Itinerary for Eastern and Southern Africa for planning a trip to the large continent of Africa is daunting.
With over 50 countries on the massive continent, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Whether you’re driving or taking public transportation, we recommend starting with Southern and Eastern Africa.
Generally, these areas are simpler to navigate than other parts of Africa.
Here we have planned the itinerary for Eastern and Southern Africa for you.
Take it as it is or use it as a guide.
Have you dreamed of trekking gorillas in the mountains of Rwanda?
Been glued to National Geographic as you watch the legendary wildebeest migration through the Serengeti?
Travel through Africa is a constant adventure. Trips for Butterfly Watching
Southern and Eastern Africa are home to many spectacular destinations, like Zanzibar, an island off the cost of Tanzania, Victoria Falls, and the mysteries of the Namibian desert.
A trip through over a dozen countries can easily be completed in 3 months in Africa.
Here’s our recommended itinerary for an amazing trip.
Itinerary for Eastern and Southern Africa
Arrive in Cape Town.
Spend a few days sightseeing and picking up last-minute necessities.
Depart Cape Town and travel via the Garden Route to Durban.
The Garden Route is a beautiful way to travel the coast.
Soak up some sun on the Durban beaches.
Depart Durban and travel to Swaziland.
Spend time exploring Swaziland National Parks and learning about community projects.
Depart Swaziland and head to the Kruger National Park (via Nelspruit).
Get out those binoculars!
You can self-drive through the Kruger (the majority of the roads are paved) or sign up for organized game drives.
Leave South Africa and arrive in Maputo, Mozambique.
Travel up the coast, stop in seaside towns like Inhabane, and don’t miss the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Most towns have spectacular scuba diving (and offer certification).
Travel into Malawi and arrive in Blantyre.
Spend the day in Blantyre.
Travel along the coast of Malawi, stay in coastal towns like Monkey Bay and Nkhata Bay.
Head into Tanzania.
The further north you go, the borders will get more hectic.
Be sure to allow plenty of time.
Take a couple of days to travel through Tanzania to Dar es Salaam.
Are you still with us? Aren’t you glad we have already prepared your itinerary for Eastern and Southern Africa?
There sure is a lot to do in this amazing country.
Think of planning on spending some time to volunteer in Africa as well.
Be sure to check out Animal Husbandry at South Africa’s Predator Sanctuary Project.
Tip: When arranging your trip always check AccommoDirect to get terrific accommodation in Durban, Garden Route, and all around South Africa.
Enjoy Dar es Salaam.
While there isn’t a lot to do in the city, it’s a good place to stock up on supplies and dig into a good meal.
Take the ferry or fly to Zanzibar.
Spend a couple of days wandering through the winding streets of Stone Town before relaxing on one of the northern beaches.
Arrive back in Dar es Salaam.
Drive to Moshi and, if you’re lucky, you’ll start to see Mount Kilimanjaro through the clouds.
Continue on to Arusha.
Spend a few days exploring the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Tours leave from Arusha.
Back in Arusha you can buy supplies and get some rest before traveling north to Kenya in the morning.
In Nairobi, check out the local market for crafts.
Wherever in Africa you are, be sure to look for sustainable souvenirs only.
Plan a trip to the mall if you need clothes or supplies — which you might after nearly 2 months of travel.
Be sure to stop at a local coffee shop to have some true Kenyan coffee before making your way to the Masai Mara.
Spend a few days seeing wildlife in the Masai Mara.
Enjoy a couple of days on the banks of the Nile.
There are a variety of adventure activities, like white water rafting, available.
Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, is a great place to rest before continuing your journey to Rwanda in the morning.
Drive to Rwanda, stay in Kigali and visit the Genocide Museum.
Head to Volcanoes National Park to get ready for your gorilla trekking adventure.
You’ll awake bright and early to spend the day in Volcanoes National Park trekking gorillas, afterwards head back to Kigali.
Spend the day in Kigali.
Leave Rwanda and head back into Tanzania.
