5 West African Travel Destinations You Must Visit

5 West African Travel Destinations You Must Visit
Africa is truly something special and rightfully assumes its position as a top tourist destination.  For many, this continent evokes images of sun-drenched plains, nomadic tribes, and vast game parks. But far from this, Africa offers plenty for international travelers to discover, and if you were to choose West Africa as your next travel destination, you would be treated to a rich history, beautiful scenery, and diverse, friendly people. To help you plan your trip to Africa, here are five West African countries you should consider including in your itinerary.

1. Ghana

Ghana is a vibrant nation on the edge of West Africa that should be your first getaway destination post-Covid. Ghana was the first Sub-Saharan country to gain independence under the Guidance of Kwame Nkrumah, and this set the tone for much of the independence struggle for other countries. It was the center stage for slave trade, a fact shown by the 40 castles with dungeons that were used to hold slaves before transportation. Cape Coast Castle is the most popular, and here you will see the grimy dungeons used to hold 500 females and 1000 males at a go. 
Cape Coast Castle GhanaCape Coast Castle, Ghana
Wildlife is also a top attraction in Ghana, although you will also come across domestic pygmy goats and herds of cows from Mali traders. Once you venture out of the city, Mole National Park awaits you. It was the first national park established in Ghana, and you will see everything from bushbucks, rare birds, monkeys, elephants, deer, and leopards. Because there are a few predators, you can tour the 4,577 square kilometers park on foot too. There are plenty of beaches to enjoy thanks to a whopping 539km of coastline and but you can also choose to be up close with nature in the Volta region. Before leaving, be sure to pick one of Ghana’s trademarks—the Ankara fabric or something from the many craftsmen making traditional drums, ornaments, clothes, and even cool caskets.
The food in Ghana is incredibly flavorful and will taste unique to the region you are from.  An absolute must-try is Jollof rice which is revered for its unique sweet taste and subtle spiciness. You can also enjoy many other local dishes like chicken, fufu, tilapia, and more. Ghana has an energetic local music scene with plenty of local and international stars like Sarkodie and Wendy Shay. There is everything from traditional to the contemporary afrobeat’s which you can experience in live performances or the nightclubs that keep the country alive. If you are in Accra, visit the piano bar for jazz and soul live performances or clubs like Twist, Plot 7, or Hotgossip, which play all your contemporary music. 
Given currency differences, traveling, food, and accommodation are affordable. You can get affordable vacation packages from all-inclusive resorts from major travel sites like Expedia, Airbnb Travelzoo, etc. Most international flights to Ghana come through Kotoka International airport, and you will get deals on flights on Travelzoo, Kayak, Skyscanner, and more.

2. Cape Verde

Off the west African coast is the island nation of Cape Verde, and as far as beauty goes, this is the place to be. Whether you are looking for a winter escape or sandy beaches to get lost in, you will have it all. Santiago is the biggest island of the 10 and houses the capital city, but each has something unique to offer.  Fogo has volcanic mountains with beautiful hiking trails, and Sao Vicente is the music hub. Nevertheless, you are sure to find entertainment in all of them.
From cavernous valleys to treacherous volcanic mountains and houses stuck perilously off mountain ridges, Cape Verde’s scenery is a vibe of its own. Most hiking happens on Sao Vicente, Brave, and Santo Antao, but you can also hike on Santiago island. Cape Verde is made of volcanic islands, and on Fogo, you can witness and hike up an active volcano. As an island nation, Cape Verde sees the most diverse ocean life. Many species of sea life, from rays to sharks, whales, and dolphins, visit the coasts, and this is also one of the few places sea turtles nest. If you wish to catch a glance of whales or sea turtles, March to April and August respectively are the most appropriate times to visit.  There is also plenty of surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, and water sports to enjoy.  
Cape Verde, West Africa
Cape Verde, West Africa
In Cape Verde, music is life, and the local music heritage is so rich that there are street musicians, live music, and events on showcase every day. Life is laid back in Cape Verde. From the airport, you cast away your cares and relax in the tropical weather. Seafood is a mainstay here, and the cuisine has a healthy influence of creole, Portuguese, and West Africa—so it’s to die for. You can eat in restaurants or stay in one of the many luxury and all-inclusive resorts and enjoy room service. You can get flights to Cape Verde on major travel sites like Kayak, Travelzoo, Skyscanner and fly through Amilcar Cabral International Airport, its main international airport.

