Ok! So this is a big one!
My boyfriend and i are about to embark on a 12 week trip to Africa
We hope to cover ..... (in order!)
We are flying out to Namibia mid sept and journeying on through to Uganda beginning of December
We would want to do this overground and would prefer not to take any internal flights. Good idea? Impossible?
Primarily I've started this thread to get any advice concerning ...
- Visas? Helpful tips on border crossings?
- Currency?! Should we get a little bit of every currency before we leave? are there exchanging places at borders? Or is that wishful thinking?!
- Travelling overland from Malawi - east coast of Mozambique - up the coast into Tanzania, Dar es Salaam and then across Tanzania to Uganda (Bwindi area) bit concerned about how we do this as i can't seem to find anything online about overground routes here? We both have driving licences .. is it worth hiring a car?
- Any advice on Gorilla trekking and buying permits, as we are independant travellers, has anyone got any advice on how long this can take to get one? I'm worried as this is at the end of our trip we may run out of time - and it's the thing i'm most excited about!
- The bugala islands? I've heard such mix reviews about them! Also - we thought it would be nice to end our trip travelling from the islands to Entebbe, instead of going up and round lake Victoria and into Kampala. Sensible?
- And lastly - considering our route / time of year etc is there anything we should deifnatly go and do!??!
Absolutely any advice on any of the above would be sincerely helpful!
Thanking-you in advance!
Been there done that, did this exact trip last year with the exception of Tanzania & Uganda and went to Zimbabwe instead of Zambia. I plan to drive my car back to UK next year and have left those other countries for then.
1st question is how are you travelling? local transport? if so then avoid Mocambique you wait hours and the part you want to visit the roads are terrible. You will need a visa for that country and you can only get these in the capital in our case Harare and we learnt the hard way, arrive refused entry turn back and get a visa, stressssss all the way!!!
Money; we exchanged it on the border but not all and then used cash points. We carried mainly $ which everyone always wants.
What else would you like to know?
Currency?! Should we get a little bit of every currency before we leave? are there exchanging places at borders? Or is that wishful thinking?!
You won't be able to get most of these currencies before you leave, and if you do somehow manage it the exchange rate will be awful. Take lots of USD - big and smaller notes. Change bits at borders, and use ATMs. Most "big" things (eg: safaris, excursions, visas at border or embassy etc) have to be paid i USD cash in much of Africa. South African rand are useful to carry around as a second currency (they are 1:1 and legal currency in Namibia, and also frequently used in parts of Mozambique) . Some Euro or GBP are ok to exchange in some places, but USD is king. Make sure your USD are fairly clean (not covered in dirt, torn etc), and also fairly new (definitely not older than 2000), as you will find that some places won't accept them - Uganda is particularly hot i only accepting newer dollar notes.
Travelling overland from Malawi - east coast of Mozambique - up the coast into Tanzania, bit concerned about how we do this as i can't seem to find anything online about overground routes here? We both have driving licences .. is it worth hiring a car?
This is very tricky. Central and Northern Mozambique is very under developed, roads are poor or non existent, journey times long and the crossing into Tanzania (unless it has changed) relies on several days along dirt tracks on local pickup trucks, followed by a very unreliable 'ferry', several bribes and long border waits, as well as long journey times. And at certain times of the year, doing it by surface is pretty much impossible die to rain water/mud/floods. You *might* get lucky enough and talk your way onto a coastal vessel/dhow for the journey (amazing experience, safety/speed can be iffy), but then you might struggle to find immigration to enter Tanzania legally.
If you have time, patience and are hardy enough, go for it. If you are on a tight time frame, forget it. if you want to go to Central Mozambique, you might be better off going Malawi-Ilha da Mozambique-Malawi and then into Tanzania through Malawi which is easier (and there is much in northern Malawi that is of interest). Mozambique visa is one that you must have in advance, unlike most others which you can get at the border (if, in fact, you need them)
Crossing from Malawi into Tanzania is fine, with 3 options: Bus all the way to Dar. Local buses and minibuses the whole way. Local bus/minibus to Mbeya, then TAZARA train. The train is a really cool experience, and recommended. But it is notorious for delays (on my two trips i was 4 and 7 hours late, respectively. I know people who were 3 days late).
Car hire is not really an option (unless you are very rich) in such areas, especially not for cross-border journeys, and even less so for one-way cross border journeys. Yes, get a car in Namibia, and it is fine - and, if you want to see virtually anything, pretty much required. Elsewhere on your route, i would suggest that if you can avoid car hire, do so ((hire costs not cheap, potential for trouble/bribes, hassle factor, poor roads, even poorer standard of local drivers, no road signs, maps poor/inaccurate/non existent. Though yes, of course it is possible to self drive if you really want to)).
Admittedly i haven't been in that part of Africa since 2009 so things might have changed. The chinese in particular are ploughing in huge money to African infrastructure, so roads etc are rapidly improving in many areas