Visiting Africa is the ultimate trip of a lifetime. But where to start? Africa is huge, with 54 countries and an amazingly diverse ecosystem. Each country offers visitors a vastly different experience with seemingly limitless options for accommodations and activities. Visiting Africa takes planning, especially if you want to visit with gorillas in Rwanda, see the great wildebeest migration in Tanzania, or cage dive with great white sharks in South Africa. Understanding your hopes for the trip and what kind of travel experience you want will make this truly a trip of a lifetime. Here are several questions to consider when planning a trip to Africa.
1) Where do you want to to go and what do you want to do? Sounds simple enough, but your list of must-see or must-do activities will dictate your travel destination. Is there something you’ve always dreamed of doing? Start planning with that activity in mind.
2) How long do you want to travel? Remember, Africa is immense and the length of your trip will impact how much you can see and do.
3) How much do you want to travel during your trip? Are you ok with multiple flights in small planes or long drives along less than perfect roads?
4) When do you want to go? Weather and animal migration varies greatly throughout the year and sometimes determines what is open to travel. If you must travel at a certain time of year stay flexible when it comes to your destination.
5) Who are your traveling companions? The personalities, ages, and fitness level of your group members will also narrow down you choice of destinations. Word to the wise, make sure you have the hard conversations before you book a trip. Is everyone really onboard to sleep in a tent inside a wildlife reserve, or fit enough to keep up on an active vacation? Remember, some lodges cater to families while others have age restrictions.
6) What’s your budget? It’s possible to visit Africa with a wide range of budgets, but the amount you spend will determine how you experience each destination. Accommodations, transportation, and guides range from 5-star luxury to options suitable for backpackers. Midrange budgets can mix and match, for example paying more for high quality guides while saving at less expensive accommodations.
7) What do you want to see and how do you want to see it? Many visitors hope to see the Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros), but others hope to experience the culture, history, landscapes, adventure activities (hiking, rafting), or beaches. Each destination offers different options for exploring and it’s possible (in some locations) to tour by jeep, horse, by boat, and on foot.
8) Where do you want to stay? Do you want a comfortable hotel or a bush camp? Are you dreaming of 5-star luxury or will a tent do? Make sure all of your travel companions agree.
9) Do you want to do all the planning yourself or find help? Planning a trip of lifetime is. a lot of work. Do you want to be responsible for putting it all together or would like the help of a travel professional?
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe the magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savanna of long ago?” – Brian Jackman
Are you woman who is a members of Generation X (and young Baby Boomers) who loves to travel? Check out my private Facebook group Women with Wanderlust Tribe!