Sunset in Isalo Madagascar

The Best Of Johnny Africa – Top Moments Traveling Through Africa

All good things must come to an end. Some day I’d have to leave this beautiful continent I was able to call home. Immersing myself in South African life and traveling through much of Africa, I can’t say I have any regrets. I was fortunate enough to do everything I wanted and herein is my last post from my time in Africa! I’ve compiled a list of the top places to travel in Africa!

To commemorate my two years in Africa, and the twelve countries I visited, here is a post of my top everythings. Think of this as a one post summary and ranking of all the traveling I did.  The things on this list are all from my experiences, pictures all taken by myself, and all based on opinion.

I’ve traveled to all the continents except Australia and Africa is truly something special. The rankings are purely my opinion, from the experience that I had at the time. Whether you’re looking for the best place to safari in Africa, or the best beaches Africa has offer, or where to take in the best sunset because Africa’s sunsets cannot be beat, I’m confident this list encompasses the best destinations, countries, and things to do in Africa!

Here are the 12 countries I visited in Sub-Saharan Africa that will comprise the lists below.

  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • Botswana
  • Zimbabwe
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Swaziland
  • Lesotho
  • Mozambique
  • Madagascar
Table Of Contents show

Best Views in Africa

I’m a sucker for good views. Africa is home to countless cliffs, mountains, oceans, and viewpoints that serve some of the best views you can imagine. In no particular order, these were my favorites.

Noordhoek Beach, South Africa

Noordhoek Beach

Driving through Chapman’s Peak from Cape Town to Cape Point was probably my favorite drive in South Africa because of the views of Noordhoek Beach. While the beach itself is frigid and not meant for swimming, the views from high up on the mountains watching the endless waves crashing into the beach are always good for 10 minute stop (both ways).

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Isalo National Park, Madagascar

Isalo National park sunset
Ya, can’t complain about this view…

One of Madagascar’s many beautiful parks, Isalo National Park was particular stunning during sunset as the sun reflecting off the rocks really made the colors pop. This place reminds me a lot of the parks in America’s southwest but has way more wildlife including many types of lemurs!

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Tsingy Stone Forest, Madagascar

For those adventurous enough (and with a lot of time) to get here, prepare for breathtaking views off martian like landscapes of jagged rocks rising up to the sky. Tsingy Stone Forest is nothing short of incredible. Unlike anything else I’ve seen. Pictures do this place zero justice. It’s certainly one of those places that is best saved in your memory.

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Delaire Graff, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Delaire Graff
Delaire Graff

In my opinion, the most stunning wine farm I’ve ever visited in South Africa (and every other region too). Doesn’t hurt that the wine is also amazing and tastings are in true South Africa fashion; cheap and plentiful. Forget Napa Valley, if you’re into stunning views and tastings that aren’t trying to rip you off, come to South Africa’s wine country.

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Lion’s Head, South Africa

Lions Head hike sunset

Best view of a city hands down. The hike up Lions head is a tiring but fun hike.The views make it all worthwhile. It’s better than Table Mountain in my opinion as the mountain is closer to the ocean and there are numerous rocks at the peak to take amazing pictures like this one.

Bazaruto Island, Mozambique

Bazaruto sand dunes island
Ridiculous views, this picture does NOT do it any justice. The views of the sandbanks up on a huge dune is something else.

The biggest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, the island of Bazaruto is unlike anything else in the world. Giant dunes 100m high are surrounded by blue water making for an incredible view. Throw in the countless sandbars that appear/disappear depending on the time of day, this place is something else.

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Sossusvlei, Namibia

Deadvlei namibia sossusvlei namib desert

The dunes of Namibia wins out for my top views. The flaming red colored dunes, combined with the endless salt pans and dead Acacia trees offer the some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. The view atop the dune Big Daddy, with deadvlei on one side (the salt pans), and endless red dunes on the other side, is something truly special.

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Andringitra Mountains, Madagascar

Andringitra mountains
Base of the Andringitra, the tallest mountains in Madagascar. This place is a short detour off the RN7.

Driving up on Madagascar’s highest mountain range feels like you’ve gone back in time hundreds of years. Even for a country like Madagascar of which I think is the least developed of any place I’ve visited, this area felt even more so.  I never got to climb to the top of this mountain, in which I’m sure the view is stunning, but just seeing it from afar was a special moment.

