What is it? Rice made with tomatoes, onions, scotch bonnets, and chili peppers. There are endless variations on this recipe, but those five ingredients are usual constants.
No list of Nigerian foods can be complete without a mention of Jollof rice. It’s a party dish brought out at celebrations, a signature regional dish, and the recipe with which many West African communities — and countries — like to stir up friendly rivalries. If I had to pick just one favorite from this entire list, this one would probably be it. ?
2. Pepper Soup
What is it? Light and spicy soup traditionally made with goat meat, but often with fish or other meat, as well as herbs and Nigerian spices.
Pepper soup is West Africa’s version of chicken soup (many Nigerian grocery stores even carry instant Peppersoup cubes!), and is known for its comforting, restorative, and universally delicious powers. While it has dozens of variations, no recipe is complete without its classic seasoning mix made up of spices like ataiko (Alligator pepper), uda, and gbafilo. You can buy a ready-made spice mix online, or you can make your own with non-Nigerian ingredients.
3. Efo Riro
What is it? A rich spinach stew usually made with spinach, scotch bonnets, and red bell peppers.
“Efo Riro,” which roughly translates to “stirred leafy vegetable,” can be made with your meat or fish of choice, and traditionally attains its layered flavor from iru (locust bean) and ground crayfish. This recipe, as with many West African recipes, calls for palm oil, a crop that is native to the region. If, for whatever reason, you’d like to use something else, you can try substituting with a different vegetable oil. The recipe will still come together, but the taste will be different.
4. Egusi Soup
What is it? A stew usually made with crayfish or other meat and thickened with ground melon seeds (egusi).
This soup gets its name from protein-rich egusi that lends the dish its velvety, creamy texture and rich flavor. Egusi is satisfying on its own, or with a side of fufu (like pounded yam), and comprises infinite layers of savory flavor that will greet your insides like a warm hug.
What is it? Fried bean cakes.
Usually served as a breakfast food or snack and made with black eyed peas, these fritters are crunchy, spicy, and perfect alone or with a dipping sauce.
What is it? Deep fried plantain slices.
You know how when you have overly ripe bananas, you make banana bread? Well, when you have overly ripe plantains, you make delicious dodo! Here’s a guide on how to choose the best, ripened plantains.
What is it? Grilled beef skewers seasoned with spicy peanut mix.
This popular Nigerian street food gets its iconic spicy taste from Suya spice, which is made with peanuts, cayenne pepper, salt, and several other seasonings. If you like the spice mix enough, you can even try making suya popcorn chicken.
8. Ofada Stew
What is it? A stew made with spicy scotch bonnets, smoked dried shrimp, and iru (also known as locust beans or dawa dawa).
This is one of those dishes whose very image inspires appetites from the pickiest of eaters. Be careful though: the dish is pretty spicy and tastes great when paired with tongue-cooling rice.
Islands conjure dreams of paradise: an escape from the rat race and a perfect patch of sand where you can relax under rustling palms and gaze at a serene blue sea.
But not all islands are created the same. The beauty of some is defined more by the sea that surrounds them, which can captivate connoisseurs with its crystalline clarity and thriving coral kingdoms.
Other islands feature luxuriant jungles and velvety peaks, and some enchant travelers with their cultural jewels. Whether it’s sublime beaches, stunning topography, or exotic cultures you seek, these islands lie far from the workaday clamor but close to creature comforts.
From the Seychelles to Santorini and the Caribbean to Capri, find your very own Shangri-la in this list of the most beautiful islands in the world.
The Maldives are home to some of the world’s most ravishing islands, but it’s the sea, which truly makes these islands shine. Luminous aquamarine waters with a crystal clarity lap upon these dazzling white shores, which barely peek above the Indian Ocean.
Consisting of 26 natural atolls, the Maldives archipelago is the planet’s lowest lying nation, rising no more than three meters above the sea at its highest point, a measurement that shrinks every year.
Beneath the mesmerizing waters, coral reefs flourish, luring divers and snorkelers from around the world. Surfers also flock here to ride the uncrowded breaks.
Back on land, luxury resorts provide the perfect launching points for adventures focused upon the sea, the archipelago’s greatest asset, but also, as the planet’s climate changes, its single greatest threat.
2. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Shaped like a giant sombrero, this lush volcanic island stars in countless South Pacific fantasies. The focal point and best asset of this tropical beauty is its ravishing lagoon in technicolor turquoise. Fish, turtles, sharks, and rays swim in the clear waters, and tiny islets or motus dot the lagoon.
