Africa is magnificent, mysterious and very appealing to travelers who wish to expand their views and learn something new about the local cultures. Its wildlife, wonderful beaches and coral reefs attract numerous tourists to come and explore what this amazing continent has to offer. Almost 70 million tourists visit Africa every year to see wildlife and get to know the local customs and meet one of the friendliest people in the world. Whether you’re interested in seeing wilderness, joining the safari, enjoying wonderful beaches, diving, snorkeling, exploring the nightlife or simply wandering around to learn something new – Africa has it all. It is absolutely breathtaking.
Learn a few phrases
Once you start preparing to go to Africa, it is recommended to learn at least a few phrases that will help you navigate easier through everyday situations. Even though English is the official language in some countries and you will probably meet a lot of people who speak English fluently, have at least 15 simple sentences written in the local language.
Considering that you will go and explore many places, in order to be on the safe side, have the sentences ready to show to the locals or to read it the best way you can. Besides helping you to communicate with the locals, it will also help you to connect with them on a deeper level, because they will appreciate your efforts to learn their language.
Keep an open mind
Africans are very welcoming and positive people, so you will be greeted with a great smile and hi or hello. Keep in mind that these people are curious and friendly, so they will probably ask you about your name, where are you from and about the reason you’re visiting. If you hear the word “Mzungu” don’t be afraid or offended, it means a wanderer and the locals don’t use it to offend anyone.
Also, it’s important to remember that the Africans are very religious, so keep in mind that you need to be respectful. If you wish to learn more about Africa, make sure you visit WhileInAfrica and get some help in planning your trip.
Expect inconveniences at the border
Corruption is a major issue at the borders in Africa, and this is especially problematic for inexperienced travelers. Unpredictability is especially frustrating, because sometimes you will be able to pass without any issues, but other times you may stay for hours waiting to take your passport or you will be openly asked to give a bribe.
You may be offered to exchange the money, but be very careful because the exchange rates will be lower. Here are a few tips that will help you pass the border control without inconveniences or with minimal issues:
– Inform yourself as much as possible – before going to Africa, get familiar with all the visa requirements you need to meet. Also, contact your embassy before going so you can ask all the things that you’re not sure about.
– Organize everything in advance – even though you can get a visa at the entry points, make sure you get them before starting your journey because this will protect you from unnecessary frustration but it will also save you a lot of money.
– Always carry money with you – having cash with you will definitely help you feel safer because you will probably be in situations where you won’t be able to use your credit card. Also, know the exchange rates at all times, so you can bargain if you need to exchange the money but you’re offered a lower rate.
– Stick to your guns – if you’re sure that your visa is completely valid and meeting all the necessary requirements, but you’re still held up on the border than you should be firm and ask to get your passport back. In case that doesn’t resolve quickly, ask to speak to another official and you will probably be on your way pretty soon. However, make sure you are polite all along, so you don’t put yourself in a bigger problem.
– Stay positive – this may sound corny, but it will save you a lot of frustration. Look everything on the bright side and remember – even the biggest issues will one day be a funny anecdote you will be telling to your family and friends.
A few useful tips
Africa is very unique and traveling from one place to another is an adventure by itself. You may find yourself driving on a bus together with 20 locals, a few chickens, and a goat. Even though this might seem very odd to you, it is definitely worth the trouble, because this way you will get to know the local way of life and expand your views.
However, even though this can be really exciting (and let’s be honest – frustrating at times), these few tips will help you stay safe throughout your journey:
– Do not travel by night, ever. Visiting a foreign country is always risky to some extent for people who don’t know the local customs entirely and the places that can be potentially problematic, so make sure you only travel by day. Even if you find yourself in a risky situation, there is a bigger chance that you will get help if you need it.
– Expect to wait for everything and be late always
– Be ready to stand during your entire bus drive
– If you’re asked to pay a fee for baggage storage prior to the bus ride, you should know that it’s a scam. The baggage is included in the ticket price.
In the end, the most important thing is to keep an open mind and enjoy every minute of your stay. Make sure you don’t leave your things unattended and don’t show your pricey items in front of large crowds, keep it low key. Also, have money spread out in several pockets, so in case you become a target of pick-pocketing, you still have plenty of money to go back to the hotel.