8 Things You Should Know Before Going to Africa - The Viking Abroad
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8 Things You Should Know Before Going to Africa

31 Jan 8 Things You Should Know Before Going to Africa

There’s a lot to explore across the African continent. From South Africa to Egypt, from Rwanda to the Cote d’Ivoire, there are many options to choose from. Wherever you choose to go, however, we have some important tips for you to keep in mind. Here are the eight things you absolutely must know before going to Africa.

  1. Watch out for temperatures

Africa is hot, right? Well, not always. Depending on where you travel, there can be varying temperatures. Yes, there are even parts of Africa that see snow. Make sure that you check the climate of the part of Africa you are visiting, and also verify the seasonal changes you may experience. Even in the desert, it can be extremely cold at night. Bear that in mind when packing your suitcase.

  1. Beware of the big killers

Everyone knows there are killer animals in Africa – lions and elephants and Nile crocodiles all come to mind as big, scary beasts that could kill you give the chance. However, the real animal you want to watch out for is the hippo. This beast is huge, unpredictable, and often aggressive. They are proven killers, so make sure to stay with a guide and follow safety advice.

  1. Two languages are better than one

English, French and Portuguese are the three main languages that remain from colonial times in Africa. While there are other dialects and native languages around, these three will stand you in good stead most of the time. Particularly in Central or West Africa, you will want to have French as a back-up, because English is not as widely-spoken as you would expect.

  1. Check your passes

If travelling between different countries, you may need a carnet for your vehicle as well as temporary import permits to allow you over the border. You also need to make sure that your passport will be valid for at least six months after entering any country, and that you have room for stamps, as some countries are sticklers for that. You may also need a visa to allow you access to the country in the first place – check before you travel.

  1. Money talks

You may want to bring some dollars along with you as these are usually accepted for the purchase of visas and in a few other circumstances. Some countries in Africa have a closed currency, which means you can’t buy it outside of the border – you have to wait until you get there. You may consider using an ATM instead of taking all of your cash with you in physical money.

  1. Consider modesty

There are a number of countries in Africa which have a Muslim majority, and some others which follow conservative Christianity or have strict morality codes. Try to dress modestly where you can, especially if you are a woman. Cover your shoulders and knees, and consider carrying a scarf so that you will be able to cover your head and hair in a pinch.

  1. Ask for guides

If you are walking around, ask for a guide, particularly at night. Tourists shouldn’t walk alone at night in big cities such as Cape Town. You may also want a guide to help ensure you stay on the right side of town, and don’t get lost.

  1. Be friendly

Don’t be afraid of the locals. A smile, a nod, a wave, and a “hello” when passing in the street are normal! It’s a friendly country and you will see this in person.

There’s much to remember about visiting Africa, but the number one thing is to have a great time. There are beautiful extremes on this continent, and all are ready to be explored.



Merrigan Leone is a blogger and a businesswoman who currently works for Bizinfo.in as a Content Manager. She specializes in online marketing, career development and freelancing. In her free time, she enjoys traveling the world and cooking.


  • Lori
    Posted at 12:24h, 19 February Reply

    Always good advice, especially about being modest and following local customs. And very good to know about the hippos…looks can certainly be deceiving!

  • Cori
    Posted at 19:50h, 19 February Reply

    It’s funny that temperature is the first thing you mentioned. I get that all the time about Canada — people assume that this giant country has one climate. I can’t imagine thinking a whole continent has the same climate!

    It’s good to know about the hippos. I’d never have thought about that!

  • Turtle
    Posted at 21:07h, 19 February Reply

    Great tips. I haven’t spent too much time in Africa and, you’re right, I think there are huge misconceptions about the continent. I’m curious to know how you would go if the only language you could speak is English.

  • Katy
    Posted at 23:16h, 19 February Reply

    These are really great tips! Thank you for sharing! Pinning to save for later.

  • Paige W
    Posted at 00:18h, 21 February Reply

    These are really great tips. I’ve heard that hippos are the biggest killers there, my Cultural Anthropology professor told me crazy stories about the hippos there. I feel much more prepared for future travels to this continent.

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