1.If it is not boiling hot, then it is freezing! Like most countries around the world Africa is located on a vast landscape that has temperate climates that can change dramatically and really quickly. Like most deserts the day times are sunny, dry and hot, and the nightfall brings cool temperature if not rain and wind. So even if the forecast is scheduled to be a nice warm 35+ degrees, be sure to still bring warm layers as temperature can drop dramatically when night falls.
2.Make sure you are aware of the local countries rules and regulations. Africa is a massive tourist hotspot but not a lot of visitors realize the great differences compared to back home in regards to the different laws put in place. Like most foreign countries laws differ and Africa has some not so obvious rules and regulations such as taking photographs of persons in authority or government building. Don’t make the same mistake as I did and do not have a camera readily available for a police office to see. Especially if you are taking photos, if they think you have photographed them they will arrest you! And believe me it isn’t the best experience you want to have in Africa.
3.Africa is not just grass plains, oases and animals. In fact you don’t just see lions and giraffes roaming around out in the open. Majority of the animals are located in fenced off or protected areas and locations known as national parks and reserves.
4.With the vast range of foods available in Africa, its no surprise something has to come at a cost. The meat is very different to western meat. Most animals in Africa are very underweight and contain high fat reveres that can lead to the meat on the animals to be very tough and in most cases cause it to be extremely chewy! So if you were looking forward to that nice juicy beefsteak, think again, chances are Africa isn’t the best place to order a steak for lunch.
5.If you have MasterCard make sure you have brought back up cash! Most African countries do not use MasterCard nor do they accept it. If you have visa, you are fine! But MasterCard is only just a new thing. There are only a few ATMs and banks, which will give you, cash out on your MasterCard’s. Make sure you know where the local Barclays banks are around you! (Barclays bank is the one defiant bank and ATM service that will take MasterCard!) this occurs in most eastern African countries, the further south you travel, the more likely MasterCard will be accepted.
6.Africa is one of the largest continents in the world, which means if you are doing an overland tour you will most defiantly be on the road for long periods of time! Your itinerary may only state you are travelling for a day or two, but chances are they are covering large distances and many days driving may end up being extremely long hours (we are talking 8-12 hours a day).
7.Some of the countries located in Africa have different cultures and religions. This may mean you need to respect the area you are travelling through and cover up your shoulders and legs, to not only show respect whilst travelling through these countries, but also to make yourself feel more comfortable.
8.The food and drinks you purchase will be super cheap and its great!! We are talking 3cents for a soft drink! And only 56cents for a 1.5L bottle of water! Most eastern countries have extremely cheap and low cost items that you will be shocked at how little you are spending. The further south you move, the prices do rise, but nothing as near as much as the cost of items at home.
9.Make sure you take a good camera! It really does make a difference, we aren’t talking about the ridiculous lenses and cameras that people haul around, if you’re a photographer, then this may be fine, but if you a traveller like me, something small and simple is wonderful. (Canon 700D is the camera I took to Africa)
10.Like anywhere in the world, Africa is a wonderful destination to travel to. It has so much culture, wildlife and nature and everywhere you turn there is something incredible to discover and explore. It is one of those places you truly do wish to go back a visit, and I believe one day I will go back! Have fun, stay safe and just enjoy the differences and new things Africa has to show you. It’s a photographers dream, and travellers most likely place to explore.
Safe travels, and fly far!