Things to keep in mind while vacationing in Africa
Every time I think of the massive and marvelous continent Africa, a vision of the simmering sun sinking beneath the stretch of marula and baobab trees takes over my eyes. The vision is truly as iconic as it sounds and unless you see it yourself, you wouldn't know how picturesque it is. Being a unique blend of natural wonders, vibrant cultures, renowned prehistoric sites, all coming from sprawling remains of several of the world's greatest ancient civilizations that live beside modern cities, there is nothing like this continent.
The ultra-diverse continent is packed with beautiful countries backed by a rich heritage. You can explore exquisite safari destinations or witness the incredible underwater marine life in coral-rich oceans. Whatever you do, you will always find yourself enjoying in the lap of nature.
And, if you get a chance to explore its corners, consider it nothing less than a god's gift.
Whenever you travel to new a new place, let alone a new continent, you must keep a travel guide handy. Since there are a ton of travel requirements, some restrictions and even guidelines for different countries, every traveler, be it solo or a group, must conduct a proper research about their final destination before stepping on the aircraft.
Since I recently travelled to a few countries in Africa including Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania, I have listed some backpacking rules, important info and travel tips below. It will help every first-time traveler have a safe, comfortable and enjoyable stay there.
Best time to visit
Since Africa is a huge continent with varied landscape, climate and wildlife, you must choose the best time to visit your desired country according to your interests and what you’re hoping to see during your vacation.
If you wish to go on a safari trip, visit between May to August since the wildlife is easy to spot and you may see elusive creatures like rhinos, lions and leopards. Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe offer incredible safari experiences. If you wish to see the marine life there, you can travel to various tourists spots all around the year. Zanzibar in Tanzania, île Saint-Marie in Madagascar, Camps Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique, and Lamu Island in Kenya have some of the best beaches in the continent.
Usually, the weather is great in the continent during September, October, March and April months.
Best countries to visit
What to expect?
In Northern Africa, people mostly speak Arabic and follow Islam. It's famous for its natural wonders like the Nile River, the Sahara Desert, the Red Sea, and the Atlas Mountains.
For best safari destinations, you must visit East Africa and enjoy incredible wildlife sightings. Most people love to travel to Kenya or Tanzania to watch the Great Migration that takes place every year between July and September. You can also trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro or take a short flight to great honeymoon destinations like Madagascar, Seychelles, Reunion, and Mauritius. Uganda is the best travel destination for gorilla trekking.
In Southern part of Africa, you can travel to popular tourist destinations like Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Sossusvlei, Kruger National Park, and Chobe National Park.
Central Africa is the least-visited region in Africa due to political instability and bad tourist infrastructure.
If you are planning a trip to Africa, you will have to take a few vaccinations a couple of days or weeks prior to your date of arrival. Depending on where you’re travelling, you might need a yellow fever vaccination or polio vaccination. Consult your GP at least 2 to 3 weeks prior to your Africa trip.
Since Malaria is a serious issue in several parts of Africa, you must take anti-malarial medication, wear clothes with long sleeves and trousers, and use an insect repellent.
Sunburn is a serious issue in Africa. So make sure that you carry a sunblock with you at all times.
Only a few cities have good health facilities and most rural areas only have basic healthcare system. So, you must get yourself a travel insurance that covers all of your travel activities, as well as emergency repatriation.
Tap water is unsuitable for drinking in Africa so pack refillable bottles and ask your hotel or lodge to fill them up for you.
Since there are several water-borne diseases such as bilharzia in Africa, don't bathe in rivers and lakes unless it's safe to do so.
Same sex couples are advised act discretely in public and be aware of local laws and customs.
Extra travel tips
Make sure that you do not travel in isolated and secluded places alone since crime rates are high in some regions of Africa.
Be careful of ATMs as there are not many in remote areas. Try to withdraw cash whenever and wherever possible.
Be careful when you drive in some parts of Africa as local driving standards may be low in some regions.
Wear modest clothes as some parts of the continent are conservative.
Keep appropriate shoes and clothing items in your luggage if you wish to experience the many wonders of the nature.