This blog post was updated on February 24, 2021.

This post was first published in February 2018. Since then, Black Panther has gone on to win over 70 national and international awards and earn critical acclaim. Among these accolades are two Grammy Awards, two Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) Awards, and six nominations for the 2019 Oscars including Best Picture — making it the first-ever superhero movie to be nominated in this category. 

The long-anticipated and critically acclaimed Marvel film, Black Panther has finally hit theaters and it did not disappoint. The movie, which takes place in a fictional East African country called Wakanda, represents such real-life tribes such as Tanzania/Kenya’s Maasai, South Africa’s Zulu, South Africa/Lesotho’s Sotho, and the Himba people of Namibia. Though some of the representation was obvious, others were more subtle, but what we do know is that Black Panther is unmistakably African. I think we’re all longing to get to Wakanda. Personally, I am still trying to locate the Embassy of Wakanda so that I can sort out my work visa, but in the meantime, why not take a visit to some of the countries that are home to the tribes in the film?

Whether it’s your first or fifth time in Africa, these four countries should be on your travel list.

Kenya and Tanzani

 

One of Africa’s most recognizable tribes, the Maasai are known for their height, bead-work, and famous jumping dance known as adumu. The costumes of the Dora Milaje, the elite trope of female bodyguards and special forces, were 80% Maasai, according to Anthony Francisco, the senior visual development illustrator at Marvel Studios. The Maasai call both Kenya and Tanzania home and both are a great place to start your East African exploration. Whether you explore flight deals to Zanzibar, Nairobi, or Dar es Salaam, there are tons of carrier options to enter the country from anywhere in the world including KLM, Qatar, and Ethiopian Airlines.

The default activity in both Kenya and Tanzania is safari and for good reason. The Serengeti and Maasai Mara offer some of the best safaris on the continent and for all budgets. For those looking for a luxury option, Cottar’s 1920s is my go-to option. With luxury tents and fine dining in the bush, it’s the go-to for those looking for luxury in the wilderness. A more budget-friendly option is Basecamp Masai Mara where a former U.S. Senator who went on to be president once stayed with his family.

Photo Credit: Global Jet Black
Me on the beaches of Nungwi, Zanzibar. Photo Credit: Elton Anderson

In Tanzania, if you’re looking for a private butler to bring you sun-downers as you gaze out at animals milling about, then andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is a no-brainer. With three camps and only 30 stilted suites, personal attention is first and foremost. Time your visit with the Great Migration to witness one of nature’s most amazing feats. After your safari, head to the coast of Kenya. Lamu Island is my favorite and a stay at Forodhani House or The Majlis Resort will be the perfect ending to an adventurous time in Kenya (be sure to try the fish samosas). Another relaxing beach option is also Zanzibar which boasts one of my favorite beaches in the world, Nungwi. Be sure to find a property on Nungwi or in Paje, both of which offer crystal clear waters.

Related: Here’s Where to Start Your African Safari Adventure

South Africa

Various South African tribes were well represented in Black Panther, in fact, more so than any other country. The Zulu, Ndebele, Xhosa, and Sotho tribes of the country were all represented, from language and traditional dress to music and art. Xhosa was the chosen language in the film, largely recognized by the click sounds. The Zulu tribe of Isicolo was represented by Angela Bassett, in particular, her regal headdress.

South Africa, a go-to for many on their first trip to Africa, has a number of offerings in each city, so why not city-hop to a few? Johannesburg is great if you’re looking to take in some art, learn the history of apartheid, and experience one of Africa’s biggest cities. A stay at Hallmark House in the Maboneng neighborhood is a good jumping-off point for exploring the city and a bike ride through Soweto with Lebo’s Soweto is an experience you will not soon forget. A visit to Cape Town will take you to main tourist attractions such as Table Mountain, Boulder’s Beach, and Camp’s Bay. (Be sure to check with the hotel you’re interested in staying at, as droughts can sometimes affect tourism and life in the city.) Finally, visit Durban! If you want to party, eat well, and relax in warmer waters than those found in Cape Town, stop in Durban for a couple of days. Angela Bassett’s headdress was influenced by the Zulu tribe of South Africa called Isicolo. 

Lesotho

W’Kabi, the head of the Wakanda Border Tribe, wore distinct blankets that were clearly inspired by the Sotho tribe found in both South Africa and Lesotho. Lesotho, a tiny kingdom surrounded entirely by South Africa is known as the “Kingdom in the Sky,” the mountainous terrain is not one explored by many tourists. A four-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg, Lesotho is a great add-on trip. During your drive through the mountainous nation, you are sure to see Basotho people walking around with their traditional hats, which block the sun during the summer. These hats also help them keep warm in the winter, along with traditional blankets they cloak themselves in. The Maliba Lodge (fairly close to the border) is a great stay for a long weekend, relaxation, and hiking. With sunrises over mountain peaks, you’ll wonder why you didn’t visit sooner!

Namibia

 A Himba woman and child in Namibia in 2017. Photo credit: Jessica Nabongo

The Himba tribe of Northwestern Namibia are recognizable by the red clay, otjize, that they use in their hair and on their skin. In Black Panther, one of the elders that is part of the King’s court is a clear reflection of Himba culture. It’s rare that countries blow my mind, but Namibia did just that. With various landscapes including rocky mountains, sand dunes, and an extensive Atlantic coastline, Namibia is best explored by car. You’ll need at least a week in the country to be able to explore the breathtaking Deadvlei and Sossusvlei, the former being flatlands with 100-year-old tree skeletons and the former with dunes that have the safest sands I’ve ever felt (and are the perfect backdrop for Instagram pictures). Namibia is what dreams are made of.

Minimal to light pollution in much of the country allows you to see the Milky Way and seemingly every constellation that you’ve ever heard of. If you take a drive up to the Skeleton Coast you’ll surely see members of the Himba tribe that were portrayed in the movie. We met a few who were selling beautiful bracelets on the side of the road and I even had an opportunity to have them dress me in their traditional clothing. If you’re looking for a safari, head to Etosha National Park.

Strolling through Deadvlei in Namibia. Photo credit: Roman Gian Arthur

For more African adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram.

Did we miss any top spots for Wakanda fans? Let us know in the comments below.

One Response

About The Author

Jessica Nabongo is a wanderlust, writer, photographer, entrepreneur, public speaker and travel influencer. At her core, she is a dreamer looking to craft a life and career that interconnects her passions and talents. She also wants to use her story to educate and inspire others to travel and experience the world around them. To date she has visited over 110 countries and territories on six continents.