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10 Unique Places You Wouldn’t Expect to See in Africa

Some of the best places in Africa make you feel like you aren't in Africa at all. Journey into unexpected destinations with their unique blend of cultural elements and diverse landscapes. Taking a lesser-known path gives you the opportunity to delve deeper into what makes Africa wildly diverse and special, while avoiding the tourist crowds. Our team of top safari specialists will help you plan a unique travel adventure with confidence and 24/7 support.

1. Stone Town – Zanzibar

Aerial view of Stone Town, Zanzibar | Go2Africa

Aerial view of Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town in Zanzibar is architecturally striking with a unique mix of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. A UNESCO World Heritage Site – in the heart of Zanzibar City – it is a tangle of winding alleyways that have remained true to character since the 19th century.

Stone Town is undoubtedly one of the most amazing places to visit in Africa, yet you won’t feel like you are in Africa. Exploring these narrow cobblestone streets infused with Arab-style and a distinct Swahili atmosphere is the best way to let your feet follow your curiosity.

This ancient city is a gateway to the past, where you can peruse the Forodhani Gardens night market, or meander the Beit el-Ajaib (House of Wonders), a former sultan’s palace. Little known to many, Stone Town is the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, and you’ll also find a museum honouring the late lead singer for Queen.

Being a tropical paradise, it delights with a profusion of water-based activities. Sail serenely on a traditional dhow, swim with dolphins, and explore beautiful coral reefs. Few island destinations offer such intimate access to the ocean paired with perfect conditions.

2. Damaraland – Namibia

Desert landscapes in Damaraland, Namibia | Go2Africa

The stunning landscape of Damaraland, Namibia

Damaraland has a dramatic desert feel, with barren moon-like landscapes of exceptional natural beauty. It is a stark contrast to the perception of Africa with its predominantly lush and green landscapes.

This mountainous region is home to many large mammals that have perfectly adapted to the harsh geology, including the famed desert-adapted elephant, mountain zebra, and the critically endangered black rhino.

Damaraland is a pioneer of environmental conservation in Namibia. The picturesque Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, is home to thousands of ancient rock paintings and is known as the greatest outdoor art gallery in the world.

The rocky outcrops of Twyfelfontein feature Bushmen (San hunters of the early Stone Age) engravings, which are some of the best-preserved etchings on the continent. Another highlight is the Petrified Forest, which dates back millions of years, and offers a haunting landscape of gigantic, fossilised trees.

3. Lüderitz - Namibia

The ghost town of Kolmanskop, Lüderitz | Go2Africa

The ghost town of Kolmanskop, near Lüderitz

Lüderitz is a quaint harbour town on the Atlantic Coast in Namibia, surrounded by the Namib Desert. Besides enjoying ocean-fresh lobster and oysters at one of the local restaurants, walking around and admiring colourful art-deco architecture is a popular pastime.

A mere ten kilometres inland from Lüderitz is where you will find the ghost town of Kolmanskop. It sprang to life when diamonds were discovered in 1908 and was eventually abandoned, leaving it untouched since 1954.

Today, it is a haunting and desolate destination where the sands of time have engulfed most its once lively 1920’s culture. Photographers from all over the world travel to capture striking stills of this peculiar place.

4. Fish River Canyon - Namibia

Views of the Fish River Canyon | Go2Africa

Awe-inspiring views, Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon, one of the most beautiful places in Africa, is found in Southern Namibia. It is the second largest canyon worldwide, after the Grand Canyon in the USA. You’ll feel like you are in the States because of the similar terrain.

The Canyon forms part of the state-run Ais-Ais Richtersveld Transfronteir Park, and is a bucket-list adventure for avid hikers looking to connect to the natural world. Some hikes can take four to five days to complete, featuring a carpet of nightly stars and testing endurance.

The canyon’s most expansive viewpoint overlooks the gorge from the gate of the Hobas Campsite. Nature lovers flock from all over the globe to witness the dramatic plunging ravines and rock faces, and stand in awe of this immense natural wonder.

5. Tsingy de Bemaraha, a Forest of Limestone Needles - Madagascar

The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar | Go2Africa

The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar

Madagascar is known as the 'Galapagos of the Indian Ocean' because about ninety percent of the fauna and flora is found nowhere else on Earth, distinctly different to the 'plains of Africa'.

