Beaches & Jungles Of West Africa, (TLW)

Accra to Douala 34 days, departing 10 Nov 2012
Boats on the coastline of Accra, Ghana Colourful ceramics for sale in the markets of Accra, Ghana

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: Accra to Douala
Duration: 34 days
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle.
Physical Rating:

EASY HARD


These are physical tours; you may well be travelling at high altitudes, across deserts or through cold and windy or hot and steamy areas.
Accommodation:



Small local hotels, mainly campsites and wildcamps. (80% camping, 20% hotels)

Route Map

Countries Visited

Benin

If there is a lost treasure of West Africa, then Benin is it. 

Benin is probably must famous for voodoo culture, an annual celebration of the tradition is marked with prayers, libations and sacrifices. The country is host to some amazing market stalls, which sell animal heads and skins, which shows how passionate the country is about the Voodoo religion.

A country full of traditional culture, Tata Somba mudhuts, built by the local Somba people, still stand tall today, with thousands of people living in these. 

Benin is not only a country of culture, but full of history too. The Route d'Esclaves is found in Ouidah, which was the last walk on African soil for slaves on their way to Brazil and the Caribbean. Some of Benin's amazing history, can be found in the museums in the capital of Porto Novo.

The food in Benin is diverse. In the northern part of the country, yam is a primary meal whereas in the south, rice and corn is the main part of a meal.

If you’re heading to West Africa to unearth lost treasure, look no further than Benin.

Cameroon

Cameroon is a much-underestimated destination and not one to be found in many tour brochures. However, with beautiful rain forests, beaches, wildlife, stunning scenery ranging from tropical to virtual deserts and some of Africa's most scenic mountains, it is definitely a place to visit if you intend going to West Africa. It is a country of transition, climatically, topographically and culturally. The south is deeply Christian and the north Islamic. The people vary from forest Pygmies in the south through to the Fulani, semi-nomadic cattle herders of the Sahel and semi-deserts in the north.

Mount Cameroon can take you to the highest point in West Africa, where you can see some of the most inspiring views of the country.

The rainforest of Cameroon is high in bio diversity and is also home to the Pygmy people. It has also become one of the legendary routes of the overland map, a challenge for even the most hardy overland driver to get the truck out of the infamous 'mud holes'.

Culture is important in Cameroon, and in the east of the region, visitors are greeted by local Baka dancers, which shows how warm a reception can be. The capital, Yaoundé has a vibrant history, having grown rich of the back of the ivory trade.

The national dish Ndolé, consists of a wonderful stew of vegetables, nuts, and fish or goats meat. One taste of this is all you need to make you realise what a glorious country Cameroon is.

Ghana

Ghana was the first African country to gain independence from Britain, today it is a proud and friendly place. It has had a chequered post colonial history, but certainly now appears to be forging ahead both economically and politically. It is a very friendly country, which surprisingly has close ties to its French speaking northern neighbour, Burkina Faso. Its beaches are the envy of all West African nations, its Ashanti culture is fascinating and it has one or two excellent national parks. Internationally Ghana is acclaimed for its music, with Ghanaian artists such as Kofi Ghanaba giving concerts across the western world.

The capital of Ghana is Accra, and is on the coast. It is home to some of the most amazing museums in the country and is the place to learn about Ghana from the prehistoric times to the present day.

The music is ever present in Ghana, with  many of the regions have their own personal sound.  All over Ghana, the local communities want people to hear their sounds, and love welcoming visitors to join in their celebrations. Dance is the same. If there is a chance to dance, then the Ghanaians will dance. From celebrations, to funerals and even storytelling. Ghana is a country to try new experiences. The food has to be experienced and each region like to give dishes their own personal touch. The variety of flavours all over the country, make the range of dishes so diverse. Many dishes are usually served with a stew or a soup and a lot are rice based. With many exotic tastes available, it is clear to see Ghanaians like to express their culture through food.

The textiles in Ghana are extremely important as cloths are used to make different clothes. The different colours and patterns have different meanings and are usually worn for important social and religious occasions. A written language and history is represented through the beautiful Kente cloth. This is yet another area in which the Ghanaians are very proud of.

