From Gorilla sighting in the picturesque Ugandan highlands to skiing – yes you read right- in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Africa promises unimaginable travel wonders. However, even though Africa offers the chance for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, there are some few considerations you need to keep in mind before kick-starting your journey.
See also: Top Tourist Destinations in Africa
Africa Travel Tips
1. Travel Insurance
For any travels, travel insurance is usually advisable, and for Africa travel, it is a must. Double-check to ensure that it will cover all your planned activities. Your insurance cover might include emergency airlift, expensive equipment, and repatriation cost.
Sometimes, you may need specialist high-risk travel insurance in case you are traveling to a country or region with warnings in place.
2. Cost It All Up
As you plan your African safari, there are 3 main costs you will encounter; transport (with a driver-guide), accommodation, and park fees. If you book through a tour operator, they are likely to package it all in the price.
Other extras you may need to budget for are shopping, nightlife, tips, and drinks. In case you add additional activities and excursions as you go along, you may need to pay extra.
Be sure to use a tour operator that can work within your budget, so you don’t strain unnecessarily. Double-check on everything including the vehicle you will use, travel arrangements (shared or private), hotel/safari lodge or camp, game drives, inclusions, and exclusions.
3. Book Flights Earlier
Try to book your flight as early as possible to get the best deals. Some tour operators also offer international flights as part of the safari package. Make sure you compare pricing to get the best rates. Booking your flights elsewhere also minimizes risks. You can try to get a good deal by searching throughout a one-month period.
4. Vaccinations and Malaria Tablets
Some countries, such as Tanzania, require a yellow fever vaccination certificate. It may also be advisable to take antimalarial tablets, before beginning your travel, especially to tropical countries. Get a travel specialist doctor’s advice on what to take before you travel.
5. Check Your Passport/ Visa Prices and Apply for Visas where needed
Most African countries require a visa, valid up to 6 months from the date you intend to go on safari. You will also need to have at least 1 or 2 blank pages on your passport at any one time.
Check the commonwealth website for information for commonwealth member states, or foreign office websites. Your tour agent can also advise you on visa requirements.
6. Money & Currency
Cash is important when traveling to Africa. The mode of payments for most places is cash. So carry some cash, which you can exchange in forex bureaus, Many of the major currencies can be exchanged. You can also be able to withdraw money using your Visa or Mastercards in many ATMS. Try to gauge the cost of living of the countries you will travel to determine how much cash you need to carry. Especially for airport transfers and hotel payments.
Have some extra money above your budget for any eventualities.
7. What to Carry
There are lots of things to consider for your African travel. If you know where you are likely to visit and the duration of stay, start by checking the weather forecast for those places to help with clothing to pack. Avoid bright colors if you are going on safari. Also have at least one pair of warm clothes (not winter warm though, especially if going to tropical countries). Carry a pair of binoculars for better sightings of animals and nature. If on medication, carry your own meds for the duration of travel. Other things to pack are sunscreen, mosquito repellant, comfortable walking shoes, a good camera, and lip balm because of dry heat that can dry your lips.
8. The People Are Super Friendly
Africans are friendly, warm and hospitable people. Many would love to go out of their way to offer help. They are also deeply religious. A lot of them are not very used to public displays of affection. Depending on the country you visit, many can speak English or French (if it is a francophone country). Be sure to learn a few words in the local lingo like greetings and thank you. This will really tick them off.
9. Movement – Taxi Apps
Move around using taxi apps Uber and/or its equivalents are used commonly for taxi in many cities in Africa. This is good for saving on transport costs, and safety.
You might also consider using connecting flights from local airlines for long journeys, because many roads may not be in perfect condition.
Tipping is a good practice in Africa. Carry some loose bills to make it easier, when you encounter porters, waiters, drivers, housekeepers, etc. What you give goes a long way to help them meet their daily needs.
It’s important to give the person you are tipping directly, otherwise, it may not get to them
11. The Best Time To Visit Africa
Your travel objectives and budget can determine the best time to travel to Africa. Usually seasons determine how enjoyable your trip will be. For wildlife tours, dry seasons are usually the best time as animals come out in search of water. However, the rainy seasons are usually the cheapest in terms of budget.
Seasons differ depending on where exactly in Africa you are going, but East Africa has two rainy seasons (April to June–long rains and November–short rains), whereas Southern Africa has one (November to April).
Ask your tour operator for further advice, or, check with the weather forecasts where practical.
Food is a vital experience that you must not miss and make your tourism complete. The food in Africa differs from one country to another. Many of the major hotels provide local cuisines as part of their food menu, along with continental dishes.
The best place to sample local food, however, is in local food joints. Get your local tour guide to recommend hygienic restaurants that can give you a taste of those indigenous delicacies.
If you have time, why don’t you organize to have cooking classes with local chefs?
In case of special dietary requirements please let your tour consultant know in advance, so they can ensure the places you visit and stay will be accommodating to your needs.
13. Safety while on Safari
Wildlife is wonderful to look at, but not touch. Keep a suitable distance and do not take unnecessary risks. You allowed to walk in the parks and sometimes can be arrested and fined. Many lodges in the park do not have fences, and the animals can walk around freely. Please do not touch them. These lodges have security guards though, so you have nothing to worry about, as long as you keep off.
14 Border Hassles
Get your papers right for every country in Africa you intend to visit. You need to know in advance what their entry requirements are. You cannot expect to walk freely from one country to another.
Africa is diverse, and it offers the traveler a lot of options. As you enjoy your time, do not forget to take the caution you would in a new place. Avoid night travel, and if solo, do not go to lonely places on your own.
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See also: Top Cities in Africa