This article was originally posted June 28, 2018, and has been updated March 19, 2019.
Taking an affordable Africa tour is often an ambitious undertaking. But don’t worry, we’ve got a comprehensive guide to what to see and do on your Africa trip.
It’s no secret that it’s home to some of the poorest and oppressed people in the world. To many, these are actually inviting prospects. People whom I have known have gone to Africa for business–related and humanitarian purposes. Building schools and so on.
But it is such a vast continent (yes, it’s a continent, for anyone stuck with the question, “Is Africa a country?”). Africa is full of world culture sites and built on such a plethora of history that it would be wasteful not to see as much of it for as little as possible.
You have to make sure you go fully prepared for your affordable Africa tour. This African travel guide will advise you on all the things you need to know, see, and take. Of course, we will recommend the best places to visit in Africa, and the safest places to visit. If you realize how many countries are in Africa, you will understand that there are some territories that, for political climate reasons, we would not endorse for tourists.
Africa Tour – African Safari Travel Guide
Going on safari is one of the first things tourists think of when it comes to African travel. It would be rude not to, really! It’s where some of the most exotic animals can be found. Central and southern Africa is full of national parks for this express purpose.
Due to this, it’s actually impossible to name which are the best places to visit in Africa for safari purposes. Botswana, Namibia, and Kenya are regarded among the safest countries in Africa, so let’s have a closer look at the safari facilities in those territories.
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Botswana’s Chobe National Park was the first national park of its country. It is home to an estimated 100,000 elephants, which are available for your safari viewing pleasure. It even comes complete with safari lodges! So, if that fits in your definition of an affordable Africa tour, then go for the accommodation as well.
In addition to the elephants, for which the Chobe National Park is renowned, it is also home to lions, wildebeest, and predatory birds. So, if an African lion safari trip was in your plans, perhaps one of safari packages from the Chobe National Park will do the trick.
Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Another safari park that was the first established in its territory – in this case, the world’s wildlife capital, Kenya – the Nairobi National Park is also good for lion spotting. Over 100 mammal species such as hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, and giraffes also roam the plains and make for very photogenic sights. In addition to that, over 400 bird species – both endemic and migratory – have also called it home at one point or another.
It’s also a conservation center, so the staff at the Nairobi National Park are dedicated to the protection of all creatures there that are considered a big game animal.
Namib–Naukluft National Park, Namibia
This is not only the largest game park in Namibia, but the entire of Africa. It sprawls across both desert and mountains, opening any travelers up to a variety of safari opportunities. The desert part is amassed with red sand dunes – the highest in the world – and is home to snakes, hyenas and more. Despite it being an incredibly dry region, there are lagoons and wetlands, where birds often gather.
The Naukluft Mountains, on the other hand, are where waterfalls, mountain zebras, and leopards can be found.
For other examples of great outdoor beauty outside of Africa, perhaps you might be interested in a trip to Australia? If so, just check out our guide, Trip Advice and Review of Top Australia Tours and Sites 2019.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Namibia’s national parks host a wide diversity of wildlife. So, if you’re serious about going on a safari as part of your affordable Africa tour, we would recommend you pass through Namibia to do so. They offer a great deal in the way of safari experiences and luxury accommodation (provided, of course, that your budget allows for that).
If the dry heats and 300–feet–high dunes of the Namib–Naukluft National Park are a bit off-putting to you, then maybe the Etosha National Park – a large park in and of itself in Namibia – will be more in your line. It is particularly celebrated for the large and varied wildlife in its borders.
Among its notable features, the Etosha Pan is the first and foremost. It is so massive that it can be seen from space – it is anyone’s guess why it isn’t a natural Wonder of the World. But in addition to that, the watering holes and an array of habitats hosted at the Etosha National Park offer various animal sighting opportunities. It is totally unpredictable – the animals roam, and different ones are seen week–to–week.
The park is split up into different sections where certain creatures are known to show up more frequently. For example, the Okondeka waterhole is ideal for those wanting to take on an African lion safari experience.
South African Tours and Travel
Now, I know I said I’d be recommending the safest places to visit in Africa in this article. I also know that South Africa’s reputation isn’t exactly what you would call sterling. However, while not the largest country in Africa, its history and culture are well worth seeing.
My advice – see how much there is in your budget for your affordable Africa tour and go on an escorted tour through South Africa. These can be found on most travel agency websites.
While we didn’t mention it in the previous section, South Africa is home to one or two famous game reserves and national parks. These include well-known Kruger National Park. There are also ostrich farms nearby, visits to which are included in some tours.
It’s not all about the wildlife in Africa, mind you. Point your affordable Africa tour in another direction and maybe go for a wine tasting event or even a special mini-tour, offered by some South African tours and travel operators.
