Tips on Backpacking through Africa

Africa delivers a vast array of exciting possibilities for backpackers as the continent is replete with diverse and exhilarating things to see, do and explore, from safaris and adventure, unique cultures to more relaxed sightseeing. It is therefore advisable to prepare yourself adequately and be knowledgeable about this continent before embarking on your backpacking holiday. Listed below are tips on backpacking through Africa:

Conduct some Research

The first and most important step is to do research. Whether you are interested in extreme adventure, watersports, safari, wildlife or hiking, you need to read about Africa so you learn about the best countries to visit and get the most out of your trip. You could probably start your trip in countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana which provide more transport options and are more travel friendly than most other parts of Africa. Proceed south, through Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, and conclude your trip in South Africa for some adventure sports like hang gliding, mountain biking and paragliding.

Prioritise your Safety

Whilst the countries in Africa are wonderfully vibrant places with a good number of friendly and welcoming citizens, you still have to be vigilant and heedful of the common security risks in most of these countries. For instance, it may be extremely risky to hitchhike in South Africa, especially if you do not know where you are going and venture into the unknown or unsafe areas. Generally, it is always advisable to hire a private tour guide or go in groups so as to enhance your safety and wellbeing. In addition, take care of your belongings; do not carry a lot of money in your bag or other valuable possessions (gold rings, necklaces etc.) Like any other country in the world, there are muggers and pickpockets in African towns and cities who sometimes target travellers carrying valuable goods.

Health Tips

With its equatorial and tropical climates, it is very important to look after your health while in Africa. Remember to carry anti-malarial tablets and take a typhoid vaccination when visiting sub-Saharan Africa. Nonetheless, medical facilities in most of these countries are fairly good, particularly in the urban areas. Moreover, tap water in most urban towns is safe to drink but in the rural towns, you will be required to boil the water or chemically sterilize it. Carry rehydration tablets sachets for diarrhea or anti-diarrhea medication. As a hot continent, with temperatures clocking up to 50 degrees Celsius in some countries, do not forget to take the usual precautions when walking under the sun. Drink enough water to avoid dehydration, carry some painkillers and antihistamine drugs in your bag and apply sunscreen to protect your skin against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Bring a first aid kit with you as well.

Travel Insurance

Ensure that your travel insurance has a good medical cover because the best hospitals in Africa can be quite expensive. Consult your doctor before travelling to get the appropriate vaccinations and request for an international certification of vaccination, as it will be required upon entry to most of these countries. And if you are planning to try out some extreme activities or dangerous sports, ensure that you get adventure travel insurance before travelling. A good policy should cover you from injuries or losses that may occur during the excursion. But whatever you do, avoid engaging in visibly life-threatening activities. Do not tempt fate. Africa has an overabundance of attractions, guaranteed to give you unforgettable experience, without having to put your life at risk.


Take advantage of the hostelling arrangements available in most African countries. Hostels are not only cheaper, but by using them; you will easily get to interact with fellow backpackers and citizens from that country, with whom you can discuss about some of the unique features of the area and also get to immerse yourself in the culture of your host country. Hostels offer basic services such as breakfast, bathroom facilities and electricity. Make your bookings early if possible.

Africa is an outstanding backpacking destination. It has the enchanting combination of fabulous weather (the sun shines throughout the year in Africa), spectacular scenery, hospitable people and plenty of exciting things to do. Backpacking through this wonderful continent is the perfect way of exploring the tourist hotspots and the little gems that are yet to be discovered.


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