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Is Africa Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Is Africa Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Africa is a dream destination for many people. Some people visit this continent for vacation, while others tour the place for their honeymoon. African traditions are a must-see, especially people’s clothing, language, and living situation.

But I’m sure you wondering if it’s safe for tourists due to news reports of instability, kidnappings, and other crimes. Since we’re talking about a whole continent, there’s a huge variety of realities throughout it.

As a result, the safety rate will depend on your intended destination. But don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn some travel safety tips before visiting Africa.

Is Africa Safe to Visit?

Young man in a blue shirt with long hair holds the railing of his hotel and looks out over the ocean for a piece titled Is Africa Safe to Visit

PhotoSky/Shutterstock

Yes, Africa is a safe place to visit, even for solo tourists. Over the years, many foreign television stations have painted Africa as a poor and dry area without infrastructure.

However, most African countries have changed this narrative through advertising to depict an accurate picture. Today, most African countries have modernized everything, including their infrastructure and security.

However, Africa isn’t 100% safe. Various African cities, such as Rustenburg in South Africa, have a high crime rate.

Some of the most common safety concerns in many African countries include pickpocketing, muggings, car break-ins, and street crimes. Ultimately, Africa is a safe continent to visit, but you should be cautious of your safety when visiting some countries.

Crime in Africa

In terms of crime, Africa is a continent of contrasts. Certain countries are considered safe, while others are not so much. For instance, the crime rate for Sub-Saharan African countries in 2015 was 9.40%.

But on the other end of the scale, we have South Sudan, which is considered a high-risk country due to armed conflicts, making it an unsuitable place to visit.

Additionally, South Africa leads the way as the African country with the highest crime index of 77.5% and a safety index of 22.5%.

The most common crimes in Africa include pickpocketing, vehicle hijacking, kidnapping, cash point robberies, street crimes, muggings, and human trafficking.

Tips for Avoiding Crime in Africa

Since some African countries have a higher crime rate than others, you must take multiple precautions when visiting these nations. Let’s discuss some of these precautions.

Do Your Research

You should conduct thorough research before traveling to Africa. First, highlight the countries in Africa that you would like to visit. Since you cannot visit all the African countries, you should select a few based on people’s recommendations.

Second, check the crime rates of the selected countries. As mentioned above, some African countries are safer than others. As such, you should do thorough research to identify which ones are safe.

Always Check Your Luggage

Even though there are safe countries in Africa, it doesn’t mean there is zero crime in these nations. Many pickpocketers and street thieves in most African cities seek to steal your items. Thus, you must check your luggage constantly to ensure everything is intact.

For example, keep your bags tightly zipped and ensure your wallet is pocketed when walking on the streets. You should also leave your wallet and carry petty cash if you aren’t going far from your hotel.

Don’t Exchange Money on the Streets

There are several money exchange offices in Africa. Some offices aren’t legitimate businesses as many are on the streets. These exchange offices usually target tourists looking for local currency to buy a specific item.

If you aren’t careful, you may be conned with the wrong currency rate and spend more money. As such, you should only exchange money in a bank to avoid being duped.

Don’t Leave Portable Items in the Car

Don’t leave things like cameras, iPads, or your phone locked in the car. Street thieves will break into your vehicle and steal these portable items. Leave all your portable valuables in your hotel room before leaving if you aren’t using them.

Avoid Deserted Streets

Avoid deserted streets while traveling since you’ll be an easy target for thieves. In the worst cases, in some countries you may be kidnapped. The best way to remain safe is to use busy streets or walking lanes when exploring the city.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

Man walking through the streets of a slum with mud huts for a piece on how to avoid the bad parts of Africa

photograph taken in the Kibera slums in Nairobi during the stay of the Pope in Kenya. more than 500,000 people live here without essential services/Andrea Trevisani/Shutterstock

Though some African countries are safe, there are bad neighborhoods that even the locals avoid. For example, the Western Cape area in Cape Town, South Africa, reported 13,747 crimes in 2019. There are high cases of street crimes and pickpocketers since the perpetrators usually target tourists.  

