Cape Town to Cairo - Pre-Departure Information
Accommodation general - all accommodation and transfers should be paid locally, not to the African Trails office. The rates advertised below are subject to change at a moment's notice and must be used as a guide only.
Accommodation - Trips departing from Cape Town, South Africa
We depart from - Ashanti Lodge; 11 Hof Street, Gardens, 8001, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel: (+27-21) 423 8721, http://www.ashanti.co.za If you would like to stay at the Ashanti Lodge, please book on line through the above link. A single room costs R 250/300, doubles R370/420.
Airport pick up in Cape Town to Ashanti Lodge - If you arrive at the airport or bus station between 8.30am and 4pm they offer a free pick-up service - subject to availability. It is not a "meet-and-greet" service - call them on 021 423 8721 when you arrive and they will send their driver out to collect you. If you are arriving outside of those hours, then let them know your flight details and they will arrange for the Backpacker Bus to collect you - costs vary.
Single travellers - Best thing if your travelling alone and want to hook up with other people on your trip is to put a note on our Facebook page African Trails Overlands and Safaris. Also, if travelling alone, book an airport transfer and stay at the place we depart from. There you can meet other travellers who you can do things with before the trip. The other people staying there will have plenty of local advice
Seeing the Gorillas and Gorilla permits - We see the gorillas in either; Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo. The gorilla permits are payable on the spot and can only be paid in US dollars cash. The cost of the permit is: $500 payable to the park authorities. There is also a charge to get up to the gorilla viewing area. The price of the gorilla permits can change without notice. Seeing the gorillas may involve you having to get extra visas on the borders, this changes with each trip and with the country we see them.
Serengeti Park and Ngorongoro Crater - The options for seeing these parks are either (1) an overnight trip to Ngorongoro Crater or (2) a two night trip to both Serengeti Park and Ngorongoro Crater. The Serengeti is reached by twice passing through Ngorongoro Crater. For this we arrange to hire 4x4 vehicles from Arusha. These parks are the best wildlife parks in the world. The side trip is costly but most of the cost goes towards park entrance fees and therefore to park upkeep and anti poaching. The parks can change the fees at short notice
Included in the trip price & Local Payment - The tour cost and local payment includes transport in a fully equipped expedition vehicle, road taxes and tolls, services of the driver-leader, use of camping and cooking equipment, campsite fees, entrance to gameparks as specified and two meals a day while on the truck. So in towns or places where the vehicle will be parked up, although the kitchen will be available for you to cook with, food during this time will not come out of the Local Payment. Generally at lunchtimes we eat at small cafes or restaurants where you can try cheap and tasty local food. If no local food is available we eat on the truck.
Local Payment - Payable in £ English Pounds Sterling cash but you can pay in $US dollars or Euros cash at the current cross exchange rate on date of departure, check with the driver for the rate. Please pay this to the driver on departure. Travellers cheques, cards, Scottish Pounds or other forms of payment are not accepted.
Not included in the trip price and local payment - The price does not include flights, visas, side trips, lunches and meals out. There are a number of optional side trips that you can choose from and pay for on the route.
Buying your flight - when you buy your flight don't go just on price alone, check conditions and flexibility. Take into consideration that you may be buying your flight well ahead of time and the nature of your trip you are doing. Its worthwhile paying more to have a flexible flight with a better airline that flies frequently to your destination.
Return flight - Although it is our intention to finish the trip on the finishing date, in case of delays en route you should allow a couple days at the end of the trip before you fly out.
Visas - Please see the Visa page. All visa prices are approximate and can change without notice.
Washing - Most of the time you can wash every day and at camp sites you can do your laundry or often have it done for you quite cheaply.
E-mail - Can be collected every week or two (some campsites have facilities).
Drinking Water – Though we have drinking water on the truck to ensure you good health we advise you drink bottled water which is cheap and readily available.
