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How To Travel Safely in Africa

Updated on October 15, 2014

Countries in Africa have some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife in the world. Amazing destinations such as Cape Town with its mountains and wild oceans, the Serengeti where the animals roam in peace and the wonderful islands just off the coast of Africa, are waiting to be discovered.

Currency exchange rates favour the American and European market, but people are still reluctant to explore Africa. One of the main reasons is because Africa is perceived by many as dangerous. The fact that there are dangers cannot be denied. There are, however, many precaution that can be taken to make a visit to Africa as safe as a visit to the USA or Europe.

Do Your Research

The Internet makes it very easy to research specific countries and what they have to offer. There are also various travel websites where you can interact with locals and other travellers to get more information about your preferred country. Their information and advice will be invaluable. World news is at the tips of everyone’s fingers. Read about what is happening in the country you intend to visit. Africa is renowned for political instability but even with all the drama in Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls stay a popular destination.

Virtual Tourist and Trip Advisor provide sound travel tips from locals and visitors. Reviews are from real people who doesn't get paid to write positive reviews, so it is reasonable to belief that all reviews and tips are written from members' own experiences and knowledge.

Virtual tourist have very active forums where you can post your questions and concerns. Members who live in the area or regular travellers to the area will then be able to put your mind at ease with a list of do's and do nots.

Health Concerns

Apart from political instability, health is the other big concern travellers have. Malaria, cholera and general poor health conditions in many African countries cannot be ignored. This does not mean you cannot travel there, but it is important to make provision for this in your travel plans. Travel clinics are very knowledgeable about malaria and will be able to advice you on this matter. Not all areas in Africa are malaria-danger areas and there is preventative medication available. Bottled water is available in big cities all over Africa and the alternative is to boil drinking water.

You might take a chance on taking out medical insurance if you travel to America or Europe but it is not negotiable when travelling to Africa. Make sure the insurance includes evacuation for serious cases such as accidents or serious illnesses where hospitalisation would be needed.


Africa is far behind Europe and America where public transport is concerned. In some areas your only choice might be a rickety overloaded taxi. Hiring a car is many times the best option to travel between destinations. Again, before hiring a car, you need to get some information on the road conditions and the safety aspect of travelling alone by car. South Africa has a very good infrastructure but it is, for instance, not always safe to travel on certain roads after dark.

In many of the African countries driving is on the left side of the road which can be a challenge for people living in countries where driving is on the right side.

In most countries busses and trains are available but again it would be important to find out if it is safe and you would have to be prepared to wait as there is no guarantee the transport will be on time or sometimes even that it will actually arrive.

Victoria Falls

Political Unrest

Tourism is responsible for a large part of many African country's income and therefore they make an effort to keep tourist spots out of their internal conflicts. Even during the heydays of the unrest in Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls area went about business as usual. Botswana has never had any political unrest and Namibia and Mozambique have been quiet for many years.

Your own country's consulate is also a good source of information and they publish warnings if they feel a country is too dangerous to travel too.

Travel Options

The best option for a first time traveller to Africa might be to consider a safari or a package holiday with one of the many travel agents available. Once you have experienced the wonders of Africa for yourself you will be far better equipped to fly solo the next time.

Experience More

Lonely Planet Africa (Multi Country Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Africa (Multi Country Travel Guide)

Nobody knows Africa like Lonely Planet. Our 12th edition takes you on a Serengeti safari, reveals the best spot to view Victoria Falls and tells you where to see surfing hippos. Whether you’re after big-name highlights or lesser-known adventures, this guide has got it all covered.

Lonely Planet guides are written by experts who get to the heart of every destination they visit. This fully updated edition is packed with accurate, practical and honest advice, designed to give you the information you need to make the most of your trip.

In This Guide:

Wildlife guide reveals the continent’s top spots for animal encounters

Explore with itineraries covering Cairo to Cape Town and everywhere in-between

Green Index helps to make your travels more eco-friendly


Wildlife in Africa

South African Humour


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    • Annette Hendley profile image

      Annette Hendley 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      It is really a special place Lisa. Maybe one day you will get a chance to go and see it, who knows?

    • LisaMarie724 profile image

      Lisa Stover 5 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Victoria Falls is my 'must see' place! I've always been in love with waterfalls and Victoria is just the most beautiful. I'm also jealous, I don't travel out of the states!

    • Annette Hendley profile image

      Annette Hendley 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Laura thanks for the comment. Africa is beautiful and the Victoria Falls was one of my best times ever. We stayed at the most amazing backpackers lodge with some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered. It is a must see.

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 5 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I am green with envy as it seems you travel some. This hub made me contemplate adding Africa to my must see list.You hit all the elements and gave great tips for addressing things prior to the trip. The shot of Victoria Falls was beautiful.