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My 10 Favorite “Shithole Countries”

If you have not heard by now, the president of the United States of America, while in a meeting discussing a bipartisan immigration deal inside of the White House, made the following remarks, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries … We should have more people from Norway.” The term “shithole countries” was also used to refer to Haiti and El Salvador.

The reason that America needs immigrants from these “shithole countries” is because we make America great! And isn’t that the whole premise of his political platform? According to a Pew Research study, as of 2013, 38 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants and 30 percent of the U.S.-born population. Sub-Saharan Africans participated in the labor force at a higher rate than the overall immigrant and U.S.-born populations. In 2015, about 75 percent of sub-Saharan immigrants (ages 16 and over) were in the civilian labor force, compared to 66 percent and 62 percent of the overall foreign- and native-born populations, respectively.

I have not made any real comments on the behavior, policies or tweets of this administration, but as the child of immigrants from the “shithole country” of Uganda, and as a lover of travel to many “shithole countries,” I wanted to share my ten favorite “shithole countries” to visit. So far I have traveled to 22 of Africa’s 54 countries, plus Haiti, and these are my favorites:


I first visited Haiti in 2015 as my 50th country. Excited to reach such a milestone, I wanted the trip to be special and visiting the first black republic was certainly incredible. When I travel I am not one to volunteer, because I treat visits to all countries similarly and that is as an explorer. Also, I wouldn’t volunteer in Paris, so why do it in Haiti. I subsequently have visited Haiti two more times and loved it every single time. If you are visiting I recommend starting in Port-au-Prince and doing a visit to Musée du Panthéon National Haitien (MUPANAH), which gives a great comprehensive breakdown of the history of the country. You should also visit Hotel Oluffson which is a Haitian institution and not to be missed. Go on a Thursday evening when they have live music. Two other must see destinations in Haiti are Côte des Arcadins, where you should do a boat tour to Anse-à-Galets with Marina Blue Haiti and Jacmel where you can take in the artistic side of Haiti.


Anse-à-Galets (Photo Credit: James Anthony for @globaljetblack)


All that I can say is that Namibia is magical. From the dunes to the star gazing this trip is one that dreams are made of. You must visit Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Deadvlei, is a white clay pan located near Sossuvlei and the skeletons of the dead Acacia tress here are said to be 600–700 years old. If you are looking for a safari during your time in Namibia, you can visit Etosha National Park where you can see a variety of big and small game.


Hanging out in Deadvlei, it was a bit hot! (Photo credit: Roman Gian Arthur)



The famed “Big Daddy” in Sossusvlei (Photo Credit: Wes Walker)


Kenya is one of my favorite countries in the world because it has so much to offer. The capital, Nairobi, has so much to offer from handicrafts — visit the Masai Market, to great food — try out Mama Oliech, to the opportunity to kiss a giraffe at the Giraffe Center or Giraffe Manor. After having done safari in seven African countries, Kenya’s Masai Mara is tied with Tanzania’s Serengeti for first place. They actually occupy the same land; the different names come when you cross borders. Within the Mara you can see all of the big five and tons of other big and small game as well as hundreds of bird species. Finally, Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast is the perfect way to end a trip to the country. Whether you pick Mombasa, Diane or Lamu you cannot go wrong.


A sunset boat ride on a traditional dhow boat in Lamu is the perfect way to end the day. (Photo Credit: James Anthony for @globaljetblack)



The landscape of the Masai Mara is why it makes it one of my favorite places to do safari. (Photo Credit: James Anthony for @globaljetblack)



A visit to the Giraffe Center is an opportunity to get up close and personal with there beautiful creatures


A country that sees very few tourists per year and makes it pretty hard to obtain visas, was one of my favorite countries that I visited in 2017. Khartoum is the home of both the Blue and White Nile. It is in Khartoum where the two rivers meet and become the Nile that flows north to Egypt. Beyond the Nile, Sudan boasts more than double the number of pyramids than Egypt. 255 pyramids were constructed at three sites in Nubia (in present day Sudan) over a period of a few hundred years. Ancient Egypt has 120 pyramids that were constructed over a period of 3000 years. The best part of visiting the pyramids in Sudan is that you will virtually be exploring on your own. Because there is minimal tourism in the country there are no guides on the premises, there is no ticket booth and there are almost no other tourists. Start applying for the visa now.


Sailing on the Nile in Khartoum (Photo Credit: Elkhair Balla)



Exploring the Nubian pyramids (Photo Credit: Amin Maaz)


Known lovingly as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is the perfect place for those looking for adventure. Whether you are looking to go white water rafting on the Nile, I recommend the locally owned White Nile Rafting, go gorilla trekking or go on safari to see the big five across many of their national parks including Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison National Park, Uganda has it all. And with a favorable exchange rate, Uganda has the best shopping in East Africa!


My first time white water rafting, super fun, slightly scary.



National Theater is my favorite market in East Africa (Photo Credit: Sarah Waiswa)


Dakar, a city perched on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in western Africa, which is home to the western most point on the continent. The city is a must visit for anyone who loves seafood, or any food for that matter. Senegalese food is by far my favorite food on the continent. Dakar is also a great place to visit for those who are into art and fashion. Whether you visit for Dak’Art, the biennial art show or if you are looking for new up and coming fashion designers, Dakar does not disappoint. For history buffs, a visit to Goree Island is not to be missed and for the adventurers amongst us, try learning how to surf from locals.

