I have been to Africa twice in my life, this doesn’t make me an expert on an entire continent, it doesn’t make me an expert on the two countries I have visited and it doesn’t mean I can speak with any authority on the subject. It does mean that I fell completely in love with the countries I visited, the things I saw and the people I met.
In 2014, I visited Zambia and in 2016 Tanzania. These were two incredible trips and two of the best holidays I have ever had. I don’t think I realised quite how much the African stereotypes had managed to infiltrate my brain before I visited. I would say I have always tried to learn about other cultures and lives, but it is difficult when you are repeatedly given the same image of a place.
Tanzania and Zambia are two beautiful countries and I loved exploring them. I always encourage friends to visit(with no luck so far!) because I believe that Africa is just never considered as a holiday destination to many people when it has so much to offer. When I talk to people back home about these trips people generally assume I went to volunteer, and many seem to think I am ‘brave’ for visiting at all. When I went to Zambia, more than one acquaintance commented when I got back that they were surprised I had been able to access the internet. When I said I had been to a club a friend was very surprised that they had clubs in Zambia. I have tried to explain Dar es Salaam to and people just seem to be surprised by how many of the amenities we have in the west are available there and admittedly I also was a little surprised the first time we drove past the shopping mall with big western brands, and the club in Dar was much nicer than most I have been to in the UK(it had a pool!!). If like some people in the west, you believe that everyone in Africa is poor, visit! If you can afford to visit, go and see for yourself before you come to a conclusion.
There is so much for tourists there and I think people miss out by not going at all or by staying in a resort and going on safari for a couple of days. The people were the most welcoming and friendly I have ever met. Although you do have to take into consideration that a white face can attract a lot of attention in some areas. This can be a positive, if you are obviously not from somewhere people can be welcoming and they know that you may need help getting around. However, while travelling(anywhere in the world) my usual advice is to try your absolute best to fit in. Tourists are an easy target for anyone with bad intentions. If you are in a country where it is incredibly difficult to blend in as a local, you have to be extra careful about your belongings/personal safety. But overall Tanzania and Zambia are fairly stable and safe destinations to visit.
Disclaimer: This doesn’t take into account any economic or social effects of tourism in developing countries. Please try to travel sustainably. Also everything above relates exclusively to my own experiences within Zambia and Tanzania, I am not an expert on any of the subjects mentioned.
Also I know I mentioned clubbing in both destinations – I went with a group of locals who I knew and trust. I wouldn’t recommend heading out to a club as a tourist that you haven’t researched about especially if you don’t know the area well/you are female.