Backpacking in Africa

Backpacking in Africa (and not) – Myths to despel

I don’t know how to explain in full what happens when traveling in Africa.

I dare not say that it is the most beautiful Continent in the world, Asia is no less and so the Latin America, as I wrote a few days ago to a person there are no mediocre destinations, or Series A or Series B, there are destinations that at certain moments of our lives are more in line with us and others that maybe will get so in the future.
But traveling in Africa gratifies me in a special way perhaps because as I continue along my journey I realize that I know nothing and those beliefs I had, well let’s call them preconceptions, one after the other are dispelled and stripped to often become the exact opposite.

The myths that surround the black continent, mysterious and fascinating, are plenty and not always positive, ideas coming from the lack of real knowledge or talking about what you hear say or because the idea that was made for us of these people are often biased by what the media wants us to see.
I am here, I am alive and kicking but especially I am happy to be in the vibrant heart of the world surrounded by the warmest and more welcoming populations on earth.

And this post is for them, but also for you, in the hope that one day you’ll take this leap and you’ll choose to take the time for a trip that beyond the many natural beauties, which are not lacking, is a human journey in the buzzing heart of the man until you discover that the greatest joy lies on the simplest things.You just have to learn to see them.

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Read also: History of South Africa in Brief

Africa is dangerous

Africa is not dangerous, not as much as Latin America ca be in my opinion.
Africa is unknown and unexplored, independently, that is why it may seem dangerous. But things are not always as they seem.
I find African countries warm, gentle, shy and of a disarming kindness. Sometimes I think that the black of the skin is more fearsome than you should fear the color white.
Give yourself a few days, let this continent slowly envelop you and you will get to understand the difference between “dangerous” and “unknown”.
Obviously I do not include in this list the countries where they are wars and conflicts going ( but that wouldn’t be different in any other continent ).

Backpacking in Africa

You can travel in Africa only by 4×4 and with armed guards

If we talk about the Danakil Depression or of the Safari in the National Parks obviously the private car and armed guard ( Danakil ) are required but if you have time, this is the only limit to Africa on your own, you can travel along the African countries on the several, not always comfortable but definitely picturesque and quaint, public means of transport.
It depends on which areas you have to touch and also what budget you have available but most of the country can be traveled independently however on just two conditions: plenty of time and capability of adaptation.
Those who complain and want the simple life is not meant for Africa ( independent ).

Travelling in Africa is cheap

It depends, if you live as an African and do not fuss too much over eating in their restaurants on the road or sleeping in rooms that have a bed, not always comfortable, and a mosquito net and give up the big attractions ( safari, Omo valley, deserts, Danakil etc ) Africa can be very cheap but if you only want just a little more this continent can become easily one of the most expensive in which to travel in the world.
Inconvenience Vs Comfortable, Easy Vs Difficulty
Either white or black, no compromise .

Since we are in Africa then everything has to cost less

This is the mentality of those who go on a trip and want to pay same as a local and assume that because it is a poor country then we are not supposed to pay more than € 10 for anything at all.
A safari costs thousands of dollars for a few days, four days in Danakil under EXTREME conditions cost at least $500 in a group travel, the hotels more or less decent at least € 15/20 per person per night, a car at least $ 140 per day, the guides have their costs and those are not by far what you may believe.

This is as true here as in the rest of the world. Travelling in the countries of the so-called ” third world ” does not necessarily mean low costs, rather in my experience the worse the conditions the higer the costs simply for lack of alternatives.
And if you are up to what the picture below shows surely many of the costs can be cut down.

Africans are aggressive

You wouldn’t know how aggressive Italians can be behind the wheel or with words. If there is one word I would NEVER use to indicate a characteristic of those people who cheered my months of traveling in the African country is “aggressive”.
They may look it but you need just a few days to figure out that that’s the way they are: they scream, negotiate, try to make business ( with you but with each and everybody ) and if you say no, especially in Tanzania, it means no and everything end with a smile and a hand shake.
Other than this it is the worst you might tell, I have never been treated with such affection and kindness from strangers like I have in African countries.

Backpacking in Africa

In Africa there are deadly diseases and epidemics

It is obvious that if you want to go to Burundi right now you would think twice (and hope soon it will all get better soon over there), but Africa is a HUGE Continent and if there is an epidemic on the west coast it does not mean that it is also on the east coast.
It is the same as if in Mongolia an epidemic were spreading and so we would be considered at high risk in Italy. It just is not so, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to inquire first and avoid thinking with the European “dimensions and distances ” which are not the standards elsewhere.

Malaria and dengue fever are diseases that you may risk contracting, as in other tropical locations.
For malaria if you travel for not too many months you should follow a prophylaxis as well as always be careful ( mosquito nets and permethrin ) and for dengue only prevention (also because there is no cure for this , you just wait for it to pass ).

Everywhere in Africa there are fights, genocide and tribal wars

Unfortunately when the media talk about Africa they do emphasize hunger and wars. Not that they do not exist, so it is right that the world would know what is happening in many African countries, however Africa is NOT only this, not for the majority of the territory populated instead by a peaceful and smiling population.

To be sure to travel in safe areas always check the site and doing some online research won’t hurt. You will realize that the terrible genocide in Rwanda ended in 1994, leaving pain and death that you can still find in the eyes of the people, peaceful and humbled, and so in Uganda but in fact these countries are among the most friendly and kind on the black continent.

Africa is dangerous for a woman alone

You believe so? What if I told you that there are places where a single woman is really afraid to walk alone and is frowned upon while here you are treated like a queen?
This is the truth. Africa is not dangerous, nor if you are a man nor if you’re a woman, you have to take the usual precautions when you travel especially in large cities, but the main feature of a trip to Africa is not danger as much as hardship that is easily transformed into fatigue.
If you ask me if I find Africa ill-suited to a woman on her own, my answer is one and unequivocal : NO.

What other fears or concerns have you got about Africa? Have you ever thought of a trip to this continent? And if so, why haven’t you come yet? Does it scare you? Why? Place a comment on the post I would be very happy to know what you think, because, as I think is quite clear, to me this continent is one of the most beautiful and adventurous to travel and I am sorry to know that for most people it is not a feasible destination because there is … FEAR .
Remember that fear is only a symptom of the lack of knowledge. Put foot in Africa and you won’t regret it!

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Read also: SOUTH AFRICA What to See and Do – Guide 2024

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