Africa Travel Tips
Practical advice for a trouble-free vacation to West Africa.
Telephone communication into and out of most West African countries is unreliable
and unpredictable. Now that the internet is easily available and widely used,
it is generally the most reliable and least expensive form of communication
with your home country. Keep in mind that a telephone call originating in Africa
is much more costly than if the call originates outside of Africa. There are
many cybercafes in small and large cities in West Africa.
In West Africa, clothing is adapted to the climate, the loose and light clothing
widely used is quite suitable to the climate, and it is a good idea to follow
this lead. Men and women may wear shorts, but it is best to cover the thighs
down to the knees; women should avoid tight-fitting clothing. Cotton and other
natural fabrics are more comfortable in these tropical climates than man-made
Comfort Over Style
There may be a substantial amount of walking on some tours and comfortable
soft shoes are a must. They will also be useful as you walk the aisles of the
airplanes to exercise during the long flight.
Health & Medical
You will need a Yellow Fever vaccine to enter most West African countries.
See your physician, public health office, or travelers' clinic; you may also
visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more information. When in
doubt get your physician's advice. Keep all medicine in original container.
Have your Physician’s name and emergency telephone number handy. Insurance
information should also be in your possession. Some items that may be included
I your medical kit; this list is only a guideline and is by no means exhaustive.
- malaria tablets
- anti-diarrheal (e.g. imodium)
- aspirin or tylenol/paracetamol
- nasal decongestant, antihistamine or allergy medication
- Topical antiseptic
- Band aids and an antibiotic creme
- Re-hydration powder or sports drink (e.g. gatorade)
- eye drops
- insect repellent
- sun screen
- lip balm
- moisturizing skin lotion
- motion sickness pills, if you are prone to motion sickness
Ask your physician about malaria prevention medicine.
In Africa the availability of medications is limited, and the available brands
will probably not be familiar so take along adequate amounts of your medication.
Food & Water
Food and water precautions – you should drink only boiled or bottled
liquids. Have all sealed bottles of liquids opened in your presence. Do not
eat raw or uncooked food that you have not peeled yourself.
Sports bars, dried fruit, trail mix or other snack foods can be very handy
on long days, or if local food does not satisfy your palate (chocolate is not
a good choice, as it will melt in this climate).
Towelettes or anti-bacterial hand wash is recommended.
Insurance is not mandatory but is highly recommended, most policies cover
more than the obvious discomforts.
Some subjects are considered sensitive and not to be photographed: government
buildings, airports, military personnel or equipment. In some locations, especially
in Muslim countries like Mali and Senegal, people do not like to be photographed
because the Koran prohibits making human likenesses. You will still find unlimited
opportunities for picture taking. Please remember to ask permission when in
To protect your camera from the dust, you should keep it in a bag/container
when not in use.
Soft luggage is preferred over trunks or hard-sided suitcases. Luggage allowance
on flights to/from the US and Europe is normally two bags of up to 70 pounds
(32 kgs) each, per ticket holder. But on domestic flights the baggage allowance
is 10 kilograms (22 pounds) per person, plus one small carry-on item; you will
need to pay excess baggage fees for anything over that amount. You should always
securely lock all your luggage.
Be prepared to adjust in case of lost luggage. Have at least one day’s
change of clothing in your carry-on luggage. And remember do not overpack!!
- A backpack has proven to be very convenient during vacation. Occasional
rain can be expected so a small umbrella and raincoat may come in handy. Insect
repellent is recommended.
- Some African countries may have a throng of street merchants selling their
goods. If a street merchant suggests that you committed to an item that you
were bargaining for, please avoid debating the issue. Move on or pay the price
which is usually very minimal.
- Please gauge the purchase of souvenirs. It will be tempting to buy a lot
in view of the great bargains. However, you may have to leave some of your
booty behind or pay extra to ship them home.
- Remember, you are a visitor/guest of the country you are visiting and even
though you have some rights you do not want to be placed in a position where
exercising of rights is required. Please do not argue about an issue to anyone
except your representative from our office.