Advice about Traveling to Africa
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I would appreciate recommendations on travel agents/experts on traveling solo to southern and eastern Africa. I am interested in finding volunteer opportunities in different countries (as well as just experiencing the continent) and would like expert advice on areas that are 'relatively' safe and those to absolutely avoid. anon
I've been a couple of times to Eastern Africa (Uganda and Kenya), mostly for work purposes. Both countries felt quite safe. One organization I would recommend you contact for doing work in Kenya is Carolina for Kibera, a non-profit established by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They do amazing work in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya. I did find Uganda (specifically the capital Kampala) a much nicer place to visit, much greener and overall just felt safer. Good luck, Africa is an amazing continent to explore! RR
We traveled to Namibia several years ago and loved it. We didn't use a travel agency as it's pretty easy to do everything on the web, and we just travelled around the country on our own in a car we rented. It's a great place to start in Africa because it is extremely, safe, clean, friendly, and the official language is English. (the locals joke that it's 'Africa-lite') I would think you could find volunteer opportunities on the web as well. Sometimes it's also easier hooking up with volunteer groups once you are in a country too. monika
I worked with companies that ran safaris to E. Africa and S. Africa for about 15 years and have been to Tanzania twice. My former spouse spent two years in Congo with Peace Corps. My recommendations are 1) to read the State Dept. sheets on the areas you are contemplating travel to. 2) Make contact with returned Peace Corps volunteers from those areas. They will have good recommendations for safe areas and places to do volunteer work. 3) Contact SERVAS, a non profit that helps set up volunteer work and families to live with. If all that seems too daunting, GERBA runs excellent budget trips from one end of Africa to the other and you will have plenty of adventures. My favorite safari outfit, if you go that route, is Thomson Safaris in MA, run by the former owners of Overseas Adventure Travel. You could also contact Louise McGowan in Berkeley who now runs a safari outfit with her daughter Kili (Dick McGowan, now deceased, was CEO of Mountain Travel in the late 1980's/early 90's). cocosar
We are planning a trip to Africa next year and are trying to decide between Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa. We'll be traveling with our 9 year old daughter so doing a safari is one priority. Any suggestions on travel in these countries would be appreciated as well as opinions on which would be the best to visit for a first trip to the continent. Thanks. Monika
Just returned from 9 months living in Kenya with my kids who were 9 and 13 when we left. While living there was hard at times for my kids, we all absolutely loved travelling around the country and I would highly recommend it. Seeing the animals in the wild is an incredible experience. The US govt has a travel advisory against travel to Kenya but we felt completely safe and welcomed. Haven't been to Namibia or South Africa so I can't compare. Please contact me if you want more info. Deborah
I spent a few weeks in Africa - South Africa, Swaziland and Namibia. South Africa was fascinating. In Capetown you can take a tour of the Cape Flats to get a better understanding of how people live in such extreme poverty. We did a road trip from Cape Town to Kruger Park, stopping in wine country and some small towns along the way. Kruger Park was wonderful, as was the drive through Swaziland, the game park we stayed in south of Swziland, Durban, etc. The country is full of history and natural beauty and you could spend a whole trip there.
That said, I threw down the money to fly to Windhoek, Namibia from Capetown because I heard that Soussesvlei was extraordinary. I jumped onto a tour run by the company thanked in the front of the Lonely Planet guide for Namibia (I can find the name if you're interested) and took the short version of their tour. We drove out to Swakupmound on the coast, spent a night there, then drove to the Soussesvlei staging area and made camp. The night before our visit the guide thought our visit would be a wash because of the wind, but at 4am we heard the balloons filling, which meant the trip was on. We were on Dune 7 for sunrise and I can safely say I may never encounter a more spectacular sunrise. At that one moment the trip to Namibia was more than worth it. The next hour or two in the dunes were... they were wonderful and you MUST go there.
If I were you I'd stick south - do S. Africa & Namibia. Catherine