The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is an otherworldly destination where few have trodden, far from the tourist crowds. The park is dominated by two spectacular limestone plateaus known as Great Tsingy and Little Tsingy.

Scattered between the plateaus are areas of forest, savannah, lakes, and mangroves, creating an astounding variety of different habitats. A network of aerial suspension bridges was built, making it possible to explore this region by climbing from one peak to the next with the help of a trained guide.

6. Lake Malawi – Malawi

Kayaking on Lake Malawi, Malawi | Go2Africa

Kayaking on Lake Malawi

Malawi is affectionately known as the friendliest country on the continent and is one of the most beautiful places in Africa. It’s far removed from the classic safari experience, its biggest drawcard being the sapphire-coloured Lake Malawi.

Lake Malawi has a seductive albeit deceiving oceanic tropical island ambience. This fresh-water lake is the third largest in Africa and is home to over 500 different species of fish - more than in North America and Europe combined - making it a premier scuba diving and snorkelling destination.

Back on land, you can join in a local big game safari at the nearby Liwonde National Park, or simply get comfortable savouring local beach culture, where days are about idle pleasures and time stands still.

7. Quirimbas Archipelago – Mozambique

Aerial view of Azura Quilalea in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique | Go2Africa

Aerial view of Azura Quilalea in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

Mozambique’s best-kept secret for many years, the Quirimbas Archipelago has become a sought-after seaside destination but retains its exclusivity. You’ll be met by the unspoilt beauty of powder-soft sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and inviting turquoise waters.

This Archipelago is made up of over 27 offshore islands, strung along the coast of Mozambique. Each island has its own story to tell – some boasting ancient architecture and others dubbed the most romantic honeymoon destinations on Earth. Barefoot luxury tempts with stays at luxurious lodges right at the water’s edge, letting you disappear from the modern world.

These private islands are accessed by light aircraft or helicopter flights. When you aren’t scuba diving or snorkelling among pristine reefs, you’ll be admiring the setting sun kissing the ocean during a traditional dhow cruise.

8. Franschhoek – South Africa

Aerial view of the Franschhoek Valley, Cape Winelands | Go2Africa

Aerial view of the Franschhoek Valley, Cape Winelands

One of the oldest towns in South Africa and touted as its ‘gastronomic capital’, Franschhoek is part of the renowned Cape Winelands. This is where wine, gourmet food and artistic creation meet, spanning centuries of refinement.

Franschhoek translates to ‘French Corner’ and subtle aspects of French culture permeate throughout the town. The French Huguenots settled in the Franschhoek Valley, with its craggy mountains, in 1688 and used the fertile valley soil and unique terroir to make classic and world-class vintages.

This small town exudes an elegant charm that is visible through the sweeping views of the vineyards, fanciful cafes, and boutique art galleries.

9. Boulder’s Beach – South Africa

African Penguins on Boulder's Beach, Cape Town | Go2Africa

African Penguins on Boulder's Beach, Cape Town

Boulder’s Beach  is one of Cape Town’s most visited beaches and is the only place in the world where you can have close encounters with endangered African Penguins. Boulders Beach and its surrounding beaches form part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, keeping these suited aquatic creatures safe.

A series of wheelchair-friendly boardwalks were constructed through the vegetation surrounding the white sands and boulders to not only give visitors the best views, but shelter nests and chicks.

Boulders Beach is perfect for taking a dip in azure waters, climbing the boulders, exploring rock pools, and visiting the Boulders Visitor Centre – where experts give fascinating insights into the lives of the waddling inhabitants.

10. Kilimanjaro – Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania | Go2Africa

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

One of the most amazing places to visit in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro. At 5 895 meters (19 341 feet) Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. The snow-capped ‘Roof of Africa’ is a dormant volcano and is found inside the Kilimanjaro National Park.

To climb Kilimanjaro is a great challenge, yet entirely possible for fit and active travellers looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In a matter of days, you’ll climb Kilimanjaro from the hot plains of Africa through grasslands, tropical rain forest, alpine meadows, moorlands, and desert upwards into snow and ice.

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