Backpacking in Africa



Backpacking in Africa may be challenging depending on the region you go, especially if you are traveling solo. Depending on my limited travel experience in Africa, I saw three distinct regions:

North Africa

This region includes the northern part of the continent from Egypt and Morocco down to the Sahara desert. I spent time both in Egypt and Morocco, and found both countries easier to travel and safer. There was no violent crime, although you had to be careful and watch your stuff everywhere. Both places were inexpensive and good places to hang out with friendly locals.

Eastern Africa

This region comprises of central eastern part of Africa, covering Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. I found backpacking in this part of the continent more challenging than the northern and the southern regions and it was definitely not the right place for backpackers, who have no experience. Violent crime wasn’t uncommon, especially in some parts of Kenya, and a good planning and using common sense were extremely important. I would recommend finding a travel companion before heading to this region, especially if you have never traveled in Africa before.

Jambiani Village in Zanzibar, Tanzania

A paradise: Jambiani village in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Traveling around by using English was not an issue in Kenya, although I found it a little harder in Tanzania and almost impossible in Mozambique. Mozambique was a former Portuguese colony and most people spoke only Portuguese. I especially found crossing northern Mozambique extremely challenging. After the 18 year long civil war, there were still one million landmines and there were literally no roads in the northern part of the country. I ended up traveling on trucks with probably fifty locals for several days without showering and being able to talk to anyone. If you are planning to backpack from Kenya to South Africa through Eastern Africa, the Malawi route is less challenging and is highly recommended.

Southern Africa

This region covers Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. The main difference I observed in this part of the continent was the strong European influence. Although I felt safer, I have to tell that violent crime was not uncommon especially in some parts of South Africa including Johannesburg. Therefore, proper planning and caution were definitely required.

Getting around by using English was not an issue and, in my opinion, this part of Africa was more of a place to hang out. If you are into nature, wildlife and desert scene, this region has a lot to offer.


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