Ghana has a welcoming feeling, and with the chances to join in with the amazing culture, it is the country to visit if you want to experience West African hospitality.

 

Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the most colourful countries in West Africa. It is full of life and perfect for discovering the many treasures it has to offer. Nigeria grew rich very quickly in the oil boom of the seventies. Hospitals, schools, public buildings and excellent roads were built all over the country. Although it's not on most people's travel list, it's a fantastic for overlanding for that very reason.

There are many national parks and forests across the country and these are home to some of the amazing wildlife of Nigeria. Most gather at the Gaji river and these range from elephants and lions to buffaloes and baboons. In the Yankari National Park has large herds of elephant, as well as giraffe, ostrich, lion, hippo and antelope so there is certainly a chance of sighting some of these. The main draw here is the Wiki Warm Springs. With a beautiful temperature of around 30 degrees, these glistening clear waters are an experience not to miss out on.

Night life is Nigeria is lively and not to be missed on a visit. You can discover all types of music in the bars and clubs. Music is important in Nigeria and with over 250 ethnicity's, there is always different sounds to discover. The folk music played can bring communities together and playing instruments together is a popular factor of the music. Drum beats are well known across the ethnic groups, but the styles which are played are quite diverse. Nigeria is also one of the places where the xylophone is originally from. Music festivals are popular in Nigeria and are a chance to hear music from all over the country.

Nigerian food is typical of West Africa. There ar many dishes to choose from, whether it contains rice, beans, meat, there is delicacies available all over the country. The popular meal of Suya is a kebab style meat that is barbecued, infused with spices from across the nation and skewered.

Nigeria offers a new challenge everyday, and it is a chance to experience the animated life of West Africa. 

Togo

Tucked between Ghana and Benin, Togo is one of the most vibrant countries in West Africa and home to the voodoo religion. Towards the south of the country is the coast and the capital, Lomé. With sneaking boulevards and a rural landscape, Founded in the 18th century, Lomé has an age-old feel to it.

Ganvie is inhabited by more than 10,000 people even though it is built entirely on stilts in the middle of a lagoon and can only be reached by pirogue (dug out canoe). The ancestors of the Toffinu people used the lake as a refuge from the slave traders, and the Toffinu have lived on the lagoons ever since.

Feel drum beats and you will know a celebration is about. Across the country, drums are used to celebrate key events in peoples lives. They are popular too at music festivals. These bring the country together and traditional folk music can be heard. The sounds of flutes and bows can accompany many different dances which are an important part in Togolese culture.

The food in Togo is simple, yet delightful. Maize based dishes are infused with different sauces and spices to create many different tastes. One popular dish consists of smoked fish in a vegetable stew. The maize is the base and when mixed with these ingredients, it begins to create a true taste of Togo.

 

 

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Daily Itinerary

Clay figures for sale in Abomey, Benin
Boats on the coastline of Accra, Ghana
Colourful ceramics for sale in the markets of Accra, Ghana
Ceramic markets in Accra, Ghana
The Black Star Gate in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, celebrating the 1957 declaration of independence
The stunning coastal road near Cotonou, Benin
Palm trees on the beaches of Grand Popo, Benin
Fishing in the mangroves near Grand Popo, Benin
Colourful costumes at a voodoo ceremony in Grand Popo, Benin
Wooden ceremonial masks in Grand Popo, Benin
One of the canopy bridges in the forests of Kakum National Park, Ghana
A canopy bridge in Kakum National Park, Ghana
Taking a wooden pirogue across to Togoville, Togo
Voodoo fetishes outside a house in Togoville, Togo
An ancient cannon at the old slave fort of Elmina, Ghana
Chatting to some of the kids at the Sabre Trust project, Elmina, Ghana
A classroom at the Sabre Trust project, Elmina, Ghana
The 'Point of No Return' in Ouidah, Benin, once a major port in the trans-Atlantic slave trade
Palm trees on the beaches of Grand Popo, Benin
Energetic drumming performance at Mont Klouto, Togo
A huge moth in our campsite in Mont Klouto, Togo
The stilt villages of Ganvie, Benin
A local woman takes her goods to the floating markets in Ganvie, Benin
A wooden pirogue rests on the shore of Lake Volta, Ghana
Inside one of the cells of the old slave fort of Prinzenstein, Keta, Ghana
The ruins of the slave fort of Prinzenstein, on the beach of Keta, Ghana
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Day 1: Accra

( Sat 10 Nov )

Border information: If you are starting at Accra, enter Ghana at Accra Airport.

