Are you looking for an adventure aboard for your next summer internship, or are you looking for a volunteer experience of a lifetime? Well, why not travel to Africa? Jackie Edwards tells us about her African adventures that will leave you inspired to book tickets for the whole family!
Galloping with Antelopes and the Kids: Planning an African Safari Trip
Watching the zebras and the lions across the landscape while my girls smile and laugh with joy is a moment of a lifetime. As a mother of two little girls, we spent a lot of time in wildlife parks during our trip to Africa. We visited Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. We even got to do a cruise along the Chobe River in Botswana. It was an experience like no other, and my daughters have grown immensely because of it.
Preparing for our adventure
A year before the trip, I asked my daughters where they wanted to go for a vacation and they told me “the zoo”. They didn’t care where they went, as long as there were animals. So, I suggested we go right to the source and save for a trip to Africa. After showing the girls some pictures, they were over the moon. We decided to cut back on toys, new clothes, eating out, and Christmas gifts. And honestly, the girls would have done anything to see those animals. They learned a lot during the time we saved and learned a lot more during our trip about the animals they love so much.
After saving money, it was very easy for us to decide on what countries to visit, as well as obtaining a visa, being an American citizen. We simply just followed the animals. If you want to take part in your own African safari with your animal-loving kids (or friends!), check out these parks and visa-free African countries for a US passport.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
One of the largest game reserves in Africa, Kruger National Park was my kids favourite. Because of their high population of the Big 5 African animals such as lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos, you are sure to spot every animal you want to see. Their diversity of animals is unrivalled.
We decided to stay in the park in one of their many camps, and it was incredible. You wake up to the animals right outside your home, and you really feel as though you’re at one with them. My kids loved watching them roam free and were so interested in learning all they could about their animal neighbours.
All you need to enjoy the experience – besides money of course – is an American passport valid for 30 days with at least two blank pages and you can stay for a maximum of 90 days.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Known for its Great Wildebeest migration, Serengeti National Park is a must for children and adults alike. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, it has the oldest ecosystem on the planet and the kids learned a lot about how we all live together in the world.
Not only did they see the wildebeest, but they were also immersed in cat country. Serengeti has Africa’s largest population of lions and the kids loved recounting scenes from the Lion King as they watched the lions in their natural habitat.
To visit Tanzania, you can get a visa on arrival. You will need a passport valid for at least 6 months, a roundtrip ticket, and proof of enough funds for your stay.
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Called “The Land of the Giants”, Chobe National Park has Africa’s largest elephant population. It also has an abundance of giants and leopards, as well as beautiful birdlife.
Here, we decided to do something different and embarked on a river cruise through the Chobe River. We had a top-notch guide that made our journey through the safari magical. The tour was very private and we got a personal view of the predators and prey that make up the water ecosystem. You really do feel as though you’re an explorer, encountering the land for the first time.
Botswana is luckily another visa-free country. You will need an American passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your travels.
Enjoy your Adventure
Wherever you decide to go, you and your kids are sure to have a blast exploring the beautiful continent of Africa. They will learn a lot about wildlife, the African culture, and themselves. Travelling is surely the best thing we can do for our kids to help them grow and learn. The continent is full of volunteer and internship opportunities for students of all ages. Not only is it full of opportunities, but with the world’s fourth most powerful passport, US citizens can enter many countries visa-free.
So, for a hassle-free and breath-taking volunteer experience, check out one of these visas on arrival or visa-free African countries for Americans.
Botswana – Americans can stay in Botswana for a maximum of three months with a passport that is valid for at least six months after entry into the country. A visa is required if you hold a temporary travel document and it must be obtained before arrival.
Comoros Islands – A visa can be obtained on arrival for a fee. The fees are $60 for 45 days, $250 for one year, and $500 for ten years.
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) – With a passport valid for six months, Americans can obtain a visa on arrival.
Djibouti – Americans can obtain a visa on arrival for $90. It is not guaranteed though so it is best for you to obtain one before travel. The maximum stay in Djibouti on a visa is one month.
Egypt – It is recommended that you obtain a visa before your flight to Egypt. The 30-day visa is available on arrival for $25, or $35 for multiple entry visas, but immigration officials have been known to refuse entry to travellers with no explanation if they do not hold a visa prior to arrival.
Equatorial Guinea – A visa is not required to enter the country for 90 days but you might have to fill out a visa application on arrival so it is best to bring passport photos. You may also need to provide proof of funds for your visit.
Lesotho – For a stay up to 180 days, Americans will need a passport valid for at least three months. It is advised that you bring your vaccination cards as a yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry.
Malawi – A single entry visa can be purchased for $75 on entry. The visa is valid for three months. You may also need to declare all foreign currency on arrival as you are not allowed to leave with more foreign currency than you arrived with. Business or volunteering may not be permitted under a tourist visa so it’s important that you receive the right one.
Mauritius – All that is needed to stay in Mauritius for a maximum of six months is a valid US passport.
Morocco – A valid passport with at least one blank page is required for a 90-day visa.
Namibia – A US passport valid for at least six months will allow you to stay in Namibia for a maximum of three months.
Rwanda – A passport valid for six months and $30 can get you a 30-day visa on arrival. If you plan to stay more than 30 days, you must apply for a permit through the Immigration Office. You are strictly forbidden from volunteering or partaking in business or internships while on a tourist visa so you must apply for a work visa.
Senegal – A valid passport with at least one blank page will gain you entry into Senegal for up to three months.
Seychelles – You do not need a visa to stay for a month. However your passport must be valid and you will need proof of a return ticket, sufficient funds for your trip, and confirmation of accommodation.
South Africa – Immigration in South Africa is strictly enforced. You must have a passport valid for at least 30 days with at least two blank passport pages. You can stay a maximum of ninety days and breaking the rules can result in being detained, deported, or banned from South Africa.
Swaziland – If you have a valid passport and two blank visa pages, then you can travel to Swaziland for 30 days. If you travel through South Africa to get to Swaziland though, you will need an additional two blank pages in your passport.
Tanzania – Once you arrive in the country, you can receive a visa on arrival if you have a valid passport with at least one blank page. You must also show confirmation of a return ticket and sufficient funds for your stay.
Togo – A visa can be obtained for $30 on arrival. It is only valid for seven days but can be extended before the days are up. You will, however, have to leave your passport for a couple of days with immigration.
Tunisia – You may visit Tunisia for a maximum stay of ninety days with a valid passport and one blank visa page.
Zambia – With a passport that is valid for six months and has two blank pages, you can visit Zambia for ninety days. However, volunteers and interns must travel on a business visa. You will be incarcerated and deported if you volunteer or work under a tourist visa.
Zimbabwe – A valid US passport and two blank visa pages will get you a single entry 30-day visa for $30 on arrival. You can also obtain a 60-day multi-entry visa for about $60. If you need to extend your trip, be sure to contact the Immigration Office before the end of your visa period.
It is important that you contact the relevant country’s embassy before you travel as visa requirements are subject to change. Be sure to ask about any restrictions to include vaccination requirements and volunteer requirements. You need to be sure that you are receiving a visa that will allow you to volunteer in your country of choice. Other than that, your passport will grant you entry to a number of African countries for your travel abroad. if i could… offers many incredible volunteering and internship opportunities, so send us an email and we can start planning your next adventure!
About the author: Now working as a writer, Jackie Edwards started her career in the leisure industry, but after becoming a mom refocused and decided to spend more time with her family. When she’s not writing, she volunteers for a number of local mental health charities and also has a menagerie of pets to look after.