Exploring Africa on a Budget – Backpacking
In truth, most of us are not the unadventurous people others peg us to be. But with the hike in the prices of everything, the cost of traveling has also skyrocketed so the not-so-wealthy ones among us have to succumb to an unadventurous life. However, we are here to debunk the myth that all travels have to be expensive. We often make the mistake of thinking all our travels have to be a luxurious shopping spree, not at all. If you really want to have an adventure, you should get your hands dirty and see as many new things as you can. Backpacking is a way to see as many places as you can without spending as much money as you should. Best of all is you can start at home by backpacking Nigeria before graduating into Africa and the world.
What is backpacking?
Backpacking is not just carrying your belongings on a rucksack and going from one place to the other. Backpacking is far more than a way of traveling; it is a way of looking at and discovering the world. It is, to all intents and purposes, a way of life. You cannot truly claim to be ‘a backpacker’, or to go ‘backpacking’, unless you are already a certain type of person. Backpacking does not teach you independence – it hones your independence and makes you more self-sufficient. It teaches you to survive in the occasionally tough environment.
What should you consider before deciding to backpack?
- You should realize that Africa is a big continent, so you can prepare yourself by backpacking in your country first, then graduating to one or two neighboring countries before venturing out into Africa.
- It is essential you choose the right countries for you. Lean towards more politically stable countries. Beginners should start with ‘easier’ destinations where tourism is pronounced – they tend to meet other travellers in these places.
- The larger the region you are exploring, the more time you will have to spend on the road. Since you are cutting the cost of travels, flights will not do it. You have to settle for bus rides, bikes, boats, trains and even bicycles sometimes.
- The food will not always be amazing. Especially when you cannot afford to go pricey restaurants in big cities. When in small towns, invite yourself to a wedding and you just might have the meal of your life; I know Nigerians do not joke with their party Jollof.
- Patience is a virtue – take into account that backpacking is a slow way of travel. Buses and trains might run late and cars might break down in the middle of nowhere. So just forget about being in a hurry; backpackers are never in a hurry.
- The accommodation might not be too great. Unless you are in a city or large town, there is not always a midrange option. Often it is either cheap and cramped or high-end luxury. Go for the cheap places and treat yourself every now and then with a more upscale stay, if your budget allows it.
- Find yourself an awesome travel partner before venturing out. Even though you could smoothly journey solo, you will have a better time traveling in pairs. Especially for women. You will feel more comfortable, it will dramatically cut the costs and it is usually more fun when you have someone to talk to while you wait around for the many things you would have to wait for.
What countries should you visit?
Here are some incredibly friendly backpacking destinations Africa has to offer.
- Mombasa, Kenya – There is a backpackers hostel on Diani beach, South of Mombasa, with the tagline, “It’s not a business. It’s a house with a bar and a pool.” If this is not friendly enough, I do not know what is.
- Ssese Islands, Uganda – Most travelers tend to ignore Uganda, but the country is slowing becoming an interesting spot for backpackers across East Africa. The Ssese islands are a sort of unspoiled paradise smack bang in the middle of Lake Victoria, which in case you did not know, is the biggest tropical lake in the world.
- Inhambane, Mozambique – This is truly a backpacker’s paradise with its white sandy beaches, palm trees, fresh coconut cocktails and rooms made of bamboo. There are no jet-skis, no salespeople and no fancy restaurants at rip-off prices.
- Bale Mountains, Ethiopia – The Bale Mountains, in Southern Ethiopia, are unbelievably beautiful and a perfect spot for backpackers if you like the great outdoors and sleeping in nature.
- Livingstone, Zambia – You want to visit Victoria Falls but do not want to waste hundreds of dollars on a pricey hotel? You can’t really go wrong with a large backpackers lodge situated mere minutes from one of the seven natural wonders of the world and in a small town known as the ‘Adrenaline Junkie Capital of Africa’.
- Taghazout, Morocco – Taghazout is the surfing Mecca of North Africa and attracts both beginner and professional surfers from all over the world. The small town with its funky hostels with a beach view and cheap restaurants that could feed even the most frugal of backpackers is truly a paradise for backpackers.
- Lake Malawi, Malawi – Malawi is often referred to as the friendliest country in Africa. Even though it is a small country where you can easily make it from one end of the country to the other in one day, it also offers so much in that small geographical space like Lake Malawi.
- Badagry, Nigeria – Badagry has the most relics pertaining to slave trade in Nigeria. It has beautiful beaches scattered all over and everything is relatively cheap in this serene location.
Backpacking is catching a glimpse of something uniquely beautiful, something you might never see at home. The knowledge and experiences you acquire in the process will forever be a part of you.