Traveling to the beautiful continent of Africa is a bucket list item in itself, but with so many countries and varied landscapes, it can be overwhelming to plan a trip here. For travelers focusing their adventure on the southern part of Africa, there is no shortage of bucket-list activities to enjoy while visiting.
From the safaris of Kenya to the blue waters of Malawi, Southern Africa has something for everyone. These 9 experiences should be on every traveler’s wish list when heading this magnificent continent.
9 Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the biggest attractions that draw travelers to Africa, with approximately 35,000 people attempting to summit the mountain each year. Kilimanjaro is famous for being the tallest peak in Africa and the largest freestanding mountain in the entire world. It’s located in Tanzania, in the southeast of Africa.
Kilimanjaro stands at 5895 meters tall and typically takes anywhere from five to nine days to summit. There are several routes climbers can take to reach the summit, varying in length and difficulty levels. Typically, the longer the route, the better the chance of summiting. More time on the mountain gives the body longer to adjust to the altitude.
8 Witness The Great Migration On The Masai Mara
The Masai Mara National Reserve is in southwest Kenya and covers 1510 square km. The reserve was established in 1961 and is one of the top protected nature areas in all of Africa. Every year, people come from around the world to watch two million wildebeests cross from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya.
This breathtaking event is called the Great Migration. It takes place during the dry season, making the best time to visit between July and October.
7 Go On Safari In The Serengeti
One of the biggest appeals for travelers visiting southern African countries is the chance to go on safari and spot the Big Five. The Big Five consists of an African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, lion, and rhinoceros. These animals were originally coined the Big Five because they were the most elusive to hunt and the most dangerous. Today, these animals are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
One of the best places to spot these creatures, among others, is in Tanzania at Serengeti National Park. Travelers can stay in an eco-friendly safari lodge and head out on game drives for a few days or for a week, depending on their budget.
6 Cage Dive With Great White Sharks In Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa is a gorgeous coastal city with colorful buildings and a jaw-dropping landscape. When visiting, head down to the waterfront for the experience of a lifetime: getting up close and personal with one of nature’s most terrifying and majestic predators.
The attraction is popular in Cape Town and is even part of the area’s City Pass. Once you book your tour, the guide lowers you into a cage and you submerge yourself in the water, getting a clear view of sharks swimming past while you are safely behind bars.
5 Swim In The Devils Pool At Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is a massive waterfall on the Zambezi River, between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Locals call Victoria Falls “the smoke that thunders”, a fitting name for the 1700 meter-wide cascade of crashing water.
To swim in the Devil’s Pool at the edge of the falls, travelers must take a Zambezi River tour to Livingstone Island. From there, they can take a dip in the pool with an incredible view of the drop below. Swimming here is only possible during the dry season, which is typically from mid-August to January.
4 Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda
The Republic of Rwanda is located in eastern Africa and is the destination for travelers who want to witness Gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla Trekking tours begin out of Kigali and typically take two to six hours to complete. The hike into the mountains is scenic and challenging as guides help visitors get to the spots frequented by the families of mountain gorillas.
This initiative keeps the animals safe by ensuring tourists are with a guide and maintain a respectful distance from the gorillas at all times. Permits are required, so ensure you obtain your permit to trek before traveling.
3 Go On A River Safari Along The Okavango Delta
Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa that is underrated among travelers. It’s often overlooked in favor of safari destinations like Tanzania, Kenya, or South Africa but Botswana has plenty to offer. It’s an extremely biodiverse country, especially along the Okavango Delta, an inland river running through the north of the country.
Visitors can book river safaris where they explore the Okavango Delta in custom game-viewing boats. The Okavango Delta is referred to as Africa’s beating heart and it’s clear why from the amount of wildlife on its banks.
2 Go Snorkeling In Lake Malawi
Traveling to Malawi isn’t on everyone’s bucket list, but it should be. In Malawi is Lake Malawi, one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the world. It’s a stunning natural spot for swimming and enjoying sandy beaches with mountain landscapes in the background. The water is vibrant blue and clear, making it perfect for snorkeling.
The lake has an incredible amount of wildlife for visitors to see, with over 1000 species of fish calling Lake Malawi home.
1 Hike Dune 45 In Namibia
Dune 45 is an epic sandbank in the Namib Desert that earned its name for its location. It is 45 km up the road connecting Sesriem gate to Sossusvlei. Despite its intimidating appearance and size, the dune is easy to reach with a 2x4. At 105 meters high, the dune is the perfect place to settle in for a sunrise or sunset view over the Namib Desert.