Traveling in Africa while African
Last week, we looked at the resurgence of international tourism to Africa. But traveling through the continent can be a very different experience for African travelers.
For insight (and advice), Lynsey Chutel, who contributes to this newsletter from Johannesburg, spoke with Lerato Mogoatlhe, a South African traveler and author of the memoir “Vagabond: Wandering Through Africa on Faith.”
What’s it like traveling in Africa as an African?
In moments when it all works well, I’m instantly connected to places and people, and it makes every place feel like a homecoming. I articulate it as “Africaaaah” to express bliss and satisfaction. I am obsessed with my home continent, our music, culture, destinations, heritage, art, fashion, our diversity and landscapes.
Then there’s “Africaaarg,” for my frustrations. Public transport that rarely leaves on time, and there are cultural differences about gender. One man thought I was a spy and could not believe that I was paying for myself and really just traveling.
Getting visas for many countries is also a problem. Visas force Africans to pay to experience the continent, while people with Western passports just breeze through immigration. A Nigerian coming to South Africa, for example, has a completely different experience to a German traveler.
What are some of the African destinations that most surprised you?
Ilha de Mozambique, along Africa’s southeast coast, is not as well known as Zanzibar or Lamu. Here the quintessential characteristics of the Swahili coast meet Mozambique’s food and vibrant social life.
Siwa Oasis, Egypt, feels like a connection to an ancient time, with added adventure — like floating in the salt lakes and visiting the Mountain of the Dead.