6 of the Cheapest Countries in Africa
Emma Langley, 09.05.19
Although the continent of Africa is vast and actually makes up over 20% of Earth’s land mass, the main destinations that people know and identify are often touristy and expensive, and require months or more of saving to be able to afford a trip of a lifetime.
Due to the large size of this continent, flights to and within Africa can often be quite costly, especially when travelling from certain destinations. Therefore, we will provide you with advice and tips on getting the cheapest flights when booking with Alternative Airlines.
Top tourist activities such as safari trips, skydiving and scuba diving can also put the price up, so we provide great alternative activities for you to do, as some of them truly can’t be missed. We also provide cheaper things to do within more popular tourist destinations, so you don’t have to miss out on great bucket-list destinations. We’ve even included a price guide so you can properly plan your budget, for things such as accommodation, food, drink and transportation (all prices stated are in USD).
Cheap Travel to Africa
Morocco: cheapest country for diverse culture
Morocco is an African country that satisfies all the senses. From the fragrant foods and mint teas to the charming markets and colourful landscapes, there’s no wonder Morocco is already a top destination for visitors. Morocco not only offers visitors the chance to visit the dunes of the Sahara Desert and famous cities such as Casablanca, Fez and Marakech, but it also offers beautiful coasts and beaches and even snowy mountains, forests and waterfalls. Morocco is certainly a unique country which is a must for travellers looking to experience the different culture of African, Arab, European and Berber influences.
Because most pictures you may have seen of Morocco show riads complete with intricate mosaics and ornaments, you may be left thinking it is an expensive destination for Africa. However, Morocco doesn’t have to be expensive; if you know where and how to get the most out of your money, you can get a great deal!
Although places like Fez and Marrakech are still pretty cheap, why not head to Meknes instead? This historic imperial city will offer you a more authentic experience, at a much cheaper price. Here you can roam the Medina market, which is much quieter and less overwhelming than those found in Fez and Marrakech, explore the Bab Mansour Gate (featured in our Game of Thrones blog as our alternative destination for the fantasy location of Dorne), or relax in the Lahboul Gardens. If you’d prefer to visit a coastal town, head to Essaouira, which offers affordable accommodation. This makes it easy to explore the nearby UNESCO medina and 18th century walls, but also sample a wide variety of cheap food such as fresh fruit, fish and baghrir (Moroccan pancakes with many tiny holes like a crumpet).
Currency: Moroccan dirham (a closed currency; read more here)
Accommodation: A room in a large city will cost around $10-15 per night, or around $5 in the outskirts or in a smaller city.
Meals: Eating in the markets will be cheaper than going to a restaurant, where you can enjoy local foods such as tagine or couscous for about $4. A 3-course meal for 2 in a mid-priced restaurant will cost you between $15-20.
Drinks: A pot of mint tea will cost less than $1. Although alcohol is not widely available in Morocco, you can expect to pay up to $7 for a beer or wine..
Attractions: Guided tours around large cities can be expensive, costing around $90 for a full day trip. Instead, explore on your own or opt instead for visiting a traditional hammam (like a turkish bath spa) for only $1.
Transportation: Trains in Morocco are well-connected, linking many of the major cities. A one-way ticket from Marrakech to Fez will cost you under $20. Bus tickets around cities are even cheaper, costing only $0.50 for a one-way ticket..
Getting there by air: It is quite easy to find cheap flights to Morocco from Europe, due to its close proximity to southern Europe. So why not combine it with a multi-city flight for a trip around Europe and Africa? Royal Air Maroc is the national carrier of Morocco, although you can also fly to Morocco with airlines such as Air Arabia Maroc, Air Algerie and Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Egypt: cheapest country for seeing ancient history
Although the pyramids, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, is definitely worth a visit, there are cheaper ways to see the breath-taking sights than by booking a tourist excursion or guided tours.
