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Sascha Grabow

Country Info Print
Written by Sascha Grabow   
Monday, 01 June 2009

Country WisdomArgentina: Train here is cheaper than the bus, but doesn't cover all destinations. Visa-freeentry for Europeans for 3 months. In the end of September, Buenos Aires, Megacity of up to15 million inhabitants, can be still quite cold.

 

Brazil: Things have become pretty expensive, Salvador & Rio have security problems, Visa not needed for Europeans, although Americans pay quite a lot for it! Hitchhiking almost impossible, buses expensive, distances huge!!

 

Cameroon: Currency Franc CFA, 656=1€. Visa easy, but costs 50.000; get a 3-months, as it is the same price! Douala can be a bit dangerous, people may follow you around on the street. Limbe, Bamenda, Yaounde and climbing Mt Cameroon are recommended. Hotels Limbe from 4.000 (Paradise), Yaounde 7.000 (roundabout Nlongkak).

 


Comores, Indian Ocean: The Visa costs an outrageous 60€, even if you stay only 1 day (max 45)! Bring € cash, huge losses with $, currency is fixed @ 492 comoro francs to the €, people on the street usually convert @ 5000 per 10€. People are VERY friendly! Consists of 3 islands, Grand Comore (Capital Moroni), Anjuan & Moheli, plus Mayotte, which but belongs to France. Three nice beaches around Grand Comore, in the North & East. Boats between the islands w/o schedule once or twice a week for 25-30€, flights more regularly @ 42-60€. Problems with water & electricity. In 2006 they had a one-month-'civil war' with 80 soldiers dead, separatist attempt by Anjuan. The president's wife supposedly has a company that produces the speedboats that refugees use oneway all the time to escape to 60-mile-away Mayotte/France(Mayotte receives already 50% of all illegal immigrants of France!). Great business but crazy to think of it: The worse her husband runs the country, the more she makes profit!! When the Yemen Airways plane crashed, OF COURSE they claimed it must have been a typhoon (even though totally out of season), and they had a new reason to ask donatios from Europe. The country is very moslem, but their 'brothers' don't bother too muchin terms of investment etc. The location is just too isolated. A boat to Tanzania may cost 150€, be postponed for 3 weeks, may take 5 days & make you awfully seasick.

 

Congo DRC: Best place for Visa: Kigoma (same day 3-months-multiple-entry 100$). Best road in the country: Kisangani to Beni, 750km, in 24hours or less, with buses leaving in either direction on Tuesdays 7 am, 45$, company 'Les Enfants D'Abord'.

 

Equatorial Guinea: Currency Franc CFA, 656=1€. Visa at the moment only available in Libreville, Gabon, for 75.000 CFA (115€), Copy Passport, Letter from your Embassy and 2 Photos, may take 8 days to issue. Overland Entry possible through Ebebeyin (Cameroon or Gabon). Ship Djibhulo connects Bata and Capital Malabo (Bioko Island) twice a week, takes about 30 hours total, costs 12 (deck class) or 15.000; a faster boat, San Valentin, gets repaired in the wharf, and then supposedly is able to cover the distance in 7 hours. Flights are 45.000, almost daily. Hotels in Ebebeyin from 10.000, Bata (Alegria) & Malabo (Chana) 15.000; Clubs Candy, Buddha Bar, Bahia (all free) & Luna (5.000 cover charge).
Rio Muni (mainland): Ecofac (25 km South of Niefang) is by far the cheapest place worldwide to have a chance at seeing Gorillas in the wild. Problem here is the roadblock beyond the bridge just outside Niefang.
Bioko: If you fancy a tour around the island, then do it clockwise. Road blocks are more lenient on the Riaba side, and by the time you get to Luba junction, you tell the soldiers there that you just want to get back into Malabo town. Sipopo has a nice beach & bridge-connected island, Moca is a cold/European-climate mountain village, 10 km North of Luba is Arena Blanca, a pretty palm-fringed beach cum local village. You can always try to obtain a permit for climbing the country’s highest summit (about 3400 meters, supposedly a road goes up there), but considering that they half expect every traveler to be a spy or at least some kind of infiltrator, and their telecommunications system and heavy military presence being on that mountain, good luck with that …
Annobon: Flights twice a week, Mo & Fri, 82.500 from Malabo, 67.000 from Bata; the ship Djibhulo arrives there every 2 months or so. Only one Hotel, behind the airport, 50.000 plus 15.000 for any meal !! …otherwise it’s improvising. The main town Pale (or San Antonio del Norte) is connected by a path (starting just behind the hotel) to Santa Cruz village (about 2-3 hours of ups and downs), and another 40 minutes across a further pass to San Antonio del Sur, in the very South of the island, though that trail is a bit difficult to locate. Locals prefer using the Cayuca-one-tree-boats to get around.

 

France: Currency €. Paris, Cote d’Azur, the Alps, the Pyrenees, Corsica and Brittany are all very much advised to see. Skiing here is another unforgettable experience. 

 

Gabon: Currency 656 CFA=1€. Get your Visa in Yaounde, 4 days, 50.000 one month, 70.000 multiple entry, 80.000 3 months, 120.000 3 month multiple. Libreville is safe, has nice beaches, Maison Liberman 10.000 per night. Take the boat across to St Denis. Franceville has an interesting Ebola-Institute where you might see a Gorilla!



