Mountain Destinations: Top 5 Places in Africa for Hiking Adventures


For all the mountain lovers in the house, nothing compares to the feeling that comes with conquering a new peak. Mountain destinations are some of the most epic places to explore while enjoying awe-inspiring views of the world around you.

From a mountain top, you get to enjoy a sweeping view of surrounding landscapes and breathtaking vistas of adjacent ranges. The elevated position gives you peek down into winding rivers and streams as well as dramatic gorges and valleys. You might also enjoy some of the best sunrise and sunset views from this excellent vantage point.

While iconic peaks such as Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro draw countless adventurers, there is a whole world of hidden gems in lesser-known places. In this article, we will uncover the hidden treasures of obscure peaks in Africa and find out why they are some of the best places to visit.

Mahale Mountains, Tanzania


Best known for its chimpanzees, Mahale is a breathtaking world of contrasts and surprises. It consists of overlapping landscapes of mountain grasslands, rainforest, montane forest, bamboo forest and woodland. As a result of this intriguing blend, it supports a wide array of flora and fauna. There are at least 337 species of birds and eight primate species.

The mountain sits on the shores of the beautiful Lake Tanganyika – the longest and second deepest freshwater lake worldwide. Rising right from the water’s edge, the dramatic ranges and lush, green forest stand in contrast to the deep blue waters of the lake. Just like the surrounding ranges, the lake has a diverse mix of fish species numbering over 400. 250 among these are cichlid species.

A hike up to its highest peak, Mount Nkugwe, is an opportunity to interact with the close to 1,000 chimps. Some of these are friendly to humans as they have been the subject of research for decades. In addition to tracking these primates, you can enjoy a variety of other activities here.

Things to do on Your Mountain Vacation in Mahale

  • Camping
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Fishing
  • Forest hiking
  • Birdwatching
  • Cultural interactions with the Waholoholo community

Ruwenzori Mountains, Uganda (also Rwenzori)


The Ruwenzori Ranges are one of few mountain destinations in Africa with glaciers and snow peaks. Popularly known as the Mountains of the Moon, this UNESCO World Heritage site boasts an otherworldly landscape of jagged ridges and towering peaks. Its higher summits are often hidden in cloud cover, creating a mystical atmosphere.

At the highest (Margherita Peak), the ranges hit a remarkable 5,109 meters, explaining the presence of equatorial glaciers. This is the third highest peak in Africa. On the lower slopes, a dense blanket of tropical rainforests create a thriving ecosystem of flora and fauna. The ecological zones vary as you ascend higher, from the tropical forest to bamboo forest and then higher to alpine forests and the glacial zone.

Some of the wildlife here is endemic to the forest, including the Rwenzori batis, the Rwenzori turaco and the Rwenzori double-collared sunbird. Due to its remoteness, the area remains vastly untouched and unspoiled, preserving its pristine condition. Only about 1,000 people visit annually, compared to Mount Kilimanjaro’s 30,000. However, trekking here is a challenging experience as a result of the high altitude and steep terrain.

Things to do on Your Ruwenzori Mountain Adventure

  • Wildlife watching – elephants, leopards, bush bucks, giant forest hogs and various primates live here
  • Birdwatching (217 species)
  • Hiking – it takes seven to nine days to the highest peak
  • Cultural immersion – the indigenous Bakonzo people live in the foothills of the mountains

Simien Mountains, Ethiopia

This UNESCO World Heritage site happens to be one of Africa’s most spectacular mountain destinations. Its highest peak, Ras Dejen, rises to an elevation of 4,533 meters and is therefore the fourth-highest on the continent.

The landscape here features canyon-like gorges, dramatic escarpments, deep valleys and jagged cliffs. In the right conditions, you can enjoy panoramic views of the valleys up to 100 kilometers away.

As a product of volcanic eruption, the highlands here feature alternating regions of soft turf and dark basalt. The diverse geology and vegetation similarly creates an interesting array of colors, with red and orange soil contrasting with lush green flora.

Vacation Activities for Your Simien Mountain Safari

  • Hiking and trekking
  • Wildlife watching – the area is home to endemic species including the Walia ibex, Simien fox (Ethiopian wolf), the Klippspringer and Gelada baboon
  • Cultural immersion with the Amhara and Tigray communities

Marsabit Mountain, Kenya

Located in Northern Kenya, Marsabit Mountain is a green oasis in the heart of a semi-arid region. It is an extinct volcanic massif, about 1,700 meters high. Commonly described as an island mountain, it rises dramatically from a flat landscape.

As the only source of water in this dry region, it features dense forest cover and supports a vibrant ecosystem. It receives humid air from the Indian Ocean, which forms clouds around the top of the mountain and feeds the plants. As a result of this interesting phenomenon, some parts of the forest have a dense layer of moss covering every plant.

A key attraction of the area are three crater lakes, the largest of which (Gof Bongole) is 10 kilometers in circumference. Another crater, Gof Sokorte Guda, is described as a natural amphitheater. It’s 150-meter-high caldera is home to Lake Paradise, a freshwater body.

Acacia woodlands cover the lower slopes followed by the mountain forest just above it. In the highest parts, the mountain has Afroalpine and moorland plants. Diverse wildlife species such as elephant, leopards, spotted hyena and the endangered African wild dog live here. It also hosts about 250 species of birds.

The elephants here are particularly noteworthy due to their enormous tusks. One of the most famous of these was Ahmed, whose tusks weighed nearly 300 kilograms. He died at the age of 63 and a monument of him now graces the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi.

Things to Do During Your Marsabit Mountain Vacation

  • Astro-tourism – low light pollution and clear, high-altitude skies make this a great mountain destination for stargazing
  • Hiking and trekking
  • Cultural tourism – interact with the local Rendille and Borana communities
  • Camping
  • A tour of the ‘singing wells’

Mandara Mountains, Cameroon

Situated on the border between Cameroon and Nigeria, Mandara Mountains are a volcanic marvel. The ranges extend for close to 200 kilometers and rise to heights of up to 1,100 meters. They consist of rugged peaks, deep gorges, steep cliffs and lush valleys. Intriguing rock formations resulting from lava flows dot the area.

Despite sitting on arid lowlands, the ranges are home to unique mountain plants that thrive in the volcanic soil. There are multiple trails for hiking the beautiful terrain, offering a peak into its wildlife and bird population.

The area is famed for cultural tourism and is in fact a UNESCO Heritage site due to its rich heritage. The Mofu and Kapsiki people who reside here have a unique way of life and distinct architecture.

Activities to Enjoy on Your Mandara Mountain Adventure

  • Cultural tourism
  • Hiking and trekking
  • Wildlife viewing

Discovering the Hidden Gems of Lesser-Known Mountain Destinations in Africa

Mountain vacations are not exactly a staple of most mainstream holiday plans. However, they hold a treasure trove of adventure for the curious traveler. In this relatively obscure mountain destinations, there is plenty to explore without the overwhelming tourist crowds. They offer an opportunity to enjoy solitude as you connect with nature.

Whether you are an avid explorer looking for the next big escape or a novice mountaineer eager to uncover these unknowns, the mountains await!

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