How to visit the Pyramids of Giza cheaply:
As mentioned, guided tours can be quite expensive, so why not venture out on your own or with a small group or friends and try out the local metro and mini-buses to really save some cash. From the centre at Tahrir Square to the pyramids, the combined travel cost can be under $2 per person. Presenting a Student ID card at ticket booths can get you a hefty discount of often 50%. Although the Great Pyramid is only $18 for a full price ticket, you can visit some of the smaller attractions such as the Menkaure Pyramid or Mers Ankh Tomb for only $2.
However, there is so much more to Egypt than just the pyramids. Towns and cities further south can provide a much cheaper alternative to Cairo. Luxor, although still fairly well-known to tourists as the Valley of the Kings, is a great alternative to the pyramids, whilst still getting a taste of Ancient Egypt. Even more quieter and authentic is Aswan, with must-visits being Ancient Egyptian tombs and temples which provide a great view over the River Nile, and the impressive man-made structure: the Aswan Dam. Egypt is also known for being a great destination for cheap diving. Instead of the popular and over-touristy Hurghada, head to Marsa Alam or Safaga for some of the cheapest diving along the Red Sea.
Currency: Egyptian Pound
Accommodation: The average room in the center of Cairo will cost around $12. If you choose to go to a quieter town, or stay in the outskirts nearer Giza this price can go down even more.
Meals: $7.30 A 3-course meal in a mid-range restaurant can cost up to $9 per person, but if you’d prefer to eat in an inexpensive local restaurant, you can expect to pay around $3.50 per meal.
Drinks: As with Morocco, alcohol in Egypt is not overly common. Restaurants run by local Christians are more likely to sell alcohol, where you can expect to pay around $1-2 for a bottle of beer. A large bottle of water or a can of coke will be around $0.30 and a coffee will be around $1.50.
Attractions: As mentioned above, the entry fee for the pyramids range from $5-30. A cinema ticket will cost around $4.
Transportation: You can expect to spend a total of around $3.50 a day on public transportation to get around places like Cairo.
Getting there by air: Egypt has many airlines which fly to and around the country. These include AlMasria Universal Airlines, EgyptAir (the national airline of Egypt) and Nile Air.
Malawi: cheapest country for wildlife
Malawi is known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, which couldn’t be more true thanks to the kind, friendly and welcoming locals. The country is gradually developing its tourism industry, meaning there are more opportunities for responsible and sustainable travel for visitors. The country is also improving its perception as being a safe, peaceful and stable country for its inhabitants and visitors.
This small country found in Southeast Africa is landlocked by its neighbours Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, but make no mistake, this doesn’t mean it lacks beaches. The famous Lake Malawi provides clear blue waters with golden sand shores and the freshwater in the lake provides for an abundance of wildlife, with the opportunity to see many species of birds, hippos, baboons, warthogs and elephants. Speaking of elephants, did you know Malawi offers affordable options to see the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, cape buffalo and of course the elephant) within its national parks? Prices for safaris in Malawi, although not uber-cheap, are quite affordable and well worth the money due to the unspoilt nature due to lack of mass-tourism, especially compared to other top safari destinations in Africa.
If you’d prefer to be in on the action rather than watching from the side, Lake Malawi is known for its great opportunities for scuba diving at impressively cheap prices. There are also facilities for other water sport activities such as sailing, kayaking and snorkeling.
Currency: Malawian kwacha
Accommodation: For a budget bed in a dorm room, you will find they cost around $10.
Meals: A meal in a high-end restaurant will cost around $11, but a budget version will cost half that at $5.40.
Drinks: A branded beer will cost you around $1, a coffee around $2 and a bottle of water about $0.35.
Attractions: A guided wildlife walk will cost about $20. A casual diving activity in Lake Malawi will cost about $50.
Transportation: Buses around cities, although sometimes unreliable, are very cheap at only $0.30 for a one-way ticket.
Getting there by air: You can fly to the international airport of Malawi’s capital Lilongwe; Kamuzu International Airport with a number of different airways such as Malawian Airlines, Proflight Zambia, Ethiopian Airlines and Ulendo Airlink.
