Notes From Around The World: Africa Series

Notes From Around The World: Africa Series
Prasanna Veeraswamy brings us notes from Africa Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A 'serious traveller' who is addicted to exploring new destinations brings us notes from Africa

July 22 , 2019
16 Min Read

I like travel and beer. A lot. Travelling with my wife (or alone sometimes), I've been to a lot of countries and six continents. And I've tried a beer in most of them. Here's my insight to all the places that I've been to so far in Africa: 

ALGERIA The Mediterranean treasure of Africa

A country that doesn’t feature in most travellers’ bucket list but comes blessed with a range of alluring elements that can excite even the most jaded tourists. Rich colonial heritage, colourful Islamic architecture, haunting ruins from Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

ANGOLA A bite of Brazil in Africa


A view of Angola

Warm hospitality, bewitching beaches, rivers, seductive jungles, hip clubs and gourmet bistros. It might not have the ‘Big 5’ trump card of the other popular safari-slinging superpowers, but it feels like Africa fast-forwarded 50 years in the future.

BENIN Scars of slavery buried under stunning scenery

Home to what was the largest slave port in West Africa, now the same coast is home to fishermen singing as they set out to sea over the sunset. You can enjoy the evening breeze as you have your drinks at a bar by the beach, eat a spicy ratatouille and watch the sun set over the blue green waters.

BOTSWANA Up close with the animal kingdom

There are deltas and then there is the legendary Okavango Delta. Crazy canoe rides, elephant crossings, memorable encoun­ters with wildlife and fun sundowners.

BURKINA FASO Raw, unadulterated African bliss

Sub-Saharan sandstorms, sand of an intense red colour that makes us believe we are in the centre court of Roland Garros, petting a 140-year-old crocodile, the fun and exciting capital, Ouagadougou, and warm hospitality of the lovely Burki­nabe people all around.

BURUNDI Lake clubs and fresh catch

It’s the ocean, it’s the sea, no, it is Lake Tanganyika! As far and wide as your eyes can see, the highlight of Burundi is the huge lake. Staying at the Club du Lac that is right on the lake, with its beautiful setting, one finds peace that is a far cry from the harsh environment of the port city of Bujumbura.

CABO VERDE Saudade and Strela beer

With its black sand beaches, verdant jungles, miles of coastline, volcanic landscapes, easy-going people, Creole culture and the haunting tunes of Cesária Évora, Cabo Verde slowly sinks into your soul.

CAMEROON A microcosm of the African continent

Known as ‘Africa in miniature’, the nation contains the diversity of all of the continent and a wide variety of nature, wildlife, food and language. The black-sand beach of Limbe, the roaring oceanfront of Kribi, the famed Lobé Waterfalls where the Lobé river empties into into the ocean, rooftop sundowners in Yaoundé, and the classic ‘Capitaine a la Camerounaise’ downed with cold beer.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC Secluded beauty of Africa

A country that has been at war with itself for more than a few years doesn’t get a lot of tourists. Dropping by the charming Cathédrale Notre-Dame, a peaceful meal with a view of the Ubungi River, sundowners at one of the coolest bars in Africa with multiple wooden over-water patios from where you can enjoy unobstruct­ed views of the river, and washing down a plate of maboké with Mocaf beer.

CHAD Demanding desert darling

Right from securing the visa to putting together a trip, Chad is the kind of place where travel can be demanding in every sense of the word, but totally worth the effort. Coffee in terrace cafés, nervously driving past the Presidential Palace praying the car doesn’t stop (and get shot at!), checking out the skull of Sahelanthropus, lazy lunch with cold Gala beer, sunset drinks in a posh pool bar and hanging out with locals in a leafy lounge.

COMOROS Fun layover in the Indian Ocean

A fascinating small island in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa, that still feels more like a volcanic outcrop than an inhabited nation. A compact city with not much to see other than a mosque, undiscovered coral reefs, playing with the local kids at the rough sandy beaches, and late night drinks under a cloudy sky with tropical breeze.


