Heading out to explore the vast African wilderness is, I think, quite a polarizing idea amongst a lot of people. On the one hand, its something that a lot of people dream about, venturing to the birthplace of humanity itself. On the other, lots of people are put off by the number of things to worry about. What vaccinations do you need? Is your destination safe? What local customs do you need to understand to get by? What will the conditions be like? Whichever side of the fence youre on, heres a list weve compiled to try and make the whole process of beginning your African adventure as straightforward and painless as possible!
Your health is obviously going to be a priority whenever you travel anywhere, and nobody is going to be surprised to hear that there are some precautions youll need to take before visiting Africa. You should make sure to book an appointment with your doctor at least one month before your departure. This will allow you to discuss the pending vaccinations as well as any other health related queries you might have. Again, make sure you do this with plenty of time to spare, because the vaccinations typically need to be administered a while before you depart so that they have time to take full effect.
Also make sure that you get hold of some Malaria tablets and follow the recommended dosage to the letter. Your doctor will clarify this issue for you. If youre travelling between different countries in Africa it might be pertinent to take a vaccination for Yellow Fever, too, as some require a certificate to allow entry from one country to another.
Make sure that you pack for every possible scenario. Just because you are heading to Africa doesnt mean that there will be sun throughout your trip. If youre heading out on a Safari or a climb up Kilimanjaro you will need to purchase and bring clothing and footwear that suits these types of trips. Make sure that you always bring some sort of hat because the heat of the sun in Africa can be excruciating, and sunstroke and heavy burning can set in before youve even had a chance to notice it. If you have an area of your body where you dont have sunscreen you need to make sure that it is covered up at all times to avoid sunburn. We all know that nothing ruins a holiday like spending the whole time in pain and peeling!
Heading out on a Safari is a once in a lifetime experience but you will need to take several things into consideration. First and foremost you need to bring clothes with a very bland colour. This is so that they will not attract the attention of the animals around you. Beige is always a winner and a light shade of brown always works well. Bring your hat for sun protection and wear long sleeves and pants to protect yourself from both the sun and mosquitoes. In all this preparation, dont forget the most important thing of all; your camera! You will see some amazing animals and scenery on a safari so make sure you take plenty of batteries (and film, if youve decided not to go digital) and snap some really amazing pictures!
Security and Safety
Even though Africa is a wonderful place you need to consider your own safety and security. If possible you should avoid driving where possible in most African countries. The roads are usually a lot poorer than what you will be used to at home and the laws arent followed as strictly. There are usually a lot of older cars maintained to quite low safety standards on the roads, so it can be a bit of a gauntlet.
You also need to know that you are heading into potential Third World countries where the standard of living can be very low. That is why you need to keep your money close to your heart and dont flaunt your wealth. As with any tourist destination, there will be unscrupulous thieves looking to swipe a handbag, camera, or whatever else is on offer. Most importantly, keep your passport somewhere where theres no way it can be taken from you without you noticing. In order to minimize any risk, make sure you have an extra wallet with your credit card and the majority of your cash for emergencies. Only have a small amount of money in your primary wallet since this wont attract the same amount of attention from potential thieves.
Always make sure that you are respectful to the locals and their property. Keep in mind that you are a guest and that you are visiting on their terms, not yours. Be polite to staff, government officials and most importantly the Police. If you feel insecure in a situation, it is better to move away and get back to an area where you feel safe rather than confronting people.
Cold as it might sound, you should also be wary about giving money to people asking for it. Helping out the less fortunate is, obviously, a noble gesture, but it might also draw attention to your wealth and cause you to be hassled somewhat by others.
So, still want to visit Africa? Of course you do! Any adventurous traveler should mark the continent down on their list of places to visit, and, hopefully, this list has made the whole thing just that little bit simpler. Just remember to keep your wits about you, exercise caution and common sense, and, most of all, enjoy your adventure!
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