Africa on my bucket list: Seven most underrated countries to visit

BY RACHAEL GATHIGIA

The continent Africa includes 54 countries boasting different cultures, vast deserts, lush jungles and tropical paradise islands. Africa has so much more to offer than just big wild mammals in the world – it’s the diversity for many!

Some countries have grown their tourism industry better than others, naturally, based on various factors such as infrastructure, accessibility, diplomatic relations, security, and political stability just to mention a few. Among these, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya and according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, South Africa, attract the largest number of tourists into the continent. But what about the countries we never hear about?

The world shows signs of revitalization from the Covid-19 pandemic. Flights have been reinstated and traveling is about to normalise. Africa includes some of the most untapped beautiful destinations that one might consider to visit post-pandemic.

Djibouti
(average of 53,000 visitors a year)

Starting us off is Djibouti, which is located on the northeast coast, and often referred to as the “Horn of Africa,”. One of its main attractions is the Salt Lake Lac Assal, which is the lowest point on land in Africa, and the third lowest depression on earth after the Red Sea and the Sea of Galilee.
Djibouti City is the eponymous capital of the country and if you’re looking for the hustle and bustle that comes with a big city, this is where you want to be. Blvd de Bender is where you will find the popular Les Caisses Market to purchase local goods, including food, woodcarvings and famous garments futa. The locals communicate in Arabic or French.

Guinea-Bissau
(average of 30,000 visitors a year)

Guinea-Bissau is a tropical country on West Africa’s Atlantic coast that’s known for national parks and wildlife. Not many tourists go to the country, and not for lack of something to see: The wildlife parks have rare birds and monkeys. It has remote white sandy beaches and striking old Portuguese colonial buildings in its capital Bissau

Comoros
(average of 28,000 visitors a year)

Comoros, the East African gem, is situated between the beautiful countries of Madagascar and Mozambique. The beaches here are breathtaking, they feature crystal clear turquoise waters, black lava, and a forest of green palm trees. And because they receive so few travelers, the islands are remote and almost untouched. They are also rich in Swahili-Arabian culture, the main language spoken being Arabic.
Comoros is also one of the very best places in the world to swim with and experience Humpback whales up close as well as home to Grande Comore Island, which has the largest active volcano in the world, Mt Karthala

Sao Tome and Principe
(average of 11,000 visitors a year)

Sao Tome and Principe is known as one of Africa’s “best kept secret,” as the island offers the best of both worlds when it comes to scenery. One can explore the endless beaches or visit Obo Park where you will find the island’s primary rainforests and exotic wildlife. 
This Portuguese-speaking country has so much to offer, pristine beaches and crystal-clear water, endless hiking opportunities through a landscape that looks like it is taken straight out of Jurassic Park, and what might be the world´s best chocolate.

Mauritania
(average of 8,000 visitors a year)

Though it is located on the western coast of Africa facing the Atlantic Ocean, and thus quite far away from the Arabian countries, the official language of Mauritania is Arabic. The reason for almost no tourists to this African country must be the geographical fact that 90% of Mauritania is within the Sahara Desert.

No wonder it is one of the least visited countries of Africa. Consequently, more than 33% of the country’s population lives in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott. Are there any attractions that can still interest people from other parts of the world to Mauritania? Of course, yes. Arguin Island, Banc d’Arguin National Park which is a World Heritage Site and a paradise for bird watchers who scream with pleasure when they spot the graceful flamingoes that migrate here.

There is also Terjit, which is an oasis in the Sahara. Oases are rare and thus are compulsive attractors. Sahara Desert can be really harsh. There is a small pond lined with a few palm trees, a real oasis. How about trains ride through the Sahara Desert? If you are brave and can withstand the heat of the desert like the camel, you can take an hour ride in Mauritania Railway through the sizzling Sahara Desert up to Choum.

Sierra Leone
(average of 7,000 visitors a year)

Sierra Leone’s troubled history of civil war and Ebola have deterred tourists despite the fact that the war is over and the country has been declared Ebola-free. Sierra Leone boasts some of the world’s most rare wildlife, including, pygmy hippos and over one hundred species of birds. Like many countries in West Africa, Sierra Leone has a rich food culture and it is the perfect place for seafood lovers to enjoy whole tilapia, lobster, crabs, oysters, and fried plantains served with pancakes.

Equatorial Guinea
(average of 6,000 visitors a year)

Equatorial Guinea is a Central African country comprising the Rio Muni mainland and five volcanic offshore islands. Its capital Malabo, on Bioko Island, has striking Spanish colonial architecture and is a hub for the country’s prosperous oil industry. The tropical forest of the mainland’s Monte Alen National Park is home to gorillas, chimpanzees and elephants.
The economic turmoil in Equatorial Guinea has crippled the tourism industry. With the country relying heavily on foreign aid as the major revenue, it’s nearly impossible to boost tourism. The primary languages used are Spanish and Portuguese.

How impressive are they? Well, there is only one way to find out. Africa has this and so much to offer, such as different foods, music and culture. As we head towards a time of hopeful vaccination against the coronavirus, one can picture a week on shores of Chad or imagine the flavor of Bangui’s traditional cuisine or trekking Guinea’s rainforest alongside gorillas, sitting under the stars in Namib Desert. Once we are post-pandemic, all one needs is to trace their finger on the continent’s map and book a flight to a country they know little about, they’ll end up infusing their journey with a sense of wonder. And that, after all, is what travel is for.

Sign Up