An American’s guide to AfricaMarch 25, 2022
Visiting Africa for the first time will be an adventure, an eye-opener, and a mind-expanding experience for any American citizen. However, we know that venturing into the unknown can also be a pretty daunting prospect!
But set your mind at ease. Here are some top tips for first-time travelers to Africa that will see you safely embarked on your wonderful adventure!
What To Sort Out Before Setting Off On That Trip Of A Lifetime
Here are some good starting points to check off your travel to-do list:
- Buy a good travel book about Africa to clue you up a bit.
- Decide which countries, destinations, national parks, etc., are top of your bucket list. Unfortunately, there’s no way you’ll get to see all of Africa in one trip! Pick a few destinations and get the most out of them.
- Choose a great tour operator to sort out arrangements.
- Pick your destinations and work out an itinerary that will suit your time schedule and budget.
- Check if your destination requires a Yellow Fever vaccination or anti-malaria prophylactics.
- Check the visa requirements for each country you’re going to visit.
- Make sure you have good travel insurance.
- Check the climate in the destinations you’re going to visit. Africa is known to be hot, but some places can get really cold as well.
What Can I Expect In Africa?
People And Places:
Friendly, helpful, and hospitable people, stunningly beautiful scenery, amazing animals – and you won’t even have to pump your own gas!
Many Americans are a bit surprised by the stark contrast between the upmarket tourist areas you will see and the poverty that many locals live in.
Crime is a factor in Africa, so you need to be sensible. Though tourist areas are generally safe, avoid wandering around alone, especially at night.
Summers in Africa are mostly wet and hot, and winters are drier and can be very cold. However, the weather can differ widely between countries and even areas within them, so do your research.
Note that the Cape in South Africa has a Mediterranean climate. The winter is wet and cold, and the summer is hot and dry.
You don’t need to overpack as regards clothing. As an American, you will find clothing prices very reasonable if you do need to buy something. So leave room for those precious souvenirs in your luggage!
Have cash available in the local currency to tip or pay for small items, especially in rural areas. Credit cards like Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted, but American Express is less so.
ATM machines are generally freely available, but traveler’s cheques are mostly no longer accepted. Several African countries will accept US dollars as well, but don’t take this as a given.
Deciding Where To Go
With so many incredible destinations to choose from, we thought you might need some help to decide. Below are some examples of destinations for culture, wildlife, cuisine, and adrenaline activities!
Best Places For Cultural Experiences
Few places on the earth are so steeped in history and ancient culture as Egypt and its age-old pyramids, mastabas, and other burial sites. The Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza stand proud among the Seven Wonders of the World, and they and the ancient Memphis ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Some of Kenya’s famous World Heritage sites include the 16th-century Portuguese fort, Fort Jesus, and the Gedi ruins of a 13th-century Swahili town. Koobi Fora is a fascinating three-million-year-old paleontological site.
Best Places for Wildlife
Wildlife is the prime reason most Americans visit Africa, and South Africa and the world-renowned Kruger Park are one of the premier wildlife destinations. Why not treat yourself to the holiday of a lifetime at one of the luxury lodges in Kruger National Park visited by Americans?
The iconic wild chimpanzees at Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park have forever been enshrined in people’s hearts by Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking work. It will be one of the most memorable wildlife experiences you will ever experience.
Best Places For Food
Mozambique has become justly famous for its superb food. You simply must try a succulent crayfish dinner, grilled prawns, Piri-Piri chicken, or prawn rissoles. Don’t miss a uniquely Mozambican matapa made from stewed cassava leaves, garlic, coconut milk and ground peanuts. And don’t forget to finish off with a delicious bolo polana cashew nut desert …
Morocco’s cuisine is rich with subtle spices and delicious flavor combinations. Try a tagine of melt-in-your-mouth chicken, dig into a succulent pigeon pie or tuck into a wonderful b’ssara fava bean soup.
Best Places For Adventure
The Victoria Falls are an absolute must for adventure seekers. Apart from the awe-inspiring beauty of the Falls themselves, you can enjoy helicopter rides, bungee jumping, white water rafting, and – wait for it – cage-diving with crocodiles!
Enormous Lake Malawi has the greatest diversity of freshwater fish in the world, and is a water adventurer’s dream. You can snorkel, scuba dive, sail, or go kayaking, water-skiing, or kitesurfing to your heart’s content. You can even feed the local fish eagles!
Africa was home to all of us in prehistory, and it won’t ever stop calling to you. So why not listen to your heart and go and experience its wonderful riches, adventures, and beauty?