Hopefully, you already know that Africa is a continent, not a country. And inside this marvelously diverse country, there are a whopping 54 countries to explore.

Of course, not all areas of Africa are welcoming to tourists (or safe for them). But the good news is, there are plenty of places you can go in Africa that are inviting and thrilling for tourists.

Here's everything you need to know about planning a trip to Africa, from what to see to where to stay and more.


Things To Do (All Over Africa)

Botswana, a landlocked country, has the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which showcases giraffes, hyenas, cheetahs, and more. Lesotho's Mount Qiloane is an icon for the Basotho people, and worth viewing via Thaba Bosiu.

And if an island getaway is the African vibe you're wanting, Mauritius is a highlight. The Indian Ocean island has beaches, lagoons, and reefs. Rainforests, waterfalls, and wildlife (the flying fox, a bat!) all abound here. If you stop by, check out the Sir Seewosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens, too!

Seychelles is another ideal archipelago destination, with picturesque beaches along 115 islands. You might even spot the rare giant Aldabra tortoise while on an excursion!

When's The Best Time Of Year To See Africa?

Since the climate varies across nearly every African country, the best time to visit varies based on your destination.

For the desert coast of Namibia, the most vibrant colors emerge after the wet season (November to April), while October to February can be stifling, says Safari Bookings. Dry season—May to September/October—can be ideal for checking out both Namibia and Botswana.

Rwanda is ideal between December and February or June to September, when it's dry for longer periods.

Mauritius has a (relatively low) tropical hurricane risk in the summer, while Seychelles is outside the "cyclone belt." Mauritius has ideal, cooler conditions between May and December, but it's tropical all year. Seychelles is best in April, May, October, or November when it's not so hot and humid (but still warm).

Top African Hotels To Stay At

Want the full jungle safari experience? Stay at Etosha Safari Camp near Etosha National Park in Namibia, or Camp Xakanaxa, which is totally rustic (yet still glamorous—and expensive).

Perhaps your interests lie more in lying on the beach? Think about visiting the Kempinski Seychelles Resort Baie Lazare. It's mere steps from white sand beaches and gorgeous scenery. If Mauritius is more your speed, visit Shangri-La's Le Touessrok Resort & Spa—it truly is a Shangri-La, complete with white beaches, ocean-view villas and rooms, and a golf course.

Staying at the Nyungwe Forest Lodge in Rwanda is an excellent way to view the wildlife (more on the National Park below). Hoping to adventure to the Maletsunyane Falls in Lesotho? Check out Semonkong Lodge nearby.

Where To Go In Africa: Top Countries

Not all of Africa is peaceful and ready to receive visitors. The U.S. Department of State advises people against traveling to the Central African Republic due to crime and civil unrest.

You should also skip South Africa. Despite its attractive offerings, Elon Musk's birthplace isn't somewhere travelers should be Instagramming. Per the U.S. travel site, crime, civil unrest, and drought make it a dreary spot to visit.

Unfortunately, the U.S. advises against travel in many African countries. It's easier to list the safest spots where you can travel with fewer worries. Rwanda, Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, and Lesotho all have "normal" ratings as far as travel safety.

Rwanda has everything from tumultuous rope bridges to quaint towns to breathtaking views. Mauritius and Seychelles offer island vibes, Namibia and Botswana center on wildlife and natural landscapes, and Lesotho has soaring mountain peaks.

Prepare Your Palate: Africa Has All The Cuisine

The cuisine across Africa is just as diverse as the countries you'll find there. A few highlights include Namibian venison, a traditional Seswaa (meat dish) from Botswana, and brochettes—meat on skewers—from Rwanda. Rwanda also favors traditional foods like sweet potatoes, maize (corn), and millet.

Seychelles favors seafood dishes, of course, usually accompanied by rice. Curry is another favorite on the islands, too. Mauritius has Biryani, an Indian dish with rice, meat, vegetables, and gravy, and Bol renversé, an egg, chicken, and pak choi rice bowl.

