Travel warnings are regularly issued by the State Department in the US, for countries which are considered too dangerous for American citizens to travel to. The warnings often come as a response to civil war, terrorist attacks or outbreaks of life-threatening diseases like Ebola. Africa represents more than a third of all countries that have travel warnings in place, but most of them aren't exactly tourist hotspots.
Travel Alerts, issued for short-term unrest, can be found below. Keep in mind that there are 54 countries in Africa, the majority of which are quite safe to travel to.
Links to Canadian, UK and Australian government warnings are listed below. These are often a little more detailed and include more countries than the US warnings, so I'd advise all travelers to read them as well.
Elections often cause violence to erupt, both prior to election day (during rallies) and after the results come out. See IFES's election guide for upcoming elections in African countries.
Find out what to do if a Travel Advisory is issued after you have paid for your trip, or are already at your destination in Africa.
Current US Travel Warnings for Countries in Africa
Travel warnings are current despite some being issued months ago. While I update as often as possible, please check directly with the State Dept for the latest news.
- Libya issued December 2013. The United States warns U.S. citizens against travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens in Libya depart immediately.
- Kenya issued April 2014. In light of the attack on a Nairobi shopping mall, the U.S. Department of State has reissued its Travel Warning of July 5, 2013, which warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. There are no restrictions on U.S. embassy employee travel to Kenya's most popular tourist destinations such as Masai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Tsavo, Lamu Island, Hell's Gate, Samburu, Mount Kenya, Malindi, and Nairobi. Travelers should keep informed of local developments by following local press, radio, and television reports prior to their visits. For the most up to date information see the US Embassy web site based in Nairobi. Travelers should avoid the Kenya/Somali border, pirate activity is no longer an issue, as cruise ships have now returned to Lamu and pirate activity has been curtailed enormously.
Lesotho issued September 2014. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to carefully consider the potential risks of traveling to Lesotho due to ongoing security concerns. Following a violent confrontation between police and the army on Saturday, August 30, the Lesotho police have returned to normal duties, but command and control of the army remain unresolved.
- Guinea issued March 2013. The US department of State urges its citizens to be careful given the shaky political situation following the November elections in 2011. Avoid large crowds and spontaneous demonstrations.
- Chad issued October 2013. Americans are advised to avoid all travel to the East of the country, avoid travel after dusk and always travel in groups.
- Burundi issued April 2014. Americans are advised to take extreme care if traveling to Burundi because of the risk of sudden outbreaks of armed violence, acts of banditry, and cross-border incursion by rebel groups.
- Eritrea issued September 2014. All foreign nationals need special permits to travel outside the capital Asmara. The US urges visitors not to go to Eritrea. Avoid the border areas between Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as the border with Djibouti.
- Somalia issued February 2014. The travel warnings extend to all US citizens traveling to Somaliland as well as Somalia. Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting can flare up with little warning, and kidnapping, murder, and other threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners can occur unpredictably in many regions.
- Central African Republic(CAR) issued in November 2013. Americans are urged not to travel anywhere outside of the capital Bangui. The situation is volatile throughout the country.
- Cote D'Ivoire issued May 2013. While the unstable political situation following the contested November 28, 2010, presidential elections has improved, there is still a chance for spontaneous unrest. Crimes, such as muggings, robbery, burglary, and carjacking, pose risks for foreign visitors in Abidjan and around the country.
- Nigeria issued January 2014. This travel warning is mainly for the Niger Delta region of the country although the US considers the high level of crime throughout Nigeria reason enough to warn its citizens against travel there. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and violence in Kano state among others are included in the warning.
- Algeria issued February 2014. Terrorist attacks have increased again in Algeria and the US Government urges tourists to use reputable hotels and tour companies if they still choose to go.
- Sudan issued October 2013. Many areas of Sudan are still extremely dangerous and all US citizens are strongly advised to defer any travel to the country, even the capital, Khartoum.
- The Republic of South Sudan issued January 2014. Africa's newest nation and the US State Dept. urges its citizens to avoid all travel to the states in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan.
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo issued October 2013. Random violence and lots of soldiers that still need to be de-mobilized make the Congo an unsafe country to visit. Recent violence in Eastern Congo makes this area entirely off-limits to all travelers. The crime rate in Kinshasa is extremely high.
- Mali issued April 2014. Continued activity by the local Al-Qaeda-linked group in the country means it's not a good idea to travel around Mali right now, particularly in the north of the country. French troops have gone into the country to oust some of the militant groups controlling the North.
- Mauritania issued March 2014. Fears of terrorist attacks (by local Al Qaeda-linked group) aimed at foreigners in several parts of the country.
- Niger issued April 2014. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Niger and recommends against all travel to the north of the country. In particular, the border area between Mali and NIger
Travel Warning Lists from other Governments
Travel Alerts are issued for more short-term unrest in specific countries. Current travel alerts issued by the US State Dept. can be found here. Travel alerts had been issued for:
- Mozambique - Alert expires October 31. Alert issued due to general elections taking place this month, which may lead to protests.