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Visas & Passports
Before you fly to Africa, make sure your passport is in order, you have the relevant visas and travel insurance, and you’ve made copies of everything! It’s always good to be prepared and have enough time for the authorities to give you the green light.
Travellers of most nationalities need visas for some, if not all, African countries. Most of these can be obtained at the land borders when travelling through Africa, or alternatively at the airport when arriving. It is however essential that you check the visa requirements for your nationality of each country before you arrive in Africa.
You will find general visa information specific to each country in our destination guide, but visa requirements and costs change frequently so it’s always best to get up-to-date information before you travel. Our consultants can advise you and visa requirements are included in our pre-departure information.
Note that most visas obtained whilst in Africa must be paid for in cash in US dollars, so make sure you bring dollars with you. Note further that due to the circulation of fake notes, visa-issuing authorities will only accept dollar notes issued after 2003.
All visitors to Africa must be in possession of a full passport which is valid for at least six months after the finish date of a trip.
Furthermore, it should have plenty of empty pages, particularly if you are doing a longer trip as you will collect a number of page-filling visas and stamps. It is advisable to allow at least one blank page for each country you are visiting; if your passport is almost full, you may find yourself unable to complete the tour.
And keep an eye on it: getting a new passport in Africa is usually extremely difficult, so always ensure your passport is safe. You should also take photocopies of it with you and keep these, along with your vaccination certificates, separately from the passport.
When crossing borders your tour leader will often be able to take the passports for the whole group and do all the border crossing procedures on your behalf. At borders, listen to what the tour leader tells you, turn the stereo off, and remember that border officials do not take kindly to you entering the border post with no shirt or shoes on!
It is essential that you obtain travel insurance from your home country for any trip to Africa. You will not be permitted to join a tour without it and your tour leader will request contact details for the insurance company at the beginning of the tour. Your policy should cover you for personal accident; medical costs; and loss, damage to, or theft of personal belongings.
Ideally the policy should include repatriation in the event of a medical emergency back to your home country. You should carefully consider a policy that specifically covers adventure travel if you plan on doing many of the optional adventure excursions.
Note that most policies limit the value of personal baggage and belongings, so if you have expensive camera or video equipment, you may want to consider extra cover. In the end, it’s always best to leave your jewellery, expensive watch and best clothes at home.
It is essential that you consult your doctor or travel clinic a few weeks before coming to Africa for advice on what vaccinations you need for the countries you will be travelling through. And you will also need to check with your travel consultant if you need to have an up-to-date vaccination card - on some Overland itineraries you do, on others you don’t - and in some countries officials particularly want to see proof of a yellow fever vaccination.
Note further that when changing money in some East African countries, some banks or bureau de changes want to see the proof of purchase receipt before changing traveller’s cheques though note that this is the piece of paper you are supposed to keep separate from your traveller’s cheques in the event they get lost or stolen!
All Overland vehicles have safes on board so lock away your air ticket for the duration of the tour and only get it out if you are required to reconfirm your flight before you fly.
Take photocopies of all your paperwork and keep these separately somewhere. Some travellers scan copies of their passport and other documents and send them to a personal email address that can be accessed in Africa.