When you travel in Africa it’s essential that you have a sense of adventure! The often repeated saying ‘Africa is not for sissies” really sums it up: traveling in Africa is not always easy, and comes with some real dangers – it’s not for the faint hearted.
Here’s why Africa is the world’s most adventurous continent for travelers.
Africa is home to some of the planet’s biggest and most dangerous wildlife: hippos, lions, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes and elephants roam freely inside (and often outside of) wilderness areas and game parks. While visiting game parks to spot these animals is pretty safe, you still have to be cautious. Don’t ever get out of your car, don’t drive too close to animals (especially elephants, which can easily overturn cars) and don’t hang outside of open windows. If you want to see wildlife on foot, you can do walking safaris, which are thrilling: it’s just you, a few others and a guide exploring the bush and tracking animals. Coming face-to-face with a huge wild animal like an elephant is hard to beat in terms of wildlife encounters, but it is definitely a scary experience!
While many African countries have roads that are in great condition, if you’re going off the beaten track to remote destinations in the wilderness, be prepared to have some challenging driving experiences on rough roads – everything. From steep gravel and beach sand to rocks and potholes. Having a 4×4 and a whole lot of patience helps!
Some of the best things to do in Africa involve adrenaline, and you shouldn’t do a trip to Africa without taking advantage of some of the exciting adventures on offer. Canyoning on Reunion Island, white water rafting down the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe and Zambia, bungee jumping off the bridge over Victoria Falls, sand boarding down the steep dunes in the Namib Desert, going shark cage diving and surfing in South Africa and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania are definitely not for sissies!
There are many places in Africa where you can camp out in the wild, or in unfenced campsites in national parks and game reserves. That means that any wild animal can just walk into your camp – and they often do. Once you’re in your tent at night, you can’t leave it, even if you need the bathroom. At night when the campfire has gone out is when animals come for a visit – hyenas, elephants and lions may come into the campsite for a wander and a sniff around. You may even wake up to an animal sniffing around your tent! As long as you keep your tent zipped up, you’re safe, but some people prefer to do wild camping in a rooftop tent attached to the top of their 4×4.
When you’re traveling in Africa, you definitely want to watch where you’re going! Africa has some of the world’s most dangerous and venomous snakes, including puff adders, boomslangs, Gabon vipers, Egyptian cobras and black mambas – one of Africa’s most feared snakes with venom that will kill you within an hour if you don’t get anti-venom. There are some scary spiders too – hairy, big and poisonous – such as violin spiders, baboon spiders and button spiders (the name is cute, but the neurotoxic venom is not). But by far the most dangerous creature in Africa is the mosquito. Malaria is common throughout vast regions of the continent, so check with your doctor before you travel to see if you need to take prophylactics. It’s always a good idea to wear long trousers and shirts and lots of mosquito repellant to protect yourself.