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7 Things to Do in Africa Beyond Safari

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Stretch of beach at a resort in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar, Tanzania

An African adventure doesn't start and end with a safari, and the seven things to do in Africa beyond safari boast colorful, charming, and unique experiences.

With over 10,000 miles of coastline, resplendent snowy mountains, vivacious cities, indigenous tribal lifestyles, and stunning marine life, each destination revels in its own sense of vibrancy and authenticity. From meeting with local communities to diving deep into the grandeur of untamed nature, venturing to a mountain peak, or lounging on a white-sand beach, you can find endless surprises when in Africa.

No matter the kind of experience you prefer, you can create an elegant addition to a safari itinerary to uncover how much more there is to your Africa trip.

  1. 1. Embrace the Thrill of a Game Drive
  2. 2. Discover the Captivating Cities
  3. 3. Witness the Gorgeous Coastline
  4. 4. Trek the Mountains of Africa
  5. 5. Experience Authentic Culture
  6. 6. Enjoy the Unique Marine Worlds
  7. 7. Indulge in the Natural Wonders and Landscapes
  8. Experience the Best of Africa Beyond a Safari

1. Embrace the Thrill of a Game Drive

Safari game drive in Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

Safari game drive in Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

A safari in Africa may be the first idea many have when considering a vacation to the sub-Sahara. With the famous Big Five, remarkable Little Five, and the excitement of witnessing wildlife in its natural habitat, it’s easy to understand the allure of a game drive during your trip.

From the promise of elephants to the enticing opportunity of a tented camp in secluded wilderness, viewing cheetahs sprinting across the savanna to watching a float of crocodiles lounging in a river, each day on a safari will reveal something entirely different.

With morning and night drives, boat and walking safaris, you will learn about the wildlife and wilderness, their importance to local culture, and the wonders they exemplify. Our top destinations to visit on an African safari demonstrate the reasons game drives will become a lifelong memory.

Best Parks and Reserves to Visit: Serengeti • Masai Mara • Kruger National Park • Okavango Delta • Volcanoes National Park • South Luangwa

2. Discover the Captivating Cities

Bo-Kaap neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa

Bo-Kaap neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa

Framed by nature's backdrops, African cities radiate a vitality that pulls visitors and locals into a rhythm, reflecting the variety of activities you can experience on the continent.

With colorful movement that creates a hypnotic juxtaposition of tones that blend on enthusiastic streets to a delicate exposition of harmoniously blended cultures, these cities support Africa's major transport hubs, while making them historic points of exuberant market stalls, skylines, and streets lined with informal traders.

When exploring the best cities to visit in Africa, you can peel back the layers to discover how jumbled facades hide intriguing and exciting destinations that create their own style and atmosphere.

Best Cities to Visit: Cape Town • Stone Town • Nairobi • Moshi • Durban • Kigali • Livingstone • Johannesburg

3. Witness the Gorgeous Coastline

Fishing boats on tropical island of Zanzibar in Tanzania

Fishing boats on tropical island of Zanzibar in Tanzania

A beach break is a great way to end an African safari, allowing your body and mind to re-energize. As most visitors are drawn to the continent's mammal-inundated interior, the continent's beaches stand empty and mostly unexplored.

What to do in Africa can take you along the coastline as it delivers revered scenes of beach escapism, where white sand glows in hidden bays for a serene ambiance or coconut palms and postcard panoramas fringe tropical beaches.

The top beach destinations in Africa can showcase majestic forest and mountain backdrops that make it feel as though the coastline is deliberately guarded by other natural habitats and kept secret to protect the magnetic glow of the pristine waters.

Best Beaches to Visit: Bazaruto Archipelago • Zanzibar Island • South Africa’s Wild Coast • Diani Beach • South Africa’s Garden Route

4. Trek the Mountains of Africa

Hiker on summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Hiker on summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

From Mount Kilimanjaro to the wild trails of the Great Rift Valley, Africa is crisscrossed by a series of inimitable mountains and hiking trails. Instead of one long chain of peaks like the Alps or the Andes, the mountains dot the continent, with cones the focus of summit expeditions that can take one day to a week.

