Travelling through Africa and experiencing the continent’s cultural diversity is at the top of many people’s travel bucket list; however, it is often overlooked as travellers feel safer in other parts of the world.
For women especially, Africa can be a daunting place to travel through and there is potential to be viewed as vulnerable. But, you can’t let that stop you from taking a trip of a lifetime!
Before you depart, there are four things that you should consider to ensure you are safe as you enjoy your time in Africa.
A lot of countries in Africa have strict cultural and religious traditions when it comes to how women dress, so make sure you have researched each location and dress as the locals do.
You may need to have your shoulders and legs covered, and perhaps even a wrap around your face, so make sure you have suitable items in your luggage that you can wear.
Always carry a number of long, lightweight scarves with you, as they are great for covering up in ancient and religious sites and also on the street so you don’t draw attention to yourself.
Even if you are travelling in the warmer months, lightweight clothing with long sleeves and hemlines past the knee are ideal. Desert areas can be cold at night, be prepared with warm layers.
Look at what the locals are wearing and cover yourself similarly, is a good rule of thumb.
If you’re planning on travelling in Africa as a solo tourist, consider a group tour to get your bearings and become familiar with the food, cultures, currency and language.
Group tours are great, especially for solo travellers, because you get to meet like-minded people and in terms of safety, you are undeniably safer with an organised tour operator than wandering the streets on your own.
For a personalised experience, consider boutique tours from operators such as Gypsian Boutique Tours because you will be in safe hands and be able to truly experience the culture of each destination.
Avoid Walking Alone
In any city around the world, it is advisable for women to avoid walking alone late at night where possible.
For female travellers in Africa, plan to walk home with a group of people or catch an official cab to your destination as opposed to walking.
If you do need to walk alone at night, stick to heavily lit streets and always use the pedestrian sidewalk if there is one.
This interactive map will give you a good idea of which countries around the world are more dangerous for travellers.
In Africa, many countries may not have the standards of hygiene that you are used to at home, nor will they have your usual products readily available.
If you are travelling in Africa for an extended period of time, always pack enough beauty, health and personal care supplies for your entire trip and don’t rely on getting them when you arrive.
It is also important to carry hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes in case there are no facilities to wash your hands after using the bathroom or before eating.
Overall, if you are aware of your surroundings and consider the above points, travelling in Africa as a woman is not much different to male tourists. If you use official modes of transport, stay at reputable hotels, drink bottled water and avoid walking alone at night, your trip to Africa will be filled with beautiful memories.
Mhobl. Orange on Blue on Flickr under Creative Commons 2.0