Spend a few days traveling to Zambia via Mbeya, Tanzania.
As you exit Tanzania, you’ll drive into Zambia.
You’ve officially left East Africa!
Travel through Zambia and head to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.
In the morning, you’ll drive from Lusaka to Victoria Falls, one of the world’s most amazing waterfalls!
Spend the day at Victoria Falls. Zambia holds 1/3 of the magnificent falls and there are hiking trails so bring plenty of water and snacks.
Head to the Zimbabwe side of the Falls.
Take part in adventure activities like white water rafting and bungie jumping.
Drive from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, to Maun, Botswana.
In Maun you can organize tours into the Okavango Delta.
Head into Namibia and drive to Swakopmund via Windhoek.
In Swakopmund, be sure to take quad bikes out on the sand dunes.
From Swakopmund, go south to Sossusvlei to see Dune 45 at sunrise and hike to Dead Vlei.
Travel south to Cape Town, be sure to stop at Fish River Canyon on your way out of Namibia.
If you are looking to spend 3 months in Africa, this itinerary for Eastern and Southern Africa is a great place to start.
From strolling the narrow, winding, streets of Zanzibar to white-water rafting down the Zambezi, traveling through Eastern and Southern Africa is an adventure of a lifetime!
Animal husbandry means providing care for any animal in a captive environment, meaning anywhere but their natural habitat, such as zoos, labs, sanctuaries etc.
This means providing adequate diet, habitat, providing shelter, stimulation and enrichment.
The care of captive animals is a huge issue in today’s society all over the world and all countries now have laws in place protect animals in captivity.
What is Animal Husbandry?
A Day in the Life at South Africa’s Predator Sanctuary Project
6:00am: Keepers awaken.
6:15am: We gather in the kitchen and prepare 700ml of milk, warming for 1 minute 40 seconds.
We divide this into two bottles with teats and into two bowls.
6:30am: The two white Bengal are walked from their indoor enclosure to their larger outdoor enclosure for the day, where they are given their bowls of milk each.
6:40am: The two Siberian tigers are also walked from their overnight enclosures to their outdoor enclosures and each given their bottle of milk.
If the cheetahs have been brought in they are also walked to their outdoor enclosures.
6:50am: The large number of cats are fed and given water each morning.
The honey badger enclosure is cleaned and if necessary the water damn is cleaned and refilled.
The honey badger is then walked from his night enclosure to his outdoor enclosure.
7:00am: The cercal, the owls and the skunk’s enclosures next are cleaned.
7:15am: All keepers gather and follow the green path shown on the map around the predator park checking each enclosure has clean water.
Removing bones from the previous evenings feed and removing any feces.
The electricity of each enclosure is also checked and recorded on a check list.
The electricity should range from 7000v and 8000v.
8.30am: Keepers eat.
8:45: Karen and Jurg the two owners of The Predator Sanctuary Project clean the more dangerous enclosures such as the lions and the Bengal tigers.
They also interact with the animals, often playing with the lion’s ball and any one on one interaction, as seen below, is used to check for ticks as well as interaction.
Jukka, the male Bengal tiger, is also given his bottle of milk while Karen cleans the enclosure.
9:30am: If needed in the larger enclosures with the large water damns will be drained and cleaned with chlorine before being refilled.
This is always done early time so the park isn’t too busy with visitors when the tigers are moved.
12pm: There are four tours throughout the day at 10pm, 12pm, 2pm and the feeding tour at 4pm.
Visitors are taken around the predator park while the keepers give short talks on each animal.
Animals at the front of enclosures also are given a treat through as part of their daily interaction.
2. 30pm: The food preparation begins, with each animal being catered for individually.
Each piece of meat is cut to the right size and everything is recorded so the food amount can be monitored.
4pm: This is the most popular tour and is when all the animals are fed, entering at the lions enclosure and following the route through to the Bengals, the white lions and cheetahs, feeding the Siberian and white Bengal cubs last.
It also the tour Jurg and Karen give talks on the animals.