Democratic Republic of Congo

A nation with one of the hardest visas to score and home to gritty, poverty-stricken and not-so-safe towns that you typically see in the movies when they depict Africa. But you can isolate yourself from all that and be in your own bubble of paradise in lovely wooden lodges deep in the jungle. Cottages with fireplaces, fully equipped bars and kitchens, an attached gorilla orphanage, chimpanzees in the trees that swing by the resort, and relishing in the fact that the money you pay towards your stay goes to preserving these intelligent beasts.

 DJIBOUTI Booty, booty, Djibouti

Quarantined by Francophile immigration staff, being forced to stay at a super luxury resort filled with the NATO army staff, scoring alcohol from secret shops in the city and waiting eagerly for the next flight out.

EGYPT The land of pharaohs and pyramids

While the history and sites of Egypt are all about life after death, the capital is very much alive with crowd, traffic, tourists, and camels to boot. Pyramid hopping in Cairo, tomb hunting in Hatshepsut, temple crawling in Luxor, cruising along the fabled Nile, and gobbling a few tasty tamiyas.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA A glimpse of Spain Most things about this nation are interestingly unique. Africans speaking Spanish, Americans being the only visitors that can enter without a visa, and Spanish colonial heritage buildings brushing shoulders with oil companies.

ERITREA Dolce vita in the continent

The most misunderstood and underrated country in all of Africa that is still recovering from an Italian colonial hangover.

ETHIOPIA Africa’s most intriguing daugh­ter

The bustling capital, Addis, which is constantly on the move, marvelling the medieval monolithic rock-strewn churches of Lalibela, listening to Orthodox chants mixing with Islamic calls to prayer, weekend markets where everything from camels to produce are traded, lake-splashed rift valley, the delicious injera, and Ethiopians who have watched Bollywood film.

GABON A simple African country

Beachside sundowners with Beaufort beer in Libreville, riding an overloaded catamaran to a private island, having an entire island lodge all to yourself, walks along an untouched beach, and great conversations with the owner.

GHANA Wild beaches and hard history

While Accra offers all the comforts and options along with an impressive Labadi Beach, the real treasure of Ghana is along the Cape Coast, where several forts and castles dot along the fishing villages that were once slave-holding cells and ports. A reminder of a notorious past. However, the lovely breeze and the restaurants and bars overlooking the fort and waters in El Mina are fantastic enough to make you forget that shameful past and smile thinking about the hopeful future.

GUINEA Beauty in the beast

Not the easiest of the Guineas, and surely not the one that attracts enough tourists. But this is a land of beauty—tucked away deep inside and hugging the Atlantic Ocean—under a layer of chaos.

GUINEA-BISSAU The unsung hero of West Africa

Wedged between beefier neighbours that get more attention from tourists, this tiny nation can punch above its weight if it wants to. A stereo­typical dusty African capital that painfully exhibits signs of Portuguese colonisation, a gorgeous coast studded with pristine beaches, the biodiverse Bijagos archipelago and sea turtle nesting sites.

IVORY COAST A coast richer than ivory

Deal with the traffic in Abidjan because Ivory Coast has much to offer as you drive out. The rugged beaches of Grand-Bas­sam where the shore becomes a competitive soccer ground, the calmer oceanfront of Assinie where you can enjoy the quiet, restaurants lining the coast, and enjoying a fun night-out in the happening Abidjan.

KENYA Easy breezy Africa

Luxurious safaris, early-morning game drives, spot­ting the Big Five, the famed Maasai Mara, nightlife in Nairobi and the mean chapatis and curries of East Indian settlers.

LESOTHO Kingdom in the sky

A nation that is completely landlocked by another country, but still stands out distinctly in terms of culture, people and landscapes.