Camping - Tents are provided and all have sewn in floors and mosquito netting. You will need to bring a sleeping mat, sleeping bag (be prepared for some cold nights) & sleep sheet. Get a cheap mosquito net in Africa if you want to sleep outside of your tent. If you start your trip in Nairobi or South Africa you can buy camping gear at the local department stores. All campsites have good ablution facilities & bars, and some have restaurants, shops and internet facilities. About half the campsites have upgrades to hut or cabins for an extra charge.
Accommodation at the end of the trip - There are numerous cheap backpacker hostels so no need to book. Your driver can help with this.
Time Zones - East & Southern Africa are on the same time up to 3 hours ahead of GMT. North East Africa is one or two hours ahead of GMT.
Language - Learning any basic Arabic would be to your advantage in Syria, Jordan, Egypt & Sudan. Elsewhere on route English is the most common second language.
Passports, Visas & Photos
Bring 25 passport photos with you for visas. If you run out of photos there are photo shops to get more. You need a nearly empty passport to do the trip as each country uses a page for visas and entry stamps. Your passport must be valid for 9 months from the date of travel. If you don't have enough pages in your passport it can be troublesome to get one on the way.
Visas are required for most countries visited. We normally get them all on the way. For most nationalities the total visa cost will be about $900 to Nairobi and a further $270 to Istanbul. Passports and inoculation cards with any Israeli stamps must be replaced.
Deposit and balance & Insurance - Once you are booked, your deposit and balance (within two months of trip departure) is non refundable. Insure yourself when you book for the full time your away. You must have travel insurance. We only carry passengers on the understanding that, in most African countries through which we travel no passenger or vehicle liability is available. Take out insurance when you pay your deposit for the tour or for flights so that you are covered for cancellation and bring your policy. If you travel without insurance and you have a problem you could incur massive bills.
Medical coverage is the important part of you insurance, loss of belongings less so. For UK, Australian and NZ residents, we can point you in the right direction for insurance if you contact us. For other nations, it is best to search online - there are some good online insurance companies catering for US, Canadian and European residents.
Inoculations - You have to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever and will need an International Vaccination Certificate to prove this when we cross borders. It is also advisable to be vaccinated against Typhoid; Rabies; Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Tetanus; Polio and Meningitis.
If possible start your vaccinations two months, but as late as two weeks before departure. Your doctor can also inoculate. Medical centres travel educated doctors can supply up-to-date medical advice and vaccinate you.
Malaria – There is malaria in the areas we visit. Malaria tablets offer only partial protection against malaria so avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes come out in the evening, wear long trouser and sleeves plus socks as mosquitoes tend to bite around the feet and ankles. Use insect repellent containing Deet. The use of repellents and covering up is as effective as the use of tablets, so by coupling both methods you should be malaria free. In Africa buy a can of fly/bug spray to clear your tent.
On our last Trans Africa trip most people used Doxycycline as a malaria preventative. They start Mauritania and stopped in Egypt. In all less than 10% of people got malaria. We don’t know why those people do but they tend to be the ones who drink the most – could be pressure on the liver or that they are out at night not feeling bites. Put on long pants at night, use repellant and fly spray your tents before retiring. Doxycycline is available cheaply in most countries.
In Africa buy a malaria cure – standard medical procedure in malarial zones is if you have a fever of unknown origin is to treat it as malaria first to stop it quickly.
Medical Kits - We carry First Aid kits on board for emergency use only. However, the crew is not entitled to recommend or prescribe any medicine. We advise a health check with your doctor and dentist before you start your journey and that you carry your own medical kit with you.
Spending and Money
As a general rule US$ are the easiest to change anywhere and travelers cheques are hard to change. Credit cards are good to have for withdrawing cash but can be problematical.
Travellers cheques while keeping your money safe are often hard to change.
