Last Updated: October 21, 2021

Famous Landmarks In Africa (Many You Won’t Know)

Africa is the second-largest continent on the planet and is home to over 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 57 countries. It’s an incredible place comprising some of the most incredible and stunning environments on the planet and is home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks. 

Whether it’s the remains of ancient civilizations, huge mountains, giant waterfalls, to the largest desert and the longest river in the world, the famous landmarks in Africa do not disappoint and they have to be seen at least once in one’s lifetime. 

Join me as I run through some of the most famous landmarks in Africa that all deserve a visit on your next trip to this magical continent. 

The Great Pyramids of Giza

Some of the most famous landmarks in Africa are, of course, in ancient Egypt and just outside of Cairo you’ll find one of the best, the Great Pyramids of Giza. 

The pyramids of Giza were built some 4,500 years ago and today are one of the only Seven Ancient Wonders of the World that have barely changed since the day there were built.

The pyramids were constructed as tombs for the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt and when you tour around them you can see just how impressive the architecture was for the time in which they were built. 

When you visit the pyramids of Giza you’ll find three pyramids on the site including the Pyramid of Khafre, the Pyramid of Menkaure, and the Great Pyramid of Giza plus the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Giza Necropolis. Standing next to these huge structures is quite amazing as their size is hard to comprehend and just how they managed to build them over 4000 years ago is baffling. 

Visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza is incredibly easy, just hop in a taxi from your hotel in Cairo and pay your entrance ticket, and then you’re free to explore the grounds of one of the most famous landmarks in Africa.  

Victoria Falls 

I’m sure you have heard of Victoria Falls as it’s one of the largest waterfalls in the world. Victoria Falls sits on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia and as the Zambezi River flows towards the sea, it plummets 108 meters down Victoria Falls on its way.

It’s not just the 108-meter drop that makes Victoria Falls such a famous landmark in Africa, it’s also the fact that the falls are 1,700 meters or so wide which pushes a huge volume of water. The feeling of standing next to Vicotria Falls, seeing and hearing the power of the falling water, is something one can not describe with words.

It’s not just Victoria Falls itself that makes visiting it special, it’s also the surrounding area. The views from the top of the lush forests that are washed with sprays from the falls are also quite incredible and if you’re visiting on the Zambian side of the falls, you can even swim in the pools next to the falls and peek over the edge. 

A visit to Victoria Falls is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and while you’re there, you can also enjoy a safari to see some of the best wildlife the world has to offer. 

The River Nile 

the river nile

The River Nile, as I’m sure you remember from your geography lessons is the longest river in the world. The River Nile is made up of two rivers, the Blue Nile and the White Nile.

The Blue Nile starts in Ethiopia and flows out of its source, Lake Tana to meet the While Nile in Sudan. The source of the White Nile was a mystery for most of the 1800s and a lot of British explorers traveled deep into the heart of Africa to try and find it. 

A common misconception is that the White Nile starts in Lake Victoria but it actually starts in Lake Albert in Uganda and then flows over 6,000 kilometers and through eleven countries before it reaches its end and drops into the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt. 

There are numerous ways you can spend time on the Nile and the easiest is probably by hopping on a river cruise in Egypt where you’ll get to cruise down the river for a few days.

The best way to experience the Nile in my eyes though is with a trip to Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. This is as wild as the Nile gets these days with elephants drinking from the shores and thick wild forests teeming with wildlife beside it. 

You can also do a range of activities on the Nile including kayaking, whitewater rafting, fishing, and lots more. It’s certainly one of the best landmarks in Africa to visit! 

Mount Kilimanjaro

One of the famous landmarks in Africa pretty much everyone has heard of is Mount Kilimanjaro. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain (not in a mountain range) in the world with a summit of  19,340 feet above sea level. 

Mount Kilimanjaro sits in Tanzania right next to the border with Kenya. It actually used to be in Kenya until Queen Victoria gave it as a gift to her grandson Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany who was in charge of Tanzania at the time. While this is just a rumor it’s kind of crazy that borders we re-drawn and that she gave the mountain as a gift. 

