Africa. The continent that “gave birth” to man, the Motherland for every human, black or white, short or tall. The last frontier of travel. A trip to Africa may very well be the trip of your life, but there a few things to keep in mind regarding health, climate, safety, documents and overall activities.
In contrary to popular belief, Africa can get very cold. The whole continent isn’t scorching 24/7, it has places where it snows and where the temperature drops as low as -10C. For an example, Mt Kenya and Mt Kilimanjaro have glaciers. Also, nights in the deserts can be absolutely freezing so, no, the movies didn’t lie.
Much like the hot-cold myth, Africa does in fact have exceptionally green parts of land. There are rainforests, soft green hills, lush vegetations, lakes and rivers apart from deserts and savannas. Even the deserts have life in them, some spring flowers and desert-adapted animals like elephants, giraffes, lions and rhinos.
While mentioning animals, it would be fair to say that you should definitely watch out for hippos. Although they probably won’t walk into your dining area or ask you for directions in the middle of the street before eating you, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Hippos are the biggest people-killers on the continent, not lions and Nile crocodiles.
They can be found in sub-Saharan Africa and don’t let their look fools you, they can charge at 28kph. If you do encounter them, stay away – if on a boat, stay on the sides of the boat to signal your position and if on land, keep your distance and never get between a mother and her calf.
They are the most aggressive in the dry season, and you really can’t blame them for that. It would be good to pay attention to oxpeckers, because those birds produce warning signals when hippos are around.
Medical precautions via vaccines are advised, but that doesn’t mean you should get every vaccine there is.
Your childhood vaccines are up to date probably, and you should get only a rabies shot.
It is advisable to plan this in advance, because the rabies shot comes with a series of shots with injections against typhoid, hepatitis A and meningococcal meningitis. But of course, you should consult with your doctor and just take our word for it.
You won’t need a bunch of visas. If traveling to West Africa, you can get a VTE which covers Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, Cote d’Ivorie and Togo. It’s not expensive and you can get it fairly quickly. It’s valid for 2 consecutive months. Your car on the other hand, if you’re planning to drive through Africa in a hire car, will need a bunch of stamps of approval.
Also, it is advisable to learn some French because it may be difficult to find someone in every place who speaks English. Safe travels!