Hidden in plain sight places to see in Africa
Go where others don't
Where to next? If you’re looking to venture well beyond those well-trodden tourist tracks, there’s no better place to go than Africa.
Each and every corner of the continent is brimming with unique experiences – including those hidden-in-plain-sight places even the most hardened travelers and safari-goers don’t know about.
If you’re ready to step out of the norm and discover more about the world (and yourself) than ever before, here’s our list of overlooked destinations in Africa worth adding to your 2023 itinerary.
Republic of Congo
Not to be confused with the Demorcratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo delivers a spirit of adventure that can put even the most experienced safari-goers through their paces. If you’re on the hunt for something different from your more ‘typical’ Big 5 safari parks, this is it. It features one of Africa’s oldest parks, The Odzala-Kokoua National Park – a biodiversity bonanza where Gorilla trekking is the top highlight for visitors.
Where to stay: Gorilla trekking is the main focus at Ngaga Camp, situated in the heart of the Ndzehi Forest just outside the Odzala-Kokoua park boundary. Trip ideas: Congo Discovery 10 Days
Gonarezhou National Park
Love a good safari, but itching to try somewhere new? Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park remains largely untouched and underdeveloped, which is exactly why we love it. Despite being the second-largest park in the country, it’s currently on our list as one of the most overlooked destinations in Africa, so there are no crowds to compete with. Due to several conservation efforts well underway across the region, there’s more than enough to see here: Wildebeests, elephants, rhinos, sable, endangered African wild dogs and towering baobabs.
Where to stay: Snap up a stay at Singita Pamushana Lodge. This luxury lodge has everything from exclusive game drives and San rock art excursions to world-class cuisine and wine tasting.
If you’re craving a new country to explore in Africa, add Chad to your hit list. It may not be the first place mentioned on travel sites and brochures, but that only adds to its allure. Due to the country’s current stability, tourism is on the uptick, with ethereal landscapes to explore and varied wildlife to spy in Zakouma National Park. Those enigmatic rock formations of the Ennedi Massif (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are also well worth a visit.
Where to stay: Camp Nomade. This exclusive tented camp operates between December and April, offering a front-row seat to Zakouma National Park.
Nyerere National Park (The Selous)
Selous Game Reserve, now called Nyerere National Park, lies tucked away in southern Tanzania. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, it stands as one of the continent’s largest wilderness areas, and is home to numerous packs of Africa’s painted pooches – wild dogs. Other predators in attendance include those infamous Selous lions, which you’ll likely encounter during boat trips, or morning and evening guided game drives.
Where to stay: Bed down at Roho ya Selous, an off-the-beaten track waterside lodge situated in in one of the best game-viewing areas in the reserve. Frequent sightings of wild dogs are reported here.
South Africa's West Coast
South Africa’s rustic West Coast is one of the best-kept travel secrets and one of the most overlooked destinations in Africa. Head west along the R27 from Cape Town, and you’ll quickly find yourself immersed in a world of white-washed fishing villages and feet-in-the-sand seafood restaurants. Time your visit between August to October to catch thousands of wildflowers bursting from the ground. As the local saying aptly describes it: ‘Die Weskus is die bes kus’ ( the West Coast is the best coast).
Where to stay: Have the ocean on your doorstep at Strandlooper Ocean Boutique Hotel. Those sweeping views of wild fynbos and rolling sand dunes are out of this world!
Kidepo Valley National Park
When it comes to remote safaris in Africa, Kidepo quickly comes to mind. Although it takes some effort to reach this far-flung wilderness arena, the experience you’ll have there is well worth it. Situated close to the border of Sudan, it’s brimming with a myriad of terrains, from dense jungles to rolling savannahs and craggy outcrops. Such diversity will quickly reward you with bountiful sightings of beautiful African beasts: Striped hyena, aardwolf, and Rothschild’s giraffe.
Where to stay: Escape to Apoka Lodge, an intimate safari oasis with its rock-carved swimming pool, and expansive rooms built high up on stilts.
Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
Need something new for your return trip to Botswana? A sleep out on the Makgadikgadi salt pan should tick the box. Part of the Kalahari Basin, this mysterious milky-white landscape seemingly stretches to eternity and stands as one of the largest salt pans in the world. The real magic of Makgadikgadi lies in its minimalism and nothingness, and being here can only best be described as stepping out onto the moon. If you’ve done the Delta and the Chobe, this is Botswana like you’ve never seen it!
Where to stay: Contact the ATC team for more details on The Makgadikgadi Salt Pan Sleep Out experience, which operates from July to October.
This year, we’re on a mission to break safari stigmas, and uncover those hidden-in-plain-sight places you’d never thought of going to. If you’re looking to add more of those overlooked destinations in Africa to your itinerary, get in touch with our team here.
Big Journeys Start With Small Steps
~ African Proverb