Natalie Knibbs, the owner of Africa Memories Travel, shares the dos and don'ts of travelling to Africa. This is what she told Clinton Moodley.
Be patient and understanding
Travellers should practise patience during their trip to Africa. Knibbs said visitors should not have any “high expectations for formality and time” as there may be long waiting times at airports or arrival borders.
Research and learn a bit about the country
Travellers venturing to any country on the continent should conduct ample research. Find out about the culture, the language, the activities, the transport options, the currency and other vital information needed to ensure your trip runs smoothly.
Carry some cash (somewhere hidden to avoid being a victim of crime) to use for emergencies or to pay for your visa on arrival. Make sure the money is the currency of your travel destination.
Some destinations do not condone the use of certain types of clothing, so be mindful of their rules when packing your suitcase.
Hire a tour operator
Tour guides are ideal for people travelling to Africa for the first time, are nervous or struggle with the language barrier. Knibbs “highly recommends tour guides”. She said travellers can do without one if they are able to navigate from point A or B without much effort.
Expect the locals to know English or your language
Language can be a huge factor when travelling. Knibbs advised that learning a few words like “hello”, “how are you” and “thank you” allow for easy communication between the traveller and the locals. Download a translator app to help you navigate tricky conversations.
Speed, you may be charged or jailed
For those who are embarking on self-drives, Knibbs warned that the speed limit should be adhered to at all times.
“Do not breach the speed limits as you would be fined immediately or jailed in extreme cases. Rather adhere to the speed regulations.”
Africa is like any destination when it comes to crime. Knibbs recommends that travellers keep valuables like money and passport hidden in their possession. Try not to flaunt your belongings as it may give rise to opportunistic crime.
Forget to tip
Most countries and their employees rely on tourism to survive. Make sure you tip during your tours, when at restaurants and the hotel. Some countries add tips into your bill, while others have a 10% rule. Travellers should tip at their own discretion.
Cause a scene
Be polite when dealing with locals. Knibbs suggests that visitors introduce themselves, ask the locals how they are and learn more about them before making requests or asking them questions.
“Be kind when communicating with locals. Do not be rude or cause a scene, but rather practice tolerance and respect,” she said.
Read the May 2021 edition of IOL Travel here.