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Planning a trip to Africa

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Planning a trip to Africa

1. Posted by aztiks (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

Hi everyone,

I'm currently a student in the US and am wanting to plan a trip to go to Africa in the next few years, problem is I don't where I want to go exactly. I really want to see all there is regarding the tribes, the rain forests, the savanna, etc. but without having to pay a tour company or safari guides to show me around (kinda want to go bare minimum budget-wise). I also don't really want to have a set amount of time to stay there, though with travel prices these days I'll likely want to pick a return date and book it. I wouldn't mind doing volunteer or paying work while I'm there, but I haven't found a program I'm in love with yet.
First, is it unwise for a first timer to Africa to not pay for a guide? Also, knowing the state of some parts of Africa, would personal protection (handguns, knives) be necessary? Maybe I've just seen too many movies

Any suggestions?

As a sidenote, I've done a fair bit of traveling- to England, Hawaii, various outdoorsy type trips, so I'd assess that I have a decent understanding of traveling in general and getting by without having too much to my name. Which, as I understand it, is a helpful ability in the 3rd world countries.

Thanks for your reply in advance,
Hunter

2. Posted by aztiks (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

Nevermind, I've discussed this with a friend and I've decided that I will be traveling elsewhere first. I also intend on joining the army so I think I'll be getting my survival training there as well :)

3. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

Ah, Africa's so beautiful! Do consider it for your future travels.

4. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 7y

I agree with Tway. Don't give up on Africa just yet...

On the off-chance you change your mind, a few comments on your original questions:

First, is it unwise for a first timer to Africa to not pay for a guide?

Not necessarily. And certainly not for the whole of the continent, where you'll more or less end up on a truck-tour run by Westerners. You just have to pick and choose the places/areas/countries that you visit so that you don't get dropped really deeply into the deep end. An important point that is obvious, but must be noted is that "Africa" is vast, and contains a huge variety of languages, religions, people, cultures, backgrounds etc etc and you can't really lump it all in together in terms of what you need.

I wouldn't mind doing volunteer or paying work while I'm there, but I haven't found a program I'm in love with yet.

Keep looking. There are lots around, and a huge variety, and you will certainly be able to find something that really does appeal if you keep digging.

Also, knowing the state of some parts of Africa, would personal protection (handguns, knives) be necessary? Maybe I've just seen too many movies

Too many movies. And you'd cause more problems than you'd solve. Any kind of gun or large knife that you even started to pull for protection in tricky situations would see you get shot on the spot, or at the very least spending a long while in the sorts of prisons (and paying large bribes) that you REALLY don't want to be in. To the sorts of people in those situations, life is very cheap, and they wouldn't hestitate in taking yours, even if all they actually wanted was your shoes or wallet. Obviously some parts are very dangerous, but I kind of doubt that you would be heading to Southern Sudan, or Somalia, or DR Congo etc just as a tourist. It just doesn't happen (or, really, make sense), and wouldn't really be possible or safe even if you wanted to. Most of Africa is as safe as anywhere else in the world, providing you are sensible and take normal precautions (not going out alone after dark, watching out for pick pockets, avoiding certain known dodgy areas) as you would anywhere else in the world. I personally feel safer and less likely to have a problem wandering around places like Algeria and Libya, than I do in London.

As a sidenote, I've done a fair bit of traveling- to England, Hawaii, various outdoorsy type trips, so I'd assess that I have a decent understanding of traveling in general and getting by without having too much to my name. Which, as I understand it, is a helpful ability in the 3rd world countries.

I'm sorry, i hate to admit it but i couldn't help laughing at that. The two parts contradict themselves. You don't get a decent idea of traveling (of the African style) by going to Hawaii or England... You can only experience that in less developed, more chaotic type places (that isn't mocking Africa, it's more just such a huge cultural difference between the places you mention). Africa can be surprisingly expensive to travel around, compared to, say, SE Asia or India, but it can also be trickier to travel really cheaply in comparison to many other areas as options are scarce, distances vast, infrastructure limited, and corruption rife. Also, bear in mind that your idea of not having much money/bare minimum budget in comparison to the average wage in many African countries still makes you hugely wealthy - Just the fact that you are foreign and travelling there, however poor you actually are, makes you a millionaire and a walking wallet in the eyes of the locals.

I've decided that I will be traveling elsewhere first.

That's not a bad idea. Africa is amazing, and hugely rewarding, but it can be harder to get around, and more of a challenge to get to know it/see it, and i'd certainly suggest some time travelling in places like SE Asia, India, South America etc beforehand would be useful, and teach you some tricks and tips that would be useful, rather than diving straight into the heart of Africa for your first trip.

Good luck, and happy planning

5. Posted by aztiks (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

I'm sorry, i hate to admit it but i couldn't help laughing at that.

Haha I knew that would come off as paradoxical, but I figured I would add my travel experiences. I added England not for the fact that I traveled there, but because I traveled in a very chaotic way due to all the airlines being shutdown and having to reroute to Heathrow through Kuwait Air (they were the only ones still going through). Good airplane food compared to what British Airways usually carries, though.

places like SE Asia, India, South America etc beforehand would be useful, and teach you some tricks and tips that would be useful, rather than diving straight into the heart of Africa for your first trip.

Those are my thoughts exactly! India is where I wanted to go first, but then I was thinking "why stop there?" and started thinking Africa. It took me a good deal of research to find that going to places like India would be a good way to begin to learn all that traveling entails and that I should wait to go to Africa.

Thanks for the advice, I think this will be my favorite part about travel- learning more about the world and the wisdom that it entails.

6. Posted by madikwe1 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y

:) Congratulations for your decision to grace the mother continent! Africa is a great place to visit for ancient history, amazing scenery, diversified culture, apartheid monuments, great food & wines, Big 5, etc. My prefered African destinations are South Africa (Cape Town, Kruger Park, & Sun City), Uganda(Guerilla Trekking), Egypt(Pyramids, Nile river, & Meseums), Morocco & Tunisia. -snip-

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