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Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls Aerial view from helicopter Zambia and Zimbabwe
Beautiful Victoria Falls from above

Also known as Mosi Oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke That Thunders”, Victoria Falls indeed lives up to its name with waterfalls spanning a kilometer and a half, and water plunging 100m down into the Zambezi river. This picture was taken from a helicopter ride but the views are pretty spectacular from all angles, although I preferred the Zimbabwean side of the falls vs the Zambian side.

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Anywhere in Lesotho

lesotho landscape

The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is perhaps the most underrated African country in terms of beauty and tourism. It’s largely one giant and stunning mountain range with dramatic peaks, unique flora, and very interesting culture. It’s hard to have bad view in this country, particularly while abseiling next to a 200m waterfall.

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Best Beaches in Africa

It’s no mystery the nicest beaches in the world are nestled in the Indian Ocean. Thankfully, one half of Africa’s coastline is Indian Ocean. I was fortunate enough to visit some of the most beautiful and isolated beaches in the world. Obviously, I didn’t see them all, and there may be more beautiful ones in Africa (never made it to Seychelles or Mauritius) but this is just from what I saw!

#5. Sardinia Bay, South Africa

sardinia bay south africa port elizabeth beach

Okay so most people would probably choose Clifton or Camps Bay to represent South Africa but I wanted to go with something out of the ordinary. Sardinia Bay, near Port Elizabeth is one of many off the beaten path garden route and wild coast beaches in South Africa. I thought this one was the most stunning as the water is still warm enough to swim in (they are not so in Cape Town), and dramatic sand dunes lead right into the water. »Read More

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#4. Zanzibar, Tanzania


Zanzibar has miles and miles of beautiful and picturesque beaches. Most of its coastline is built up by large resorts however so it can get pricey. Nevertheless, the beaches, snorkeling, and diving are top notch and it’s the perfect place to go after some game viewing in the Serengeti or a long hike up Mount Kilimanjaro. »Read More

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#3. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

bazaruto archipelago azura benguerra view

Located in Central Mozambique, the Bazaruto are six islands that are already incredible but look even more amazing from the air. Dramatic sandbars appear and disappear with the tide making this place the closest thing to Australia’s Whitsunday. The only downside to this beautiful piece of paradise is the only way to stay on the island is to stay at one of its ultra-lux hotels going for way more money than I can afford.

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#2. Ile Aux Nattes, Madagascar

Ile aux nattes beach paradise madagascar
Paradise on Ile Aux Nattes

If a deserted island in the sun with crystal clear water is your cup of team, Ile Aux Nattes is for you. Located on the east coast of Madagascar, this little island is surrounded by water like this. Some of the best snorkeling I’ve done is a short swim from the shore and best of all? There’s hardly anyone here. »Read More

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#1. Quirimbas Archipelago

matemo quirimbas mozambique
Matemo Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago

Mozambique is blessed with a whole coastline of ridiculous nice beaches. The Quirimbas are the best in my opinion, and easily my favorite and the nicest beach of my African travels. The water is beyond dramatic, the sand is blindingly white, and once again, there are no tourists here. This place is one of the few remaining beach getaways still hidden from mass tourism and I am so happy I could experience it before it likely becomes commercialized. »Read More

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Best Game Reserves in Africa

Likely the first thing that most people think of when they think of Africa, I was able to visit many game reserves during my time in Africa. This was one thing that I never tired of. Yes you sit in a car for hours on end and see the same animals, but nevertheless who can possibly tire of seeing a pride of lions on the prowl or a herd of elephant just a few feet from you?

#5. Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park Watering hole
Etosha National Park Watering hole

Etosha, meaning “place of dry water” is Namibia’s biggest game reserve. It’s famous for its numerous watering holes that you can sit behind a fence and watch animals come in and out in their natural setting. Because of Namibia’s extreme arid climate, the dry season forces the animals to all congregate near these watering holes allowing for spectacular game viewing. The Etosha also features of the world’s largest salt pans, a shimmering endless white backdrop in the middle of the reserve. »Read More

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#4. Chobe National Park

chobe sunset botswana elephants
Sunset in the Chobe National Park with elephants in the distance.

