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.
South Africa *
Dem. Rep. of the Congo
São Tomé and Principe
Central African Republic
Republic of the Congo
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
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.
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.
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: https://youtu.be/kICYfJ0qdrE
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.
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.
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.
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
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: https://deplacement-aerien.gouv.ci/#procedure, temperature/symptom screening upon arrival, masks, social distancing and other safety protocols in place.
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
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!
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.
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:
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.
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
To share tips with other travelers and learn more about the Travel Africa Movement ™ (TAM), join us on Facebook.
US citizens can visit 14 African countries without a visa. Learn which ones they are.
Africa is a magnificent continent with 54 diverse countries and island nations. Most require visas for foreign visitors, with policies that range from easy online visas or visas on arrival, to those with time-consuming documentation, interview and biometric requirements. Visa costs can also be an impediment for some travelers, with fees ranging from $20 to nearly $300 USD. Luckily, US citizens can visit the following 13 African countries visa free:
Morocco is the 25th largest African country by size and one of the native homelands of the indigenous Berber people. Rabat is the capital and Casablanca is the largest city. Other popular tourist cities include Marrakesh, Fes, Chefchaoen (aka the Blue City), Tangier, Essaouira, and Meknes. Tourism in Morocco is mostly focused on its culture, including ancient cities with Roman ruins and Islamic architecture, colorful bazaars and souks, opulent palaces, and bustling medinas and town squares. Morocco is also famous for its natural beauty, with golden beaches, desert landscapes and mountain peaks. The official languages of Morocco are Arabic and Berber. French is also widely spoken. Morocco’s climate is diverse, varying by region and season. Temperatures can range from 41˚ to 95˚. To avoid the heat, the best times to visit are April to early June and September to November.
Tunisia is the 35th largest African country and one of three countries where the Sahara desert can be visited. Tunis is the capital and largest city. Other popular tourist cities include Mahdia, Carthage, Sousse, Sfax, and the island of Djerba. Tunisia is known for its Mediterranean beach resorts, historic medinas, ancient Roman and Carthage ruins, salt pans of the Chott El Jerid, and beautiful desert and mountain landscapes. Arabic is the official language and French is also widely spoken. Tunisia is a majority Muslim country, with nearly 98% of the population practicing Islam. Due to its traditional and conservative culture, dress code is important, particularly for women. Tunisia enjoys a combination of African and Mediterranean climates, with high temperatures throughout the year. The best times to visit are spring, from April to June, and autumn, from September to October.
**TRAVEL WARNING: Travel to the regions adjacent to the Algerian and Libyan borders is not advised due to terrorist activities and kidnappings which have been reported in those areas.
Botswana is the 22nd largest African country, famous for its spectacular landscapes and wildlife reserves. Nearly 70% of Botswana’s landscape is covered by the Kalahari Desert. The capital and largest city is Gabarone. The Okavango Delta, one of the largest inland deltas in the world, Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve are Botswana’s most popular attractions. Other popular tourist destinations include Tsodilo Hills, distinguished by their natural hues of mauve, orange, turquoise and lavender, and more than 4000 prehistoric rock paintings; Gewihaba Caverns, a site of linked two-story caves that are home to breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites; Lake Ngami, a famous disappearing lake popular with bird lovers; and the Linyanti Wetlands, which are home to large populations of elephants and big cats. Botswana is a year-round destination, but the dry winter season, from May to October, is the best time to visit Okavango, Chobe and Moremi.
eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)
eSwatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa, 48th in size, and one of the last absolute monarchies in the world. Its king, Mswati III, has ruled since 1986. eSwatini is known for its stunning landscapes, wildlife reserves, rich cultural heritage and handcrafts industry. Mbabane is the capital and the tourism hub of the Ezulwini Valley, while Manzini is the largest city. Lubombo is home of the Lubombo Mountains and most of the country’s wildlife reserves. Popular tourist destinations include Mantenga Nature Reserve and Falls, the Swazi Cultural Village, House on Fire – the site of the annual Bush Fire music festival, Ngwenya Glass, and the Swazi Candles Centre. eSwatini’s wildlife sanctuaries offer a range of activities, including mountain bike riding, horseback riding, game drives, guided bird walks and walking/hiking trails. Adventure activities are also popular, from caving in a subterranean cave system, to white water rafting on the Usutu River, to zip lining in the Malolotja Nature Reserve. Swaziland is a year-round destination, but to see wildlife the best time to visit is May to September. To see green scenery, the summer months of October to April are best, though the weather will be hot and humid.
