Visas on Tour

Visas on Tour

What a right pain in the butt they can be! It was a subject I found very hard to find quality up to date info about during the run up to my ride in Africa. I tried googling for information but it was hard to find current information..

Visas, costs and requirements change regularly and much of it without much warning, anything posted on the internet can soon be out of date. Depending on your nationality and passport the experience can also be much different. Take for example Ghana and Nigeria, depending on your nationality the cost can either be zero upto  $200. Some countries stating that the cost reflects how wealthy your country is. I couldn’t fathom that one!

Visas are unfortunately something you have to deal with if you wish to visit many countries, they can be a right royal pain in the backside but oh well, you need them!

Any information I have listed below relates to my experience travelling in 2014/15 on a British passport.

Requirements: Rather than list the requirements for each and every country I found it best to work on the premise that every country would need everything, therefore you should be prepared to be able to supply all of the following:

  1. Multiple copies of a passport photo (I scanned mine into the computer, put 8 into a 4×6 photo that I carried on a memory stick, need more simple to get 1 photo printed and obtain 8 passport photos, also much cheaper).
  2. Photocopies of your passport have the first three pages copied.
  3. Money – This varies depending on the country – I’d recommend having at least $200 USD for this, several countries I entered in East Africa would only accept USD.
  4. Letter of Invitation – You can make a false one of these.

 

Multiple Passport Photos

Multiple Passport Photos – Everybody’s passport looks bad..doesn’t it?

Questions you may be asked

Where are you staying? – you get asked this often, just name a town unless you know of a hotel you can use, regardless of whether you are staying there or not.

What Towns will you be visiting? – Just randomly name some towns – best be prepared with some names.

What type of visa?  –  Tourist, transit etc. Transit ones are fine if they allow you enough time to actually transit. Travelling by bicycle this is quite often not long enough.

How Long do you want? –  This is a question I was asked often. I met some travellers who when asking for a tourist visa said they needed two weeks, they were given two weeks! What happens if you like the country or have problems, the last thing you will want is the added stress of renewing a visa so I found it best to always ask for the maximum. Don’t know what the maximum is? Simple ask for three months, they will soon explain if that is too much in which case you reply with a smile “Whats the longest I can stay to see your beautiful country?”.

Whats your Profession? – Some countries didn’t like “Cyclist” or “Traveller, spirit of the winds”! In most cases I stated what I used to do, boring I know!

Your Mother and Fathers Name? – Don’t know why this was needed, nevertheless I was asked often. Again saying you’re the messiah and have no earthly parentage doesn’t go down well.

Why didn’t you get the visa in the UK? –  In a lot of cases this isn’t practical, trying to explain I’d ridden several thousand miles and it would have been out of date didn’t matter, best to say, “Sorry, my plans changed, I didn’t know I was going to be coming to your wonderful country”.

Do you have proof of exit? – Occasionally you will need to have either the visa for the next country you are going to or a plane ticket out of the country to prove your not planning to stay. The first one more difficult, the second possible to make in photoshop with some research on flight numbers!

As a final bit of advice as hard as it can be at times, I’d recommend remaining calm, smiling a lot and being very VERY polite with officials, they have all the power to say yes or no to letting you in their country! Best not to annoy them and many of them have ZERO sense of humour!

Morocco

  • Cost: £0
  • Where Obtained: On the ferry
  • Wait Time: Instant
  • Length: 1 Month

Very easy, I travelled by ferry from Algeciras to Tangier Med. Fill in a simple form during the crossing, passport stamped and 30 day visa at no cost.

Mauritania

  • Cost: 340 Dirhams
  • Where Obtained: Mauritanian Embassy, Rabat, Morocco.
  • Wait Time: Next Day at 14:00
  • Length: 1 Month

Mauritania wasn’t as easy as it probably could have been, not helped by the fact the guy taking the passports had zero sense of humour or patience for anyone who couldn’t speak French fluently!

I originally requested my visa start 2 weeks in front to give me time to get to the border. He was having none of it, told me to come back the next day and muttered something about a mazimum of 10 days. Next day I reapplied with it being 10 days in front.

Mauritanian visa

Mauritanian visa

 Senegal

  • Cost: €50 plus €2.50 service charge
  • Where Obtained: Senegalese Embassy, Nouakchott, Mauritania
  • Wait Time: Differs – received the day I arrived at the Embassy – Application
  • Length: 3 Month

This was easy enough to get but you need to jump through a few hoops! First you will need to pre-enrol and pay on the website http://www.visasenegal.sn/?page_id=9&lang=en here. To do this you need all your details and to upload your passport photo and pay with a credit card.

