Traveling to Africa is not as scary as it seems. There are a lot of things you should consider before leaving, but do not be overly scared of visiting this amazing continent. As any other place, East Africa has its ups and downs, but hey! If you are smart enough to take care of yourself, there is no need to feel worried about it.
You are traveling to a whole new world, remember that. Do not hurry making up plans or leaving too soon. Take time to research everything you need to, and make sure you have everything planned out by the time your plane takes off. You don’t have to know everything that you are going to do, it’s nice leaving place for the unknown and spontaneous decisions – but make sure you have a clear idea of where you want to spend your time and money beforehand. Here are some tips that might help you!
Top Tips for Traveling from the USA to East Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi & South Sudan)
You are going to find out many useful things here. If you think there is something you can add, or have an interesting experience to share, don’t hesitate to leave comments or feedback. We would highly appreciate that!
Plan Your Route
As I was saying earlier, you must plan ahead. Make sure you research the places you want to visit well enough, and you make an idea about where you want to go. You must know the times and the places, no more than that. There is no need for you to buy plane tickets across African countries beforehand, that will make you leave earlier than you might want to. Remember:
- You might not be able to visit every single place you want to
- Plan a route smartly – start from one part of the continent and go into the other, so you don’t have to come back
- MUST Things to visit!! Go Safari in Kenya, go visit Victoria Falls at its water peak, climb Kilimanjaro, and dive with sharks in Mozambique!
Plan Your Flight
Be responsible about your flights! I am not kidding. So many people missed their chances to go to Africa because they waited until last minute to buy their tickets. If you want good prices, you need to buy them ahead of time. Use Kayak or Skyscanner to search for great offers and deals.
Where Do You Want to Stay?
I would recommend planning your accommodation ahead. Even if you want to couchsurf, I would talk to my host early in the year if I am traveling during summer for instance. Failing to do so might be truly dangerous, because Africa is not the place to get lost in. You can also buy camping equipment – then you won’t need any accommodation planned out. There are a lot of camping places throughout the continent, and they are actually amazing!
You can travel around by shuttles and small buses, or you can drive yourself. Remember! If you choose the latter option, you will need papers for your car, which can get expensive.
Meeting New People
Africa is not Europe. Even if you find a decent hostel to stay in, you won’t meet as many backpackers as in Europe. There are some who might be interested in traveling with you if you are a solo-traveler, but don’t put your hopes on that. Make you way around and find your own path. The places you are going to meet most travelers are:
- Nairobi in Kenya
- Swakopmund in Namibia
- Bugajali Falls in Uganda
But don’t go for the people, go for the experience! Make the best out of your trip. If you meet people, that’s great! But if you don’t, that’s no big deal. You’ll have time to meet people elsewhere!
Language and Culture
Africans are usually friendly and open-minded. They are already used to Western travelers, yet there are times when they can be unsatisfied with their behavior. I would lie saying there is no racism in Africa. Most of the people I’ve talked to were nice, but some were not very excited to see foreigners.
You should dress appropriately wherever you go. For women, try not to wear large cleavages and short-pants. First of all, Africa can be really cold at times (depends on when you are going, look it up!), and second, a good number of the continent’s countries are Muslim, especially the East Coast.
You Will Need a Visa
As you might have guessed, traveling to Africa requires a visa. Since we are mostly focusing on East Africa today, I can already tell you that there is not a lot to worry about. There is an Eastern-African Tourist Visa program available for you to apply. That incorporates all of the countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and South Sudan. The maximum amount of days you get inside Eastern Africa with such a visa is 90 days.
There is no better time to discover yourself than when you travel. Africa provides so many opportunities to do so! Its traditions, culture, and people will play a big role in your introspective journey.
One of my best friends, Alex, told me the following after he returned. “In Africa, I had time to discover myself. I could wake up, have a coffee, and then meditate for the rest of the day. I had time to figure out what I want to do in life, so I researched everything about freelancing and the essay service industry. I now know that I want to be a traveler for the rest of my life, and content writing is going to help me make a living.”
Traveling to Africa is going to be an enjoyable experience. You are definitely going to meet new, extraordinary people, taste new foods, and learn new things. Watch out for health issues (such as vaccines), visa requirements, and book your plane in advance. Have a great trip!