Beautiful Beaches, Wildest Jungles And More Await You In These 6 Visa-Free African Countries


Credit: Dr. Zoltan

Photo of Beautiful Beaches, Wildest Jungles And More Await You In These 6 Visa-Free African Countries by Varun Suchday

Africa, the second largest continent in the world, is one of the world's most diverse continent with a multitude of languages, diverse cultures and vivid landscapes. Both man and nature have left a rich imprint on this c0ntinent. Ancient villages, medieval marvels and colonial gems are generously spread across the continent. World's largest desert, fauna-rich jungles, snowcapped peaks, table-top mountains, life-giving rivers and two oceans teeming with marine life dot the African landscape.

The entire continent though suffers from an image issue. People often think that all of Africa is dangerous and lawless. It is nothing but a myth. Yes, there are countries which are unsafe to travel. But, then there are countries with friendly people, inviting cultures and the required level of safety. Therefore you must forego the misconceptions you have about Africa and visit these spectacular African countries that invite Indians without any visa hassles. And, none of them will burn a hole in your pocket.

Credit: lievenvanhoofonzea

Photo of Senegal by Varun Suchday

Senegal is a trendsetter among African countries. The cool kid that left the rat-race and went his own way. It is full of cute fishermen villages and vibrant colourful cities on the Atlantic coast. If you take the road less travelled and venture into the hinterland, you will find tribal villages, curious landscapes and wildlife-rich national parks.

Top things to see and do:

Visit the vibrant markets, historic museums and magnificent monuments in Dakar along with experiencing its trendsetting nightlife; visit the French-styled city of Saint-Louis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with colonial architecture, leafy boulevards and grand plazas; experience Sufi romanticism in Touba, a city with gracious minarets, mosques with colorful domes and numerous pilgrimage sites; walk back in time in the forgotten fishing town of Joal-Fadiouth; escape to the calm beaches and sandy lanes of Île de N'Gor; and spot some quirky birds like dwarf flamingoes, goliath herons and dimorph egrets at Parc National du Delta du Saloum.

Flight cost: Round-trip fares from Mumbai to Dakar start at around ₹46,000.

Visa: Indian citizens visit Senegal without a visa for 90 days. You have to carry certain documents when travelling to Senegal. Here is a complete list of required documents.

Where to stay: Villa Rosa, Dakar (₹2,900 double), Chez Agnes, Dakar (₹1,900 double) and Residence la Suite, Saint Louis (₹2,800 double). For more options, check here.

What's your version of paradise? Blue paradise? Transparent turquoise water, golden sand beaches, quiet escapes, eclectic food and relaxed vibes. If that's your idea of paradise then wait not, board a flight to Seychelles. A nation of islands barely few hours away from Mumbai that is welcoming Indians without visas.

Top things to see and do: Seychelles is about doing nothing and absorbing the simpler pleasures of life. Yet, if you insist then you must visit Anse Source D'Argent, Seychelles’ most beautiful beach; get up close to the world’s largest tortoises on Curieuse Island; snorkel with tropical fishes and turtles around St. Pierre Island; see black Parrots & the world’s largest coconuts at Vallée de Mai; sip some spiced rum at Takamaka Rum Distillery; and dine with your feet-in-the-sand at Anse Soleil Café.

Flight Cost: Direct round-trip flights from Mumbai to Mahe Island start at around ₹20,000.

Visa: Indian citizens in possession of a valid passport can travel to Seychelles without a visa.

Where to stay: Villa Kayola Annex, Victoria (₹4,000 apartment), Cella Villa, Mahe (₹4,900 holiday home) and Coco Bay Villa, Praslin (₹4,500 double). For more options, check here.

Further read: Complete travel guide to Seychelles

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Photo of Zambia by Varun Suchday

Zambia is an unspoilt gem in the heart of Southern Africa. It's biggest draw is the Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall on the planet. Beyond the splendid waterfall, Zambia hides numerous spectacular secrets. Its national parks and bushcamps give you a chance to meet the majestic mammals without the crowds. Besides the 'big-five' mammals, you can also spot some of the little-known rare species only found in these parts. Zambia is also home to a few indigenous tribes and visiting them is an incredible educational experience.

Top things to see and do: Marvel at the majesty of Victoria Falls, world's largest waterfall; look for the 'big-five' along with impalas, pukus, waterbucks and giraffes at South Luangwa National Park; canoe down the Zambezi River to spot hungry crocodiles, thirsty elephants and hippos; visit Kasanka National Park, Liuwa Plain National Park, Bangweulu wetlands and Kafue National Park to spot rare species such as sitatungas, black lechwe, blue wildebeest, wild dogs and tree-climbing lions; and dive or snorkel in Lake Tanganyika and spot over 280 freshwater fish species in the world's longest lake.

Flight cost: Round-trip flights from Mumbai to Lusaka Airport start at around ₹37,000.

