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Wanderlust Movement is an edgy South African travel blog founded by Lauren Melnick with just the right mix of travel tips, music festivals, and swearwords.

10 of the Cheapest African Countries to Visit

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Travelling around Africa is in itself an experience. However, it can also be incredibly expensive - especially for South Africans. 

From gorilla trekking to luxury safaris and expensive flights, costs can quickly add up making it impossible to stay within an affordable budget.

Luckily, some of Africa's most popular destinations are backpacker friendly. It's easier than ever to soak up the culture and have the African adventure of your dreams.

So if you're looking for a frugal escape and don't want to venture too far, here are 10 cheap African countries to visit on a budget!

1. Kigali, Rwanda

Rwanda

Rwanda's tragic past, rich culture and incredible wildlife make it one of the most intriguing places to travel to in Africa. 

Kigali is the pulse of the country's cultural attractions. With its genocide memorials and thriving art scene, it's a must-visit for history buffs and culture vultures. 

Kigali is also one of the cheapest African cities to visit as a South African. While the backpacking scene is still growing, there are a few hostels to choose from that won't break your budget. Avoid the fancy restaurants, eat local or cook your own food, and you can easily survive on under R 300.00 per day.

And for those that want to experience the country's natural beauty, Kigali is only a day trip away from the famous Volcanoes National Park.

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm bed: R 157.00 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 120.00 per day 
  • Local transport: R 16.00 on a moto taxi for short trips
  • Average Daily Budget: R 293.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa on arrival at $30 for 30 days.

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 2 600)


2. Cairo, Egypt

Egypt

Budget travel and Egypt might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this northern African country. But it's a cheap African country to visit to on this list if you're on a budget.

Flights will be your biggest expense, but if you follow these air fare saving tips, you might be able to score return tickets in the R 4000 range.

With your day-to-day costs coming in at only R 250.00 per day, you'll have more room to splurge on visiting the pyramids or even travelling further and scuba diving in the red sea. 

Related: 16 Unique Experiences You Need To Have in Africa

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm bed: R 130.00 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 110.00 per day
  • Local transport: R 2.94 for rides within the city centre
  • Average Daily Budget: 250.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: You need to apply for a visa in advance, but there is no cost involved unless you go through a service provider.

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 5 200)


3. Nairobi, Kenya

kenya

Armed with national parks on its doorstep, excellent museums and quirky sites - a trip to Nairobi, Kenya won't disappoint for those looking for cheap African countries to visit.

The best part is that Nairobi is within close driving distance to Hell's Gate National Park and the famous Giraffe Centre which is more than enough reason to here.

But Kenya is more than another African safari destination.

It's got a delicious foodie scene, and some of the country's best culinary experiences are found in its capital city. Just be sure you budget more than R 75.00 if your stomach leads your travels

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm bed: R 195.00 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 75.00 to R 195.00 per day
  • Local transport: R 13.00 to R 65.00 on a minibus
  • Average Daily Budget: R 283.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa not required

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 5 000)


4. Zanzibar, Tanzania

zanzibar.jpg

If you're looking for an affordable African island getaway, look no further than Zanzibar.

With return flights starting at R 4 600 and an average daily budget of R 260.00 it's a frugal beach lovers paradise.

Spend your days exploring this island's dark past, rich culture, and some of best beaches in the world. Zanzibar's Stone Town and Prison Island are not to be missed if you want to learn more about the island's dark history in the slave trade and how that created its unique culture.

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm bed: R 144.00 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 109.00 per day
  • Local transport: R 4.60 on shared taxis
  • Average Daily Budget: R 260.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa not required

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 4 500)


5. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Photo by: Flickr

Photo by: Flickr

Ethiopia is a portal to another world. It's the gateway to ancient place mixed in with it's growing metropolis Addis Ababa. The capital is now Africa's fourth largest city and is teething with some of the country's best museums and traditional food.

For vegan travellers, Ethiopia is heaven. More often than not, you don't get to experience much of a country's authentic dishes when you travel, but that's not the case here.

Traditional dishes are meat and dairy-free, packed with flavour and substance that won't leave you hungry. It's one of the best African cities for frugal vegans and worth budgeting a bit more to eat out at a few local restaurants.

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm bed: R 200 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 117.00 per day at an inexpensive restaurant
  • Local transport: R 4.00 for a one-way ticket
  • Average Daily Budget: R 321.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa on arrival at R 236.00 / £14 for 30 days.

