Travel to Africa is exciting, daunting and wonderful all at the same time. When you travel to Africa you need to put your safety first then have fun. You need to have buckets of patience and plenty of film on your camera. You need to go with an open heart, open mind and fit body. So read on for our travel tips for Africa!
We all know that Africa is a hot place indeed but did you realise that it can actually get very cold in Africa too? While the equator runs right through Africa, there are patches of snow and ice on the higher ground. For example, it can even get dangerous if you are climbing Mounts Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Mount Kenya where temperatures go as low as -10C. Snow falls in Lesotho, the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. So take a few warm things when you go to Africa.
Get the right shots
Don’t panic about immunisations and getting injected for every disease in Africa. If your childhood vaccines are up to date, you are fine. If you think you should update a few jabs, then plan in advance as some need more than one. Take Rabies for example, something you should take preventative measure for – there are several jabs and while you are at it, why not get protection for hepatitis A, typhoid and meningococcal meningitis. Some countries need you to be up to date with your yellow fever vaccination. The best thing to do is to consult your doctor as every country is different and then also consult an African travel expert as they should know better than anyone.
Africa can be a difficult place to get around in and all you need is several huge suitcases to hamper your movements, or to get stolen. Travel with one small compact bag that can easily fit on your back and that mean that you should pack mostly casual, versatile clothing and shoes. Who knows when you are going to find a shower or if you will unpack at the hotel you booked months ago. Be prepared for the worst and leave your best outfits and accessories at home, If you feel the need to dress up, maybe pack one multipurpose outfit that just needs some costume jewellery to dress it up a bit. You may find yourself in jam-packed buses, taxis and trains where a convenient bag will make all the difference. And you may need to walk for miles when transport is not available. Makes sense.
There are mosquitos in Africa and there is malaria. To armour yourself against both of these, take anti-malarial medication as a preventative measure. On top of that, wear light comfy clothing that covers your arms and legs in the evenings and carry mosquito repellent to smear on your skin or one that plugs into the wall plug socket. Make sure you speak to your doctor first before leaving on holiday in Africa as some prophylactics need to be taken in advance and some have terrible side effects. On the other hand, you can choose malaria free destinations in Africa!
Safe and Happy
Safety is something we all worry about and there is a lot of media about Africa that is far from positive. So be aware, be safe. Be informed and read all you can about the country you are visiting. Keep an open mind, be vigilant and remain positive. For starters, don’t show that you have plenty of money. Pack fancy cameras and jewellery away and hide extra cash somewhere on your body out of sight. Stay out of lonely places and avoid “downtown” areas of any town. Check with your tour guide or agent if you are unsure about something. Don’t take any street advice when wanting to exchange money – go to a reputable money changing institution. Avoid crowded areas.
Mobile phones are popular in Africa and everyone wants one, including yours. So buy a cheap phone and get a local SIM card. You can also get an unlocked phone before you leave and buy a SIM card when you get to your destination. If you do get robbed or lose your phone, at least it will not be a huge issue in your life.
If you are carrying cash, rather pack a small amount for immediate use and hide the rest in a few hiding places in your luggage/accommodation venue. You never know when you are going to need extra cash and you never know when you are going to bring attention to yourself if you haul out a huge wallet full of cash – you are then a target for a robbery or a bribery or something. There are usually safes at the more upmarket accommodation venues so use them. If you are carrying a VISA card or other bank card, make sure it is hidden on your body to avoid losing it.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. This should be your motto when you travel in Africa and by the end of your holiday you will have a very tough constitution! The first step is to drink lots of water, bottle water. Avoid tap water in Africa which can make you very sick. Drink all the time
to avoid dehydration in this humid and very dry continent. The second step is to be adventurous and to try the food
, on the streets, in the restaurants and in the hotels. Maybe buy your own snacks in local supermarkets but make sure you taste something from that country. You can eat samp and beans in Johannesburg with cooked spinach for a song. And spicy Mozambican Peri Peri prawns in Maputo for much less than where you come from.
Lastly, be open minded. Appreciate all cultures and colours, idiosyncrasies and foibles. You will learn more about yourself in Africa than anywhere else. And you will learn, above all, that patience IS a virtue. Always carry a good book, a loo roll and a snack in case things don’t go according to plan. Which they won’t.