Whether you’re catching your breath after soaring over Victoria Falls in an open-sided helicopter, or holding it while watching a male lion saunter past your safari truck in the Mara, there is an almost endless list of things to do in Africa that will take your breath away and leave your bucket list brimming. With 54 countries filling Africa’s wild and varied lands, it is hard to narrow down the very best bucket list busters that the continent has to offer, but with the help of our team of travel experts, we’ve curated a list of the most unmissable things to do in Africa…
Cruise the Nile on the Steam Ship Sudan, Egypt
Hop aboard the most beautiful boat that cruises the Nile and immerse yourself in the ‘Golden Age’ of travel from the dawn of the 20th century. Follow in Agatha Christie’s footsteps as you venture from Luxor to Aswan aboard this extraordinary steamship that inspired one of her most iconic murder mysteries – Death on the Nile. Grab a drink, head to your balcony and watch the banks of the Nile drift by as you cruise between ancient cities, sacred temples and a wealth of other archaeological treasures. Hop off the boat to explore the Great Pyramids of Giza, drink tea at the Winter Palace or seek out Tutankhamun’s tomb. Enjoying a stay on the Steam Ship Sudan is without a doubt one of the most unmissable things to do in Africa.
Witness the Great Migration, Tanzania
Great Migration watching opportunities in Tanzania are almost endless. Beckoned by the scent of rain, herds of wildebeest, zebra and antelope sweep over the plains and for weeks, the vast Serengeti grasslands thrum with the sound of hoofs thudding on the dry earth. As the largest mammal migration on Earth, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the Great Wildebeest Migration is a must when visiting east Africa.
Snorkel off the Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
These idyllic, practically untouched islands - home to sugar-white beaches and little cashew-nut-tree-shaded villages - make for the ultimate snorkelling destination. Pristine coral and buzzing fish life fill the warm Mozambique waters, as well as nesting loggerhead turtles and humpback dolphins. According to our experts, snorkelling off the Bazaruto Archipelago this is one of the most beautiful things to do in Africa.
Visit the Last Northern White Rhinos, Kenya
Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya is home to the only remaining northern white rhinos in the world: Najin and Fatu. Spend time exploring the reserve before heading to the heavily protected enclosure to meet the northern white beauties. Najin and Fatu are the only things in the way of species extinction, so visiting them really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. While you’re here, treat everyone’s favourite blind black rhino, Baraka, to a tasty sugar cane treat. Having lost one eye while defending his territory and the other to a crystalised cataract, this gentle giant now lives happily in Ol Pejeta as a black rhino ambassador to visitors.
Ascend Table Mountain at Sunset, South Africa
Everything is tinged with a soft pink hue. The cable car looks as though it has been redecorated and Table Mountain itself looks practically tropical. The shadow of the most iconic landmark of South Africa looms over Cape Town as a beacon for travellers as the sun dips below the horizon. Our experts recommend hopping on the cable car as the sun begins to set to make the most of South Africa's long, balmy evenings. Once at the top, take in the fiery sky and the world-renowned vista with a sundowner in hand. Keep your eyes peeled for fluffy dassies at the top of the mountain who are, believe it or not, the African elephant’s closest living relative.
Gorilla Trekking in Volcanos, Rwanda
Exploring the lush, verdant rainforests of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda in search of troops of endangered mountain gorillas, is definitely a bucket list topper. Keep your eyes peeled for the glint of a silverback’s shining saddle or listen out for the rhythmic belches that these huge creatures use to communicate. Thanks to recent conservation efforts, there are now over 1,000 gorillas across Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for you to discover.
See Victoria Falls from a Helicopter, Zimbabwe
You couldn’t create a list of the most unmissable things to do in Africa without mentioning one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Victoria Falls is Zimbabwe’s gem and there is no better way to see their mighty force than soaring overhead in an open-sided helicopter. If you want a more up-close-and-personal experience, take a plunge into Devil’s Pool which sits on the lip of the crashing water and is the perfect spot to snap a brag-worthy photo.
Go on Safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya
Look up and you might spot vultures soaring high overhead, as well as Kenya’s national bird, the lilac breasted roller, darting to and fro. Look down and you might spot dung beetles trundling along, or even a family of mongoose playing in the undergrowth. Look around and you might spot a male ostrich, full of the joys of spring, charging around looking for a mate or even a sentinel cheetah perched majestically on a grassy mound. With the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, black rhinos and buffalos) as well as myriad other wonderful wild things on your doorstep wherever you are in the Masai Mara, visiting this beautiful conservancy is without a doubt one of the most unmissable things to do in Africa and will provide an Out of Africa experience like no other.
Explore Dead Vlei at sunrise, Namibia
Dead Vlei – meaning ‘dead marsh’ - is an otherworldly white clay pan located near Namibia’s famous Sossusvlei salt pan. Beat the sun to Dead Vlei to experience this almost-lunar landscape at its best, before the shadows disappear and the sweltering heat shows up. Wander between the ancient rigor-mortis-like limbs of fossilised acacia trees, their long, black shadows breaking up the solid ochre of the saltpan andnap some Insta-worthy shots before grabbing a dune board and surfing down Big Daddy, the tallest dune in Sossusvlei.