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 1: Africa is a country
First, some geography. Africa is not a country, it is a continent. In fact, it is the world’s second largest and second most populated continent and—this may come as a surprise—it is larger than China, India, the (contiguous) United States and most of Europe combined.
At roughly three times the size of the United States, the vast African continent is home to 54 countries, 9 of which are renowned for their world-class safaris. From the timeless, sand-swept dunes of Namibia’s Namib Desert and the tree-dotted plains of Kenya’s mighty Masai Mara, to the lofty peak of Mount Kilimanjaro and the meandering waterways of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, each African country boasts its own unique charms and wildlife encounters.
Myth 2: Africa is dangerous
Deep, dark Africa is a lot safer than you think. Like any destination, travelers should always have their wits about them and be vigilant, as they would anywhere else. That’s just common (travel) sense.
Whether you’re an apprehensive, first-time traveler to Africa or a seasoned Africa addict, planning your itinerary with an experienced travel specialist and travelling with a respected and well-established local operator offers peace of mind, not to mention convenience, security and seamless logistics.
With the right operator, your entire journey from arrival to departure can be organized so that you don’t have to think (or worry) about a thing. You can be warmly welcomed as you step off the plane and escorted through the arrival procedures. You’ll be assisted with your luggage and whisked off to your private transfer. Every last detail will be looked after en route so that you can relax and simply enjoy the ride.
Do remember though, that “this is Africa”. Flights and transfers may operate on “Africa time”, there may be queues and there may be bumps in the road (literally). Arm yourself with a good book, some headphones and a positive attitude. This is Africa and you’ll look back on every part of the adventure fondly.
Myth 3: there is a ‘best’ time to go on safari
Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘best’ time to go on safari. Mother Nature plays by her own rules, and no matter the season, there is always an element of beauty (and surprise).
Bear in mind that no two seasons, no two days and in fact no two game drives are ever the same in terms of the sights, smells, landscapes and wildlife interactions. There are pros and cons to every season, from weather and watering hole frequency, to vegetation and views.
The beauty of going on safari is that Mother Nature is, and always will be, utterly unpredictable. Each season, each day, and indeed each drive have their own unique appeal. Expect the unexpected and don’t let the dates nor the seasons hinder your desire to go on safari.
Myth 4: the flood season is the only time to visit the Okavango Delta
There’s no denying the captivating beauty of the maze-like waterways of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The combination of land and water-based game viewing is what makes this destination so incredibly unique; however, there is more to the Delta than just the floodwaters and last year’s severe drought proved this tenfold.
The Delta’s dry season (typically October to April) is just as spectacular, but in an entirely different way. The iconic floodwaters recede and the channels, swamps and lagoons dry up completely leaving sand, dust and shells in their wake. The once watery wonderland is miraculously converted into a vast, open grassland allowing for some extraordinary wildlife sightings that would otherwise be inaccessible with the waterways intact.
Image © Sean Fandam.
Myth 5: the Great Migration can only be seen in July & August
There’s so much more to the Great Migration than just the widely documented Mara/Grumeti River crossings that typically take place from July to September. While these on-the-edge-of-your-seat sightings are as unforgettable as they are nerve-wracking, what many travelers fail to understand is that this migratory trek of hungry herbivores is a year-round occurrence.
The Great Migration never stops. It is a journey as old as time, and each season comes with its own special highlights.