The island, of course, is distinctly French, with mouthwatering cuisine to match. Diving and snorkeling are excellent in the surrounding reefs, and hiking trails weave through the palm-studded forests.
If you can afford it, hide out here in a luxurious over-the-water bungalow and bask in your good fortune as you fall asleep to the gentle slosh of the sea.
3. Palawan, Philippines
Palawan is the Philippine’s answer to paradise. This island province stretches southwest to Borneo, with lush limestone peaks rising from a jewel-like sea so clear, that you can almost see the expressions on the fish from above the surface.
Slivers of gleaming white-sand beaches fringed with rustling palms rim many of these jungle-clad islands, while under the water, coral reefs teem with an impressive diversity of tropical fish, offering some of the best diving in the world.
Other attractions include the islands’ unique wildlife, emerald lakes, and quaint fishing villages. Coron is home to plush resorts, and El Nido drips with natural beauty and is one of the most alluring islands in the chain. From here, you can island hop around the spectacular Bacuit archipelago.
One of Palawan’s top attractions is the World Heritage-listed Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, an impressive limestone cave system with a long underground river.
Pristine and picture-perfect, the Seychelles are worth traveling for. East of Kenya, this relatively unspoiled archipelago of 115 coral and granite islands is packed with attractions, from UNESCO-listed jungles and thriving coral reefs to palm-lined, powdery beaches flanked by giant boulders.
Almost half the total land area of these equatorial isles is protected, and many of the islands lie within fish-rich marine sanctuaries with excellent diving and snorkeling.
The Seychelles also feature some of the planet’s richest fishing grounds, making this a top destination for anglers. Add some spicy Créole cuisine into the mix, as well as the plush resorts of Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue, and it’s easy to understand the Seychelles’ allure.
5. The Cook Islands
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a castaway in the South Pacific, the Cook Islands are for you. Strung between French Polynesia and Samoa but with strong ties to New Zealand, the archipelago’s 15 islands are among the most beautiful islands in the South Pacific.
Among the islands’ top attractions are enticing aquamarine lagoons, palm-fringed beaches, and volcanic peaks. Best of all, the locals are among the friendliest in the South Pacific.
Rarotonga is the main tourist hub, with its many resorts, lush peaks, and plentiful beaches. Aitutaki is one of the most beautiful islands in the South Pacific. Hibiscus-laced villages snuggle on the hillsides, and 21 motus or small islets lie along its heavenly lagoon, many within kayak distance of the resorts.
Ensconce yourself here in an over-the-water bungalow or hole up in a rustic beach shack on a remote out island and live your Robinson Crusoe fantasies.
6. Bali, Indonesia
Bali’s intoxicating culture is a feast for the senses. Incense wafts from Hindu temples, rice paddies glow in electric greens, and the food jolts the taste buds. Surfing, swimming, and sunbathing are popular activities at the island’s beautiful beaches, and tourists will find so many other things to do on this exotic isle, from temple hopping and sightseeing in the lush countryside to spa treatments, shopping, and hiking.
Soak up the spiritual side of Bali in Ubud, see Seminyak, and family-friendly Sanur, feel the pumping pulse of touristy Kuta, or explore the attractions on the neighboring volcanic island of Lombok.
Looking for somewhere chic to stay? Choose from beautiful beach resorts, and if you’re bringing the kids, you’ll find plenty of good-value places to stay with the family.
One thing’s for sure: Bali’s enchanting spirit will wash over you like a warm, tropical wave.
7. Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
In Ko Phi Phi, a small archipelago in the Krabi Province of Thailand, lush limestone peaks rise from the tropical sea, and warm waters lap on palm-lined sugary beaches.
Slammed by the tsunami in 2004, Ko Phi Phi has now recovered. Its natural beauty still recalls the tropical island dream evoked in the famous Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach, which was filmed here at Maya Beach on the smaller neighboring island of Ko Phi Phi Leh.
Ko Phi Phi Don is the only inhabited island and offers day trips to the surrounding islands. Other popular activities include swimming, snorkeling, and superb diving. Don’t miss Monkey Beach, famous for its cheeky namesake residents.
Kenya – the name is almost synonymous with the word “safari.” Perhaps no other place on the planet conjures such a spirit of adventure and romance. The diversity of things to do dazzles all who visit, and viewing the country’s abundant wildlife tops the list. See throngs of wildebeest thundering across the savanna during the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara;come eye-to-eye with an elephant in Amboseli; or marvel at Lake Nakuru, flecked with thousands of flamingos. In these sun-soaked lands, ancient tribes, such as the Maasai, Kikuyu, and Samburu, retain their traditional customs, living in relative harmony with the natural world.
