Africa is a soul continent. One can’t quite put a finger on exactly what it is, but somehow Africa’s intoxicating kaleidoscope of dream worthy landscapes, iconic wildlife, intriguing cultures, soulful music and starry nights grab hold of one’s soul. Once you’ve experienced the heart of this ancient land, chances are, you’re incurably hooked.
Yet many who have not yet ventured to this captivating continent still hold the ‘mythconception’ that ‘deep, dark Africa’ is dangerous, dirty and backwards, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The Mother Continent may be mysterious, but she is widely misunderstood. It’s time to set the record straight and bust these 15 myths about travel to Africa.
Myth 11: don’t drink the water
Although most travelers will avoid drinking tap water in any foreign land, it is actually safe to drink from the tap in South Africa’s urban areas. Of course this is not advisable in the more rural and remote areas; however, lodges across Africa have on-site, state-of-the-art water purification and bottling plants.
Recyclable glass bottles of safe-to-drink water, both tame (natural) and wild (sparkling), are provided in every guest suite, throughout the lodge, at every meal, as well as on every game drive enabling guests to stay hydrated without any worry.
Image © Lucas Raven.
Myth 12: there’s no wifi in Africa
When we travel, the aim should be to disconnect from technology, deadlines, meetings and to-do lists and to reconnect with the natural world, each other and indeed ourselves. The goal should be to wander where the wifi is weak; however, with remote work and digital nomadism now rapidly becoming our norm, many travelers simply need to stay connected.
Due to the remote location of many of Africa’s lodges and camps, internet connectivity can and will be intermittent at times. This is to be expected. That said, many private transfer vehicles are wifi-enabled for those long drives and most properties do have wifi connection. It may not be as reliable, or as fast, as the one you have at home, nor will 100% connectivity be guaranteed at all times, but you will be able to keep in touch with work and home while you’re exploring Africa.
There are plenty of reliable options for travelers looking to work from holiday (an increasingly popular trend to emerge from the pandemic). The caveat here is to connect to technology only when absolutely necessary. Zoom into a meeting here and there, find a beautiful table with a view while you answer emails, update your social media (but don’t obsess over it) and text your loved ones, but be present in your surroundings and try not to miss out on any of the fun.
Every traveler to Africa will agree that if you allow yourself to truly disconnect from the insatiable, demanding clutches of technology and connect with nature and your surroundings, you’ll find a much deeper, more meaningful connection. Every time.
Myth 13: Africa is always hot and sunny
Given the sheer size of Africa (see myth 1), it’s not surprising that each country’s climates, temperatures and precipitation differ. There are rainy seasons, droughts, rare desert rains and some places even get the occasional dusting of snow. Although African summers can be scorchers and the winters are far milder than their northern counterparts, it is not always hot.
Yes, on a winter safari, chances are you’ll be lazing around the pool come the afternoon, but be warned, the mornings and evenings will be chilly. Layers are your best friend. You’ll be reaching for the gloves, beanie, blankets and hot water bottle on those morning game drives, but by the afternoon, you could be in a swimsuit next to the pool. Pack for all seasons and bring lots of high SPF sunscreen. Even in wintertime, Africa’s sun is surprisingly intense.
Myth 14: African food is boring
Food is an integral—and enjoyable—part of travel. Meals are meant to be lingered over and slowly devoured and going back for seconds (thirds, fourths … who’s counting?!) is always encouraged. Often some of the most memorable travel moments come in the form of a delicious impromptu snack shared en route, a celebratory drink served at sunset or a dessert savored under the stars.
The chefs at our lodges and preferred partner properties are world-class and every meal is an invitation to try something new and fall in love with the flavors of Africa. Savor every meal and step outside of your comfort zone. If you can’t get enough of a particular dish that you’d like to recreate at home, just ask our chefs for the recipe—they’re happy to share their culinary secrets.
Remember, calories don’t count when you’re on holiday and diets don’t feature on any of our suggested packing lists. Leave them at home where they belong.
Myth 15: there’s no such thing as khaki fever
Ladies (and gentlemen), be warned, the dreaded khaki fever is a real thing, for which there is no cure. It’s the age-old story: rugged leader in (khaki) uniform; protector, educator, lover of nature and gifted charmer and storyteller. Those afflicted by this fervent fever become hopelessly attracted to their safari suitors.
Africa’s undeniably charismatic ‘khakis’ provide a sense of safety and security to safari goers while they explore the wilderness. Not only do they protect, educate and entertain their guests, they also encourage them to experience nature’s beauty through their eyes.
Not everyone falls prey to the captivatingly charming khaki brigade. Some claim immunity, while others will openly confess. Although this myth remains hotly contested, deep down we know which side of the debate holds the truth.
Image © Andrew van den Broeck.
Africa is enchanting, spellbinding and truly unforgettable. It is a playground for all ages. The sun can be intense and the wildlife sightings unpredictable, but the adventure itself is deeply meaningful.
The animals don’t want to eat you—but the bugs might. Arm yourself with some sunscreen and a good insect repellent, but be warned that the most voracious bug of all is the Africa bug. Once bitten, forever addicted. You’ll fall in love with Africa’s charm and you will want to return. Often.
Image © Sean Fandam.