Many would argue that much of Africa’s beauty is found in the various landmarks scattered throughout its 54 countries. Without a doubt, the continent boasts some of the most spectacular sites in the world that appeal to both tourists and locals alike. To truly experience Africa means to experience the treasures and wonders that immerse one into the culture, language and untold history of the country in which they’re found. While it may be impossible to see all of the incredible landmarks Africa has to offer, it’s worth adding one or two of these culturally and historically rich beauties to your bucket list in time for your next trip to the motherland.
Tanzania is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the tallest and most popular mountains in the world. Standing at more than 19,000 feet above sea level, the "roof of Africa" easily takes the title as Africa’s highest peak, a characteristic that attracts thousands of daring trekkers from around the world who dream of scaling this enormous stratovolcano. While seeking out the pinnacle of Kilimanjaro, climbers also encounter the plants and panoramic vistas that line each of the mountain’s routes. Plan a trip from July to October when Kilimanjaro is said to experience prime weather.
Tucked away in the heart of northern Botswana is the Okavango Delta, a vast and lush swamp that is home to most of the country’s dry land and wetland wildlife. This inland delta is thriving in both beauty and bounty. Perhaps the most captivating part of this oasis of wildlife, fauna, and flora is the migration of more than 200,000 animals each year between July and September. Depending on who you ask, to experience Okavango is to come very close to experiencing what Eden would have felt like.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing artifacts that survived to tell the story of ancient Egyptian life is the Valley of the Kings. The Valley bears a collection of more than 60 royally elaborate burial chambers that house the bodies of New Kingdom pharaohs, including Rameses II and Tuthmosis I. The more than one million tourists who visit the site each year are immersed in a world of rich architecture and ancient treasures that make the tombs an enchanting and once-in-lifetime experience.
If desert landscapes and sand dunes excite you, then you must take a trip to the most fascinating part of Namibia. Situated in the southern stretch of the Namib Desert, Sossusvlei is characterized by mesmerizing, expansive red dunes, exotic plants, and beautiful wildlife. A variety of tourist attractions await those who are willing to withstand desert climate and conditions to explore this photographic odyssey of a landscape.
If you’re an adventurous traveler who lives for the intersection of wilderness and wildlife, visit the Maasai Mara reserve—also spelled ‘Masai Mara’—in Kenya. Situated along the Tanzanian border, the reserve is a high tourist attraction and for good reason. This grassland is home to an abundance of wildlife, including elephants, hippos, rhino, cheetahs, and more than 400 species of birds. Not to mention, the reserve offers considerable accommodation for those who want to spend the night among all that Maasai Mara has to offer, making for the perfect outdoor getaway.
A prominent landmark in the southwestern region of South Africa, Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain wonder whose beauty attracts visitors from across the world. Climbing to the top of the mountain guarantees one sweeping, 360-degree view of Cape Town and its natural beauty. The biodiversity on Table Mountain abounds and further adds to the list of reasons why millions travel so far to hike its trails. Adding even more to its majesty, Table Mountain is now considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. Activities and attractions related to the mountain are conducted at Table Mountain National Park, a 2.5-acre park that coordinates all tourist activities to the top of the mountain and serves as an entry to the Cape of Good Hope.
Marking the midpoint of the Zambezi River—on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia—lies Victoria Falls, a majestic display of falling water. The outlet of the falls is around 400 feet in width and drops more than 350 feet into a gorge of varying widths. Though the falls can be seen from two countries, many claim that the most captivating views are on the Zimbabwean side. Walking the full length of the waterfall in Zimbabwe is said to take about three hours at an average speed.
Standing at 400 feet and spanning about 250 feet in length is the Aloba Arch in the Ennedi Mountains. Considered to be the finest natural arch in the world—carved by water and wind alone—the Aloba Arch holds some incredible history about early civilization in Africa. Despite its immense disposition and beauty, the Arch is one of the least-visited natural formations because of its remote location. However, those who do visit this pristine African landmark share sentiments about the necessity to add it to one’s bucket list.
For those who love ancient ruins, the Meroe pyramids in Sudan is certainly a landmark that must be visited. Said to be established sometime between 1 BCE and 1000 BCE, Meroe is regarded as the burial place for several queens and kings who ruled during the Meroitic Kingdom. This site houses a little more than 200 pyramidic structures and is decorated with several artifacts stemming from the Roman, Greek, and Egyptian cultures.
Tucked along the edge of the Sahara Desert is Timbuktu, an all but forgotten African-Arab trading hub that was pivotal to Islamic life from 1400-1600 AD. The ruins of this once-thriving city are teeming with mosques that help understand the extent to which learning, culture, and everyday life intersected. Rich with African history at every turn, Timbuktu is the perfect landmark for those who desire to learn more about the continent's heritage.