One of Botswana’s many game reserves, Chobe is known for its huge population of elephants. In fact, this park has the highest concentration of elephants of all the parks in Africa. If you want to see elephants, there is a 100% change to see many many of them here. Add in the lake cruises where there are so countless hippos and elephant crossings, this place is incredible. »Read More

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#3. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

ngorongoro crater

East Africa has the best game viewing in my opinion. The Ngorogoro crater, the world’s largest caldera, a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, features seemingly endless amounts of wildlife viewing. It’s not as big as the other national parks in Africa but the dense concentration of animals will make this a once in a lifetime experience. »Read More

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#2. Masai Mara, Kenya

Masai Mara water buffaloes sunset

Located a few hours outside of Nairobi, this is Kenya’s national treasure when it comes to tourism. It’s one of the most expensive game reserves in Africa. It is also home to the most amazing spectacle in all of African animals, the migration of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. »Read More

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#1. Serengeti, Tanzania

For myself, this place was what I thought a safari would be like and now what I compare all other reserves to. Endless savanna grass, acacia trees, intense sunsets, and an abundance of animals make this place my favorite game reserve in Africa. Fun fact, The Lion King movie was based off this reserve. »Read More

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Best Places In Africa to See…

This section continues from the best game reserve and goes from my experience on which game reserve is the best to see which type of animal. Of course this is subjective because you can see the big 5 in most of the big game parks including the Kruger.

Where to see Rhinos

white rhinos swaziland
White rhinos are what this park in Swaziland is known for. There are large numbers in this place and is actually the first time I’ve ever seen a white rhino.

Of all the animals I saw, Rhinos were probably my favorite sighting. They were also the most difficult to see for me sadly due to the extreme poaching throughout the continent. I saw more leopards than I saw Rhinos during my game reserve visits, that is until I went to Hlane National Park in Swaziland.  This park is known for its abundant population of white rhinos, the largest species of rhinos in the world. It’s almost a guarantee to see these beautiful animals as they visit the watering hole every day to cool off, which also happens to be located right next to your campsite.

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Best Place to see Elephants

sunset chobe national park

Elephants are on everyone’s bucket list on a safari. Elephant populations are on the higher end as they have no predators, and poaching seems to have taken more of a toll on rhinos than elephants. Nevertheless, not all game reserves are equal. The Chobe National Park in Botswana has easily the highest density of elephants in Africa at over 100,000 in this park. In comparison, Kruger, also a good place to see elephants, has just over 10,000. It’s pretty much a 100% guarantee to see elephants in the Chobe. Hell, we saw elephants before we even entered the park!

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Best Place to see Lions

The king of the jungle is not an endangered animal but they’re still not the easiest animals to see. East Africa, specifically Tanzania. The Serengeti has the largest population of lions in Africa and we had no shortage of lion sightings here. In fact, we saw so many, we were tired of them near the end. We did however, camp in the middle of the Serengeti and could hear lions roaring at night which was amazing. We were also told to avoid going to the bathroom at night and pee outside the tent. It’s unlikely to see anything interesting happen during the day, most lions just sleep and chill out. It’s only at night when they are the most active.

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Best Place to see Hippos

hippo chobe national park

I find these animals the strangest but also the coolest. They are massive animals, do nothing but eat and fart all day, and they just look so funny when they move. They’re easy to spot all over Africa but Uganda certainly takes it to the next level. Not only is the Queen Elizabeth park teeming with hippos but our campsite for was located near the lake where there is a huge hippo population. Hippos come on land at night to eat and can travel 30km inland to find food. We saw hippos EVERY night, and I even accidentally got no more than 5 meters to one at night when I raised my flashlight.

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Zebras and Wildebeest

wildebeest and zebra in ngorongoro crater

Why bunch these two animals together? Because the best place to see them is without question in the Masai Mara or Serengeti during The Great Migration. Over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in the month of August, and wildebeest and zebras lead the charge. If you visit these game parks during August and don’t see a Zebra and Wildebeest, it’s time to demand a refund. Zebras take very good pics, and wildebeest are well, kinda strange looking but I still like them.

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Best Adrenaline Activities

My travels through Africa were not just filled with amazing beaches and animals. Well it definitely had a lot of those things, but every now and then, you have to mix it up with something to get your blood flowing.

