Backpacking in Africa can be hard work, but when you find a spot that’s cheap, safe, fun and on a beach — it’s simply heaven. Here’s a list of my top 10 places to chill out and rest when you’re in Africa. These are not places you should spend your entire vacation since that would be an utter waste of a trip to Africa. But as a respite along the way and to rest those weary bones from local bumpy buses — they’re just what the doctor ordered.
Lake Malawi – Malawi
Lake Malawi is a beautiful freshwater lake that takes up about a third of the entire country of Malawi. Most backpackers who make it to Malawi head straight for a beach and they’re rarely disappointed. Malawi is the cheapest place in the world to get your diving certification, so you may as well do something useful while you enjoy the sunsets and grilled fish!
Mango Drift Lodge on Likomo Island has beach huts and dorms, with a bar and restaurant on the beach.
Kande Beach is close to Chinteche on the northern shores of Lake Malawi. Catering mostly to Overlanders with chalets and a campsite that can be used by all travelers.
Chefchaouen – Morocco
Chefchaouen is situated in the heart of Morocco’s Rif Mountains. The town is relaxed, with very affordable accommodations, and above all, quite stunning to look at. The streets and most of the buildings in the old part of town (medina) are painted a most brilliant sky blue. The mountains which you can see at the end of every cobbled street are rugged and majestic. The clear mountain light just adds a magical touch to the place. It’s no wonder that Chefchaouen is a favorite destination for backpackers visiting Morocco (and it’s not just the readily available supply of hashish). The main square in the medina is lined with cafes and filled to the brim with locals and tourist mingling easily.
Kokrobite – Ghana
Ghana has some lovely beaches but the most popular for the last decade has been the beaches around Kokrobite including Langma. Kokrobite is a quick 20 mile (30km) tro-tro ride away from the capital Accra. One of the main attractions here is the excellent Academy of African Music and Art (AAMA) founded by master drummer Mustapha Tettey Addy. The Academy attracts drummers and dancers from all over the world.
You can get accommodation at the Music Academy or head to Big Milly’s Backyard in the village (also on the beach). Big Milly’s has a friendly bar and restaurant where backpackers, volunteers, and Ghanaian Rastafarians chill out.
Zanzibar – Tanzania
Zanzibar has long been a tourist draw with its spectacular beaches and the fascinating Stone Town on the main island. Amidst the upscale resorts, there are still parts of Zanzibar that are affordable and filled with backpackers taking a rest from the rigors of East African travel.