As Rhino Africa's Founder and CEO, it must come as no surprise that I have 2024 travel plans. But are you longing for some African Travel that's meaningful and captivating? I know this feeling all too well! As an African travel enthusiast, I find myself endlessly seeking out exhilarating African destinations that not only excite me but also have the power to keep me up far too late at night. After two decades traversing the African continent, I must admit I've developed a penchant for off-the-beaten-track destinations. And so, allow me to present my meticulously curated 2024 travel plans shortlist of what I believe are Africa's hidden gems and must-visit destinations...
Travel Beyond Tourist Sites
Now, when I'm talking about travel, I'm not referring to mindlessly drooling over pictures of Instagram models posing under waterfalls or tourists wielding selfie sticks atop elephants! No, no, that's not the kind of experience I crave.
Instead, I'm on the hunt for heartfelt, life-changing adventures, awe-inspiring photography, authentic experiences, and, above all, raw honesty about African travel. These are the very things that fuel my constant desire to explore more of Africa.
Here are the destinations that made my 2024 travel plans list...
1. The Warm Heart of Africa, Malawi
Nestled in the southeastern part of Africa, Malawi is a small but stunning country that offers a refreshing variety of off-the-beaten-path experiences. While Liwonde and Majete, two wildlife parks in the south, may not rival the famous Sabi Sand, they still offer remarkable safari encounters.
Wildlife and Culture
Embarking on a boat safari at Liwonde is a truly unique and exhilarating experience. Meanwhile, Majete has successfully reintroduced the Big 5, an achievement so monumental that entire elephant herds had to be moved from Nkhotakota. Witnessing such conservation efforts firsthand is a must for all safari lovers!
But my personal favourite wildlife park lies further north, namely Nyika. There, among rolling hills that resemble the picturesque Scottish Highlands, you'll encounter zebras, a multitude of antelope species, and an array of exquisite birdlife. While you're in the north, a visit to the charming town of Livingstonia is highly recommended to delve into Malawi's captivating English colonial history.
2. Wildly Magnificent Mozambique
If Mozambique doesn't enthral you, then nothing will! It's one of the most extraordinary off-the-beaten-path countries I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. Often overlooked due to its troubled past, Mozambique always reveals itself as a hidden gem boasting stunning coastlines, welcoming locals, and mouthwatering cuisine.
Beaches, Oceans, and History
You can head to Tofo for thrilling surfing, exhilarating swims with magnificent manta rays and whale sharks, and world-class scuba diving. Just a bit further up the coast, Vilanculos will mesmerise you with its sand bars that emerge during the day, creating a breathtaking panorama of baby blue water and pristine white sands. This coastal haven remains relatively untouched by tourism, allowing you to relish its raw beauty in peace.
But there's more to Mozambique than its captivating shoreline. Enter Gorongosa, a national park that is a testament to extraordinary conservation efforts. This veritable Eden in central Mozambique teems with diverse wildlife existing in natural habitats and transports you back to a time when humans were scarce. However, it's precisely due to the intervention of humans that Gorongosa has been so immaculately preserved. Trust me when I say that visiting this park is a true bucket-list experience!
3. World of Wonders in Madagascar
Ah, Madagascar... Having spent two captivating years in Madagascar in the early 2000s, I must confess my bias towards this extraordinary destination. Madagascar is a treasure trove of nature reserves and adventures that have left an indelible mark on my soul. However, let me warn you that travelling to this captivating island is not for the faint-hearted, especially if it's your first time in Africa!
While the north of the island may be where most tourists flock, the unexplored south and western parts hold the key to truly exceptional experiences. Picture yourself strolling down Baobab Avenue, venturing into the mystical Ranomafana and Isalo National Parks, or witnessing the awe-inspiring beauty of the Tsingy. These hidden gems have claimed a special place in my heart.
Embarking on a journey across Madagascar may present some challenges due to the lack of infrastructure. The roads here can be treacherously rough, and public transport is a rare luxury. But fear not – for every obstacle you face, the reward is a pristine natural environment, a unique array of flora and fauna, and the absence of hordes of tourists, save for the occasional daredevil!
I encourage everyone I meet to visit Madagascar as one of Africa's must-see destinations but do pack your patience and be ready for an exceptional adventure. Personally, I cannot contain my excitement as I await my return to this enchanting land in 2024!
