Love on the Road & 9 Other Answers Explained by a Traveler in Africa

traveler in Africa backpacking africa for beginners


[Admin Note: For a long time, I felt like I was a traveler in Africa with one of the only blogs dedicated to backpacking the continent. But then I thankfully stumbled across Miguel at Viviendo en Chanclas.  His blog is a Spanish version of everything I try and promote here. (Except he has way better photos!!) And thanks to Google Translate you can read his helpful (and very entertaining) blogs & guides to get your trip started! Miguel also used my Backpacking Africa for Beginners Ebook to begin his trip. So keep reading to learn how a non-native English speaker from South America traveled the continent solo.]

Q 1 : Why Did You Decide to Become a Traveler in Africa?

I always enjoyed the idea of traveling off beaten paths. Add the fact that Africa is a cheap continent, the fact that I had always felt a desire to travel through it, and that as a Colombian, I can jump from one country to the next without the necessity of applying for a visa (just visa on arrival) ….these were the factors that convinced me that Africa was the destination calling me the most.

Q 2: Tell Me More About Your Trip? Where Did You Go? How Did You Get Around?

Initially, the plan was to go through East Africa in a year and a half. I spent 3 months in Uganda, where I mixed working as a volunteer, backpacking and partying. Afterwards, I spent the same amount of time in Kenya. But just before leaving for Tanzania, I met a local woman and my plans changed. We traveled together to Tanzania and Malawi, and we are still hoping to explore the rest of East Africa!

See Also:  7 Stereotypes About Africa That Just Aren't True

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Q 3: You’re from Colombia. Most people I know would rather explore South America than Africa. What reasons would you give to persuade them otherwise?

South America is no doubt an excellent destination, and I would even suggest traveling through it before Africa. That is, of course, not a necessity, nonetheless moving through South America is easier. The backpacking routes are better marked, touristic attractions and infrastructure is also better organized.

Africa is a continent which you will have to discover step by step. Rarely you will know for a fact how your path will go. You don’t know what kind of transportation you will end up using, nor what you will do or where you will stay.

Q 4: What was it like traveling Africa as a Colombian? Since English isn’t your native language, did you ever struggle?

This one is tough, since I have been speaking English for a long time and I am very used to it. If that wasn’t the case, it could had been difficult, because few Africans speak Spanish. However, I have met many Spanish citizens who don’t speak English and have had great experiences in the continent.

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Q 5:  Along the way, you met a Kenyan girl…. Tell me more about how that happened. And do you think finding love while you travel is common?

I was working as a volunteer helping to build a ship, but sometimes I would get bored during the nights, since they would rarely go to town. I wanted to drink a cold one! It was because of this, that I asked a friend to introduce me to a local. A few days later, she got me in touch with Jacquie, and we clicked immediately. We have been living together on the Kenyan coast for close to a year now!

See Also:  11 Champion Travel Tips for Traveling Africa

I think it’s important to be open minded when traveling, to not just focus in filling the passport pages. In my case this relaxed attitude lead me into meeting my awesome woman :).

Q 6: Besides possible romance, what are other things that surprised you while traveling Africa?

There is probably no place in the world with a reputation as bad as Africa. Being here and noticing how 99% of its image is a massive lie is a beautiful experience, the warmth of the people is just the cherry on top.

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Q 7: What’s your best money saving tips for staying on a frugal budget?

For a traveler in Africa, I would suggest to not be obsessed with safaris or very famous/touristy places. Travelling the continent is cheap, but conventional tourism can be quite pricey.

Q 8:What would you tell someone who is a little freaked out about traveling Africa because they think it’s too dangerous? Compared to South America, which seems more dangerous?

Africa is a friendly place, as simple as that. Most of its people are kind with white citizens, willing to help them in any way they can, and in sharing their culture. I recommend arriving in the country or destination that inspires the most confidence. Once there, to start exploring the real Africa, it will only be a few days before those fears surrounding Africa are dispelled.

I would say Africa is actually safer than South America, since South America is too popular and there are already too many people interested in stealing or hurting the millions of tourist coming every year.

Q 9: What’s your best tip for a new traveler in Africa?

