Looking for safe places to travel in Africa? Here is a list of safe African countries you should know before you have planned your safari.
What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Africa? For most people, it’s probably three things: famine and extreme poverty, brutal violence, and – by contrast – breathtaking landscapes and tigers, elephants, and giraffes viewed from the comfort of a jeep.
Yes, most people dream of doing a once-in-a-lifetime African safari but are out off by safety concerns.
However, there is no need to worry. Although some countries are often off-limits, there are loads of safe options. So just where are the safe places to travel in Africa?
Where to Avoid
There are only a few countries on the African continent that are totally off-limits. The State Departement, Bureau of Consulate Affairs lists Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Libya as level 4 red countries where it advises American citizens not to travel under any circumstances.
Countries such as the Congo, Chad, Nigeria, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Burundi, and Guinea-Bissau are level 3 amber countries that the State Department advises you to reconsider.
Although this might sound like a lot of Africa is off-limits, actually, it leaves you with a considerable amount of choice.
Safe Places to Travel in Africa
Most of the safe places for a safari in Africa are towards the south of the continent. Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya are all good options. Despite the political tension following the recent election and removal of the dictator Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe is also a strong contender for a safari, providing you take precautions.
Like all African countries, one of the biggest safety concerns is contracting a serious illness whilst you are out there. This can usually be remedied by taking injections before you head out.
Check out our detailed advice for which ones you need. The usual precautions are also necessary when in the big cities. Local sellers can be pushy and there are many scams at play so it’s best to be alert and forceful in saying no.
If you’re planning on doing a safari, however, you probably don’t even want to spend much time in the cities anyway so minimizing your time there is a win for both safety and maximizing your adventure.
Tanzania, perhaps the home of human civilization itself, is known for the warmth of its many varied people and tribes that settled there from across Africa and the Middle East.
With 17 national parks spanning a vast area of 16,000 square miles which are home to 20% of Africa’s mammal species, Tanzania is a richly diverse country that should be on your hit list. Not to mention the biggest beast of all, Kilimanjaro which you might want to consider climbing.
Check out our in-depth guide to Tanzania and if you’re brave enough to climb Kilimanjaro here are our top tips for not getting sick.
Concerns about safety in Kenya mainly revolve around Nairobi. The advice from the State Department is to avoid the Eastleigh neighborhood as well as the Old Town in Mombasa and the border with Somalia. Stay vigilant to robberies and petty crime.
In the rest of the country, there is a huge variety of wildlife to see. One particular highlight is the migration of the wildebeest Mara. Get up at dawn and with the help of a friendly Maasai warrior see this breathtaking scene as wildebeest travel in huge heard as they attempt to cross a river, many of them dying in the great struggle for survival, devoured by crocodiles or a victim of the great stampede. Witness this incredible event from horseback or even hot air balloon.
Other highlights include a camel safari in the wilderness or bird watching some of the 1089 species that Kenya has to offer.
Botswana is currently listed as a Level 1 green country by the U.S State Department, the lowest level, ’exercise normal precautions’. This is currently lower than the U.K and many places in Europe. Although this may sound great and may have helped firm up your decision to travel here, you should still take precautions as you would in visiting any foreign country.
Botswana exertion highlights include the Khama Rhino Sanctuary where you can see the black and white rhinos up close. The park is actually a community tourism project run by local villagers so you will very much get the local experience here.
If hippos are your thing then you want to visit the North. Here there are three national parks: Kwando, Selinda, and Linyanti. A key draw about being here is a personal experience. The camps are very small, with room for just 20 people and you really are in the middle of nowhere.
Also a level 1 country on the U.S State Department’s travel advice, Namibia is a warm and friendly place. Watch out for trails off-the-beaten-track because many of these are very isolated, with no phone signal.
Getting help if you’re injured could prove difficult, particularly since it has one of the lowest population densities in the world meaning the country can at times feel vast and empty.
A quarter of the world’s cheetah population inhabit Namibia so if they’re your spirit animal, this is the country for you. It’s also the only place in the world where the black rhino runs around free whilst foxes, ostriches, and jackals make for a unique animal experience.
Some of the national parks worth visiting are Bwabwata which is known for the large number of flowers that inhabit it including water lilies as well as for the antelope, hippos, eagles, and even owls which inhabit it.
Dorob park is best known for its rare breeds of fish. There are also campsites here.
This country has come along way since the troubled days of Idi Amin. However, the U.S State Department has ranked it a level 2 country, suggesting you should be extra vigilant. This is mainly due to violent crimes and sexual assaults which unfortunately happen too frequently in the big cities.
Avoid the cities and head out into the sticks as soon as you can where you will encounter such delights as gorilla trekking and beautiful great lakes.
Self-styled the ‘pearl of Africa’ for a very good reason, some of the reasons to consider visiting include the Bwindi Forrest National Park and has some 400 species of snake and 250 species of butterflies, chameleons, lizards, geckos, chimpanzees, gorillas, and baboons.
Lake Mburo is also a very popular destination. Here you can experience the 50km wetlands and the swamp which are home to Zebras, hyenas, leopards, and buffalo. Part of the park entrance fee goes to fund local projects so if you decide to visit you’ll be giving back to the beautiful people.
A level 2 country which is perhaps not surprising given the recent political turmoil, we would certainly advise those thinking of heading out here to research thoroughly before jumping on a plane. Keep up to date with the latest developments on the U.S state department page and do not get involved in any protests, but particularly in Harare.
Plan carefully where you want to go and how you are going to get there and you should be fine.
Highlights that may make you consider Zimbabwe are Lake Chivero, a reservoir spanning 2360 hectors that incorporates a game reserve including an abundance of beautiful creatures from bee-eaters and buzzards to rhinos, monkeys, and squirrels.
There are also places of interest around Harare including Mukuvisi Woodlands, first suggested as a protected zone in 1910 and which is popular with school children. Here you can glimpse Zebras, Giraffes, Mongooses, jackals, and crocodiles.
Caught the Travel Bug?
It’s not surprising if all of this has whetted your appetite. Africa is a huge continent brimmed full of spectacular scenery and amazing animals that you often can’t see in the wild anywhere else. There is still so much to see, even discounting the countries that are currently unadvisable to travel to.
And people are beginning to catch on. In 2017 inbound visitor growth to the African continent increased by 11.5%.
We know safety is of paramount importance to all our customers and it is to us as well. Finding safe places to travel in Africa can seem overwhelming. That’s why it is worth speaking to one of our specialist advisors. They can help you make an informed choice about your once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Fill in our short form today giving us some basic details of your trip including your budget, email, planned dates, and the number of people at your party and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.