LIBERIA Not the home of Michael Jackson’s Liberian girl

Definitely not the home of Michael Jackson’s Liberian girl, surf-worthy waves crashing against the forest-lined coastline, backpacking trip to a beachfront camp in Robertsport, bringing down the sun with warm club lagers, and hanging out at local bars in Monrovia.

LIBYA Peeling back layers of history

 Despite its North African perch overlooking the Mediterranean, this country is still way off the beaten track—with a government that goes out of its way to make it difficult for foreign tourists to visit. The magnificent ruins of Leptis Magna, colossal coliseums and seafront amphitheatres, historic heart of old Tripoli, and tasty traditional food.

MADAGASCAR A nugget of Asia in Africa

Carrying a little bit of Asia in Africa

Notorious lemurs in Andasibe, jazz bars and Three Horses beer in Antananarivo, paddy fields as pretty as the ones in Asia, and towns designed like no other in Africa. The island might have drifted off the African continent but belongs more in Asia.

MALAWI Joie de vivre in Africa

Pleasurable beach resort experiences, cold Kuche Kuche beers, and a backpacker’s delight.

MALI Dusty roads and Dogon country

The negative labels stamped on this country by the media doesn’t stop the troubled nation from welcoming visitors to experi­ence what it has in store. The Great Mosque of Djenné, the party life of Djenné, villages that celebrate sacred crocodiles, unique music not found anywhere else in Africa, and, of course, the mythical Timbuktu.

MAURITANIA An untouched surfers paradise in Africa

One of the few dry states in Africa, and features on the disreputable list of ‘most dangerous countries in the world’. Sandy beaches filled with colourful boats, markets buzzing with fresh catch of the day, untouched towering dunes waiting to be bashed, and a coastline spanning more than 700 kilometres.

MAURITIUS Idyllic in the Indian Ocean

A destination that you might see in movies and expect to find familiar but, instead, get stumped by its beauty in person. The white powdery sand, the blue green waters, the coconut trees, the sugar plantations, the colonial architecture, the mix of French, African and Indian influences, and the delicious dol puri and roti—all beat expectations.

MOROCCO Raucous colours and Islamic culture

The snow-capped Atlas Mountains, Jedi Knights of Berber tribe, colourful markets of Marrakech, old Medina of Casablanca, picturesque town of Tangier, staying in a luxurious riad, and treating yourself to hot and spicy tagine with couscous.

MOZAMBIQUE A slice of Portugal in Africa

Picturesque beaches, well-preserved corals, mangrove forests, and the capital, Maputo, with its Mediterranean architecture, roads lined with beautiful jacaranda and flame trees, beachside bars and a laid-back vibe.

NAMIBIA Africa’s Deutschland

Land­scapes with sand dunes as high as the mountains flanking the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, nature’s canvas painted with rivers and dense jungles, home to massive sea lion colonies, German-style brauhauses pouring Weiss beers and Dunkels. This former German colony has retained the Deutsche efficiency, making it the easiest country to visit in Africa.

NIGER Ignored jewel of West Africa

Perhaps West Africa’s most unfairly ignored country, this place is so off the radar, most searches for things to do in the country result in pages from Nigeria. But this desert republic comes with its own version of romantic rivers and breathtaking desert-scapes you cannot find anywhere else.

NIGERIA The rowdy son of Africa

The harder bone of Africa, where nothing is easy and chaos is king. Not for the faint-hearted or a newbie to the continent, but if you want to feel the pulse of raw Africa —with its grooves, moves and beats—this is it.

REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO The fancier member of the Congo River Club

A striking contrast to its neighbouring country that almost goes by the same name, in every aspect. From the fancy malls, cafés, restaurants and infrastructure to the attitude and nature of the people.

RWANDA Raising the bar in Africa

Lakeside beer, mountain gorillas and Müt­zigs, tea plantations, clean roads and very impressive volcanoes.

