Why You Shouldn’t Let Ebola Scare You Away From Africa

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Ebola is a big scary word these days, and you’d be hard pressed to find a media outlet that hasn’t talked about the topic extensively. Lots of people have had rash reactions to the news: in the United States, for example, some parents pulled their children out of school because the school principal had recently returned from Zambia…a country nowhere near the disease outbreak. 

Many people fear an anti-African backlash, and we all know how poorly that turns out. Discrimination is always ugly, and Africa certainly has had its share of it.

The African countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak are Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. However, with the Ebola scare Africa has taken a hit overall, image-wise. Hotels and tourism operators from all over are feeling the effects, and business is worse than ever.

But if you’ve been planning on hitting up Africa for awhile, don’t panic. You still have so many options for travelling the continent safely. Remember, you are far more likely to die in a car crash or from the flu than you are to contract Ebola!

Some other things to keep in mind:

  1. Medical professionals are working around the clock to contain the deadly spread, and you can bet they’re no fools.
  2. The disease is spread by contact with bodily fluids, and it’s not airborne. For the most part, you’d have to come in contact with someone who’s already sick. Most of the people affected so far have been aid workers.

But why fight fear with fear? There are so many guides in Africa who can show you what the place is really all about. These suggestions are all catered towards zones that have been completely unaffected by Ebola.

A Safari Experience in Kenya

Distance from the most affected areas: Over 7000 kilometres

Wildlife is one of the biggest reasons why people come to Kenya, especially for a safari trip on the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Many opt for multiday trips, where days are spent in a safari jeep trying to scout out animals, while accommodations can be luxurious or more “roughing it.” Who doesn’t want to sit around a campfire trying to avoid those blinking, glittering eyes in the dark?

Florence Wanjiku is one such guide who takes people out into the plans of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, as well as the Lake Nakuru National Park, where you’ll see more rare birds than you’ve ever thought possible. Flamingos practically carpet the lake, and the park is even home to the very endangered black rhino.  Along the way, you’ll pause in the Rift Valley – a stunning lowland area with epic views.

People like Florence know that Kenya is a special place, thanks to its wildlife offerings, including the Big Five: lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant. The tribes living out on the plains are kind and courteous, and eager to meet new people. The Kenyan hospitality is something that Kenyans are proud of, and your fears will disappear quickly.

Getting Off the Beaten Path in Mozambique

Distance from the most affected areas: Over 7,500 kilometres

Mozambique is one of those African countries that have it all: beaches, mountains, busy nightlife, and some completely epic landscapes. Mozambique is also often a gateway country to Victoria Falls…but more about that one later.

In Mozambique, you must visit the island resort and underwater marine park at Bazaruto Archipelago, well known for its great diving options. Then there’s the multitude of parks, including Gorongosa National Park and Quirimbas Archipelago and Quirimbas National Park. But for a truly local experience, Pemba, a popular holiday destination for the locals in Northern Mozambique, has almost entirely been closed off to outside tourism.

Uganda’s Amazing Gorillas

Distance from the most affected areas: Nearly 7,000 kilometres

Uganda’s not often thought of as a country for big nature and wildlife, but it’s one of those well-kept secrets that are becoming less and less hidden. Bwindi National Park, for example, is just near the Equatorial line and is home to a large number of gorillas. Guides like Peter Rujabuka will take you into the park, on a gorilla trek, to get up close and personal with these giants.

The Kibale Forest National Park is another protected area in Uganda. Chimpanzees mainly call this place home, but you may spot gorillas as well.

The Beach Life in Tanzania

Distance from the most affected areas: Over 7,500 kilometres

If you’re looking for some beach time and relaxation to complement your adventure, Tanzania is the place to be. Beneath the snow-capped Kilimanjaro you’ll find Tanzania’s epic Indian Ocean coastline dotted with Swahili villages and ancient ruins.

Not far from the capital city of Dar es Salaam you’ll find the resort town of Ras Kutani with its turquoise waters and luxury boutiques. It’s not just a place for the affluent, though, and budget accommodations are readily available. Another option is to head to the Mafia Island, 160 kilometres south of Zanzibar. Mangrove forests and white sandy beaches coupled with a slow, laid-back lifestyle is pretty much the greatest thing on earth.

Exploring South Africa

Distance from the most affected areas: Over 9,000 kilometres

Ah, South Africa, where unforgettable images of Cape Town have most of us dreaming of the day we can climb Table Mountain! The Cape Peninsula is one of the most scenic places on the entire continent, and no matter what you’re into, you’ll find something to keep you busy here. Surfing, mountain climbing, wine tasting, you name it.

South Africa is also one of those destinations where luxury travel really does well. Hiring a guide like Rushdi Harper will make it possible to golf at some of the best possible resorts, for example, like the Pearl Valley Golf Escape. His tours include five-star hotels and fine dining.

Don’t overlook Johannesburg either. This multicultural city is ideal for foodie lovers especially, and the spirit of South Africa is much contained within the city limits.

Visiting Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe or Zambia

Distance from the affected areas: Nearly 9,000 kilometres

The famous Victoria Falls lies between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and is known as the Mosi-oa-Tunya (or “The Cloud That Thunders”). Once you see it, you’ll feel it’s a pretty accurate description. At its highest point, the water cascades down a sharp cliff of 100 metres high. It’s apparently the biggest waterfall in the world (although not the highest), and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia are notable themselves. Zimbabwe is home to the quaint towns and the Eastern Highlands Mountains, as well as the stunning msasa trees. The locals are always eager to welcome visitors, especially after years of violence and warfare (long since disappeared).

In Zambia, there are three great rivers to observe: the Kafue, the Luangwa, and the Zambezi that help shape the country’s landscape and people. Zambia is much more remote than many African countries, however, and is not quite so easy to navigate. But if you’re seeking respite from the tourism hordes, this is the place to do it!

Finding Big Adventure in Namibida

Distance from the most affected areas: Over 7,500 kilometres

Namibia, without a doubt, is the adventure pinnacle of the African continent. Those who are most inspired by landscape and isolation will fill their hearts in this country, and one of the best ways to do it is by road trip. You’ll be stunned by the depth and beauty at Fish River Canyon, and by the wildlife sightings at Etosha National Park.

And then there’s also the desert, with towering sand dunes and a serene sense of aloneness in the middle of virtually nowhere. The Spitzkoppe Mountain is of particular noteworthiness, standing at 700 metres high and looming over the desert like a guardian. It’s been long attracting rock climbers.

The people of Namibia are worldly and friendly as well, with strong German influences leading to the likes of European architecture and even an occasional Oktoberfest.

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