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The safest countries to visit in Africa – North African Edition

First off, I want to warn you before you go further in this article: I really apologize if this article turns out to be long, but if I breathe (and I barely exaggerate) it’s because I travel. Each year, there is this need–not to say addiction–I have to leave the city, the region or, if possible, the country I live in. If you want to kill me, you already know what to do: prevent me to travel. That simple. LITERALLY. OK now that it’s clear, let’s start, shall we? 🙂

Whenever I tell most of my friends or acquaintances, African or non-African, that my favorite travel destinations are in Africa, the common reactions I receive from them are quite funny. Some, on the one hand, look at me with despair, as they see in front of them a reckless person whose final goal is to die young and honorably (lol!). Others, on the other hand, step a little back, and give me that curious and surprised look, as if I just told them I climbed the Everest naked without resting.

Why? Because Africa, and I will never stress it enough, has been and is still being portrayed as a dangerous–if not war-torn — and poor continent and traveling in such an “unsafe” continent can seem to many people’s eyes a suicidal operation. This is why I created this series of 5 articles on the safest places to visit in Africa, with the aim to prove you wrong and show you what you’ve been or are missing out, because NO! Africa is not unsafe, with many of its countries being way safer than many others located in other continents questionably privileged by the Western– especially African-descent –tourists.

Without further due, here is the list of the countries I will talk about in this article :

  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Egypt

Morocco

Everyone knows Morocco or has at least heard of it at some point in their life. If it’s not for its touristic places or for being home to the highest ranked universities in Africa, it’s for its huge diaspora, very present in French-speaking areas like the one I’m from). From its palaces and mosques’ breathtaking architecture surrounded by sumptuous gardens, to colorful souks where you can enjoy the smell of the perfumed spices, through the busy roads filled with smiling pedestrians and horses chilling like in the Middle Age movies, Morocco has A LOT to offer. Traveling to Morocco also means enjoying amazing landscapes, between sea and mountains, green valleys and fertile lands, deserts and oasis, and above all things, ITS AWESOME FOOD. Because for real, if you haven’t tasted Moroccan cuisine, your life has been sad from its very beginning, and I barely am dramatic.

Fortunately, this awesome country is a relatively safe one, where robbery is rare since severely punished by the Moroccan justice system. There are rumors I’ve heard or read stating that the Moroccan state has put in place rules to avoid anything that could cause tourists not to come back. Obviously and knowingly speaking, robbery is one of the major turnoffs that can get a traveler not to refer one country to another, therefore your safety as a tourist is really taken seriously by the law enforcement.

You’re not unlikely to encounter vendors pushing you to buy their items or scammers, but this is the worst annoyance you can encounter on a trip to Morocco, the country counting many poor people. Apart from that, Morocco is an overall safe country to travel to, you only need to exercise common sense. Don’t expose your stacks of money as you wouldn’t even do home (do you though?), just stay lowkey or do like me, imitate the locals in the way they interact with their environment.

Tunisia

Tunisia has been home to many civilizations: the Phoenicians who founded Carthage–we’ll talk about them in another article because they literally were THE sh*t–, the Romans who destroyed it and colonized North Africa, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Andalusian, the Turkish, the Italian & finally the French. One cannot sleep on Tunisia’s beautiful landscapes, from its beautiful beaches with turquoise water to its awesome mountains, through the Sahel’s plains and the first dunes of the Sahara Desert when going further south.

 

Before the political revolution that allowed Tunisia to enter into a democratic system, this North African country was one of the safest countries in Africa but being now in a period of political transition, safety has become more fragile, which has apparently not kept tourists from visiting this charming country. Safety precautions I was suggested to take are to not walk alone at night and to not brag your valuables at the sight of all (for the latter I don’t know tbh why someone would do that even in the safest country). The political instability has favored the increase of robbers ready to do everything to earn more money since lately unemployment is a major problem among the Tunisian society, but in overall, especially if we compare to its region’s countries, Tunisia remains safe.

