasts, I can safely say that Kenya is hands down the best country in Africa. 

The best time to visit Kenya for wildlife is during the great migration months of July through October. This is to ensure that you get to experience one of the best naturally occurring wildlife spectacles in the entire world. The Kenyan park – Masai Mara is your best base for this experience. While you are there, I would also recommend adding some other parks to your itinerary as I did – Sweetwaters tented camp, Amboseli national park for elephants, Lake Elementaita (Nakuru park) for birding, among others.

Undoubtedly the wildlife parks and game drives are the highlights of Kenya, and you are almost guaranteed the big five sightings here.

ContributorJyotsna Ramani | Wander With Jo

TANZANIA

Quick Stats

  • Budget 65% 65%
  • Popularity 57% 57%
  • Food 45% 45%

Suggested Duration: 2 Weeks

Why is Tanzania one of the best places in Africa to visit? 

Tanzania is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  Mt. Kilimanjaro

♦  friendly locals

♦  Zanzibar

Tanzania is one of the best destinations in Africa. Not only is Tanzania home to some incredible sights, but the locals are friendly and welcoming, and the country is safe. 

Home to Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, hikers and climbers will love the opportunity to summit the 5,895m peak, with views stretching to Kenya. Tanzania is also one of the best African safari countries. The endless plains of the Serengeti stretch through Tanzania, and nearby, rhinos wander through Ngorongoro Crater. If you are looking to spot the big five on a safari, then Tanzania is the place to go. There are also many cultural activities, such as visiting an authentic Massai village. You can also opt to hang out in the relaxing town of Arusha before or after your safari adventure.

How long you spend in Tanzania depends on what you want to do! For safari, I’d recommend at least 5-6 days, and if you’re going to climb Kilimanjaro, you can add another week to your trip. You won’t regret visiting the East African country of Tanzania, where you will experience the best safari in the world!

Contributor: Emma Erichsen | Emma Adventures

Less Popular

Best African Countries to Visit

For a more seasoned traveler, I encourage you to explore the countries in this section. These countries receive fewer tourists and aren’t the first places you think to visit when going to Africa.

Shortcut to: Angola, EthiopiaNamibia, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Zimbabwe 

NAMIBIA

Quick Stats

  • Budget 59% 59%
  • Popularity 46% 46%
  • Food 25% 25%

Suggested Duration: 3 Weeks – Jul to Sep is best timing for a safari, Feb & Mar best to see seals at Cape Cross

Why is Namibia one of the best tourist destinations in Africa? 

Namibia is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  perfect for a road trip

♦  Sossusvlei Desert – a very unique landscape 

♦  Fish River Canyon – 2nd largest canyon in the world

Namibia is one of the best places to go in Africa. My partner and I traveled here for the first time on our honeymoon. We drove from Cape Town and spent two months road tripping Namibia.

Many people know Namibia as a desert-country. It’s true, the stunning Namib desert occupies a big part of Southern Namibia, and the famous Sossusvlei desert is another absolute highlight not to miss. The landscape of the desert is surreal; bizarrely shaped orange dunes reminiscent of Dali’s paintings, the white salt pans contrast against the black putrefied trees and orange dunes and the intense blue of the sky. This desert is a real paradise for photography lovers.

Another major attraction located in the south of Namibia is Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world. The canyon is awe-inspiring. The best way to explore it is to do a 4-day trek through the canyon; it’s an unforgettable experience.

Namibia is not only the desert; the landscape changes drastically from south to north. From bare land and desert in the south to lush green jungles in the north in the Caprivi strip. The famous Etosha National Park, located in the middle of the country, is the home to many African animals. During a safari drive, visitors can see elephants, lions, zebras, antelopes, giraffes, hyenas, cheetahs, and even elusive leopards. The end of the dry season, July to September, is the best time for visiting Etosha.

Animal lovers will enjoy visiting Cape Cross, a place along the Skeleton Coast. Cape Cross is the largest breeding colony of Cape Seals in the world, up to 200, 000 seals can be seen here. February and March, right after the breeding season, are the best months for visiting this place, you get to see thousands of cute baby seals crawling around.

The North of Namibia is like a different country with heavy rainfalls during the rainy season, many rivers, and a couple of waterfalls, including the massive Epupa Falls on the border with Angola.

Local tribes are another attraction of Namibia. Visiting traditional villages of the Himba, Herrero, and Damara people is an incredible experience.

Contributor: Ayla Campbell | Stingy Nomads

ETHIOPIA

Quick Stats

  • Budget 45% 45%
  • Popularity 37% 37%
  • Food 100% 100%

Suggested Duration: 2 Weeks

Why is Ethiopia one of the best places to go in Africa? 

Ethiopia is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  colors of the Dallol

♦  rock-hewn churches of Lalibela

♦  delicious and distinctive food

Ethiopia is one of the best holiday destinations in Africa, and more and more travelers are starting to appreciate it. What makes it unique is the variety of landscapes, experiences, and cultures you will encounter. You will be able to go from the chaos of Addis Ababa to the mysterious beauty of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. Gondar will charm you with its easy-going attitude paired with the beauty of its historical sites. The Simien Mountains will challenge you, and you will feel compelled to hike them in search of waterfalls and for the Gelada Baboons. You will appreciate the taste of the best coffee in the world and venture into trying new flavors.

Yet, it is the Danakil Depression, with the salt desert and the colors of the Dallol and the volcanic activity of Erta Ale that will leave the strongest impression. These aren’t places for any traveler. They require a strong level of physical stamina. The environment is harsh, the heat unbearable, the hygienic conditions dire.

Ethiopia is still relatively unexplored. Traveling in Ethiopia is a real challenge, and your patience will be put at test many times. But if you manage to overcome the many obstacles, you will be rewarded with an unforgettable experience.

Contributor: Claudia Tavani | My Adventures Across The World

ANGOLA

Quick Stats

  • Budget 90% 90%
  • Popularity 21% 21%
  • Food 35% 35%

Suggested Duration: 2 Weeks

Why is Angola one of the best places to travel in Africa? 

Angola is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  less touristic option

♦  beautiful unspoiled nature

♦  amazing beaches

Although Angola is not a popular touristic place, it is definitely worth adding to your travel bucket list! 2 weeks is a good amount of time for a first impression but may not be sufficient if you would like to see the whole country.

One of the main attractions which I have visited and highly recommend is the Quedas de Kalandula (or Kalandula Falls). The impressive falls are known as one of the largest waterfalls in Africa! Surrounded by nature, and with almost no tourists, you can view the falls from 3 different viewpoints all by yourself.

Another beautiful place to visit is Pedras Negras de Pungo Andongowhich are massive black rock formations. Drive to the village Pungo Andongo and climb to the top of one of the rocks to enjoy the amazing 360 view.

If you plan to stay in the capital Luanda and want to do a day trip from the city, I recommend you to visit Miradouro da Lua, which is the “Moon Lookout” viewpoint, and afterwards to do a boat trip on the Kwanza river. If you’re lucky you will see some monkeys or crocs!

For an African safari experience, you will need to go to Quissama National Park. If you have been on safaris in other countries, this may not be the most impressive one, but if you are lucky there is still a chance to see some elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes etc.

These are just a few of the places you can visit during your Angola trip but it is a good starting point.

Contributor: Veerle Beelen | Unpack By Veer

REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Quick Stats

  • Budget 72% 72%
  • Popularity 18% 18%
  • Food 35% 35%

Suggested Duration: 1 Week

Why is the Republic of Congo one of the best places to see in Africa? 

The Republic of Congo is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  cheapest place to see gorillas

♦  canoe on the Congo River

♦  safer than people realize

The best thing about the Republic of the Congo is its people, who are warm, welcoming, and friendly, but not TOO friendly. By this I mean that, unlike in some other African countries, as a non-African-looking person, you can walk down the streets here without being hassled. But if you’re in the mood to chat, the locals will be more than happy to strike up a conversation.

RoC offers a chance to get off the beaten track, as most tourists are scared away by images of violence, corruption, and civil war. But this negative image pertains mostly to the other Congo across the river. While corruption is undoubtedly an issue, the civil war here ended in 1999, and Brazzaville is safer than most African capitals. Even as a solo female traveler, I felt safe walking the streets alone after dark.

The Congo River itself is one of the main attractions in Brazzaville, and the city has some great riverside bars and restaurants where you relax and watch the river flow by. A canoe trip out to one of the islands in the middle of the river is worthwhile. The Republic of the Congo is also the cheapest and easiest place to see gorillas. Lésio-Louna National Gorilla Reserve can be visited as a day trip from Brazzaville, although an overnight trip is preferable.

Weather patterns are a bit complicated here, depending on which side of the equator you’re on. In the north, the rainy season runs from April to October, while the dry season is from November to March. However, in the south of the country, including Brazzaville, this pattern is reversed. In any case, it’s pretty hot and humid throughout most of the year in the Congo.

Contributor: Wendy Werneth | The Nomadic Vegan

SUDAN

Quick Stats

  • Budget 24% 24%
  • Popularity 32% 32%
  • Food 60% 60%

Suggested Duration: 10 Days

Why is Sudan one of the top African countries to visit? 

