The Ultimate Africa Bucket List – Wow all 54 countries!
Africa is huge! With 54 countries in total – you could spend your lifetime trying to see the entire continent. And writing your own Africa Bucket List is a good start.
Our journey to visit every country, of course, led us to Africa and we spent a lot of time on this continent. While most people might be familiar with Victoria Falls, the pyramids of Egypt or the landscapes of Cape Town there are many countries that barely get a mention. Wildlife might be ultimately the main reason why Africa is on someone’s bucket list, but trust us there is so much more.
So here is the ultimate Africa bucket list for those who dare to go somewhere unexplored, for the adventurous and those who perhaps as we are, hoping to visit every country in the world.
From the jungle of the tropical part to the vast desert, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, there is a lot to be seen. Here are some ideas to get you started for each country in Africa:
Kicking off with the largest country in Africa, Algeria offers a few gems: cool urban cities of Algiers and Constantine in contrast with Roman ruins at Timgad and Djemila.
But for many, the highlight will be meeting the people. For most travellers, this seems to be the highlight of their time in Algeria. But even though you can spend days sipping on coffee and chatting to locals, make sure you make it to the archaeological sites – for us the theatre at Timgad is the sight.
Only a year ago, getting to Angola was no easy task. Now with the new E-visa, things are changing and the country is more accessible than ever before. Today the post-war country is cashing in from their new oil boom, the capital Luanda is starting to look more like some cities in the gulf.
But for the traveller, get some good food, a Portuguese tart (Angola was a former Portuguese colony) and check out the yellow Iron Palace (Palacio de Ferro) which is believed to be designed by Gustav Eiffel. Then head south to see wildlife in Kissama National Park.
This relatively tiny country is getting more visitors each year. For such a small country it sure packs a lot in. Easily accessible from Ghana via Togo or via connecting a flight to Cotonou, you will find a great infrastructure to see some of the bucket list highlights:
Ganvie – explore the lakeside stilt village on a boat, learn more about voodoo in Ouidah, still practised by locals or kick back at the beachside village of Grand Popo.
If you love wildlife, then Botswana is a must-do and it should definitely be on your Africa Bucket List. It has the largest amount of elephants in Africa, best seen in Chobe National Park, and spending an overnight in the Okavango Delta will be your highlight.
5. Burkina Faso
This little known country in West Africa is a nice surprise when visiting this part of the continent. There is a nice relaxed atmosphere with very friendly locals.
Buses will take you across the country to the main sight – Sindou Peaks a rock formation set among lush landscapes. It feels more like something from Arizona or Australia and you might have the place just to yourself.
This tiny country next to Rwanda and Tanzania receives very few visitors due to some troubles in the past. After the new election in the last year, it is hopefully now on the path to standing back on its feet.
With beautiful green hills and the sandy beach in Lake Tanganyika, it is definitely worth spending a few days here and enjoys the lake fish and relaxed vibes. And if you are lucky, check out the famous Burundi Drummers.
This is officially the wettest country in the world. As expected a thick rainforest covers most of the country, but we loved the sandy beaches in Kribi the most and preferred the cool Yaounde city over the hectic Douala.
8. Cape Verde
Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde feels like a world apart from Africa. Located 500km from the coast of Senegal, the Portuguese influence and island living mix together to form a country worth spending a few weeks in to island-hop.
There is excellent hiking in Santo Antao, gorgeous white sand beaches in Sal and if you wish to feel the real Creole life then check out the main island and its capital, Praia.
Almost taking the title of the least visited country in Africa (leave that to Equatorial Guinea and Comoros) you might not be sure to find a reason to visit. It might not be a place for the Africa Bucket list for travellers only starting to explore the world.
However, for the real adventure chasing travellers, this might be something. The capital of Bangui might be just a stopover on the way to the Dzanga Sanga National Park to track Western lowland gorillas. This is where you can learn more about the Baka (a pygmy tribe) surviving still on traditional hunting.
Chad remains unexplored for many due to government safety warnings. But the capital N’Djamena can be a pleasant experience as it was for us. Enjoy the famous camel BBQ, local fish and roam the main colourful market.
Zakouma National Park is considered the best park in this part of Africa so when things improve it would be a perfect side trip.
Overshadowed by its french Neighbours of Mayotte and nearby Madagascar, Comoros simply feels forgotten. The island nation with a predominantly Muslim population is one of the least visited countries. For those who loved to dive, the island of Moheli offers some world-class options.
Often simply referred to as Congo has once again opened up its main attraction – The Virunga National Park. This is the place to see the lowland, as well as mountain gorillas.
You can do this all for just a fraction of the cost of neighbouring Rwanda, but here in the DRC, the experience comes with a group of armed men for your protection.
