6 Best Africa Travel Tips

I decided to make a list of 6 Africa travel tips that I believe will make your trip to Africa even better! The list is based on my personal experience and knowledge, and I encourage everybody who are backpacking or going on tours in Africa to use their own travel skills and common sense, rather than base your luck on a few tips found on the internet. However, sometimes it can be very helpful to learn from other travelers and the tips they share.

My 6 Africa Travel Tips:

Step out of your comfort zone

africa travel tips - pilanesberg giraffeThis might be a weird advice to give, but it can also turn your vacation in Africa into a real adventure and a memory for life. I am not saying that you should go explore the deepest jungles on your own, but just push your limits a little bit. If you’re used to 5-star hotels, maybe you should try a luxury tented safari. If you’re used to 3-star hotels, maybe you should try to live with a local family for a week. If you ever wanted to see the Big 5 in all its glory, book a safari to the KrugerPark or Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

By pushing your limits, and stepping out of your comfort zone, you can experience so much more than you would do on your regular vacations!

Travel Like an African

minibus taxiThere is of course not just one way that Africans travel. What I mean is that you should try the local options used by the local people, rather than stick to what you’re used to from home. Try to travel by the minibus taxis one day. Eat and stay where the locals eat and stay. Talk to the people around you and ask what they like to do, where they like to go, and what they would recommend for you. This will not only enhance you trip, it will also make your trip more responsible and beneficial for the local community!

Eat from Street Stalls and Markets

Eat Local Food – This might sound like a silly advice, considering the much-feared traveler’s diarrhea, but I have personally never gotten ill from eating on the streets. Of course, use common sense, and don’t buy food from a dirty, smelly, bug infested stall. But if it looks clean, the food seems to be fresh, and you really want to taste the local cuisine; Do it!! It will probably be delicious! Oh, and by the way, the markets will often have fresher food than many restaurants, just because they buy their ingredients one day at the time.

Essential Items to Bring to Africa

There are few items you should make sure to pack before you leave. The most essential is a money belt for (passports, credit cards, etc), sun protection, malaria medicine (if you’re traveling in a malaria zone), mosquito repellent, good walking shoes and a guidebook with map. You will find more tips and advice for what to bring in this post: Useful Items to Bring for Travel in Africa.

Travel at the Right Time

This tip is important when you are planning a trip to Africa. The weather and climate of African travel destinations can vary a lot from different regions and different seasons. Remember that south of the equator the summer is from December through February. But still, some places this may also be the rainy season. So in general, it’s almost impossible to say what time of the year you should go, unless you know exactly where in Africa your destination is. A good way to find the best season is to use a guidebook for the relevant country. Personally, I would recommend Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

There is one Africa travel tip that is more important than any other: Don’t worry too much. And this does not mean to be careless or stupid. What it does mean is that you should take some precautions to avoid the common crimes, food poisoning, etc., but other than that: Relax and be open to the adventures that Africa has to offer.

Before you let the fear of the unknown dominate, you have to make an effort to think: “Is this a rational fear? What is the worst case scenario, and how likely is it to happen? Is it really bad enough to let this chance go by?”. Personally this technique has allowed me to experience the small things that I initially would have been skeptical too (and I am NOT talking about drugs or illegal experiences, I am talking about the small things that turns a trip into a memorable adventure). My point is: The less you worry, the more you will enjoy your time!

These were my thoughts and tips for you and your African travel adventures. Please share your own opinions and advice in a comment below!

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See The Big 5 On A Pilanesberg National Park Safari

rhino in pilanesberg national parkIt seems that when you talk to people about national parks to visit in South Africa, the conversation instantly turns to Kruger National Park. While an incredible place, no doubt, far too often another park gets glossed over as a wonderful alternative: Pilanesberg National Park in the North West province not far from Johannesburg.

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

Set inside a volcanic crater created 1,300,000,000 years ago, at over 550 square kilometers, and over 200 kilometers of well-maintained tracks, the park is nothing to scoff at. In fact, it’s the fourth largest in the country of South Africa. Aside from incredible views of the savanna, there is also a valley with very distinct vegetation set between the Lowveld and the Kalahari. One of the more majestic areas of the park is the Mankwe Dam that holds the biggest body of water within the reserve.

While the park boasts that you can see almost every animal native to southern Africa in Pilanesberg Game Reserve, there are a few that you should take note of. Taking a safari in this reserve will allow you to see true monsters of Mother Earth: The Big Five.

For the uninitiated, The Big Five are the five of the biggest, baddest animals on the African continent. They are the most dangerous, historically the toughest for hunters to take down (no hunting in the park!), and possibly five of the coolest animals on Earth.

The Lion

Mufasa and over 40 of his kin roam Pilanesberg. Pantheo leo krugeri grows up to 3.2 meters long and can weigh in at nearly 250 kilograms. Nothing to mess with, these black-maned beasts are as dangerous as they are iconic. Nothing will change your world view like a close up with a true apex predator.

The Cape Buffalo

Easily identified by their basally fused horns, Syncerus caffer it not an animal you want to cross without a vehicle between you. You can see these monsters on a safari through the park, and you can see how big they truly are. Admittedly, they are relatively short compared to other bovids, but what they lack in shoulder height they make up for in length (up to 3.4 meters) and weight (up to a whopping 1.000 kilograms). The only animals capable of taking down one of these beasts is the lions, and of course, humans. Thankfully, they cannot be hunted inside the park.

The African Leopard

There is no guarantee that you are going to be able to see a leopard on your safari. There are only about 30 Panthera pardus pardus inside the reserve. Rare, elusive, yet powerful and beautiful creatures. These cats are much smaller than their lion cousins, but that doesn’t stop them from being able to drag a 75 kilogram impala 5 meters up into a tree. This is a sight you can catch at Pilanesberg!

The Rhinocerous

These are true tanks of animals. Thick hides create armor up to 5 centimeters thick to stop the sharp claws of the big cats of the savanna. Though you aren’t always going to see each, the park boasts both white and black rhino. These animals are some of the largest animals walking on Earth, and many of their subspecies are going extinct. Pilanesberg Game Reserve is doing what it can to help curb their extinction.

The African Elephant

Loxodonta africana is a true, walking tower. With well over 200 of them stomping through the park, they are an army that is hard to miss. The males can stand over 4 meters tall, and weigh well over 6,000 kilograms! No animal hunts these grey kings and queens once they hit full size. As intelligent as they are massive, the elephants deserve respect, and protection. Pilanesberg is doing its part and your support of this park helps put it in the public eye where it belongs.


While Kruger is much larger and may provide more in terms of diversity of land and animals, Pilanesberg is a park that you can see all of in just a few days. It’s a gorgeous park that offers you the chance to see all the incredible wildlife that Africa has to offer in as few days. Being just a few hours from Johannesburg, Pilanesberg is an easy choice when deciding a national park to visit.

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