#5. Cage Diving with Great White Sharks, South Africa

Great Whites Shark Cage Diving
Huge shark next to the cage

Located a few hours outside of Cape Town, this is one thing on many people’s bucket list and for good reason. It’s not every day you get to be so close to the most famous sharks. You’re pretty much guarenteed to see great whites in Gans Baai. In fact, most of the shops will give you money back if you don’t see any. I did this activity numerous times and it never got old. Getting a foot away from a great white with only a cage separating you, while they ram the cage, is awesome.  »Read more

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#4. Devils Pool, Zambia

devil's pool victoria falls zambia

Located on the Zambian side of Victoria falls, and only available for visits late Aug-Dec (low water season), this was something I had seen pictures of many times and I knew I had to go. It lives up to its billing. You get to sit in a pool on the very edge of the waterfall and gaze over a natural rock-formed pool with endless streams of water pumping into the abyss. This was my absolute favorite thing to do in Victoria Falls.  »Read more

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#3. Abseiling in Lesotho

abseiling lesotho

Located in the center of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, the abseiling done in Semonkong is the highest in the world at over 200m high! The view is absolutely stunning, as well as the whole country of Lesotho. The abseiling is done adjacent to the large waterfall which adds to the adrenaline experience as you eventually get engulfed by its huge streams of water.  »Read more

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#2. White Water Rafting, Victoria Fallswhite water rafting victoria falls zimbabwe

The Zambezi is one of the top white water rafting spots in the world. It certainly doesn’t disappoint. Going in low water season is key as the water is so much crazier and we had no shortage of adrenaline pumping action. We were splashed, thrown around, and even flipped over in numerous grade 4 and 5 rapids. This was my first time white water rafting and what a great place to do it! »Read more

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#1. Bloukrans Bungy Jump, South Africabloukrans bungee bridge

Well for someone who’s never bungy jumped before, doing it for the first time at the highest bungy bridge in the world is big welcome to the activity. I was absolutely terrified when I did this, thinking about my inevitable doom days before I was scheduled to jump. The secret is not to look down, but of course that is the first thing I did which made me even more terrified. Nevertheless, the jump only lasted five seconds but it was the best thing I could have done and would highly recommend it to anyone driving through the Garden Route in South Africa.  »Read more

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Best African Sunsets

It’s no surprise that African sunsets can’t be beat and I have just the pictures to prove it. One amazing sunset after another was what I could always expect to see living in Johannesburg. Traveling around Africa and seeing sunsets in different countries were just a bonus. At the end of the day, there are stunning sunsets to be had everywhere. This is just a collection of the best ones I experienced (and could get a picture of).

#5. Namib Desert, Namibia

Spitzkoppe Namibia sunset
No words necessary.

After a long day of driving through Namibia, we finally stopped for a tour with a local bushman that taught us the ways of his culture, old and new. The tour was amazing as our guide literally just randomly found the door to a trap door spider in the middle of the desert. The cloud really added to the intensity of this sunset as we soaked in the desert views. »Read More

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#4. Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascarbaobabs sunset avenue of the baobabs madagascar

If the baobab trees weren’t cool enough already, seeing the sun set between two of these strange trees was the icing on the cake. Sunset is absolutely the time of day to visit the baobabs as it really brings out the colors in the trees. »Read More

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#3. Quirimbas Archipelago, MozambiqueQuirimbas archipelago sunset ibo island mangroves

One of my last sunsets in Mozambique, this picture was taken from Ibo Lodge on Ibo Island. With mangroves, ocean, and islands in the distance, I made sure to come to this very expensive lodge every night to enjoy the sunset over some beers. Every night, for a week straight, this was my view. Hard life… »Read More

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#2. Chobe National Park, BotswanaChobe national park sunset elephants

Well couldn’t have picked a better timing with this sunset. The sun was so intense, and there was a herd of elephants (over 100), enjoying the sunset with us. This was one of those moments where we sat there, stayed as the sun set completely, snapping countless pictures trying to get the best shot when I eventually realize you know what? I need to just enjoy this moment. It won’t come around too much.

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#1. Victoria Falls, Zambia

african sunset victoria falls
And lastly, easily one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in my life.