The real horn of Africa is where this tiny former French colony can be found. Surrounded by Ethiopia, Somalia and the Gulf Of Aden and the Red Sea it is used as a military base for a few countries.
The main site is Lake Assal – a salt lake forming at the lowest point in Africa at 155 m below sea level.
The only surviving ancient world wonder is here in Egypt – the Great Pyramids of Giza. And while impressive, make sure you venture south to see Abu Simbel – we thought it was simply epic. Add it to your Africa Bucket list now.
15. Equatorial Guinea
Have you heard about this country? If so, you are either a geography teacher, travel junkie or you live in Cameroon. LOL. One of the smallest nations and also one of the richest is usually described as simply weird.
We found the island Malabo surprisingly chilled and well, very Spanish as in fact this was a former Spanish colony. So your bucket list should be – simply getting here as the visas can be a nightmare to get.
Eritrea is known for not being known or visited. Stuck in some sort of time warp, it feels like Ethiopia with heavy Italian influence and this is for a reason.
With incredible landscapes and the Red Seas coast, it has a lot to offer for the intrepid kind of a traveller, but it is ultimately the cool art-deco capital Asmara that strikes us the “thing to see & do”. Watch this space, Eritrea might soon be the next big place to explore.
17. Eswatini (Swaziland)
The beautiful kingdom of Eswatini kinda feels like a fairytale country. Packed with hiking opportunities, wildlife and culture, the best time to come here are for the Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival – a week-long ceremony centred around the young unmarried women of the country to cut reeds for the annual repairs to the windbreaks of the queen mother’s village.
Ethiopia has quickly gained our TOP 5 in Africa. Amazing food, the coffee here comes with a ceremony and the country has so much to offer. An absolute Africa Bucket List country.
The churches of Lalibela were hewn by hand and would be the one thing not to miss. If you are on the adventurous side, do venture north to the Simien Mountains and if you can go further to Danakil Depression.
Gabon feels like nothing but rainforest once you leave the capital. If you have visited other countries in Africa, Gabon seems underpopulated with only 1.8 million.
Getting from A to B can be a lot harder, so the best is to stick to the train that connects one of the main parks Lope National Parks to see some wildlife. Just make sure you visit during the season, otherwise, it will be just the buffaloes.
20. The Gambia
The Gambia is known as the “smiling coast” is officially the smallest country in Africa. With its 80km long coastline, the beaches are the main reason for most tourists to visit and relax. Undoubtedly it’s mostly European visitors due to the packaged holidays on offer.
If you travel across West Africa, entering Ghana feels like a different world. More developed than its neighbours, you’re ghana love Ghana.
Stable democracy and overall safety makes this the perfect country in West Africa for beginners. Amazing beaches, coastal forts and happening nightlife in the capital Accra, this is a country to linger for longer.
Guinea is the Wild West of Africa. In fact, it should be on your Africa bucket list just to go and see the crazy roads you hear from other travellers, the journey is often full of adventure and sadly plenty of corruption.
But if you venture to the northern part of Fouta Djallon into the thick forest you will find the natural beauty that can’t be found in the capital, Conakry.
The relaxed vibe of the capital Bissau, as well as the rest of the country, is in dark contrast to Guinea next door. The Portuguese might have departed in 75 but they left colonial buildings and some mark on the cuisine. Find an outdoor cafe, order a cold beer and some spicy chicken and watch the world go by.
For those of you who are keen to see the untouched and raw beauty, head out to Arquipélago dos Bijagós. A world of white sand pristine beaches and if you’re lucky you might get to see the rare saltwater hippo.
24. Ivory Coast
Also known as Cote d’Ivoire, this country is leaping forward with big steps, economically speaking. Some tourists pop in here and there as the easy E-visa makes Ivory Coast an easy destination.
The food scene in Abijidan is growing and there are beaches to relax on just outside the city.
Visit the famous Masai Mara to meet the Masai people. See if you can jump as high. However, the great migration between Masai Mara and Serengeti is the real drawcard here.
If you have the extra money to spend, a balloon safari overlooking the land below can put this magic in a perspective.
The Kingdom of Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa and the highlight can be just getting there. That is if you choose the Sani Pass, the famous road from Drakensberg range to Sani Top.
We’d recommend you join this Sani Pass tour from Underberg for an unforgettable experience.
West African country with American feels. For surf lovers, there is just one word for you – Robertsport. Surfing heaven. For the rest passing through the colourful capital of Monrovia, check out Hotel Ducor. Once upon a time, this was the finest hotel in Africa.
Its empty premises can now be entered for a small fee at sunset. You can climb to the top for superb views of the city, the bay and the sunset. Magical.