Sudan is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  off the beaten path

♦  rich in ancient Nubia history

♦  blended Arab and African culture

Straddling the informal line between northern and sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan is where Arab and African cultures blend with vibrant complexity. For travelers who relish getting off the beaten path, Sudan offers the rich archaeological history of ancient Nubia without the crowds that flock to neighboring Egypt. The vibe is all about starry desert nights, sweet tea with friendly strangers, the intricate rhythm of Arabic language, and the peaceful melody of a call to prayer drifting from the nearby mosque.

Many travelers visit Sudan on organized trips, but it’s possible and highly rewarding to travel the country independently by bus. Accommodation and food can be very cheap if you’re not too picky (and if you are, maybe Sudan isn’t the right destination for you). Friendly locals are always willing to help, even if your Arabic consists of a measly “shukran” (thank you). 

An ideal Sudan itinerary would take at least 10 days, with 2-3 weeks being more leisurely. Absorb the energy and relative modernity of Khartoum and Omdurman before heading north to pleasant Dongola and Abri and the ancient ruins along the Nile. Experience the barren desert and archaeological sites near Karima and Atbara, including the pyramids of Meroë and (if you have your own transportation) the temples at Naqa and Musawwarat. Travelers with more time can visit the Red Sea at Port Sudan, scenic Kassala in the Taka Mountains, or Dinder National Park on the road to Ethiopia.

Travel in Sudan requires some experience and a thoughtful approach. The tourism infrastructure is nearly non-existent, the economy is struggling, and political instability does pop up from time to time. The conservative culture and strict gender roles can be eye-opening. There is a lot going on in Sudan, and visitors should make an effort to understand the economic and political dynamics beneath the country’s friendly and welcoming surface.

That said, the parts of Sudan that are open to tourism are generally very safe, and visitors are received with warmth and hospitality. The vast majority of visitors to Sudan, including myself, place it high on their list of favorite destinations. For experienced travelers with an open mind, the rewards of travel in Sudan are well worth the challenges.

Contributor: Alissa | Exploring Wild

ZIMBABWE

Quick Stats

  • Budget 60% 60%
  • Popularity 57% 57%
  • Food 20% 20%

Suggested Duration: 5 days

Why is Zimbabwe one of the best travel destinations in Africa? 

Zimbabwe is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  Victoria Fall’s waterfall

♦  adventure sports like white water rafting

One of the best countries to visit in Africa is Zimbabwe. Some travelers are wary of Zimbabwe because of its instability, governmental corruption, and a failed currency. It’s still a nation with unmatched beauty, natural wonders, and friendly locals. There’s a lot to see in Zimbabwe, but most visitors spend their time in Victoria Falls.

There are so many Victoria Falls activities that you just shouldn’t miss when in Africa. The falls themselves are an incredible experience that should be on your travel bucket list. The best time to see the powerful waterfall is between February and May. That’s just after the summer rains and when Victoria Falls will be the most brilliant. Activities like Devil’s pool, an area at the top of the falls where you can swim, are only safe when the water levels are lower starting in June. The same is true for white water rafting, but there are other great activities that you can experience all year.

Visitors to Victoria Falls will be amazed by the aerial views from a helicopter ride. There are also adventure activities that you can do from the Victoria Falls Bridge. The bridge stretches across the gorge between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and it beautiful to walk across. You can also bungee jump off the bridge, enjoy the bridge swing, and even zip line from the Zambia side of the gorge to the Zimbabwe side. It’s possible to do these activities without getting an official visa to enter Zambia, but you do have to go through the border crossing.

Contributor: Derek & Mike | Robe Trotting

RWANDA

Quick Stats

  • Budget 40% 40%
  • Popularity 62% 62%
  • Food 50% 50%

Rwanda – ‘the land of a thousand hills’ – is not on most traveler’s to-do list when visiting Africa, which makes it all the more appealing for the intrepid few. The small and mountainous landlocked country is wedged in between its much larger neighbors Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the whole country is a patchwork of beautiful steeply terraced family farms and spectacular national parks.

From a scenery perspective, it’s a country like no other in Africa – or the world – with jaw-dropping landscapes around every corner. The big draw of the low-level tourism here is seeing habituated gorillas and chimpanzees up close and personal in their natural habitat. Though it’s not the cheapest place for primate viewing (think DRC or Uganda if budget is your primary focus), the panoramas whilst hiking are truly unsurpassable, and the numbers of tourists are relatively low.

As with traveling in any country, the costs of visiting Rwanda can vary immensely, though it’s worth noting that budget accommodation can be hard to find. Food, on the other hand, is plentiful and tasty for all budgets – particularly in the capital, Kigali, which has a great selection of local, regional, and international restaurants. Elsewhere in the country, there’s a seemingly endless supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, and if you’re in Rwanda during avocado season (March to August) you’re in for a treat! 

Because of the altitude, Rwanda generally enjoys a pleasant climate with maximum temperatures of 30degrees. Of course the higher up the mountains you go the cooler it gets –particularly at night when you’ll need several layers to stay warm. The country has four seasons – two dry seasons broken up by a ‘long’ rain from March to May and a ‘short’ rain from October to December. Whilst visiting during the rainy season might not sound ideal, it’s far easier to get hold of the all-important gorilla permits then, though your jungle treks might be a bit more a slog! July and August is peak tourist season, so you’ll need to book your gorilla permits well in advance.

Contributor: The Flashpacking Family

Cheapest 

African Countries to Visit

Traveling in Africa is more expensive than places like South East Asia or South America. Food and accommodation are on the cheaper side, yet the activities can increase budgets quickly. The African countries in this section are more affordable to travel in because there are alternative activities to things like expensive safaris.

Shortcut to: Cape Verde, Senegal, The Gambia

CAPE  VERDE

Quick Stats

  • Budget 40% 40%
  • Popularity 32% 32%
  • Food 68% 68%

Suggested Duration: 1 week

Why is Cape Verde one of the top destinations in Africa? 

Cape Verde is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  eat cheap & fresh seafood and tuna

♦  very few tourists

♦  white sandy beaches

Cape Verde is made up of ten islands off the coast of West Africa, but only a couple of them are easily accessible with direct flights. The main islands visited by tourists are Boa and Sal with Sal being our favourite.

What we loved about Cape Verde is that despite being only 5 hours from the UK and with year-round sunshine, mass tourism hasn’t reached there yet. There are a few all-inclusive hotels dotted along the shores and some holiday rentals, but the majority of the two main islands are entirely undeveloped.

There’s not a massive amount of information out there on things to do in Sal, but if you can tear yourself away from the beautiful white sandy beaches, you’ll find plenty to see and do. We visited the Pedra de Lume salt mines and waded with baby lemon sharks. At sunset, we watched baby turtles being released and joined in with the locals for some Saturday night dancing in the streets.

The sea heavily influences the food in Cape Verde and tuna is big on the menu there. Each morning the fishermen bring their catch to the Santa Maria pier, and local restaurateurs bring wheelbarrows to cart off enormous, fresh tuna. There are lots of great restaurants in Santa Maria, serving delicious and cheap food. If you like seafood, and in particular tuna done in various ways, you’ll love Cape Verde.

As tourism hasn’t taken off on a big scale yet, Cape Verde is a relatively cheap place to visit. A meal out for a family of 4 would come to less than £20. Our average daily spend was minimal because there weren’t any expensive tours. If you don’t fancy hiring a car, taxis to all of the main sights on the island are very cheap.

Contributor: Jacquie Hale | Flashpacking Family

 THE GAMBIA

Quick Stats

  • Budget 22% 22%
  • Popularity 15% 15%
  • Food 45% 45%

Suggested Duration: 1 week

Why is The Gambia one of the top destinations in Africa? 

The Gambia is one of the best countries to visit in Africa because: 

♦  beautiful beaches

♦  friendly locals

♦  explore The River Gambia for birdwatching and mangrove forests

Often overlooked due to its small size, The Gambia is a country perched on the West African coast. The Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa and its mostly encased by Senegal. You can see all of The Gambia’s main attractions within one week, due to the country’s small size.

One of the main attractions that The Gambia has to offer is its incredible white-sand beaches. The majority of the beaches in The Gambia are quiet and peaceful. Along The Gambia’s coastline, you can find several fishing villages. This is the perfect place to learn about local life in The Gambia and maybe even try some local fish (which is a must!). The fish caught by locals is mostly ethically-caught.

If beaches aren’t your scene, don’t worry, The Gambia has so much more to see. If you venture to The River Gambia, you can see beautiful mangrove forests and may even be lucky enough to spot some of The Gambia’s impressive birds. The Gambia is a prime birdwatching location. Several companies offer boat tours along The Gambia River, which is by far the best way to see such a beautiful part of the country.

If you journey up-river to in-land Gambia, you can expect to feel as though you have traveled back in time. Cars are a rarity here. This is rural Gambia, and popular modes of transport include walking, cycling, and donkey-driven carts.
While The Gambia offers many attractions, by far, my favorite aspect of the country was meeting the friendly locals. I have never met such friendly people! Everyone was welcoming and wanted to make sure I was okay and enjoying their country.

My best piece of advice if you are planning on visiting The Gambia is to not just stick to the main tourist area of Kotu. Here you will find more hassle than anywhere else in the country, which just isn’t representative of The Gambia at all. Journey away from there, and you will see the real gems that The Gambia has to offer.