3. The Gambia

If the Gambia wasn’t on your vacation shortlist, now it should. To start with, it is Europe’s closest tropical destination, but it has stayed relatively unknown. It is always sunny in The Gambia, and even the rainy season is not as deplorable as winter. Everywhere you look, from its sleepy fishing villages to its sunny beaches, there is always a warm heated Gambian to welcome you in typical Gambian hospitality. 
Did we mention the beaches yet?  The Gambia has over 80km for a small nation, and the golden sands, swaying palms, and scenic lagoons make it perfect for swimming and basking—in repeat. The beaches of Kololi, Senegambia, and paradise beach are the most popular, but you can find your quiet spot and have peace and seclusion in Nginki-Nganka and Fajara. Markets are also an integral part of the Gambian lifestyle, and you will find everything from food, spares, and clothing here. In the capital Banjul, Albert market is an experience you should have.
Gambia, West Africa
Gambia, West Africa
As with most West African Nations, wildlife is also in plenty, with lots of birds, pigs, crocodiles, hippos, and monkey species to see. It is believed to be good luck to swim or touch the crocodiles at Kachikally Crocodile Pool. Gambian food is simple but very tasty. Rice stews are the most popular and are often served with chicken, meats, or fish.  There is also an array of seafood and locally grown specials. The Gambia, too, was at the heart of the slave trade, and you can see it in local museums or visit Fort James alias Kunta Kinte Island to see where slaves were held before transportation. There is plenty of luxury and affordable accommodation like the Djembe Beach Resort, Ngala Lodge as well. Most international flights come through Banjul International Airport, and you will find flights on Travelzoo, kayak, Expedia, Skyscanner, and other reliable travel sites.

4. Senegal

Because it is Francophone, Senegal has mostly been off the menu for Anglophone tourists. It’s a shame that language is preventing people from enjoying something French speakers discovered long ago, but if you have wanderlust, Senegal is the place to quench your thirst.  If French is a problem, you will find plenty of English-speaking guides to help you through.  Top among the reasons you should visit Senegal is its beaches—it has 531km of pristine sun-drenched idyllic beaches littered with sleepy fishing villages. Saly is the most popular, but if you want seclusion, there are plenty of private hotel beaches you can enjoy. Other popular beaches are Toubab Dialaw and Sobo Bade, where you can enjoy everything from Senegalese wrestling, sipping fresh coconuts, arts, and traditional dances and music. Mar Lodge is a car-free island where you can enjoy stargazing once power is cut at 11 PM, and in the whole Sine Saloum, there’s plenty of wildlife, birds, and tranquility to enjoy.
Dakar, Senegal West Africa
Dakar, Senegal, West Africa
Dakar, the capital, is always bustling with activity, and here you can enjoy a vibrant nightlife, food scene, and urban Senegalese lifestyle. And just outside the city, you will also witness the country’s grim past at Ile de Gorée, where slaves famously swam and dove off ships to escape—many to their deaths. Senegalese culture has deep-rooted hospitality, and you will find plenty of friendly locals and guides to help though out. Kora Music is the sound of Senegal, but deep djembe and mbalax rhythms are also popular. You can catch legendary singers like Baaba Maal, Youssou N’Dour, or Cheikh Lô in concert anytime—just check their schedule first. You will find many luxury and all-inclusive resorts, and most international travel traffic comes through Blaise Diagne International Airport. You can find numerous flight deals on Travelzoo, kayak, Expedia, Skyscanner, etc.

5. Nigeria

Nigeria always steals the shine from many West African Countries, and it’s with good reason. It is a fantastic place to visit and everyone ought to go there at least once and experience it for themselves. It has diverse wildlife, magnificent mountains, lush forests, and beautiful culture to enjoy.  Anywhere you are, you are never far from a relaxing place, and the sights and sounds of nature ready to enchant you. 
Nigeria, West Africa
Nigeria, West Africa
Did you know that Nigeria has the third-highest number of languages? Yes, 527, to be exact! It’s without a doubt a cosmopolitan society. And thanks to this, Nigeria has the most vibrant local music and arts scene in West  Africa. Notable names include Davido, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, and Yemi Alade in music, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and Chimamanda Adichie in writing, and Nigerian actors like John Boyega, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, and Adewale Akinnuoye.
Nightlife in any of Nigeria’s cities like Abuja and Lagos is some of the best in Africa, and since Nigerians know how to throw a party. The food scene is also tantalizing. Local eateries (Bukas) litter the streets, but there are thousands of fine dining restaurants to pop into. Fashion and style are also at the center of the culture, and the people embrace them wholeheartedly.  When you travel to Nigeria post covid, you have plenty of all-inclusive luxury and budget accommodation, but you can also take an Airbnb and other similar accommodation. Murtala Muhammed International Airport is the main international airport of Nigeria, but as Africa’s largest nation by population, there are plenty of airports you can use. Flights to Nigeria are available on Travelzoo, kayak, Expedia, Skyscanner, etc.
A holiday to West Africa is guaranteed to be a memorable experience that will give you a new perspective. Whichever country you decide to visit, don’t forget your camera at home as you will definitely want to capture the beautiful moments. 

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