Today there will be a group meeting at 10.00 hrs. The rest of the day will be free to explore the beautiful coastal city of Accra and we spend the night in a friendly, comfortable hotel.

Hotel for the night: Niagara Hotel

Niagara Hotel

Kojo Thompson Road

P.O. Box 4079

Accra

+233-302-230118

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the fascinating and chaotic Ghanaian capital city of Accra

USD
About Accra:

Accra, Ghana's sprawling capital, is a bustling coastal city with a whole load of beaches that would please even the most discerning sun worshipper. Some of the beaches are more touristy than others and they can all get very busy on Saturdays and Sundays; and whenever you go you should expect to be entertained by an endless stream of musicians and acrobats and pursued by souvenir sellers. Away from the beach, the Perpetual Flame at the Cenotaph in Revolution Square is worth a look, plus the National Museum houses one of the best collections in all of West Africa. Next to the museum you will also find a good craft market, perfect for a bit of souvenir shopping. In the evening you can sample Accra's lively nightlife, heading out to one of the many bars and restaurants that can be found all over this surprising city.

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Day 2 to 3: Keta

( Sun 11 Nov to Mon 12 Nov )

A 200kms morning drive brings us to the beach at Keta where we can relax for a couple of days on the beautiful beaches and perhaps check out the remains of Fort-Prinzenstein, the slave den, built by Danes 300 years ago as a transit point for transporting slaves to the Americas. We stay at a hotel here for a couple of nights

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax on the beach at Keta

Included in Kitty
About Keta:

Keta is part of the Volta estuary region, comprising several small islands and a complex of lagoons. The area is abundant with bird, fish and butterfly species and also the endangered waterbuck.

The Keta Lagoon Complex is the largest wetlands site in Ghana covering 1,200 sq. km. from the eastern shores of the Volta River to the international border with the Republic of Togo.

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Day 4: Lake Volta

( Tue 13 Nov )

We drive some 250kms drive north takes us to Akosombo by Lake Volta where we stay in a campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Akosombo Dam

USD 2
About Lake Volta:

Lake Volta in Ghana spreads over a massive 3275 square miles and runs for over 320 miles from the most northern point, to the most southern point. The White Volta River and The Black Volta River combine to form the Volta River which eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. There are tropical temperatures most the year round, which has created the opportunity to find many local fisheries.

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Day 5 to 6: Mont Klouto

( Wed 14 Nov to Thu 15 Nov )

Full day 350kms drive brings us to the spectacular Mt Klouto, crossing the border into Togo. We stay here for 2 nights in dorm accommodation and enjoy an evening of drumming and voodoo! Dorm accommodation.

Border information: Exit Ghana at Denu, enter Togo at Clouto.

Activity Approximate Cost

An evening of energetic drumming and dancing from the local villagers in Mont Klouto

Included in Kitty

Guided walks around Mont Klouto looking for butterflies and enjoying the beautiful forest scenery 

USD 20
About Mont Klouto:

Hidden away in mountains of Togo, Mont Klouto is a couple of hours north of Lome, a welcome relief from the heat of the coast. The mountains here are covered in dense forest, punctuated by gently cascading streams and waterfalls. A nature reserve has been established in the area because Klouto is an important habitat for butterflies, over five hundred different species can be found here, many of them incredibly beautiful. It's an ideal place for hiking and you can take a guided walking butterfly safari through the forests with a local naturalist guide.

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Day 7: Agbodrafo

( Fri 16 Nov )

150kms drive to Agbodrafo, a quiet small town on the shores of Lake Togo. We will either camp or stay in cottages.