Visa: Indian citizens can apply for a Zambia tourist e-visa here. The e-visa is valid for 90 days and is sent via email.

Where to stay: Flintstones, Lusaka (₹800 dorm), Crown Palace Inn, Lusaka (₹1,800 double) and Mbizi Guest House, Livingstone (₹2,000 double). For more options, check here.

Further read: Crocs, hippos & Zambezi river cruise

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Photo of Zimbabwe by Varun Suchday

Zimbabwe is steeped in history and blessed by nature. Home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, here you will also find over 3,000 rock art sites dating back some 10,000 years. For wildlife enthusiasts, the national parks in Zimbabwe house the 'big-five' along with other endemic species of flora and fauna. The national parks are also home to some quirky natural formations and pristine hikes.

Top things to see and do: Visit all four UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the mysterious ruined city of Great Zimbabwe that dates back to the 11th century AD; the second largest stone monument in Zimbabwe that is the Khami Ruins; observe majestic granite scenery and 10,000-year-old rock art caves at the Matobo National Park; and meet lions, leopards, cheetahs and hippos in their natural habitat at Mana Pools National Park; and mesmerize at the sheer natural beauty of Victoria Falls, world's largest waterfall.

Flight cost: Round-trip flights from Mumbai to Harare Airport start at around ₹27,000.

Visa: Indian citizens can get a visa on arrival at the port of entry.

Where to stay: Palace Guest House, Harare (₹2,000 double), Villa Prince, Harare (₹2,700 double) and WG Guest Villas, Bulawayo (₹3,200 double). For more options, check here.

Further read: Wild encounters in Zimbabwe

Credit: MariamS

Photo of Ethiopia by Varun Suchday

Ethiopia, oh Ethiopia! All of us owe something to you. You are the very cradle of humanity. We can all track our ancestry to your humble lands. Ethiopia is credited with the rise of homo sapiens and their eventual spread across the world. It also proudly owns the title of the only African country that was never colonialized. Its nine UNESCO World Heritage sites tell the tales of mankind since the beginning of time. Its much recent history, relatively, played host to a mysterious motley of Ancient Israel, Christianity and Islam. Ethiopia is the cultural and historical Mecca of Africa, if not the world.

Top things to see and do: You are spoilt for choice with nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites fighting for your attention - the 2,000-year-old ruins of Aksum; 16th-century fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi; the fortified historic town of Harar Jugol; Konso Cultural Landscape; the Lower Valley of the Awash where the oldest homo sapien fossil was found; Lower Valley of the Omo; Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela; and Simien National Park housing indigenous species such as the Walia ibex, the Gelada baboon and the Ethiopian wolf.

Flight costs: Round-trip flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Addis Ababa Airport cost around ₹28,000.

Visa: Indian citizens can apply for Ethiopian e-visa here. The single-entry e-visa is normally issued within three working days and is valid for 30 to 90 days. The 30-day e-visa costs US$52 while 90-day e-visa costs US$72. E-visa is only valid at Addis Ababa airport.

Where to stay: Kokeb Pension, Addis Ababa (₹1,300 double), Olympia Guest House, Addis Ababa (₹2,300 double) and Hailemariam Homestay, Lalibela (₹1,700 double). For more options, check here.

Further read: Ethiopia - Birthplace of homo sapiens

What comes to your mind when I say, "the Old Silk Route, Egypt, Morocco, Constantinople and Java?"

The meeting points of distinct cultures.

Credit: Pixabay

Photo of Zanzibar, Tanzania by Varun Suchday

Similarly, the Zanzibar Archipelago has been a melting point of Africa, Arabia and India for many centuries. The narrow alleys and ancient buildings of the archipelago still retain the old charms and cultural crossroads vibes while the aromatic local farms justify the 'Spice Islands' moniker. Besides, the old world charms, Zanzibar has idyllic beaches, waters teeming with marine life, beach resorts and a happening beach party scene.

Top things to see and do: Meander amidst winding alleys and old Arabic-style buildings of Stone Town; visit Jozani Forest, the last indigenous forest in Zanzibar; soak some sun at the isolated Nungwi beach; relive the archipelago's dark past by visiting Prison Island; eat the best of Africa, Arabia and India at Forodhani market; and take a Spice Tour to understand why Zanzibar is also known as the 'Spice Islands'.

Flight costs: Round-trip flights from Kochi, Chennai and Hyderabad to Zanzibar International Airport cost around ₹30,000.

Visa: Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region in Tanzania and Indian citizens can get a visa on arrival at the Abeid Amani Karume Zanzibar International Airport, Dar es Salaam International Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Where to stay: Lost and Found, Stone Town (₹500 dorm bed), Ebony & Ivory Bungalows, Nungwi Beach (₹2,700 bungalow) and Uhuru Beach Resort, Jambiani (₹4,000 double). For more options, check here.

Further read: Zanzibar - The melting pot

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