Click here for hotel recommendations in The Gambia

Contributor: Ella | Ella in Wanderlust

SENEGAL

Quick Stats

  • Budget 30% 30%
  • Popularity 43% 43%
  • Food 80% 80%

Suggested Duration: 1 week

Why is Senegal one of the top destinations in Africa? 

Senegal, located in West Africa, has 15 million people living there, who mainly follow Islam as a religion. Traveling through Senegal means getting to know a completely different Africa. West Africa is different from the North, South, and East of the continent. The capital, Dakar, is the pulsating heart of the country and is the most un-African city in West Africa and the place where dreams come true.

For us, Senegal has been a real surprise. Anyone who is looking for an almost unknown destination will find a real adventure here. Senegal represents the true Africa. Its culture, its people, and especially its cities are all different from what you may have experienced in Africa already. Lots of locals call Senegal the “real Africa, “and even though we have not seen enough from Africa to judge this opinion, we consider Senegal as super authentic and a lot of fun!

Most travels through Senegal commence in Dakar, the heart of the country. It’s chaotic, extremely hot, but also a perfect spot to explore. There is an ideal mix of a cultural hub and an iconic seaside destination. Dakar offers things for everyone – surfers can hit the waves at Les Almadies, culture lovers can hop on the ferry to the island Gorée and find out more about the history of Senegal and art lovers will be super satisfied when walking through the old fairground.

If you want to see more in the country, you should drive out of the capital. Two things that are not to be missed are a trip to the delta of the Sine Saloum, and also a visit to the fish market in Mbour, an utterly insane fish market, which is different from anything we ever expected.  

Senegal can be visited all year round. Nevertheless, the Senegalese summer and the associated heat are certainly not for everyone. The somewhat cooler months from November to May are recommended. By the way: Senegal also has a rainy season, which usually murmurs from April to October.

Contributor: Clemens | Travellers Archive

  Best African Countries to Visit Conclusion

Seventeen countries are highlighted in this blog post, but there are still other beautiful countries in Africa. Thanks to all the travel bloggers who collaborated on this post and shared their favorite African countries.

This post makes me think, “Where to visit in Africa next?” I’ve already been to 11 countries, so there is still a lot more to explore.  

Now that you have gone through this epic list, which African country do you want to visit the most? Leave a comment below!

Travel Must-Haves

What I have for every backpacking adventure

Travel Insurance: SafetyWing offers affordable travel + medical insurance for nomads! At $37 a month, it’s a great option and 1/3 the price of other travel insurance companies (I’m looking at you World Nomad).

Guidebook: Lonely Planet has comprehensive travel information for all the countries in Africa.

Like this post? Then save it to Pinterest!

Best African countries to visit
The Best Off The Beaten Path Travel Activities Around The World

The Best Off The Beaten Path Travel Activities Around The World

The Best Off The Beaten Path Travel Activities Around The World

According to 27 Travel Bloggers

This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on the link, I may receive a small commission.

What happens when you survey 27 travel bloggers and ask them to name their favorite hidden travel gems? This ultimate list of off the beaten path travel destinations – that’s what happens!

My favorite part about traveling is when I go off the beaten track, which is why I collaborated with other bloggers to compile an epic list. Whether you like going to popular cities, like Barcelona, or countries with fewer tourists, like Pakistan, this off the beaten path travel guide shares secret destinations from all different types of places.

My goal for you is that by the end of this post, you will find a place you never heard of and are inspired to go there!

Warning: I know, “off the beaten path travel” is an overused phrase. By no means do I think going on off the beaten track holidays is the only way to be a “real traveler.” There’s nothing wrong about going to touristic destinations – there’s a reason they are popular!  Kesi To and Fro focuses on traveling to off the beaten track destinations so that readers can: 1) learn about new destinations, 2) increase tourism in certain countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 3) spend money with unknown local tour operators!

Off The Beaten Path Africa

Africa! I hold this continent near and dear to my heart. Maybe it’s because I have ancestry here, or perhaps it’s because traveling East Africa has been my favorite backpacking experience. Nonetheless, I am happy to begin this off the beaten path travel list with the motherland.

Africa is famous for its diverse wildlife, Victoria Falls, Egyptian Pyramids, and more. People visit one country in Africa (most likely either South Africa, Egypt, or Morocco), and then tick the continent off their bucket list.  Africa has 54 countries! There is so much to explore. Don’t just come to the continent once and feel satisfied.  I strongly encourage everyone to visit the continent and to spend money there!

Without further ado, let’s dive into some off the beaten path destinations!

To find more off the beaten path travel destinations, I recommend purchasing guides from Lonely Planet, since they have sections dedicated to getting off the tourist trail. Buy a new travel book today from Lonely Planet!

Shipwrecks in Mauritania

Contributor: Tina Phillips | Team Hazard Rides Again

Mauritania is a true country of the Sahara. The desert infiltrates every city and village, ready to swallow it back up if humans ever decide to leave.

So how does a country like this end up with hundreds of shipwrecks?

Simple answer: Corruption

The previous government allowed corporations to dump their unwanted ships on Mauritania’s Atlantic shore near Nouadhibou, for a certain fee, of course.

This has created a unique opportunity. It’s very possible to go and view the rusted and disintegrating shipwrecks, getting pretty close. You’ll need a local guide that knows something about them. As there isn’t much tourist structure in Mauritania, you’ll do best just asking around. Start with your hotel/auberge.

Important Tip: Whether your guide mentions it, or not, insist on going at low tide – otherwise you’ll be viewing the shipwrecks from a distance.

Limited Time: The downside of the corruption and all those ships on the beach is that the deteriorating hulks have created an environmental mess. The current government is working on cleaning them up (we were there in November 2018), and it’s unknown how long the shipwrecks will remain, how many are left, or where they will be. Salvage crews can only work so fast, but if you have a desire to see them, make it soon.

 Why it’s Cool: Come on, how often do you get to see shipwrecks up close – no diving required? And if you love deconstruction, abandoned places or things falling apart, there’ nothing better.

 Getting There: If you’re coming overland from Western Sahara, Nouadhibou is a natural stop not too far from the border. If you’re flying in, you’ll be taking a 5-6 hour minivan ride from Nouakchott*. There are several bus companies to choose from, but Varess did right by us.

*Note: There are at least 7 security checkpoints between Nouakchott and Nouadhibou, so make sure you have enough photocopies of your passport, or travel fiches. Don’t worry about the checkpoints, they’re there for your protection.

Volcano Trek in Democratic Republic of Congo

Contributor: Kesi Irvin | Kesi To and Fro

Have you ever seen a lava lake? It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in nature. To witness the largest lava lake in the world, you have to go to a country most people fear – The Democratic Republic of Congo. Although this country suffers from internal conflict, adventurous travelers, who love finding hidden places in the world, must-visit. The Nyiragongo volcano trek is an overnight hike, with the best reward at the summit. This trek makes the DRC one of my favorite countries in Africa.

For more information, check my complete guide on the Nyiragongo volcano trek. Also, you should pair this volcano hike with congo gorilla trekking.

Maasai Village Visit in Tanzania

Contributor: Kesi Irvin | Kesi To and Fro

Secret places in the world to visit can be hard to find, but once you discover one, it makes the moment even more special. Visiting a Maasai village in the middle of nowhere in Tanzania is a highlight in my four years of traveling. This experience was culturally enlightening and completely immersive.

Many safari agencies in Tanzania add on a Maasai village tour to their packages. These tours often feel like a human zoo. To have an authentic Maasai village visit, I recommend contacting someone who lives in a Maasai village directly. I found a Maasai host, named Tobico, on the website Couchsurfing.com. Tobico offers the best off the beaten path tours. I highly recommend booking a homestay experience with Tobico and his family because it’s a chance to learn how the Maasai live. There are no fake shows put on to entertain tourists. It’s an experience where you get to see the everyday life of a Maasai, and an excellent opportunity to ask questions and learn from one another.

I wrote about my full experience, so click to read more about my Maasai village visit.

 

Golden Monkey Trek in Rwanda

Contributor: Wendy Lee | Empty Nesters Hit The Road

If planning to visit Rwanda, a golden monkey trek should be a part of anyone’s itinerary. In the Northwest of Rwanda, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the oldest conservation area in Africa, Volcanoes National Park. This park is best known for mountain gorilla trekking, but there’s also a rare species of primate located here that is well worth seeing, the golden monkey. The trek to these smaller animals is easier and far less expensive than that to the gorillas, making this a nice option for visitors looking for a less physical challenge or on budget. I had the opportunity earlier this year to see the golden monkeys and highly recommend the experience.

We met our guide in a small village outside the national park where he gave us an overview of the trek and what to expect. Then we walked at a leisurely pace for about thirty minutes into the park. Soon the trackers announced that they spotted the monkeys. As we wandered through a dense forest of bamboo, we began to see the monkeys. They are quick and agile and swung easily through the trees. Eventually, they moved to the nearby potato fields, which gave our group even better viewing.

We watched as dozens of golden monkeys played chase and wrestled, sometimes coming within inches of our legs. Baby monkeys clung to their mother’s backs, while the oldest ones simply sat in place nibbling bamboo leaves.