Surfing in Senegal

Take a surf lesson from a local (Photo Credit: Jessica Nabongo)


Goree Island

The door of no return on Goree Island


Zambia is the perfect place for adventures and relaxation. Using Sussi & Chuma Lodge as the jumping off point allows you to relax in luxury while gazing on the Zambezi River every morning and evening as well as more giving you access to even more exciting adventures. On the Zambia side of Victoria Falls, between August and mid-January, you can visit Devil’s Pool, a small pool ON TOP OF VICTORIA FALLS!!! I promise it is not as scary as it looks. Zambia also offers the world’s only walking safari that will allow you to view the white rhino up close and personal. With 24-hour surveillance to keep the poachers away, while the rhinos rest you are able to get close enough to take the perfect selfie without being in any danger. Finally, a sunset cruise on the Zambezi is the relaxing end to an adventurous holiday.


When visiting Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) you absolutely must go to Devil’s Pool. You access the tour on the Zambia side and it can only be done between August and mid-January so plan your trip accordingly. We hiked 20 minutes across a lot of rocks to get to the pool but there is also an option of taking a boat. I did not think that it was scary at all as you can tell from me leaning my body slightly over the edge. Definitely in the top ten of coolest things that I have ever done. Be sure to request David as your guide. He’s awesome!!! Seeing the Devil’s Pool from the Zimbabwe side gave me an even greater appreciation for the daring feat that we got to participate in. #catchmeinzambia #catchmeontheedge

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White rhino Zambia

A selfie with a group of white rhino?? Yes please!


The tiny Kingdom of Swaziland is best visited as a side trip from Johannesburg, either by plane or a four hour road trip. Though Swaziland is small, its tourism offerings are mighty. Swaziland offers three different game parks allowing visitors to spot the big five. In the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary we did a sunset game drive and were able to see impalas, crocodiles, blesbok, kudos, monkeys, warthogs, wildebeest, and zebras. This was one of the most incredible experiences for me because we were able to get out of the vehicle and walk up to a group of zebra. Considering they are one of my favorite animals, this was a dream come true. A visit to the Mantenga Cultural Village offered an opportunity for us to experience traditional dances as well as learn about the traditional way of life. Umhlanga or the reed dance, which take place in August, is the most notable event in the country. During the ceremony, tens of thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi girls and women travel from the various chiefdoms to the Ludzidzini Royal Village to participate in the eight-day event.

Safari in Swaziland

One of the best adventures I have ever been on! (Photo Credit: Rene Daniella)


Swazi dancers

Traditional dancers in Swaziland (Photo Credit: Jessica Nabongo)


Home to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and a few private reserves, Tanzania offers the world’s greatest game drives. Be sure to visit during the Great Migration, which sees the movement of nearly two million wildebeest and zebras across the Serengeti and Masai Mara. The best time to see it in the Serengeti in May — July. After enjoying what will likely be the best safari of your life, take a short flight over to Zanzibar to enjoy some of my favorite beaches in the world. Paje and Nungwi are two of my favorites.

Elephants in the Serengeti

The baby elephants were my favorite! (Photo Credit: Jessica Nabongo)


Nungwi Beach Zanzibar

The white sands and crystal clear blue waters of Nungwi beach in Zanzibar (Photo Credit: Elton Anderson)


Why travel to overcrowded Greek Islands when you can visit Tunisia! With 810 miles of Mediterranean coastline, Tunisia has a lot to offer. The beaches of Hammamet are perfect for relaxing and keeping cool during the scorching hot Tunisian summers. If you are really looking for a Greek vibe check out Sidi Blu Said in Tunis, the countries capital. Be sure to also visit the medina in Tunis for great shopping, including Berber rugs as well as delicious food options which are a mashup of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Medina of Tunis

The medina of Tunis is a MUST ( Photo Credit: Faten Bokri)


Hammamet Tunisia

The beaches of Hammamet (Photo Credit: Faten Bokri)


Sidi Bou Said Tunisia

The streets of Sidi Bou Said (Photo Credit: Faten Bokri)

This Post Has 15 Comments
  1. Asante sana kwa mingi picha nzuri za Afrika! We are going on our 10th trip to the Holy Continent (SA & Botswana) this August, planned to be our last, but your wonderful descriptions & photos of some of the “Shithole Countries” have us thinking we need to go another time. You should be a diplomat, the way you gently reveal the ignorance behind an intended insult.

  2. Woow Jessica. You are just amazing. I am Kenyan and glad that it is one of your favorites. My travel has been within Kenya and I just want to ask you one question. How is your experience travelling solo? I really want to embark on this

  3. I love this story. If we had no diversity travel and life would be pretty boring. I loved our travels through Africa and would go again in a heartbeat but you are much braver than me sitting at the top of Vic Falls!

  4. Wow, I just got hold of your IG handle and blog; I’m hooked. I love to travel, so this is very inspiring. Your photos are just amazing.

    Thank you for including my country Tanzania as one of your fave SH (lol) countries, it truly is beautiful. I hope you visited Dar-es-Salaam.

    All the best in your future travels, I’ll be looking out for the posts.

    1. Thank you so much for checking out my blog! I have not been to Dar-es-Salaam. I hope to visit in the future!

  5. I am happy to know that my country Namibia is among your favorite destinations. Your blog is really interesting and inspiring too.

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