The food is thrown over the fence to most of the animals.
The food for the Several is placed on a large rock, to encourage him to come closer to the front of the enclosure as he is very shy.
The cheetahs are fed from plates because they are very hygienic animals in the wild (highly unusual among big cats).
They don’t eat the skin of their prey using it as a protection from dirt and bacteria.
They don’t return to kills and will also leave the bones or entrails of prey. (Eaton, 1974)
5.30pm: The milk is prepared for the Bengal and Siberian tigers.
5.45pm: The Siberians are walked to their night enclosure.
6:00pm: The white Bengal tigers are walked to night enclosure.
6.15pm: If the weather is very cold or very wet the two cheetahs are also walked to their indoor enclosure.
6.30pm: If the tigers den needs cleaning it is drained and scrubbed with chlorine and refilled.
The Siberians and white Bengal enclosures are also cleaned each night.
7:00pm: End of the day for keepers.
During the day also extra jobs that vary such as taking the honey badger or the skunk out for a walk for some interaction and a chance to explore.
We also build anything needed for old or new enclosures. Including fencing, enrichment, shelters, signs etc
Case study: Angelo and Mish, the two white Bengal tigers at South Africa’s Predator Sanctuary Project
Angelo and Mish are not fully grown and were due to be moved into larger enclosures once they had outgrown their cubbie camps.
However due Angelo’s condition it now means they will remain in the cubbie camp as it somewhere Angelo knows and is comfortable in despite his condition worsening.
He has Progressive Retinal Degeneration which means he will eventually become blind.
Unfortunately there is no cure for this but to try and slow the progression of the degeneration Angelo gets the eye tablets “Eyes RX” (McCalla, 2010).
He gets two tablets daily, wrapped up in a cut of meat.
They are brought in at night because since they were very young they brought in because the enclosures were so far away from the main house and now they have outgrown the camps there is an added danger they could escape and would be unheard from the house.
Conclusion Animal Husbandry
The health and happiness of the animals at The Predator Sanctuary Project is at the top of everybody’s concern that works here, especially the owners who work daily with the animals, interacting with them and overseeing their daily husbandry and routine.
Every aspect of the animal’s life is looked at to ensure they are as happy as possible from the hygiene of their enclosures, to their diet, to their enrichment, mentally and psychically. project Eco-Friendly
Adventuring in Southern Africa:
The Great Safaris and Wildlife Parks of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, and Swaziland.
Editors Note: I love reading “Day in the Life of” Posts; it’s fascinating to learn what exactly people do day-to-day with their volunteer projects.
Samantha Hollick from Chester University, England.
She volunteers with the EDGE of AFRICA Predator Sanctuary Project.
For details on working with Predators in South Africa visit http://www.EDGEofAFRICA.com/
Breathtaking Attractions of Johannesburg South Africa
Itinerary for Eastern and Southern Africa in 3 Months
5 Best National Parks for Camping in Africa
Guide to Hassle-Free African Border Crossings
Breathtaking Attractions of Johannesburg South Africa
Whatever the time of year, there are a million and one reasons to visit Johannesburg South Africa.
With a beautiful, sunny climate that brings pleasant temperatures all year round, a rich and vibrant history, and a bold and colorful culture, Johannesburg is one of the most fascinating and intriguing destinations in the world, perfect for the intrepid traveler.
What makes Johannesburg so appealing is that it really is a place of contrasts.
While the high rise city is busy, bustling, and cosmopolitan, it is surrounded by quiet, serene, and incomprehensibly vast spaces dedicated to the protection of some of the world’s most majestic creatures.
The beauty of taking a trip to Johannesburg is that, as South Africa’s largest city, the sights and attractions are easily accessible from all four corners of the globe.
Johannesburg flights are available online and can be easily booked, so start searching for one that will complement your budget and enjoy the vacation of life afterwards.
