For travelers who want something outside of the ordinary, Africa provides the perfect destinations. Whether they want wildlife, traditional culture or exciting and cosmopolitan cities, visitors will find plenty of options on the continent. Unfortunately, there are sometimes security concerns when traveling in Africa. While a majority of the places on the continent are indeed quite safe, some suffer from ongoing conflict or have worrying crime rates.

Any place you travel will require a smart approach to your personal security, but some places in Africa are known for their stability and their low crime rates. While you can certainly limit yourself too much by crossing any destination that is not extremely safe off or your to-visit list, these places are a good start for travelers who are new to Africa and people who want to experience the amazing things that this continent has to offer without having to be overly concerned with security.

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa

Photo: Tim & Annette Gulick / Flickr

Some of Ethiopia’s rural areas have simmering civil conflicts, but the capitol city of Addis Ababa is very safe by any standard. You can walk around in lit areas at night and can go virtually anywhere in the city without having to worry about violent crime (petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, however). Addis has plenty of elements of Ethiopian culture, with historic buildings, museums and markets galore. Modern malls and a vibrant and accessible nightlife scene are also on the agenda. The people are mostly quite friendly on the street, and you will come across surprisingly few beggars while you stroll through town.  Many people are drawn to Ethiopia by its unique history.  Museums and historic sites around the city offer a great introduction into what makes this country’s past so unique.

Gaborone

Gaborone

Photo: Athena Lao / Flickr

The capitol of Botswana, arguably the most stable country, socially and economically, in Africa, is a sprawling but uncrowded city with lots to see and do. From modern shopping malls to traditional markets to wildlife parks sitting within the city limits, you can easily fill up a weekend or more in Gabs before heading on to the country’s legendary safari areas in Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta. People throughout Botswana love their nightlife, and there are a number of places to drink in the city, with friendly locals often welcoming visitors to take part in the fun.

Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe

Photo: Maria Cartas / Flickr

This tiny island nation off the coast of Southwest Africa is another very safe destination. Violent crime is almost unheard of here, though scammers are around and some people set up roadblocks in rural areas to collect “a tax” from passing vehicles. Compared to the dangers on the nearby mainland, however, these problems seem almost not even worth mentioning. Sao Tome features beautiful and almost completely untouched beaches, Portuguese style music and architecture, great food, a slow pace of life, and friendly locals. The tourism industry here is growing, but Sao Tome is far from a mainstream destination, so visitors can get a real, unfiltered look at Africa here.

Gabon

Fruit Market in Libreville

Photo: Brian Gratwicke / Flickr

This sparsely populated nation has gained great wealth from the oil industry. It is one of Africa’s most stable and most crime-free countries. The best reason to visit Gabon is the pristine wildlife and vast natural areas that the country has been able to maintain through a series of national parks and game preserves. While it is certainly not the cheapest place to travel on the continent, it is one of the most user-friendly, with welcoming locals and friendly tour guides. English is understood in some tourist facilities, but French is by far the main language, and the first language of many people in the captiol city of Libreville.

Kampala

Kampala

Photo: sarahemcc / Flickr

This lush Ugandan city can prove quite crowded, but it is generally safe in terms of violent crime (traffic is another matter however).  Kampala is filled with friendly people, most of whom can speak at least some English. It offers an accessible look into the culture and traditions of this part of the world and also plenty of modern diversions as well, from shopping malls and nightclubs to city parks and traditional markets.

Do you have any recommendations for people considering traveling to this diverse and exciting continent? Let us know what you think the safest destinations in Africa are in the comments section below.

Josh Lew
Josh Lew
Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

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2 Comments

  1. Larissa says:

    Namibia: My husband and I spent 3 weeks driving around the country on our own. Very safe!

  2. Kigali (Rwanda) is another safe place for travelers. I take clients there and the city is very safe.

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