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax on the beach of the stunning Lac Togo at Agbodrafo

Included in Kitty
About Agbodrafo: One half hour drive from Lome we visit Agbodrafo, the old Portuguese city formerly known as Porto Seguri. It is a quiet small town on the shore of Lake Togo. The real draw here is the lake itself, a 13 square kilometres. This is a really idyllic place to relax and do some watersports. There are a number of water resorts, which are very popular with the Togolese from Lome. The lake is surrounded by a number of small villages and fishermen ply the waters in dug-out canoes. It is possible to get a ride across the Lake to Togoville in a dug out canoe with the local fishermen. These ‘pirogues’ ply the lake between Agbodrafo and Togoville and if you wish to travel by pirogue, the truck will be driving around to Togoville.
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Day 8: Agbodrafo, Togoville

( Sat 17 Nov )

In the morning we take a pirogue trip to Togoville, the centre of the voodoo culture. We have a guided city tour and church visit, returning to Agbodrafo for the night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Trip in a local non-motorised pirogue across Lac Togo to Togoville, where you can explore the town and learn all about it's history and culture

Included in Kitty

Guided city tour of the voodoo centre of Togoville

Included in Kitty
About Togoville:

Togoville is a small town on the shores of Lake Togo, renowned as the historic centre of voodoo culture. Many practitioners of voodoo were taken from here to Haiti as slaves, which is why there is also a strong voodoo culture in Haiti even though it's thousands of miles away. There are still a few voodoo shrines and fetishes around the area today. Interestingly, there is also a German church here, dating back to 1910. Chief Mlapa III signed a treaty with German explorer Nachtigal in 1884, giving Germany the rights over all of Togoland. The church sits on a large terrace, dominating the lake with the village spread out in a semi-circle below, decorated with painting of African Saints and a statue of Our Lady of Lake Togo.

 

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Day 9: Grand Popo

( Sun 18 Nov )

A short 100kms drive takes us to the beach at Grand Popo, crossing the border into Benin. Tonight we camp at an auberge.

Border information: Exit Togo at Hilla-Condji, enter Benin at Hilla-Condji.

Activity Approximate Cost

Relaxing on Benin's Grand Popo Atlantic beaches, meeting the local fishermen

Included in Kitty
About Grand Popo:

Grand Popo, located in south west Benin is a great place for a bit of rest and relaxation on the beach, West African style. The town originally was great as a port servicing the slave trade, although coastal erosion has destroyed most of the old buildings. The Finno-African culture centre Villa Karo has been situated in Grand-Popo since 1999. The town is now a centre for voodoo and home to a Finnish – African cultural centre, Villa Karo. The town's main industry is fishing.

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Day 10: Grand Popo

( Mon 19 Nov )

Today is free for you to enjoy time at the beach at Grand Popo. We spend a second night camping

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Day 11: Cotonou, Ouidah

( Tue 20 Nov )

We drive 120kms via Cotonou to arrive in Ouidah and an optional visit to the museum. We stay in a camp at an auberge

Activity Approximate Cost

Half-day tour of Ouidah, including the museums and exhibitions at La Maison Bresil, learning about the history of slavery on the 'Route des Esclaves' and the Point of No Return, and a visit to the voodoo Snake Temple.

USD 10
About Ouidah:

Benin is a country that takes Voodoo very seriously, so much so that it is recognised as an official religion and is practiced by over 60% of the population. It all centres around the small town of Ouidah, which is the centre of voodoo, culture in Benin; voodoo is part of everyday life here and Ouidah hosts many voodoo festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
The Musée d'histoire d'Ouidah gives an interesting insight into voodoo history and culture in the area.

The town also has a fascinating and colourful history having been an important centre during the slave trade. . The Slave Route or "Route des Escalves" the 4 km road between the Ouidah Museum of History and the beach is probably the same road thousands of slaves travelled along on their way to board the slaving ships for the New World.
The Portuguese, English and French all constructed forts here to protect their trading interests, one of which now houses a museum that gives you a unique glimpse into the terror and destruction that the slave trade wreaked on this part of the world.

The Temple of the Python.
The serpent deity Dangbé has been revered in the Ouidah area for centuries. The temple is maintained by the priests of Dangbé, and dozens of the sacred python are housed within.