After an hour of viewing our guide asked us to begin the walk back to the village. While the monkeys are habituated and comfortable with humans, each group’s time is limited to minimize stress on the animals.

The cost of a golden monkey trekking permit is currently $100 and can be purchased online, or through a tour company. The minimum age to participate is 12. The total time of our trek was three hours, but the length can vary according to the weather and location of the monkeys.

Planning a honeymoon? There are beautiful, secluded honeymoon destinations in Africa. Click here to read my suggested African honeymoon spots

Off The Beaten Path Asia & Middle East

Plain of Jars in Laos

Contributor: Nikki & Michelle | Cheeky Passports

Laos is one of the more popular destinations in Southeast Asia, included on many backpacking trails, but few travelers make it to the curious and unique Plain of Jars, in the Xiangkhouang Province.

The mysterious massive stone jars, which lie scattered across the plains close to the town of Phonsavan, are thought to be relics from ancient funeral rites or burials, although there is still some mystery surrounding this.

You can visit several of the sites on which the jars are still standing (or lying), some whole and some half-broken, while others are hidden in the surrounding vegetation. For those traveling on a backpacker’s budget, getting to Phonsavan involves making the 8-hour bus journey from the popular Luang Prabang. You can also hop on a flight, which, however, tends to be rather pricey.

The Plain of Jars can be visited on tour or independently, most conveniently by renting a scooter from Phonsavan and driving to the three major sites which are not far off from town. There’s still some UXO (unexploded ordinance) around the area, so it is imperative to stay within the marked paths and routes when traveling around the zones and visiting the sites.

We recommend making the detour to Phonsavan to take a look at the mysterious stone jars, reminders of a past about which little is known!

Pygmy Elephant River Safari in Borneo

Contributor: James | Travel Collecting

 It’s not that easy to get to the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, but you’ll be well-rewarded for your efforts. The main airport in Sabah is Kota Kinabalu, but you will need to go deeper into Borneo to the smaller airport of Sandakan. From there, you will transfer to a small speedboat, in which you will cross a large bay before turning and heading up the Kinabatangan River.

The river is a deep brown and slow moving, heavy with silt. Surrounded by jungle on both sides, it really feels like you are trekking deep into the heart of Borneo. A rain squall drenched us; we were dry minutes later. Three hours upriver, there are several lodges accessible by boat only. The lodges arrange daily trips on the river in small boats with an expert guide who is skilled at spotting wildlife.

Early morning and late afternoon are prime times for spying animals like proboscis monkeys, macaques, and hornbills.  However, if you want a chance at seeing pygmy elephants, you’ll need to head further upriver. Pygmy elephants are the smallest elephants in the world and are indigenous to Borneo and a few parts of Sumatra. They migrate throughout the year, and in May they can often be found in the late afternoon coming down to the Kinabatangan River’s banks to drink and eat. Seeing them is an incredible experience, and one of the most off the beaten track destinations. 

Hai Van Pass in Vietnam

Contributor: Darja|DeeGees Travel

Often getting out of your comfort zone, just a little bit is what it takes to experience something more unique. Driving a scooter in Southeast Asia may require some skills, a lot of focus and a ton of bravery (at least in the beginning), but the opportunities you unveil as a result are worth the challenge. One of those is renting a bike and crossing the gorgeous Hai Van Pass between Da Nang (or Hoi An) and Hue, Vietnam.

The mountain road goes along the coast and offers spectacular views of Da Nang Bay and Son Tra peninsula. Once there, you understand why many consider Hai Van Pass one of the most scenic passes not only in Vietnam but also in the entire world. The natural beauty is simply breath-taking!

The reason why this “Ocean Cloud Pass” is not as popular as one would expect is the driving difficulty. Although the road itself is in excellent condition, drivers must pay extra attention due to sharp turns and reduced visibility — however, no need to worry. If you stay focused and drive slowly, you will be fine. It is worth it!

You can start your trip from either city, but make sure you leave early in the morning to make your Hai Van Pass crossing a whole day trip. On the way you can do a little hike in the Bach Ma National Park, swim in the Elephant Springs and have a delicious fresh seafood lunch at the picturesque Lang Co beach. The whole trip, including the aforementioned stops, requires 4-5 hours of driving. Don’t forget your sunscreen and a long-sleeve jacket for the pass!

Green Oasis in Dubai

Contributor: Mar Pages | Once In A Lifetime Journey

Al Ain is about 75min drive from Dubai, and it was the first UNESCO listed site in the whole of the UAE. The site consists of a fort, Bronze Age archaeological remains as well as a working oasis made up of thousands of palm trees that can be explored on foot or on a bike.

Most people think of the UAE, and of Dubai in particular, as a glitzy and new place, and it mostly is, but the Al Ain oasis, part of Abu Dhabi, is a refreshingly green escape from the otherwise deserted Emirates. While visiting, it can be completely empty – I only saw a family and another tourist during the two hours that I spent there.

As soon as you get to the oasis gates, you will get a map showing the paths inside the oasis and a couple of other sites within the complex. There is a museum that talks about the history of the oasis and of Al Ain and then a fort that can be visited. The oasis is a working farm where dates and palm trees are farmed. There are paved paths that can be explored on foot or you can rent bikes for four or six people to pedal around the plantation. This is one of the most unique things to do around Dubai and makes for a great day excursion.

Al Ain is also where the Ruler of Abu Dhabi grew up and where you can find the largest percentage of Emiratis among the residents, although they are still outnumbered by expats. After the oasis, you can explore the city and the fort where the Ruler grew up.

Riding the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan

Contributor: Marco Ferrarese | Monkey Rock World

Few trips are both more scenic and safe than riding a motorbike on the Karakoram Highway in North Pakistan. The highest motorable road in the world, the Karakoram Highway is 1300km long and connects Pakistan’s capital Islamabad with Kashgar in Xinjiang Province, China.

Because of red tape regarding traveling with your own vehicle in China, it’s best to stick to the Pakistani side, which also offers the best scenery. Beside the Khunjerab Pass (the highest border crossing in the world, separating the two countries), other highlights along this route are the Passu Cones — huge rock formations that look like a dragon’s fangs jutting out of high altitude desert — and the Hunza Valley, encased by a series of 7000-odd-meters-high peaks, including stunning Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat. You can see them all from the top of Eagle’s Nest, the highest hotel in the valley scenically set above Karimabad and its two UNESCO-listed forts, Altit and Baltit.

You can easily strike off by yourself from Gilgit, the main center of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, where it’s possible to find traveler-oriented accommodation and rent motorbikes. Karakoram Bikers is a very recommended Australian-Pakistan tour operator. Getting visas to Pakistan has also become more accessible since 2019 when a new e-visa system became operational. And with a security situation that has largely improved, you have no more excuses not to go.

Arasan Baths in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Contributor: Ellis Veen | Backpack Adventures

Almaty in Kazakhstan is already an off the beaten track travel destination in Asia, but since visa regulations have eased, it is quickly becoming a new center for outdoor activities. With the Tien Shan mountains at your doorstep that is no surprise.

One of my favorite things to do in Almaty, besides nature, is a visit to the old Soviet spa. The Arasan Baths are the perfect place to relax your muscles after a hard trek or to simply unwind and recharge your battery. In cold winters and on rainy days there is no better place to be in Almaty.

A soviet spa is probably quite different from what you are used to at home. It might be more basic and don’t expect anything fancy, but it does the trick just as well. Based on Russian bathing rituals, the spa consists of several sauna’s and pools that you can use.

At the Arasan baths, you can also get a massage or get yourself a beating with the oak leaves as the locals do. Apparently, it helps to circulate the blood. After two hours of heating up in the sauna and cooling down in one of the pools, you will feel as new.

 Take some time to appreciate the architecture of the building as well. It was built in Soviet times and is one of the largest bathhouses in central Asia. Saunas are quite common in Almaty, but Arasan baths is one of the most iconic in the city. It is recommended to bring your own towel, slippers, and shampoo, although in the worst case you can buy or rent those at the entrance as well.

Off The Beaten Path Central & South America

Craters in Guanajuato, Mexico

Contributor: Natalie | Blissmersion

Las Siete Luminarias (or the 7 Luminaries) are a series of seven craters within a 56-mile radius in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. My research says there are actually sixteen craters, but only seven are famous. Of those seven, only one is really set up for some tourism: Rincón de Parangueo. This difficult to find crater is worth including in your Guanajuato itinerary. Once you find it, you can pay to park in someone’s driveway and walk to the tunnel (look for the Las Siete Luminarias signs). Bring a flashlight or make sure your phone battery is fully charged. The tunnel into the crater doesn’t have any lighting and it’s fairly long.

This crater was once a volcano. It’s massive, deceptively so. Once you’re through the tunnel, you come to a clearing and there are some food stalls set up. From there, you can climb down into the ashy white crater interior. It isn’t too difficult and most fitness levels will be able to climb down and back up the crater walls without any issues.

Once inside Rincón de Parangueo, it feels like you’re on a different planet. The ground is reminiscent of dry, white, flaky mud. There is a body of water inside the crater and the water is pinkish around the edges. Be careful, the mud will try to claim the shoes of any who get too close.

