The main concern for many travellers when visiting Africa is that it is unsafe. Whilst this may be true for certain countries in Africa, it’s not true for all. In fact, there are many safe places to visit in Africa. If you’re wondering what are the safest countries to visit in Africa then this post will help you.
It covers the top 8 safest countries to visit in Africa and which countries you should avoid.
Is It Safe To Visit Africa?
The first thing to remember is that Africa is a huge continent with 54 different countries covering 30.37 million sq km. In fact, it’s bigger than the US, China, India, Japan, Mexico and many European countries combined. Check out this map for size!
It’s important to remember that Africa is a big place so if you hear that one country is unsafe, it doesn’t mean that they all are.
The Institute for Economics & Peace produces a Global Peace Index (GPI) each year. This is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness that ranks countries based on violence, crime, terrorism, political instability and much more.
In 2020, the GPI ranked certain African countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Senegal as just as peaceful as countries such as the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway and they were ranked as more safe than the US!
8 Safest Countries To Visit In Africa
Whilst there are some countries in Africa that are currently not safe to visit, there are plenty that are perfectly safe to travel to. Below I discuss the safest countries to visit in Africa in more detail and what to look out for.
Please note: I have given some safety warnings for the below countries. Generally, these relate to petty crime/pickpocketing which occurs in every country in the world. Overall, the risk of crime in the below countries is similar to the levels in the UK, France, Spain and similar countries.
Botswana is one of the safest countries to visit in Africa, often referred to as the safest. Most people visit Botswana to see exotic wildlife and get lost in nature.
It is a popular tourist destination, with many national parks where you can truly experience Africa and head out on a safari. You’ll see elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas and much more.
Crime rates are very low and the country is very politically stable. Botswana has had a well-run parliamentary democracy for over 50 years so risk of political unrest is incredibly low.
The people of Botswana are generally very friendly and welcoming, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be the target of crime in Botswana.
Rwanda is regarded by many people to be one of the safest places to visit in Africa. Crime is very rare and the locals are very friendly and welcoming.
Most people visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking safaris as Rwanda is home to many rare species of animals such as the silverback mountain gorillas. Rwanda is also filled with stunning nature such as volcanoes and tropical forests that you can explore.
Many people are reluctant to visit Rwanda due to its tragic past, mainly due to the Rwanda Civil War and the genocide that occurred here. It is good to know that Rwanda has been transformed and is now incredibly peaceful.
Take some precautions to avoid pickpocketing and petty crime as this does occur from time to time.
Namibia is another very safe country to visit in Africa. Most people visit Namibia for its incredible natural wonders. A major tourist attraction is the Namib desert, a coastal desert covering over 80,000 sq km! There’s a range of fun activities to try in the desert, why not give sandboarding a go?
Namibia is a peaceful country. It is very politically stable with a democractic government and the crime rate is fairly low country wide.
Although largely a safe country to visit, there are still a few issues to be aware of.
There have been some reports of petty theft such as robbing tourists backpacks, muggings and theft around ATMs. These have mainly come from the capital city of Windhoek so it’s best to keep your guard up if you’re planning to visit Windhoek and take sensible precautions e.g. avoid walking around late at night, never leave your valuables unattended and be wary around ATMs.
It’s still highly unlikely you’ll be affected by this but it’s best to take precautions. It’s also a good idea to invest in some travel insurance, just in case.
Mauritius is actually the safest country in Africa according to the Global Peace Index and is actually ranked as the 23rd most peaceful country in the world which is more peaceful than the UK, US and France!
This small island is located in the Indian Ocean. It attracts tourists to its jaw-dropping beaches and crystal clear waters. Fun activities include snorkelling, diving and, of course, relaxing on the white sandy beach. Mauritius also has a lot of wildlife.
With a very low crime rate, you have little to worry about here. Mauritius is very peaceful and stable.
Zambia is another one of the safest places to visit in Africa. Most people visit Zambia for its incredible safaris where you’ll be able to see big cats out in the wild.
Another big attraction here is the epic Victoria Falls, one of the world’s biggest waterfalls. You can take a dip in Devil’s Pool, a natural rock pool that overlooks Victoria Falls. You’ll get a really authentic African experience in Zambia.
Zambia is a stable and peaceful country to visit. The crime rate in Zambia is similar to those of European countries such as the UK, France and Spain. It’s unlikely you’ll be the target of crime here but there’s a few things to watch out for.
Although Zambia is regarded as a pretty safe country to visit in Africa, you do need to be careful. Zambia does have a relatively poor population that has led to an increase in petty crime such as theft.
You should take precautions such as keeping your valuables secure and not leaving bags unattended. Also try not to have too much cash on your person as pickpocketing is fairly common in Zambia. It’s also a good idea to get yourself some travel insurance just in case.
Another one of the safest countries to visit in Africa is Tanzania. Most people visit Tanzania as it is the home to the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. Lots of people visit to trek this epic mountain.
Another popular destination is the island of Zanzibar, located just off the coast of Tanzania. It offers stunning sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.
There’s a low risk of crime in Tanzania and it is a peaceful country. It’s unlikely that you’ll be the target of crime.
Caution is recommended in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Stone Town, Zanzibar. Be aware of petty crime such as pickpocketing (as you should in any country!). Just ensure you keep your valuables secure and avoid carrying too much cash on you. Reports of bag snatching are not uncommon in certain areas.
Eswatini, previously known as Swaziland, is a very safe country in Africa. It has a reputation for friendliness – it has a big heart, despite being a really small country.
Most tourists visit for its beautiful national parks where you’ll see all of Africa’s most famous animals including lions, rhinos, zebras, elephants and birds.
Eswatini is generally a safe and peaceful country. As long as you follow basic precautions, you will likely be fine in Eswatini. Ensure you don’t leave valuables unattended and try to avoid flashing your valuables.
Eswatini does have one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world, in fact, nearly 1 in 3 adults are infected. This shouldn’t be a problem for you as HIV isn’t passed on easily from one person to another. It is mainly spread by unprotected sexual intercourse (so bear this in mind if you happen to find love in Eswatini). Check out this article for more information on causes of HIV/AIDS.
Malawi is another safe place to visit in Africa. It is well known for the warmth and friendliness of its people. It is often referred to as the ‘warm heart of Africa’.
Many people visit Malawi to experience traditional local culture. There are also many national parks to visit in Malawi and a major tourist spot is Lake Malawi.
Malawi is generally a safe country to visit and it’s unlikely that you’ll be the target of crime here. The main things to be aware of in Malawi is petty crime/pickpocketing.
Malawi is quite a poor country so avoid showing off expensive items such as cameras and money. Ensure you don’t leave valuables unattended and avoid wandering around late at night.
Countries To Avoid In Africa
Unfortunately, there are some countries in Africa that are not safe to travel to at the moment. Hopefully this changes in the future however at the moment you should avoid visiting these places. This information is based on travel advisories from gov.uk.
- South Sudan
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
Thanks for reading this post on the safest countries to visit in Africa. Africa is an incredible continent with so much diversity and there are plenty of safe countries to visit there.
Check out my ultimate Africa bucket list for 100 + ideas of things to do when visiting Africa.