The Maison de Brasil, also known as the Casa do Brazil, is a museum displaying works showcasing Vodun culture and the African diaspora. The house was the former residence of the Brazilian governor and is located near the civil prison.

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Day 12: Ganvie

( Wed 21 Nov )

In the morning there will be a visit to a Fetish market then in the afternoon we drive 70kms before jumping aboard pirogues to Ganvie, a town built entirely on stilts in the middle of a lagoon. We will stay in the village overnight

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the incredible stilt village of Ganvie, where an entire community of fisherman live in a town entirly built on stilts in the middle of Lake Noukoe near Cotonou

Included in Kitty
About Ganvie: Ganvie is home to more than 10,000 people, even though it is built entirely on stilts in the middle of a lagoon and can only be reached by pirogue (dug out canoe). The ancestors of the Toffinu people used the lake as a refuge from the slave traders, and the Toffinu have lived on the lagoons ever since. Possibly the largest lake village in the whole of Africa, the local people here depend on fishing and fish farming for their livelihoods.
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Day 13 to 14: Abomey

( Thu 22 Nov to Fri 23 Nov )

A short morning drive leads us to Abomey, the ancient capital of the Dan Homey kingdom. We stay in a campsite for the next 2 nights with free time in Abomey and a guided tour of the palace and museum

Activity Approximate Cost

A guided tour of the capital of the ancient Dahomey empire, including the Dahomey Palace and Museum.

Included in Kitty
About Abomey:

Abomey is the ancient capital of the Dahomey kingdom, once one of the most powerful empires in Africa.You can still see some of the original Dahomeyan palaces and temples here, and the Musée Historique d’Abomey is a good place to learn about the history of the region. The palace is full of gold, silver, thrones, tapestries of bloody battles, testament to the proidigous wealth of this once great kingdom.

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Day 15: Abeokuta

( Sat 24 Nov )

A full day 170kms drive takes us across the border into Nigeria where we overnight at Abeokuta, camping at the golf club.

Border crossing: Exit Benin at Ketou, enter Nigeria at Meko.

About Abeokuta: The town of Abeokuta lies upon the banks of the Ogun River and has some fascinating sites in caves and shrines across the town. Communities preserve the traditional customs, religious rites and sometimes the names of their original village. The main trade in Abeokuta is palm oil, timber, rubber, yams and Shea butter. Explore the markets and you can find some of these local products.
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Day 16 to 18: Oshogbo, Abuja

( Sun 25 Nov to Tue 27 Nov )

We will cover 640kms over the next 3 days, visiting Oshogbo and the site of the Osun Sacred Forest en route. We will bushcamp for the first night and camp at the Sheraton in Abuja for the third night

About Abuja: Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria and it has many places of interest. One of the most popular is Millennium Park. Fountains line the path way and there are many grassy areas to lie back and relax. The peaceful areas are great if you have been exploring all morning and the many attractions including the Zuma Rock and the Ladi Kwali are perfect if you want to carry on discovering Abuja.
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Day 19: Jos

( Wed 28 Nov )

We head 270kms towards Jos where there is an optional guided visit of the museum. We will find somewhere secure and bush camp for the night.

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Day 20 to 21: Yankari

( Thu 29 Nov to Fri 30 Nov )

240kms drive to the remote Yankari Game Reserve where we camp at a lodge. We enjoy game drives and a visit to the hot springs.

Activity Approximate Cost

Big game safari in Yankari National Park, Nigeria's best wildlife reserve. Stay at the beautiful hot springs

Included in Kitty
About Yankari:

Yankari is home to one of Nigeria's finest national parks. The Yankari Game Reserve is quite remote and rarely visited; but those who make the journey here are more than rewarded by the incredible wildlife and beautiful landscape. The area is home to more than 50 different species of mammal, including buffaloes, waterbucks, bushbucks and baboons. There are also large herds of elephant, as well as giraffe, ostrich, lion, hippo and antelope here; so there is certainly a chance of seeing some big game. Amazing though the wildlife is, most people's favourite memory of a trip to Yankari is a visit to the Wikki Warm Springs. These crystal clear hot springs are a constant 31 degrees Celsius, which makes them the perfect place to relax after a day of safari - or you may prefer to spend the entire day immersed in the warm waters.

