New York Times Travel Magazine names African places among top destinations to visit in 2020

US publisher, The New York Times has recommended five African destinations to travelers in its travel magazine that they should consider visiting this year. The countries include Lesotho, Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

In its article entitled “52 places to go in 2020”, that ranked 52 destinations worldwide, Lesotho is the first African county on the list and it comes in the 12th position, followed by Egypt that was ranked 17th on the list. Uganda was ranked 30th on the list, Kenya appeared in the 40th position while Ethiopia is the last African country on the list in the 49th position.

Here is how The New York Times ranked the five African countries and what they wrote about their destinations that were recommended to visitors

1 Lesotho – “A quiet mountainous country is a wonderland for adventurers”

“The tiny country of Lesotho – a picturesque enclave of jagged desert mountains fully surrounded by South Africa – has been lost to most African itineraries. But things are changing in landlocked Lesotho, known as the “mountain kingdom,” where most residents, dressed in colorful traditional wool blankets, live in remote rural villages. Over the past decade the number of visitors has nearly doubled as the country has begun promoting tourism to grow its economy. A newly launched e-visa platform is making visiting easier than it was before. Visitors can explore ancient rock paintings at UNESCO-listed Maloti-Drakensberg Park, or take multiday pony treks to stay in remote thatch-hut villages. And in 2020, the Capital Maseru, is scheduled to open a new National Museum and Art Gallery in a three-story building shaped like a spiral aloe, an endemic plant. It will feature exhibits on Basotho culture, its handicrafts tradition and the nation’s first-ever digitized archives.”

2 Egypt – “Fancy new digs for King Tut and company”

“The Egyptians are building like the pharaohs to finish the massive and much-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum in time for its scheduled gala opening later this year. The project, which is reported to cost $1 billion, has involved thousands of workers and nearly two decades of labor. The soaring space will be situated just over a mile from the Pyramids of Giza and contain around 100,000 objects, including more than 5,000 related to King Tutankhamun. It will join other recently inaugurated archeological troves, including the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and an ancient tomb of colorful frescoes in the Saqqara Necropolis. And visiting Cairo will be easier than ever, courtesy of the new Sphinx International Airport and hotels like the 366-room St. Regis Cairo, set to open in June.”

3 Uganda – “A primate capital and birder’s paradise becomes more accessible”

“Landlocked in east-central Africa, Uganda has long been in the shadow of Kenya, Tanzania and other countries more popular with visitors on safaris. But the “Pearl of Africa,” with its own rich wildlife, is set to become more accessible, thanks to the resurrection last summer of the country’s national carrier, Uganda Airlines. Uganda is one of the world’s primate capitals, with 15 species (four of which are endangered) and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, in southwestern Uganda, is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas. The Park’s gorilla-trekking safaris limit contact to eight visitors per gorilla group per day, and proceeds from their trekking permits go toward conservation efforts and protecting the animals from poachers. The dense forest mountain park, which ranges between 3,810 feet and 8,880 feet, also features a scenic waterfall trail framed by ancient ferns and wild orchids, and is birder’s with 350 species of forest birds.”

4 Mount Kenya – “On a volcanic mountain, wildlife thrives –and glaciers are steadily disappearing”

“The second-tallest mountain on the African continent, Mount Kenya – a massive, sleeping volcano that last erupted about three million years ago – lies just south of the Equator and dominates the landscape of central Kenya. The mountain is also home to some of the world’s last remaining tropical glaciers. But not for long: A recent assessment found that permanent ice on Mount Kenya could disappear completely before 2030. Now is the time to go. Getting to the mountain’s rocky summit, which tops out at more than 17,000 feet, requires technical climbing skills, but fit, motivated hikers can make the trek to Point Lenana, which at 16,355 feet, is the ridgeline’s third-highest peak. Over the course of the four-to six-day expedition, hikers travel through a panoply of ecosystems: from tussock grasslands to bamboo forests; from boggy heathlands to the high, with landscape of the Afro-Pine zone. Along the way, they might come across elephant tracks in the bamboo, hear hyenas whooping in the night and spot hornbills, sunbirds and hawk-eagles. Hikers either camp or stay in the moderately priced mountain shelters along the route. Guides are strongly recommended, and permits are required; they cost $52 a day for international visitors and can be purchased on arrival at the park.”

5 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – a fast-growing economy is bringing sustainable tourism – and an expanded airport – to the Ethiopian capital”

“Ethiopia, where coffee is said to have originated, where Stone Age ancestors first carved flint into tools and where churches were hewn into rock and perched atop cliffs, is Africa’s fastest-expanding economy. Nowhere is its rise more evident than in bustling Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s capital has been named a 2020 World Capital of Culture and Tourism, and for good reason: Its treasures include Aksum, according to tradition the birthplace of the Queen of Sheba; a national museum housing traditional crafts and prehistoric fossils, and cathedrals including the copper-topped, neo-Baroque Holy Trinity and massive, mural-filled Medhane Alem, the second largest in Africa. The city has the first-rail system in sub-Saharan Africa and an industrial and transportation sector humming with new eco-conscious energy. Public spaces have turned greener, and there are more eco-friendly lodges for tourists. Now Bole International Airport, once a tiny chaotic transit hub, has had a $363 million renovation. Three times the size of its predecessor, the airport has a nearby five-star hotel and the capacity of 22 million passengers a year.”

The top five destinations on the list according to the ranking include Washington, the U.S capital, British Virgin Islands, Rurrenabaque in Bolivia, Greenland, and Kimberley region in Australia. The Times explains that the list was compiled following “four months of research, discussion, debate and as many synonyms for argument.” The process of selecting the “52 places to go” began at the beginning of September carried out by the members of The Times Travel desk.

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