7 Reasons You Should Backpack in Africa Instead of Europe

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4. Safety (it’s not what everyone seems to think)

I struggle to write this article as it’s so difficult to generalize for the entire region. Each nation within Southern Africa should be treated as a separate entity with different standards of safety and operation. It’s true – parts of Cape Town and Johannesburg are quite dangerous at the moment. However, I have felt less safe often walking the streets of San Francisco than I have in Cape Town. Just like in any big city, it’s smart to be street-wise. If you take normal precautions you should have no issues at all.

The southern cone is politically stable at the moment. Sure, there are some presidents who aren’t exactly leading a democracy, but check out the rest of the world… do your research beforehand.Register with the embassy if you are nervous – even join a group overland tour.

Register with the embassy if you are nervous – even join a group overland tour. (Nomad Overland Tours being my favorite local operator.) In general don’t stress – there are travelers from all over the world adventuring solo in Southern Africa. Don’t let the media scare you.

5. Volunteer Opportunities

A wonderful feature of Africa travel is that it attracts individuals who want to give back during their trip. This has created a special market of organizations who offer volunteer opportunities. I recommend reading up before you go – research several organizations and make a positive impact. This is an unforgettable way to deeply connect with a place, I couldn’t recommend it more!

6. Parties and Festivals

Music festivals are just one of the many reasons to visit Southern Africa. Did you know South Africa even has its own version of Burning Man?! Check out these for a few of my favorite picks…

Africa Burn

Rocking the Daisies

Up the Creek

Lake of Stars – (read what to know before you go)


7. Do Something Different

The entire region of Southern Africa has truly captured my spirit. It’s high time that I stop being so selfish and allow the rest of the world to also experience the beauty that exists here.

It may be a long flight from home, but the type of traveler here is different. Africa doesn’t attract the hoards of binge drinking teenagers (although there are a few guilty gap year volunteers). Instead, people who make the journey tend to care about our planet and desire to discover themselves.

In Swahili the word for “Safari” means “to take a journey.” In my experience, I have found that people go on safari and return having taken an unforgettable and lifechanging journey.

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