Beyond the world-famous safari parks lies a trove of coastal treasures. You can snorkel and dive fish-rich coral reefs, relax on pearly beaches, experience the melting pot of cultures and cuisines in Mombasa and Malindi, and explore tropical islands steeped in Swahili history.
Topographically, Kenya is stunning. Surrounded by calderas and mountain ranges, the Great Rift Valley divides the country. To the east of this sweeping valley, you can climb the snow-cloaked equatorial peaks of Mount Kenya and fish for trout in crystal-clear streams. Hell’s Gate National Park harbors obsidian caves and hisses with natural geysers and hot springs. To experience the romance of Kenya’s colorful colonial history captured in the film Out of Africa, head to Nairobi. This bustling capital is the gateway to one of the world’s most evocative and exciting travel destinations.
1. Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara National Reserve (also “Masai Mara”) is one of the world’s most magnificent game reserves. Bordering Tanzania, the Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti and forms a wildlife corridor between the two countries. It’s named after the statuesque, red-cloaked Maasai people who live in the park and graze their animals here as they have done for centuries. In their language, Mara means “mottled,” perhaps a reference to the play of light and shadow from the acacia trees and cloud-studded skies on the vast grasslands.
The park is famous for the Great Migration, when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti, from July through October. In the Mara River, throngs of hippos and crocodiles lurk. The park is also known for providing excellent predator sightings, thanks to its relatively large populations of lion, cheetah, and leopard – especially in the dry months from December through February. Thanks to the park’s altitude, the weather here is mild and gentle year-round.
2. Amboseli National Reserve
Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, Amboseli National Reserve is one of Kenya’s most popular tourist parks. The name “Amboseli” comes from a Maasai word meaning “salty dust,” an apt description for the park’s parched conditions. The reserve is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Other wildlife commonly spotted in the park includes big cats, such as lion and cheetah, as well as giraffe, impala, eland, waterbuck, gazelle, and more than 600 species of birds. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here, ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulfur springs, savannah, and woodlands. Look for the local Maasai people who live in the area around the park.
3. Tsavo National Park
Kenya’s largest park, Tsavo, is sliced in two: Tsavo West and Tsavo East. Together these parks comprise four percent of the country’s total area and encompass rivers, waterfalls, savannah, volcanic hills, a massive lava-rock plateau, and an impressive diversity of wildlife. Midway between Nairobi and Mombasa, Tsavo East is famous for photo-worthy sightings of large elephant herds rolling and bathing in red dust. The palm-fringed Galana River twists through the park providing excellent game viewing and a lush counterpoint to the arid plains. Other highlights here include the Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow; Mudanda Rock; and the Lugard Falls, which spill into rapids and crocodile-filled pools.
Tsavo West is wetter and topographically more varied, with some of the most beautiful scenery in the northern reaches of the park. Highlights here are Mzima Springs, a series of natural springs with large populations of hippos and crocodiles; Chaimu Crater, a great spot for seeing birds of prey; and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary. Wildlife is not as easy to see in Tsavo West because of the denser vegetation, but the beautiful scenery more than compensates.
4. Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves
On the banks of the palm-lined Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba Reserves lie in an arid region in the remote north of Kenya. Shaba National Reserve is one of two areas where George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness, made famous in the film Born Free. The wildlife in all three reserves depends on the waters of the river to survive, and many species are specially adapted to the parched conditions, such as Grevy’s zebras; Somali ostriches; and gerenuks, the long-necked antelope that stand on two rear legs to reach the fresh shoots on upper tree limbs.
A top attraction in Samburu National Reserve are the Sarara Singing Wells, local watering holes where Samburu warriors sing traditional songs while hauling water for their cattle to drink. You might also be rewarded with sightings of big cats and wild dogs.
5. Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park, in Central Kenya, is famous for its huge flocks of pink flamingos. The birds throng on Lake Nakuru itself, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes that comprises almost a third of the park’s area. The park was established in 1961, and more than 450 species of birds have been recorded here, as well as a rich diversity of other wildlife. Lions, leopards, warthogs, waterbucks, pythons, and white rhinos are just some of the animals you might see, and the landscapes range from sweeping grasslands bordering the lake to rocky cliffs and woodland.
The park also protects the largest euphorbia candelabrum forest in Africa. These tall, branching succulents are endemic to the region and provide an interesting textural element to the arid landscapes.
