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Visiting Africa for the First Time - Sophia Belnap - Blog

Visiting Africa for the First Time

Planning a trip to Africa? You’re in for an amazing experience. Here are some tips for the first-time traveler.

Africa is a huge continent. It makes sense then that it’s a vastly different place by country and region. It’s important to know where you’re going and what the rules are to get from country to country. 

As you’re deciding which countries to visit, check the U.S. State Department’s website for updated travel information. This will show you how safe each country is and what to look out for as you’re visiting. Don’t visit countries currently in conflict or that are highly risky or dangerous. 

Where to Go

If you’re unsure where to go in Africa, some of the most popular destinations for first time visitors include Marrakesh, Morocco, Cape Town, South Africa or Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Marrakech is in the north and the city dates back to the 1000s. You can stroll the original walled city and enjoy the unique culture. Cape Town is another amazing place to visit. It’s considered one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with the ocean on two sides and Table Mountain in the distance. Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, with a drop of 354 feet. 


Wherever you decide to go, be ready to travel throughout. Renting or hiring a car isn’t recommended everywhere, but it’s becoming popular in South Africa. If you do so, make sure to check your car insurance policy. Many home policies won’t cover you with international travel, so you may need to pick-up a cheap car insurance policy. In addition, it’s always a good idea to get an international driver's permit. 

If driving, roads often have many pedestrians and cyclists, so be on the lookout. Road conditions are not always good, so 4WD is best to have. You’ll also have to plan for border checks, so make sure you have your papers in order and understand customs in each country you’re visiting. 


Currency varies by country and it’s important to have cash in the currency of countries you’re visiting. Many countries will accept U.S. currency, as long as it was printed after 2006. Make sure you’re keeping it somewhere hidden and safe. Old bills won’t be taken and it can be hard to find ATMs. 

Bugs, Sun and First Aid

Malaria is a real worry in Africa. It’s advised to take precautions when traveling to places like Zanzibar. Take malaria pills before you leave and have a good mosquito repellent. It’s also important to know your blood type. 

Likewise, have sunscreen and use it regularly. It can be difficult to get sunscreen and if you do find it, it’s going to be pricey. This is why it’s important to bring it with you. 

For the same reasons, a first aid kit can come in handy. Bandaids and disinfectant won’t be as easy to pick up, like you would at home. Being prepared for minor scrapes and bruises can really come in handy. 

What to Wear

Like with sunscreen, you’ll want to dress to protect yourself from the sun. It’s also important to dress modestly. Most of the places you’ll visit will be remote, so dress humbly as well. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself. In some places, it’s important for women to wear head coverings and longer garments as well. 

Be Flexible and Adventurous

Odds are, things aren’t going to go exactly how you want on your trip. Build in some time to be flexible in case you need to change plans. You may get stuck somewhere a day or two longer than intended. Or it may take longer to travel somewhere than you had thought. 

This is a part of the adventure. Things may be different in Africa than you are used to, but that’s what makes it fun! Most of those you meet will be friendly and willing to help, as long as you respect the culture and the people where you’re going. 

Have an adventure and enjoy your trip! 

Publish Date: July 18, 2021 7:33 PM

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