Backpacking in Africa
Africa, in case you hadn’t realized, is massive. It’s the world’s second largest continent, accounting for over 20% of our land area. There’s a whopping 54 countries and 3 different surrounding oceans. As a result there’s a huge amount to see and do in Africa, and many backpackers travel here for their entire gap year to make sure they don’t miss a thing.
The most popular backpacking destination is South Africa, home to Cape Town and Johannesburg, incredible scenery, game reserves, extreme sports, and much besides. There’s also Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Seychelles, Madagascar, Botswana, and many, many more.
Travelling in Africa can be a mixed bag in terms of ease and cost. Many countries don’t have established travel networks, and political turmoil can sometimes make some areas unsafe to visit. As a result it’s definitely worth planning ahead.
How to Travel Around Africa
Although some transport networks in Africa are not as developed as elsewhere in the world, you can almost always find a way to get where you’re going. It might not always be cheap, or comfortable, or quick, but you’ll make it to your destination in one piece sooner or later.
By train and bus
Rail travel in Africa is still very much developing, improving year after year. Generally speaking, passenger railways in Africa stay within one country only, with some exceptions. There’s an interconnected railway network between Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, and Rwanda, making it a good option for travelling between those countries.
Elsewhere the quality varies. Many countries like Morocco, South Africa, and Egypt have extensive networks for passengers between major cities. Even in countries like Kenya and Botswana, which have limited routes, trains can be worth getting as a means of wildlife spotting and to enjoy the scenery. But it’s likely they’ll be a link in a more complicated journey, rather than your soul source of travel.
If you’re looking to travel extensively overland, buses will likely become your best friends. Almost every African country has a bus service that acts as the main form of transportation for tourists and locals alike. The price and quality of these vary from country to country, so it’s definitely worth doing some research before you set off. In many countries missing a bus can mean a long wait until the next one, if you want to take a flight, Jetradar is a great site to find cheap flights.
Finding Accommodation in Africa
CouchSurfing is a great community that connects travelers with local hosts but since 2020, you now need to pay a fee to be able to use it. If you traveling by bicycle you can also use Warmshower, they are also established worldwide.
If you are the kind of person that like to reserve your hotel before to arrive HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels in the world, with millions of reviews from fellow backpackers. Agoda is also a great deal and has lots of advanced search and filters for finding hostels, hotels, and unique accommodation.
Airbnb has been a game-changer in our travel style! It’s allowed us to stay in some pretty dope places all over the world for a fraction of the price. Aside from the fact that we get access to things like a kitchen and a larger living space, booking an Airbnb more often than not is CHEAPER than a hotel.
Unique Activities in Africa
Get your Guide is a popular site to book tours, skip the line tickets for crowded sites, or just to get ideas of common activities in various locations. Civitatis is another similar activity and tour search website.