One of the worlds best Roman Ruins, Leptis Magna sits alone, waiting for visitors to return due to the ongoing civil war.
But this is a bucket list item without a doubt. The amphitheatre here is as old as the colosseum in Rome. There are well-preserved baths, roads and harbours to be seen.
If you like the path less travelled, then Madagascar is perfect. Known for its exceptional biodiversity (hello lemurs), this island might take weeks if not months to properly explore.
But the ‘avenue of baobabs’ is undoubtedly the highlight – these huge trees line an unpaved road connecting the villages with Morondava and at sunset, it creates the perfect setting for the sunset photo. This is one place that seems to be on everyone’s bucket list for Africa.
Known as the land of the friendliest people for many who visit, Malawi soothes your soul. Lake Malawi is where it’s at, everything is on offer. Snorkelling, fishing, kayaking or simply just chilling out underneath the mango trees.
If only Mali wasn’t so fragile at the moment. For years adventurous travellers flogged to get to Djenne and Timbuktu to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Mali empire.
Djene has been inhabited since 250 BC and Djenne old town is a UNESCO sight on its own. Of course, the highlight is the mud grand mosque of Djenne. Let’s hope the situation improves on the ground.
If you love the desert or vast landscapes, then this is the place for you. Traditional Mauritania seems to be unfazed by the surrounding countries of Morocco and Senegal. Here everything seems to happen slower, even tea is served three times – a small cup of tea: the first one is bitter like life, the second is sweet like love, and the third is gentle like death. So when you are invited for tea – say YES, the ritual might take a few hours, but there is nothing else like it.
If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea (pun intended), then check out the longest train ride – an ore-iron train that connects the coastal city of Nouâdhibou with its famous desert region of Adrar. But get ready for a very dusty and uncomfortable ride for 12-16 hours.
This island in the Indian Ocean knows how to attract tourists. With direct flights from Jo’burg as well as Dubai, it’s certainly thriving. While there is no shortage of amazing beaches and even great hikes, do us a favour and explore the capital Port Louis food scene. It’s a creative combination of Indian, Chinese and European cuisine – simply delicious.
Morocco is currently experiencing a tourism boom like never before. The days when only travellers would venture here are long gone. Today you will mostly see Europeans on their weekend break or annual holiday due to some incredibly affordable low-cost airline flights.
You could easily spend two weeks seeing all the main attractions. For us, the blue city of Chefchaouen especially early morning or sunset was the most magical. Add this one to your Africa Bucket list.
Fez also deserves a mention, we loved getting lost in the alleyways looking for the tanneries and foodie gems. We highly recommend Intrepid Travel for fantastic small group tours in Morocco.
Namibia ticks a few boxes to be on a bucket list for Africa. Great wildlife in Etosha National Park, Sandboarding in the desert and hiking in the Fish River Canyon.
Swakopmund might come as unexpected surprise – with its German architecture (Nambia is a former German colony) and cafes resembling those in Germany, it is the perfect place for a coffee and cake.
Tourradar offers some awesome overland safari tours through Namibia and East Africa.
Overshadowed by its big neighbour Nigeria, Niger is hardly ever mentioned. The capital has plenty of unpaved, dusty streets, but you can leave them behind and catch a boat to the cool bar of Cap Banga.
Cold beer, brochettes (Niger has amazing beef) and sunset. Done. Love a challenge? If safe, head up to the city of Agadez to see the well-known mud mosque overlooking the Sahara.
In 2020, every fifth African was from Nigeria. That gives you an idea of the size of this country. While the north has seen plenty of troubles, the coastal city of Lagos is expanding at a rapid rate.
With its flashy skyscrapers and shacks along the highways, art galleries and lively nightlife but high crime rates, this is the city of many contrasts. But there is no better place to get an understanding of this country.
Also known as Congo-Brazzaville named so after its capital, this definitely feels like a different Congo than the one across the river.
If you come, spend a few days exploring Brazzaville and then head north to see lowland gorillas and forest elephants in Parc National d’Odzala. Getting here isn’t easy, but the 14 -16-hour journey is worth it.
It’s hard to imagine that Rwanda, a stable and thriving country today has seen one of the worst genocides only 25 years ago. Tourism today is booming and the number one reason people come here is to see the mountain gorillas in Volcano National Park. And since you most likely will pass through Kigali, make sure you visit the Kigali Genocide Museum as well.
This two-island nation has quickly climbed into our top 5 after visiting every country in Africa. Green, lush and very chilled, the island is easy to explore with a rented car.
Our favourite was a visit to Roca Sao Joao a former plantation now turned into a guesthouse and exceptional open-air restaurant. The 11-course set menu is served, prepared by a famous chef combining the taste of Portugal with the produce of Sao Tome. Don’t miss it.
