Africa Travel Week
Seychelles - Torsten Dickmann

New year, new destinations: The new go-to’s for 2024

Forget clichéd safaris and the same old sunsets you’ve seen (copy-)pasted across Instagram. We’re taking a closer look at Africa’s new go-to destinations, ripe for the picking in 2024. From islands so pristine they might be hiding dinosaurs to culinary trips that’ll have your taste buds begging for more, these are our top picks for 2024…

A complete break from the modern world – Príncipe Island and St Helena

The whole of Príncipe Island is a UNESCO biosphere. It looks like something out of Jurassic Park, sans the dinosaurs (we hope; it’s so pristine and full of endemic species, anything could be waiting in its lush jungles). In true cast-away spirit, getting there involves flying to São Tomé Island (you can get direct flights from Luanda, Accra, Libreville, and Lisbon) and then catching a once-daily flight from there. But you are rewarded with breathtaking views as you approach this paradise found and the feeling that you have well and truly left the digital world behind. The island has a small selection of accommodations, but something for everybody, from camping (World’s View Wild Camping Salaszoi) to uber-lux (Mark Shuttleworth’s HBD Príncipe sustainable eco-hotels) and everything in between.

Venturing deeper into the Atlantic, you’ll find another dramatic coastline, this time wrapped around the tiny volcanic island of St Helena.

A view of Blue Hill, taken from High Peak. Photo by Craig Williams
A view of Blue Hill, taken from High Peak. Photo by Craig Williams

Famous for being the location of Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile and death, this British Overseas Territory offers a lot more than just history. Its peaks and valleys boast strikingly unique hiking trails, cobalt blue sea views, and incredible birdwatching, and the extensive marine life and endemic coral are a big hit with divers. Midweek direct flights operated by Airlink will resume over summer 2024–2025, running from Cape Town and Johannesburg to St Helena between December 2024 and March 2025, providing tourists with increased travel opportunities.

And if you are a sailing aficionado, don’t forget to catch the exciting Cape to St Helena race, organised by the Royal Cape Yacht Club and the St Helena Tourism Board. The event starts in Cape Town on 26 December 2024 and covers the roughly 3,060 km distance to St Helena.

Wellness – Singita and the Stanford

Wellness is having a makeover in 2024 as travellers seek a deeper connection to mind, body, and soul. Everything from massage to sleep to conscientious travel with the intention of supporting sustainability is on the (meditation) cards.  

Singita is no new kid on the block. Their 15 award-winning luxury safari lodges are all top players on the African travel scene and span Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Rwanda. Their Wholeness concept is, however, a recent and fresh addition to their offering. Moving beyond just physical well-being, the guest-centric experience encompasses a holistic approach to overall wellness, integrating African rituals, ingredients, and traditions. Nutritious cuisine, sound therapy, meditation cards, deep sleep, and sustainability are all on the menu.

Singita Grumeti_Wellness_Guest doing yoga on Deck
Singita Grumeti Wellness Guest doing yoga on Deck

Alternatively, wellness-worshippers can combine holistic health with festival fever (‘gig-tripping’ is alive and well in 2024!). Reforest Fest from 29 March – 1 April 2024 at Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat in Stanford, South Africa, will reset the soul with sound journeys, laughter yoga, foraged harvest lunches, and glamping, and music from SA headliner Jeremy Loops and instrumental dance band Nomadic Orchestra.

Water-based Safaris – Chobe River

Forget what you know about safaris in 2024; it’s time for travellers to get their feet (or at least their boat) wet in the Chobe River, Botswana. Swap the bumpy jeep rides for smooth sailing, floating past elephants who seem too busy to notice they’re in an Instagram shot (though we recommend a digital detox, the calm waters are very conducive to it).

Zambezi Queen Collection: Game viewing on the Chobe River
Zambezi Queen Collection: Game viewing on the Chobe River

The Chobe River draws a line between Botswana and Namibia. It is an artery of habitat that serves the area’s abundant wildlife, including a large concentration of elephants and over 450 species of birds. Experiencing it from a houseboat gives a unique window into their world, one that you can’t experience by land.

Zambezi Queen Collection offers two styles of safari houseboats on the Chobe River – three intimate 8-cabin Chobe Princess houseboats (which can also be booked for exclusive use) and the 14-suite Zambezi Queen floating boutique hotel, which was freshly refurbed last year. Its interiors are designed to harmonise with the beautiful Chobe environment and include artwork from renowned South African artist Denby Meyer and rich fabrics from Ardmore’s inimitable collection. The result is a place where both refined luxury and wild bushscape exist simultaneously.

Sustainability – Seychelles

With its crystal-clear waters and commitment to protecting all the ecosystems within its depths and surrounds, Seychelles is emerging as a leading sustainable tourism destination in 2024. The island nation recently joined the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and introduced the (slightly controversial) Seychelles’ Tourism Environmental Sustainability Levy in August 2023, which funds conservation and rehabilitation initiatives.

Seychelles also has a famous ban on all watersports to preserve its vibrant coral reefs and fragile marine life. This means world-class snorkelling and swimming in the unspoiled warm waters surrounding the archipelago.

Seychelles. Photo by Michel Dennouse

Seychelles is investing heavily in renewable energy and climate-resilient infrastructure to meet its ambitious goal of zero emissions by 2050. This forward-thinking approach is hugely appealing to eco-conscious travellers who want an idyllic island getaway without compromising sustainability values. With plenty of other draws, including tropical beaches, luxury resorts, and Creole culture, Seychelles checks all the boxes for the discerning, sustainable traveller looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Culinary – Take your pick across the continent

African food is finally infiltrating the world’s foodie imagination with trending TikTok chefs, including Kenyan rugby player turned chef Dennis Ombachi, aka @theroamingchef and cookbooks that give Ottolenghi a run for his money. SIMPLY WEST AFRICAN: Easy, Joyful Recipes for Any Kitchen, the hot-off-the-press cookbook from Chef Pierre Thiam, a Senegal-raised, New York City-based chef, is just one that is sparking the demand to taste these kinds of dishes in their places of origin.

Enter cookery retreats. Lerato Food & Naturals is combining cooking classes, eco-lodges, local dining, and azure coasts in a travel recipe made in heaven – stay tuned for their upcoming November 2024 tours, which promise a food exploration from Accra to the Cape Coast. Add their cookbook, Lerato Africana, to your growing library.

Durban in South Africa, another hot new up-and-coming culinary destination, is catching the eye of foodies with its famous name-sake curry (high on the chilli scale), thriving street food culture, including local foody hotspot Florida Road, and emerging fine dining scene. The coastal city welcomed renowned restaurateur Desmond Mpho Mabuza’s new addition, Signature Restaurant, to its shores in August, and is already scoring high points among the connoisseurs.

These destinations are just the tip of the iceberg. Africa is not just a safari destination – though the safaris are phenomenal and should be on everyone’s bucket list. This expansive continent, which is three times the size of Europe, offers culture, cuisine, sustainability, and tropical paradises in bucket loads.

The only question is, where in Africa will you be heading in 2024?

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.