Planning your overland trip to Africa

When you’re overlanding across several countries, planning your trip to Africa can feel like a daunting task. You might be covering seven or eight countries so having the right visas, checking off the required vaccinations and making sure your passport is up to date will be top of your agenda.

This is by no means an exhaustive checklist, but here are some handy pointers to think about before going on safari. If you want to learn more join the blog editors of Getting Stamped and tour operator Acacia Africa on 16 April (4 pm GMT) as they will be two of the key hosts for #Africhat – this month’s Twitter event focused on planning for Africa.

Even at the planning stage you should be thinking ahead. You want to arrive at least the day before your departure and leave a day after the expedition finishes. This way you can relax knowing that you’re going to make your tour on time, and any unforeseen en-route events won’t affect your schedule on departure.

TIA (or “This is Africa”) is a common acronym so take the pressure off and don’t rush the experience.

Before you go you should notify your bank and advise them of your travel plans, including dates of travel and the countries you are visiting. This will stop the cancellation of cards due to what might be seen as fraudulent activities.

Gone are the days of Travellers Cheques. You’ll find cash passport cards (VISA) a handy addition to any credit cards and they are usually available from Travellex or other money exchanges.

Mastercards are not always welcome and especially in eastern Africa. To avoid those ATM charges opt for a bank that will refund the fees.

When it comes to visa requirements, depending on your nationality and the country you are visiting you may well find you can arrange this once you arrive. This will save you a trip to the embassy or applying for anything online ahead of time.

When the visa cost must be paid in US Dollars, remember that your bills must be printed after 2006,  and they should also be clean and un-torn, and preferably 50′s and 100′s.

Your passport may be valid, but is it valid in Africa? When travelling in Southern Africa you might well need at least a six month lead in before your actual expiry date. In addition, always have extra photocopies of your passport, travel insurance and yellow fever certificate.

Zanzibar, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa have mandatory yellow fever vaccinations. Both Zambia & South Africa view this as an immigration requirement, so in order to be allowed into the country you must present your yellow fever vaccination card. You will receive this after a series of shots.

Yellow fever is the only mandatory vaccination, but the travel doctor may recommend several others, along with malaria tablets.

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