Planning tips for first time Africa travel

posted 22nd May 2019 by Danica Wilson in Work in progress

Are you thinking about Africa as your next international holiday destination? Here we share tips for first time Africa travel.


1. Don’t be scared of Africa

What you see in the press or the stories you’ve heard from ex-Africans. Most fears these days are unfounded. If you simply take the same precautions you would take travelling anywhere in the world you will have an effortless experience in Africa.

2. Money makes the world go round.

Like anywhere, money is important in your planning. It’s crucial that you prepare because ATMs are few and far between in rural areas of Africa.

“These days cash is king”

We recommend you prepay for as much of your trip as possible so you need to carry less cash while travelling.

These days cash is king, so we recommend you draw out money whenever you see ATMs (fairly common in major cities and towns) but keep in mind AMEX and Diners are not regularly accepted. Also keep in mind the machines can run out of cash and some cities don’t have cash at all.  US dollar is the common currency except in Namibia and South Africa where the rand is accepted. Remember tipping is best done with small notes and coins because change isn’t readily available. Also take new US dollar bills because anything printed before 2006 will not be accepted nor will damaged notes with tears or markings.

3. Allow space in your itinerary to breathe.

There is so much to see and do but you also have to acknowledge this is a holiday not a race through the Bucketlist. So savour moments, spend longer periods of time in special places.

4. Self drive isn’t silly.

If you want to keep costs down, South Africa is ideal for self driving holidays and the roads are brilliant.

“Car hire is really affordable”.

Signage is in English and car hire is really affordable. Then all we recommend you do is sort out accommodation so it’s pre-booked and we provide daily driving instructions to ensure an easy ride! Manual hire cars are slightly cheaper, yet automatic allows for less distraction to road directions!

5. Soft hair, naturally.

Now this may be a girl thing, but if you love your hair feeling great, we recommend you take your own shampoo and conditioner. Most properties we work with provide basic toiletries but often it’s the combined body and hair shampoo.

6. Generous handouts breed greed.

Hard one to heed, but if you are tempted to give treats or even money to children along the way, your good intentions only fuel the handout mentality and the consequences can  be deadly. Once upon a time tourists would throw sweets out the window of moving vehicles and children would run to the road. Stories are often told of children being hit by cars due to their inability to judge distance. If you want to give back in Africa, take useful items that can be donated to local schools and charities making a difference properly. We can help facilitate it for you.

7. You are a photographer not paparazzi

This is important – you are travelling a beautiful continent with breathtaking scenery and stunning people.

“interact with the people, smile and ask if it’s ok to take a photo”.

Please do not take photos of people without asking because it is extremely disrespectful. To get the best people shots and avoid making offending someone, simply interact with the people, smile and ask if it’s ok to take a photo. Sometimes a simple camera clicking hand gesture is all you will need. Be prepared for locals to expect a token of goodwill in return.

8. Don’t dress to impress

Remember poverty is still an epic issue in Africa and you will come across people who struggle to live day to day so we always recommend you dress down. Be comfortable and don’t flaunt your expensive worldly possessions because it may attract attention.

9. Sense and sensibility

Despite what you may think or others have told you, Africa is not a wild and lawless continent. But common sense will always prevail and keep you safe so don’t forget it.

10. Know before you go

See a travel doctor so you can learn before you travel what the health risks are and take necessary precautions. Malaria is real and the simple act of taking anti-malarial, using insect repellent and covering up outdoors t night in the bush will ensure you’re heath. Prevention is better than cure for sure.

Can we help you with your first time Africa travel?

Call to chat with a specialist