From Mount Kilimanjaro to the wild trails of the Great Rift Valley and the breathtaking views from atop Table Mountain, our list of the top eight mountains in Africa to explore reflect crisscrossing topography and offer a series of trails and hiking expeditions.
Many African countries display a unique range of towering mountains that set the scene for a dramatic landscape or form the backdrop to cities, game parks, or lakes, and all offer an opportunity to hike, admire from afar, or even sleep under the stars.
Whether embarking on one-day excursions with primates or 10-day treks into the clouds, there are a few rocky masterpieces that stand out, and discovering any of them will leave adventurers truly reaching for the stars.
When thinking of mountains in Africa, Tanzania's Kilimanjaro is one of the continent's most famous. Its snowy peak stands tall above the surrounding landscape and wildlife.
Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the world's highest free-standing mountain, standing over 13,100 feet tall, with vertical climbing to the summit, an expedition that takes six to nine days, depending on the route. Rise through the exotic forest, rugged moorland, and alpine moonscape to finally reach the summit.
Kilimanjaro is one in a series of extinct and dormant volcanic cones that are now amongst the highest free-standing mountains, each offering exciting, but challenging summits.
Learn more: Tanzania Safaris & Vacations
The pride of Cape Town, majestic and magnificent Table Mountain is the most photographed and visited mountain in South Africa. Whether you hike to the top and take the cable car down or walk up and down, once on top, the views over the Atlantic Ocean, the city bowl below, and beyond, are simply breathtaking.
Kirstenbosch Gardens is set at the foot of the eastern side of the mountain and the mountain range itself comprises over 2000 plant and over 1000 flower species. The mountain is one of the new seven world wonders and one of the oldest. Hikes can take up to four hours, with various routes to explore.
Learn more: Cape Town Vacations
Mount Kenya is nearly the tallest mountain in Africa and stands as the largest in Kenya. Proudly rising above the national park, Mount Kenya was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, boasting, as it does, phenomenal views over plains and monuments.
The highlight of the country sees fewer visitors than its neighbor in Tanzania, offering a private hiking experience to all who climb it. Steep cliffs and a dramatic summit invite hikers to step up to the challenge, taking up to a week to climb, passing forests, lakes, and grasslands, and culminating in a snow-filled peak.
Rivers and caves surround Mount Kenya and the beautiful scenery makes reaching the top one of the most rewarding experiences.
Learn more: Kenya Safaris & Tours
Boarding the Kingdom of Lesotho and creating a dramatic backdrop to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the Drakensberg Mountains are indeed majestic and comprise the southern, central, and northern “Berg”.
Mountain bike trails, hiking, and abseiling are just some activities available in the region, with accommodations nestled below the mountains surrounded by lakes, dams, and lush vegetation.
Learn about the famous battles fought in the area and marvel at Bushmen paintings marking many caves and mountain walls. Embark on a day hike or walk through the popular caverns and peaks at a leisurely pace, returning to your hotel or cottage for overnight.
Learn more: South Africa Tours and Vacations
The snow-peaked Rwenzori Mountains lie close to the equator along the Uganda-Congo border and create a diverse scene of sheer magnitude and breathtaking beauty.
Nicknamed the Mountains of the Moon, they stand solid on the floor of the western Rift Valley, flowers, trees, bamboo, and montane forest painting a fantastical picture and creating a dwelling space for many animals in the Rwenzori National Park.
Skilled climbers take up the challenge of a nine- to 12-day trek as they make their way to the summit of Margherita. For the less adventurous, shorter nature walks are possible nearby.
Learn more: Uganda Safaris and Gorilla Trekking
Forming part of the Ethiopian Highlands, the Simien Mountains are made up of valleys and peaks, with Ras Dejen noted as one of the top 10 highest mountains in Africa.
Known as the Roof of Africa because of the large area they cover in length and height, they boast several altitude plateaus, created by volcanic lava flow.
They are said to be among the most beautiful in Africa and are easily accessible by car, as well as being popular hiking destinations. Wildlife seek refuge on the slopes, curiously peeking out as travelers go by. Capture this UNESCO World Heritage Site with your camera and your soul.
Learn more: East Africa Safaris & Tours
Hike your way through dramatic rock formations, canyons, and authentic African landscapes when you embark on the Erongo Mountain trail. Taking just one and a half days to hike, the guided trail takes you through inspirational natural scenes.
Minerals and semi-precious stones line the mountain and discovering Bushmen paintings and having the chance to encounter the San tribe make this incredible experience well worth it.
The Erongo Mountains stand in the heart of Namibia and offer a peaceful break from a Namibian safari, sand, or sea experience.
Learn more: Namibia Safaris
A chain of eight volcanoes makes up the Virunga Mountains that lie between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu in the East African Rift Valley, two of them still active.
Endangered mountain gorillas can be found on the slopes of the mountains, co-existing with local tribes and communities in tranquil settings. Admire from afar or hike one of several trails, taking in the captivating scenery of the mountains and Volcanoes National Park.
Lush landscapes, occasionally splashed with muddy hills, unique wildlife, and misty peaks impress all who visit this popular part of Rwanda. Spend time exploring and enjoying before or after your search for gentle giants.
Learn more: Rwanda Gorilla Trekking and Safaris
The dramatic sight of a breathtaking mountain can instantly fulfill our souls and evoke a feeling of rejuvenation and peace. Hiking or walking the trails created on these magnificent natural creations gives one a sense of accomplishment and at the same time the awareness of how small we really are.
Mountains act as perfect backdrops for dramatic scenes below and around them. Whether looking at them from afar or reaching for the summit one step at a time, your Zicasso travel specialist can plan your adventure with you after you find inspiration from our African safaris or learn what to do and when to visit by visiting our African safari travel guide.