Of all the epic sunsets I got to see in Africa, none were more intense and dramatic as this one in Victoria Falls. Having sundowners from the deck of the ultra-lux Livingstone Hotel, we saw the sun gradually set, getting brighter as it set. Never did I see the sun so close, large, and vibrant. This will always be something I remember! »Read More

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Best Hikes in Africa

Hikes probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Africa. Getting driven around in a 4×4 with the roof down, seeing animals left and right probably are. Prepare to be amazed. The landscapes and geology of the continent is so unique and so conducive to some otherwise epic hikes. I made sure to soak it all in.

#5. Robberg Peninsula, South AfricaRobberg Mountains PLetenberg

Nestled along the garden route, Plettenberg Bay is a beautiful beach town and popular vacation destination for South Africans. It’s also home to beautiful beaches, hikes, the infamous Bloukrans bungy jump, and Robberg Nature Reserve. It’s essentially a large peninsula that you can hike around. The full hike around the peninsula is three hours and while we planned on this, the weather took a turn for the worse and we had to turn back. Nevertheless, we got a small taste of this hike, and for anyone needing a break from being lauded to sleep in this relaxed town should definitely come here.

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#4. Isalo National Park, Madagascarisalo national park hike

Madagascar has seemingly endless amounts of incredible hikes. There’s so much unique nature and other-worldly landscapes that on a single hike, we could see hundreds of fauna and flora that we’d never see again (unless we returned to Madagascar of course). Isalo park is filled with all of the above. We saw beautiful mountains, plants we’d never see before, lemurs, birds, and enormous canyons.  »Read more

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#3. Lion’s Head, South Africa

lion's head sunset hike

Every time I visited Cape Town, I’d make sure to hike up Lion’s Head. Not only is the view world class, but the hike is a challenging, but not overly so. The hike is so engaging, with a mix of mountain climbing, rock climbing, and ladders. It’s the perfect length of time (45 min-1hr) providing for a great workout without being too overworked. Table Mountain on the other hand takes almost 2 hours and it’s purely a stair-master hike. Capetonian’s are lucky SOBs being able to hike this mountain anytime they please.

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#2. Tsingy Stone Forest, Madagascar

Tsingy Madagascar
Leap of faith suspension bridge. No worries though, this bridge is stable and incredibly well developed.

Not only was this a challenging hike that took the majority of the day, but it involved some serious physical fitness to meander along the jagged rocks, all sharp enough to seriously injure you if you fell on them. The rewards however, far outweigh the risks however as the geological features of this place is only found in this part of Madagascar and in Yunnan, China. Except China doesn’t have lemurs to go along with these rock formations…

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#1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Gorillas fighting uganda bwindi
Family of gorillas in front of us

Saving the absolute best for last, I mean how can you really compare to hiking around the jungles of Uganda, in a place called the impenetrable forest, searching for a family of wild gorillas? You really can’t. This is a huge bucket list item for many people and for good reason. The hike itself can be gruesome depending on the conditions, and can range anywhere from 30 minuets to 8 hours. This is not a zoo after all. But being able to spend an hour up close and personal with the gorillas (I was no more than 2m from it) is something I will never forget.  »Read more

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Best African Cities

Africa is not a continent known for its cities. You won’t find any renaissance architecture nor will you find Baroque museums. There’s not much to see/do in most African cities and most of them showcase fully what the third world, and life, is like. Truth is, most African cities were not in development until European colonization, meaning most towns are no more than a century old. For a continent that is the birthplace of all humanity, its cities are some of the newest cities in the world. For the sake of this list, I won’t include South Africa as South Africa is so much more developed versus its neighbors and this list could be completely made up of South African cities if I did.

#5. Kampala, Ugandakampala uganda city

The capital of Uganda, Kampala is a place most will likely not be able to avoid if gorillas are on your itinerary. Still, as far as African capitals go, this place has more to see than most. Take a ride up to the Muammar Gaddafi Mosque, a huge and incredibly beautiful mosque gifted by the former leader of Libya for Uganda’s Muslim population. As far as museums go, the old parliament building is available for tourists and in it are the torture chambers of Idi Amin (Last King of Scotland movie) which are creepy as hell but cool to see. Lastly, Kampala is quite safe for tourists and the Ugandans are incredibly friendly.