Johannesburg is a beautiful, exciting, fresh city that caters to those striving for a relaxing getaway, travelers looking for adventure, and holidaymakers looking for eco-friendly tourist destinations.Adventuring in Southern Africa: The Great Safaris and Wildlife Parks of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, and Swaziland
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens of Johannesburg South Africa
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens may seem like they’re a man made haven for rare and exotic wildlife, especially as they’re maintained by The South African National Biodiversity Institute, but these gardens are actually naturally occurring.
They have drawn all manner of wildlife, and encouraged the growth of unique plants and flowers, due to their diverse landscape which comprises of a mix of lush, green grassland and sparse, barren Savannah.
The mix of both environments ensures a healthy blend of species which thrive in the differing conditions, such as the Verreaux’s Eagle which can be found in only a few places around Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and the antelope which flourishes in Savannah conditions.
For travelers who don’t want to make the trip out to see the Big 5, this is the next best thing.
Lesedi Cultural Village
While the Lonely Planet guide describes this Johannesburg attraction as ‘very cheesy’, it’s actually a very educational and inspirational experience.
The traditional village is more of a museum set up than an authentic community these days, but an overnight stay here is a wonderful and fun way to learn more about South Africa’s history; how the landscape and economy has changed over the years, and how there are still whole communities dedicated to the preservation of the country.
Visitors to the village will get to witness, and partake in, an ‘Afrofusion’ dance performance typical to South Africa, and dine on mouthwatering cuisine native to this part of the world – particularly potjiekos filled with a colourful medley of local vegetables.
Montecasino Bird Gardens
In Johannesburg, you’ll find amazing attractions in the most unlikely of places, such as the Montecasino.
Primarily known as a place of over-18 debauchery, drinking, and gambling, what many don’t know is that this entertainment complex is actually home to a wide range of wonderful creatures that are provided with a large, clean, fresh, and, most importantly, safe environment in which to live.
The white pelicans, red ruffed lemurs, gentle sloths, and color-changing chameleons live in harmony amongst hornbills, cranes, and flamingos, making for a truly breathtaking attraction.
The bird gardens have recently partnered with the University of South Africa’s Nature Conservation Programme, aiming to provide a great tourist experience while still protecting the environment.
Old Kromdraai Gold Mine
The Johannesburg gold rush of the 1880s was a real turning point for the city.
Not only did the economy boom during this time, but, following the gold rush, the city really expanded and became much more like what we know it as today – full of high rise skyscrapers and contemporary architecture – all due to the economical boost.
It was largely this gold rush that made Johannesburg what it is today.
Visitors to the city can take a tour of one of the original gold mines – the Old Kromdraai Gold Mine – which operated between 1887 and 1914.
Not only will visitors get a unique view inside a real gold mine, but they’ll also have the opportunity to learn more about the traditional techniques which were used back in the 19th century, and stroll through the eerie, abandoned tunnels which give a whole different view to South Africa.
Diversity is Key
Johannesburg really benefits from its diversity in terms of tourism, attracting travelers of all demographics, from all over the world, and with a wide range of interests.
While the above attractions offer some of the most breathtaking scenery, amazing wildlife encounters, safaris and fascinating historical and cultural experiences, they are far from a comprehensive list of what Johannesburg has to offer.
Ranging from observation decks on the tallest city center skyscrapers to green parklands and compelling museums, no traveler will ever get bored of Johannesburg, whether they visit for just a quick getaway or spend months in the city.
Itinerary for Eastern and Southern Africa in 3 Months
5 Best National Parks for Camping in Africa
Guide to Hassle-Free African Border Crossings
Animal Husbandry at South Africa’s Predator Sanctuary Project
photo credit: epcp, Zest-pk
Top African Safari Destinations and Eco-Friendly Lodges
Rising to the dawn chorus of the African bush or spotting lion in the wild, is on the bucket list of many an animal lover.
Africa is a magical travel destination.
It is filled with exotic sights and cultures.
But with so many luxury safari options to choose from, where do you start?
Kruger National Park, South Africa
The Kruger National Park is located in the north of South Africa.