Yes it looks like a rubbish website and looked like a scam site to me, my 16 year old son could create a better looking website! Once registered you should receive two emails, one confirming your application and the second one (the important one) a day or so later confirming you have been provisionally been accepted for a visa. Take a print of the second email with you to the embassy or wherever you choose to collect your visa. It’s possible to collect at an airport. Wouter who I met in Senegal had been driven in a taxi from the Diama border to the airport to get his, then back to Diama to be stamped in and collect his bike. At the embassy they take some photographs, do your fingerprints, ask a few questions and then give you your visa either there and then or on another day. A German fellow before me was a little blunt and rude with the guy, he got told to go away and come back the next day. I was very polite and got mine the same day!

Senegal Visa

Senegal Visa

 The Gambia

  • Cost: £0
  • Where Obtained: Karang Border, Senegal.
  • Wait Time: At the border
  • Length: 1 Month

Easy stamp, stamped out of Senegal, go to another office and answer a few simple questions and bobs your uncle, stamp in your passport.

 

Mali

  • Cost: 15,000 CFA
  • Where Obtained: Mali Embassy, Dakar, Senegal
  • Wait Time: Next Day
  • Length: 1 Month

This one was simple enough but took a couple of trips to get sorted because they only take applications early in the morning. Open at 9am, same old questions.

Mali Visa

Mali Visa

Burkina Faso

  • Cost: 28,300 CFA
  • Where Obtained: Burkina Faso Embassy, Dakar, Senegal
  • Wait Time: Next Day
  • Length: 1 Month

Simple enough,  o the embassy, complete the forms, go into another office and pay. Visa given back the same day.

Burkina Faso Visa

Burkina Faso Visa

Kenya

  • Cost: £30 GBP
  • Where Obtained: Nairobi Airport, Kenya
  • Wait Time: On Arrival at the airport
  • Length: 3 Months

I had flown from West Africa to East Africa so arrived at the airport. Payment can be taken in either USD or GBP. Answer a couple of questions, hand over the dough and the visa is put into your passport.

Kenyan Visa

Kenyan Visa

Tanzania

  • Cost: $50 USD
  • Where Obtained: Namanga, at the border.
  • Wait Time: On Arrival at the border.
  • Length: 90 days

Office at the border, fingerprints taken and some other geometric data, fill in a form, hand over the wonga, visa stuck in your passport. Took only a few minutes.

 

Tanzania Visa

Tanzania Visa

Malawi

  • Cost: £0
  • Where Obtained: Ipinda, at the border.
  • Wait Time: Immeadiate at the border.
  • Length: 1 Month

Answer a couple of questions, stamp in passport. Nice and easy. They even filled my water bottles up with ice cold water, very nice and friendly.

Zambia

  • Cost: $50 USD
  • Where Obtained: Just afer Mchinje – at the border.
  • Wait Time: Next Day
  • Length: 30 days

Another Nice and easy one at the border. If you are going to go to Zimbabwe it may be worth asking about the combi visa they brought in after I entered Zambia, for the same price you can get a visa for both Zambia and Zimbabwe. I didn’t have the correct money in USD so went next door to the bank to break a 100 dollar note.

Zambia Visa

Zambia Visa

Botswana

  • Cost: £0
  • Where Obtained: Kazangula – at the border.
  • Wait Time: Instant – At the crossing
  • Length: 30 days
  • Hand over your passport, get it back with a stamp. A doddle.

South Africa

  • Cost: £0
  • Where Obtained: Ramotswa – At the border.
  • Wait Time: Instant – At the crossing
  • Length: 90 days

A simple stamp in the passport. The officials forgot to move the date on from the day before, which I had noticed before leaving the office, they corrected it for me.

South Africa Stamp

South Africa Stamp

It pays to check all visas and stamps after you receive them. Any problems such as a faded stamp or unclear date can cause problems when you exit one country and enter another. Morocco stamped my passport badly, it caused me questions at lots of the Gendarme checkpoints of which there are a lot especially in the Sahara.

If anyone has more up to date information then please feel free to post it below or send me an update to [email protected]de.co.uk

 

 

 

One thought on “Visas on Tour

  1. Great information – I am not heading that way (well not soon!!) but found this informative and I am sure other users will find it very useful. I’ve often wondered about how visas work when doing transnational tours. Cheers.

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