This year marks the 400th anniversary of the start of the slave trade in West Africa to America, and Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, is telling survivors of the descendants—Black people of the diaspora—to come home. Travel to the continent has reached a fever pitch, so now is the time to go. The Year of Return, as it has affectionately been dubbed, has already turned Africa into the biggest homecoming party for diasporans.
Plus, cultural juggernauts like the release of Marvel’s Black Panther, the global rise of Afrobeats and homegrown festivals like Afropunk have many wanting their own authentic taste of the Motherland, says Cherae Robinson, founder of Tastemakers Africa. “We are moving beyond the academic, talented tenth as the only Black people visiting Africa and more toward Africa being aspirational for the masses,” says Robinson. “You are seeing a contemporary resurgence of the idea of Black unity that obviously involves visiting the continent. This idea of a unification of Blackness and Black curiosity is really dominating how people are making decisions. And travel is a natural extension of that.”
Breathtaking Instagram photos don’t hurt either. The old stereotype of Africa being a dark, mysterious place has been replaced with lush landscapes, bustling metropolises, vibey culture, exquisite food and a medley of beautiful people with an exuberant taste for life.
So you’re ready to catch a flight to the continent but have no clue where to go? We tapped a few of Africa’s hippest influencers for intel on what’s lit in their city. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or can’t find room for another passport stamp, these authorities offer up their best bets for when you finally do go home.
Many Africans will agree that their sistren down south have the best knees on the continent—a necessity if you want to replicate South Africans’ addictive dance moves. From vibrant Johannesburg and sunny Cape Town to the stunning beauty of its lush wine country, the nation’s sights will undoubtedly charm you.
MihLali Ndamase (@Mihlalii_n)
Makeup artist and YouTuber
Whether gracing magazine covers or flexing her brand ambassador muscles, Ndamase has taken her YouTube channel to new heights while maintaining her cool college girl vibe.
“Explore the township to get a taste of South African culture and history. And for a breathtaking view of Johannesburg, go bungee jumping.”
EAT: Saint Restaurant, Johannesburg
“Experience memorable dining, a bustling bar, and great music.”
SHOP: Sandton City, Johannesburg
“This is my go-to shopping mall. It offers everything from entertainment to cool restaurants and shops for every need and budget.”
STAY: Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa
“I love its intimacy and beautiful decor.”
SIMHLE PLAATJIES (@simhle)
When it comes to #bodygoals, Plaatjies’ whole timeline will have you cutting out carbs. She loves the beach and hence knows how to keep her body bikini-ready.
SEE: Clifton Beach, Cape Town
“Soft white sand, amazing sunsets, and stunning scenery keep me coming back to Clifton each time I’m home.”
“The seafood platter here is my favorite. Plus, there are dazzling views of the beach, which are perfect for watching those sunsets.”
SHOP: Canal Walk
“It’s the biggest mall in Cape Town, with a ton of great shops.”
STAY: Schotsche Kloof
“This is the best neighborhood to stay in, with cute restaurants and coffee shops that are all within walking distance of one another.”
Elegance is the word that comes to mind when describing Senegal. From the way locals walk and talk to their aesthetic and style, the people of this West African gem have a distinctive allure. Nowhere depicts their elevated tastes better than the vibrant capital city of Dakar.
NDAMBAW KAMA (@WorldOfNK)
Cultural and social critic
Kama’s blog, World of NK, has become a must-read for those in Senegal and across the diaspora. Her humorous, spot-on commentary offers a fresh spin on everyday happenings in this francophone nation.
SEE: La Plage de l’Anse Bernard (Anse Bernard Beach), Dakar
“I love this beach; the views are incredible. Don’t be surprised if someone offers you ataya [Senegalese tea]. Take a sip and enjoy the good life.”
EAT: Chez Roger
“This hole in the wall serves the best dibi [a traditional dish cooked on wood fire with African spices] that I’ve ever had.”
SHOP: Sandaga and Pikine Markets“If you can explain it, we can have clothes tailor-made at these markets for you. Oh, and make sure you bargain.”
STAY: Hotel Le Djoloff
“This charming beachfront hotel has an amazing rooftop with views of Soumbedioune Fish Market. At sunrise, you’ll see fishermen going by.”
OLIVIA CODOU NDIAYE (@Codsolivia)
Cofounder of Dakar Lives
With her three partners, Ndiaye launched Dakar Lives (@dakarlives), a start-up and Instagram page that features unfiltered young Senegalese culture, so we had to connect with this trailblazer for the lowdown on her native city.
SEE: Îles de la Madeleine (Madeleine Islands)
“This cluster of islands is a five-minute boat ride from the heart of Dakar. Brave souls should travel via pirogue, a colorful fishing boat.”
EAT: Corniche Des Almadies, Dakar
“It’s the place to be at sunset. Order a glass of wine, admire the surfers and enjoy fresh seafood with beautiful ocean views.”
“This cool brand is reinventing traditional Senegalese fashion with a modern, playful vibe.”
STAY: The Palms
“The rooms in this luxury boutique hotel are filled with African art. Plus, there’s a cute green garden and fine restaurant on-site.”