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Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

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Diane Du Plessis

Safari Travel Planner

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Diane Du Plessis

Author: Diane Du Plessis - 12 October 2016

Last Update: 10 May 2024

There are many negative associations about venturing to Africa for the first time. People from Europe or North America usually opt for other less controversial destinations in Asia or their own continents.

However, a lot of these perceptions are perpetuated by negative media coverage of certain war torn areas and there is also a grave misconception on the size of the continent which is, in fact, the second biggest only behind Asia. Popular travel writer of the book Triple My Travel Brendan Lee who has been to every continent on earth rates Africa as his favorite continent for various reasons including how friendly the people are.

With such vastness, you’re bound to find a place which you will fall in love with. It’s still tough travelling though even in the lap of luxury. However this is also a part of the experience, here are 10 tips to help you plan your first African adventure.

Old bills won’t be accepted and ATMs can be scarce

This might be one of the most important things to remember when travelling through Africa for the first time. The money cannot be older than the 2006 print for US Dollars (which is preferred in many locations).

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

Older US bills are not valid in many African countries and certain areas will only accept 20dollar bills and up. When you see ATM’s use them they will accept most forms of debit and credit cards. Some areas won’t have ATM’s so draw larger amounts in the bigger cities.

Be careful about Malaria

Malaria is still an issue in many parts of Africa so it advised to take precautions when traveling to certain areas such as the beaches of Zanzibar for example.

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

Malaria is easily avoidable use a good repellent and go on medication before you leave. Certain types of malaria medication do have certain side effects so consult a doctor to see which one will work best for you and your blood type.

Take sunscreen

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

Many local African people do not use sunscreen so if sunscreen is available it could be quite expensive so it advised to bring your own from your country of origin.

Get the Dukoral vaccine

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

This vaccine helps with diarrhea and worldwide traveler Brendan Lee swears that it will be a lifesaver when wanting to sample all the exotic food out there in Africa which your stomach might not agree with.

Dress appropriately

Africa is generally a modest continent and although there will be areas which match anywhere in the world as far as status and affluence are concerned. Most of the places you will be travelling to will be quite remote.

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

It’s advised to behave more humbly if you wish to engage with locals and also not draw attention to yourself. It’s also advised that women cover up when visiting certain towns or communities.

Pack a torch

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

Power cuts are a definite reality in Africa and if you’re planning on going to some remote areas to view game you might not even have the option of electricity so a torch is quite a handy device to have.

Respect the locals when taking photos

Many people will not like the fact that you are taking photos of them be respectful to the locals in this regard.

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

They may however, let you do so if you offer them a tip, this will help you in avoiding unnecessary confrontation.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network will enable you to access a secure internet source and will become useful when you might need to access banking details and Paypal and other info which might need a security as internet connections in Africa might not be as secure as other countries you are used to.

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

Visit this webpage for more information.

Pack a first aid kit

Although you’re probably going to be visiting luxurious game lodges in the African Bush Veld.

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

In some cases where you decide to take long treks or hikes, things could go wrong it’s always advised to pack a basic first aid kit, asthma pump or extra medication (if you take certain medication) hospitals and clinics might not be the easiest to find out there on a safari.

Use common sense and stay safe

A lot of the dangers in Africa are perpetuated by the Western Media who choose to rarely cover stories about the positive aspects for which there are many. In most regards crime will not even factor into the equation.

Tips for those wishing to visit Africa for the first time

However, it’s advised to be careful in the urban areas where there will be opportunists and if you’re venturing into areas which you know are dangerous maybe take a local guide or someone from the hotel.


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