Africa comprises of over 50 often vastly different countries. When traveling as a woman in Africa, it is wise to research each and every country separately. Generally speaking, when local cultures are respected, women traveling alone in Africa will be helped, protected and welcomed.
Respecting African Culture
Several North African countries, such as Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria Tunisia and Kenya have a predominantly Muslim population. Local women are expected to cover up their bodies and heads, even if it is very hot. While western women are not expected to cover up to the same extent, it is wise to cover as much flesh as possible out of respect for the local culture. Not only will this protect women travelers against sun damage to the skin, it will also mean much less attention from males who generally see exposed flesh, bare legs and so on as an invitation to sexually harass a woman.
In countries such as Malawi, women wearing trousers or shorts is seen in an unacceptable light. So, when traveling as a woman in Africa, a little research beforehand and a little respect for the local traditions will go a long way in being accepted, helped and treated with courtesy in the various African lands. For example:
- Having a non-arrogant,
- Respectful attitude when dealing with locals,
- Avoiding direct eye contact and
- Being patient with officials
will go a long way in making solo travel a pleasant experience.
Hotels and Accommodation
The safest way to travel in Africa for a woman traveling solo is to take an organized package deal, where everything from flights to accommodation is arranged.
For the more adventurous, or those with more time, an organized overland travel companies can take a traveler from Cairo to Cape Town along the East coast of Africa or the Western African countries for a surprisingly reasonable sum of money. This is for the younger set, and over landers are expected to pitch in and help with setting up camp, washing up etc.
For solo women travelers who want to arrange their own travel itineraries, staying in hotels that cater for families, where doors can be locked and that have good communication facilities in the main cities is a good option. Generally speaking, don’t wander around the streets late at night unless the area is busy and well-lit, or there are families about.
You need good food and water when traveling as a woman in Africa
Certain countries in Africa have an excellent water supply where it is safe to drink tap water. Other countries don’t, so once again, it’s all about doing research. To be on the safe side, traveling with a portable water filter is always a good idea. As far as food goes, food ranges from hot and spicy to bland to wonderful fusion food. If traveling to an area with unsanitary conditions, be sure to eat cooked food only.
War Zones in Africa
Certain African countries are not safe to travel in, or have conflict areas in certain parts of the country. This includes certain parts of Sudan, Eritrea, Congo and Algeria. If determined to travel within these countries, find out where it is safe to go within the country. Register with an embassy. Be sure to leave a full itinerary with a family member or friend, with phone numbers and hotel addresses.
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