The safest countries
It can be difficult to find out how safe a country is before you travel to it, especially when those countries are miles away and you have no idea about the political and natural stability of a place. Africa can often be misconstrued as a dangerous place to go but there are lots of gorgeous countries in this vast continent that are fantastic places to travel.
With any trip, safety should be your top priority. Africa has so much to offer but it’s true that some of the countries are not traveller friendly, either due to political unrest or other dangers such as natural disasters. As the world’s second-largest continent, Africa has 54 possible countries to visit, each offering its own uniqueness and a different taste of African culture.
Here is a list of the top safest countries for tourists to visit in Africa from the expansive wilderness of Kenya to the tropical islands of Seychelles.
Botswana is regarded as one of the safest countries in the continent thanks to its stable political climate and a strong growing economy of natural resources. It’s generally classed as having a low level of corruption, civil unrest and good infrastructure.
The country is a fantastic place to see a myriad of African wildlife with the largest population of elephants in the world. When the seasonal floods flow through the land, the country blossoms with life. 40% of the country is made up of national parks and wildlife reserves which provide plenty of large areas for animals to roam.
In June 2019, Botswana decriminalised homosexuality. In recent years the LGTB community has become more accepted and visible among Botswana’s population. Although there is still plenty to progress, this makes the country much safer for homosexual travellers looking to visit Africa.
Safety tips for Botswana
- Be cautious when in arrive at the airport as there have been issues in the past of thieves stealing hand luggage. Ensure you don’t keep any expensive items such as jewellery in your carry on.
- It’s illegal to remove any living or dead animal trophy from the country. These can be particular items that can be mistaken for gifts including eggs, skin, hair, feathers and ivory. It’s best to avoid purchasing these items at all.
In Ethiopia, serious crimes are incredibly rare and petty crime rates are low. Although it is still one of the least developed countries in the world Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies. The country benefits from its lack of dangerous animals and climatic dangers allowing it to thrive.
Ethiopia has the most UNESCO Heritage Sites than any other African nation giving visitors a wealth of culture and history to discover. Known as the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a treasure trove of historic places and natural delights including the Simien Mountains National Park, Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana.
With over 80 ethnic groups living in the country, Ethiopia has a diverse range of food, architecture, literature and ethnic fashion. The country produces some of the world’s best coffee and 25% of the country’s population rely on the industry. The Danakil Depression has been deemed the ‘cruellest place on earth’ by National Geographic as an area torn by volcanoes, multi-coloured springs and salt plains.
Safety tips for Ethiopia
- Ethiopia is well known for its diverse wildlife, but this also means that the country has its fair share of insects. Take precautions to avoid insect bites when travelling here get the necessary vaccinations beforehand.
- Due to high unemployment in the country, there has spawned many self-employed guides who claim to be official. They will approach you, give you unwanted information and then be charged for their time and expertise.
Although Kenya has been in the headlines for the past couple of years because of its political conflict it’s actually an incredibly safe country for tourists to visit. Even in larger cities such as Nairobi crime tends not to be an issue in the tourist-centric areas. The country has the most established safari industry in Africa and an excellent infrastructure that allows tourists to travel around easily.
As one of the most visited countries in Africa the people in Kenya are known to be some of the friendliest and most welcoming. Traditions are strong in the country which means that travellers will get a real taste of African culture. Kenya has everything on offer with some of the best safari options in all of Africa, incredible beaches, beautiful landscapes and challenging hiking trails.
English is widely spoken here which makes travelling to Kenya much simpler. Kenya is a largely developed country and its medical services are good and easy to come by thanks to its large population.
Safety tips for Kenya
- Crime in Kenya is minimal but pick-pocketing can be an issue. Make sure you keep your possessions close to you, especially in busy areas such as bus stations and airports.
- Avoid the slums of Nairobi as crime rates are much higher in these parts. It also pays to be more vigilant around the Old Town of Mombasa and on the Likoni Ferry.
As one of the safest countries in Africa, Morocco is a hotspot for tourists. The colourful city of Marrakesh attracts thousands of travellers every month and acts as a gateway to the desert. Due to the high tourism, infrastructure is good, so hotels have all the creature comforts of home.
The country offers a range of exciting activities including overnight trips to the desert, hiking in the Atlas Mountains and evening fantastic surfing opportunities. The country has lots of vibrant cities from the architectural capital of Casablanca to the busy side streets of Marrakesh.
Although shopping in the cities can be fun, make sure you’re not being scammed as a lot of them exist purely for tourists who they know will pay large amounts. Bartering is encouraged by this can open yourself up to paying more than you should, so make sure you know the general price of an item before buying it. The most common place for this to happen is at leather shops as leather from Morocco is world-famous.