It boasts over 140 large mammal species which is the most in Africa.
There are over 500 bird species, with in excess of 240 resident species.
This abundance of wildlife has resulted in the Kruger Park attracting more yearly visitors than any other reserve.
The Big 5
The most popular attraction is of course “The Big 5.”
The Big 5 consists of lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and the notoriously shy leopard.
You will almost surely spot the first four.
However, it is more rare to see a leopard, unless you know where to go.
Sabi Sabi Reserve
The Private Sabi Sabi Reserve borders Kruger Park and is Africa’s most luxurious safari destination.
It is also the home to dense concentrations of leopard.
This reserve is sculpted into a slope of the earth.
It’s almost invisible in the landscape.
Here lies Africa’s most environmentally-sensitive lodge, The Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge.
The Earth Lodge consists of 13 ultra-luxurious suites each featuring individually designed furniture, private plunge pool, en-suite glass fronted bathroom and indoor and outdoor showers.
The natural elements of the lodge create a sense of calm and a setting for restoring the spirit in the wild.
During a stay at Sabi Sabi, you’ll depart for twice-daily game viewing, either in an open top vehicle or on foot, accompanied by an armed and knowledgeable game ranger.
Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Kruger Park is from late July to early October when the temperatures are cooler, but not as cold as the winter months.
The vegetation is less dense this time of year.
The animals are more active during the day, resulting in better game viewing opportunities.
Selinda Reserve, Botswana
The 130,000 hectare Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana is home to the Zarafa Camp.
Wildlife can roam freely.
Additionally, conservation and eco-tourism are the central focus.
Zarafa Camp is setup in a way that has minimal impact on the incredible surrounding wilderness.
The Camp makes use of a revolutionary “solar farm” consisting of 150 solar panels that produce enough electricity to handle all the camp’s electrical needs each day.
In addition, they used only recycled woods and canvas to the construct the camp.
A “bio gas” plant recycles waste into usable cooking gas.
Drinking water at Zarafa Camp is treated through a UV filtration system allowing the Camp to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles.
The result is one of the greenest camps in Africa.
Zarafa Camp is also Botswana’s first and only Relais & Chateaux property.
The Slenda Reserve lies at the crossroads of Botswana’s most prolific wildlife areas with abundant year-round animals.
Popular species in the area include leopard, lion, elephant, zebra and giraffe.
You can also see less popular wildlife, including cheetah, sable, roan and African wild dog.
Nearby, explore the Zibadianja Lagoon.
Here you will enjoy excellent birding opportunities with Black egret and African skimmer.
The lagoon is also home to hippo and the mighty African elephant.
Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Botswana is from May to September during the dry season, when you can view large concentrations of animals at the many water holes in the region.
Maasai Mara Reserve, Kenya
The Maasai Mara (known locally as the Mara) region of Kenya is one of the richest wild ecosystems in the world.
It comprises in excess of 375,000 hectares.
Across the world, people know The Mara for its large populations of Masai lions, Kenyan cheetahs and African leopards.
It is also the setting of the annual migration of more than 2 millions animals.
This includes over 1.5 million wildebeest from the Serengeti each year, between July to October.
Mara Plains Camp
Located within in this spectacular reserve is the Mara Plains Camp by the Great Plains Conservation group.
They designed Mara Plains without using any cement.
This is an effort to minimize the impact on the surrounding environment.
This makes it possible to remove the camp completely without leaving a trace.
They built the Mara Plains camp structures on decks that are raised.
This limits the covered surface area and provides a low-impact safari operation.
They source water from the local Loita Spring.
It is filtered and 100% chemical free.
Solar energy powers the electricity used throughout the camp.
The design of Mara Plains is understated with quiet class.
Planners carefully designed it to highlight the magnificent nature which surrounds it.
The ancient Swahili heritage is reflected in the large wooden doors with accents of deep red and purple to honor the great Maasai chiefs who lived there for millennia.
