You’ve finally decide to take the plunge and book your ticket to Africa for an epic adventure. You have your rough itinerary, your selected safari, and your bags all packed up. Africa has very rich cultures, vibrant markets and generally there’s always something fascinating about it that is bound to make you want to come back. It can also be daunting for travellers because you learn a lot through trial and error. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you travel:
If you’re worried that you might get stuck at the airport or marketplaces because you don’t understand the local language: stay calm.
Despite Africa having over 2000 local dialects, English happens to be an official language in most countries. Other countries also have French and German as official languages. You shouldn’t rely on English solely. Take the time to learn key phrases and the locals are bound to appreciate your efforts in trying.
Don’t believe everything you see in the movies. Africans are definitely one of the friendliest people. You are bound to be greeted with a huge smile, and they are also keen to learn where you’re from and why you’re visiting.
Keep in mind that most Africans are very religious. Christianity and Islam are the most widely practiced religions and some people may be quite conservative, so be respectful in conservative areas.
If you are travelling across many African countries, you might experience border hassles. Sometimes you might have no issues and pass freely, and other times you might have to wait hours for your passport to be processed or even pay a bribe for it.
To avoid being taken advantage of while crossing borders make sure you are informed of the visa requirements before visiting any African country. Get in touch with your local embassy and ask any questions before travelling. Better yet, most African countries offer electronic visas, so it might be worth it for you to have your visa ready as opposed to obtaining one upon entry.
Another important tip is to be money-smart at the border. Carry extra cash with you and find out the exchange rate before you reach the border, then bargain hard.
The accommodation options are endless in Africa. You could stay in luxury hotels, safari tents to your standard backpacker dorms.
Many travellers choose to stay in camps or with hotels that provide camps, because they have all the amenities you would find in a hotel, and it’s a better way to appreciate your surroundings.
Before travelling, make sure you book your accommodation well in advance, because during peak seasons, you might not find any place to stay. Take the time to go over guide books, online reviews, and also ensure that your accommodation provides a safe for your valuables.
Before departing check what vaccinations you might require to enter the country. Most countries require yellow fever vaccinations. It’s also a good idea if you packed you own mini medical bag with painkillers, antibiotics, anti-malarial medication and antihistamines. Obviously these medications are available in Africa too, but it’s always a good idea to have them handy just in case.
Africa is not a cheap place to go for a holiday. Usually the living costs for travellers are much higher compared to Asia or South America. Budget for at least $70 to $100USD per day for food and transport. This is exclusive of safaris and any additional activities you may take.
Always keep emergency money in a safe in case you need it, and be wary of the places you chose to exchange your money at. It is always a better option to go to a reputable forex bureau as opposed to using street vendors.
Ensure you track your card spending too, as credit card fraud is prevalent in some countries.
Being a visitor more often than not, means you are wealthier than most people around you, and you might be the target of scams and touts trying to sell you unwanted goods and services. Remember that they are just trying to earn a living. The best way to deal with them is by being firm and telling them no thanks.
There’s always the good and the bad when visiting Africa. To ensure your trip goes as planned, take the time to research the countries you are planning on visiting. Don’t compare the countries to your home and stay open minded. Travelling to Africa is an experience of lifetime.