10 Tips for Planning Your First Trip to Africa
A trip to Africa can be the adventure of a lifetime and something you must do at least once! There are tons of activities, tours, safaris, and other experiences for all interests allowing you to enjoy the experience of your life. If you are thinking about visiting Africa or are looking for some useful tips for planning a break to Africa view our top recommendations below.
1. Don’t Let Anything Put You Off
It can be daunting prospect if you are considering going to travel in Africa, especially if you check the list of vaccinations needed for some destinations. It is understandable, there are often negative images portrayed in the media, extreme poverty, scary animals and also lots of precautions on travel advice websites. But the people you will likely encounter will greet you with smiles and warmth rather than any malace and most tourists enjoy the best experience of their lives. Make sure you purchase travel insurance before departing.
2. Decide Where to Go
What type of experience are you looking for? Are there are places which appeal to you? All countries in Africa are different so you will need to see where you are keen to go. Some countries like South Africa are very popular whilst we recommend choosing a less touristy destination like Ghana, Rwanda or Cameroon for a more authentic African experience
3. Research Things to Do
Don't just arrive without a plan or anything in mind to do. Research online well before departing as there are so many incredible things you can do in Africa.
Popular options include:
- Shark diving in Africa
- Scuba diving in Africa
- Volunteer in Africa
- Teach in Africa
- Internships in Africa
- Africa gap year programs
4. Prepare for the Long Journey
Now, besides the cultural shock, you might feel a disturbance when it comes to your sleeping habits due to jetlag when you first arrive. First, you will be on a different continent, and depending on your destination, you may also be in a different hemisphere. For example, if you live in London but book a trip to Cape Town (the capital city of South Africa), you’ll be traveling from one hemisphere to another so jetlag can be an issue.
Here are some tips for getting some rest/sleep on the flight which can help with jetlag:
- If the plane isn’t too busy choose a seat where there are fewer people around you, there will be less unexpected noises to wake you up
- Try to find a seat near the window so you’ll have a place to rest your head to get some rest
- Buy a neck pillow – this will support your head and neck and will make the 10-hour+ flight a lot more easy to endure
5. Prepare for the Culture Shock
You should be prepared for a bit of a cultural shock, it’s definitely worth the experience! Africa is still to be discovered by the western tourists but it’s slowly becoming a worldwide attraction. That’s why it is best to book a trip now, when it’s less likely to meet with swarms of tourist groups. Some destinations can be quite rustic in terms of accommodation and facilities so be prepared for this.
6. Book a Tour
You shouldn’t say no to a wildlife safari or overland tour. This can be one of the safest and best ways to travel around especially if you plan to visit multipe countries. You will get to meet new people, have an exprienced guide and get taken to the best places. Nothing compares to seeing wild animals in their natural habitat!
7. Pack Sensibly
Check what the weather will be like before departing and don't overpack. You don't want to be carrying around unnecessary things.
8. Take Malaria Precaution
Malaria is a serious problem affecting lots of countries on the African continent. Visit your local GP before departing to ask about medication and affected areas. Also try to book hotels, hostels or bed and breakfast which have mosquito nets.
9. Pay More for a Better Level of Comfort
It is worth paying a little extra for more comfort as some accommodation on offer is pretty poor by Western Standards.
10. Embrace the Experience
Going to Africa can be the experience of a lifetime. Firstly make sure you go, then try to enjoy every moment! You will get memories to last a lifetime.