Gap Year Travel Guide to Africa
Travel to one of the largest continents on the planet for your gap year and discover the true meaning of safari.
Africa has the size, diversity and beauty to be the perfect gap year destination. With a year in which to explore it’s worth going the extra mile to find somewhere that will hold your attention and from the most colourful cities on the planet to the headline grabbing wildlife, Africa won’t let you down. The only regret you’ll have is that there aren’t more days in a year or more film in your camera!
If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands why not use it wisely and explore the world’s least discovered continent. Increasing modernisation makes it accessible enough without taming its wild spirit. Plan your trip well and you can visit some of the best countries in the world at a fraction of the cost of the other more famous tourist havens. We’ve designed our own Gapometer with which to judge Africa as a gap year destination.
**** Great for gappers
*** Worth a look
** Too much else to see
* Never mind the Gap
There can scarcely be a better use of your gap year than to volunteer abroad in Africa. The problems of this continent are so well known they’ve passed into cliche, but still they remain. The legacies of past humanitarian crises as well as the attempt to prevent new ones means you can make a real difference here. In 2006, 34 of the 50 nations on the UN list of least developed countries were in Africa. You can take your pick of projects in areas such as community work, wildlife protection and teaching or even link up more than one.
The WWF has listed 4 locations in Africa amongst their list of 19 priority places, demonstrating that it’s not just the people here who face critical times ahead. Africa’s wildlife may grab the headlines but if you read the small print you’ll see that it’s the people that have the biggest effect on travellers here. Unsurprisingly there are a huge range of community projects from which to choose and travelling between them is cheap enough that you can easily link two together.
**** Projects here are challenging but rewarding
Spending a year somewhere means you’ll want to travel around and Africa offers plenty to enjoy, from jungles, game parks and beaches to a vast cultural heritage. The sights are only as good as the transport system though because nothing looks good from a crowded bus! Getting around Africa varies dramatically depending on the country you’re in; the richer the country the better you can expect the infrastructure to be. Public transport and crossing borders can be a source of frustration here as good, cheap transport is not as common as in Asia and officials sometimes expect bribes. Air passes that allow you to make multiple internal flights can be a time, stress and money-saving option. The situation is always improving though and for the determined, travel here is extremely rewarding.
*** By no means easy, but the best travelling never is
On a long trip it’s important to keep track of your budget, even in a famously cheap continent like Africa. If you become too free and easy you’ll get a shock when you turn up in places like South Africa and find European prices to contend with. Apart from the few glitzy exceptions a modest budget will suffice and allow you to see plenty without running up a huge bill.
Africa has its share of glamorous restaurants and hotels but the best travelling is done on a shoestring, so head for the markets and the budget hostels. Around the shops you can take advantage of a friendly exchange rate that will have your friends beaming at their souvenirs. For those who plan to travel after a volunteer project, try and make it back to your original arrival destination; one return ticket is usually cheaper than two singles.
***** On the whole the cheapest continent in which to travel
The wow factor
Africa not only has the wow factor but the wild factor too. There are very few beaten tracks to get off here and the whole trip will be an adventure. Africa is not the easiest place in which to travel but it may well be the most rewarding. Luckily practice makes perfect and we’re sure you’ll be coming back again and again to polish your skills.
***** You won’t find anywhere else like it