Lesotho favors potatoes, seafood, rice, and vegetables, plus corn-based dishes and even British desserts, says Wikipedia.

Getting Around The Continent

If you're planning to visit Seychelles or Mauritius, a plane (or boat, perhaps) is the only way to get there. And, traveling from Namibia to Rwanda (or anywhere else within Africa) will require a flight. Or a verrrrry long cross-countries trip!

Traveling across borders means you need to know about each country's visa and passport requirements. But as Nomadic Matt explains, there are options for getting around Africa. One option is an Africa Safari tour, but that involves more expense (and trust in your travel agency). Nomadic Matt says these trips tend to cost $1,000 USD per 7-day excursion.

Another option is Baz Bus, a hop-on-hop-off bus that's ideal for backpackers and light packers. You can get a 21-day pass for $470 USD, then plan your own route. Public buses are also an option, but each country and its cities operate differently. Minivans and cars-for-hire are also taxi-like options for navigating Africa.

Stunning Landmarks In Africa You've Got To See

National Parks are a highlight in every African country; Namibia has three, two of which are along its coast. Namibia is also home to the Namib Desert, which offers up plenty of strange and intriguing sights of its own.

If you thought Africa was all deserts, that's not the case. Lesotho, a landlocked country with tons of rivers and mountain ranges, provides plenty of lush backdrops and gorgeous sights. Also, check out Rwanda for preserves full of gorillas, volcanoes, and rainforests. The Nyungwe Forest National Park also has a Canopy Walkway.

Cash And Currency Throughout The Country

Currency gets complex in Africa. Some countries share a currency, while others have their own. Makes sense, right? But for travelers, it can be frustrating.

Namibia uses South African rands and Namibian dollars. For a conversion rate of $1 USD to 14.42 rands or 14.43 NAD. In the next country over, Botswana's Botswanan pula amounts to 10.73 pula to one US dollar.

Rwanda has the Rwandan franc, and $1 USD equals 935 RWF.

Lesotho's loti costs $1 USD for 14.43 loti. Seychelles uses the Seychellois rupee, which is 13.70 to one USD.

Mauritius has Mauritian rupees, with a conversion rate of 36.75 rupees to $1 USD.

Basically, bring plenty of cash to exchange, have traveler's checks on hand, and keep a few cards in your wallet, too.

Flying To Africa: Best Time For Deals

Flying to Africa involves knowing a specific country destination, then selecting an international airport that fits. But overall, Cheap Flights says that February offers the cheapest fares to anywhere in Africa. In contrast, July is the most expensive.

Either way, expect to shell out a lot for tickets to African destinations. Flying from LAX in California costs nearly $2,000 USD. LAX to Mauritius may run about $900, while Seychelles is $1,800 or more.

All this to say, plan on spending the most on flights when it comes to an African vacation (unless you're booking an all-inclusive safari like your favorite celeb).

Africa's Rich History Beckons

Often referred to as the seat of humanity, the place from which hominids emerged, Africa has a long and rich history. Sadly, slavery placed a huge mark on the entire continent, so many countries have memorials in remembrance of those who died. Genocide is another big issue in many African countries, and each has its own way of commemorating the people who were lost.

European colonization later marked the country, and many towns still have colonial buildings, like Windhoek and Swakopmund in Namibia.

Exploring each country and even each city's history is one way to delve deeper into the meaning behind its culture and traditions. Spend time in local museums and archaeological sites for the best history experience possible!

Beaches & More Beaches: Africa's Coastline

Landlocked Botswana, Rwanda, and Lesotho tourist attractions focus on rainforests, animals, and the canopy. But other countries pride themselves on pristine beaches.

Namibia's entire western border trails along the ocean with the Namib Desert, a highlight on its own. But for lush, coral-rich beaches, consider Seychelles or Mauritius for beach days (and social media snaps) of epic proportions.