Best time to visit:
The best time to visit the Maasai Mara is from August to November, but this may vary depending on the seasonal rainfalls.
The costs of visiting the different camps and lodges depend on the location and time of year you wish to travel, and the level of accommodation required.
To get more ideas see the African Safari Home Packages, which include tours for South and East Africa.
African Safari Home can also give you insider’s information on the best deals available and when is the best time to travel.
They have more than 20 years luxury safari planning experience and the most competitive rates in the industry.
Other popular destinations featured include:
- Cape Town in South Africa
- Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe
- The ever-popular Serengeti in Tanzania
While costs may vary greatly, you can expect to pay around $500 per person sharing nightly, for a four star African safari.
It is approximately $1,000 per person nightly for a five star experience.
These rates can be as much as $4,000 per person nightly at the premium five star lodges of the Sabi Sabi.
Rates for both four and five star options typically include all meals and local drinks.
Prices do not include international airfare.
Check in advance to see if the lodges welcome children under 12 years old.
How to have a green safari adventure in Africa
Imagine being able to witness the legendary wildebeest migration first-hand, or getting to watch dozens of elephants at a watering hole.
Going on a safari in Africa is an adventure of a lifetime.
Although safaris are not known for being green, it is possible to have an environmentally friendly safari experience.
I’ve gone on a dozen safaris and compiled these tips for having a green safari adventure in Africa.
Aim for Environmentally Friendly Transportation
This can be a tough one.
Driving a diesel-guzzling Land Rover through the bush and blazing new trails to track animals in their natural habitat hardly seems environmentally friendly.
I guarantee it will be impossible to find a safari company willing to drive you around in a Prius through the Serengeti.
But there are still ways to go on a green safari.
Instead of going on a private safari, ask to be put in a full vehicle.
Not only will this save you money, but it will use less fuel and resources.
Also, be sure to book travel with a company that is committed to staying on existing roads and 4×4 trails.
Off-roading can damage the natural vegetation so much that it could take years to recover.
Waste Not, Want Not
Many luxury safari companies are there to provide for your every whim.
This can create a wonderful experience, but is not always the most eco-friendly.
Look for companies that are committed to recycling and avoiding waste.
This might mean having compost piles and a commitment to conserving water and energy.
Additionally, consider lodges that have been built using low-impact construction and that source their food locally.
You can help, too.
There are a lot of little things you can do to make your experience more eco-friendly, like requesting that your towels aren’t washed everyday and, if you get a packed lunch, asking for it to be put in a reusable container.
Choose a Camping Safari
Most safari companies offer a camping option.
Even if you are not a hardcore camper, I urge you to consider it.
These camping safaris range from luxury to very primitive — so you can pick which fits your budget and needs.
The company will always provide all of your meals and usually even the camping equipment.
Even if camping is typically not your thing, I think you’ll find a camping safari is easier than you expect.
The safari company handles all of the meals and setting up camp, so at the end of a long day in the bush you will be able to relax and prepare for the next day of adventure.
There are many national parks for camping in Africa as well.
Go on a Non-Driving Safari
Depending on where you are going, many safari companies will offer walking safaris, horseback safaris, and even take you out on a canoe.
Walking safaris can be a great way to learn about the local flora and fauna; the guide will be able to point out birds and other unique features of the area.
For my birthday a couple of years ago, my husband took me on a horseback safari.
It was amazing to ride horseback through a tower of giraffes.
And riding down a river in Africa in a canoe can be a great way to see animals up-close and personal.
Pick a Company Committed to the Community
When thinking about green travel, it is important to pick a company that values and invests in the local community.
Tourism is often one of the greatest revenue sources for the area and hiring local staff is a way companies can invest in the community.
I guarantee you will appreciate the local staff.
While on safari you will spend hours each day in a vehicle with your driver and tracker, providing you ample opportunity to get to know them and learn more about their culture.
Additionally, be sure to book with a company that gives back.
Whether it is funding water projects or building schools, make sure that they are supporting the local community.