Africa Tour – Travel Tips
Half of these things may appear to be common sense, but when it comes to traveling, it is our belief that you can never be too prepared. So, we have put together a reasonably in-depth checklist for you, to ensure you will be 100% ready for your affordable Africa tour.
#1 – Dress Appropriately and Effectively
You are going to be doing all manner of different activities during your affordable Africa tour. Each will demand its own respective appropriate items of clothing and footwear. Remember this is Africa we’re talking about. Even its northern and southernmost points are quite close to the Equator – some are just downright on it!
This means blazing temperatures, not helped by the lack of real rainfall aside from the rainy seasons, which varies depending on the region. As such, here’s a list of things you might want to consider packing when on your tour.
- Polyester clothing – try to avoid dark blues since these can attract harmful insects.
- Rain jackets if you are traveling during the aforementioned rainy seasons. You will need to do extra research as to when this is since, as we mentioned already, it can vary dependent on the part of Africa you’re traveling in.
- Footwear – robust walking boots if you intend to do a lot of hiking while you’re on your tour. These will get uncomfortable after a while, so having some sandals – still sturdy and strong for the terrain you might be experiencing – will come in useful for more casual wear. Then you will also want some extra footwear for washing in.
- Loose clothing – in the heat you will be enduring, loose and flowy clothing will help air flow and will, hopefully, help you stay relatively cool.
- Sunglasses and sun lotion – these are common sense items, so please, just don’t leave either of them at home.
#2 – Get Your Vaccinations
I know a guy who went to Ghana for six months for a business-related trip. He caught malaria while he was over there. He said it was nothing really to worry about, but that’s not an example you should follow in preparing for your trip to Africa.
Get every possible vaccination for the sake of peace of mind. Some will say it adds to the color of the experience, but I personally would hate to go traveling and spend half the trip sick in bed.
If you are going to ignore this particular piece of advice, at least make sure your travel insurance checks out. Let alone getting sick in the first place, the last thing you want is to get sick unexpectedly and have to pay out half your tour’s budget or more just for the treatment.
#3 – Check and/or Renew Your Travel Insurance
Speaking of insurance, be sure to check that you’re covered, what you’re covered for, and for how much. Of course, heaven forbids anything serious should happen while you are on your travels. But “better to be safe than sorry” is a good mindset to be in when you are traipsing around quite an unfamiliar territory.
Any health and medical–related coverage should be a priority really, as we mentioned in the previous section. But also, protection against any crimes, such as theft, should be considered. Not to put you off going to Africa at all – it’s unlikely, but it can happen anywhere. That’s why insuring yourself is important.
#4 – Find Help with the Language Barrier
For English speakers, you are in luck, as a lot of African countries speak some English. Many of those that don’t will speak French. Obviously, do your research when you’re planning your tour and see what may be required of you in terms of language. With any luck, it may just be a case of brushing up on the French you learned at school.
Naturally, if you’re going on a safari tour or an escorted tour through South Africa, the tour guides and operators are all going to be providing tourist-oriented services. Even if the country itself is not native English-speaking, translators will most likely be part of the party for your assistance and convenience.
Still, if you wanted to make an effort, download and/or sign up to Duolingo. It’s a free service, so what do you have to lose? See if they have one of the languages you need on there. If it’s French, then yes, they definitely do!
Asia is another destination that might require some language assistance, but is worth a visit. If you’ve done Africa already and are looking for something else for your travels, check out our guide, Top Tips and Advice for Planning An Affordable Asia Tour.
#5 – Don’t Be Afraid to Try Everything
Unless it’s shooting an elephant. In that case, politely decline.
We’re joking, of course. It is highly unlikely you will be asked to do such a thing by national park staff. But when it comes to things like food, African cuisine is rich, diverse and unique. Some things you try in certain territories cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
South Africa, in particular, has some very unique dishes, some of which are not really for the faint-hearted, like Afval, for example. This is a dish of the parts of an animal we normally wouldn’t even dream of cooking. Just swallow your pride (no pun intended) and give it a try!
Don’t Forget to Buy…
We have already established a lot of what you need to buy to prepare for your African trip. But since we readily endorse going on a safari when you are there, it only makes sense that you should be able to find out more about what you are likely to see.
That’s where the 2018–released best seller Fodor’s the Complete Guide to African Safaris comes in. Not only does it give expansive detail about what you are going to see on safari – it’s actually something to buy before you go – while you’re still planning your trip!
The most up–to–date recommendations for safari tour operators and camps across a number of popular African destinations are within its pages. These include those we mentioned – Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and Namibia, but also Rwanda and Tanzania. It can be of great assistance in putting together your itinerary for when you eventually do arrive in lush and exciting Africa.
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