 

Egypt

Do I really have to introduce you to this rich, garnished, history-packed, beautiful and awesome country? Who doesn’t know Cleopatra, the pharaohs, its pyramids and monuments that reminds its shining past during Ancient Egypt. However, do you know its AWE-inspiring landscapes–yes again, since Africa has the best ones–its busy & populous Cairo and Alexandria, and how various its climates are? Africa is definitely blessed to be home to this state which welcomes around a dozen millions of tourists in its best periods.

After seven years during which tourism reached a low level, following the Arab revolutions that swept in a few countries in North Africa and the Middle East, safety is quietly making its way back at the stage it was before the events. One of the main reasons why tourism has gone up quite drastically from last year is the return of safety. Now the political atmosphere is more stable, and Egyptians can hope for a safer and brighter future after those stressful years, during which uncertainty reigned as master. Despite that, Egypt has in fact always been known for its relative safety, the presence of tourism police and the scarcity of robbery easing things. However, like in many other countries, walking alone at night is not recommended and some parts are to be avoided, such as the region of Sinai, where some terrorist attacks were directed against civilians and institutions.

Fun facts

The fun facts about North Africa, a region often seen as distinct from the rest of the continent due to the strong Arab presence, are quite astonishing.

  • It has been home to many important civilizations, such as Phoenicia and Ancient Egypt’s, the first ones to have introduced the alphabet, which allowed writing to become an important mean of communication (oh and psst…they were Black! 😉 )

  • Also, despite the strong belief that there are a few Black people, or if there are, they are as few as in Quebec City in the 1990s (lmao), there are MANY Black people in North Africa. As previously cited earlier in the article, Tunisia has been occupied by more than six civilizations, allowing many mixes among the people that settled in the territory and beyond. We’ll talk about this topic in a more detailed article as well. North Africa is actually a melting pot where many skin shades are noticeable after a few hours walking on its streets, from the Mediterranean White to the dark skin Black person like me.

  • The Arab revolution, having touched half of the six North African countries, namely Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, has determined a lot in terms of how those nations’ society perceive their future and how their members relate to each other. The very recent occurrence of these events has caused very visible consequences in how those societies work. For example, in Tunisia, the Arab revolution has for now caused an important economic upheaval causing many to lose their jobs. Indeed, investors fear any type of instability, and political instability is not spared from that. Hence, why it’s important to keep in mind when interacting with the locals this episode of their history, because people may not be trying to scam out of pure selfishness, but because you’re their only stream of income.
  • Along with its natural resources such as gas and petroleum, tourism takes a great place in the North African countries’ economy. In fact, tourism counted for 8.1% of Morocco’s GDP in 2016, 8% of Tunisia’s, and 11.4% of Egypt’s in 2018.

Conclusion

After doing my deep research, using my knowledge of each country’s sociopolitical situation and common sense, I ended up with this large list of countries my judgment considered quite safe for the careful traveler. A relative peace reigns over Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, despite the political turmoil in the latter, which now means that tourists can expect with minimum precautions to have a good time. As of now, I do not consider the three other Maghrebian countries, namely Algeria, Libya and Mauritania safe, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel there. However, you should think twice before going there and use the appropriate precautions as soon as you land in these countries.

You’ll ask me: Wait, Steve, why did you make a series of articles? Well after doing my deep research and using my knowledge of each country’s sociopolitical situation and common sense, I ended up with this large list of countries my judgment considered safe for the careful traveler. In fact, to my surprise, I found so many safe African countries, with each of them having its unique touch that it was necessary to do so. Ranking a few countries among many ones constitutes an unsimple task to accomplish since they differentiate themselves in so many characteristics such as security, landscape, and infrastructures.

I held my promises, the article indeed turned out long, and this is just the beginning and I really hope it is a topic you guys enjoy. For my part, it is a great pleasure to bring this information to you in one place. Do you feel reassured by this article? If no, why? If yes, which country in this region would you like to visit the most? According to you, what is the safest destination between those three countries and why?

A thousand thanks for reading me, in the hope to see y’all all the way up to the end of this series. Stay blessed and Happy holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Rutikara

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