The crater is one of those places that quietly steals your heart when you visit. It’s magical and it isn’t overrun with tourists. It’s also a far different landscape than you’ll find anywhere in Mexico.

Sierra Negra Volcano in Galapagos

Contributor: Fiona from Passport and Piano | Travel Beyond the Ordinary

There are 13 main islands in the Galapagos, and everyone except Isabella was formed from a single volcano. Isabella was created from 6 volcanos, several of which are still active today.

Sierra Negra is one of these active volcanos and the only one that you can climb on the island. The hike can only be taken with a National Park guide, and a reasonable level of fitness is required. The 16km round trip takes approximately 6 hours to complete, and you can expect to see some spectacular scenery along the way. The climate also changes at various levels from damp and humid in the lower section to dry and warm nearer the top. 

The first section is a steep climb, and the path is both rocky and slippery, so a good pair of hiking boots is essential. However, you’re rewarded with a fantastic view of the crater after approximately 5km. 

 The volcano last erupted in 2005, and the next section of the walk takes you through where the lava flowed. The ground here is hard to negotiate as it’s not flat and the mineral soil crumbles under your foot, so it’s easy to slip.

In this section, there’s two distinct trails of rock, a red one from the eruption in 2005 and one which is entirely black from the lava flows of 1979. On the black side, an occasional fern is now growing, but the landscape feels ultimately baron, and you feel like you’re on another planet. 

From here there’s one final climb to reach the top. The view is impressive, and it’s surreal to think you’re standing above a volcanic crater that’s still active below.

Wine Tasting in Bolivia

Contributor: Sarah Carter | A Social Nomad

It’s not the first place that springs to mind when you think of wine tasting, but there are some seriously interesting wines to taste in Bolivia. These include a couple of vineyards and wineries that almost make you feel as though you’re in Napa Valley, California!

You’ll find the majority of the wine region in Bolivia centered about the town of Tarija – famous also for its connections to Butch Cassidey and the Sundance Kid. (they died near here). The town is also very close to the Argentinean border and as such sports a rather spectacular steak house.

The Bolivian palate prefers a sweet wine, regardless of whether its red or white and the many hundreds of mom and pop style wineries cater extensively for this. However, it’s the wineries of Aranjuez and Kohlberg that are quite stunning in their range of wines – incredible tannats, merlots, and a superb Syrah.

This isn’t a place where you can just hop on a local bus or rent a bike and make your own way around wineries, but wine tours are cheap and plentiful, pretty much like the wine! A tour of 3 wineries with associated tastings run to 100 Bolivianos ($15 USD). Tours leave the main square in Tarija mornings and afternoons.

 

Death Road in La Paz, Bolivia

Contributor: Julie Sand | Why Not Ju

About 2 hours outside the capital of Bolivia, La Paz lies Death Road, also going by the name Camino de la Muerte. Does the name sound thrilling to you? It’s definitely worth a visit. Not only can you visit Death Road, but you can also ride down 52 km of it, on a bike. Yungas Road is the official name of the road. It stretches from La Paz to Coroico in the north and Chulumani in the south. The road was made in the 1930s by Paraguayans kept prisoners during the Chaco War. The finished death road is over 100 km long, with winding paths along cliffs surrounded by beautiful landscapes. It’s said that it’s one of the most dangerous roads in the world with an estimated 200-300 deaths each year.

These days though, the road isn’t as frequented as before, and it’s closed off for normal traffic. There are new, safer roads constructed replacing them. If you ever consider visiting Bolivia, don’t miss out of this experience of a lifetime. The price of biking down death road ranges from 50-120 dollars depending on the company and bike you choose. You get picked up in La Paz in the morning, get your gear and drive to the start point for your ride at 4,650 meters above the ocean. You don’t have to do a lot of pedaling during the day as you end up in Corico as 1,200 meters above the ocean. In addition to being a thrilling ride, you get to hear stories about the road, enjoy the views and experience the climate change as you ride down the road.

Getting to San Cipriano via Las Brujitas in Colombia

Contributor: Daniel James | Layer Culture

When looking for off the beaten path travel activities around the world, make sure Colombia is on your list. One thing to do that will ensure you’re off the regular tourist trail, is to head out to San Cipriano – a natural reserve which is home to various nature walks and leisure activities. However, to be able to arrive at San Cipriano you must take an unexpected ride on an adapted mode of transportation. The name in Spanish is Las Brujitas. This is the name given to the motorbike equipped with a make-shift wooden carriage that cruises along an abandoned train track through the jungle.

Not only are ‘Las Brujitas’ the most effective mode of transport. They will give you the most exhilarating 20 minutes you’ll have taken and the ride costs less than $3USD. It’s worth noting that there’s not much space on the Brujitas so avoid carrying too much. Carrying any type of personal item bag that can hold a few essentials will be sufficient. There are no seatbelts or harness on these adapted vehicles, so be sure to hold on tight and don’t let go. When you get to the other side, you’ll arrive at the San Cipriano Natural reserve. From there, you’ll be met by a river where you can find some of the most crystalline waters in the world.

Cabuya Cemetery in Costa Rica

Contributor: Sarah McArthur | Costa Rica Vibes

In the tiny town of Cabuya in Costa Rica, near Montezuma, there is a cemetery located on an “island.” I say it this way because you are actually able to walk out to the cemetery during low tide. 

I visited this cemetery with my husband on the day after Tropical Storm Nate hit Costa Rica. When we arrived, I worried that we had interrupted a funeral. About 20 people were standing on the land next to the path to the cemetery. All of them had worried looks on their faces as they stared out at the ocean. 

The cemetery was filled with creative gravestones including full sculptures of people’s heads. After about thirty minutes of exploring, we headed back to our car. The whole village was still standing there looking out at the ocean as we left.

Typically you will not have such a melancholy experience at this cemetery. From pictures, it looks very beautiful during the day. There is a reef next to the cemetery that is supposed to be an amazing snorkel spot as well.

If you opt to visit watch out for the tides. You need to get out here just before the lowest tide and get back to your car before the tide comes in again. Otherwise, you will be stuck out on the island until the next low tide. 

Sacred Valley Hike Outside of Cusco, Peru

Contributor: Tales From The Lens 

Cusco and its region attract more than 3.5 million visitors per year which makes it hard to do something without being surrounded by tour buses and the crowds that go with it. As Machu Picchu and the many treks such as the Inca Trail and Salkantay draw lines of hikers daily, the towns of Ollantaytambo and Urubamba have become popular stops to acclimatise to the high altitude prior the hikes or to rest in luxury resorts. 

 If you head this way, make sure to also visit the nearby sites of Maras Salt Mines and Moray. While the first one is still in use by local families who collect salt from colorful ponds, the second is an archaeological site of 4 stair-like terraces dug in the Earth that once were used as an agricultural laboratory by the Incas to study conditions of crops growth!

Most tourists who visit these places join day-tours from Cusco, but few know about the possibility to hike and discover the breathtaking Peruvian countryside offering unique sights of the Andean cordillera. Hiking the Sacred Valley of the Incas can take a day or two depending on the itinerary chosen. We recommend allowing a couple of days from Media Luna to Moray via the village of Maras where you can stay overnight. Fortunately for off the beaten path travel seekers, there aren’t many companies offering guided hikes between Maras and Moray, which makes the adventure a truly unique experience far from the tourist hustle and bustle of the Cusco region

 To read more about how to hike between Maras and Moray without a guide, check Tales From The Lens’ self-guided itinerary.

Off The Beaten Path Europe

Cycling Around Girona by Barcelona, Spain

Contributor: Clare Dewey | Epic Road Rides

Girona is a stunning city, about an hour north of Barcelona in Spain. The reason it’s so popular is that it’s got a fantastically well preserved medieval old town full of winding alleyways, cobbled squares and towering architectural masterpieces, such as the cathedral that played a central role in Cersei’s walk of shame in Season 6 of Game of Thrones!

 Most people that visit Girona walk around the old town and then go home.

What we love to do is to get up early and hire a bike from one of the top quality road bike shops in the old town. Then, as the city is only just waking up, we weave our way through Girona’s streets and out into the countryside. Not only do you feel like a local as you ride through the city streets in the quiet of the early morning, but you also get some beautiful perspectives of the city that you might not get if you were on two feet. A bike can take you much further much more quickly, so you see things you’d never get around to if you were just walking.

Once out of the city, exploring by bike opens up a whole host of opportunities to get off the beaten trail. You can head inland and find famous hills to test yourself (like the notorious Rocacorba or Mare de Deu del Mont) or you could head out to the coast and ride the incredible coast road past tiny craggy coves and golden beaches.

Cycling in and around Girona is quite simply the best way to see this well-known city and the countryside around it.

Abandoned Hotels Near Dubrovnik, Croatia

Contributor: Katalin Waga | Our Life Our Travel

When you hear about Dubrovnik, probably the beautiful Croatian seaside, the iconic Old town and the popular TV series, Game of Thrones, come to your mind first. Not many know only 10 kilometers from the city, there is a small town, Kupari, which has a very different face: a spectacular bay filled with abandoned hotels.

The area used to serve as a holiday resort for the Yugoslavian Army. During the war, a few bombs hit several of the buildings, and they never been restored afterward. They are left to decay slowly until a new investor comes and takes advantage of this spectacular and secluded bay.

