There are incredible hidden gems in East and Southern Africa that are just waiting to be discovered. Africa is a beautiful continent with good climatic conditions which create a wide diversity of habitats for various species of flora and fauna.
What are the Incredible Hidden Gems in East Africa?
Hiking to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, experiencing the savannah of the Serengeti, and trekking with the endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda are all well-known bucket lists in Africa.
While those hot spots are undeniably incredible, there are so many hidden gems for adventures and sights that intrepid tourists shouldn’t miss. These are our top picks of hidden gems in East and Southern Africa.
Nyerere National Park Tanzania
One of the world’s biggest conservation areas, Nyerere National Park in Tanzania gets a fraction of the tourists that flock to the famous Serengeti National Park, especially when the Wildebeest Migration is passing through. Nyerere park is bigger and much more remote. Because it is so vast, lodges are far between, and it’s not rare to have sensational sightings all to yourself.
2. Mahale Mountains—Tanzania
Mahale Mountain National Park on the eastern bank of Lake Tanganyika comprises golden sand beaches and lush tropical forests. Because of the size and remoteness of Mahale Mountains National Park, it is home to one of the largest remaining populations of wild chimpanzees and lions.
Other adventures at the Mahale Mountains include kayaking, birding, and deep-water swims among others. Mahale Mountains Park can only be reached by boat, and it is one of the few national parks in Africa that allows guided nature walks within park boundaries.
3. Kafue River– Zambia
The Kafue River runs through Kafue National Park, which covers a large area in central Zambia. Plains game outnumber visitors here, and where there is plain games, predators will inevitably follow. Head to Kafue to discover incredible hidden gems in Northern Africa with only a handful of lodges to cater for guests.
4. South Luangwa ZambiaHome to the walking safari, South Luangwa is an untapped premier wildlife destination. It is one of the secret places of the few national parks in Africa with the continent’s best native safari guides for a highly personalised experience. Tented camps are fully furnished, and they will reward you with the most authentic safari experience in Africa.
5. Damaraland Namibia
Damaraland in Namibia is home to incredible rock art, some of which dates back a thousand years. You will be equally mesmerised, if not astonished, at the breathtaking mountains, bottomless gorges, and ancient calderas as far as the eye can reach.
As featured in the BBC series Earth II, the desert lion and elephants can be found in Damaraland. The Elephants at Damaraland have physiologically and behaviorally adapted to desert life. They have longer legs to travel far distances, a lighter mass, and are sensitive when feeding on scarce vegetation.
6. Kalahari Desert Botswana
The Kalahari Desert is fascinating and Vast. It extends into South Africa and Botswana and connects with the Namib Desert in Namibia.
The Kalahari is a semi-arid landscape with iconic red sands, and so much more. Central Kalahari is home to black-maned Kalahari lions, rare pangolin and big game like oryx, and habituated meerkats. Enjoy the dazzling night skies experience on desert sleepouts, an annual zebra migration, horse-riding safaris, San rock art, and fantastic off-the-grid accommodation.
7. Okavango Delta – BotswanaThe Okavango Delta is also one of the incredible hidden gems to explore in Botswana. There are also places deep in its centre that are accessible to a select few. Water levels are deepest and lodges can only be accessed by boat. Traditional 4×4 game drives are replaced by mokoro or canoe safaris, giving you a completely new outlook on the wildlife.
8. Volcanoes National Park—Rwanda
While Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park offers Africa’s best-known gorilla trekking, it remains a secret place in East Africa where you definitely won’t have to contend with any crowds. The park boasts of over 254 to over 600 gorillas population.
9. La Digue Island – Seychelles
Expect a laid-back and unhurried way of life at the incredible hidden gems of Seychelles. You won’t see many cars, highways, or malls on La Digue island. Hop onto an ‘ox taxi’ or a bicycle and explore this immaculate island, said to be one of the most secret places in Seychelles.
Discover beautiful, private coves and relax in the warm Indian Ocean’s magnificent turquoise waves. The caster-sugar sand and gigantic granite rocks at Anse Source d’Argent, the world’s most photographed beach, are a must-see.
Congo is also one of the incredible hidden gems and most exciting destinations in Africa. The country is blessed with equatorial rainforests, allowing intrepid adventurers to experience this pristine and secret place.
Congo is home to mammals like western lowland gorillas, forest elephants, buffalo, rare bongo antelope, and much more. Accommodations on the outskirts of Odzala National Park provide breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding rainforest.
11. Quirimbas Archipelago – Mozambique
Another secret place in Southern Africa is the archipelago off the coast of Mozambique. It comprises 27 coral islands, most of which are uninhabited. Enjoy Mozambique’s rich culture and its breathtaking natural beauty, which includes one of Africa’s most extensive mangrove forests.
12. Rubondo Island – Tanzania
Unspoilt and remote, Rubondo Island is another secret place in East Africa. The island is a floating rainforest in the southwestern corner of Lake Victoria. Except for a handful of park wardens at Rubondo Island Lodge, this secret place is uninhabited by humans.
This makes the island an important refuge for chimpanzees, forest elephants, giraffes, and rare sitatunga antelope. The camp is the only lodge on Rubondo island and offers activities such as guided nature walks, game drives and boat cruises on Lake Victoria.