Camels on Diani Beach, Kenya - our judges' top destination in Africa

The 5 Top Emerging Destinations in Africa for 2019 (+Readers Vote)

Looking to get ahead of the travel trends in 2019? Well, we asked some of the world’s top influencers, bloggers, and vloggers to judge 2019’s hottest emerging travel destinations around the world. 

Check out all 5 winning destinations on the African continent and try to resist the urge to book plane tickets! 

Which of these destinations won our annual Reader Award? You’ll have to read here to find out!

Special thanks to our all-star judges (read more about them here): Maroc MamaThe Only Way is GhanaRoamarooGerman Backpacker, and Jessie on a Journey

This is the fourth article in our annual series of the top emerging destinations by continent. Want more? Go see all the 2019 winners here. Or browse last year’s list of winners.

Now on to the winners:

Diani Beach, Kenya

Winner of Our 2019 Judges’ Award

Camels on Diani Beach, Kenya - our judges' top destination in Africa

Once a secret hidden gem known only to locals, Kenya’s Diani Beach has burst onto the tourism scene in recent years. And, no wonder why: it offers kilometers of powdery white sand, cerulean and aquamarine water, and the opportunity to swim with whale sharks from February to April each year. Plus, it’s one of the best places on earth to take up kite-surfing! If you get bored of the beach (and when they are these beautiful, we don’t think you will), you can easily venture out for a safari trip nearby. And at the end of the night you’ll be spoiled with first-class cuisine, including a restaurant located inside a cave! Look out Zanzibar: there’s a new beach in town!

“While most people head to Kenya for a safari, they tend to forget that Kenya is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Now, travelers can combine a safari and beach vacation at Diani Beach without ever having to leave Kenya!”
Collette & Scott 
“Kenya is world-famous for its national parks and safaris – however, many people don’t seem to know yet that the country also has incredible beaches to offer!”
Patrick Muntzinger
“White sand beaches, warm water, tropical scenery; Diani Beach offers an African paradise. And there are so many ways to get active, from hiking to surfing and beyond.”
Jessie Festa


The future of African tourism?

Photo courtesy Visit Ghana

West Africa hasn’t yet developed a major traveler hub in the same way that some other regions of the continent have. But there is one place that’s ready and eager to assume that mantle: Ghana. A culturally rich country with idyllic beaches and abundant wildlife, Ghana also has the political and economic stability required to scale a tourism industry. Plus, there are so many things to do here: grab your board and catch some waves, visit the highly-Instagramable Cape Coast Castle, head north to hang with elephants at Mole National Park, or just soak in the rich flavors of Accra. You heard it here first: everyone who is anyone is going to be going to Ghana in the 2020s. The only question is: will you get there before them? 

“Ghana is full of such culture and beautiful sights. It is the gateway to Africa!”
Lorissa Akua
“Ghana has such a rich history and offers diverse experiences for someone who wants to see West Africa. Whether it’s nightlife in Accra or hiking a national park there’s so much to do and see.”
Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki


A conservation – and tourism – comeback in the making

Lake Malawi
Boats on Lake Malawi

There’s a new kid (back) on the block in the safari world. Malawi’s once-decimated wildlife populations have recently re-emerged, owing to concerted conservation efforts by African Parks and other organizations. That makes 2019 the perfect year to explore the Majete and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserves, where you’ll get to experience the animals up close without having to endure the overstuffed caravans of jeeps and vans at more popular safari destinations. Or check out Liwonde National Park, where the recently opened luxury Kuthengo Camp may soon have Instagrammers asking to change their flights from Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi to Lilongwe. Oh, and if you think Malawi is only a safari destination, the pristine waters and colorful fish of Lake Malawi are here to attest that there are many more reasons to explore Malawi in 2019. 

St. Helena

Exile yourself to somewhere magical

St Helena, a top place to travel in Africa for 2019
Photo courtesy St Helena Tourism

This remote volcanic tropical island is so far off the coast of Africa that we could almost include it in our South America awards instead. But that isolated location has made for some fascinating history, including Napoleon’s exile here by the British government (the island remains an Overseas Territory to this day). And it’s hard to feel too sorry for Mr. Bonaparte considering he enjoyed the same striking rugged coastlines, breath-taking natural wonders, and lush interior that await visitors to this day. Getting here is part of the adventure, of course: unless you’ve got a boat, you’re going to need to snag a spot on the only weekly flight from Johannesburg. 

Lagos, Nigeria

A sensory experience like no other

Lekki Conservation Center Lagos Nigeria
Lekki Conservation Center in Lagos

Prepare your senses to be overwhelmed. Lagos is chaotic and colorful, hectic and high-energy. But it’s also a much more accessible city than many tourists probably realize – and the reward for venturing here is a unique and authentic travel experience, the sort of which are increasingly rare these days.  The city’s three main islands are undeniably affluent yet multi-dimensional. And there are so many things to do in Lagos: check out the incredible Nike Art Gallery in Lekki during the day, dine at high-end restaurants like Nok in Victoria Island, or just relax at the Jazzhole bookstore and cafe in Iyoki. If you want beaches, Lagos has those too: and nearly every weekend they come alive with a party! Or for the more adventurous, check out a performance at the New Afrika Shrine, host of the annual Felabration festival honoring the legendary musical and political icon Fela. Trust us, Lagos is an experience you won’t soon forget. 

That’s it for our Africa awards this year, but go check out the winners for every continent

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Ghana is peaceful, relatively accessible with friendly people. Nightlife is exciting, beautiful countryside and wildlife. So much to do, you only have to visit

  2. Malawi is very interesting with alot to do. Very peaceful people are friendly and it’s called warm heart of Africa. You can can do Safari and see wild cats and the Africa big 5. You also have amazing opportunity to swim in fresh waters of lake Malawi.

  3. Malawi offers the true meaning of an African holiday. The lake, mountains, game reserves and national parks and the friendly people are truly a heaven on earth!!! Natural virgin to spend one’s time. You visit once and start preparing to visit again soon. No regrets!!!

  4. Malawi has the world’s most beautiful lake and in Mulanje Mountain what the mountain club here (with huge international experience) regard as probably the best mountain in the world. An absolute wonderland for all levels of mountain adventure. The restoration of the wildlife in beautiful safaris joins in to give s great African great outdoors combination.

  5. How do want me to work with you from Nigeria
    I have not been to Saint Helena but my dream home
    If you wish me to link you to people or people with you to visit Saint Helena at there comfort time
    I will
    My best regards
    Elijah Aderemi

  6. Heard you on the Epop podcast, some very useful information, and also funny comments about India. You mentioned on the podcast the trip to Nigeria, I assume it was for a wedding.. anyway, good job here on the blog! Should be traveling to Kenya soon, after getting the yellow fever vaccine and the malaria pills.

  7. omg, no wonder these influencers and vloggers chose these destinations because they’re just marvelous! Just looking at the pictures take my breath away, what more if im actually in those places?? LOVE IT. That beach in Kenya is a paradise! It’s my dream to be in a place like that with camels casually roaming the area. So happy to know magical places like these exist and they’re not overrated at all. Would definitely add these destinations to my dream vacay list!

  8. OMG, this is wonderful! So nice to know that these places are thriving. As a travel enthusiast, it’s also great to read about these places that are not typically seen as top African destinations. With this post, more people now are informed of the beauty of these places. Looks like these are excellent choices for a honeymoon, wedding, or family vacation! This post is a must share! Keep it up xo

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