Mission Trips to Africa: Where to Go and How to Prepare

Frederik Nielsen
01/16/2020
two-mission-travelers-to-uganda-smiling-for-the-camera

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.”

– H. C. Andersen

Many people have a natural urge to travel and see the world, and there are enough experiences to fill several lifetimes. But maybe you’re also seeking a deeper purpose for your travels.

That’s why mission trips are so appealing.

There are many benefits to mission trips. Not only will you see beautiful places and experience unfamiliar cultures, but you’ll also be able to make a positive difference for people in need.

To help guide your mission trip efforts, we’ll cover the following:

Once you’re equipped with this knowledge, you’ll have a much better idea of where you want to go, what you should do there, and how you can prepare for the journey of a lifetime.

Why Choose Africa as Your Mission Trip Destination?

Africa has long been a top destination for mission trips, and it’s easy to see why. It’s an incredibly diverse continent with a wide variety of people, languages, religions, art, music, food, and culture.

So, what are some of the things you can expect?

People who have gone on mission trips to Africa have written about their spiritual experiences, the simplicity of the rural environments, and the many adventures where their travels have led.

In other words, Africa is a continent full of untold possibilities.

Mission travelers have also recounted how their collaborations with others have led to lifelong friendships and how the challenges of helping out where it’s needed have been formative to their character. For example, mission traveler Sarah Graefe explains how she developed a new appreciation for air conditioning and bottled water after she returned from her mission trip.

What Are the Best Destinations for Africa Mission Trips?

If the thought of mission trips to Africa appeals to you, then you might wonder where in Africa to go. Africa is the second-largest continent in the world and offers 54 different countries to choose from.

We’ve outlined five destinations below that are all rich in culture and diversity. But each of these countries also face unique challenges, such as poverty and a lack of access to education. These challenges are what make them ideal destinations for your mission trip.

1. Uganda

Uganda is a landlocked country in east-central Africa, full of lakes, mountains, and savannas. The country is known for its huge agricultural industry, which produces cotton, tea, and tobacco.

What Makes Uganda An Ideal Destination for a Mission Trip?

Uganda offers exotic wildlife and warm, vibrant people, but many of its citizens experience the devastating effects of poverty. In fact, the average Ugandan makes just $1.80 per day, and many people do not have access to licensed doctors or modern medicine.

Mission trips to Uganda frequently focus on assisting orphanages, providing life-saving medical care, and empowering women.

2. South Africa 

Experience the beautiful Cape Town, the majestic Table Mountain, or the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg. There is much to see on a South Africa mission trip, and there are plenty of projects to join.

What Makes South Africa An Ideal Destination for a Mission Trip?

The abundance of natural resources has made South Africa an emerging market on the international market. And yet, high rates of unemployment and a crumbling infrastructure are stifling growth.

Mission trips to South Africa often focus on alleviating the challenges faced by disadvantaged groups, such as homelessness and overcrowding.

3. Kenya 

If you’ve ever daydreamed about scenic landscapes, then look no further than Kenya. With its numerous wildlife preserves, it’s a top destination for conservation projects of all kinds.

What Makes Kenya An Ideal Destination for a Mission Trip?

Despite its diverse environment and resources, Kenya is plagued by diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Many locals also lack vital supplies, such as shoes for their children or formula for their infants.

Many mission trips to Kenya focus on building and construction projects to help out the many orphanages that lack resources of their own.

4. Tanzania

Tanzania is home to Kilimanjaro, which is the highest mountain on the African continent. From alpine deserts to fertile rainforests, there is much to experience in this west-central country.

What Makes Tanzania An Ideal Destination for a Mission Trip?

Tanzania has a booming tourism industry due to its incredible wildlife. But there is also a large wealth disparity and an ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Rural residents have limited or zero access to education, medicine, supplies, and food.

You’ll find many mission trips to Tanzania that assist in feeding orphans and training locals in skills such as making quilts and planting rice.

5. Ghana

Ghana offers a tropical climate and warm, friendly people. The nation has made huge strides toward democracy in recent years and consistently ranks in the top three African countries for freedom of speech and press. Additionally, citizens of other African countries often travel to Ghana to receive better healthcare.

What Makes Ghana An Ideal Destination for a Mission Trip?

Despite all of Ghana’s achievements, the nation still suffers from widespread poverty. Many families lack access to clean water, food, and shelter.