You can walk among the hotels and restaurant, check the garden, and with proper precautions also peek inside and explore these once upon a time prestigious places. Compared to many abandoned buildings, these are in decent shape and worth exploring. We met with several tourists taking photos and locals walking their dogs along the shore.

If you travel to Dubrovnik and are interested in abandoned places, make sure you check them out. Their future is uncertain, so better hurry.

Exploring the Narrow Vicoli in Naples, Italy

Contributor: Danila Caputo | Travelling Dany

Naples, in the South of Italy, is one of those cities that people tend to only use as a base to go to the Amalfi Coast or to Pompeii. If you are planning to visit Italy, add a few more days to your itinerary to explore the narrow vicoli in Napoli: you won’t regret it!

As locals, we’re used to the scent of food, but people who visit Naples for the first time always wonder why the vicoli always make you hungry. The reason is very simple: they are very narrow, enclosed among tall buildings, so when someone cooks, the scent will spread throughout the vicoli.

The oldest part of Naples, in the Decumani area, is full of narrow vicoli which hide delicious treats. Pizzerias selling Pizza Margherita for 1.50€ (the lowest price you’ll find in Italy), old men roasting chestnuts, and even tiny shops selling homemade bread bowls filled with Neapolitan meatballs and ragu sauce: to die for!

 The vicoli in Naples are where you can see how the locals used to live: nothing has really changed in ages. Our city is still a place where people share so much: you either love or hate Naples, there’s no in-between. Bonds between neighbors are very strong when you live in the vicoli, so close to someone else, and wherever you go, you’ll hear people laughing, chatting, or even hanging the laundry outside, on ropes tied from one balcony to the other.

What if you get lost? While not every Neapolitan speaks English, we’re always very happy to help the tourists, so don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. We’ll find a way to show you to the closest subway station: always with a smile, of course!

Dalkey and Killiney Hill in Dublin, Ireland

Contributor: Dr. J | Sidewalk Safari

Dublin, Ireland is famous and very popular with tourists. It is possible to get off the beaten track though if you know where to look. Take the local DART train from Dublin City Centre to Dalkey for a relaxing day out. Home to U2’s Bono and frequented by A-list actors like Pierce Brosnan, Dalkey is easy to love. Stroll through Dalkey Village stopping for a bite to eat or a cup of coffee at cozy places like the Corner Note Cafe. The most memorable and fun thing to do in Dalkey is pay a visit to Dalkey Castle and Heritage Center (9.95 EUR per adult). Hammy actors in period garb lead the tours and point out features like the ‘murder hole’ and the medieval toilet. The different characters recount the history of Dalkey Castle from different perspectives. The actors really turn what could be a boring house tour into an afternoon of entertainment. If you are more outdoorsy, take a hike featuring stunning sea views from Sorrento Park up toward Killiney Hill (about a 45-minute walk on paved trails). An obelisk marks the apex where you’ll enjoy 360-degree panoramas. Stop for a pint of Irish Craft Beer at the Magpie Inn in Dalkey or go for a more traditional Irish pub experience at Finnegan’s of Dalkey to round out your off the beaten path travel adventure in Dublin.

Abandoned Children’s Hospital in Berlin

Contributor: Sander Van Den Broecke

I visited an abandoned children’s hospital in Berlin when I was traveling solo in February 2019. When I was researching what I was going to visit on this trip, I came across an article about an abandoned children’s hospital called Kinderkrankenhaus Weißensee. Today, the hospital has turned into a place where street art and graffiti are present all over the area. Naturally, with my adventurer genes, I wanted to see this place for myself.

And so, when I was in Berlin, I took the tram from my hostel in the city center to the outskirts, where the building was located. The trouble started when I needed to find a way in. The main entrance had been blocked off by wooden plates, so I had to go around back and climb over an iron fence. I ripped my jeans on this fence when I was leaving, by the way.

When I took the first step inside the hospital building, I was immediately in awe at the contrast between the modern graffiti art and the decaying building it was sprayed on. Plants were growing through the cracks in the floor, and everything looked like it was ready to collapse.

Strictly speaking, I don’t think it was 100% legal to enter this building, but nobody stopped me, and I didn’t get into any trouble.

If you ever get the chance to visit Weißensee, I highly recommend you do so. But if you do: be careful when you’re visiting, because everything you do here has the potential to have disastrous consequences. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

The Hill of Witches in Lithuania

Contributor: Dagney | Cultura Obscura

As soon as I read about the Hill of Witches, I knew I wanted to visit. This interactive outdoor sculpture park is located on the Curonian Spit, just off the coast of mainland Lithuania. It is home to approximately 80 wooden sculptures, all of which depict figures in Lithuanian folklore and legends, including demons and, of course, the eponymous witches.

However, the most frequently depicted folk hero is Neringa. She is a giantess who protected Lithuanian from a raging storm by transporting sand in her dress and piling it against the coast, eventually forming the Curonian Spit.

You are beckoned into the park by a wooden carving of a witch pointing visitors up a hill leading into the forest. Once inside, you are greeted by playful wooden statues, many of which can be climbed or sat upon.

As you walk through the park, it shifts from cheerful figures to more sinister ones. The reason is that the Hill of Witches is divided into two halves: Light and Dark. In the Light section lives Neringa and other Lithuanian folk heroes such as Egle the Queen of Grass-snakes and Laumė.

In the Dark section, are creepy demons and witches. There is even a sculpture of Lucifer standing before the Gate to Hell.

The Hill of Witches is an easy hike, but makes for a wonderful afternoon activity as you can interact with the sculptures, enjoy the forest and even picnic with folk heroes!

Entrance to the park is free, and it is open year-round. 

Truffle Hunting in Bologna, Italy

Contributor: Amber Hoffman | Bologna Living

In Europe, truffles are found by following truffle dogs as they hunt for the delicacy. In the area around Bologna, truffle hunters use dogs which can recognize the smell of truffles underneath the surface dirt. The best place to experience truffle hunting is in the tiny town of Savigno, the Città del Tartufo or City of Truffles, just outside of Bologna. Truffle hunting experiences generally leave from Savigno. The truffle hunter will take you into the moist and dense forest in the nearby countryside. The key to truffle hunting success is a well-trained dog and a good relationship between the truffle-hunting dog and the truffle hunter, or, tartufaio. The dogs are rewarded for good behavior when they find a truffle. For this reason, dogs are trained to dig into the ground wherever they sense an odor, and they willingly exchange their truffle-treasure for a piece of bread and a pat on the head. Not a bad trade for the truffle hunter! During a day of truffle hunting, it’s possible to experience the exchange between a real tartufaio and his dog, which is an incredibly special sight. It is only after you’ve spent a few hours in a forest chasing a dog around that you can truly appreciate why truffles are as expensive as they are. There are tour companies that can arrange a truffle hunting tour to follow a truffle hunter and his dog for a few hours, generally accompanied by lunch at a local agriturismo in the Bologna Hills.

Underground Theme Park in Romania

Contributor: Daniel Arreola| Pro Blorger

Located just 30 minutes from Cluj-Napoca (Romania’s 2nd biggest city), is Salina Turda: The underground amusement park. Salina Turda was converted from a decommissioned salt mine. It’s an amazing journey going many levels underground to see such a sight.

On the way down to the underground amusement park, you’ll pass through exhibits of the old salt-mining equipment. The salt was extracted by hand with pickaxes and carts. The chunks of salt are massive!

It’s pretty moist cold on the way underground. You’ll definitely be hit by drops of saltwater along the way. Bring a jacket and expect it to get a little dirty.

Once you make it to the amusement park, you’ll find a Ferris wheel, mini-golf, billiards, bowling, table tennis, a sports field, and an amphitheater! At one level below that, there’s a small lake where you can rent boats and row around.

Best of all, it’s the cheapest underground amusement park you could visit at only 30RON ($7.50 USD). The prices for the activities are also very affordable and range from $1-3 USD.

Not only can you spend a few hours having fun here, but there are also health benefits from breathing salty air. Since salt is a natural disinfectant, the dry salty air helps respiratory conditions.

Additionally, they have a pool and health spa (nearby, not underground).

Dwarf Hunting in Wroclaw, Poland

Contributor: Karolina Klesta | Lazy Travel Blog

Dwarf hunting in Wroclaw is an activity that you should put on your bucket list. Whether you are planning a trip with your friends or your family, one of your things to do in Wroclaw should be breaking the record in finding the highest number of dwarfs as you walk around the beautiful city. That is if you are not distracted by the exquisite architecture that fills Wroclaw. 

Of course, these aren’t real gnomes. Rather, these are sculptures made by the citizens of Wroclaw as a protest against communism when they were still under Russian rule. The dwarfs come in all shapes and sizes. From classical bakers and friars to more modern versions that include a dwarf on a skateboard and a rocker dwarf decked in leather jacket and t-shirt. Head to the Tourist Information Centre to get a map or rise to the challenge and find as many dwarves as you can in 2 hours by booking with Get Your Guide and meeting your guide at the Aleksander Fredro Monument.