SÃO TOMÉ AND PRÍNCIPE Go before the big chains and the cruise ships arrive

Africa’s second-smallest country, it is basically two tiny volcanic bumps anchored off the Gabonese coast with a Portuguese-Creole flavour and relaxed vibe. The laid-back tempo is complemented by miles of perfect palm-fringed beaches, huge swathes of emerald rainforest, soaring volcanic peaks and mellow fishing villages.

SENEGAL The star of West Africa

Luxury retreats in Sine-Saloum delta, early morning beach walks with fishermen, clubbing in Dakar, grooving to the beats of Youssou N’Dour, and sampling Senega­lese cuisine that is heavily influenced by North African, French and local culinary traditions. 

SEYCHELLES Sea breeze and Seybrew beers

Alluring coral islands, exceptional sea life, staggering rock formations, lush forests, Creole heritage mixed with immigrant culture, and some of the world’s best beaches.

SIERRA LEONE Way off the tourist trail

Infamous for blood diamonds and warlords, torrid road trips into jungle, enduring prolonged power outages, slumming it out in offbeat villages, chilling with locals kids watching an EPL game, and spicy food and Cold Star beers in Bo town.

SOMALIA Untamed edge of the Horn of Africa

A link between the Arab and African worlds—yet with a flavour of its own—this is a troubled nation, but one that compliments both cultures with rewarding experiences.

SOUTH AFRICA Soft landing in Africa

Craft beer hunting and wine tasting in Cape Town, getting up close and personal with wildlife in Kruger, discovering history and politics in Johannesburg, and enjoying bunny chow in Durban. 

SOUTH SUDAN Winding down next to the White Nile

The youngest country in the world—where the currency value is so low, you have to carry a wad of cash to pay for even the simplest purchases. Sub-Saharan vibe, riverfront cafés and restaurants, bars and nightlife inside expat ‘compounds’ and unconditional hospitality.

SUDAN Misunder­stood magic in the Sahara

Magical pyramids better than those found in Egypt, real romance of the Nile and hospitable hosts.

SWAZILAND Pocket -sized kingdom

A still from Swaziland

The attractions in this tiny kingdom are not proportionate to its size. Unfortunately for this nation, travellers do not treat it as anything more than a stopover or a pass-through on their way to its neighbours. Since it is one of world’s last absolute monarchies, the culture is something to experience along with the game reserves and hiking trails.

TANZANIA Magic in the African savannah

Spotting the leopards in Serengeti, hanging out with the elephants in Amboseli, the beauty of Kilimanjaro, devour­ing delicious chapatis and curries, witnessing a wildlife phenomenon in Ngorongoro, and finding zen in Zanzibar.

THE GAMBIA The Caribbean within Africa

The only country to be prefixed with a ‘the’, this is a place filled with surprises. Fun people with a laid-back spirit, off-the-radar beaches and beautiful villages.

TOGO Voodoo charm and magical beaches

Togo might be one of the smallest countries in the continent but it comes packed with a lot of fun stuff. Miles and miles of virgin beaches, cold pints of pilsners poured in oceanfront bars and cafés, affordable seaside resorts and wholesome African meals.

TUNISIA Bliss in North Africa

Welcom­ing Mediterranean weather, Roman ruins, ethereal land­scapes, kasbahs and medinas, gorgeous beaches, yummy food and excellent local wines.

UGANDA Gorillas in the mist

Laborious gorilla tracking, impenetrable forests, tree-climbing lions, mountain lodge mystique, long nights with cocktails, and chapatis and curry.

ZAMBIA Getting raw and real in southern Africa

Wild walking safaris, coming face-to-face with tuskers, spotting the elusive leopard, unbelievable sundown­ers with a view of the Zambezi, hippos roaming outside lodges, and listening to the sounds of nature.

ZIMBABWE Roaring rapids and Zambezi pale lagers

Zimbabwe is known for its jungle treks

Rafting down the mighty Zambezi, getting awestruck by the thundering Victoria Falls, river cruises and exhilarating jungle treks.

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