Madagascar: Visa for 1 month now free until December in an attempt to lure tourists back into the country after the February '09 'Revolution'. 1€=2760 Malgache Ariary (meaning 5x) = 13800 Franc Malgache (the old currency). In Capital Tana Hotel Lac, 2 blocks NE from abandoned railway station, for 10.000 Ariary (4€). In my 12 days there in 2009 they had an attack on buses between Majinga and Tana, killing three, a bomb blast in the radio station, and the new 'President' is a 34-year-old DJ choosen & installed by the army. Policemen can often be seen close to beautiful girls, planning tourist scams to strip you off some cash, as it may be there only income whatsoever.

 

Mali: Currency Franc CFA, 656=1€. Visa at the border for 15.000, then you got 1 week to extend it for free in Bamako, opposite Ghaddafi administrative village (East bridge), for a further 3 months. Hotels Bamako starting 7.000, Segou 2.000 (Catholic Mission, spacious & safe), Djenne 3.000, Mopti 4.000 (Pas de Probleme, swimming pool). Highlights Bandiagara Dogon and Peul, Tombouktou. Clubs Bamako Jet7, Byblos, Le Diplomate, ‘Hippodrome’.
For 5.000€ some Arabs will drive you in the fastest-type fuel injection 4x4 clandestine all the way across the Sahara from Tombouktou to Tamanrasset, Algeria, for a couple of days, and then back. No Visa, nothing. IF there would be trouble encountered on the way though, you can be almost sure you’d be on your own then, so this definitely isn’t for the fainthearted.

 

Mauretania: Currency Value about 400=1€. Get Visa in Rabat, Morocco, 32€ one month, 55€ two months, and note that it starts the day being issued. So if you fancy 3 more weeks to explore beautiful Southern Morocco, then plan ahead. Nouadhibou: the world’s longest train (iron ore), 2300meters long, starts from here every afternoon 3 pm, getting you into the interior. It’s about 12 hours to Oyoum (no lights on the train!), from where pick-ups go to Afar & Chinguetti. The Capital Nouakchott is about 2-3 hours from Rosso, at the Senegal River & border, where you may try your luck for the night at the Catholic Church.

 

Mauritius: It's a really beautiful place, you can stay up to three months without a visa, but they want to see your onward or return ticket, and your exact address plus tel number. They called me the day after my arrival to check if I was there & fine. You can find apartments here from 50-100 Euro per month!! If you state that you're selfemployed, the chance that you will be allowed to reside here is actually pretty good too. Grand Bay is the place to be on Friday & Saturday nights, especially Buddha Club.

 

Mexico: Currency 16 Peso=1€. Westerners are allowed in 3 months without a Visa. Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Baja Peninsula, Yucatan Pensinsula, Puerto Escondido, Zippolite, Oaxaca, Mayan Ruins, Chichicastenango and from there onwards to Antigua in Guatemala.


Morocco: Currency 12 Dirham=1€. Westerners enter without Visa for 3 months. Interesting entry points: Ceuta, Melilla or Tanger. Ferries can be taken from Algeciras, Malaga, Gibraltar or Almeria. The prices vary only slightly, around 30+€, and it is easier to hitch to Almeria (only 300km away from the Alicante highway), and then take an overnight ferry, in order to arrive your first day in Morocco/Africa in the morning rather than late evening. To see & do: Rabat, Casablanca, Fes, Meknes, Dunes of Merzouga (Beginning of the Sahara), Marrakech, Agadir, Essaouira, Atlas Mountains, Surfing at Dakhla.

 

Namibia: Chameleon Backpackers is the best place to stay in Windhoek, cosy dormbeds @ 8€ incl. nice buffet-breakfast, swimming pool, plasma DSTV, billiard.

 

La Réunion, Indian Ocean: The hike 'L'Ilet A Guillaume' has great views, though not for the fainthearted, as there's a sheer drop of about 500m just left of the path. You start @ km15 on the La Montagne Rd from St Denis, Village St Bernard, Rd curves right, you take a left into the woods. Going and back takes about 3-4 hours.

 

Rwanda: Entry Visa-free for Germans up to 3 months stay! In Kigali you can stay in the city centre @ Hotel Bellevill, at 10$ for a double room.

 

Spain: Currency €. Madrid, Barcelona, Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Sevilla, Pilgrim Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela, ferries to Africa. Ryanair can get you there cheaply.

 

Tanzania: Visa 50$ OR 50€ for 3 months; if you go to Kenya OR Uganda in between, you can use the same visa again, it remains valid when re-entering Tanzania! A new road goes diagonally all the way from Dar Es Salaam to Rwanda! In Dar Es Salam the YWCA has dorms for 6$ including breakfast, open to men as well!

              

Uganda: Visa 50$ for 2 months single entry, stay can be extended (up to 6 months maximum, preferably at a smaller-town-office) for free! In Kampala, one of those capital cities where one doesn't mind spending a couple of weeks (people walking around at night, in a whole month I have never heard of a single incident), stay at Backpackers, Namirembe road; it's safe, green, spacious, dorm beds @ 4$, and you'll have ample communication opportunities!

 

 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 August 2012 )
 

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