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5 Misconceptions About Traveling to Africa

January 1, 2014

By Nathaniel Simons, The Africa Channel

The year 2013 is now in your rear-view mirror… which means you’re pulling out that pen and pad and drafting a list of 2014 goals.  And because it’s a new year, you’re telling yourself to be more “adventurous,” “bold” and “daring.”  So you think to yourself, “Maybe it’s time to take a trip to Africa?”  But how, where and when?  What about what you’ve heard?

Whatever you’ve heard, there’s a good chance it makes our list of 5 misconceptions about traveling to Africa.

5 Misconceptions about Traveling Africa:

  1. You’ll See Animals Roaming Freely

It’s true, Africa is home to some of the most endangered and beautiful creatures to ever roam the earth.  White Rhinoceroses, Vervet Monkeys and Black Panthers are just a few of the species that inhabit countries such as Namibia, Swaziland and Mozambique.  But if you’re expecting a Lion King chorus upon your arrival, you’ll be thoroughly disappointed.  In fact, unless you’re traveling to East or Southern Africa, you might be lucky to see more than a common house dog. If you’re looking to see animals in their natural habitat, you’ll most likely have to board the convoy and trek on a safari.

  1. You’ll Be Sleeping in a Hut

Sure, huts in African countries are a reality.  But they’re not the only reality.  The less-exposed side of Africa also includes 5-star hotels, comfortable cottages and mega mansions.  Places such as Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique have some of the most breathtaking real estate properties, while places such as Tanzania, Mauritius and Kenya boast some of the world’s best hotels.

  1. You’ll Have a Hard Time Understanding African

This is probably one of the greatest misconceptions to date; there is no one African language.  You might be surprised to know that most African countries have either French or English as their national language.  The history of Francophone and Anglophone speaking nations dates back to predominantly French and British colonial-rule.  Aside from these two languages, most African countries speak in myriad languages and dialects.  For instance, Ghana—a country of roughly 24 million people—has over 70 different tribal groups, and each has its own language or dialect.

  1. You’ll be Eating Unidentifiable Meat

Of course there are countries and regions where you’ll be able to try some more “exotic” foods, but if you’re used to the traditional staples of fish, chicken and beef, there’s no need to fear! Since most African countries take pride in their cooking, you’ll find that most meats are either exquisitely seasoned or decadently stewed.  If you’re a fish-lover, Ivorians make a mean grilled fish-dish called Poisson Braise! 

  1. You’ll be Living in a Desert Storm

Don’t allow the typical images of sand dunes and crackling wetlands to skew your perception of the geography in Africa.  Home to an abundance of resources, such as diamonds, gold, timber, oil and copper, Africa possesses a range of different climates.  Northern countries such as Libya, Algeria and Morocco have desert climates, whereas countries closer to the equator, such as Cameroon, Congo and Gabon, have more tropical climates.  You’ll also find mountainous climates in countries such as South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia!

What are some misconceptions you’ve heard about traveling to Africa?

Twitter: @NathanielSimons


(Photo Credit: Polana Serena in Maputo, Mozambique)


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