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  • Writer's pictureJuliet Weller

Five African Countries To Add to Your Wishlist


Globe showing West African countries

Africa! The word evokes mental images of an immense continent of great natural beauty and diversity. With its lush jungles, rolling savannas, and stunning beaches, it's no wonder that Africa has become increasingly popular for luxury travelers seeking authentic experiences.


If you're considering a trip to Africa, there is much to see beyond the "typical" African countries. I am by no means diminishing the popular safari-lands with their unique and stunning natural beauty, and the magnetic lure of their biodiversity. However, here are five must-see destinations that you simply cannot miss: Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Each of these countries offers a unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty, and are sure to leave you speechless and in love with this incredible continent!



View of a cove with fishing boats

Ghana

If you're looking for an immersive cultural experience, Ghana makes the perfect vacation. The country's history dates back to the 4th century, making it an ideal place to discover African history and traditions. In the 15th century, Ghana was the center of the West African gold and ivory trade. Today, Ghana welcomes a steady flow of visitors. In receiving over one million international visitors in 2019, making it one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in Africa.


While exploring the country's historical sites, don't miss out on its delicious food. Try the local specialty, jollof rice, or kelewele, which are spicy fried plantains. Fun Fact: Ghana is known as the "Gold Coast" due to its rich history of gold mining and trade.


Pro Tip: Consider hiring a local guide (we can arrange one for you!) who can show you the best spots to enjoy the local cuisine and culture. We'll also, add a visit to the Ashanti Region to learn about the Ashanti people's culture, which is famous for their colorful kente cloth, traditional dance, and beadwork.




Five Senegalese women walking with loads on their heads

Senegal

Senegal is another must-visit African destination, especially if you're looking for an authentic and diverse vacation experience. With its mix of beaches, museums, and cultural landmarks, Senegal is perfect for luxury travelers who want to learn and experience something new.


One of the most famous landmarks in Senegal is the African Renaissance Monument, a 160-feet bronze statue located in Dakar that depicts a man, woman, and child pointing towards the sky. It is the largest statue in Africa and was built to commemorate the country's 50th independence anniversary. This landmark is not only impressive to look at but is also a reminder of Senegal's rich history.


In recent years, Senegal has become a popular destination for travelers. In 2018, the country recorded a 6% increase in tourist arrivals, and this number is only expected to grow in the future. With so many vacation ideas to choose from, it's no wonder Senegal is becoming a top destination for travelers.

Fun Fact: Senegal is one of the few countries in Africa where women hold prominent roles in government. The country also has a rich music and dance culture that's celebrated throughout the year.

Pro tip: If you're planning to visit Senegal, make sure to book your trip with a travel professional (ahem!). Senegal can be challenging to navigate for first-time visitors, especially if you don't speak the local language.




A red-roofed white building next to a cove, known to be  holding location for the slave trade

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone may not be the most popular tourist destination in Africa, but it certainly has a rich history and culture that should not be overlooked. The country was once a hub of the slave trade and was also known for its abundant diamond reserves. Despite its tumultuous past, Sierra Leone has a friendly and resilient population that welcomes visitors with open arms.


Did you know that tourism is a major contributor to Sierra Leone's economy? It is estimated that tourism accounts for approximately 5% of the country's GDP. This means that every time you visit Sierra Leone, you are making a direct impact on the livelihood of the locals.

Fun Fact: Sierra Leone is known for its delicious cuisine--a blend of African and European flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. From street vendors to high-end restaurants, there's no shortage of delicious food to try. Some popular dishes include cassava leaves, jollof rice, and fufu.

Pro Tip: Give yourself some time to visit Bunce Island. This historic site was once a slave fort and now serves as a reminder of the atrocities that occurred during the slave trade. It's a somber yet powerful experience that will leave a lasting impression.


Gambia

The Gambia is a small West African country that packs a big punch when it comes to offering visitors an authentic African experience. This country is a must-visit for travelers who want to explore a unique cultural blend of West African, Arab, and European influences.The Gambia was once part of the Mali Empire, which was the largest empire in West Africa from the 13th to the 17th century.The Gambia attracts over 100,000 visitors each year, making tourism a significant contributor to the country's economy.

Fun fact: The Gambia River runs through the entire length of the country, providing visitors with an opportunity to go on a scenic riverboat tour.

Pro Tip: If you're interested in birdwatching, visit the Abuko Nature Reserve, a protected forest where over 300 bird species have been identified. Don't forget to bring your binoculars and camera!


Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a must-visit destination in Africa that should definitely be on your travel list. Home to the largest rainforest in Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo is the second-largest country on the continent, boasting incredible natural landscapes, wildlife, and rich cultural heritage.


Democratic Republic of Congo was the first African country to be explored by Europeans in the late 15th century when Portuguese sailors arrived on the west coast. It was colonized by King Leopold II of Belgium in the 19th century and gained independence in 1960. Despite its rich history and diverse culture, Democratic Republic of Congo receives fewer tourists than its neighboring countries. In 2019, it welcomed just 155,000 international visitors, according to the World Tourism Organization.


It is important to research the political and security situation in the country, as certain regions should be avoided due to conflicts. As your travel advisor, we are up-to-date on the current situations and can help build your itinerary and travel plan.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the world's largest lava lake? Nyiragongo, a volcano in the eastern part of the country, has a permanent lake of boiling lava at its summit, making it a unique natural wonder and an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Pro Tip: Make sure to pack comfortable clothing and shoes, as you may need to hike and trek through the rainforest to explore the natural beauty of the country. The official language of the country is French, so brush up on your French language skills or we can help find one to ensure smooth communication with the locals.


Planning a trip to Africa can be an exciting and overwhelming experience, and is not for the inexperienced when it comes to designing your itinerary. That's where this agency plays a major role on your behalf, with the expertise and knowledge to help you choose the best destinations, accommodations, and activities to suit your interests and budget.


All the details, including transportation, accommodations, tours, and activities, are in our wheelhouse, which leaves you so that you focus on your vacation experience. We'll also provide you with valuable insights and advice about the local culture and customs, helping you to immerse yourself in the local community and get a true understanding of the country and its people. Whether you're looking for a luxurious escape, an adventure-packed trip, or a cultural immersion experience, we do it according to your wish list. Reach out today and let's get started on your trip of a lifetime!


'til next week!


 

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