#4. Antananarivo, Madagascar

Antananarivo madagascar views
Views of Tana

Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo is for the most part a huge shitshow. The traffic is terrible, there’s millions of people, and the infrastructure (as far as a capitals go) is nearly non-existent. You’ll have to fly into this airport no matter what and unless you’re flying straight out of Ifaty airport to another destination within Madagascar, driving through Antananarivo is inevitable. Nevertheless, as far as African capitals go, Tana as the locals call it, is more scenic than the others. It is located in the Madagascan highlands with its dramatic rolling hills and mountainous scenery. The houses are unique, I’m not sure if it’s French, local, or a mix but there could be worse things to look at if you had to stay in a city for a night.

#3. Ilha De Mozambique, Mozambique

Ilha de mozambique town
Walking through the town of Ilha De Mozambique

Hauntingly beautiful. These are the right words to describe this town. Once the colonial capital of Mozambique under Portuguese rule, this town was a thriving hub for trade and commerce in the Indian Ocean. Portuguese architectural influences are all over the island as museums, forts, and houses were built in that style. When the Portuguese left, all their buildings remained but have slowly decayed over the years making this place feel like a city lost in time. Pictures will not this place no justice, nor will anything I write about it. It’s a place that needs to be scene in person.

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#2. Swakopmund, Namibiaswakopmund namibia

Sandwiched between endless white dunes, and the Atlantic ocean, this former German colonial town still has numerous buildings with Bavarian influences which when you think of where you are at the moment, it’s a big wtf moment. Nevertheless, this town is a great stopover before or after seeing the incredible dunes of the Namib desert. There’s numerous activities that can be done here like quadbiking, sandboarding, and skydiving. The restaurant scene is amazing here as well. Game meats are readily available for the adventurous and oysters are world famous here.

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#1. Cape Town, South Africa

Okay so I promised I wouldn’t use South Africa in this list but I have to give a shout out to Cape Town. It’s not just the best city in Africa but easily one of the best in the world. It’s the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen when it comes to natural beauty. Sure, there are no medieval museums or renaissance architecture to speak of, but the views of the mountains, beaches, and ocean is beyond compare. It’s no surprise the New York Times rated Cape Town as the #1 city to visit for 2014!

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Best Food

Perhaps surprising to some, Africa is not the place to be for the culinary fanatics. Food is pretty plain, not so flavorful, and uninspired. Go to Thailand and SE Asia for the best food based travels. The African palate is almost all based on maize meal, or better known as pap in South Africa, Sadza in Zimbabwe, nShima in Zambia, Ugali in Eastern Africa, and banku in West Africa. For how different all the African cultures are, somehow they all share the same base of food. I suppose that’s similar with Asia and rice. I’m not a fan of pap so my culinary options were limited. Nevertheless, there are still some gems to be had in Africa.

#5. Ugandauganda food rolex

Uganda was blessed with a large Indian population (many of which were subsequently deported during Idi Amin’s reign) and many of their culinary influences stayed. Along with the ample amounts of street foods available like grilled chicken, beef skewers, and the chapati, also what I’m eating in this picture.

#4. Madagascar

mdagascar food langoustine lobster morondava
This langoustine/lobster was almost 2kg and they were keen to sell it to me for 20,000 Ar (8$) which means I could have got it for 15,000 Ar (6$). And they were willing to cook it for me on the spot!

Madagascar has so much culinary diversity, it is hard to pinpoint what “Malagasy” food is. There is much French influence here that most tourists will see this side of its cuisine more than the local stuff. Either can be great. The food along the coast is far superior as spicy curries combined with so much seafood is amazing. Like food spicy? Just ask for sakay, chili peppers with ginger and oil, that is available at any and all Malagasy restaurants.

#3. ZanzibarForodhani Market Zanzibar

Hauntingly beautiful. These are the right words to describe this town. Once the colonial capital of Mozambique under Portuguese rule, this town was a thriving hub for trade and commerce in the Indian Ocean. Portuguese architectural influences are all over the island as museums, forts, and houses were built in that style. When the Portuguese left, all their buildings remained but have slowly decayed over the years making this place feel like a city lost in time. Pictures will not this place no justice, nor will anything I write about it. It’s a place that needs to be scene in person. Make sure to visit the Forodhani Market in Stone Town!

