The Safest Places in Africa

When you think about going to Africa, safety is probably one of your primary concerns, and I completely understand that.

As Paul Theroux once wrote ‘All news out of Africa is bad.” And historically, it kind of was. And sometimes still is. Thankfully, with the rise of ‘social’ media and blogs, the ‘other’ (amazing) side of Africa has a chance to be seen.

But he also added… “It made me want to go there, though not for the horror, the hot spots, the massacre-and-earthquake stories you read in the newspaper; I wanted the pleasure of being in Africa again.”

And that’s what it is, to be in Africa, 99% of the time – a pleasure.

Africa is a big continent and just like everywhere else in the world, there are some parts that are safe and some that aren’t. There are some countries that are very safe and some that you should probably avoid (for now at least).

The Global Peace Index is a system that ranks countries on their ‘peacefulness’ using 23 quantitative and qualitative indicators, each weighted on a scale of 1-5. The lower the score the more peaceful the country is said to be.

So without further ado, I give you the safest places in Africa – ranked, not by me, but by the Institute for Economics and Peace – but with some thoughts from me!

For reference, the UK is ranked as the number 37th safest country in the world (which would slot into 2nd on this list) the United States is 131st – which is lower than all of the African countries on this list.

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The Safest Places in Africa

Beaches in Madagascar
I don’t have any pictures of Mauritius so enjoy a picture of Madagascar 🙂

1. Mauritius

The number 1 on the list of safest places Africa is the island of Mauritius, a beautiful country in the Indian Ocean.

Mauritius is famous as a relaxing, honeymoon destination, with plenty of gorgeous beaches and 5 star hotels. It also has a low crime rate and violent crimes are very rare.

But, there’s also lots do to for those who want a bit more adventure – including hiking, dolphin/whale watching, canyoning, cycling, scuba diving and nature reserves.

The island is also home to Le Morne Brabant and the famous ‘underwater waterfall’ which is really an optical illusion, but a very beautiful one! Whilst it’s very different to much of mainland Africa, if you’re looking for a safe and easy introduction to Africa, this could be it!

Global Peace Index Score: 1.546 (23rd in the world)

Chobe National Park, Botswana

2. Botswana

Oh, I love Botswana! As well as being one of the best destinations in Africa for safari, it’s also one of the safest places in Africa according the the Global Peace Index.

I’ve been to Botswana many times and I’ve never felt unsafe there, at least not from humans – there are very few people as it’s one of the east densely populated countries in the world.

In fact the biggest danger in Botswana is probably the elephants or hippos, and you can easily avoid then if you use your common sense and don’t go walking about in the bush by yourself!

But these things also make Botswana one of the best places in the world to really experience wild Africa and why it’s up there with my favourite safari destinations.

Global Peace Index Score: 1.762 (42nd in the world)

Further Reading

Tiwai Island Sierra Leone

3. Sierra Leone

Most people wouldn’t think of Sierra Leone as being one of the safest places in Africa – but it’s number 3 on the list!

When I first visited Sierra Leone in 2019, you used to have to go to the bank to pay the visa fee (it was a bit of a long-winded process) and I remember telling the woman behind the counter where I was going and she literally screeched something along the lines of…

“Sierra Leone? You’re going to Sierra Leone? Why you going there? They kill people there” (cue eye roll from me)!

Sierra Leone had a civil war that took place between 1991 – 2002 and that’s all that most people know about it. However the war is long over and now Sierra Leone is a safe and wonderful country to visit.

I absolutely loved my visit and always felt very safe, even in the capital Freetown. There isn’t much tourist infrastructure and tourists are few and far between, so visitors are very much appreciated and made to feel extremely welcome, which is why it’s one of my favourite countries in Africa.

Like anywhere, I wouldn’t advise walking along the beaches or city streets in the cities alone at night, but if you stay in populated areas, take taxis after dark, use your common sense and don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position, then you shouldn’t run into many issues!

I’ll be going back to Sierra Leone soon – wanna join me!?

Global Peace Index Score: 1.792 (47th in the world)

Further Reading

Black Star Square Ghana

4. Ghana

I’ve just been on my first trip to Ghana in West Africa and I absolutely loved it. It’s one of the few English-speaking countries in West Africa, which makes it very easy to get around for lazy English (pas de Français, désolé) speakers like me!

Ghana is such a vibrant place with so many amazing places to visit and cool things to do. It has a bit of everything, from interesting (and very sad) history, to outdoor activities like surfing and hiking, cultural experiences and great nightlife. Ghana has it all!

The capital, Accra, seemed very walkable to me, much more so than cities like Nairobi and Johannesburg. But, you should of course, take care, as you would in most cities where you stand out as a foreigner. But out in the countryside and villages, I felt very safe.

The place where I probably felt least safe was on the roads, as some people drive like maniacs and the roads are dreadful (pot holes) but then that’s common all over Africa and elsewhere. My advice – don’t drive at night, wear your seatbelt and if your driver starts going too fast – don’t be afraid to tell him to slow down!

