Best Countries in Africa for Backpacking

Best Countries in Africa for Backpacking

Time to get your backpack ready and your boots on, Africa is calling you for an adventure that will be unforgettable.  From the pyramids of Egypt to the wildlife reserves of Kenya, from the exotic markets of Morocco to the stunning beaches of South Africa, Africa is a continent of endless wonders and exploits.

Planning a backpacking trip to Africa can seem like a daunting task. Where do you start? What should you know before embarking on your journey? How do you ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable backpacking experience in Africa?

This guide is designed to provide you with all the necessary information, tips, and insights for a successful backpacking in Africa adventure. So, let’s start this thrilling adventure together.

Why Choose Africa for Backpacking?


Africa, with its diverse landscapes and cultures, offers an unparalleled backpacking experience. Here are some reasons why Africa should be your next backpacking destination:

Rich Wildlife

Africa is synonymous with wildlife. It’s home to some of the world’s most iconic wildlife species, including lions, elephants, giraffes, and rhinos. National parks and game reserves across the continent offer opportunities to witness these animals in their natural habitats.

Stunning Landscapes

The landscapes in Africa are breathtakingly diverse. From the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro to the sun-soaked beaches of Zanzibar, from the vast Sahara desert to the lush Okavango Delta, Africa offers a range of landscapes that are as diverse as they are beautiful.

Preparing for Your Backpacking Trip in Africa

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Proper preparation is key to a successful backpacking trip in Africa. Here are some important aspects to consider:

What to Pack

Packing for a backpacking trip in Africa can be a challenge due to the continent’s diverse climates and activities. Here are some essentials:

  • Clothing: Pack lightweight, breathable clothing for hot climates, and warm layers for cooler regions. Don’t forget a waterproof jacket for rainy seasons and a good pair of hiking boots.
  • Gear: A durable backpack, a good quality tent, a sleeping bag suitable for various climates, and a portable stove are some of the essentials.
  • Health Supplies: Bring a first-aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen, and any necessary prescription medications.
  • Miscellaneous: A water purifier, travel guidebook, and power adapter are also useful.

Health and Safety Considerations

Health and safety are paramount when backpacking in Africa:

  • Vaccinations: Consult with a travel doctor to ensure you have the necessary vaccinations. Common ones include Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever.
  • Malaria: Malaria is prevalent in many parts of Africa. Consider taking antimalarial medication and always use mosquito nets and repellents.
  • Safety: Research the safety of the areas you plan to visit. Register with your embassy, keep emergency numbers handy, and always trust your instincts

Visa Requirements

Visa requirements vary greatly across African countries:

  • Research: Check the visa requirements for each country you plan to visit. Some countries offer visas on arrival, while others require you to apply in advance.
  • Documentation: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. Keep digital and physical copies of your passport, visa, and travel insurance.

Top Countries for Backpacking in Africa

Africa is a vast continent with a myriad of destinations for backpackers. Here are some of the top countries that offer a unique backpacking experience:

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Morocco: A Blend of Cultures

Morocco is a cultural melting pot where African, Arab, and European influences blend. From the bustling souks of Marrakech to the serene Sahara Desert, and the charming blue city of Chefchaouen, Morocco offers a rich cultural experience.

Kenya: A Wildlife Paradise

Kenya is a dream destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The country is home to some of the most iconic African wildlife, including lions, elephants, and giraffes.

The Maasai Mara Reserve offers one of the best wildlife viewing experiences in the world. Apart from wildlife, Kenya also boasts beautiful landscapes, from the Great Rift Valley to the stunning beaches of Mombasa.

South Africa: A World in One Country

South Africa is often described as ‘a world in one country’ due to its diverse landscapes and cultures. From the stunning Table Mountain in Cape Town to the wildlife-rich Kruger National Park, and the picturesque vineyards of Stellenbosch, South Africa has something for every backpacker.

