Africa travel advice

Gorilla trekking advice

Tom Harari, from our supplier, Exodus, shares his gorilla trekking advice:
“If you’re debating whether to track mountain gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda, consider the following. If your aim is just the gorillas then they are a lot easier to reach in Rwanda (3hrs from Kigali to the Parc National des Volcans); if you want a more all-round trip then Uganda offers more diversity, including traditional safaris and better opportunities to see chimps and culture. The forest on the Rwandan side is more open, therefore better light for photos, and in Uganda it’s more closed so more atmospheric.”

Safari advice

Tom Harari, from our supplier, Exodus, shares his Africa travel advice:
“When going on safari dress in neutral colours as it helps you blend in, making wildlife less nervous. It’s also worth investing in, or borrowing a good pair of binoculars when on safari – if you’re into photography it’s worth having a good telephoto lens too. Lastly, always listen to your guide; if they say not to do something or go somewhere, there’s a good reason. Wildlife is, as the name implies, wild.”

Advice on getting stuck in

Simon Mills, from our supplier Native Escapes, shares his Africa travel advice:
“Arrive with an open mind and plenty of humour. Be adventurous and eat in local cafes and restaurants, drink local beers and wine and eat local dishes rather than eating in chain restaurants and drinking imported brands, it supports the country you are visiting rather than large corporations.”

Preparation advice

Simon Mills, from our supplier Native Escapes, shares his advice on researching your trip:
"Before you travel, read up as much as you can on your destination, local customs and cultures, history and appropriate dress. A few words of the local language, especially greetings, will go a long way towards breaking the ice.”

Health & safety on Africa holidays


You’re likely to need vaccinations depending on where you’re travelling. Consult your GP 6-8 weeks in advance of travel to allow time to complete any courses of vaccinations – some are taken over several weeks. Malaria is also present across parts of Africa, so you may need to take anti-malarial medication. Wearing long sleeves and trousers is also advised, as well as insect repellent. This also protects against dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases. Remember, malaria can develop up to a year after exposure, so keep an eye on any symptoms. Extreme heat and dryness can affect children badly – use sunblock and hats, keep them (and yourselves!) well hydrated and carry a cool box in your vehicle for drinks if possible. Some parts of Africa can get extremely cold during their winter months, especially in the early morning – including Kenya, Tanzania and much of Southern Africa. Check the climate information for your particular destination and if it gets chilly pack warm layers, along with hats and gloves. Some cities have good health facilities, while rural areas may only provide the most basic healthcare. Comprehensive travel insurance is essential – covering all activities you are expecting to participate in, as well as emergency repatriation. Tap water is generally unsuitable to drink across Africa – but in most of Namibia and South Africa it’s perfectly safe. So bring refillable bottles, to reduce your cost and create less waste along the way. Bring a basic first aid kit and medication for sickness and diarrhoea if you’re planning to visit any of Africa’s more remote regions. Do not bathe in rivers or lakes unless you are specifically told it is safe to do so. There is a significant danger from wildlife as well as water-borne diseases such as bilharzia. In some places it is also illegal. Make a note of the local emergency telephone numbers for each country you plan to visit.


Crime levels are notoriously high in South Africa, particularly in cities, townships and public transport. However, violent crime generally takes place away from popular tourist areas, and most visits are incident-free. Larger towns and cities have tourist police. Be careful at ATMs. Avoid using them in secluded places and after dark and don’t withdraw large amounts of cash. Check to see if the machine has been tampered with; scams include damaging the machine so that your card gets stuck, so that money can be withdrawn from your account once you’ve gone into the bank to report the jammed card. Many border regions across Africa have long been turbulent – places to look out for in particular are border regions of Ethiopia, Kenya, Cameroon and Egypt. The FCO has up to date travel advice on each destination, plus your holiday company will be well aware of any recent developments and will ensure you only travel to safe areas. Driving at night is not recommended across central, Western and Eastern Africa, and in other rural areas where wildlife may be present on the road. Bear in mind that road conditions can be poor and local driving standards quite low. Generally, national parks and wildlife reserves have no issues with crime. But do exercise the usual precautions in cities – Nairobi, Mombasa, Johannesburg and Dar es Salaam in particular have high levels of crime. Leave valuables in your hotel, use cabs booked by your hotel or restaurant and avoid walking around at night. Homosexuality may be stigmatised – or even illegal – in some African destinations. Same sex couples are advised to be aware of local laws and customs, and to act discretely in public. Camping in game reserves is thrilling as you are surrounded by wildlife – including elephants, lions and hyenas. Your guide will explain the regulations at each camp – please listen to them, they know their stuff! Many parts of Africa are quite conservative, particularly in more rural areas, and all travellers should dress modestly. Women in particular should not wear shorts or sleeveless tops. This is especially important in predominantly Islamic regions such as coastal Kenya and Tanzania, and most of North Africa. Ethiopia is also deeply conservative. For further information on health and safety across Africa, please visit the FCO or the CDC websites and refer to your particular destination.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Africa or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Tips from our travellers in Africa

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Africa travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
Only go on a gorilla safari and Masai Mara trip if you like camping. We had a lion, elephant, hyena, zebra, group of hippos and wart hogs outside our tents at night.
– Phoebe Harrison
“If you go on safari in South Africa in May, take warm clothes and layer! Take the time to just sit and listen to the sounds of nature and enjoy the views, take in all the information that the guides give you.” – Amanda Hathaway

“Go on every possible game drive. Every one of them was special in some way - as first time safari goers we didn't want to go with a checklist of what we wanted to see. We just went to see whatever Africa had to offer. We were not disappointed!” – Janet Thomas

“Don't be put off for travelling in short wet season. We went at the end of Feb and still saw many animals.” – Chris Hehir

“Take a good camera and a long lens. Don't over pack, you only need casual clothing.” – John Durham
Spend your money in villages; don't quibble, they need it more than you do.
– John Palmer
“If you’re on a big game safari in Tanzania, enjoy every part of the holiday, whether it is the flight in a prop plane and landing on an air strip with elephants and giraffes standing to on either side (or in the middle), or seeing hundreds of hairy caterpillars in procession. Big or small, take it all in and enjoy watching and listening.” – Joanne Davenport

“In Ethiopia, leave enough time to travel slowly in the south. It is quite tiring and there are long drives on dirt roads. Give yourself time to go for walks and birdwatch and make sure your agent knows exactly what you want.” – Frances Fedden

“Take sensible shoes to Morocco! I know it's obvious, but there really is so much walking.” – Jennifer Baker-Dallison
Written by Polly Humphris
Photo credits: [Page banner: Dave3006] [Gorilla trekking advice: Hjalmar Gislason] [Safari advice: Make it Kenya] [Health & Safety: nuzree] [Phoebe Harrison Quote: Roderick Eime] [John Palmer Quote: A.Davey]