Tips for Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods in Africa

You must avoid all the bad neighborhoods in Africa when visiting the area. Let’s discuss the tips to help you avoid these places.

Conduct Adequate Research

You can only know the bad neighborhoods in Africa if you conduct your research. The African governments’ websites are an excellent place to get the necessary information. Most of these websites have the crime rate statistics of different neighborhoods in the country.

Another benefit of doing your research is knowing the number of safe neighborhoods in the country. For example, the only safe area in South Sudan is Juba since all other areas are full of criminals, kidnappers, and terrorists.  

Hire a Travel Agency

Hire a travel agency before traveling to any African country. These companies have local tour guides who will guide you throughout your trip. The main advantage of hiring a local traveling agency is that their workers know all the bad neighborhoods and will avoid them.

Another benefit is that you’ll not get lost. It’s easier to get lost in an African country since some cities are densely populated. However, you don’t have to worry when working with a travel agency because they are required to protect you.

Consult the Locals

An excellent way to avoid bad neighborhoods in Africa is to ask the local citizens. However, don’t ask anyone on the streets because some may mislead you. Others may ask you for money and still give you the wrong directions.

The best people to ask are policemen or security guards. You can also ask your taxi driver or one of the hotel workers.

Malaria in Africa

Many people often wonder if it’s safe to travel to Africa, especially with the rising of tropical infections like Malaria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) malaria is a life-threatening illness that has affected millions of people, citing more than 247 million cases in Africa.

Although Malaria can kill, it’s curable with preventative measures and medications. Thus, it goes without saying that when traveling to Africa, consider visiting a health professional and take advice on the correct anti-malarial medication to use.

Safest Places to Visit in Africa

Gorgeous blue water and deep green vegetation on the volcanic island of Mauritius, as seen from a plane, for a guide to answer "is Africa safe to visit?"

Myroslava Bozhko/Shutterstock

The media portrays African nations as centers for crime, civil conflict, health hazards, and poverty. While the news skews the perception of instability and poor economic welfare, most African Nations are better and safer than you can imagine.

Here are some safest places to visit in Africa.

Kenya

Kenya is a more established African nation with high tourism standards and good infrastructure, so it’s safe for visitors. Although there are travel warnings along the Somalia border and the northern coast of Kenya, you can easily avoid these regions during travel.  

Ultimately, it’s a fantastic destination where you can enjoy the sandy beaches of Mombasa, wildebeest migrations, and wildlife sightseeing in Masai Mara National Reserve and Tsavo National Parks, among others.

Namibia

Namibia is an African destination popularly known for its vast Namib desert, epic quad biking, and sky-diving experiences, including road trips and wild safaris.

Due to its sparse population, Namibia enjoys political stability and has had few crime sparks over the years. This proves Namibia is a safe destination for tourists.

Mauritius

Are you looking for a tropical paradise? Then Mauritius is an ideal option. It’s one of the safest island nations to visit in Africa.

Besides sandy beaches and 5-star hotels, Mauritius is filled with culture and stability, making it a safer and ideal holiday destination for tourists.

Things to Consider

Here are some tips to consider when making a seasoned trip to Africa:

  • Get vaccinated: when traveling to Africa, you may need several vaccinations, including yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis, and polio. These immunizations will strengthen your immune system if you encounter any infections.  
  • Get travel insurance. Travel insurance acts as a safety net against serious emergencies such as sicknesses or losing property while on a trip to Africa.  
  • Carry a mosquito repellant. Malaria is a typical tropical disease in Africa. Thus, as a recommendation, ensure to carry a mosquito repellant, sleep under a treated mosquito net and eat a balanced diet.
  • Stock up on purified drinking water. One of the most severe health risks in Africa is water-borne diseases. Avoid drinking contaminated water direct from the taps and resort to bottled water for the duration you’re in Africa.
  • Carry cash. Even if you have booked everything, including return flights and accommodations, it’s best to carry some cash in case you need to buy things while you travel. Ensure that you exchange it with the local currency for convenience.  
  • Book reliable tour guides. Local guides are rampant in Africa, but you need to hire a reputable one to avoid getting duped or robbed on your trip. Do your research and consider available touring agencies with good reputation.
  • Carry your mobile phone. You can carry a camera or mobile phone while on a safari despite the risk of pickpocketers. These will help you capture beautiful moments on the trip and to stay in touch with friends and family.
  • Leave your valuable items locked in your hotels. When touring the cities and towns, you should ensure you leave your valuable items in the hotel room inside the safe. This reduces the chances of being a target of violent crimes while on the streets.
  • Be aware of strangers. Do not accept any unsolicited advice from strangers; they might be thieves or hijackers in disguise.
  • Consider Transportation. Consider researching your African country’s destination transport offerings. For instance, if you’re traversing the cities, such as Nairobi, to Mombasa, Kenya, consider hiring a taxi or entering a train or bus, which is much cheaper than riding an uber.  
  • Do not leave your wallet in your back pocket. Pickpocketing is quite rampant amongst the tourist populations. If you do not want to lose your ID and cash, avoid placing your wallets in your front and back pockets.
  • Dress Appropriately. When planning a trip to Africa, ensure you dress for the occasion. Most African countries are hot, so do not bring winter clothes for your trip. For other states, ensure you dress modestly to show respect for the community’s culture and religion.
  • Avoid walking alone. If you’re a solo traveler, consider having a tour guide with you for security purposes. Most crimes committed in Africa are because the tourists are naïve and alone without help. Do not be one of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tourists in a Land Rover driving along in Kenya and looking at elephants for a piece on Is Africa Safe

Andrzej Kubik/Shutterstock

Below are common FAQs about traveling to Africa:

Are African safaris safe?

Most tourists travel to Africa to tour the vast national parks, reserves, botanical gardens, and historical sites to experience the culture. While there are risks involved in how they choose to travel, it’s generally safe to go on Africa Safaris.

Most tourists are advised to go with experienced and reliable tour guides on their excursions and follow any safari safety tips that will aid in achieving a great and safe safari.

What is the best time to visit Africa?

Generally, Africa is a tropical destination. Thus, depending on your timeline, you can visit any African state anytime.

However, you must understand that it’s best to visit Africa from September to December. During this, you’ll experience the warm and dry weather favorable for safari trips and sightseeing in the cape regions.

Does Africa hold some of the wonders of the natural world?

Yes, Africa is very much recognized for hosting one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the wildebeest migrations that occur at the end of the rainy season.

Tourists are advised to plan their travel within May or June to Masai Mara in Rift Valley, Kenya, to observe the mass movement of the wildebeest heading towards the Ndutu plains of Serengeti national park in Tanzania.

Do you need a visa to travel to Africa?

Visa requirements when traveling to Africa often depend on the country’s destination. Some countries, such as South Africa, allow European and American tourists to enter the country without a visa as long as they do not exceed more than 90 days.

However, other states such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Egypt require US citizens to have visas before visiting the country.

How many countries in Africa should you aim to visit?

Tourists looking to travel to Africa to satiate their need for safari, sightseeing, and wild animals’ observation are advised to focus on one or two countries.

For instance, if you want to see some gorillas, the best countries to view them are Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda.

So, Is Africa Safe to Visit?

Africa is a dream tourist destination for most tourists. Despite not being 100% safe due to the common muggings, street crimes and pickpocketing, foodborne and water diseases, among other safety issues, it’s a generally safe place for tourists to visit.

Like any trip, all you need to do is follow the simple tips and things to consider to ensure your safety while visiting any of the African states. Happy travels!