Ethiopia: cheapest country for food
Ethiopia is not the cheapest country to travel to on this list, but once there and the accommodation is paid for, then food, drink and local transport are both super affordable and great quality. Although entrance fees to many parks and attractions are low, they’re accompanied by rules which mean that you have to have a travel guide with you, join an official tour or pay ‘tourist tax’, which significantly increases the price. However, you can make the most of the places where a guide isn’t required to keep the costs down.
Nonetheless, Ethiopia’s rich history and breathtaking landscapes still come at a relatively cheap price, especially when compared to other regions of the world. Gondar, a city in the north of Ethiopia, features a 17th century castle of Portugese and Indian influence hidden in the shelter of the surrounding hills and trees. This castle, often called the ‘Camelot of Africa’ is a must-see, and is relatively cheap to enter at only $4.50.
Not only is Ethiopia’s food super cheap, but it’s one of the tastiest and exciting cuisines in the world. On Wednesdays and Fridays every week, Orthodox Ethiopians will fast from meat and animal products, essentially eating only vegan food. This is good news for vegans and vegetarians, as it means there’s a wide selection of amazing vegan food available. Some vegan must-tries are shiro wat (a smooth and thick paste made from chickpeas, onions and garlic), misir wat (lentils with berbere spice), timatim salata (tomato salad) and the famous Ethiopian Injera (a sourdough flatbread made from teff). Meat options are still available, especially on the non-fasting days. Be sure to try lamb or beef tibs, or Kifto (a beef tartare) for some authentic Ethiopian meat dishes. Whilst on the subject of taste buds, you can’t mention Ethiopia without mentioning its amazing fresh coffee. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and many families or restaurants will conduct coffee ceremonies to enhance the enjoyment of it. However, if you’d prefer something alcoholic, yet still authentic Ethiopian, then why not try Tej, an alcoholic drink made of honey.
Photo Credit: Yonatan Solomon via Wikimedia Commons
Currency: Ethiopian birr
Accommodation: Even in the capital Addis Ababa, a private room will only cost around $7, or a two-star hotel can be found for around $10 per room.
Meals: Although there aren’t many street food vendors, local restaurants are super cheap, where a main meal and beer will only cost around $1.50. Even at a fancier restaurant, an expensive meal will only cost around $5.
Drinks: A traditional Ethiopian coffee will cost approximately $0.40, a breakfast fruit smoothie $0.50 and a beer $1.
Attractions: Attractions such as the castle in Gondar will cost under $5 for entry. A trip to the cinema will cost about $3.
Transportation: In rural parts of Ethiopia, it may be cheaper to fly domestically as there is better infrastructure for air travel than roads. Travel around cities such as Addis Ababa by bus will only cost around $0.40 per day.
Getting there by air: Ethiopian Airlines is the flag carrier of Ethiopia, and one of the best airlines in the whole of Africa. Other airlines which fly into Addis Ababa Bole International Airport include Saudia, Kenya Airways and Emirates.
South Africa: cheapest country for impressive landscapes
Although South Africa has a reputation for being expensive, a lesser-known secret is that the country itself is not that expensive; it’s the flights getting there that make up the bulk of the cost. This is due to the fact it’s the country furthest south in Africa, so when coming from somewhere like Asia, Europe or America, it’s a long and therefore expensive flight.
However, here at Alternative Airlines, we can help you with this obstacle. Not only do we provide competitive prices for our flights, we also provide a wide choice of payment options you can choose from to pay for your flights. We have many options for paying for your flights on finance, by either paying in monthly installments or delaying the payment for a later date. Using one of these options could make your flights to South Africa a lot more affordable and manageable, meaning you have less to worry about for your trip as there are no huge payments. Affirm is one of our finance payment providers, which allows our US customers to pay over time with monthly installments. If you are interested in using Affirm, read our blog on why you should use Affirm to pay for flights.
