Since travelling to Mozambique in 2015, my catchphrase has become “Africa is such an underrated travel destination”.
Out of all the international travel bloggers I follow, few touch on the African continent. There are Europe itineraries galore, Southeast Asia backpacking how to’s and South America escapades scattered on almost everyone’s blog. But Africa always remains that one shaded in chunk of land that no one explores.
Since becoming more involved with Travel Massive Cape Town, I’ve been fortunate to meet South African travel bloggers who are changing this trend. They are creating amazing content that defies stereotypes and shows just how amazing travel in Africa can be.
This has been a huge source of inspiration for me and I hope to pass this on to others in hope that Africa will become a destination that is not synonymous with fear.
So if you are planning a trip Africa or even if you are unsure, here are 10 of the top things you need to know by some of South Africa’s travel bloggers and influencers !
1. Africa is more than just safari & poverty tourism
“I think that there is a misconception about travel in Africa. Most people think that Africa is just about safari and poverty tourism when in fact, there are 54 countries each with their own unique cultures, traditions and attractions.
I see South Africa as Africa for beginners – the tourism infrastructure is sound and it’s fairly easy to get around. Other countries like Mozambique or Malawi are more challenging to travel in, but so worth the effort. I love exploring African cities – the vibe is amazing, people are super friendly and eager to show their cities.”
Meruschka Govender – Mzansi Girl
Meruschka is an African travel activist, experience seeker, and tourism thinker. She is passionate about South Africa and obsessed with sharing everything awesome about her country and the African continent.
2. Enjoy Africa Ethically
“Enjoy the scenery, the people, the smells and the tastes but keep your distance from the wildlife. Only engage in ethical experiences which means no touching, no viewing anything in cages, no riding, or walking with any wild animals.”
3. Avoid Being Patronising
“While much of Africa is far from affluent, it does not mean that the people there wish they had your life. Wealth is measured differently in many cultures.”
Di Brown – The Roaming Giraffe
Di is a travel writer, gorilla trekker, map maker and tourism ninja. She is a cartographer by trade and co-owner of Jabedi Mapping. When she isn’t exploring South Africa and its neighbouring countries, you can catch her tweeting up a 140 character storm.
4. Get in with the Locals
“Befriend a local when travelling through Africa, or anywhere for that matter. They’ll direct you to the places beyond the popular tourist attractions and straight to their favourite local restaurant, bar or secluded spot that is not even mentioned in travel guides or blogs.
This local insight often allows for a more authentic experience of the place you’re visiting. A good way to do this is by staying with a local family through homestays.com, couchsurfing or by renting a place through Airbnb.
Your host will be vetted by the travel community and will happily give you recommendations so you can explore their city through their daily experiences.”
Iga Motylska – Eager Journeys
Iga is a travel enthusiast, who always has her camera slung around her neck. After spending two years in South Korea as a ESL teacher she turned to South Africa and now works as a freelance editor, journalist and blogger. So far she has travelled to 29 countries (which happens to be the same number of times she’s revolved around the sun).
5. This is Africa – Accept Her Beautiful Imperfections
“When travelling in Africa, never forget where you are both positively and negatively. There are a lot of misconceptions about Africa and when travellers arrive in cities like Cape Town they are often shocked at how European it is, but on the other hand, they expect everything to happen the same way it does in Europe.
Travellers are always amazed when they experience good things in Africa, but are shocked when they experience the bad. This is Africa – never forget where you are and accept it for how it is and love it.”
Simon Lewis – Travel Concept Solution
Simon is the co-founder of Travel Massive in Africa and helped create the fastest growing chapter in Cape Town with 800 members in under 2 years. In a 20-year career, he has travelled to over 70 countries and lived in 9. He now runs a thriving international marketing agency based in South Africa.
6. Research, research, research!
“Africa is an amazing continent with such a rich history, vibrant nature and people – it should be without a doubt on any bucket list! If you are travelling to Africa for the first time, do lots of research which is richly available online.
It’s also good to confirm your research with someone who has actually been to the country or is living there. Listen to the locals!”
Patrycja Oosthuizen – Travel Opulent Box
Patrycja is a Polish expat living in South Africa and travelling up a storm. She is the founder of the popular South Africa Twitter Chat #TravelChatSA
7. Africa is not about ticking things off a list
“Time, unlike travel in Europe and other first world destinations, works differently in Africa. You can’t “schedule” a tonne of things into a day. Allow yourself the time to do and see things without rushing. It’s not a tick list travel destination.”
8. Go beyond the guidebook
“Engage. African travel is not about getting pretty photos (although there is plenty of opportunity for that), what makes it special comes from digging a little deeper. Interact with people, do that walk, drive that longer route. Make the trip your own instead of just following the guidebook.”
Dax is a South African lifestyle and travel blogger inviting readers to join him as he discovers the best that South Africa and beyond has to offer. Besides his personal blog, he is also the force behind African Bloggers Network, Olive Central and Robben Island Art.
9. Let go of Preconceived notions about Africa
“Free yourself from any preconceived ideas you have of a destination; adapt and dance to each country’s unique rhythm and travel with an open mind, open heart and open arms.
The world is not such a dangerous place – a smile, a wave or a hello is the quickest way to build a bridge between you, a stranger and a memorable moment.”
Anje Rautenbach – Going Somewhere Slowly
Anje is a South African travel writer based out of Port Elizabeth. The travel bug bit her at an early age and it has taken her all over the world – slowly! She’s a responsible travel advocate, is obsessed with coffee and is always on the lookout for sustainable, wildlife and cultural tourism adventures.
10. Don’t be afraid of the road less travelled
To end this post off, I’d like to share the number things I’ve taken away from my experiences in Africa thus far – don’t be afraid of the less travelled destinations.
When I went to Mozambique, there were no blogs on the overland route I took and I had to suck Google dry for information on how to get from Maputo to Tofo without catching a plane.
I got told more often than not that it was a stupid idea (and I wasn’t even cycling through Africa) by people who were afraid. People who had never attempted something like this themselves, but had imprisoned themselves in their own misconceptions and fears.
Free yourself and Africa will reward you with amazing experiences unlike anywhere else in the world.
What have you learnt in your travels to Africa?