4. Stripped Back Safaris in Northern Kenya
When one thinks of Kenya, one often envisions the striking landscapes of Southern Kenya, including the majestic Maasai Mara, stunning Diani Beach, and the diverse Lake Nakuru National Park and Amboseli National Park.
However, nestled away in the northern reaches of this incredible country lies a hidden treasure awaiting exploration. The northern part of Kenya, an untamed wilderness, offers some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes I've ever laid my eyes upon, making it one of my favourite places to visit in Africa.
Explore East Africa's Quieter Side
Venture to the Samburu National Reserve, home to the wild and remote Samburu tribe. Here, you can imbibe the untouched beauty of the land and embark on a hike to the summit of the sacred Mount Ololokwe, which graces you with panoramic views of Kenya's vast and arid landscape. Another gem in this unexplored region is Lamu Island, a short plane ride away, close to the border of Somalia.
As you weave through the bustling streets of Lamu Town, one of the world's oldest towns, you can't help but feel transported back in time. Discover the serenity of the southern part of the island, punctuated only by a few remote resorts. Picture yourself at the glorious Kizingo, where miles upon miles of pristine beaches are yours and yours alone. It's a rare privilege to indulge in such solitude amidst the beauty of the northern part of Kenya. Although often overlooked, those who dare to venture here are rewarded with an experience that is both unique and unforgettable.
5. Finding Your Zen in Zambia
Embarking on a safari is a majestic experience that fosters an extraordinary connection with nature. However, the charm can quickly fade amidst the bustling safari vehicles and swarms of tourists typical of some of Africa's most popular parks.
Step into Safari Heaven
Fortunately, there exists a hidden sanctuary, off the beaten track, where you can truly embrace Africa in all its splendour, reminiscent of the great David Attenborough himself. Welcome to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, one of the finest destinations to explore on the African continent. It's like Gorongosa but with the added touch of luxury.
In South Luangwa National Park, you're presented with a choice between dawn and dusk game drives, where you bear witness to the most epic African sunrises and sunsets. The wildlife is abundant and diverse, unmatched by most African national parks. Prepare yourself for the exhilarating safari experience Africa has to offer!
6. Success Story Rwanda
Welcome to Rwanda, a country that has not only risen from the ashes of its devastating 1994 genocide but has also soared to new heights of political stability, infrastructure development, and economic growth. Rwanda is an awe-inspiring nation which has become a beacon of hope for the continent.
Nestled at the heart of Rwanda are the resplendent Virunga Mountains, where majestic peaks reach staggering heights between 10,049 and 14,787 feet. No wonder this enchanting land has earned the title of "The Land of a Thousand Hills" and has captured the hearts of countless guests seeking an unforgettable adventure in Africa.
While the critically endangered mountain gorillas steal the spotlight, with a mere 900 remaining in the wild, predominantly in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, there's so much more to discover in these dynamic landscapes. Stretching from the southern shores of Lake Kivu to the northern reaches of Uganda's Lake Edward, the vistas unfolding before you are nothing short of breathtaking. Prepare to embark on a journey that will enchant active travellers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Primates and More
Don't miss the opportunity to trek through the Virungas and encounter the endangered golden monkeys, an experience that'll leave you in awe of the intricate tapestry of life found within Rwanda's borders. Additionally, I urge you to visit the Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village, where former poachers have found alternative means of livelihood, forging a brighter future for themselves and their communities. Rwanda today is a realm that extends far beyond its gorillas, offering an abundance of wonders to explore.
Consider venturing to Nyungwe Forest National Park, where a symphony of sights and sounds awaits you as you encounter chimpanzees and four distinct monkey species in their natural habitat. Alternatively, head east to Akagera, a haven for wildlife enthusiasts seeking the thrill of spotting majestic elephants, graceful antelopes, and a myriad of other captivating species. Your itinerary would be incomplete without these remarkable additions.
Put Africa on Your 2024 Travel Plans List
I hope my 2024 travel plans will inspire your own! Our continent is truly packed with unique experiences, and you'll never regret spending as much time as possible here.
However, you don't have to stress about anything as our Travel Experts have travelled all over our continent and know it better than anyone else! They will get to know you and then tailor a dream African safari for you according to your unique likes, dislikes, must-dos, and must-sees.
Reach out today, and let's start planning!
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