Running from sub-Saharan Angola to war-torn Chad, it is easy to see why Central Africa is known as the world’s ‘heart of darkness’. Tormented by years of war, Angola is on the mend, but the very undemocratic Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad are still areas of immense inter-tribal fighting, and are too dangerous even for the most intrepid tourists.

However, among the chaos are some attractive destinations. Cameroon is generally stable, and is home to some excellent beaches, as well as being an important center for traditional African art. Gabon contains some classy cities, such as Libreville, and a vast virgin rainforest, unspoiled and unknown to many travelers.

Sao Tome Principe offers excellent snorkeling opportunities, as well as a magical array of birdlife, and some extinct volcanoes to explore, with a mixture of African and Portuguese culture to boot. Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic are suitable safe havens to quietly mingle with locals, and dance the night away at some great bars.

As suggested by the name, the Central African Republic lies within the tropical zone in Central Africa. Bordered by Chad in the north, Sudan in the east, Cameroon in the west, and the Congo and Zaire in the south, the area is totally landlocked. The Ubangi River flows in the south, and the eastern border meets the divide between the Zaire and the mighty Nile rivers. The region’s plateau varies in altitude from 600 to 760m, and is well drained, largely by the Congo River and its tributaries.

The Central African Republic is unstable, and can be a lawless place, particularly along the Chadian, Cameroonian and Sudanese borders, but intrepid travelers will also find it to be a place of untouched forests and vibrant cities. Angola is a nation which is slowly opening up to tourism. Boasting the continent’s second largest waterfall and almost untouched wildlife parks, it has a lot to offer the adventurous traveler. Gabon has something to offer everyone; with its virgin rainforests and glitzy cities, it is a place that deserves to be visited.

As with all of Africa, Central Africa is a dangerous hotspot interspersed with some hidden gems. Travelers are advised to take appropriate precautions when planning their trip to eliminate the risk of mishaps.