Once in South Africa, you may be surprised at the cheap prices, especially when travelling away from the major cities. However, Cape Town isn’t to be overlooked. South Africa’s oldest city is home to the impressive Table Mountain, which is much cheaper to reach than other well-known African landmarks such as Mount Kilimanjaro which takes months of expensive training and preparation. For such a popular tourist destination, it is only $22 for a cable car return trip, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can hike to the top for free. Cheaper activities in the Cape Town area are enjoying the many free gardens such as Company’s Garden, or enjoy the impressive landscapes of the Cape Floral Region. The cost to hire a car is cheap, for around $10 a day including insurance. This means you can venture to elsewhere in South Africa, or stay close by and take a drive around the cape winelands for great views, or down to the Cape Peninsula to Boulder Beach to see the penguins.
South Africa factfile
Currency: South African rand
Accommodation: A bed in a hostel will cost as low as $10, or for a mid-range hotel you can find prices from $25.
Meals: Budget meals can be found from $5, or $15 for a fancier, 3-course meal. Drinks: A local beer or coffee will often cost under $2, and a water will cost $0.70.
Attractions: You can find some great museums in cities where entrance is free! Bigger attractions such as the Table Mountain cable car are more expensive but certainly still affordable at $22.
Transportation: The cost to hire a car is super cheap, at only $10 per day. Tickets on local transportation, however, will only cost you around $1.
Getting there by air: South African Airways is the national flag carrier of South Africa, who flies to Europe, Asia and America from its hub at O.R. Tambo Airport (one of the best airports for shopping). United have also announced new direct flights from North America to Cape Town starting in diciembre 2019, which will greatly improve connectivity. Domestic flights around the country are well-served by one of the cheapest airlines in the world; Mango.
Ghana: Cheapest country for coastal delights
Ghana, dubbed ‘Africa for beginners’, is a country located in West Africa. Generally, Ghana is a very safe country, and its friendly people make you feel warm and welcome as soon as you enter. Although the Coastal Plains of Ghana make up only a fraction of the whole country, there’s so much to do and see here, including the capital city of Accra. This coastal city is small but vibrant, with much to do for free! From Skybar in Accra’s tallest tower overlooking the laid-back coastline, a wander around the beating Makola Market, or the bars contributing to its great nightlife scene, Accra really has something for everyone. The beaches of Bojo and Labadi provide a beautiful place for relaxing on the sand, or for the more adventurous, there are some great waves to surf. There are also a number of memorials and monuments in Accra, such as the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, the Independence Arch and the Osu Castle. The fishing community of Jamestown is a must visit for a cultural experience dating back to the 17th century, complete with colonial architecture, vibrant local street art and it��s quaint lighthouse.
If you plan to explore more than just Accra, be sure to visit the well-preserved Cape Coast Castle from the 17th centry for an important reminder of the country’s past from the slave trade. Slightly further inland from the Cape Coast is Kakum National Park, a rich rainforest complete with all types of flora and fauna and even a canopy walk - a rope bridge built to walk above the trees!
Currency: Ghana cedi
Accommodation: This varies greatly depending on where you are staying. For example, a budget hotel can cost as little as $3 per person per night, but a more comfortable hotel may cost closer to $20 per night.
Meals: A standard meal will cost you around $3.50, or a higher-standard 3-course meal may cost around $13.
Drinks: Alcoholic drinks can be found relatively cheap in the bars of Accra, at around $1 for a beer. A regular coffee may cost you $2, and a bottle of water $0.50.
Attractions: Touristy attractions such as the canopy walk at Kakum will cost around $11, and a cinema trip $5.
Transportation: A bus ticket in the city will cost you around $0.60.
Getting there by air: There is no national carrier of Ghana, but many airlines fly into the main international airport of the country; Kotoka International Airport. Airlines include RwandAir, ASKY Airlines and Africa World Airlines.
Be sure to check our other cheap guides:
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Cheapest Countries in South America
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Cheapest Countries in Southeast Asia