Some people say that when you visit Africa, it will steal a piece of your heart. Travelling through this vast and varied continent will provide you with plenty of challenges, but the magic of its wildlife, its landscapes and its people will ultimately reward you with memories like nowhere else. We’ve put together some top tips to help you reap maximum enjoyment from your time in Africa.
It’s a great idea to pack lightweight clothes that are easily to wash, dry and pack, and don’t require a lot of ironing, regardless of where in the world you are visiting. If you’re planning to visit any game parks and you’d like to actually see some animals, you don’t have to dress in full camouflage, but it’s definitely smart to avoid bright colours and flowing fabrics. Long sleeves and long pants are a great complement to insect repellent when it comes to avoiding bitey insects and they’re also essential if you’re visiting countries where conservative dress is expected.
A supply of insect repellent, sunscreen and hand sanitiser are all useful items to include in your luggage, as is a basic first aid kit. It’s also important to have comprehensive travel insurance, which your personal travel manager can help you with. Water quality can be an issue in parts of Africa, so the usual precautions are a good idea: stick to drinking bottled water (but always check that the seal is intact), avoid ice in your drinks and choose food that is well-cooked instead of salads.
Check with your GP or a specialist travel doctor as to which vaccinations and medications are required or recommended for the countries you will be visiting. Different countries have different requirements that can change over time, so even if it’s not your first time in Africa, be sure to check that your information is current.
With somewhere from 1200 to 2100 languages and dialects spoken throughout the African continent, you’re not expected to have a solid grasp of any, but being able to rattle out a few handy local phrases is a great way to break the ice. For example, Jambo is a traditional greeting in Swahili (useful in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda), Waita zvako can be used to thank someone in Shona (helpful if you’re in Zimbabwe) and Yebo and Cha mean ‘yes’ and ‘no’ respectively in Zulu.
As with any unfamiliar country or culture, it’s a good idea to brush up on local customs and traditions before you go. Ask your guide or hotel staff for advice on protocols relating to dress and manner, especially if you’re visiting a site that is spiritually or culturally significant. Take an open-minded, positive attitude with you and embrace the differences that make time in this fascinating and diverse continent memorable.
If Africa is your dream destination, talk to your personal travel manager today.