I spent a month in two countries in 2010: South Africa and Rwanda and have been aching to get back to the continent ever since.
Counter to popular believe much of the continent is largely safe, not starving and contains sleepy villages with friendly people. It is also a misnomer to refer to the entire continent ‘Africa’ as if it were a monolith of one culture and people. Instead it is more appropriate to think in regions with North Africa having heavily influence from the Middle East with a mostly Islamic population, West Africa where many American immigrants hail their roots from, East Africa where much of the tourism of Africa lies, central Africa and South Africa – a true outlier in the continent.
I volunteered through the Global Volunteer Network (GVN) in Rwanda and had a truly unforgettable local experience. If you are traveling to a developing country, I highly recommend looking at a volunteer program or homestay as a way to engage in authentic travel, as well as give back to the local community. I will say that a minimum of a month is usually required to actually improve a project, although longer is always better.
Check out the ‘Africa’ tab on the right for some awesome stories and unforgettable experiences I had while participating in this program.