Lesotho is one of the smaller African countries, 43rd in size, and completely surrounded by South Africa. Due to its high elevation, Lesotho is known as the Mountain Kingdom and it is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 3,200 feet. Getting to Lesotho can be an adventure in itself. Many tourists use the Sani Pass, an infamous winding mountain pass that rises 4,300 feet from South Africa to Lesotho. Lesotho is known for its beautiful mountain landscapes and Basotho pony trekking tours through the mountains. Popular tourist destinations include the Highest Pub in Africa, located in Mokhotlong; Thabana Ntlenyana which is the highest point in the country; the Liphofung Caves, a historical site with ancient rock art; and Maseru, the capital and site of the KatseDam, the Thaba-Bosiu cultural village and national monument, and Maletsunyane Falls. Lesotho is cold in the winter and snow is common in the highlands from May to September, making it a popular winter ski destination. For the warmer weather, the best time to visit is October to November and March to April. January and February are the rainiest months.
Namibia is the 15th largest African country and the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa. It is home to the Namib desert, considered the oldest desert in the world. Windhoek is the capital and largest city. Similar to South Africa, Namibia has a history of apartheid, which didn’t end until 1990, and it is also a multi-ethnic society. Namibia is known for its spectacular landscapes, indigenous cultural tribes like the Herero and Himba, and its multitude of adventure activities like sand boarding, quad-biking, hot air ballooning, dune skiing, skydiving, kite surfing, paragliding, and power kiting. Popular tourist destinations include Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest canyon in the world; Sossuvlei and the sand dunes of the Namib desert; Sesriem Canyon, a natural canyon carved by the Tsauchab river; the Skeleton Coast, a site of the skeletal remains of shipwrecks; Swakopmund, the adventure capital; and Etosha National Park, a nature conservation area and game reserve. Namibia is a year-round destination, but during the summer temperatures can reach up to 104˚ in the desert. To avoid the heat, the best time to visit is May to October, which also is the best time for game viewing.
South Africa is the 9th largest and the southernmost country on the African continent. While South Africa is best known for its history of apartheid, a legal system of racial segregation and discrimination that ended in 1994, today it is a democratic and multi-ethnic society. Popular tourist destinations include Cape Town, known for the iconic Table Mountain and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned; Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa and home to Soweto township and many other important sites from the anti-apartheid freedom struggle; Durban, home of the picturesque Valley of 1000 Hills and the Golden Mile, a popular stretch of beachfront frequented by surfers, swimmers, bikers, and skaters; and Mpumalanga province, home to Kruger National Park, South Africa’s premier safari destination, and Sudwala Caves, the oldest caves in the world. Since the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, the best times to visit is during summer from October to April.
Senegal is the 34th largest African country, located at the westernmost point on the African continent. It is the only country in West Africa that can be visited visa free by US citizens. Dakar is the capital and largest city. The official languages are French and Wolof. Senegal is best known for its West African history of oral storytelling by griots, sabar drummers, traditional Senegalese gris gris wrestling, and its tasty cuisine. Popular tourist sites include Goree Island, the former slave trading post; Lake Retba, also known as Lac Rose, a naturally occurring pink lake; the African Renaissance monument; Saint-Louis, the French colonial town and site of the Saint-Louis Jazz Festival; the Petite Coast, a sweep of beach resort towns; and Dakar’s lively markets. The best time to visit is during the winter dry season from November to March.
