Andreanne; From Doubt to Adventure:
When I first started researching backpacking trips to Africa, I found very little information on the Internet. Afterwards, when I shared this project with my friends and family, many found it strange and even dangerous.
Even though I had traveled a lot in the past, I doubted my own ability to manage to enjoy this magnificent continent.
It was when I arrived in Ethiopia that I discovered the extent of my ignorance. Although backpack tourism is not very developed in Africa, it is the perfect playground for a traveler looking to discover new local cultures! From Ethiopia to South Africa, via Malawi and Tanzania, I loved my experience! I was able to meet different open and welcoming peoples (Karamojongs, Masais, Samburus), in addition to visiting landscapes that were completely unknown to me, such as the savannah and the desert.
In truth, I believe Africa is completely underestimated when it comes to backpacking! It is certain that the visit of this continent requires resourcefulness, but this is proportional to the unique adventures in this corner of the world!
Jonathan; Backpacker in Rwanda:
Kigali is not a capital like the others. With its dozens of hills, it is like the rest of Rwanda: a bit of nature, a bit chaotic. You get around by motorcycle taxi in a tangle of streets that confuse even travelers with the best sense of direction. While local public transport is affordable (matatus, shared taxis, and minibuses), it can take a long time to travel the distance between two cities.
The more adventurous will surely want to see the gorillas, at the foot of the Virunga Mountains, in the Kinigi sector. The permits are overpriced, however, at US $ 1,500 per person. An hour with the gorillas goes quickly. Used to tourists, they go about their daily business without worrying too much about us. Except perhaps the youngest, who will want to have fun with all the softness of a trailer truck. Danger. Seeing a baby a few months old in the arms of its mother will have made you forget all the money spent. (Uganda and Congo often offer better prices).
The adventure can also be found in lesser-known sectors, such as on the edge of Lake Kivu. In Gisenyi, one can approach the busy border with Congo. “I want to marry you,” joked a passerby who had just crossed the border. From there, crossing the lake to Kibuye, although not open daily, is faster than the bus. Only, the boat used has enough to give you some cold sweats. To tell the truth, we don’t take our eyes off the exits by crossing our fingers so that the boat does not sink.
Of course, we have to take an interest in the genocide, with all due respect. I was alone the day I went to the Murambi memorial. Alone enough to think for a long time about those words that we find everywhere: “Never again.”
The Casamance in a Backpack With a 4-year-old Child:
This backpacking trip with my 4-year-old son on the roads of Casamance remains one of my fondest travel memories. Of course, I am not alone on this trip but when you travel with a 4 year old child as a single woman it is a big responsibility! Since my trip in 2000 to Dakar and Saint-Louis, I dreamed of discovering Casamance, this green region cut off from the rest of the country by the Gambia and, then, inaccessible. Fifteen years later, I returned to Senegal, this time taking in my bag my son who has never set foot in an African country.
Most of the time, I travel on a tight budget and I prefer the local. During the three weeks that we spent in Casamance, we therefore traveled by bush taxi, minibus, motorbike and canoe and I favored village camps. In addition, I had nothing planned in advance and organized my trip as and when I met and / or wanted. I bought myself a local SIM card and booked the same morning or before hitting the road (the only tax when I travel alone with Sacha because I don’t want to be in an isolated place without having a place to sleep ).
Senegal is a very easy country to travel alone. There is great solidarity in this country and I have always been well surrounded, almost sometimes considered as a member of the family. The only recurring questions I have been faced with are: “Why are you leaving without your husband?” Does he agree? I can only recommend that you go to Casamance, take the time to stay, to meet, to share and to have confidence.
Stefan; South Africa Solo:
In October 2014 during my 2-year world tour, I visited South Africa solo for 2 months when I had planned to stay there only a month at the start. During this trip, I made a road trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg along the coast (a little over 2000km). I also passed through Lesotho (the only landlocked country in the world) inside South Africa.
To get around, I used the company “Baz Bus” which has several vans with ten seats especially for tourists. The reason I chose this mode of transportation is that I wanted to travel slowly and it is very convenient. The Baz Bus picks you up and drops you off at your youth hostel. It is much more reassuring and you can meet other travelers, however, it is more expensive than the classic bus but faster.
Some advice for South Africa. What you need to know about South Africa is that there are very few tourists except in Cape Town and for some places in Johannesburg. Most hostels have a very friendly atmosphere because there are less than 50 people, you can quickly get to know everyone. If you are only spending a few days in Cape Town, I recommend that you book your visit to Robben Island in advance online! There are several days of waiting, as the entries are limited. Robben island is the “prison” island where Nelson Mandala was imprisoned. There are a lot of activities in Cape Town: canoeing, going to Cape Bon Esperance, hiking in the mountains, learning to surf, going to the beach, whale watching (depending on the season), visiting the botanical garden, going see the vineyards in Stellenbosh, ride a bike and watch the sunsets. You can easily stay a week, I stayed 10 days in Cape Town. Along the coast, there are a lot of hikes and nature spots. There are also some nature reserves, I personally visited the “Addo” Elephant National Park on safari near Port Elizabeth. I also visited an ostrich breeding farm in Oudtshoorn.
Africa Solo; My Experience:
As I wrote in my introduction, it was at the age of eighteen that I discovered Africa, and more specifically Mauritania, a country I literally fell in love with, and to which I have returned on several occasions. In 2015, ten years after setting foot on the African continent for the first time, I even went down to Nouakchott (Mauritania) but on the go from Orleans, a hitchhiking adventure in Morocco and across the Sahara, that I’ll never forget.
Traveling alone in Africa, through different countries (Senegal, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Lesotho…), will have especially taught me the following thing: Africa is multiple. Of course, we often find among the populations a strong feeling of belonging to this continent. However, the lands of Africa are vast, and the peoples so different!
In addition, Africa, a continent that receives media coverage often for the worse, and not for the better, deserves our interest in it with our own eyes, in order to perceive its riches, at least some. The secret to a successful trip to Africa? Leave your preconceived ideas behind at home and let the people you meet along the way teach us what their lives, their aspirations, their doubts and their joys really are.
So, accept the invitation to sit on a mat, burn your lips while sipping a glass of tea, and let the griots sing their story to you, the storytellers pass on their traditions to you, and the children tell you their dreams, because it is partly there that the most beautiful of treasures is hidden. Be careful, you might well get a taste for it.