Should you have any programs for visiting any part of Africa from A (ANGOLA) to Z (Zimbabwe), you need to plan it in detail, and save yourself the embarrassments and irritations often connected with travelling to that part of the world. At times, travelling there could be quite risky and unsteady, depending on the country you choose to visit and health risks are an everyday affair.
1. Get a visa, update your passport
Your most important travel document, the passport, should be valid for a minimum of six month from the date of commencing your trip. In case you find that the same is nearing its expiry date, have it renewed and then apply for a visa. Visa rules undergo frequent changes, depending on the whims and fancies of the politicians. It is highly desirable to contact the embassy of the country to be visited at least two month before the date of departure, and know the latest visa rules applicable to your nationality, mind you, not the country where you might be living. Quite a few African countries offer visas on landing therein. You are charged the required fee and your passport is stamped. But, there are others asking you to get a visa before hand. You are required to fill out the prescribed form and send your passport along with the specified fee to the embassy. Simultaneously, collect the contact details of the embassy or consulate of your country in the country you plan to visit. It will be helpful to know from you country’s embassy about health risks, terrorist alerts and entry rules and regulations etc.
2. Tips to book your flight
Getting economical flight to African countries is rather difficult unless you are travelling from Europe that gives the benefit of low-priced air ticket for Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and a few resort destinations of the kind of Gambia. On the whole, there is hardly any competition for most destinations in Africa. Usually, the flights are full and the tickets are expensive as a consequence. So, soon after your bookings for safari or lodging are done, you should not delay buying your tickets. You may consider seeking help of your tour operator or spend sometime and conduct your own research on the Internet. Two of the popular search engines for the purpose are Cheaptickets.com and Bootsnall. You may compare the prices and opt for one that best suits your requirements. Here’s good opportunity to use your miles points. If they aren’t good enough for flying to your chosen destination in Africa, use them for flying to London or Paris and book separate tickets from there for onwards journey. It should be added here that you should always have a return plane ticket with you whenever entering any African country. Some of the countries don’t allow you visit them in the absence of a return ticket, and Nigeria happens to be one of those.
3. Get travel insurance
Having incurred a substantial amount of money for your plane tickets and journey, you need to get some insurance. Generally, it may cost you five to seven percent of the cost of the trip. It’s quite a practice with many of the operators to have provided you with some kind of coverage and include the expense in the cost of the trip. It would be worth checking for the same with your operator before you incur any additional expenses. Further, it is highly desirable to go for trip cancellation insurance, as the trips are pretty expensive and you would be booking very well in advance, and one never knows what life has in store for anyone.
4. Get all of your vaccinations at least a month before you plan on arriving in Africa
It’s of utmost importance for you to visit a travel clinic to know all the recommended vaccinations for your trip. It will be a good option to enquire and get sufficient quantity of the right malaria pills. Further, you may be required to carry with you a certificate of your yellow fever vaccination as many of the African countries insist for the same before allowing you to enter.
5. Arrange for proper financing
Well before the scheduled date of departure, take into consideration the different options of carrying cash while travelling to Africa and choose the best one. You should know that many countries do not offer the facility of ATM’s at so convenient points as you might already be used to in your country. Up till quite recently, Western visitors were often required to carry large sums of cash while travelling to Africa. However, of late introduction of modern banking services have facilitated cash withdrawals. Yet, you could still come across hurdles in rural areas or the not so developed countries.
All currencies are not exchanged with good grace. As a general rule the US Dollar is the most welcome and well-recognized and acknowledged form of foreign currency. If you are the one who feels comfortable travelling with Travellers’ Cheques, have them in either Euros or US Dollars. In case you intend using your credit card or debit card, ensure that it has a Visa or MasterCard logo on it. American Express proves worthless in most parts of Africa.