It is mid-February and right after announcing my subsequent trip back in January, I uncover myself finding prepared to fly back to England right after only finishing aspect of my trip. At times life has other plans for us and you have to just give in and surrender to a alter in course.
Just after not getting in a position to get my Cameroon visa in London due to not getting the right paperwork, I attempted once more in Cote d’Ivoire and was told that I necessary to be a resident of Côte d’Ivoire to apply for a visa. Even with locals protesting that I was travelling on a tourist visa, I was nonetheless refused.
Getting skilled West Africa bureaucracy it seems that slipping an official a bribe is the finest way to get visas right here. As a lady travelling alone I certainly didn’t really feel comfy carrying out this or would even want to take aspect in a thing that I think is unethical. As an alternative I went to the British Embassy for assistance and was told that they weren’t definitely in a position to assist.
Not getting in a position to speak French (my pocket guide didn’t definitely assist a lot) and facing continuous troubles finding about in taxis (a nearby lady and her mum helped me out in the finish), filled me with anxiousness.
Even if I had slipped the official $20 would I nonetheless encounter the exact same troubles in Cameroon for my other visas that I necessary? Not getting the extra funds to fly about Africa to attempt other embassies I had no option but to give in. I was unable to fly to Cameroon to meet my pal and begin the subsequent tour.
The anxiousness that I felt more than these couple of days was not a pleasant encounter. Travelling really should be exciting and a thing that you appear forward to not a thing that fills you with dread. But, the decision had been created for me. I had to make option plans and fly dwelling.
There are so numerous variables when you travel that you cannot often get it suitable but every single spot teaches you a thing distinctive. Just after spending six and a half weeks in this African area right here are my lessons learnt travelling to West Africa.
Individuals and Interactions
Taxi drivers may possibly be illiterate and unable to study maps. You need to have to know a landmark for them to know exactly where you are going (i.e. the name of a pharmacy that they may possibly recognise).
Do not count on consumer service.
Do not be friendly to the guys in Ghana. As quickly as they have your quantity (even if you only booked with them by means of Airbnb or Uber) they will continue to get in touch with you or even turn up to exactly where you are staying.
When locals begin operating and shout “just go,” you need to have to just go. This occurred to girls I met who went to a nightclub and have been told to “go” when the police turned up.
You will be stared at on the beach, specially in a bikini.
Do not take photos in markets with out asking permission otherwise you may possibly get a hostile response even if you are not taking photos of people today.
When a shop seller says “just come and take a appear,” they will nonetheless stress you to invest in a thing.
It is typical for a taxi driver to quit and ask quite a few people today for directions even when you have currently clarified that they know exactly where they’re going.
Asking for a price tag is a game. Count on to continually have to barter for taxis.
Count on youngsters to shout out ‘white person’ in their nearby language when they see you.
You may possibly get questioned as to why you are not with a man and then be anticipated to be hunting for a man there.
Do not be shocked if a seller is asleep. If you want to invest in a thing you may possibly have to wake them up.
Electrical energy can reduce out sporadically. Take a transportable charger with you to re-charge your telephone or camera.
If you want comfort you have to spend for it and go for four/five star accommodation.
You may possibly not get a sheet for your hostel bed and will have to use a sleeping bag liner or sarong as an alternative.
Do not count on hot water. You will also need to have at least two showers a day in Ghana / Benin / Togo / Cote d’Ivoire. It is sweltering! The south of these nations are additional humid and the additional north you go the drier it is.
You get a greater price with € in some nations rather than US $.
Supermarkets are a rarity in Benin and Togo.
Restaurants – as we know them – are a luxury. Count on nearby ladies to be cooking on the side of the road.
Vegetarian does not definitely exist. Verify what meat you are consuming as it could be bush rat.
Preserve all of your alter. Alter is like gold dust in these nations.
You can invest in sim cards from street sellers and anyplace that you see a huge colourful umbrella with the name of the telephone provider. Just recall to unlock your telephone prior to leaving dwelling (in contrast to me!) otherwise sim cards will not operate.
For French-speaking nations you need to have French!
Airports want to see your yellow fever certificate. Leaving Ghana airport you may possibly have your temperature checked prior to reaching the immigration desk.
Only take nearby buses in some of the nations if you do not thoughts getting squashed in like a sardine.
It can be less expensive to fly back to Europe than in-amongst nations in Africa.
Do not book the least expensive airline (hello Camair-Co!) exactly where you may possibly have to wait at the airport for six hours to then be told that your flight is cancelled and to come back two days later to then uncover it delayed once more! Verify airline evaluations prior to you book and go for a additional trustworthy airline if you have the money.
South African Airways are awesome!
Overlanding camping trips are not a vacation and can really feel like a college trip. If you like independent travel you may possibly struggle with the idea based on the tour enterprise.
Travelling in West Africa for longer than a month can be exhausting.
Gin and Pastis are ridiculously low cost. You can invest in bottles from £2!
Your hair will get fluffy. Take hot oil for defending your hair against the humidity.
Do not take a yoga mat for sleeping on while camping (it provides no help whatsoever but it is valuable for yoga!)
Do not count on to be in a position to jog anyplace unless you wake up extremely early prior to the 30 degree heat sets in, and not in a city exactly where there may possibly not be pavements.
Do not swim in the sea along the coastline. The currents are definitely sturdy so you can only paddle. If you do paddle, kids will attempt and swim up to you and touch you when you are in the sea.
Security & Bureaucracy
Count on to get stopped and fined on the spot if you are driving.
Be cautious going to nations major up to and for the duration of elections.
Verify Foreign Workplace assistance in case of any instability. On my very first trip we have been meant to finish in Burkina Faso. Due to growing instability and violence in the nation we had to reroute twice back to Ghana right after finding the visa for Burkina.
Book changeable flight tickets in case you need to have to make adjustments with the unpredictability of this area.
And most importantly – Embassy officials will make issues up just to count on a bribe or throw a celebration on a Friday afternoon and not method your 24 hour visa that you paid for. Get visas in your dwelling nation prior to you go. Do not be anticipated to be permitted into embassies either. I had to stand in a make-shift tent outdoors the embassy in the sweltering heat and wait for them to come out and verify my paperwork.
And finally… nothing at all will go to strategy
West Africa is surely a single for the adventurous solo. It throws numerous challenges along the way and can be frustrating. As a British lady travelling alone there have been quite a few instances when I had to remind myself that this was a cultural encounter and to consider of all the positives (think me this was really hard at instances).
But West Africa has also taught me to be humble, has place me back in touch with what’s vital and created me appreciate every thing I was taking for granted.
Is Central Africa any distinctive? I’ll quickly uncover out as I fly back out at the finish of March to join my pal for the final aspect of my African adventure (visa permitting of course).
Clearly this is just my encounter of West Africa. Have you been to West Africa? I’d appreciate to hear your encounter of the area in the comments under, thanks x
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