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Old 01-14-2013, 02:08 AM
 
Location: Macao
15,945 posts, read 36,175,100 times
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When I look at traveling around Europe or Asia, there are numerous lack of visa restrictions, and plenty of budget airline companies.

Not so with Africa. Thinking of ways to visit a number of African countries cheaply and easily, and way too many 'must apply for a visa in advance' and almost no budget airlines to get places cheaply and easily.

It just seems like an expensive endeavor. Wonder if that'll change someday.

But, IF you were to think of African countries with easy access to other countries....(either budget airlines or just easy ways to get from A to B without hassle...)

Where would you think of?
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:27 AM
 
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By Africa, you mean Sub-Saharan, right? Because Egypt and Morocco have great connections to most of the world.

Generally speaking, East Africa has the best connections and West Africa the worst.

Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia are all pretty well connected to Europe and Asia with connections to North America.

West Africa is not as good. There you generally have an okay connection to the former colonial power and some low budget/low safety options to other parts of Africa. For Senegal, Guinea, Mali, etc. the best option is Paris or sometimes Brussels, whereas Ghana and Nigeria have better connections to London. None of these are cheap, however.

South Africa has decent connections but it is so far away from pretty much everything that the flights are hellishly long and expensive.

Even in places with good connections, the costs are usually pretty high from the US because you have to go through Europe most of the time. Ethiopian is pretty much the only halfway decent African airline that is also fairly cheap. South African and Kenyan are good but the cost is generally higher.

On the visa issue, I think Americans can go to Ethiopia and Kenya without a visa.
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Macao
15,945 posts, read 36,175,100 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aville239 View Post
By Africa, you mean Sub-Saharan, right? Because Egypt and Morocco have great connections to most of the world.

Generally speaking, East Africa has the best connections and West Africa the worst.

Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia are all pretty well connected to Europe and Asia with connections to North America.

West Africa is not as good. There you generally have an okay connection to the former colonial power and some low budget/low safety options to other parts of Africa. For Senegal, Guinea, Mali, etc. the best option is Paris or sometimes Brussels, whereas Ghana and Nigeria have better connections to London. None of these are cheap, however.

South Africa has decent connections but it is so far away from pretty much everything that the flights are hellishly long and expensive.

Even in places with good connections, the costs are usually pretty high from the US because you have to go through Europe most of the time. Ethiopian is pretty much the only halfway decent African airline that is also fairly cheap. South African and Kenyan are good but the cost is generally higher.

On the visa issue, I think Americans can go to Ethiopia and Kenya without a visa.
You kind of hit on my same conclusions. Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania were high on the list.

I was thinking the same with South Africa, just too far and expensive to get around to other places from there. Madagascar sounds intriguing, but again, too difficult and isolated to get to.

Yeah, West Africa sounds very complicated and difficult for overland travel.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Most countries in Africa are now charging around a hundred bucks for visas. It is not hard to get them in the adjacent country, and just acquire them as you go. Often, the fee charged for a visa varies by which consulate or country you get it at.

Ground transportation is easy. Go to the bus park and sit on the ground with everybody else and wait for a bus. If none comes that day, check back into your hotel, and try again tomorrow. There aren't many buses, mostly people travel sitting on wooden benches in the back of a truck. If it is a well-traveled route, there will be sedans making the run, they leave as soon as all seats are sold, which might be 5 or 6, and they may pick up one or two more along the way. If you don't want to wait, you can buy all the empty seats and they'll leave right away. If it's the rainy season, they might not leave for weeks or months, as soon as the road is passable again. Sometimes you can hitch with goods trucks, but be prepared to pay the driver the approximate equivalent of the bus fare.

Border crossings are usually not too bad, there are a lot of locals crossing the borders, so they process people fairly quickly, but are disorganized and chaotic. Customs officers are very curious to look through the belongings of Europeans, and might even try things on. I've never encountered a shakedown, but I've heard they exist, and a few isolated incidents have risen to the level of lore. Except in CFA (French Franc) countries, currency controls at borders are bizarre. They don't care what you bring in, but will search you to make sure you are not taking out a single coin of the country you are leaving. There might be "fees" that smell like bribes, but they will be for token amounts, and the customs officials might not have received their wages in several months, and their family lives on these fees.

As everywhere in the third world, be very sure to get stamped out of a country when you leave. The office for doing this might not be conspicuous, because most locals don't need to, and it might not be right at the border post. Be sure to ask your driver.

If you expect things to be as efficient as in Europe, and cannot tolerate anything less, don't go. Did I mention to travel light. and take the Michelin maps.

As for getting TO Africa, consider the possibility of a truck across the Sahara. I haven't heard lately what the roads are like, nor about political conditions in Tunisia or Algeria. Morocco to Dakar shouldn't be too hard. Lonely Planet probably has some uptodate info. It used to be possible to fly to the Canary Islands and then to Mauritania or Senegal, but I don't think there are any airline links there anymore. Yemen to Ethiopia might be another cheaper workaround. There are unscheduled dhows from Yemen to Djibouti. You can take the train/boat from Cairo to Khartoum, and fly fairly cheaply Khartoum to Nairobi. There has never been a road link through South Sudan. It's pretty easy on good roads to get between South Africa and Nairobi, you cold probably cover that in less than a week, mostly in decent buses and a comfortable train through Tanzania and Zambia.

I did all of that in the 1970s, when there was no internet and no Lonely Planet, so it must be easier now to work it out. Nowadays, getting the visas is by far the most difficult and expensive part of the trip.

Last edited by jtur88; 01-15-2013 at 09:15 AM..
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:47 PM
 
Location: New York City
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I’ve traveled a lot in East Africa and, as other posters have said, it’s definitely the best for travel connections. A couple of tips:

Tanzania is a central and a good base. You can easily get to Kenya (although this is becoming dodgy for tourists), Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and southern Africa.

Many smaller airlines don’t have effective web pages and are certainly not connected to sites like Travelocity. For example, I fly Precision Air all the time from Tanzania, but always go through a local travel agent because I can never get the web site to work.

I personally would not take a pubic bus in Tanzania. I know some tourists do it, but the roads are bad and the drivers seem very reckless. You should, however, take a high-speed ferry to Zanzibar (very cool).

If you’re a westerner, getting a visa is no problem. Most are offered at the border. You’ll have to wait for an hour and pay $100, but everyone knows that western tourists have hard currency in it’s in the country’s interest to let them in.

Take US dollars. Many hotels take credit cards, but the machines don’t always work. Hotels frequently require westerners to pay in dollars. I was traveling with a colleague who only had credit cards and British pounds. I had to pay for his hotel room in cash because the machines weren’t working. (He was annoyed that a former British colony would only accept American currency).

Buy a local SIM card. Cell service is very wide spread, even in the bush, and data plans are ridiculously cheap. You can either buy a cheapo disposable phone when you get there or bring an old smart phone and replace the SIM card with a local one.

Most important of all: bring lots and lots of baby wipes and snack bars. Toilet paper and clean food are never guaranteed outside of a western hotel. Have fun.
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:25 PM
 
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Pretty good connections getting to South Africa. I flew straight through Atlanta to Cape Town. Ya, one hell of a long flight, especially when the guy next to me really needed 2 seats just for himself. It was pretty expensive and certainly more now. When I tried to arrange a straight through to Tanzania, I had long layovers no matter how I arranged it. They had pretty decent flights to Tanzania from SA though.
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