Not far from more popular destinations like Krakow and Warsaw, it will take around 3 to 3.5 hours from either location by bus, train, or car. A train ride, however, would be far more comfortable than a cramped bus if you 12USD.

Off The Beaten Path Oceania

Hunting for Trace Fossils in Kalbarri, Western Australia

Contributor:

Contributor: Suzanne Jones | Keeping Up With Little Joneses 

A family hiking and outdoor adventure blog focussed on teaching through experiences, conservation and enjoying natural wonders Mother Nature has to offer.

Kalbarri National Park in Western Australia is best known for its spectacular red sandstone gorges and dramatic coastal cliffs towering over the Indian Ocean. Hiking along one of the many trails will take you past rock pools, wildflowers, and the occasional emu.

However, the most fascinating feature of this national park is one that most visitors fail to notice. If you look down at the exposed rock you are walking on, you may just spot two parallel sets of impressions resembling tyre tracks in the mud. These faint and unassuming marks are thought to be the footprints of ancient creatures called Eurypterids. Just over 400 million years ago, these scorpion-like animals were probably the first life to crawl out of the oceans and on to dry land. This marked a pivotal point in the evolution of life on our planet. At this time, not even plant life had established itself in the land.

You can place your fingers in these fossil footprints knowing you are tracing the steps of one of the most critical events in Earth’s history, yet most people wander by unaware.

You can read more about their Fossil Hunting expedition in Kalbarri National Park on their website.

Sepik River in Papua New Guinea

Contributor: Patricia | Ze Wandering Frogs

The Sepik River in PNG is home to a rich culture featuring incredible woodwork, traditional performances, and village life that has changed little over the centuries. The Sepik River takes you through the extraordinary traditions like kids playing and women washing in the river, fishermen on their dugout canoes, colorful dances at the beats of the drums, and men carving masks, 

The best way to approach the Sepik River is to reach Wewak first before heading to Pagwi along the river. Traveling in the river is done by canoes, passing by the villages. Each village is home to different dances, from the Crocodile dance, the Cassowary dance, and the Mask dance. Each performance unique, with stunning costumes. 

While it’s challenging to travel to the Sepik River, the welcome, the traditions, and the history are worth every second. And because it’s challenging, very few people go there, which is why PNG is still one of the best off the beaten path vacations. Do avoid the rainy season as villages will be under muddy water for a while. And bring enough repellant as mosquitoes are numerous and fierce.  

  Off The Beaten Path Travel Conclusion

Whoa! That is one comprehensive list of cool activities!  Off the beaten path travel is fun because it’s a chance to discover a place that not many know about. You can come back home and talk about this unique experience. I hope this list comprised by fellow travel bloggers inspires you to go off and explore and made you realize there are many things to find off the tourist trail.

Now that you have gone through this epic list, which is your favorite hidden gem? Travel is amazing! Leave a comment to let me know which activity interests you the most!

Are you interested in learning about more off the beaten path travel destinations? I recommend purchasing a Lonely Planet guidebook because they always add a section about activities off the tourist track.

Click here to buy a book from Lonely Planet.

Pin this post to reference later!
Local Lingo with a Maasai Man

Local Lingo with a Maasai Man

Local Lingo with...

a member of a Maasai Tribe

My favorite part about backpacking is meeting new people and learning their stories.  Local Lingo is a part of my site that interviews individuals from all over the world who have made an impact on me. Not everyone gets the chance to interact with locals while they travel, but it’s beneficial and intriguing to understand different perspectives from around the world. 

The Local

Tobico Ngimelil

Tobico Ngimelil

Pastoralism and Entrepreneur

Nationality: Tanzanian

Hometown: Loiborsoit, Tanzania

Age: 27

Job Description: Self-employed doing small scale farming and pastoralism

Description of his Maasai Village in one-sentence: “Loiborsoit is a Maasai name which means ‘white stones'”

How did we meet?

I interviewed Tobico, whom I stayed with for two nights in his Maasai village. This Maasai village visit was memorable since I was completely immersed in a unique culture.  Tobico and I were similar ages, and we both were intrigued about the others life. I was only the 3rd westerner Tobico had met, and Tobico was the first Maasai person I spent extended time with. I learned a lot about what it means to be Maasai, and am sharing this interview to give more perspective on Maasai life.

The Interview

Background Questions 

Q. What do you do for fun?

A. Watching football (soccer), driving, and traveling.

Q. Did you go to college? What did you study? Afterward, was it easy to find a job?

A.Yes, I did a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance. It was not easy to find a job! There are a large number of graduates but not many opportunities.

Q. What causes stress in your life?

A. Lying, conflict, and disappointment

Q. What’s your favorite food to eat?

A. Our favorite food is meat & milk.

Q. What makes you happy?

A. Socializing with other people, and peace

Questions about Being Maasai

Q. What does it mean to be Maasai? Are you proud to be Maasai? What are the best things about being from the Maasai tribe?

A. Anyone that belongs to the Maasai tribe is born with two Maasai parents. That is Maasai people! We have several clans, such as IrMollelian, Ilaiser Ilukumay, Isiria, and IrMamasita. Yes – of course, I am proud to be Maasai! The best things about being Maasai are preserving our ancestors culture, being generous people, and we all love each other. 

Q. Why should visitors come to visit your village?

A. People should visit to experience and explore real authentic Maasai life, not the fake ones.

Q. What are some unique Maasai traditions?

A. Our dressing style and settlement. We live in bomas and live in huts. We keep livestock. We are very traditional. We have a traditional ceremony when young boys are circumcised. We marry traditionally, and not like the western culture of having a wedding in a church.

We have an age set, which is a grouping of people of different ages. Different age sets are responsible for different things. When young warriors are circumcised, they become Moran and are responsible for the security of the community and livestock. The Moran stage lasts until 19, then the Moran retires and becomes an elder. From 1998 – 2018 my age set was known as Irkorianga, which meant I was a warrior protecting the community against any enemies and protect the livestock against wild animals.. Now I am Irnyangulo.

Q. How are the Maasai people treated in Tanzania?

A. We are treated equally like other people. 

Q. : What do you think when other men dress as Maasai but aren’t actually a part of the Maasai tribe?

A. People do this for business purposes and to trap money from Western people. 

Q. : Anything else you’d like to discuss that you think is important about being from the Maasai tribe?

A. We are good people! Generous, humble, and faithful. 

Travel Questions 

Q. Do you have a passport?

A. No, I don’t have a passport, but I can apply for one at any time – once I want to fly abroad.

Q. Is it easy for you to travel to other countries?

A. It’s not easy to travel abroad due to finances.

Q. What’s one place you want to visit and why?

A. USA, I like the country and it’s people. 

Q. Why do you like hosting people at your homestay?

A. I like to meet new people to experience new culture and to share new life ideas.

Q. What is your impression of Americans?

A. They are good and generous people like Maasai people. 

Thank you Tobico for answering all the questions. Be on the look out for more local interviews. What countries would you like to hear more interviews from? What questions do you want answered?  Answer in the comments below!

What You Should Know About a Maasai Village Visit

What You Should Know About a Maasai Village Visit

What You Should Know About a Maasai Village Visit

Zanzibar. The Serengeti. Mount Kilimanjaro. These are the first things that come to mind when I hear Tanzania. All of these are extraordinary experiences, yet when I arrived, I sought to find the most unique places to visit in Tanzania. I turned to Google and typed “cultural tourist attractions in Tanzania,” but still didn’t find anything that stood out. Then suddenly I received a text from my friend Martha:

“Kesi! Just met this girl, Ebone, at Soho House that you would love. She was just in Tanzania, and I’m giving you her number so you can get all the recommendations from her.”

Jackpot! (The best travel suggestions always come from friends.) I messaged this mystery woman, and will be forever grateful! She introduced me to one of the most culturally immersive experiences I’ve ever had–an authentic Maasai village visit. And yes – I am talking about a real authentic Maasai village visit rather than one that tour companies promote.

A Maasai Village Visit Does Not Have To Be a People Museum

Every guide around Arusha offers the option to add a Maasai tour to a safari package. Maasai tourism is popular, and I understand the desire to visit a distinctive group of people and learn about Maasai traditions. Yet I’m always hesitant to go on an organized tour to visit a tribal village because I don’t want it to feel like a human zoo.

On my blog, I strive to share experiences that are authentic and as local as possible. Visiting an African tribe for a couple of hours to witness a choreographed show or watch staged Maasai rituals purely to entertain tourists is too contrived for my liking. I don’t judge individuals who support Maasai tours if it is bringing money to the Maasai communities, yet I prefer a different style of traveling.

But alas – There is a way to have an authentic Maasai village visit!

Contact Details: If you are looking for a completely immersive Maasai experience, and would like to support a family directly, then I highly recommend contacting Tobico to arrange a homestay in his village outside Arusha. You can find more information on his website or Facebook Page

Maasai Homestay Quick Facts

 

Location: Loiborsoit, Tanzania

Days Needed: 2 to 3

Estimated Cost:  $40 USD 

Value: 10/10: Off the beaten path and authentic cultural exchange

 

Who Are These Maasai People?

