As a frequent traveler, I relish the chance to visit other parts of the world. However, for black women, there are downsides to travelling to the traditional tourist hotspots in Europe and Asia. In Self Magazine, Zahra Barnes wrote about the realities of being a black woman and travelling abroad to continents of Europe and Asia. She described the “emotional slap in the face that is realizing some people just see you as a color”, “sticking out like a sore thumb” and having to speak for and be a living, walking representation of the entire black race.
While there’s nothing wrong with going to Europe, you don’t have to limit yourself to Spain or France in order to have a good time. Black people should increasingly travel to the many places where black bodies, black skin and black hair and are celebrated. Here are a list of incredible African countries and South American destinations where you’re sure to have the time of your life:
1. Cape Town, South Africa
Black women, it’s time to go where we are celebrated, not merely tolerated. While there are many people all around the world who embrace black women with open arms, there are very few people and places where we can truly escape racist microaggressions and ignorant comments. As expected, most of those places are in Africa, including the popular tourist destination of South Africa where you can blend in completely. Cape Town has some of the world’s lushest hotels, incredible cuisine and incredible views of the ocean and the mountains, as well as beautiful landscapes like the Valley of Desolation.
Ethiopia is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with breathtaking landmarks like the Simien Mountains and the Blue Nile Falls. Ethiopia also has an incredible array of wildlife, so make sure to visit one of their many national parks, such as Awash National Park or Mago National Park and prepare to see some of the rarest species of animals on Earth, including the Ethiopian wolf and the Walia Ibex. Ethiopian food is another reason to get off your couch and head to Ethiopia. You haven’t lived until you’ve gobbled down a plate of injera (trust me!!), which is a crepe-like food made from Teff Flour. There’s a good reason why it’s a staple of Ethiopian food.
Brazil has the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa, and while the natural hair movement is huge in the United States, it’s even bigger in Brazil. Every year, Afro-Brazilians donned in afros, multi-colored box braids, and patterned head-wraps, take to the streets and march for natural hair empowerment, or the “Marcha do Empoderamento Crespo”. If the chance to join in on an empowering natural hair parade isn’t incentive enough to visit Brazil, the country also has a range of other tourist attractions, including the Amazon jungles, Brazilian cuisine and thousands of beaches to spend an afternoon relaxing on.
4. Nairobi, Kenya
Not only can you literally adopt an Elephant in Kenya (!!!), but if you dine at a hotel called the Giraffe Manor, you can have the chance to enjoy your breakfast alongside giraffes! Not a big fan of wildlife? Come to Kenya, anyway! Nairobi, Kenya is home to a number of memorable cultural and historical sites, like the Nairobi National Museum or visit Njugana’s Place where you can dine on delicious Kenyan cuisine, like Nyama choma. The country is also particularly fond of afrobeats and jazz music, and there is sure to be music playing through the streets as you pass through the local markets and restaurants.
If your life has been lacking in adventure and excitement lately, consider taking a trip to Jamaica! In Jamaica, you’ll be spoiled by the wonderful weather, the luxurious resorts and their mouth-watering cuisine, as well as some exotic wildlife. But perhaps the best reason to travel to Jamaica, is to partake in the abundance of water sports going on. In Jamaica, you can enjoy days filled with surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
6. Victoria Falls, Zambia
As spectacular as the Niagara Falls are, the sight is nothing compared to Victoria Falls in Zambia, also known as the “greatest curtain of falling water in the world”. There are plenty of adventures to be had at Victoria Falls and you can go bungeeing jumping, zip lining or even take a walk with lions! So the next time you’re planning a vacation, consider travelling to Zambia to see one of the world’s best safari destinations and to take part in the Kumoboka festival. Moreover, according to the World Economic Forum, Zambia is one of the safest and most tourist-friendly countries in Africa, and is rated near Great Britain in terms of safety.
7. Nubian Pyramids, Sudan
Chances are, you’re already familiar with the pyramids of Egypt and while they are certainly a sight to see, Sudan is another place to go where you can glimpse beautiful (albeit smaller-sized) pyramids. The pyramids in Sudan were built more than 800 years after the Egyptian pyramids, as they were intended to be tombs for Kings and Queens. The country is also home to more than 30 million people and over 400 different languages and numerous interesting cultures. If you stay for longer than a week, you’ll have the chance to build friendships with some of the warmest and kindest people you will ever meet!
The next time you’re planning a vacation, consider travelling to Brazil, Jamaica, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia or South Africa. Although some of these places may lack the tall cathedrals and traditional artifacts of Western civilization, they have plenty of their own merits. Visiting an African country or any country with a majority black population has the opportunity to reaffirm you and your blackness.
"Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law."