9 amazing African destinations you HAVE to see
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9 amazing African destinations you HAVE to see

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By Lauren Ahn, ONE Digital Intern

We LOVE highlighting the incredible work of people in Africa who are fighting for quality education, feeding their communities, and even campaigning to get their community fresh water. But what about the continent itself as a top travel destination? It’s an incredibly diverse and beautiful place, from the heights of Kilimanjaro to the coasts of South Africa. That’s why we’ve picked a few scenic spots that you NEED to know about. Read what the experts below have to say, then start planning your trip!

Giraffe Manor, Kenya

Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo credit: Push the button/Wikimedia Commons)

Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo credit: Push the button/Wikimedia Commons)

“The Carr-Hartley family have the rare honor of sharing their manor estate with some of the most beautiful, endangered creatures in the world: Rothschild giraffes. Located on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, the manor-turned-hotel sprawls across 140 acres and is home to eight giraffes. Opened in 1984 by the previous owners, the small boutique hotel offers guests the chance of a lifetime to hang out with these gentle giants. Every morning at breakfast the giraffes stroll up to the house and poke their heads through the windows and doors looking for morning treats. Guests can feed them right from the breakfast table, take photos up close and interact with the giraffes through the second-floor bedroom window.” —Jenna Rak, Huffington Post

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Two cheetah brothers in Okavango Delta, Botswana. (Photo credit: Arturo de Frias Marques/Wikimedia Commons)

Two cheetah brothers in Okavango Delta, Botswana. (Photo credit: Arturo de Frias Marques/Wikimedia Commons)

“One of the unique characteristics of the site is that the annual flooding from the River Okavango occurs during the dry season, with the result that the native plants and animals have synchronized their biological cycles with these seasonal rains and floods. It is an exceptional example of the interaction between climatic, hydrological and biological processes. The Okavango Delta is home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammals, such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog, and lion.” —UNESCO, World Heritage Centre

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. (Photo credit: Carine06/Wikimedia Commons)

Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. (Photo credit: Carine06/Wikimedia Commons)

“Volcanoes National Park is the Rwandan section of the great volcanic massif called the Virunga Mountains that straddles the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC. Gorillas, of course, pay no heed to borders and are known to cross between the countries, although most habituated groups are to be found in Volcanoes National Park. …There is no other wildlife experience quite like an encounter with mountain gorillas. That precious hour spent in their company – watching the group playing, sulking, teasing each other, eating, or dozing just like we do – is extraordinary.” —Expert Africa

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa

A crocodile basking by the lake in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa. (Photo credit: Steve Slater/Wikimedia Commons)

A crocodile basking by the lake in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa. (Photo credit: Steve Slater/Wikimedia Commons)

“The diversity of life at iSimangaliso is staggering, on par with any of the large nature reserves in South Africa. There are 526 bird species, 36 snake species, 35 frog species, 5 species of turtle, 80 species of dragonfly, 110 species of butterflies, more than 2,000 species of flowering plants, more than 100 species of coral, and hundreds of ocean and freshwater fish species, as well as a wide collection of African wildlife like elephant, hippo, buffalo, hyena and leopard. It is one of two places in South Africa where it’s still possible to see a leopard walking on the beach.” —Scott Ramsay, Getaway

Hot Air Balloon Rides over Sossusvlei, Namibia

A hot air balloon over Namibia. (Photo credit: digr/Wikimedia Commons)

A hot air balloon over Namibia. (Photo credit: digr/Wikimedia Commons)

“As the sun’s first rays peek over the scarlet sand dunes, the hot air balloon drifts slowly upward, revealing the undulating landscapes of Sossusvlei. As you float amongst the clouds, the sun rises dramatically over the horizon, throwing hues of gold and rose across the vast sky… Many animals gaze up at the neon ball in surprise and curiosity as it passes overhead. The seasoned pilot will eventually select the perfect landing spot, just in time for a grand celebratory bubbly breakfast, where you can recap the morning’s bucket list moment as you savour a delicious morning meal. —&Beyond

Lagos, Nigeria

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“The economic and cultural powerhouse of the country thanks to an influx of oil money, Lagos has an exploding arts and music scene that will keep your yansh engaged far past dawn. If you’re headed to Nigeria, you’ll have no choice but to jump right in.” —Lonely Planet

Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls. (Photo credit: John Walker/Wikimedia Commons)

Victoria Falls. (Photo credit: John Walker/Wikimedia Commons)

“Taking its place alongside the Pyramids and the Serengeti, Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya – the ‘smoke that thunders’) is one of Africa’s original blockbusters. And although Zimbabwe and Zambia share it, Victoria Falls is a place all of its own. As a magnet for tourists of all descriptions – backpackers, tour groups, thrill seekers, families, honeymooners – Victoria Falls is one of Earth’s great spectacles. View it directly as a raging mile-long curtain of water, in all its glory, from a helicopter ride or peek precariously over its edge from Devil’s Pools; the sheer power and force of the falls is something that simply does not disappoint.” —Lonely Planet

Rock Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia

Monks sitting in front of the Bete Amanuel rock church in Lalibela, Ethiopia. (Photo credit: Jens Klinzing/Wikimedia Commons)

Monks sitting in front of the Bete Amanuel rock church in Lalibela, Ethiopia. (Photo credit: Jens Klinzing/Wikimedia Commons)

“The chiseled creations have turned this mountain town into a place of pride and pilgrimage for worshipers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, attracting 80,000 to 100,000 visitors every year.

There are several stories surrounding the creation of the churches, one of which says that humans worked during the day and angels would speed up the building overnight. Some historians say construction was completed at a remarkable pace, taking about 23 years. Carved out of volcanic tuff rock, the famous churches have been built in a variety of styles. Some of them were chiseled into the face of the rock, where others stand as isolated blocks, like the iconic church of Saint George, constructed in the shape of the cross. A complex and extensive system of drainage ditches, tunnels, and subterranean passageways connects the underground structures.” —Errol Barnett, CNN Travel

Nairobi, Kenya

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“Visit Nairobi, Kenya and take in this relatively young city’s vibrant life and verdant surroundings. Enjoy views of the Nairobi River, scale nearby mountains, catch glimpses of lions, rhinos and antelopes in one of Nairobi’s many national parks and spend a day out of the sun in one of this African metropolis’ plentiful museums. …Travel to Nairobi for an exciting adventure you won’t soon forget.” —Travel + Leisure

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