They are only easy to change in;
a)Southern Africa (Namibia. South Africa, Botswana and Zambia
b) Turkey and Egypt
They are harder to change but changeable in;
East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda)
Syria and Jordan
They are difficult to change in;
Currency - It is easier if you have cash in US Dollars or Euros. US Dollars are accepted everywhere. Bring US$ cash in new notes from year 2000 onwards. The bigger notes US$50 and $100 give you a better rate of exchange.
To travel safely but with some inconvenience It is best to carry a third each of:
(1) Euros for west Africa,
(2) US$ for everywhere else,
(3) some money either in US$ travellers cheques or on your credit/debit card
The Euro zone in West Africa includes; Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Cameroun, Gabon and Congo. Here the local Franc is directly linked to the Euro making it the best currency to have.
For general spending $15 - $45 a day is a good start, excluding side trips. Depending on how much you drink, eat out and the souvenirs you buy.
Credit/debit cards - bring at least two to five credit/debit cards as they can be rejected by the cash machine. Tell your bank before you travel to stop them blocking your card. In East and Southern Africa ATM machines are available about every three days. Visa credit and debit cards are better than MasterCard/American Express/ Maestro/Cirrus for acceptability.
If coming from the UK don't bring Scottish money.
Security in general - Take a money belt that fits under your shirt. Do not wear a bum bag around your waist, or a money belt that hangs from your neck. In certain problem areas a passenger roster will be drawn up to guard the vehicle during the day. Don’t take non essential items of value. If you lose your passport or travellers cheques it is not always possible for the expedition to wait for you. We take no responsibility for such or for any belongings
On most borders you can change excess left over currency for the next country's money.
Money Gram and Western Union - If you’re concerned about carrying cash and knowing the pain travelers cheques are to cash get someone to MoneyGram or Western Union funds to you as you travel on your trips. On their websites are the locations of their offices in Africa. MoneyGram International - moneygram.com or Western Union - westernunion.com
Side trips & optional excursions - Are paid for on the spot. All side trip prices are approximate and can change without notice.
Budget planner - Download this budget planner to help calculate the overall cost of your trip Budget planner
Discman/iPods/MP3's & CD's - An amplifier is provided in the rear of the truck for you to plug your Discmans/i-Pods into. Although the amp is powered off the truck, your Discman/iPod isn't, so bring along extra batteries.
Photography - African authorities require that tourists do not take pictures of airports, railway stations or military installations. We are often in areas where locals are not used to being photographed and we ask you to show them every respect and courtesy.
Your Electrical Equipment – Mobiles, Cameras, Laptops - In most camps you can charge from the mains, so bring a travel adaptor plug, as outlet power points are mostly UK and Euro types. Most countries run on 220/240 volts. To increase your battery time get a spare battery.
Mobile Phone – your phone can work abroad if you have roam facility. Coverage is good but incoming calls cost a lot. You can generally buy a local number in each country we visit.
Maps - To have your own map to follow the trip, for Southern Africa - Michelin map 955, West Africa - Michelin 953 and for North East Africa - Michelin 954.
Suggested list of clothing and equipment
The less you take the less you have to pack, wash, lug home and you'll pick up extras along the way. Lots of cheap second hand clothes in the markets. You'll be travelling in the heat and camping in the cool, so bring clothes for all climates, rough stuff is best. The best type of carrier is a rucksack (with an internal frame) or a kit bag.
Sleeping bag & sleeping mat (it can get very cold at night)
Poncho or rain jacket
Medical kit - Bring your own simple kit
Re-hydration sachets available from any chemist
Insect repellent containing Deet e.g. Jungle Juice
Toiletries and showering gear - You can buy toiletries in Africa
Shorts, T-shirts, swimsuit
Small day-pack or bag to carry your daily items
Hat and sunglasses
Camera (in a protective case), spare batteries and all the film you think necessary
Money belt or pouch to hold your passport
Books, personal CD player and CD's
Torch & spare batteries
The easiest and best way to travel is as lightly. Most people bring too much luggage