There’s so much more to travelling Africa than can be captured on social media. For one, there isn’t one unifying experience of this diverse continent, and this diversity—of landscapes, cultures, and wildlife—is what makes travelling here special. Still, Instagram is where many travellers go to find inspiration, and there’s nothing better than a gorgeous photo to make you long to explore the wide-open salt flats, dense green forests, perfect tropical waves, and craggy mountain peaks of Africa.
It’s always important to be respectful when trying to capture the spectacular sights here, by never taking photos of people without permission, and being aware of the environmental impact of your travels. We’ve rounded up some of the most photogenic experiences in Africa to inspire your wanderings, as well as suggestions of how to get started.
1. Kolmanskop, Namibia
Namibia has some of the lowest population density in the world, and humanity can feel very insignificant when driving through its towering dunes and wide-open landscapes. This otherworldly feeling is strongest at Kolmanskop, a deserted town that was part of a diamond rush in the early 1900s.
2.Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Of course, being able to be in the presence of these gentle giants is the experience of a lifetime — but when you go gorilla-trekking in the Virunga Massif, you also get to know that you’re contributing to one of the world’s most positive conservation successes. From being incredibly endangered just a decade ago, partly due to poaching, a focus on eco-tourism and creating jobs has brought the species back from the brink of extinction.
3. Fishing in the Seychelles
White sands, ice-blue seas, and napping in the shade of a palm tree — there are 115 islands making up the Seychelles, and many of them fit the bill of a tropical paradise. But for fly-fishing enthusiasts, especially those who want to practice their sport sustainably, the Alphonse atoll is the only place to be. There is a wide range of species to catch (Giant Trevally, milkfish, and bonefish are common) and, most importantly, the experience is an exclusive one. In accordance with conservation principles, only 12 fishermen are allowed at a time, to ensure that this fantastic oasis can be enjoyed by generations to come.
4. Omo Valley, Ethiopia
The Omo Valley is rich with history — the lower reaches of the valley are recognised as a UNESCO Heritage Site based on the incredible hominid fossils found there, and the eight tribes in the area have been living there for centuries. Respectfully witnessing the ways they still honor a traditional way of life through amazing dress and customs is an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world.
5. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
People who have stood at the top of Uhuru Peak and enjoyed the uninterrupted view across the snowy peaks of Africa’s highest mountain, will testify that the tough climb through five different climatic zones is very much worth it. A word of advice, though—seeing as this is a bucket-list experience for so many, it’s important to go with a reputable tour operator who can advise on how to minimise your human impact.
6. Sunrise hike up Lion’s Head, Cape Town
Table Mountain is easily one of the most recognisable landmarks in Africa. But from Lion’s Head, one of the smaller peaks flanking it, hikers get the best view of the mountain itself, as well as Robben Island, Table Bay, and the beautiful beaches surrounding Cape Town. The hike isn’t arduous — you’ll often see people summiting wearing sandals — and most travellers with average fitness will be able to get up and down in four hours, including a lengthy break for taking photos at the top.
7. Okavango Delta, Botswana
There aren’t many places as large and untouched as the Okavango Delta. The massive seasonal cycles mean that in the dry season you can explore the grasslands in a vehicle, spotting African wild dogs, rhinos, cheetahs, and lions. When it’s flooded it changes into a lush oasis, where you can glide through channels and waterlogged islands in a mokoro, or wooden dugout canoe.
8. Maasai Mara, Tanzania
The great migration is one of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena in Africa — and apart from the sheer numbers of animals, it also brings opportunities for witnessing the circle of life and death. As it can often be crowded at some of the better-known vantage points, it’s important to go with someone who knows the ropes, who can help to make sure you get a good spot.
9. Devil’s Pool, Zambia
Victoria Falls, a 1.6 kilometre crack in the earth where the Zambezi tips and pours over the edge, is a spectacular natural feature. It separates Zimbabwe and Zambia, and can be viewed from both countries — but there’s only one place where you can safely sit just a few metres from the drop. This is the Devil’s Pool, and when the river levels are just right, adventurous travellers can enjoy a front row seat.
10. Swimming with whale sharks, Mafia Island
There is a small island off the coast of Tanzania called Mafia Island. Here, only a handful of lodges focus on responsible tourism, things move at a different pace. It’s also one of the only places in the world that is known to have a resident whale shark population, so it’s the ideal place to go swimming with these gentle giants.