Top 10: Africa's top ten Least Vis­ited Coun­tries

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Inside Issue11 - Words: MATT BARON

One of the most di­verse con­ti­nents on the planet, Africa has it all. Vast deserts, lush jun­gles and trop­i­cal par­adise is­lands. Sadly for many coun­tries, it is still run by cor­rupt of­fi­cials mak­ing main­stream tourism rather off-putting be­cause of all the red-tape. Many peo­ple reg­u­larly visit places like Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, but do you have any idea where the least-vis­ited places are in Africa? Let’s find out…

the list is com­piled with statis­tics from the World Bank who cal­cu­late overnight stays by In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors. I have found Africa an in­cred­i­bly hard con­ti­nent to com­pile statis­tics for, many coun­tries don’t pro­vide upto-date in­for­ma­tion and I’ve had to source from sev­eral other places. I have been un­able to lo­cate statis­tics for South Su­dan as tourist fig­ures are joined to­gether with Su­dan. So­ma­lia has been ex­cluded due to a lack of ac­cu­rate data and in­for­ma­tion.

Equa­to­rial Guinea

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num (ap­prox­i­mate) 6,000.

Equa­to­rial Guinea is of­fi­cially the least vis­ited coun­try in Africa! De­spite ef­forts to boost tourism by of­fer­ing US/Amer­i­can Samoan cit­i­zens visa-free en­try, this still hasn’t at­tracted many vis­i­tors.

This coun­try is rather unique as it’s split into two parts, Rio Muni is on the main­land, whereas Bioko is an is­land in the mid­dle of the Gulf of Guinea, which houses the coun­try’s cap­i­tal city Mal­abo. Equa­to­rial Guinea had been colonised by both Por­tu­gal and Spain. Only re­cently, oil has been dis­cov­ered and is bring­ing sub­stan­tial wealth to the coun­try.

Like many other African na­tions, the coun­try is now pro­mot­ing it­self as an ecofriendly des­ti­na­tion with op­por­tu­ni­ties to see in­cred­i­ble beaches and wildlife.

São Tomé & Principe

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num – 10,000*

São Tomé achieved in­de­pen­dence from Por­tu­gal in 1975, ever since it has strug­gled to find ways to boost the econ­omy and now re­lies on ex­ports of co­coa to help with its fi­nances. These two tiny is­lands are sit­u­ated in the Gulf of Guinea to the west of Gabon and south of Nige­ria. Although there are reg­u­lar flights link­ing the is­land with its for­mer rulers, once you ar­rive, you’ll need a visa, which must be ap­plied for prior to ar­rival, mak­ing a visit to São Tomé and Principe a lit­tle more com­pli­cated than you’d like it to be. I’m sure many of the 10,000 vis­i­tors dis­cov­ered the in­cred­i­ble clear wa­ters place by do­ing one of the mag­i­cal div­ing trips.

Co­moros

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num – 21,000*

*This fig­ure was stated in a World Travel & Tourism doc­u­ment

It’s un­likely you’ve ever heard of this is­land, if you have you’ll ei­ther be a French na­tional or a com­plete travel geek! The Co­moros is an is­land na­tion off the coast of East Africa, just north of Mada­gas­car. As one of the world’s poor­est na­tions it’s no won­der that the Co­moros is­lands are so far off the tourist map, sim­ply due to a lack of in­fra­struc­ture and op­por­tu­ni­ties. If you de­cide to visit the Co­moros is­lands you won’t be dis­ap­pointed, you’ll have the op­por­tu­nity to trek to the crater of the Karthala vol­cano or even swim with dol­phins. At cer­tain times of the year, there’s po­ten­tial to see giant sea tur­tles lay­ing eggs on Mo­heli is­land.

Mau­ri­ta­nia

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num – 29,000

Firstly, Mau­ri­ta­nia doesn’t seem to have re­leased any of­fi­cial tourism fig­ures since 2008; even their of­fi­cial Gov­ern­ment web­site no longer works, mak­ing me sus­pi­cious if they even want to re­ceive tourists.

How­ever, this coun­try has never at­tracted mass tourism due to its strict laws and a visa regime that makes North Korea look like Dis­ney­land! There are quite a few unique things to do or see, in­clud­ing hopping on the world’s long­est cargo train, which looks like a re­ally cool but dirty ex­pe­ri­ence.