As a traveler in Africa, do not not rush it. Don’t aim to go through 20 countries in 20 days. That, and starting to explore the world of traveling from outside your comfort zone. After a short while that comfort zone will widen without you even realizing it!

See Also:  How to Travel Africa Solo (Even as a Girl)

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Q 10: Tell me more about your website. What do you write about? What are your future plans for it?

My blog initially aims at sharing my experiences and goofs traveling the forgotten continent. On top of that I publish some travel guides, and additional guides/tips for volunteering in Africa. This last part is the one I’m focusing on the most, since it is the area where people get interested in the most. However, I want to teach that coming just for a short volunteer work is a very incomplete experience, and that you shouldn’t limit your trip to this only.

My future plans are to become a referent when it comes to traveling around Africa (especially East Africa), with an aim on the volunteering world, and sharing travel experiences.

Want to know more about what it’s like to be a traveler in Africa? Head to Viviendo en Chanclas now! Seriously, he’s rocking it over there!

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4 responses to “Love on the Road & 9 Other Answers Explained by a Traveler in Africa”

  1. anwuli okeke says:

    As an African who’s also focused on promoting Africa and helping others understand the myths and the realities of the continent, it was refreshing to get Miguel’s take on Africa.
    I have a blog – – and I cover a range of topics about the continent and diasporan Africa. Here’s a link to an article that you may find interesting –
    Would you be open to me writing a piece for your website?
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey! So good to hear from you! Glad you liked Miguel’s story! It’s definitely not the one you normally hear about African countries which is why I love it too! I checked out your site. Really cool stuff. I would love a guest post… I’m going to email you now so we can chat more 🙂

  2. HandZaround says:

    Hi Val!

    We’ve bought your book ‘Backpacking Africa for Beginners’ because we’re planning on travelling from Ethiopia to South Africa in about 6 months.
    We couldn’t find your email so decided to write here.

    We’re about to buy our flight tickets to Addis and have been looking at the government safety advice which says that basically everywhere around Ethiopian border (including the border Ethiopia – Kenya), it’s ‘advised against ALL travel’ and the border crossing overland from Ethiopia to Kenya is where we want to go… We wouldn’t like to omit Ethiopia but we’re not sure how we could safely get to Kenya.

    So we thought we would reach out to you to ask for your personal opinion since you live in Ethiopia (are we right? 🙂 ). Any advice/thoughts would be appreciated!

    Best wishes
    Hanna and Zach

    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey Hanna and Zach! Thanks for reaching out! & for downloading the book 🙂 I want to add my email to the book so travelers can contact me better, but wifi is sooo slow these days that I’m afraid I’ll never be able to reupload it. lol so good call on reaching out here 🙂 Anyways… So I can’t decide what to tell you. I like the UK travel warnings the best, & looking @ Ethiopia & Kenya they don’t actively tell you not to go: and if you were to avoid an area in Ethiopia right now it would be north not south. I’m also quite sure hundreds of locals are doing it daily because there is a lot of trade in the regions. So part of me thinks it will be okay. However, even when I traveled that road, tensions were a little high in Northern Kenya and I’m not sure they’ve completely cooled down. And Ethiopia is relatively safe right now but there is still a bit of unpredictability which is never good for the curious traveler.

      I think it depends on how determined you are to do it. For example, I was so set on traveling Cape to Cairo so I just chose to do somethings– and it all turned out fine. There’s always a safe route… I know travelers who crossed some dangerous countries with Bedouin. So I’m sure you can do it. But if you’re not extremely set, it’s not the worst thing to skip Ethiopia and the trip down to Kenya for now. You can always come back, and maybe you’ll have extra money to see a different country which could be just as cool. Or just do a flight from Addis to Nairobi. Not as cool sounding or doing, but it would ease your mind and let you see both countries.

      Anyways… sorry that’s not super helpful. But the problem is the roads aren’t good or bad right now. It’s mostly fine– and you’ll mostly likely be okay, but there’s still a bit of this weird, anything could happen feeling that makes it all a little unsure. But I’m going to send you an email now so we can chat and debate more 🙂

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Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Do you want to see the real Africa and make some incredible memories?

Published Date : Jan 15, 2015

Description : This book is intended for beginner travelers to africa...