If you are planning on visiting other countries after your African safari, learn about hassle-free border crossings.
Is it too intimidating to start with a safari your first time in Africa?
Consider other options, like visiting the animal sanctuary in South Africa or learn how to volunteer in Africa.
These tips will help you have a green safari adventure in Africa.
It will be low-impact and be more of an authentic experience as well.
Have you been on a safari?
What are your tips for a green safari?
Guide to hassle-free African border crossings
After over four years of living and traveling in Africa, I only had one border agent threaten to throw me in jail.
Thankfully, when she realized she wasn’t getting a bribe, she let me go.
Border crossings are one of the most intimidating parts of traveling through Africa.
I’ve been through my fair share, and still I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every time we have to get our passports stamped at an African border.
Regardless of how much research you’ve done and how prepared you think you are, things constantly change, so it’s best to expect the unexpected.
The good news is there are simple things you can do to make the process go more smoothly.
After a couple dozen crossings, I thought I’d make it easier for everyone else with this guide to hassle-free African border crossings.
Although things constantly change, it’s a good idea to be as prepared as you can be.
Do research, talk to fellow travelers, and even call the embassy before you leave your home country to find out what you’ll need.
If they advise getting a visa before you get to the border, do it.
While you may still be able to get your visa at the border, I think it’s best to try to get in and out as quickly as possible; having a visa ahead of time just expedites the process.
Being prepared also means having exact change for visa or border crossing fees — in the correct currency.
If you have an American visa, some countries, like Zimbabwe, may only allow you to pay in US dollars.
Use Current Information
Many travel books have country-specific guides to border crossings.
While these can be helpful for general guidelines, they are often outdated before they even go to print.
Use information that is as current as possible when doing research and planning your trip.
Travelers you meet on the road are often the best resource since they have crossed recently.
These days, many travelers have blogs with valuable, up-to-date information for border crossings.
The African Overland Network is a great place to find blogs of travelers from all over the world and an excellent resource for finding current information from fellow travelers.
Keep Valuables Out of Sight
Whether you’re driving or backpacking and camping through Africa, be sure to keep your valuables out of sight, especially whenever there are a lot of people around.
African borders are notorious for being hectic, so it’s best to keep anything of value hidden.
Although they’ll tell you otherwise, fixers are typically unnecessary at border crossings.
A fixer is typically a local who claims to be able to get you through a border quicker than you could on your own, in exchange for payment.
We went through borders throughout Southern and Eastern Africa without hiring anyone for help.
Most certain, in some areas, like Eastern Africa, you’ll have a half dozen men hounding you and telling you how much you need their expert assistance.
Chances are you don’t.
Buildings are typically labeled and if you’ve done your research, you already know what paperwork you need and how much it will cost.
However, we did hire someone to help us get into the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He was recommended from other travelers and helped us get visas as part of a package that included a guided hike up a volcano.
If you do find that you need to use a fixer for countries like the DRC or some Northern African countries, make sure that they come recommended and don’t give money up front.
Do Not Pay Bribes
I’ve heard countless dramatic, captivating stories that involve travelers bribing their way into African countries.
Just like bribing police officers for traffic citations encourages the practice, bribing at borders just sets the same expectation for fellow travelers.
If you’re not allowed to visit certain areas because of your passport country, it’s best to abide by the the guidelines rather than paying bribes.
Stay Calm and Confident
There’s not a lot of about travel that gets me flustered, but hectic border crossings definitely make me nervous.
Regardless of how prepared I feel, one crooked border agent can make life very difficult.
By staying calm and acting confident — even when you don’t feel it — you’ll have an easier time navigating the sometimes involved process.
If you look lost, you will be an obvious target for opportunistic fixers and border agents.
If you are volunteering in Africa and/or traveling with a group, it is best to always stay together.
photo credit: aleutia
Border crossings may be one of the most difficult, and sometimes dangerous, aspects of traveling through Africa, but if you follow these general guidelines you get enjoy hassle-free African border crossings without a hitch!