Africa is a massive continent, and deciding what kind of trip you want to go on can be difficult. Many African gap year travel options include backpacking, volunteering, and organized overland tours/safaris.
The first thing to consider is your budget. Africa is an enormous continent, and traveling around can be very expensive.
How long you want to be away will also affect the cost. If you are interested in safaris or any other activities with a high cost, you may need to save a bit more to get those experiences.
If you plan to visit multiple countries including Tanzania safari on your trip, then it is a good idea to budget for airfares and transport while there. Fortunately, most of the flights are direct so that you can minimize your costs.
Many on-site tour packages come with a pre-planned itinerary and accommodation, transport while you are at the destination, and entry to attractions, which can greatly reduce travel costs. So, it might be worth looking into these if you are uncomfortable planning your trip!
Depending on the region and activities you are looking into, there are times of year better for your trip than others. For example, if you plan on doing a safari and seeing the big game, drier seasons may be more optimal for your experience. Similarly, for some cultural experiences (like the wildebeest migration or climbing Kilimanjaro), certain events only happen at specific times of the year.
Another important consideration is the time you have available for your trip. For example, if you only have one week up your sleeve for your trip to Africa, it would be best to concentrate on a single country like Morocco. Whether you want to visit the great cities of Marrakesh and Fez with their photographic streets and pumping souks, hike in the Atlas Mountains or people-watch on the beach at Essaouira, Morocco has it all. It’s also a great choice because it has easy access to flights from Europe, making it a hassle-free destination.
Many African countries require separate visas for overland travelers from outside the region. The East Africa Tourist Visa is an exception, offering the convenience of a single visa covering Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Vaccinations are also important to consider. In South Africa, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, and polio are recommended.
Travelers to the West African countries of Benin, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire will need a visa in advance. The good news is that the process has been streamlined significantly. Travelers can apply online here and receive their e-visa via email within 24 hours.
The visa costs a mere $80. In addition to a valid passport, applicants will need a recent color photograph with a white background, proof of travel bookings and hotel accommodations, and sufficient funds for their trip. The CDC recommends vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, shingles, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap). Be sure to carry plenty of cash, as some countries have scarce ATMs.
Getting to Africa can be daunting, especially taking multiple flights. Thankfully, there are a few ways to make the process much easier.
Many travelers take an organized tour to their first trip to Africa. This allows them to relax and enjoy their trip while having all the accommodation and transportation arranged. This way, they can spend more time seeing lions and leopards in Samburu National Reserve, wandering through Cairo, seeing the pyramids, and cruising the Nile River.
However, if you decide to go on an organized tour, pack very lightly! Traveling with a heavy bag can be frustrating when traveling in small minibusses. The more luggage you have, the less room there will be for your belongings, and it can also add to the cost of your trip! Scanning and keeping digital copies of all your important documents is also a good idea. This will save you a lot of hassle should anything go wrong while you are on your trip!