Africa is a vast and incredibly diverse continent, home to some of the most spectacular landscapes and wildlife on earth. From the sweeping savannas of the Serengeti to the majestic peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa offers once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities. However, with 54 countries and over 1 billion people calling Africa home, it can be overwhelming to plan the perfect African adventure. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to make the most out of your trip.
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With so many incredible options, narrowing down where to go in Africa can be challenging. Here are some of the top destinations to consider:
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Famous for the annual Great Migration, when over 2 million wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles travel in search of greener pastures, the Serengeti offers some of the best wildlife viewing on earth. The open plains provide ideal conditions for spotting Africa’s iconic megafauna.
Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
This towering wall of water on the Zambezi River plunges 355 feet into the Batoka Gorge, creating a roar that can be heard from miles away. See the falls on foot from either the Zambia or Zimbabwe side. For an accurate bird’s-eye view, a helicopter ride or swing on the “Ultimate Swing” gets you face-to-face with the falls’ raging waters.
Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
As the only remaining wonder of the ancient world, the Pyramids of Giza should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Dating back 4,500 years, the pyramids are worth exploring for a glimpse into the fascinating Egyptian pharaoh era.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
If you’re up for an adventure, climbing Africa’s tallest peak is an ambitious but rewarding undertaking. While a Kilimanjaro summit attempt isn’t easy, anyone in decent physical condition can complete it. Trekkers are rewarded with views of Uhuru Peak and panoramas of Tanzania.
Read Also : Best Time To Travel To Africa For Safari
Booking Affordable Flights
The cost of flights to Africa can vary widely depending on your departure point and destination. Here are some tips for scoring affordable airfare:
- Book early – Booking 6-8 months in advance typically provides the lowest fares.
- Travel during shoulder season – Late spring and early fall offer a good balance of decent weather and smaller crowds.
- Use flight deal alerts – Sign up for alerts from sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights to get notifications on flight sales and promos.
- Fly budget airlines – Carriers like EgyptAir, Mango Airlines, and Jambojet offer cheap flights within Africa.
Getting Around on a Budget
Once you arrive in Africa, you need to get around affordably and safely. Here are great transport options for travelers on a budget:
In many African countries, vans and minibusses called “bush taxis” are a convenient and inexpensive way to travel between towns and cities. While not luxurious, they provide a cultural experience and an authentic taste of local life.
Public buses serve all significant routes in Africa and offer an extremely cheap transport solution. While safety standards may vary, they provide an authentic experience and allow you to interact with locals.
Popular ridesharing apps like Uber operate in some central African cities. Uber often costs less than taxis and provides safety and convenience. Just check availability before traveling to remote areas.
In many towns and villages, getting around by moto-taxi or tuk-tuk is commonplace. Always negotiate prices before the trip and only take registered taxis for safety.
Top Health and Safety Precautions
While increasingly accessible, Africa still requires some essential health and safety measures for travel:
- Get necessary vaccinations 4-6 months prior – Check the CDC website for destination-specific immunization info.
- Prevent malaria – Talk to your doctor about anti-malarial medication and use bug spray with DEET.
- Pack basic first-aid supplies – Bandages, antibiotics, pain relievers, etc. can be harder to find outside major cities.
- Check U.S. government warnings – U.S. State Department Overseas Advisories provide safety info by country.
- Avoid walking alone at night – Use hotel transfers or taxis to stay safe.
- Only drink bottled water – Tap water is typically unsafe throughout Africa.
To have the best African adventure, make sure to pack:
- Versatile, lightweight clothing that covers arms and legs for sun protection
- Hiking shoes/boots that are broken in
- neutral-colored clothes to keep safari animals calm
- bathing suit
- hat/sunglasses/sunscreen to protect from UV rays
- small backpack for carrying essentials
- headlamp/flashlight for areas with little lighting
- universal outlet adaptor
- medication, toiletries, passport, cash, and phone charger
Keep in mind that some areas have conservative cultural norms, so dress modestly when traveling through rural villages.
Choosing a Travel Style
How you want to experience Africa will determine whether you build your custom itinerary or select a guided tour package:
Independent Travel Pros
- Customizable schedule and activities
- Travel at your own pace
- More authentic cultural immersion
Guided Tour Pros
- Convenience of planned transport/accommodations
- Built-in direction and local expertise
- Access to top guides and private reserves
Popular tour operators like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel offer small group tours ranging from budget camping safaris to luxury lodges across Africa. Evaluate your budget, interests, and travel style before deciding.
A trip to Africa is guaranteed to be the adventure of a lifetime. By picking the correct destinations, making smart transport decisions, preparing safety measures, packing correctly, and choosing between independent or guided travel, you can maximize your chances of having an incredible experience exploring this captivating continent. The natural beauty and exotic cultures Africa has to offer make it a top destination for every traveler’s bucket list.
Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling in Africa
What is the best time of year to go on safari in Africa?
The best time for safari is during the dry season between June and October when water sources are limited, and wildlife congregates at rivers, waterholes, and lakes. Having less vegetation also improves visibility.
What vaccines and medications do I need when traveling in Africa?
The CDC recommends typhoid, hepatitis A, yellow fever, and routine vaccines for most regions of Africa. Malaria medication and HIV-prevention medication may also be prescribed.
How much does it cost to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro costs between $900 and USD 5000, depending on route, company, and services included. The longer routes are cheaper on average. Porters, quality gear, and ample food increase costs.
What should I pack for a safari?
Pack lightweight, neutral-colored clothing that covers the arms and legs, a hat, sunglasses, binoculars, sunscreen, essential first-aid, backpack, headlamp, camera, phone charger, and medications.
Is public transportation in Africa safe for travelers?
The safety of public transport varies greatly across Africa. While generally safe, tourists should exercise caution using bush taxis, buses, rideshares, and other forms of transport, especially at night in isolated areas.
How much does a trip to Africa cost?
Trips range from about $2,000-5,000 for 2-3 weeks in Africa, including flights, lodging, activities, food, and transport. Cost varies widely by country, travel style, lodging, and trip length. Extensive tours cost over $10,000.