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 2 400)


6. Windhoek, Namibia

namibia

Despite living in Africa and our high levels of crime, South Africans are more wary about exploring our own continent than far flung places like Europe of Asia.

If this is your first time exploring our neighbouring countries or travelling at all, Namibia's capital city is for you.

Windhoek is where the rugged Africa plains and modern culture meet. You'll find misplaced German castles, Neobaroque cathedral spires in between the African urban buzz and sprawling national parks.

Budget Breakdown

  • Dorm room: R 170.00
  • Three cheap meals: R 98.00 per day if you cook your own food
  • Local transport: R 89.00 for a taxi with an 8 to 10 km distance.
  • Average Daily Budget: R 360.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa not required

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 2 600)


7. Livingstone, Zambia

zambia

Livingstone is the perfect base for exploring Victoria Falls and adventure lovers.

You'll be only 11 km away from the mighty Zambezi and in prime position to explore the falls from the sky or wrestling its currents.

It's also one of the cheapest African cities, especially compared to prices on the Zimbabwean side. It's Zambia's backpacking mecca with affordable dorm rooms and cheap food making it possible to splurge on big ticket items like the Devil's Pool.

Related: A Quick Guide to Victoria Falls: Everything You Need To Know

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm rooms: R 169.00 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 80.00 per day
  • Local transport: Livingstone is small enough that you can walk, but a taxi to Victoria Falls costs $10 each way.
  • Average Daily Budget: R 250.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa not required

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 3 100)


8. Lilongwe, Malawi

Photo by: Flickr

Photo by: Flickr

If you're looking to soak up some culture, get out of the city and experience Malawi's natural beauty, a stop in Lilongwe is worth it

The city is ideal for seasonal travellers, who like a little bit of edge. The capital isn't a sprawling metropolis. Instead, it borders a wildlife sanctuary and is more a real jungle than a concrete one.

But it's also cheap with dorm beds going for R 156.00 per night and a day's worth of meals costing under R 80.00 a day.

It's also the perfect base for day trips to the Ntchisi Forest Reserve, Kuti Wildlife Park and South Luangwa National Park.

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm bed: R 156. 00 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 73.00 per day
  • Local transport: R 22 for a one-way trip in the city
  • Average Daily Budget: R 250.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa not required

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 5000)


9. Tofo, Mozambique

Photo by: Flickr

Photo by: Flickr

Mozambique was the first African country I travelled to for my 25th birthday. 19 countries later and it's still right at the top of my list all thanks to Tofo.

For adventure travellers looking for cheap African countries, it's one of the best options.

Go diving with dugongs and dolphins for R 630.00 with equipment rental or spend a few hours snorkelling in the ocean with whale sharks for the same price.

And you'll have more than enough room in your budget for the endless adventure activities with cheap eats and dorm rooms in abundance.

Related: Budget Holidays: How To See Mozambique On The Cheap

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm bed: R 150.00 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 117.00 per day
  • Local transport: You can walk everywhere, but a bus from Inhambane will cost R 5.00 one way.
  • Average Daily Budget: R 280.00
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa not required

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 4 300)


10. Marrakech, Morocco

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For those looking to escape to the desert and explore the beautiful architecture that Morocco is known for, head to Marrakech. With Morocco  trending as a destination on Instagram, it's affordability adds to its Instaworthy charm.

Hostels boast rooms starting at R 100 a night, and you'll get to experience all of Morocco's delicious cuisine without breaking the bank.

Plus there's plenty to see without spending a dime. Head to Medina, and stroll around the old buildings and monuments while making pit stops at the Koutoubia Mosque, Saadian Tombs and soaking up its vibrant nightlife.

Budget Breakdown:

  • Dorm bed: R 100 per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 176.00 per day
  • Local transport: R 6.00 for a single ride
  • Average Daily Budget: R 290.00 
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: A visa is required and obtained at the embassy in Pretoria. It costs R 327.00 for a single entry.

Check flights from South Africa (starts at R 7 500)

Inspired yet? Hopefully, Africa no longer seems like an expensive destination and you've opened up a few more slots on your bucket list.


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Did I leave any cheap African countries off this list? Tell me all about it in the comments below!


Lauren Melnick | Wanderlust Movement

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hey, I'm Lauren! I'm passionate about inspiring young South Africans to travel for less and sharing my experiences and how to navigate the endless visa paperwork along the way. When I'm not busy preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse, I'm having a travel fail somewhere and geeking out in countries all over the world. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram