Category: Tips and Info

Why Now Is a Great Time To Visit Africa for Heritage Tourism

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 388 0

If you’re looking to reconnect with your ancestral culture and homeland, there’s never been a better time to visit Africa for heritage tourism.

In 2019, Ghana issued a clarion call to Black people across the African diaspora to return to Africa and to specifically visit the West African country. Ghana’s Year of Return campaign, which commemorated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in Jamestown Virginia in 1619, was nothing short of a major success. While Ghana anticipated about 500,000 diasporans, more than one million people answered the call, coming from as far away as Brazil, Jamaica, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom for the yearlong series of events and cultural activities.

Other African countries have taken note of Ghana’s success and are instituting diaspora initiatives of their own hoping to see a similar tourism boom. If you’re looking to reconnect with your ancestral culture and homeland, there’s never been a better time to go to Africa for heritage travel.

Independence Arch at Accra Ghana


During the Year of Return (YOR), the Chiefs of Asebu Traditional Area and Elders created the Pan African Village project and offered free plots of land to qualified African diasporans. On the heels of YOR, Ghana initiated Beyond the Return, a decade-long initiative which it hopes will spur more tourism, investment, and collaboration between Ghana and the diaspora. Under the theme “A Decade of African Renaissance”, the project is built on 7 pillars supported by periodic cultural events, tourism drives, investment programs and diaspora pathway programs. Ghana recently hosted Tulsa Massacre survivors Viola Fletcher (age 107) and Hughes Van Ellis (age 100) and is purportedly formulating a plan for dual citizenship for Black diasporans. The African Diaspora Development Institute (ADDI) is hosting the Wakanda One City of Return Expo in Cape Coast from December 2 to December 13, 2021. 

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone made a splash in January 2021 when it gave citizenship to 22 diasporans who traced their roots to the country through DNA testing. Since then, the Sierra Leone government has partnered with the Black-owned DNA company African Ancestry to help more diasporans discover their ancestral roots and obtain Sierra Leonean citizenship. Under a newly created formal program, diasporans who can prove maternal or paternal lineage through DNA testing (solely with African Ancestry) AND who visit the country through a certified tour company can apply for citizenship. The goal of the program is to increase tourism, business opportunities, investments, and construction projects in the peaceful country also known as Salone. The next citizenship conferment ceremony will be held November 20 to December 4, 2021 in Freetown.

Guinea Bissau

Guinea Bissau has joined Ghana and Sierra Leone in recognizing the ancestral roots of diasporans and welcoming them to the continent. In February 2021, Guinea Bissau launched its own Decade of Return initiative in conjunction with the US-based Balanta B’urassa History and Genealogy Society. The program seeks to increase public knowledge of the country’s historical connection to the transatlantic slave trade and Afro-liberation struggle and set up a new model of development and cultural tourism for small, underdeveloped African countries. Free visas and the opportunity to apply for citizenship are being offered to diasporans whose lineage to the country is verified by DNA testing. The goal is to spur the diaspora’s reintegration into Guinea Bissau’s varied ethnic groups, as well as increase tourism and investment. The next Decade of Return event will occur November 23 to November 30, 2021.


Though Cameroon was a significant source of slaves during the transatlantic slave trade, this central African country has not been on the radar of most diasporans. One Tikar One People, a community of Cameroonians and DNA-tested diasporan descendants of the Tikar and Bamileke ethnic groups, hopes to change that. For 2021, they are holding a special edition of their annual Festival for the Returned for diasporans, to be held from November 26, 2021 through January 7, 2022. The festival will feature cultural events, community tourism, volunteer opportunities and ancestral/naming ceremonies. Additionally, the Tikar and Bamileke Kings have decided to adopt all DNA-tested descendants of Cameroon and give them the opportunity to own a piece of land in Tikar and Bamileke villages.


The House of Slaves on Goree Island is one of the most famous memorials of the slave trade. Today, the island is the site of the Goree Island Diaspora Festival, an annual art and culture celebration created to promote the island and reunite the African diaspora. Held in November, the festival has a dual role as a meeting place for cultures and a space for reconciliation. Countries invited to past festivals include Martinique, Cape Verde, Guadeloupe, Brazil and Venezuela.

Statue of freed slaves at Goree Island, Senegal

We anticipate that more African countries will offer heritage tourism, land and investment initiatives, and citizenship opportunities in the coming years. African Ancestry is working to expand their DNA testing partnership to more than 30 countries in Africa where they trace ancestry. Stay tuned for more developments.

African Independence Days by Month

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Independence Day is celebrated across Africa to symbolize the determination and liberation of African people. Here’s a list of African independence days by country and month.

At the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, the leaders of 13 European nations and the United States met to discuss the partitioning of Africa and control of its resources. The “Scramble for Africa”, as it is called, led to the colonization of nearly the whole of Africa and the country borders that we know today. This period of European aggression and occupation would last nearly 100 years, until widespread African liberation movements wrestled control from the colonial rulers.

Today, Independence Day is celebrated across the continent to symbolize the determination of African people to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. The official date of independence is a national holiday in most countries, commemorated by military parades, fireworks, cultural and musical performances, and unofficial concerts, parties, and other events. If you happen to be traveling during this time, you’ll find the mood festive and jovial….in other words, LIT! So you don’t miss out on the fun, here’s a monthly list of African Independence Days.






Western Sahara








Sierra Leone


South Africa *

Ethiopia **



Dem. Rep. of the Congo








Cape Verde


São Tomé and Principe

South Sudan



Burkina Faso

Côte d’Ivoire


Central African Republic

Republic of the Congo




eSwatini (Swaziland)

Guinea-Bissau ***






Equatorial Guinea





Independence Date

Jan. 1, 1956   

Jan. 1, 1960   

Feb. 18, 1965 

Feb. 28, 1922

Feb. 28, 1976

March 2, 1956

March 20, 1956

March 6, 1957            

March 12, 1968

March 21, 1990

April 4, 1960

April 27, 1960

April 27, 1961 

April 18, 1980 

April 27, 1994

May 5, 1941

May 24, 1993

June 26, 1960

June 30, 1960

June 25. 1975

June 29, 1976

June 27, 1977

July 1, 1960

July 1, 1962

July 1, 1962   

July 3, 1962

July 5, 1975

July 6, 1975

July 12, 1975 

July 9, 2011

Aug. 1, 1960

Aug. 3, 1960  

Aug. 5, 1960

Aug. 7, 1960

Aug. 11, 1960

Aug. 13, 1960

Aug. 15, 1960

Aug. 16, 1960

Sept. 22, 1960

Sept. 30, 1966

Sept. 6, 1968 

Sept. 24, 1973

Oct. 2, 1958   

Oct. 1, 1960

Oct. 9, 1962   

Oct. 24, 1964 

Oct. 4, 1966   

Oct. 12, 1968 

Nov. 11, 1975

Dec. 24, 1951

Dec. 9, 1961

Dec. 12, 1963

Colonial Ruler










South Africa




















Republic of the Sudan























* South Africa formally achieved its independence from Britain on May 31, 1910. However, it celebrates the end of apartheid and the day the first democratic elections were held on April 27, 1994. The Day is known as Freedom Day.

** Ethiopia is generally considered to have never been colonized. After it was invaded by Italy in 1935, Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed and went into exile in the United Kingdom. He regained his throne on May 5, 1941 and Ethiopia was completely liberated from Italian occupation on November 27, 1941.

*** Guinea-Bissau made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence on September 24, 1973, which is celebrated as Independence Day. However, Portugal recognizes independence as September 10, 1974, as a result of the Algiers Accord.

Ghana Independence Day, March 6, 2020
Video credit: Kwaku Mike
Nigeria Independence Day, October 1, 2020
Video credit: Lifestyle by Janet
Zimbabwe’s 1st Independence Day celebration in April 1960
Video credit: memoriesofrhodesia

Happy Africa Day 2021

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 73 0

Africa Day is celebrated annually on May 25, both across the African continent and around the globe. Learn more about this historical holiday.

Africa Day is celebrated annually on May 25 to commemorate the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) (now the African Union) and Africa’s independence, freedom and liberation from colonial rule. It was inspired by Ghana becoming the first Sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence on March 6, 1957, under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. This year’s theme is Arts, Culture And Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.

For the second year in a row, MTV Base Africa and YouTube are sponsoring the Africa Day Concert, hosted by actor Idris Elba. This year’s virtual concert is a Pan African event featuring trailblazing African stars from across the continent, from Lagos Nigeria to Johannesburg South Africa. If you didn’t catch the show live, be sure to watch the replay here:

Finally, if you need more inspiration to celebrate the life, culture and rich history of the 2nd largest continent, here are 12 Ways to Celebrate Africa Day. Let this day be a reminder of our common destiny and vision for Africa.

Happy Earth Day!

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Earth Day 2021 is a call to action to citizens worldwide to be part of the solution in attaining a resilient planet. Learn more about how you can help.

Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd. The theme for Earth Day 2021 is “Restore Our Earth” and is a call to action to citizens worldwide to be part of the solution in attaining a resilient planet. To commemorate the day, EARTHDAY.ORG will have its second Earth Day Live digital event, starting at 12 PM EST. Link here:

Workshops, panel discussions, and special performances will focus on the 2021 Theme and will cover natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. Visit their website for more information.

In Africa, air pollution, improper waste management, deforestation, industrialization and urbanization, and illegal wildlife trafficking has lead to environmental degradation and climatic extreme events from floods, heatwaves, droughts, species endangerment, and deterioration of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. These crisis are threatening the availability of food, water and livelihoods of the people, species and ecosystems across the continent.  People from all over Africa are being challenged to unite and establish Earth Day programs and campaigns that best suit the needs of their communities. 

Likewise, we encourage you to join the Earth Day movement by doing some simple green acts, like turning off and unplugging items not in use, using eco-friendly house cleaners, or using re-usable water bottles.

Follow and tag us on IG at #travelafricamovement to let us know how you will help #RestoreTheEarth for #EarthDay2021.

Calling all Black Women! Are You Ready For Exodus Summit 2020?

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The Travel Africa Movement is proud to participate in the Exodus Summit 2020 for Black women travelers. If you haven’t grabbed your free ticket yet, there’s still time. Click here for more info…

The Travel Africa Movement (TAM) is a proud participant in Exodus Summit 2020, the travel summit For Black Women, By Black Women. The Summit kicks off in 2 days, with info about everything from Wellness While Traveling to Apartment Hunting Abroad to House Sitting For Free Accommodation and more! 

TAM‘s founder will be speaking on the Africa Regional Travel panel and sharing tips for traveling and living on the continent. Tune in on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. for the best inside information about travel and life in Africa.

It’s not too late to join the fun! And don’t forget to invite your friends and family! Click here to get your FREE ticket! >>>

Get ready for 7 days of action-packed presentations and inspiration ~ September 21 – 27, 2020!!

#BlackoutDay2020 and #PullUpForTravel

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The Travel Africa Movement supports The Blackout Coalition and the Black Travel Alliance in their efforts to increase support of Black-owned businesses and inclusion of Black voices in the travel industry. Learn more….

As a 100% Black-owned company, the Travel Africa Movement supports The Blackout Coalition and the Black Travel Alliance in their efforts to increase support of Black-owned businesses and increase the inclusion of Black voices in travel marketing and story telling.

Blackout Day – July 7, 2020 – is a day of solidarity where Black Americans and their allies are urged not to shop, and if they do, to shop only at Black-Owned businesses. The goal is to be the start of a liberation movement and lifelong pursuit of economic empowerment for Black people.

Similarly, the Black Travel Alliance seeks to create a world where Black people are supported and accurately represented in the travel industry. One of their initiatives is the Black Travel Scorecard, which evaluates destinations and travel brands under five key areas: (1) Employment grades the current number and percentage of Black people in management and on staff; (2) Conferences & Tradeshows grades Black representation (number and percentage) on speaker panels, workshops, sessions, etc. in 2019; (3) Paid Advertising/Marketing Campaigns grades Black representation (number and percentage) in TV, radio, print and digital channels including social media in 2019; (4) Press grades Black representation (number and percentage) on media/press trips in 2019; and (5) Philanthropy grades charitable contributions and support (i.e. mentorship and intern programs, etc.) to Black charities and community groups.

We encourage you to learn more about their missions by visiting their websites at and and to support their movements by using their hashtags #blackoutday2020, #blacktravelalliance and #pullupfortravel on social media.

As our way of saying Thank You for supporting our #BOB as we grow and change the narrative about Africa, we’re offering Free Shipping on all TAM clothing and $100 off all 2021 trips with promo code BLACKOUT. Discount valid thru 7/15/2020. #supportblackowned

Africa Border Re-openings

Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 1007 0

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, most African countries closed their borders to international travel. Here’s an updated list of border reopenings.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, 36 African countries closed their borders to international travel. Another 8 countries suspended flights from countries with high Covid-19 transmission. Now these countries are slowly re-opening their borders and allowing international flights to resume in a bid to rejuvenate their economies.

Be mindful that many countries still have mandatory mask and social distance requirements, as well as prohibitions on mass gatherings and/or public transportation which may limit some tourism options. Also, be sure to check with country embassies for detailed information regarding entry, testing and quarantine requirements, as information is subject to quickly change.

* Current as of November 11, 2020. Below is a list of current and future planned border re-openings. Check back often as we will update the list as information becomes available.

Current Border Openings

Seychelles – June 1: air borders open for tourists from select countries, charter flights only, commercial flights commencing Aug. 1, negative Covid test from 48 hours or less from time of arrival

Tanzania – June 1: normal border rules apply, no mandatory 14-day isolation or quarantine period

Equatorial Guinea – June 15: phased reopening of air borders, land and sea borders remain closed until further notice, negative Covid test from 48 hours or less from time of arrival, social distancing rules in place

Zambia – June 25: negative Covid PCR test within 14 days of departure required, retesting on arrival if passenger has symptoms or temperature above 38C/100F, mandatory masks and social distancing required

Tunisia – June 27: air, land and sea borders open to select travelers based on country risk assessment, mandatory masks, hygiene and social distancing policies in place.

Egypt – July 1: foreign tourists may only visit the South Sinai, Red Sea, and Matrouh provinces and select resorts. Proof of valid health insurance is required.

Gabon – July 1: air borders open, land and sea borders closed, limited international flights allowed, mandatory face masks and social distancing policies in place, curfew from 8 pm – 5 am.

Liberia – July 1: air borders open, negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival, temperature scan, health check, and retesting may occur upon arrival, mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone positive on arrival

Morocco – July 14: air borders open for Moroccan national and legal residents only, both a PCR virus test taken within 48 hours or less from time of arrival AND an antibody test are required, mandatory face masks and social distancing policies will remain in place

Senegal – July 15: air borders open, land and sea borders will remain closed until further notice, reciprocal ban on tourists from EU and other countries who have banned Senegalese travelers, negative Covid PCR test within last 7 days required or test on arrival, health declaration form must be completed on arrival, mandatory masks and social distancing rules in place.

Sierra Leone – July 22: air borders open, tourists must have negative Covid PCR test from 72 hours or less from time of departure and be tested again on arrival, must prepay for Covid testing online before arrival, mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine will be required – at traveler’s expense – if traveler tests positive on arrival, mandatory masks and social distancing rules in place, curfew 11 pm to 5 am, departing passengers also must have negative Covid test from 72 hours or less from time of departure or travel will not be allowed

Chad – August 1: air borders open for international flights, must have negative Covid PCR test dated 72 hours or less from arrival, passports confiscated upon arrival and 7 day self quarantine at passenger expense, retest required on 7th day and passports returned after final negative test result

Ethiopia – August 1: air borders open, land borders closed. Negative PCR test within 5 days of arrival and upon arrival, must self-quarantine for 14 days. Passengers arriving without a negative PCR test must quarantine at government designated hotels for 7 days at their own expense and be retested at end of quarantine period

Kenya – August 1: air borders open for international tourists, negative Covid test from 72 hours or less from time of arrival, temperature check, and health questionnaire, 11:00 pm to 4:00 am curfew.

Rwanda – August 1: air borders open, tourists must have negative Covid test from 72 hours or less from time of arrival and be tested again before visiting any tourist attraction or embarking on any tour/trek, negative test results must be emailed to [email protected] before departure and a copy provided on arrival

Togo – August 1: air borders open, land borders closed, negative PCR test within 72 hours of scheduled departure,  additional test upon arrival and travelers must quarantine in their hotel until negative results return, online immigration form required, must also download a contact tracing app.

Benin – August 10: air borders open for limited commercial flights, essential travel only at land borders, passports confiscated upon arrival, three Covid tests required at cost of 100,000 CFA, 3 day hotel quarantine at passenger expense, passports returned after day 15 upon final negative test result.

Democratic Republic of the Congo – August 15: air borders open, negative PCR test within 72 hours of scheduled departure, temperature screening at airport, possibility of retesting and quarantine, face masks and social distancing required

Mozambique – August 20: air borders open, both a PCR test taken within 72 hours departure AND a second PCR test after 10-day mandatory quarantine are required, 2nd test can be avoided with a 14-day quarantine, NO Airport or border are being issued, so only those with valid existing visas or residence permits will be permitted to enter, mandatory face masks and social distancing policies will remain in place

Namibia – September 1: tourists from carefully selected low-risk markets, negative Covid-19 PCR test taken 72 hours or less before arrival, quarantine for 7 days at own expense and retesting on 7th day required.

Ghana – September 1: air borders open, negative PCR test within 72 hours of scheduled departure AND mandatory retest upon arrival at cost of $150 USD, temperature screening at airport, face masks and social distancing required

Nigeria – September 5: air borders open, negative Covid PCR test required within 96 hours of scheduled departure (from certain countries tests only accepted from specified laboratories), mandatory quarantine for 7 days and retesting required on 7th day after arrival at passenger’s expense, online health questionnaire and test payment must be completed with copy on arrival, temperature screens, masks, social distancing and other safety protocols in place.

Cote d’Ivoire – September 24: air borders open, land borders closed, negative PCR test within 7 days of arrival and within 7 days of departure for passenger from certain countries, mandatory online health declaration form and fee with printed copy on arrival:, temperature/symptom screening upon arrival, masks, social distancing and other safety protocols in place.

South Africa – October 1: air borders open for tourists from low risk countries only, negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival, mandatory travel insurance required, temperature/symptom screening upon arrival, travelers from high risk countries are banned for tourist travel:, if a traveler has spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, he/she is deemed to be arriving from a low risk country

Uganda – October 1: air borders open for all tourists, negative PCR test within 72 hours of scheduled departure and 120 hours prior to departure from Uganda, temperature/symptom screening and fingerprinting upon arrival, mandatory masks and social distancing required, nationwide curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am daily.

Zimbabwe – October 1: air borders open to tourists, negative PCR test within 48 hours of scheduled departure, temperature/symptom screening upon arrival

Cape Verde – October 12: air borders open to tourists, negative PCR test within 72 hours of scheduled departure, online health surveillance form and online Airport Security Tax form must be completed prior to travel, temperature/symptom screening upon arrival

Gambia – Air borders are open for international tourists on October 31. Land and sea borders are open effective October 16, 2020, negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival, temperature/symptom screening upon arrival, mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers with rapid tests or those whose tests don’t fall within the required timeframe

Botswana – November 9: phased reopening thru December 1, 2020. International airports in Gabarone and Maun open on Nov. 9 and at Francistown on Dec. 1, certain land borders open on Dec. 1, negative PCR test within 72 hours of scheduled departure, temperature/symptom screening upon arrival, must self monitor and maintain contact with local health authority for 14 days

Future Border Openings


Posted By : Travel Africa Movement/ 386 0

Africa Day is an annual celebration held on May 25th to commemorate the founding of the African Union and the diversity of Africa. Learn more about this year’s events.

Africa Day is observed each year on May 25th to commemorate the founding of the African Union (successor to the Organization of African Unity). On this day, the people of Africa and the African diaspora come together to celebrate the diversity of Africa and to reflect on past successes and current challenges in building a unified and decolonized continent. Africa Day is a public holiday in many African countries and is celebrated around the globe.

This year, YouTube and MTV Base have partnered to bring the world the Africa Day 2020 Benefit Concert At Home, to raise funds to help families in Africa affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The online concert is hosted by Idris Elba and will feature a variety of African musical artists, like Burnaboy, Tiwa Savage, Davido and more.

Netflix has a special Made in Africa Collection featuring more than 100 films and TV series made in Africa. Apple has curated an Africa Now playlist featuring musical talent from across the continent. We hope you enjoy and find some new favorites.

The Travel Africa Movement has also joined the celebration with 20% off all merchandise in our online store. Discount valid thru May 31st with code AFRICADAY. Visit our store today and show Africa some love!

Meet Woni Spotts: The First Black Woman to Travel to Every Country in the World

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You’ve probably never heard of Woni Spotts. She hasn’t posted any photos on Instagram. She’s not engaged in the many Facebook travel groups. And she only recently became active on Twitter. But she’s accomplished two historic feats: she was recently recognized as the first black woman to travel to every country and continent in the world and she did so quietly without much social media exposure, crowdfunding or corporate sponsorship. We caught up with the 55-year old eCommerce professional and entrepreneur to congratulate her on her accomplishment and learn more about her travels, especially her travels in Africa. Here’s what she had to say:

TAM: Tell us about yourself.

Woni:  I was born in Los Angeles, California. I traveled with my parents as a child. Most of my travel was with the friends of my father doing a documentary. From 2014-2018, I traveled alone with a local guide. I work in eCommerce.

TAM: When did you decide to tackle the goal of being the first black woman to travel to every country?

Woni:  My early travel was with my parents. Later I hosted a documentary that allowed me to travel to many countries.  I learned recently that someone was claiming they were going to be the first black woman to visit every country. I knew I was close to visiting every country. Once I finished, I let it be known that I visited 195 countries, 7 continents, and 22 territories.

TAM:  How long did it take you to complete that goal?

Woni:  From 1979 to September 2018

TAM:  How does it feel to hold that title?

Woni:  It’s a shock to the system. The other people that traveled to every country received minimal coverage so I had no idea there would be interest. 

TAM:  What was the first and last country you visited?

Woni:  I traveled as a child but I began recording my travels in 1979. The 195 recorded countries began in Central America and the last country was Turkey. As a result of my travels as a child, I have visited many countries twice.

TAM:  In this era of social media where people post everything they do online, you accomplished this amazing goal without much social media fanfare. Was this intentional and if so, why?

Woni:  I began my travel before the internet was widely available. As for my travels in the 2000s, I never thought anyone was interested in my personal travel.

TAM:  Did you film your travels and do you plan to do more media engagement and publicity in the future?

Woni:  Photography and film were used. I don’t have any solid plans for the future. I have written about the global African presence around the world and their ancient roots in every major civilization. I have also written about my personal travels. I’d like to continue writing.

TAM:  Tell us about your travel in Africa. When did you first travel to Africa and which country did you visit first?

Woni:  My first documented travel took place in the early ’80s. South Africa was the first.

TAM:  What was your first impression and how did you enjoy it?

Woni:  The people that I met were very hospitable and happy that we were there. I could genuinely feel they were touched that we placed a value on visiting them.

TAM:  How long did it take you to visit all 54 African countries?

Woni:  1980 – 2014. I began around 1980 and visited Tanzania, Egypt, and Morocco in 2014.

TAM:  Was most of your travel in Africa overland or by air? Which method of travel do you prefer and why?

Woni:  I prefer air when possible. I think a cruise could be nice. In order to see wildlife, bumpy roads are always involved at some point.  It’s a dilemma, some interesting things are missed while flying while some interesting things can’t be seen while driving.

TAM:  Which African country was your favorite and why?

Woni:  I have enjoyed many African countries and have always been embraced. I don’t like to compare countries but I love desert landscapes along the West African coast and the elephant family that visited me daily during my stay in Tanzania.

TAM:  What was your favorite attraction or experience in Africa?

Woni:  Seeing animals in their natural habitats, flying over desert landscapes, tribal people living traditionally, and waterfalls.

TAM:  Did you have any especially interesting or dangerous experiences in Africa?

Woni:  [On safari in Tanzania] a Maasai had to escort me to the dining room because lions were known to be on the property.

TAM:  What tips would you offer to travelers visiting Africa for the first time?

Woni: It depends on which region and their interests. I think it’s important to visit the ultimate motherland.  I always visit the main cities, museums, and nature. There are so many experiences in nearly every African country, especially today. Visit for the desert landscapes sculpted by the wind, beautiful beaches, bird abundant lakes, legendary rivers, massive waterfalls, sacred mountains, gorilla viewing, incredible animal migrations, heart-stopping safaris, vibrant drumming ceremonies, the colorful Gerewol festival, and so much more. Many beautiful destinations in Africa are widely unknown but each country has its own treasures.

Help spread the message about Woni’s black travel journey and her historic accomplishment. Share this article with your friends and on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Click here to read more about Woni’s travels

Click here to see a list of Woni’s travels

Do You Really Need Vaccines to Travel to Africa?

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The short answer is Yes. Travel vaccinations and medicines are necessary for some African countries. The long answer is much more complicated.

Vaccinations help you develop immunity (protection) against diseases before you come into contact with them. Across Africa, and particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a higher incidence of infectious and communicable diseases due to the tropical and sub-tropical climates and poverty. The prevalence of disease varies greatly by country, and consequently, the rules regarding vaccination also vary by country and where you visit within those countries. Some African countries require ALL visitors to have certain vaccines like yellow fever, while others only require vaccines for those traveling or transiting from high risk countries. Still others have only recommended vaccines and medications.

The CDC website is the best source of information regarding specific diseases and recommended and required vaccines and medications for each country. But here’s a synopsis of some of the more common diseases, rules and tips you need to stay safe:



Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Yellow fever is a viral disease spread through mosquito bites. Yellow fever is prevented by the yellow fever vaccine. There are 30 African countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bisseau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda. In eight of these countries, the risk is only within certain areas of the country: Chad, Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Sudan. An additional six countries have a low potential for exposure to yellow fever, thus the vaccine is recommended for only a small sub-set of travelers: Eritrea, Rwanda, São Tome, Somalia, Tanzania and Zambia. (Source: CDC Yellowbook)

Yellow fever vaccine is REQUIRED for ALL visitors in 14 African countries: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Cộte D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bisseau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Most of the other countries only require the yellow fever vaccine if you are traveling or transiting from a country with a risk of yellow fever (The US has no risk of yellow fever). Be sure to verify the requirements before travel, as they are subject to change.

You must get the yellow fever vaccine at least 10 days before travel to allow time for the vaccine to take effect. Upon vaccination, you should be given a stamped and signed “International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis” (aka Yellow Card). The Yellow Card becomes valid 10 days after vaccination and must be presented on arrival as proof of vaccination. The yellow fever vaccine provides lifetime immunity.

**There is limited availability of the yellow vaccine in the US so allow enough time to find an alternate source if there is a shortage in your area.**

Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito, which primarily bites at dawn, dusk and at night. Malaria is common in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the highest prevalence in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Guinea and Togo. Antimalarial medications prevent and treat malaria. Antimalarial medications must typically be taken several days to a week before travel and 1 to 4 weeks after travel. Malaria parasites have become resistant to several antimalarial drugs, so it is important to obtain the proper drug for the area(s) you will be visiting.

Zika is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. It can also be spread from mother to fetus during pregnancy and from partner to partner through sexual activity. Zika is found in 30 African countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. Because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, travelers should take steps to prevent getting Zika during travel. Pregnant women should avoid travel to affected countries due to the risk of severe birth defects.

Food, Water and Air-Borne Diseases

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease caused by contaminated food and water. Hepatitis A can be prevented by the Hepatitis A vaccine and by avoiding undercooked food, unclean raw vegetables, and unclean water.

Typhoid Fever is a bacterial disease spread by contaminated food and water and close contact. Typhoid fever is prevented by vaccine, either injection or oral pill, as well as by avoiding undercooked food, unclean raw vegetables, and unclean water.

Cholera is a bacterial infection characterized by profuse diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps. Cholera is caused by contaminated food and water and can spread quickly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water. Cholera can be prevented by vaccination and by avoiding undercooked food and unclean water. No cholera vaccine is 100% effective so simultaneous preventative techniques are suggested.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread from person to person through the air. TB mostly affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. TB is treated with a standard 6-month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs. The Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine can prevent TB, but it is not widely used in the United States due to variable effectiveness. TB is most prevalent in Nigeria and South Africa.

Childhood Diseases

Today, most children are immunized against these infectious diseases: Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio, and Tetanus.  Adult booster vaccines should be updated every 10 years and are typically recommended for travel to most African countries.



You should visit your personal physician or a travel clinic at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip, for consultation and advice regarding necessary vaccines and medications for your specific destination(s). If you weren’t immunized as a child or if you haven’t been re-immunized as an adult, you may consider getting adult booster vaccines. Your personal physician can usually administer these vaccines and they are typically covered by US health insurance.

Travel vaccines, on the other hand, are often not covered by US health insurance and can be pricey (i.e., $250+ for yellow fever vaccine, $100+ for typhoid vaccine). But they are typically free or low-cost (i.e., $20) in other countries like Mexico, Panama, Cuba, Brazil, or elsewhere. If you have scheduled travel to another country, it may be worthwhile to obtain necessary travel vaccines there instead of the US.

Prevention of mosquito bites is the best way to avoid Malaria, Yellow Fever and Zika. You should take extra precaution at dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active. These prevention tips are helpful:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent, which includes repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Apply repellent to the neck, arms, legs and ankles for the best protection.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants and closed toe shoes at dusk or after dark. Also wear light colored clothes, as dark colors tend to attract mosquitos.
  • Spray clothes with permethrin (one treatment lasts 6 weeks or 6 washings).
  • Sleep with a mosquito net (make sure that the net doesn’t have holes and it completely covers the bed).
  • Use air conditioning or a fan in your room (mosquitos are less active in cooler temps and fans can keep them out of the air).
  • Spray your room with insecticide before bed (leave the room for at least 30 minutes after spraying).

Food safety practices can help prevent food and water-borne illnesses. These prevention tips are recommended:

  • Drink only sealed bottled water
  • Avoid street food and food served at room temperature
  • Eat only fruits and vegetables that have been washed or peeled
  • Wash your hands often and avoiding touching your face


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