Many of the mountains are patrolled by wildlife, high-altitude specialists that benefit from the landscape's increased fertility or strong foliage that battles against the colder climates. Whether looking for an immersive lifestyle or rolling escarpments, you can find adventure around high-altitude plateaus as it increasingly becomes one of the top things to do in Africa.

Best Mountains to Explore: Mount Kilimanjaro • Mount Kenya • Mount Meru • Drakensberg Mountains • Damaraland • Rwenzori Mountains • Lesotho • Volcanoes National Park

5. Experience Authentic Culture

Group of women of the Himba tribe in Namibia

Group of women of the Himba tribe in Namibia

Welcome to a land of 3,000 tribes and over 1,000 languages, a patchwork of cultures that have evolved in disparate habitats and continue to preserve traditions.

Experiencing iconic customs is what most excites visitors, but every trip to Africa will unveil different tribes. An African safari is also a cultural journey into distinct lifestyles, with evocative tales to hear and discover.

There is no single image and it's impossible to simplify the tribes of Africa, but meeting people from various groups shows how the multiplicity of the continent becomes a lasting cultural experience.

Best Cultural Excursions: Visit a Maasai community • Meet with the Himba • Learn local customs from the Zulu • Travel remote plateaus with the Samburu • Uncover the secrets of the desert with the San bushmen • Explore traditional lands with the Hadzabe

6. Enjoy the Unique Marine Worlds

Dolphins in the waters of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar, Africa

Dolphins in the waters of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar, Africa

Africa's rollercoaster of wildlife continues along the coast and into the water, with bountiful marine life mixing the common with the unusual. Thousands of miles of coastline bring unique marine adventures, from diving with great white sharks to swimming with dolphins and watching different whale species breach offshore.

From iconic pelagic giants and tropical reefs to encounters with the incredible sardine run, unforgettable tropical fish, and sailing across crystal-clear waters, when exploring the wonderful marine worlds across Africa you can travel at a slow and peaceful pace or venture far into uncharted waters.

Best Marine Experiences: Cage dive for great white sharks • Scuba at Mnemba Atoll • Snorkel or scuba at Watamu National Marine Park • Watch for whales in Hermanus • Embrace tropical marine life in Madagascar • Watch for dolphins off the Zanzibar coast

7. Indulge in the Natural Wonders and Landscapes

Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga, South Africa

Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga, South Africa

Africa's incredible landscapes dance with surreal wonders, mostly unnoticed and unknown to the world. Valleys scar distant deserts, sand dunes rise uninhibited for thousands of miles, waterfalls tumble with a thunderous echo, and then there's the calm rurality of historic winelands.

Famous lakes provide serene days, while tumultuous rivers offer unique adventures. These destinations are regular parts of an African itinerary, natural highlights that continue the continent's promise of color and enchantment.

Best Landscapes to Visit: Cape Winelands • Namib-Naukluft Sand Dunes • Nile River • Okavango Delta • Zambezi River • Victoria Falls • Tugela Falls • Murchison Fall • Fish River Canyon • Blyde River Canyon • Lake Malawi • Lake Victoria

Experience the Best of Africa Beyond a Safari

Victoria Falls at sunset in Zambia, Africa

Victoria Falls at sunset in Zambia, Africa

Africa bustles with opportunity and possibility. From trekking across historic landscapes to visiting ancient tribes, exploring the gorgeous beaches to discovering the vibrant ambiance of distinct metropolises, the continent makes a grand impression.

Find wonder at a marine sanctuary, seclusion at a hidden waterfall, or fine cuisine at a celebrated restaurant, with each new experience bound to open your eyes to the ceaseless majesty of Africa beyond the wonders of safari. Explore more opportunities and detail on where to go for your preferred experience with our African safari travel guide or find new inspiration for your trip with our African safaris and vacations.

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