When you first set eyes on Mount Kilimanjaro, you are blown away simply because it’s a freestanding mountain with no other peaks on either side, just flat wild landscapes. The peak is snow-capped and stands higher than anything else on the African skyline. 

One great way to see this famous landmark in Africa is by hiking to the top. The hike is very popular with hundreds of thousands of people summiting Mount Kilimanjaro every year. It’s not a very hard hike as the paths and terrain are manageable even for novice hikers, the only major challenge is the altitude. 

Once you’re at the top, you’re standing on the top of Africa, and the views into Tanzania and Kenya from the top are some of the best you’re likely to see in your lifetime. 

If you’re not much of a hiker, you can always spend time in Mount Kilimanjaro National Park where you can spend days on safari looking at incredible wildlife with the stunning mountain in the background. 

The Avenue of Baobabs

the avenue of baobabs

You’ll find baobab trees along the east coast of Africa and in Madagascar. Baobab trees are quite mystical things when it comes to African legends as it’s said that they grow upside down, with the roots protruding from the branches, due to the tree complaining it wasn’t beautiful enough to the gods, after which the gods turned it upside down as a punishment. 

When you look at a baobab tree, you can see where the legend comes from as it certainly does look like roots are growing from the branches. They are amazing trees that live for thousands of years with huge trunks and stunning flowers during the wet season. 

In Madagascar, you’ll find the Avenue of Baobabs, a famous landmark in Africa that attracts thousands of tourists to the island every year.

To locals who have grown up around these amazing trees, the Avenue of Baobabs is just a dirty road with some old trees next to it, but when you consider the rarity of these trees and that they have grown for close to 3000 years, you begin to understand why the Avenue of Baobabs is a famous landmark in Africa. 

You’ll find the Avenue of Baobabs in Menabe on the western side of the island of Madagascar and it’s easily visited with a tour group or via a taxi. The best time to be there is during sunset or sunrise when the light brings the avenue to life. There is also a lot more to explore on the island of Madagascar with its huge range of diverse endemic wildlife. 

The Rock-Hewn Churches Of Lalibela

Ethiopia is one of the most interesting countries in Africa in my opinion. It’s unlike any other country on the continent and is a showcase of sub-Saharan meets Arabia. It’s home to a rich culture and some amazing ancient architecture which includes a famous landmark in Africa, the Rock-Hewn Churches Of Lalibela. 

The town of Lalibela lies in northern Ethiopia and it’s home to eleven rock-hewn churches which were created way back in the 1200s by local Christians who literally carved the churches out of a rock face. They are architecturally quite amazing as they were built without any supports or blocks, and the fact that they are still standing today shows just how well built they were/are. 

The Rock-Hewn Churches Of Lalibela remain a very important Christian site to this day and there is an annual pilgrimage to them every year. Christianity is taken very seriously in Ethiopia, to the point that you can’t even get served meat or eggs at restaurants on the two days a week when you’re meant to fast from animal products. 

Visiting the Rock-Hewn Churches Of Lalibela is easy as there are a lot of tours specializing in taking tourists there. It’s about a day’s drive from Addis and then you can stay in a hotel nearby and walk to the churches each day where you can easily find a guide to show you around. 

Ngorongoro Crater

Another world-famous landmark in Africa is the Ngorongoro Crater. The Ngorongoro Crater is an incredible geological feature as it drops into the ground some 600 meters and is 19 kilometers wide. When you’re standing on the edge, it literally feels like you might be standing on the edge of the world. 

The crater was formed some 2 million years ago when a volcano erupted but then collapsed to create a huge hole in the ground. 

The Ngorongoro Crater is in Tanzania and is part of the Great Rift Valley. Today it’s a conservation area and is home to over 40,000 animals and if you’re looking for a place to go on safari, then the Ngorongoro Crater is probably one of the most spectacular places to do it. 