It’s ad­vised not to travel here at the mo­ment due to sev­eral tourists be­ing kid­napped and also a few ter­ror­ist at­tacks hav­ing taken place by Al-Qaeda mil­i­tants.

Guinea-Bis­sau

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num – 30,000 *UN Data

A for­mer Por­tuguese colony, Guinea-Bis­sau is lo­cated in West Africa be­tween Sene­gal and Guinea. It’s a shame that more peo­ple don’t visit this coun­try, the jewel for tourism po­ten­tial lies within its 20 trop­i­cal is­lands. On many of these Is­lands, you’ll have the op­por­tu­nity to see

hip­pos and even tur­tles.

There is so much po­ten­tial here, the coun­try now has a new di­rec­tion and is start­ing to pro­mote it­self as an “eco tourism des­ti­na­tion”. With the in­tro­duc­tion in 2015 of an elec­tronic visa ap­pli­ca­tion sys­tem, this will make Guinea-Bis­sau much eas­ier to visit, I’m very tempted my­self.

Guinea

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num – 56,000

To make things com­pli­cated, in Africa there are three coun­tries that all in­clude Guinea within their name, this is the most vis­ited of them all, but sadly, it still re­ceives very few for­eign tourists. Guinea is roughly the size of the United King­dom, but has very lit­tle in­fra­struc­ture, mak­ing it an in­cred­i­bly hard coun­try to get around. Although rich in nat­u­ral re­sources, this for­mer French colony also of­fers won­der­ful un­touched beaches, hik­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and lo­cal home-stays to en­cour­age the ad­ven­tur­ous trav­eller.

Dji­bouti

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num – 63,000

Dji­bouti is one of the dri­est places on earth, not very en­tic­ing is it? Well you’d be wrong, two of the most fa­mous at­trac­tions in­clude Lake As­sal and the Red Sea. With in­cred­i­ble div­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, sev­eral div­ing en­thu­si­asts have ven­tured to the coun­try to dis­cover reefs with an abun­dance of sea life.

Cen­tral African Repub­lic

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num – 71,000

Of­ten ab­bre­vi­ated as CAR, sadly this coun­try is in the midst of a bru­tal civil war with no end in sight, of­ten de­scribed as one of the most dan­ger­ous coun­tries in the world with many Western Gov­ern­ments ad­vis­ing cit­i­zens to stay clear.

Due to the coun­try’s re­mote­ness, many

vis­i­tors go to see “true” Africa with the pos­si­bil­ity to see wild ele­phants and go­ril­las. CAR is rather un­der­de­vel­oped, mak­ing fly­ing the only vi­able op­tion in most cir­cum­stances. This means that the coun­try is of­ten quite ex­pen­sive to visit and this could ex­plain the low vis­i­tor num­bers.

Sierra Leone

- Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional an­num – 81,000

A coun­try with real tourist po­ten­tial, Sierra Leone has had an in­cred­i­bly tough few years fight­ing the Ebola cri­sis, which

vis­i­tors per has al­most dec­i­mated the al­ready low In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor num­bers.

With some of the best beaches in the world, I’m cer­tain it won’t be long be­fore tourists be­gin to re­turn. How­ever, it’ll need some in­cred­i­ble mar­ket­ing to en­cour­age vis­i­tors. One of the most pop­u­lar places to visit is Ba­nana Is­lands, a true de­pic­tion of trop­i­cal par­adise.

Libya

Av­er­age In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors per an­num – 93,000 *UN Data

It’s no huge sur­prise that Libya has very few tourists, ever since Western Gov­ern­ments ousted Gaddafi, the coun­try has been on a to­tal spi­ral out of con­trol with ji­hadist’s tak­ing con­trol and set­ting up splin­ter groups. It’s an in­cred­i­bly sad sit­u­a­tion for one of the most promis­ing coun­tries that sev­eral years ago had con­sid­ered open­ing up for Mediter­ranean cruises.

Once Libya is back on its feet, hope­fully there’ll be some his­toric sites left to see. The most fa­mous is Lep­tis Magna, a prom­i­nent city of the Ro­man Em­pire that is still mostly in­tact. So, un­less this sit­u­a­tion changes, I know this is some­thing I want to see when I visit.

A mar­ket in Dji­bouti

Guinea Bis­sau ae­rial view

A street in Equa­to­rial Guinea

Sierra Leone Cen­tral African Repub­lic Co­moros-Is­lands Mau­ri­ta­nia

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