Africa

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Africa. A place pulsating with endless natural beauty, elusive wildlife and rich traditions. Energy springs throughout the continent from the Serengeti, toward tropical coastlines, between lush rainforests and across bustling cities. Prepare for next-level adventures that’ll leave you bonded with humanity and the animal kingdom like never before!

About The Region: Africa

Oftentimes, Africa is painted as one thematic picture of land rovers, roaming giraffes and mud huts, but Africa’s 54 countries exhibit more than those stereotypical frames of life. Here, you’ll discover that as the globes second largest continent by size and population, Africa is home to an array of natural wonders and cultural complexities that deliver new heights of perspective.

When to Go

Time your adventure wrong, and you could find yourself caught up in a cyclone during a beach holiday to Madagascar; or stranded by extreme flooding during a cultural trip to the remote valleys of Ethiopia. As with everywhere else in the world, African weather depends on a considerable number of factors and differs not only from country to country but from one region to the next.

North Africa has an arid desert climate, with high temperatures and very little precipitation (although temperatures in the mountains and the Sahara at nighttime can drop below freezing). Equatorial West and Central Africa have a monsoon climate defined by high temperatures, soaring humidity, and heavy seasonal rains. East Africa also has distinct dry and rainy seasons, while Southern Africa is generally more temperate.

For many countries in Africa, seasons don’t follow the same pattern that they do in Europe and the United States. Instead of spring, summer, fall, and winter, most countries south of the Sahara Desert have dry and rainy seasons.

Dry Season – Rains settle down and animals emerge. This is the best time time to visit famous safari destinations like the Serengeti , when water is scarce and animals are forced to congregate around the few remaining water sources. Gear up to  track gorillas in Rwanda, hike the tallest peak in Africa – Mount Kilimanjaro or cage dive with Great White Sharks in South Africa. This is the closest to nature you can truly get in beautiful Africa! Keep in mind, African sub-regions experience different dry seasons as well; below are the peak months for each area.

North Africa – June to September

East Africa – July to September

Horn of Africa – November to January

West Africa – November to April

Southern Africa – April to October

Wet Season – Low season is a great time to see animals with their young, from cubs and pups to fawns, foals and calves. Larger elephant herds are also seen roaming the grasslands, especially at Maasai Mara. Enjoy less crowds at the vibrant Marrakech markets of Morocco, traverse sand dunes in the Sahara when temperatures aren’t blazing or set your sights on untouched coasts with unreal surfing conditions. The different wet seasons for African sub-regions include;

North Africa – November to March

East Africa – April to June and October to December

Horn of Africa – February to June and October to December

West Africa – April to July and September to October

Southern Africa – November to March

Scroll to the bottom for more unmissable travel opportunities in Africa.

Travel PrerequisiteS

The DoD Foreign Clearance Guide outlines all the requirements you must complete before traveling. The requirements vary by combatant command and country and they change continually based on current threats.

  • Approved liberty (This process varies greatly from unit to unit, be sure to check local guidelines)
  • Completed itinerary 
  • The DoD Foreign Clearance Guide may suggest completion of additional travel prerequisites that may include the following:
    • Level 1 Anti-Terrorism Awareness Training via JKO
    • SERE 100.2 via JKO
    • Travel Tracker Individual Anti-terrorism Plan (TT/IATP) 
    • Country Clearance via Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance System (APACS) 
    • Theater Clearance via APACS
    • Special Area Clearance
    • Isolated Personnel Report training
    • SCI Brief via local command
    • Detailed Itinerary
  • AFRICOM specific guidance can be found here.

Military Installations and Historical Sites

Camp Lemonnier, Dijibouti, is the primary base of operations for U.S. Africa Command in the Horn of Africa. It is the only permanent U.S. base in Africa; it was refurbished in 2001 and still active today at Dijibouti’s Dijibouti-Ambouli international Airport. Other historical sites can be found here.

Travel Considerations

The question on many people’s lips when they start thinking about travelling to the very diverse continent of Africa is, “is it safe?”  The answer is yes! In fact, nearly 6.3 million international travelers set foot on African soil in 2019. 

Like many other continents in the world, there are some countries that are legitimately unsafe for travelers. It is always recommended that at the time of planning any trip, that you check the current political climate or general state of affairs in the country you are thinking of visiting.

It is important to know that nearly all tourist attractions in Africa are far from conflict zones such as Somalia, Libya, Sudan and the Central Africa Republic. The large majority of travelers to Africa return home without encountering any problems whatsoever, and more often than not will describe their experience as the trip of a lifetime”.

The trick is simply knowing the do’s and don’ts both geographically and logistically. Here are some valuable safety tips for travel in Africa.

  • Vaccinations are recommended and required for some parts of this region. A detailed list can be found here from the World Health Organization.
  • Check The Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs travel advisories regarding the safety of every country.
  • Despite the 1,500-2,000 local languages spoken in Africa. English is actually an official language in many countries (along with German or French in a few countries!).
  • Stay out of the busy downtown areas in cities and the industrial or business areas after dark.
  • Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth and keep use of your digital gadgets to a minimum in crowded public places.
  • When in doubt, ask your concierge or guide and listen to their advice.
  • Always make copies of your travel documents and store these separately.
  • Keep money in a belt that deters pickpockets and turn down offers of friendly assistance when it comes to exchanging money.
  • Unfortunately, corrupt border processes are one aspect of African travel that can be seriously frustrating for travelers. It is important to know your visa requirements before visiting any country in Africa.
  • While you can get most visas at the individual points of entry, arranging them ahead of time saves a ton of hassle.
  • Be stubborn – if someone looks like they’re deliberately holding things up to make you pay to “rush it through” firmly (and politely!) ask to have your passport back. If you’re certain that your visa meets all the requirements but you’re being asked to pay more to get it approved, decline and ask to speak to another official.
  • Most countries require Yellow Fever vaccination proof just to enter the country.
  • Be cautious and ask locals about the safety of swimming in local lakes or other bodies of water. There are flesh eating bacteria as well as other natural dangers to be considerate of.

 

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