The conservation area is home to lions, leopards, cheetah, elephants, buffalo, and lots more. You might also be able to see some of the more rare animals in Africa such as the black-maned male lion and black rhino. 

The Ngorongoro Crater isn’t just home to animals though, it’s the home of the Masai tribe. The Masai are the caretakers of the crater and they try to live harmoniously often having to balance their cattle’s needs with that of the lions and grazing grounds. 

A trip to the Ngorongoro Crater will be an experience of a lifetime. Just seeing the landscape is reason enough but when you throw in the safari, it couldn’t get much better. 

The Valley of the Kings

Another famous landmark in Africa that I’m sure you have heard of is The Valley of the Kings in Egypt. You’ll find The Valley of the Kings just outside of the town of Luxor near the banks of the River Nile where the tombs of many Egyptian Pharaohs lie. 

There are 63 tombs in total at this UNESCO World Heritage Site and each decorated with amazing artwork. The Valley of the Kings is where the most famous Egyptian Pharaoh’s tomb, the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered and while you can not take photos as you walk around this ancient site, the memories of what you see will be burned into your mind forever. 

Visiting The Valley of the Kings is easy and you can combine your visit with a cruise along the River Nile, meaning you see two of the most famous African landmarks in just one trip. 

While it might be tempting to visit The Valley of the Kings during the summer, be warned that it gets extremely hot with temperatures going over 40 degrees celsius, so a visit outside of the summer months is recommended. 

The Island Of Zanzibar

Island Of Zanzibar

A famous landmark in Africa that is a real pleasure to visit is Zanzibar. This tropical Indian Ocean island is just off the coast of Tanzania and it’s a famous African landmark due to its history and it is also stunningly beautiful too. 

Zanzibar has been inhabited for over 20,000 years and was the landing site for all the major trade routes from the Middle East, Asia, and other parts of Africa. It was also used by the Portuguese, British, and Germans as a landing site before they began exploring the regions of Kenya and Tanzania. Plus it was ruled by sultans too. 

Zanzibar also became known as the center of the spice trade thanks to its abundance of valuable spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and lots more.

A visit to Zanzibar today will showcase all of these wonderful attributes from the ancient city of Stone Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site to the spice trade and lots more. 

Zanzibar isn’t just special for its history, the environment is spectacular too. The island is home to white-sand beaches, coral reefs, warm blue waters, and some awesome wildlife. There are some animals in Zanzibar that you can’t see anywhere else in the world including Zanzibar Servaline genet, Pemba flying fox, and Red colobus monkey. 

If you love a bit of history, warm tropical islands, diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, and offshore fishing,  Zanzibar is a landmark in Africa you should pay a visit to. 

Maasai Mara National Park

The Maasai Mara National Park sits in southwestern Kenya and runs across the Tanzania border to join the Serengeti National Park and is the site for the great wildebeest migration that happens every year around August and September. 

Hundreds of thousands of wildebeests leave the Serengeti and cross the Mara river while doing crocodiles, lions, leopards, and cheetah before finding rich green pastures in the Masai Mara. Watching the migration is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as the sheer number of creatures and the diversity of wildlife on show in a single moment is mind-blowing. 

The Maasai Mara National Park is an extremely popular tourist destination and it receives more than 40,000 visitors every year. You don’t just have to visit during the peak season of the Great Migration either as the Maasai Mara National Park is an amazing place to visit all year round. 

The Maasai Mara National Park is home to all the safari animals you could ever want to see and you get to see them in style. The safari camps in the Mara are world-class and you’ll be sleeping in tents under acacia trees hearing the sounds of the bush at night and waking up to antelopes and more walking through the camp. 

The Maasai Mara National Park is also home to the Masai tribe and while you’re there you should spend some time with them. They know the bush like nobody else and going on a walking safari for half a day with a Masai guide will open your eyes to just how connected they are with their natural environment. 

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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