6. Lamu Island
The small island of Lamu, northeast of Mombasa, oozes old-world charm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lamu Old Town is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited settlement with origins dating back to the 12th century. Strolling the labyrinthine streets, you can see the island’s rich trading history reflected in the buildings. Architectural features from the Arab world, Europe, and India are evident, yet with a discernible Swahili technique. Intricately carved wooden doors, coral stone buildings, hidden courtyards, verandas, and rooftop patios are common features. Visiting here is like stepping back in time. Dhows plow the harbor, few if any motorized vehicles exist here, and donkeys still rule the streets as they have done for centuries.
Most of Lamu’s population is Muslim, and both men and women dress in traditional attire. Top attractions on the island include Lamu Museum, with displays on Swahili culture and the region’s nautical history; Lamu Fort; and the Donkey Sanctuary. If all the history is a little too much, you can bask on one of the island’s white-sand beaches or sip Arabic coffee in a local café.
7. Lake Naivasha
A haven for birders, Lake Naivasha lies at the highest point of the Great Rift Valley and has been known to shrink considerably in times of extreme drought. A flourishing floriculture industry in the area is also impacting water levels and quality. One of the best ways to view the wildlife is by boat. More than 400 species of birds have been spotted here, including African fish eagles. Hippos slosh in the water, and giraffes, zebra, buffalo, and eland graze around the edges of the lake. Keep a lookout for colobus monkeys in the canopies, too.
Near Lake Naivasha, the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary features a wildlife-rich nature trail. Just south of Lake Naivasha, the relatively affordable Hell’s Gate National Park protects a wide variety of wildlife and offers excellent climbing opportunities with two extinct volcanoes and the red cliffs of Hell’s Gate Gorge. On the southern shore of Lake Naivasha, you can pop in for a cup of tea at the Elsamere Conservation Centre, the former home of the late Joy Adamson, author of Born Free and her husband George.
Kenya’s capital and largest city, Nairobi is legendary for its colorful colonial history. It was once the capital of British East Africa, luring settlers who came here to stake their fortune in the coffee and tea industries. Today, you can explore the city’s famous historic sites, as well as some excellent wildlife-related attractions.
The Nairobi National Museum is a great one-stop spot to see exhibits on Kenya’s history, nature, culture, and contemporary art. Green thumbs will also enjoy the botanic gardens on the grounds. Another popular tourist attraction is the Karen Blixen Museum, the restored residence of the famous Danish author of the book Out of Africa, also known by her pen name, Isak Dinesen. To see wildlife without venturing far from the city center, visit Nairobi National Park, now a black rhino sanctuary and also home to a diversity of other African wildlife.
Kenya’s second largest city and biggest port, Mombasa is a multicultural tourist magnet. British, Portuguese, Arab, Indian, and Asian immigrants add to the rich cultural mix, and their influence is evident in the architecture, as well as the many different types of cuisine. Mombasa is actually an island connected to its mushrooming development on the mainland by a causeway, bridges, and ferries. Coral reefs fringe the coast for 480 kilometers providing fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities, especially at Mombasa Marine National Park and aroundWasini Island. Dolphin watching and deep-sea fishing are also popular.
History buffs will enjoy exploring the 16th-century Fort Jesus and Old Town with its narrow streets, ancient Swahili dwellings, markets, and souvenir shops. The north shore of Mombasa is crammed with attractions including Mombasa Go-Kart, cinemas, sports, and a cornucopia of restaurants. This being a coastal hub, beach lovers will find some worthy strands nearby. North of the city, Nyali and Bamburi Beaches are favorites, while the white strands of Shelly, Tiwi, and Diani Beaches are popular spots south of Mombasa.
North of Mombasa on the Kenyan coast, Malindi is a beach resort popular with European visitors. Thanks to its rich trading history, it is also a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, with a split personality. Part historic old town, part modern tourist hub, Malindi is where travelers come to sun on the white sands of Watamu Beach; dive the coral reefs of the Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks; and soak up a dose of Swahili history in the historic town, dating from the 12th century. Here, you can visit the Jami Mosque; two pillar tombs from the 14th century; and the Church of St. Francis Xavier, one of East Africa’s oldest churches. On the promontory, the Vasco De Gama Cross is one of the oldest standing monuments in Africa.
Another popular tourist attraction is the Falconry of Kenya, a rehabilitation center for sick and injured birds. About 30 kilometers northeast of Malindi, the Marafa Depression, also called Hell’s Kitchen or Nyari, is a set of sandstone gorges sculpted by the wind and rain.