#2. Mozambique

seafood mozambique prawns peri peri
Seafood feast in Mozambique with ample amounts of peri peri

Mozambique is famous for its endless amounts of seafood for cheap. It is also home to peri peri sauce; a tangy, spicy sauce that goes good with pretty much everything. Whether you want to buy seafood from the Maputo Market, or freshly caught from fisherman at the beach, seafood lovers won’t be going hungry here. I LOVE seafood and I don’t think I was in a more happy state than the three weeks I spent in this country, eating lobster and prawns by the kilo every day.

#1. South Africa

The grill at the Carnivore cooking up all sorts of game meats.

Well there’s not much surprise here. South Africa has some of the best food in the world. Cape Town is a culinary hub nowadays with so many different cuisines available. If delicious steak and top quality wine for cheap sounds good, look no further than South Africa. Seafood is readily available as well making South Africa a place I miss daily because of its delicious food. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the biltong. Oh the biltong!!!

Most Undeveloped Country

The main highways of Madagascar are 1.5 lane, pot hole infested, and is used equally by cars as it is by people with ox carts. There is not a single traffic light in the entire country and street lights are far and few in the major cities. If there were no cars or no modern technology (phones etc.), it’d feel as if you were transported back to medieval times.  I remember pulling into Antsirabe at night time on our first day in Madagascar, and I had no idea we had arrived in one of Madagascar’s main cities.

madagascar rn7 highway
This, my friends is the RN7, also Madagascar’s MAIN highway. It also belongs equally to cars as it does people in these ox carts.

Best Animal Interactions

This part is a bit of a double edged sword for me. I don’t condone things like elephant riding and tranquilizing tigers so someone can pet them.  There are places in Africa where you can interact with the animals and it’s difficult to know what their true intentions are. On the surface, they come across as a great organization helping rehabilitate the animals but do you really know what goes down behind the scenes? I’d like to be the optimistic type and say yes but in the end, money rules the day and they know people will pay $$$ to interact with animals without the fence of a zoo.

#5. Warthogs in Kasane, Botswana

warthog in kasane botswana
Warthog selfies!

Well I can’t chalk this up to actual physical interaction with a warthog. They aren’t as cuddly as the Lion King makes them out to be, and they’re a lot bigger and a lot meaner than they look. While stopping to pick up some supplies before our safari in the Chobe National Park in Kasane, Botswana, we spotted a bunch of warthogs walking in the town. Townsfolk didn’t seem to be bothered by them at all but we were so intrigued, the locals probably just looked at us laughing at the fact that this wild pig entertains us so much.

#4. Knysna Elephant Park, South Africaelephant knysna sanctuary

The Knysna Elephant park let me do whatever I wanted next to these gentle giants. I was petting, hugging, and even playing with the elephants big ears and as you can tell by the picture, the elephant couldn’t be any less bothered by me. A definite good stop along the Garden Route for elephant lovers.

#3. Lemurs in Madagascar

But in the end, what a badass lemur. Wish I could take him with me

Visiting Madagascar, you certainly won’t have a shortage of lemur sightings or lemur interactions. Are lemur pets a big thing in Madagascar? Not from what I saw. But if they could be pets, they would make damn good ones. They have 100x the personality of cats or dogs, and they can fly around tree branches. I ended up playing with lemurs a bunch during my time in Madagascar, including this Ring Tailed lemur that wouldn’t take no for an answer when it spent the night in our room.

#2. Lion cubs in Free state, South Africalion cub baby

Most visitors to South Africa will visit the Lion Park in Johannesburg to check off the lion cub interaction box. I was never sure what or how they were able to get that many lion cubs in one area. The Lion Park allows you to spend maybe 5 minutes if you’re lucky and if the cubs are sleeping? On the way back from Lesotho, we stumbled upon this farm where they owners raise lions to sell to private game reserves. Not sure about the ethics of this practice but I’m not stupid enough to think that there is still such a thing as the “wild” in Africa. They let us play with the cubs for as long as we wanted and it was just us there. The owners then invited us into their house to have some beers. Does playing with a lion cub ever get old? Nope.