The Maasai Tribe is one of the most well known in Africa since many African brochures feature them, and Maasai Tribe clothing is distinctive. Nonetheless, if you asked me to list Maasai Tribe facts, I would be at a loss. Heck – if you asked me “Where do the Maasai live” I would’ve failed. I ignorantly assumed they all lived in Kenya and had no idea the tribe extended into Tanzania. But once I landed in Tanzania, it became apparent that the Maasai Tribe culture permeates throughout the country.

False First Impressions: Meeting “Fake” Maasai in Zanzibar

While in Zanzibar, there were tons of men dressed in Maasai clothing. I thought it was pretty cool that there were so many Maasai people, until I discovered that most of these men were “fake” Maasai. There are several theories on why people dress up like Maasai:

1) To take advantage of tourists – You’ll find many fakes on the Zanzibar beaches who share false Maasai warrior stories of fighting lions, but in reality, they just want to get your attention so they can sell you things or charge for photos.

2) To get girls! No joke – It’s a way to impress Western ladies! Maasai men are known for being superior sexual partners. On a night out in Zanzibar, it’s common to see a western woman locking lips with a guy dressed like Maasai – so it works!

3) Because they think it’s cool – The life and customs of Maasai are fascinating; therefore some individuals appropriate the culture because they want to.

P.S – You can find some real Maasai in Zanzibar. Hint: if the guy is drinking alcohol, or wearing really stylish sunglasses, probably a fake Maasai.

Want to know what a real Maasai man thinks of imposter? Check out my interview with Tobico in the Local Lingo section of my blog.

After interacting with many fake Maasai, by the time I left Zanzibar I wanted to understand what it really meant to be a Maasai warrior and learn true Maasai facts.

5 Reasons Why You Should Book a Maasai Village Visit with Tobico 

I am thankful that via a random text message I was introduced to Tobico and his family. This is the most culturally immersive experience I’ve had while abroad. Here are 5 reasons why I encourage you to book a homestay with Tobico:

1) Support local entrepreneurship  Tobico is college educated, but there were few job opportunities when he graduated. He has decided to become an entrepreneur and start his own tour company, which offers an authentic Maasai tribal visit.

2) It’s a genuine cultural exchange – The foundation of Tobico’s business started with Tobico hosting people via Couchsurfing. He googled, “How to make friends,” and was introduced to the Couchsurfing app. The primary mission of Couchsurfing is to share cultures between the host and the guest. Tobico and I were around the same age and he had as many questions for me as I did for him. It was interesting getting to learn about one another and to experience Maasai life. Even though Tobico charges for the homestay experience, the origin started with the idea of making new international friends.

3) Money goes directly to Tobico and his family – there is no middle man or tour operator, so all the money that you pay for the homestay directly supports Tobico and his family.

4) Complete Immersive Experience – booking a homestay is a different experience than visiting an African tribe for a couple hours. By staying for one or two nights, you get a better understanding of the way of life in the village. There is no Wi-Fi, limited electricity, and little cell phone reception. It was nice to be disconnected from devices that I’m usually attached to and to immerse myself into the Maasai community fully.

5) Cheaper than organized tours an organized tour would charge $40-$100 for a one hour visit. Tobico charges a fair price depending on how many nights you stay, which covers the cost of food and accommodation.

To find out more about Tobico and his life, check out my interview with him in the Local Lingo section of this website. 

My Experience Couchsurfing For Two Days in Loiborsoit

Ok, now that you understand why you should go on a Maasai village visit with Tobico, let me explain how the actual encounter was.

Tobico met us in the center of Arusha so he could show us the way to his village, which was 3 hours away. We opted to pay for a private driver since it wasn’t too much money and would save time and comfort. As we started our journey, we had no idea what to expect.

When we arrived in Loiborsoit, we weren’t greeted by some dance, like other tours do, but were casually introduced to family and friends living their daily life. It was clear that the rest of the Maasai village was unaccustomed to visitors. I could feel all of the stares. 

I was only the third westerner that Tobico has met.

Tobico has a cute, two-year-old daughter who immediately started crying when she saw my friend Jordan and me. She could tell we were foreigners and didn’t belong and was scared of us. I thought since we were black we would fit in, but since we were light-skinned, wore different clothes, and had different accents we still stood out. In fact, every time she saw us for the next two days, she would hide behind her mom and start crying.

The best way to describe my experience is via all the photos I captured:

These were the two wives and their kids that lived at the property. The hut behind us was the kitchen, where the wives would cook over fire. Tobico’s child is giving a fierce look to the camera. I don’t think she was too happy being so close to me, as a stranger.

Luckily, not all the kids were scared of me. Look how bright this child’s face was. He was always full of giggles and smiles and was fun to play with.

On the second day, Tobico and his wife, Namnyaki, dressed us up in traditional clothing. There were more layers than expected. The Maasai are proud of their clothing and heritage. I asked Tobico if he had a choice between normal street wear or their traditional garb while walking around Arusha; he confidently said he would choose the Maasai clothing.

The Kraal is the hut where the Maasai live. Since the Maasai are nomadic and migrate with their cattle, their temporary homes are reasonably easy to make. All the materials used to create the hut are natural. Each wife has her own Kraal, and all the huts together make up a Boma.

I travel with a scrubba bag to do my laundry. We compared and contrasted who had the better method for washing clothes. Tobico is fortunate to have a water hose on his property. Most people do not have a water source and have to walk to a well to get water.

Tobico and his friend, Lazaro, took us on a walk around his land. Tobico was very proud of all the land he owned. Unfortunately, most of it could not be used for farming. He said the primary issue was lack of water. To sustain the farm, he needed to invest in a proper irrigation system, but he did not currently have the money to make such an investment.

Tobico explained that their shoes were made of tires, which he said are very economical and last for 5 years. They are also suitable for getting around if it rains. Jordan was wearing Rainbows and she was slipping everywhere when we were walking around, so the tire shoes were more effective.

This is the inside of the Kraal. There is one bed for the kids and one for the wife. This small space is meant for cooking, sleeping, and socializing. The mother that lived here was nice and fixed us a snack of hot porridge. You can also see Jordan and myself decked out in our new Maasai jewelry.

Namnyaki, Tobico’s wife, would bring us tea, and we would gather around this table to talk about each other’s lives. It amazed me that I was in the middle of nowhere in Tanzania, yet was still able to have meaningful conversations in English. The older generation didn’t speak English, but the younger generation was pretty fluent.

I guess I should thank British colonialism? That sounds so wrong to write, but one of the reasons why East Africa is my favorite part of the world to travel is because I can have significant conversations with locals in English. For example, if I were in Thailand, it would be impossible to have a similar interaction.

 Leaving on local bus – we took the transportation many Maasai men and women make each day into Arusha. It’s necessary for the Maasai to make this commute in order to work and provide for their families.

Africans sure know how to pack a car. When there was no more space inside the vehicle, people hopped on the roof and stayed there for the 3-hour ride into the city.  it’s necessary to squeeze because there are only so many cars that make the drive back and forth.

And yes – those are feet dangling from the roof in the picture to the right. 

What I Learned About Maasai Culture

Spending two nights in Loiborsoit, I picked up on different things about Maasai culture. 

  1. Extremely Patriarchal – The male and female dynamic was apparent. The wives always cooked and served us tea, while we talked to the men of the household at the table. We never ate breakfast or lunch with the wives, as they sat separately. The wives would take care of the kids, and from an outsider perspective seemed to be valued less than the man. I did not want to question the dynamics because I didn’t want to be insensitive, but I wondered if the wives were happy in their traditional roles.
  2. Cows are currency – the Maasai are a nomadic tribe, whose lifestyle is heavily impacted by their livestock. If there is no more grass for the cows than it is time to move to the next place so the cows can keep eating. When a man wants to marry, he must pay the father of the bride in cows. The more cows one has, the wealthier they are.
  3. The Maasai women create beautiful jewelry – I bought several necklaces and earrings from the Maasai women. The Maasai jewelry design is one of my favorites. I’m upset I did not buy more, because when I traveled throughout the rest of the continent, I could not find any similar jewelry.
  4. Maasai marriages are Polygamous – it is common for a man to have several wives. When we visited Tobico’s mother in her home, there were two other homes on the same boma for the other wives. The Maasai man is financially responsible for all of his wives. Tobico only had one wife and did not express interest in finding another.
  5. Not a lot of opportunities – In the village, there are not many ways to make money. Some men and women wake up at the crack of down and travel 3 hours into the central city, Arusha, to try to make money and come back to the village at night. Tobiko, who is college educated, explained that he has tried to find a job but has been unsuccessful.
  6. More modern than expected – I assumed that Maasai people, living in the outskirts, would not be interested in social media, but Facebook and smartphones have allowed the Maasai to stay connected with the outside world. I still chat to Tobico and some of his friends from time to time on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. It does not matter how isolated a village is; with the Internet everyone remain in touch.
  7. All electricity is from solar power. The Maasai have to take advantage of natural resources, and get all their energy from the sun.

Overall, spending time in Loiborsoit was a unique and telling adventure. 

Tobico wants to replicate the experience I had with others. If you are interested in booking a homestay experience, please connect with Tobico on his facebook page and have the best Maasai tourism experience.

To read about my other favorite African adventures, check out gorilla trekking in the DRC or hiking to the largest lava lake in the world

Pin this post to reference later!

Pin It on Pinterest