Global Peace Index Score: 1.799 (47th in the world)

I don’t have any pictures of Senegal so enjoy another picture of Sierra Leone 🙂

5. Senegal

Senegal is one of the countries I’m very keen to visit, so I’m very happy that it makes it on the list of the safest African countries.

Senegal is known for it’s hospitality culture, called as ‘teranga’ which translates as ‘good hospitality’. It’s about sharing, generosity and inclusivity which is instilled in people from an early age.

Petty crime does happen, but again, like most places, exercising common sense by keeping valuables out of sight, not wearing expensive jewellery and avoiding any dangerous areas will go a long way in keeping you safe on your travels.

Senegal is also visa free for many nationalities including the UK, USA and Canada, which makes it a relatively easy place to travel to. If you’ve been to west Africa, you’ll know that the visa process can be pretty arduous for some countries!

Global Peace Index Score: 1.792 (51st in the world)

Nosy Iranja Sandbar Madagascar

6. Madagascar

Madagascar is another of my favourite African countries. I’ve visited twice now (and I have plans to return) and both times it’s been amazing!

Madagascar is a big island and one of the poorest countries in Africa, so whilst I love it there, I was a bit surprised it made it onto the list of safest places in Africa, but here it is at number 6.

I’ve personally always felt quite safe in Madagascar, but it is one of the places where I’ve received the most hassle, with beggars following me down the street, but nothing scary. Although I have heard a few stories of petty crimes in the bigger cities.

On the other hand, every Malagasy person I’ve met has been really lovely, so in that respect, I’m not surprised at all. It’s such a wonderfully diverse country, with a lot of very unique things to offer – both culturally and geographically, so I 100% recommend visiting Madagascar.

Global Peace Index Score: 1.846 (55th in the world)

Further Reading

7. Namibia

Namibia is one of the most unusual and strikingly beautiful countries in the world and very different from anywhere else in Africa which makes it a wonderful place to visit.

Namibia is a pretty stable country with democratic political system and is sparsely populated, which may help its position as one of the safest countries in Africa.

Cities, like Windhoek and Swakopmund can be a little intimidating at first glance. Again, petty crime is common and there are almost ‘too few’ people about, but again, being streetwise and using your common sense will really help to ensure you stay safe.

Like Botswana, outside of the cities, the dangers come from wild animals, so you should always take care, especially when staying in the bush!

Global Peace Index Score: 1.859 (56th in the world)

Further Reading

Bureh Beach Sierra Leone
I don’t have any pictures of The Gambia so enjoy yet another picture of Sierra Leone 🙂

8. The Gambia

The Gambia in West Africa has been a tourist favourite for years and is one of the few West African destinations where the package holiday companies run trips to. It’s English speaking and very well set up for tourists, in fact you barely need to leave the resorts if you don’t want to, but where’s the fun in that!

The country is the smallest on the African mainland, and lies within Senegal. Whilst you should exercise caution in some places (especially in the southern part of the country on the border with the Casamance region odf Senegal), The Gambia is very relaxed and generally safe for travellers, taking the usual precautions.

You will need a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate to enter The Gambia, so make sure you get that at least 10 days before you travel.

Global Peace Index Score: 1.888 (59th in the world)

Devil's Pool Zambia

9. Zambia

Zambia was the first country I ever visited in Africa and it’s still my first love! From the moment I landed I was obsessed. It was Mount Kilimanjaro that reeled me in, but Zambia that got me hooked on Africa.

It’s a very peaceful and relaxed country, so I can totally see why it’s one of the top 10 safest African countries to visit. In fact, I’m surprised it’s not higher!

Zambia is full of natural beauty and home to two of my favourite places – South Luangwa National Park (my favourite national park in Afirca) and the incredible Victoria Falls and the Devil’s Pool – I never get tired of visiting them.

Zambia will forever have a place in my heart – you should go!!!!

Global Peace Index Score: 1.898 (63rd in the world)

Further Reading

I don’t have any pictures of Liberia so enjoy a picture of Ghana 🙂

10. Liberia

Liberia is in West Africa on the Atlantic coast, bordering Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea.

I’ve still not been to Liberia (it’s on my list) and until recently, the things I knew most about the country was that a) Michael Jackson wrote a song about a girl from there and b) there’s been a couple of civil wars (have you ever seen the film ‘Lord of War’ with Nicholas Cage?).

However, the war has been over for over 20 years and Liberia is now one of the safest places in Africa, coming in at number 10 on the list.

I’ve heard that the roads are pretty terrible (welcome to West Africa), but that it has great scenery, good surf, nice beaches, rich cultural heritage, mountains, waterfalls and friendly people – sounds like the recipe for a perfect African adventure!

Just be aware when researching your trip that there’s also a city in Costa Rica called

Global Peace Index Score: 1.946 (joint 70th in the world)

Safety in Africa – Useful Links

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (UK): I check here for any travel warnings about the places I am visiting.
Travel.State.Gov (US): Similar to the FCO, this has all of the US travel advisory warnings.
Fit for Travel: NHS health advice for Africa travel.

Other Africa posts you might enjoy…

Hope you enjoyed reading about the safest places in Africa. Did any on this list surprise you?

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