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7 Tips For Planning Your First Trip To Africa

The best time to Visit South Africa
Written by Denise Chido

Tourists are increasingly traveling the world due to the ease of restrictions, many have never visited Africa. Many people are eager to fly to Rome or Dubai but hesitant on their first trip to Africa.

There is a terrible bombardment of images of Africa, including epidemics, malnourished children, and “ethnic” warfare. The media fails to report that Europeans are vacationing in Africa in record numbers, and they are venturing beyond the traditional safari destinations.

Africa has 54 countries and nine territories, each with its own distinct culture. A trip to Africa should be at the top of your trip itinerary.

While traveling to Africa for the first time may sound daunting, rest assured that many African countries have developed robust tourism infrastructures, including five-star hotels. Africa is the cradle of humanity and abundant in natural riches and beauty.

So, where do you begin?

1. Find an African friend and tag along with them on their next trip Home

If you are nervous about your first trip to Africa, going with a person familiar with the environment could help you settle in. If you have a friend or workmate from Africa, you can ask them to take you with them on their next trip.

The travel experience will be less traumatic, and you get to experience the country from a different vantage point. Your trip will be enhanced when you mix typical tourist outing spots only locals know about. Having a local with you is a great way to experience an intimate understanding of the culture.

Travel with a friend. Photo/ Intrepid Travel

2. Make Time for your Trip

One of the biggest mistakes people make is setting aside insufficient time for their first trip to Africa. The most annoying thing when on a trip is having to return home just as you have started having fun.

Bear in mind that your trip to the motherland can take up to 48 hours in travel and transit times. So if you give yourself seven days, up to four of those days you will be traveling, giving you three free days.

When you get to a new country, you want to give your body the time to acclimate to new conditions, which might take a day or two. As a rule of thumb, two weeks should be the minimum time you set for your African Adventure.

3. Do not be scared off by Travel Health Advisory notices

African countries are always on the receiving end of travel restrictions. Depending on the country you want to visit, you might need certain medical shots. Malaria and yellow fever are some diseases you might encounter depending on the region.

You might encounter some diarrhoea on your travels if you drink unsafe water so carry bottled water. Depending on the year, you could get a few mosquito bites, so take mosquito repellent. Do not let these minor hurdles put you off your first trip to Africa.

4. Go for the Authentic Experience

There is an attraction to creature comforts provided by five-star hotels, but these take away from the authentic experience. We are not saying rough it out and go backpacking.

Still, there is a chance to encounter an intimate relationship with the continent. Step outside your comfort zone once in a while and enjoy the whole African experience.

Familiarise yourself with eating with your hands and eating foods you have never come across; it may be the best thing you’ve ever eaten. Some restaurants serve Western foods like burgers and fries for those who are not so adventurous. But live on the wild side on your trip to Africa.

Authentic African Experience. Photo/ Tourism Update

5. Respect local practices

Africa is still a very conservative continent, and some western practices will be frowned upon. Women, for instance, dress conservatively, and it is a good idea to follow suit depending on where you are.

That means women travellers may want to avoid revealing clothes unless in the hotel. Drawing unnecessary attention can make you a target for opportunistic elements.

6. Shop

Africa is home to diverse, rich cultures and nothing highlights this more than the fashion in the motherland.

Colourful African print clothing, beads, and leather footwear are available throughout the continent. Africa has excellent tailors, and most of the clothing is reasonably priced. Go shopping and treat yourself on your trip to Africa.

Authentic African Shopping. Photo/ Oxbridge Academy

7. Dance until you can dance no more

One thing about Africans is they love music, and music goes with dancing, so prepare to dance for socks off. You will not encounter the standing on the wall nonsense; people go to the club to dance.

Put on your favourite dancing shoes, and dance into the wee hours of the night. You might have picked up a few dance moves when you return home. Your first trip to Africa will be thrilling.

With 54 countries to choose from, Africa is waiting and ready for you with open arms. The people are friendly and accommodating. Furthermore, no one country is alike, so this could be the beginning of many African adventures for you.

So which country should you visit? I would pick a country that does not have an active conflict because, sadly, many countries still have domestic conflict.

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About the author

Denise Chido

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