If you’ve follow me on any of my social media you will know that I have been doing a lot of travelling to African countries since October 2017. All of these travels were work related, however I have been a long time Africa traveller since my first trip out of the country to Malawi in 2007. As a South African I will tell you that travelling to other African countries is not for sissies – it can be tough but it is so totally worth it. I love being in other African countries and getting to see how other people live. If you want to know about other places that I have travelled to, I have a video where I go through my passports and chat briefly about all the places that I have been. But for now I’ll give you some of my first hand experience and tips on travelling to other African countries like a pro.
Before travelling to any country it’s best to start by checking if there are visa requirements. With a South African passport you don’t need a visa to travel to most Southern African countries. However when it comes to East, West and North Africa, a visa is required. You need to give yourself enough time to apply for a visa because unfortunately most of the visa application requirements aren’t clear. I found that with my travels I had to scour the internet to find the requirements for visa applications to Mali and Senegal because the embassies don’t have a website with all the information *sigh*. A country ahead of its time with the visa application process is Uganda, everything is done online and the turnaround time is very fast, it has been my most seamless visa process. Side note: I’m writing this while I am still waiting for my Mali visa and my flight to Bamako is in 72 hours! I told you guys that this is not for sissies :).
This is one of the biggest gripes about travelling in Africa is that it is damn near impossible to get to some destinations without having to spend a small fortune and having to travel for looooong hours. I’ve come across instances where people have to travel from one African country to another via a European country. The best airline to get you anywhere around Africa is Ethiopian Airlines, it is unfortunately not my favourite airline and the stopover airport at Addis Ababa is wow (not in a good way). I’m really hoping that we are heading to a future where getting around our continent is much easier than it is now.
Thanks to the internet it is so easy to find a place to stay that fits your criteria when travelling to other African countries. For my travels I’ve had my hotel chosen for me because I’ve been travelling on business but even on my personal travels I haven’t had issues with finding appropriate accommodation. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to read the reviews on the hotels you’re considering, but it’s also important to check where the person giving the review is from, as this might influence what they consider good or bad.
What are you eating though?
Food, food, food! This becomes tricky depending on your palate. When I started travelling I wasn’t adventurous with what I ate and I only ate things that looked familiar to me. I have started to be more adventurous and I’ll try local food when I travel but the one thing I still can’t bring myself to eat is the head of the fish! I have found that in most countries I have been it is easy to find any type of food you are looking for – I mean I ate at a Thai restaurant in Bamako, Mali! The world becoming smaller and smaller it means that there are all variety of foods all over the place.
Language has been an issue for me when I went to Bamako and Dakar because these are in Francophone countries. As a South Africa, French is a very foreign language to me. The only time I have been exposed to French was when I lived in Lausanne in Switzerland. Even though my French is not that great I’ve been able to get by using the little that I know and using hand gestures most of the time. I’ve found that people do try to accommodate non-French speakers so I was able to integrate. So don’t let the language barrier put you off visiting other countries.