Tanzania: From Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar

Tanzania offers a range of experiences for backpackers. You can challenge yourself with a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, or explore the wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park. Don’t miss the chance to relax on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar after your adventures on the mainland.

Ghana: The Gateway to West Africa

Ghana is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to West Africa’. It’s known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and friendly locals. Visit the historic slave forts along the Cape Coast, explore the busy markets of Accra, or immerse yourself in traditional Ashanti culture in Kumasi.

Budget Accommodation in Africa

Finding affordable accommodation is an essential part of backpacking. Here are some budget-friendly options in Africa:


Hostels are a popular choice for backpackers in Africa. They are not only affordable but also provide opportunities to meet other travelers. Most hostels offer dormitory-style rooms, but you can also find private rooms in some places. Facilities usually include shared bathrooms, communal kitchens, and social areas.


CouchSurfing is another budget-friendly accommodation option. It’s a platform that connects travelers with locals who are willing to offer a free place to stay. This could be anything from a spare room to a couch in the living room. CouchSurfing can be a great way to meet locals and gain insights into the local culture.

Unique Accommodations

Africa also offers some unique accommodation options that won’t break the bank. For instance, you could stay in a traditional Maasai hut in Kenya, a Berber tent in the Moroccan desert, or a treehouse in Ghana. These unique accommodations can add an extra layer of adventure to your backpacking trip in Africa.

Tips for Backpacking in Africa

Backpacking in Africa can be an incredible experience, but it’s important to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you navigate your journey:

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Transportation Tips

Getting around in Africa can be an adventure in itself. Here are some tips:

  • Patience is key: Public transportation in Africa may not always run on a tight schedule. Delays are common, so it’s important to be patient.
  • Embrace local transport: Using local modes of transport like minibusses or motorbike taxis can be a great way to experience the local culture.
  • Safety first: Always prioritize your safety. Avoid night travel when possible and always keep your belongings secure.

Food and Water Tips

Staying healthy while backpacking in Africa is crucial. Here are some tips for food and water safety:

  • Drink bottled water: Tap water in many parts of Africa is not safe to drink. Always opt for bottled water and avoid ice in your drinks.
  • Eat freshly cooked food: To avoid foodborne illnesses, try to eat food that is freshly cooked and served hot.
  • Be cautious with street food: While street food can be delicious and cheap, be cautious. Look for vendors with high turnover and avoid raw or undercooked food.

Overcoming Challenges While Backpacking in Africa

Backpacking in Africa can present some challenges, but with the right approach, these can be easily overcome. Here are some tips:

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Dealing with Language Barriers

Language barriers can be a challenge while backpacking in Africa, as the continent is home to thousands of languages. However, English and French are widely spoken in many countries. Here are some tips:

  • Learn a few local phrases: Knowing basic greetings and phrases in the local language can go a long way in making connections with locals.
  • Use translation apps: Technology can be a great help in overcoming language barriers. Translation apps can help you communicate more effectively.

Navigating Local Customs and Etiquette

Understanding and respecting local customs and etiquette is crucial:

  • Do your research: Before you arrive, read up on the local customs, etiquette, and social norms of the countries you’ll be visiting.
  • Observe and ask: When in doubt, observe what locals do or simply ask. Most locals appreciate your efforts to respect their culture.

Staying Safe and Healthy

Safety and health are paramount when backpacking in Africa:

  • Stay informed: Keep up-to-date with the latest safety information about the regions you’re visiting. Register with your embassy and keep emergency numbers handy.
  • Travel insurance: Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers any medical expenses, evacuation, theft, or loss.
  • Stay healthy: Protect yourself from diseases by getting the necessary vaccinations, taking precautions against mosquitoes, and drinking bottled water.

Backpacking in Africa is more than just a trip; it’s an adventure that promises life-changing experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. So, are you ready to strap on your backpack and set off on your African adventure? Enjoy your backpacking trip!

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