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Top 10 things to bear in mind when planning your overlanding trip to Africa

Since I’m counting down the days till my amazing overlanding trip, I thought I’d share with you my top 10 list of things to bear in mind when planning such a journey.

Airplane Ticket

This might sound obvious, but if you’d like to find advantageous rates I recommend you book your flight at least three months in advance (last minute flights is another option, yet you’ll need to be more flexible).

For price comparisons and cheap flights, do your research on websites like www.orbitz.com, www.kayak.com, or sidestep.com. Also make sure you reconfirm your booking 72 hours prior to departure.

Passport

Check both the validity of your passport (expiry date), and make sure you have at least one blank page per country of visit (2 side by side blank pages for entry to South Africa).

As a precautionary measure, make a photocopy of your document and keep a backup file on your computer. For easy access from anywhere in the world, use systems such as Dropbox (first two GB are free) or GoToMyPC (unlimited access for as little as $9.95/month).

Visas

Visas can either be paid beforehand (contact your local embassies), or upfront as you enter the country/at the border. I will be visiting 8 nations during my trip, out of which 4 require visas.

As a Belgian passport holder, I am able to get visas upon arrival. Here’s what I’ll be expected to pay (prices subject to change):

  • Kenya: $25 USD on arrival.
  • Uganda: $50 USD on arrival.
  • Tanzania: $50 USD on arrival.
  • Malawi: no visa required.
  • Botswana: no visa.
  • Zambia: $50 USD on arrival.
  • Namibia: no visa.
  • South Africa: none needed (applicable for U.S. or European citizens, for a stay up to 90 days).

Visa Requirements for Eastern & Southern Africa (Source: Acacia Africa).

Travel Insurance

Mandatory. If anything goes wrong, you need extensive cover for medical treatment or repatriation, loss of belongings, documents and money, cancellation, etc. Contact your local specialist brokers for assistance (e.g. Campbell Irvine in the UK).

NB: You will be expected to show proof of a valid policy to your tour leader before your overlanding departure, otherwise you will simply not be able to take part in the tour.

Travel Voucher

Bring your travel voucher alongside your passport, airplane ticket and other important travel documents.

Departure Taxes

While departure taxes are included in most airline tickets, some countries require that you pay it in cash when departing on international flights.

In my case, the only place that could entail a departure tax is Dar es Salaam (US $30), yet this will not be applicable as my return ticket is from Cape Town (airport tax included in the ticket).

Generally speaking, for departures such as Johannesburg, Livingstone or Nairobi, the departure tax is included the ticket.

Airport Transfers

  • Catch a private taxi or use a shuttle service (public transport is usually not reliable in Africa).
  • Make sure you have enough cash to take you from point A to point B. Few African taxis have meters, so discuss the price charge before embarking on your ride.
  • Google the distance between your airport and destination to give you a fair idea of price range.

  • My hotel in Nairobi is situated approximately 15 km away from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In other words, I shouldn’t be expected to pay more than 800-1200 KSh (USD $10-15).

Vaccinations

The majority of vaccinations for sub Saharan Africa are “recommended”, not “compulsory” (for children and infants, seek medical advice). The only mandatory vaccine is for yellow fever. The yellow fever vaccine is valid for a period of 10 years.

For more travelers’ health-related topics, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccination Requirements for Eastern & Southern Africa (Source: Acacia Africa).

Local Payments

For most overlanding tours, there is a “local payment” to be added on top of the trip itself. Local payments cover costs such as food, fuel, local excursions and park entrance fees.

NB: Local payments must be paid in USD cash to your tour leader prior to departure. Also notice that only clean, un-torn, post-2005 dollar bills are accepted.

My Local Payment Details (Source: Acacia Africa).

Extras

There are always extra costs involved in such an overlanding adventure, whether you like it or not. So be sure to budget your cash accordingly.

As a rule of thumb, expect to spend approximately USD $15-25 per day on your African safari venture. These costs involve incidentals, snacks, drinks, tips, souvenirs, Internet cafes, extra meals & activities.

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I travel with Acacia Africa on this African safari expedition. For more information on this amazing trip, visit the 58-day Ultimate African Overlander.

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