Mission trips to Ghana often include construction work and work at local orphanages, where many of the children have been orphaned, abandoned, or were previously trafficked into child slavery.

Which Types of Mission Trips to Africa Can You Join?

Now that you’ve seen some of your options, it’s time to think about the type of project you’d like to work on. Many impoverished areas will require everything from construction to conservation. Keep reading to explore the types of mission trips available to you in Africa.

1. Construction

Are you good with your hands? Then you should consider joining a construction-based mission trip. Assist local architects, surveyors, and engineers with building a better future. 

Construction projects often include building churches, hospitals, schools, housing, and camps for local communities.

Organizations for construction-heavy mission trips often seek volunteers who are experienced in the following types of work:

  • Carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and electrical work
  • Green building
  • Surveying
  • Architecture and engineering
  • Maintenance work

However, most mission groups will be glad to have you lend a helping hand, no matter your skill level.

2. Teaching

If you have a degree or a teaching certificate, then you could make a world of difference in the mission field of education. Help local school kids and young people improve their skills and chances in life.

Teaching projects often focus on teaching English to locals so they’re better able to find jobs in the international market. But you don’t necessarily have to be a certified English teacher. Mission organizations often need administrators, resident assistants (RAs), and support staff as well.

There are also short-term mission trips where you can teach for just a few weeks.

3. Child Care

Taking care of children can be particularly difficult for locals in poor areas where the workdays are much longer than they are in other nations. You can help local families care for their children or assist in a local daycare.

One of the painful consequences of poverty, deadly diseases, and civil war is that many African children are orphaned at a very young age.

That’s why mission groups who focus on child care often work with local orphanages to:

  • Teach basic life skills
  • Engage in sports and outdoor activities
  • Serve meals
  • Connect children with long-term caregivers

The most important skills you’ll need when working with children is empathy and empowerment.

4. Medical

Health is one of the most important things we have—without it, all else fails. If you’re a medical student or graduate, then your knowledge and expertise are desperately needed in Africa.

Not only do many African countries suffer from diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, but some regions also lack the education and resources to prevent and treat these diseases. That’s why many medical mission trips not only seek to cure but also to educate local populations.

Organizations are always looking for professionals and students in the following areas of healthcare:

  • Nurses
  • Speech therapists
  • Surgeons
  • Physicians
  • Physical therapists

5. Conservation

Africa is home to some of the most diverse wildlife in the world. Unfortunately, African wildlife is under threat due to climate change and poachers. Help preserve the local wildlife by joining a conservation-based mission trip.

Here are some of the animals you can help protect:

  • Lions
  • Elephants
  • Lemurs
  • Frogs
  • Turtles
  • Dolphins
  • Giraffes
  • Chimpanzees

This list is by no means exhaustive, as there is an almost limitless variety of animals on the African continent—many of which are threatened and need your help.

What Are the Best Organizations for Africa Mission Trips?

So far, you’ve discovered some of the best mission trip destinations and learned about the different types of projects you can join. But since you can’t go it alone, it’s a good idea to research companies that organize mission trips. Here are some of the best-known to get you started:

1. Volunteer HQ

Volunteer HQ was established in 2007 and is generally seen as the global leader in volunteer travel. Each year, they place thousands of volunteers in projects spanning more than 50 countries.

Which African Countries Does Volunteer HQ Cover?

Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Victoria Falls, and Zambia.

2. Love Volunteers

The founders of Love Volunteers started the organization in 2009 because they found other mission trips and organizations to be too expensive. They specialize in low-cost mission trips to Africa so young people can afford to go.

Which African Countries Does Love Volunteers Cover?

South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Victoria Falls, Zambia, Uganda, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda, and Cameroon.

3. GoEco

GoEco has been specializing in ethical and eco-friendly volunteer projects since 2006. You can choose from 14 African destinations where you can help preserve local wildlife and environments.

Which African Countries Does GoEco Cover?

Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

4. African Impact

African Impact was founded in Zimbabwe back in 2004. What started as a small, family-based project has grown into an award-winning organization that works hard to improve the entire African continent.

Which African Countries Does African Impact Cover?

Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Zanzibar, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia, Madagascar, and the Seychelles.

5. Connect-123

Connect-123 connects young people with opportunities in five major cities across the world, including Cape Town. Connect-123 offers volunteer projects focused on wildlife, human rights, social work, and economic development.