Central African Republic
Central African Republic is the 20th largest African country, located almost at the exact center of the continent. Current travel involves significant risk, but spectacular wildlife and several World Heritage sites await visitors. Popular attractions include Bayanga rainforest, Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, and Sangha Trinational, where three countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Congo) and three national parks meet.
**TRAVEL WARNING: Most Western governments have issued stern warnings not to travel to Central African Republic due to ongoing civil unrest.
Equatorial Guinea is the 44th largest African country and the only Spanish speaking country on the continent. It is divided into two parts, the Rio Muni mainland and 5 volcanic offshore islands. The capital, Malabo, is on Bioko island. Equatorial Guinea is a big oil producer and one of the richest countries on the continent, but its tourist infrastructure is relatively sparse. Still, there are several interesting tourist attractions, including hiking trails, beaches, wildlife reserves, waterfalls and a rainforest in the Luba Crater Scientific Reserve. Bioko island is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and is popular during its dry season (December to February) when butterflies congregate on its Arena Blanca beach. The Sofitel, the first luxury hotel in the country, boasts a private white sand beach and stunning sea views.
Mauritius is the third smallest African country, located in the Indian Ocean. It consists of the main island of Mauritius and several outlying islands. The capital and largest city is Port Louis. Tourism in Mauritius centers around its beautiful beaches, water sports, and tropical flora and fauna. Popular attractions include the Seven Coloured Earths, a small area of sand dunes comprised of sand in seven distinct colors; Le Morne Brabant mountain, a basaltic mountain and UNESCO World Heritage site; Black River Gorges National Park, the largest national park; and Ile aux Aigrettes, an off-coast nature reserve and sanctuary. The best time to visit Mauritius is from May to December when the weather is cool, dry and sunny.
São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe is the second smallest African country, located in the Gulf of Guinea. It is comprised of two islands, São Tomé and Príncipe. São Tomé and Príncipe are best known for their sandy beaches, forest vegetation, and volcanic peaks. Popular attractions include Bom Bom Island, Obo National Park, Jao Ecolodge and sea turtles; LagoaAzul (aka Blue Lagoon), Boca de Inferno, a blowhole popularly called Hells Mouth; and Cascata Sao Nicolau, a jungle waterfall. The best time to visit São Tomé is from June to September, while in Príncipe it is from mid-June to mid-September. Though it is often cloudy, these are the driest months when it rarely rains.
Seychelles is the smallest African country, comprised of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. Seychelles is famous for its fabulous beaches, endemic flora and fauna, and Creole houses. The three main islands are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Mahé is the largest island and home to the capital Victoria and the Morne Seychellois National Park. On Praslin, tourists will find the picturesque Anse Lazio beach, Praslin Waterfall, and Vallée de Mai, described as a medieval forest with endemic coco de mer palms. La Digue is popular with nature lovers and those wanting to experience a slower pace and traditional island life. Hiking, diving and rock climbing are also popular things to do on La Digue. Curieuse Island, accessible by boat from Praslin, is also popular for its colony of giant tortoises. The best times to visit are April to May and October to November.
Updated: July 2021
Effective February 24, 2020, U.S. citizens entering Cabo Verde (aka Cape Verde) for tourism for less than 30 days do not require a tourist visa.
Cape Verde is Africa’s 5th smallest nation, comprised of 10 islands in the Atlantic Ocean: Santiago, Sal, Boa Vista, Santo Antão, São Vicente, São Nicolau, Santa Luzia, Maio, Fogo, and Brava. It’s located in West Africa, about 350 miles west of Senegal. Its capital and largest city is Praia on the main island of Santiago, which is also considered the most African of the islands. Cape Verde has a spectacular annual Carnival which is like a mini-version of Brazil’s Carnival. Like Brazil, it’s also a Lusophone country, meaning Portuguese is an official language. Each of the islands has a different landscape and cultural vibe and tourists frequently island hop to visit several islands in one trip. Visitors are drawn to the variety of activities, white and black sand beaches, water sports, mountain trekking, hiking, historical sites and architecture, street art, music, local cuisine and wines, and even an active volcano.