The ultimate island paradise is not just for the honeymooners. Sun, sea and seafood – that’s what it is all about and the sunsets here are some of the finest in Africa. It would probably feature on the best sunset bucket list than Africa Bucket List.
There are only 250 visitors/foreigners in Sierra Leone on any given day. This makes Sierra Leone one of the least visited countries in the world. The main thing to do here? Hit the beaches just outside of Freetown – River Number 2 is gorgeous. Fresh Lobster, cold coconuts and a bit of a party on the weekend, will make your time definitely memorable.
It’s hard to imagine that only 3 decades ago, Somalia tourism was thriving. Today, well not so much. For the super-adventures junkies, a visit to the troubling Mogadishu is possible with arrangements on the ground (involving an armed escort), but we would suggest looking at the north of the country.
The separate part known as Somaliland has declared independence more than two decades ago, and although still considered a disputed territory, there are a few things to note. Somaliland has its own currency, flag and passport. And it is here where you can find Las Geel – an archaeological site with ancient rock carvings.
The jewel of the continent, South Africa might need its own bucket list. Diving with sharks? Tick. Tasting superb wine at vineyards producing some of the best wine? Tick. Chasing the big five in Kruger National Park on your own self-drive safari? Tick. At the least, you should explore gorgeous Cape Town and urban Jo’burg to really get a taste of the rainbow nation.
47. South Sudan
The newest country in the world is mostly visited by UN workers, diplomats and charity workers. The small capital of Juba is not the reason. The true adventure lies in the country with the Mundari tribes, kettle herders with a way of life unchanged for many years. Cows in their society are used as dowry, currency and are certainly a way to show status.
If you were to base your Africa bucket list items on media and news, well then Sudan would never make it. For us, it was the people of Sudan that were the best feature – friendly and welcoming. We loved every minute of our time spent here.
But the bucket list item goes to the Pyramids of Meroe. While Egypt receives millions of tourists, next door Sudan has actually more pyramids in total. The most famous ones are the Pyramids of Meroe – probably used as tombs for Nubian kings and queens. The best part is, since tourism is almost non-existent here, you will most likely have the place to yourself to explore.
With the famous Serengeti Park that easily delivers the big five in a day, this must be on everyone’s bucket list. Hey, it’s so famous, they even made it into a Disney Movie (Lion King).
And after all your early morning safaris, make sure you keep some days for Zanzibar – the perfect white sand beaches of the Indian Ocean will allow you to take it all in.
Tourradar offers some awesome overland safari tours through Tanzania and more of Eastern Africa.
To go or not to go to Togo? Sounds like a riddle but the answer is YES! Small and close enough to make it a multi-country trip (with Ghana and Benin next door), our favourite region was Kpalime. The green forest and mountainous area are perfect for some hikes and some waterfall chasing days.
Tunisia used to be the dream of European holiday packages. The island of Jerba was thriving and the beaches were filled. Then the Arab Spring came which pretty much reshaped the region as well as the wider Arab world.
Sadly Tunisia’s future has changed forever due to terrorist attacks that shook the country in 2015. Their tourism industry collapsed almost overnight. It will take some time to get it back on its feet but there are a few reasons to come here – roman ruins in Carthage, Dougga and El Jem to name a few.
Uganda has some amazing landscapes. You might chill at lake Victoria first, but the real draw here is the Bwindi National Park where you can see habituated groups of Mountain Gorillas.
The permit might set your budget back a bit, but trust us it will be one of the most memorable travel experiences. A real bucket list experience.
You could explore this country across its length. Start in the north and kick back at Lake Tanganyika, then travels south to Lusaka the capital city and do a side trip to the mighty Zambezi river. The perfect way to finish would be at the beautiful and famous Victoria Falls.
The Victoria waterfalls at last – the ultimate Africa bucket list item. Located between Zambia and Zimbabwe on the Zambezi river, this is definitely one of Africa’s wonders.
The sheer size of these waterfalls known as the smoke that thunders makes them unique in the world. The water makes a roaring sound as it falls over the cliff. And if you love adrenaline sports, there are plenty of options here from bungee-jumping to river rafting.
And that is the end of our Ultimate Africa Bucket List!
You can visit Africa as a solo traveller, with friends or even join a small group tour or safari. Whatever choice you make – this continent will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
We hope we’ve inspired you to create a bucket list for things you’d like to see and do in Africa – all you need to do now is make it happen.
A coffee lover, history junkie, former tour guide, and endless optimist. The mastermind of logistics and chief navigator for Very Hungry Nomads, two women on an adventure to visit EVERY country in the world. Marty is a social butterfly who describes her life as “just livin’ the dream".