Which African Countries Does Connect-123 Cover?

South Africa.

How Much Does a Mission Trip to Africa Cost?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost for you to go on a mission trip to Africa. Unfortunately, these types of mission trips are not cheap.

Program costs tend to range from as little as $180 to as much as $3200 for a short-term trip. For longer trips, the average cost is about $3,000.

And that’s just for the cost of the program.

Although you can’t put a price on this kind of experience, we’ve outlined a few of the additional expenses for you consider below.

1. Administration

Depending on the organization you’ve chosen, admin fees may or may not be covered by the program cost. Admin fees typically include a background check, vaccinations, and mission trip medical insurance.

2. Equipment

Depending on the type of project you sign up for, you may need special equipment. This could include camping and cooking gear, worksite tools and protective gear, as well as any incidental supplies such as sunscreen.

3. Transport

Most programs require you to pay for your own flights. The cost of your flights will depend on your destination and how far in advance you book. There may also be an immigration fee to pay at arrival, plus any incidentals on the way there.

4. Personal

Many mission trips will give you the opportunity to explore the country and engage in tourist activities, such as safaris—at your own expense. Food, drinks, and medicine can also fall under the category of personal expenses.

5. Accommodation

If accommodation is not included in the admin fees, then you’ll have to pay for that as well. Carefully review what the trip cost does and does not cover when comparing different trips and organizations.

5 Tips for a Successful Mission Trip to Africa

Proper preparation can help to prevent mishaps and negative surprises discovered upon arrival, so many sure you do your research before landing abroad.

Below, you’ll find an outline of some of the most important items you should add to your to-do list before your mission trip to Africa.

1. Research the Organization

Not all organizations are created equal, and you’d do well to read as much as you can about your options before you commit to one. Read online reviews and reports from past volunteers.

Tip: Find unbiased reviews of mission trips organizations on Mission Trip Reviews.

2. Read About the Destination

A Wikipedia entry won’t tell the whole story of your destination. Buy or borrow a book about the country you’re going to or explore online blogs from previous visitors to your destination to gain a solid understanding of the local customs and culture.

Tip: Here are some interesting facts about African countries to get you started.

3. Get Vaccinated

The organization you travel with should inform you of any vaccines that are required or suggested for your destination, but it can’t hurt to research health concerns in the nation as well.

Tip: Use the “Travelers’ Health” tool from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to discover important health information about your destination, such as what health concerns are plaguing the country and what vaccines are suggested or required.

4. Determine Whether You Need Mission Trip Medical Insurance

Hopefully, nothing will go wrong on your mission trip abroad. But if it does, mission trip medical insurance can provide you with coverage for unexpected accidents, illnesses, travel mishaps, and other travel-related medical emergencies.

Determine whether your regular health insurance provides any coverage abroad, and whether this coverage is sufficient for your needs.

Tip: Discover why you may need mission trip medical insurance or explore the benefits of Atlas Travel insurance.

5. Pack Accordingly

Many organizations will provide you with a list of items to pack. It may also be helpful to browse online packing lists and tips from previous mission travelers to your destination to learn what they wish they’d brought and what they wish they’d left behind. –

Tip: Refer to this mission trip packing list and tick off all the items you need for the trip.

Ready to Go?

Hopefully, you’ve found the ideal destination and determined which reputable organization will help you get there.

Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve covered:

  • Mission trips to Africa frequently offer work related to construction, teaching, child care, medical care, and conservation.
  • Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana are just some of 52 countries to choose from.
  • Choose a reputable organization like Volunteer HQ, Love Volunteers, GoEco, African Impact, or Connect-123.
  • Make sure you can afford flights and other transportation, mission trip medical insurance, and accommodations in addition to program expenses.
  • Read online blogs and reviews of both your destination country and your chosen organization before you commit.

Want to Learn More?

Explore more mission trip articles:


Related Blog Posts


Learn How to Travel Abroad on a Budget
Download your Ultimate Guide to Budget Travel to get money-saving tips from real travel experts. You'll discover budget-friendly destinations around the world and learn where to splurge, where to save, and how to shop for the very best deals. 

KHE2FFFYH6SP-152-1671

Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group international insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. Tokio Marine HCC - Medical Insurance Services Group (MIS Group) is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency Ltd.