Safety tips for Morocco
- Morocco thrives off tourism and so the number of unlicensed guides continues to rise. These guides can scam tourists and take them to specific shops where they earn a commission which ultimately hurts the economy.
- Do your research before you head into the desert. Make sure you go with a guide as the Sahara can hide lots of hidden dangers including unexploded landmines and dangerous animals.
Namibia has plenty to do over its vast distances making it the ideal place for travellers to visit. Thanks to its desert climate the topical diseases that are prevalent in other Africa countries aren’t as common with a lower risk of malaria. The arid landscapes mean that the country has one of the lowest population densities in the world helping crime to stay low. Overall the country is politically stable and pretty well developed allowing excellent medical services and tourism infrastructure.
The country is popular for its stargazing, epic road trips, and adrenaline-filled experiences from quad biking to sky diving. Etosha National Park has some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Africa from lions and leopards to elephants and giraffes, boasting 4 of the Big Five.
Safety tips for Namibia
- There can be a high chance of malaria when travelling to Zambia, especially in the peak months of November and June, so be sure to take antimalaria precautions. A waterborne disease, bilharzia is usually present in stagnant water and slow-moving water.
- There’s one scam that is strangely prevalent throughout the country, mainly at petrol stations. A group of friendly people will approach you and ask your name. They’ll then carve your name onto a palm-ivory nut and then offer it to you for an extortionate price.
Since the genocide that tore the county apart in the nineties, Rwanda has since become one of the safest countries in Africa. Having received lots of foreign aid to help the country heal, Rwanda has good infrastructure and developing medical services. There is lots of security around the capital city of Kigali that helps, instead of making people feel uneasy, actually provides a relaxed atmosphere.
Rwanda has a diverse ecosystem with tropical wildlife spread across mountainous forests, expansive plains and volcanoes. Possibly most well-known for its population of gorillas, Rwanda is ideal for any animal lover looking to explore everything Africa has to offer. Naturally be cautious when in the wild as dangerous animals can pose a threat and weather can be hazardous.
Safety tips for Rwanda
- Try not to eat food from street vendors or any other food that has been left out in the heat as this can easily lead to food poisoning. Most restaurants are safe but if you’re in doubt avoid eating it.
- Take necessary vaccines before travelling to protect you from diseases such as rabies and hepatitis B. If you’re bitten by an insect seek out medical attention immediately as you never know how serious it might be.
Seychelles are possibly Africa’s prettiest gem and the height of paradise with miles of golden sandy beaches and clear blue water. Consisting of an intricate web of 115 paradise islands Seychelles has plenty to explore and offers the perfect balance between sun, sea and sand.
Due to their beauty and privacy these islands provide, the country is popular for romantic escapes and honeymoons. The islands are generally very safe, however, its best to stay near the tourist areas and not to wander off to unpopulated beaches.
The country itself has plenty to do. The gorgeous clear waters harbour vibrant marine wildlife and colourful corals weave between the islands. Popular activities include scuba diving and snorkelling to explore these mysterious depths and discover hidden treasures. For those wanting to take it easier relaxing is on top of everyone’s to-do list. Seychelles has a choice of resorts to chill out in and lots of pristine beaches where you can set up a beach towel and spend the day sunning yourself.
Safety tips for Seychelles
- Travellers should decide carefully when to travel to Seychelles as the weather can be dangerous during certain seasons. December and January tend to be the worst months for rain and is regarded as the cyclone season.
- Interestingly there should be some caution to falling coconuts as they can cause serious head injuries.
As most tourists travel straight into the wilderness of Zambia they tend to travel straight past the cities where most crime happens. Although Zambia does have its selection of ferocious predators it has very basic medical facilities, not often affected by environmental disasters and is politically safe.
60,000 Brits visit the country every year to explore the miles and miles of endless wilderness. Zambia has everything from safaris to see the Big 5, to high adrenaline activities. As one of the natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls sits on the borders on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Safety tips for Zambia
- The tap water in Zambia is not drinkable and should be avoided as it can cause an upset stomach. Instead, drink bottled water or ensure water is boiled before drinking.
- When on safari make sure you listen to your guide as your biggest threat will be the dangerous animals roaming around in the wild. Always keep your wits about you and listen to whoever is in charge.
Africa is full of safe and interesting countries to explore and offers a range of unmatchable experiences that are entirely unique to the vibrant continent. Its diverse wildlife and flowing landscape make it a continent not to be missed with the bustling cities of Morocco to the flood plains of Botswana.
Discover the best times to travel to Africa’s safest countries with the when to travel guides.