#1. White lions in Thandeka, South Africathandeka white lions south africa

One of the best things about South Africa is the endless number of private game reserves where you can just pop over for the weekend and relax while going on game drives seeing the big 5. Thandeka Private Reserve took that to another level as they happened to have a few white lions raised in captivity. The rationale for this was they were extra cubs in a litter that would have been killed off in the wild so the owners took them and raised them instead. These lions were raised about people their entire lives and wanted nothing more than to play with the guests. Thing is, the lions (when I visited in June 2013) were already a year and a half old, and over 100kg so “playing” might not be the best term to use here.

The Travels Continue

Well it’s been a great run traveling through Africa. I visited every place I wanted to see, and what a great experience. I’ve since moved back to America after two great years in South Africa. I’ll be back in Africa again without a doubt, but until then, there are other places to see in the world and I will continue to write about it on this blog!

If I left any categories out of this list, please leave a comment!


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  1. This must be one of the best travel posts I’ve read in a long time. It’s so incredible that you got to travel to all those places and even more unique to make the comparisons that you’ve made here (especially your beach pictures WOW). I doubt there’s any other site that has summarized so much of Africa like you. Keep traveling and inspiring!! This post should have 10 times more comments!

    • Hey Tony, thanks for the comments! Much appreciated. Ya I was lucky enough to travel to as much of Africa as I did. If I hadn’t lived in South Africa, there would have been no way but I made it work and can make those interesting comparisons that I couldn’t otherwise!

  2. Truly your blog is very inspiring and the best I have very read in long time. The way you have described your experiences and travels is just pure delight. I will be travelling Sa very soon and the things you have mentioned on your blog are on my checklist.
    Thank you for such an incredible blog… Looking for more!

    • Thank you for the nice comments Abhay! Hope you enjoy South Africa! I tell all my friends to visit without any hesitation and I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

  3. Hi Johnny – so glad you found my blog so that I could find yours! You have some wonderful information here for other expats, and as I’ve told you before, I may take up one or two of your themes to share with my readers as well. I’ll also be posting links on my FB page. It’ll be great for new expats to read up on how to get internet, banking, insurance, a new car, etc all set up when they fist arrive, and to perhaps get some new tips from your experience with it all. And of course especially your travel tips! I thought I was well traveled in Africa but of course with 4 kids in tow you don’t quite get around so much as you have done:-)

    • Thanks Sine! I found your blog incredibly useful, especially before I moved to SA.

      We both know traveling Africa isn’t a cheap endeavor and especially with 4 kids wow! I’m surprised you managed to get any travel in outside of South Africa. I’m also not sure hitch-hiking and group taxis are “4 kids friendly”. Nevertheless, the countdown begins till the day all your kids turn 18 and are out of the house so you can return to the place you called home for many years 🙂

  4. Hi Johnny! I’m heading to South Africa next month and starting an overland trip to Victoria Falls. I have some free time before hand and now I’m seriously considering going to Mozambique after your photos. Do you know anything about going from Victoria Falls into Mozambique?? Again, amazing post!

    • Thanks Danielle! If you have the time, then I’d HIGHLY recommend a visit to Mozambique! From Vic Falls, it will not be an easy journey I don’t think. There may be a bus that goes from Vic Falls to Harare (ZIm’s capital), and then to Mutare at the border. From there, you can hitchhike to Beira and then make your way north to the Quirimbas (assuming that’s where you want to go).

      What I think may be a better route is to continue on your overland tour to Malawi (which one are you doing? they almost all continue on to Malawi). Spend some time in Malawi and cross the border into Cuamba, and then from there, take a chappa to Ilha De Mozambique. I met a few people during my time in Ilha that actually came from Malawi and although they said it was a bumpy ride, they made it in one piece!

  5. Another fabulous post! As always, your writing is both inspiring and informative. I’m going on my third year in SA and have traveled quite a bit, but you’ve managed to provide a whole new list of places I want to see and things I want to do.

  6. I’m honestly blown away by how much traveling you did. Most people don’t even go to Africa let alone see half the continent like you! Your pics are just amazing too and really capture the moments you’re talking about. I did a safari in Kenya before but now I want to go back again!

  7. I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now and I so love your style of writing. You pics are incredible and I honestly don’t think I know anyone that’s traveled to the places you’ve been and done as much as you have in such short time.

    So does this mean you’re no longer traveling through Africa???

    • Thanks Sarah! Much appreciated. I left SA a few months ago, and returned to the cold of NYC. I miss Africa dearly so hopefully I will be back someday soon!