How to Travel to Africa Safely

How to Travel to Africa Safely
Whether you want to explore a tropical rainforest or barren desert, view exotic wildlife, or summit a 5,000-plus-meter peak, it can all be done in Africa. Such a diverse and distant continent offers almost limitless potential for adventure--but it also presents certain challenges. To guarantee that your African experience is a positive one, there are a few practical measures you can take to help ensure your safety.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Preparing a Safe Trip to Africa

Things You’ll Need:
  • Valid passport 2 photocopies of passport Medications Copies of prescriptions Itinerary Emergency contact information Traveler's checks Cash Major credit card
  • Valid passport
  • 2 photocopies of passport
  • Medications
  • Copies of prescriptions
  • Itinerary
  • Emergency contact information
  • Traveler's checks
  • Cash
  • Major credit card
Step 1
Research conditions in the countries you wish to visit. Much of Africa is safe to visit. Unfortunately, certain regions are still plagued by conflict, disease and civil unrest. Visit the U.S. State Department website, which issues travel warnings and advisories for countries where safety is a concern.
Step 2
Make an itinerary and give a copy to someone you trust. It should include where to plan to go and when, and the names and contact information of any guides or outfitters you will be using. You should also include emergency contact information and the location of the nearest embassy in case you need to be reached.
Step 3
You must have a valid passport to travel to Africa. Make two photocopies of your passport in case it is lost or stolen while you are away. Leave one copy with a friend or family member and keep the other copy with you, in a secure location, separate from your actual passport. If you lose your passport, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and call the local police immediately.
Step 4
Consult your doctor about any vaccinations and medications you may need for safe travel in Africa. Malaria is a concern in most of Africa. There are a variety of anti-malarial drugs that minimize, though do not eliminate, the chances of acquiring the disease. The commonly prescribed drugs are Malarone and Larium (mefloquine). Malarone is quickly becoming the more popular of the two, because of its lack of major side effects.

Bring a copy of your prescriptions and make sure all medication is in its original packaging to avoid trouble at customs.
Step 5
Make arrangements to bring cash, traveler's checks and one major credit card. Traveler's checks can be replaced if lost or stolen, but are usually not accepted in remote, rural areas. Exchange cash for local currency at major banks, which are usually reliable and offer the best rates. ATMs are available in most urban areas, though you will probably be charged an international transaction fee. Be wary around ATMs. They are frequently the site of muggings.

Tips & Warnings

 
Crime is a concern in many parts of Africa. Leave flashy jewelry and watches at home and do not flaunt expensive cameras and cellphones. Also, avoid traveling alone, and never go out by yourself at night. Malaria can be fatal. Always take anti-malarial medication and seek medical attention immediately if you contract the disease.
 
Crime is a concern in many parts of Africa. Leave flashy jewelry and watches at home and do not flaunt expensive cameras and cellphones. Also, avoid traveling alone, and never go out by yourself at night.
 
Malaria can be fatal. Always take anti-malarial medication and seek medical attention immediately if you contract the disease.

Article Written By Richard Hansen

Richard Hansen grew up and currently resides in Minnesota. He graduated from Dartmouth College and has traveled extensively in Africa and South America, including the Amazon jungle. He has worked as a wilderness guide in Yellowstone and northern Minnesota, and written for Fur-Fish-Game, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and RascalHansen.com.

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