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Day 22: Afi Mountains

( Sat 01 Dec )

Today is a full day 600kms drive day en route to the Afi Mountains. We will find somewhere safe to bush camp

About Afi Mountains:

The Afi Mountains in Nigeria are an important habitat for wildlife, particularly primates. There is a fantastic wildlife sanctuary heres that protects a number of threatened and endangered species, including the rare Cross River Gorilla and Drill Monkey. A number of NGO's are working here in conjunction with the local communities to protect these unique animals, for example protection patrols and educational initiatives have been established to discourage shooting and trapping by local hunters. 17 local communities are involved in total, the first time a common interest group like this has been formed; and all of the communities are now benefitting from the income that eco-tourism is beginning to generate through the work of the  wildlife sanctuary. As well as it's conservation work, the project also provides a home to 22 rescued chimpanzees. Visitors to Afi can walk in the forest and may even be able to participate in some conservation work.

For further information on the Afi Mountain Wildlife sanctuary please visit http://www.pandrillus.org/projects/afi-mountain-wildlife-sanctuary/

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Day 23 to 25: Afi Mountains, Calabar

( Sun 02 Dec to Tue 04 Dec )

We drive 180kms enabling us to spend two or three days at the Afi Moutain sanctuary home of a project to help the highly endangered drill monkeys, either walking in the forests or helping around the sanctuary. This is a beautiful place to stay. We may on the final night head to stay in Calabar in order to obtain our visas for Cameroon.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 night stay at the Drill Ranch Monkey Conservation Project in the Afi Mountains

Included in Kitty
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Day 26 to 28: Cameroon Rainforest Drive

( Wed 05 Dec to Fri 07 Dec )

We cross the border into Cameroon and travel some 400kms through remote tropical rainforest. We will be wild camping on the way and travelling on very poor roads. This is overlanding at its original best and be prepared to get stuck in!

Border crossing: Exit Nigeria on the first day at Mfum, enter Cameroon at Ekok.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland through some of the continent's most challenging roads in the jungles of Cameroon.

Included in Kitty
About Cameroon Rainforest Drive: Cameroon has some of the most amazing tropical rain forest in Africa; infact the scenery here was used as the a backdrop for Greystoke, the Tarzan movie. Travelling through this area gives us a real insight into how quickly the rainforests of the world are being destroyed - deforestation is happening faster here than in the Amazon Jungle. The roads in this area can be very difficult and travelling through the region is slow; mud holes, obstacles and poorly maintained dirt roads make the journey through these remote forest areas a real adventure.
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Day 29 to 30: Limbe

( Sat 08 Dec to Sun 09 Dec )

150kms driving brings us to a campsite and the chance for some R&R on the beautiful black sand beaches of Limbe. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Time for some R&R on the black sand of the Atlantic beaches at Limbe

Included in Kitty

Visit the Limbe wildlife centre to see the Drill monkeys and gorillas

USD 3
About Limbe:

Limbe is a small, scenic seaside town in Cameroon, it's black sand beaches sandwiched between the nearby mountains and the Atlantic ocean. It's a good place to kick-back and relax on the beach and sample the local seafood.

 

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Day 31 to 32: Kribi Beach

( Mon 10 Dec to Tue 11 Dec )

A 300kms drive brings us to the yellow sands of Kribi Beach, on the Atlantic shore. The days are free to explore or go on an optional trip to see the pygmies at Lolodorf. We stay at a camping at an auberge

Activity Approximate Cost

More R&R on the white sands of Kribi Beach

Included in Kitty
About Kribi Beach: Similar to Limbe, Kribi is Cameroon's other main beach resort - but unlike the black volcanic sands of Limbe, Kribi has a beautiful white sand beach surrounded by palm trees. The area is rapidly developing and has recently become something of a playground for wealthy Cameroonians and foreign tourists, with a numbre of hotels and resorts springing up along the cost. Nevertheless it's a pleasant town and a good place to relax before or after a journey into the jungles of West Africa.
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Day 33: Douala

( Wed 12 Dec )

160 km drive to the lively and cosmopolitan Douala, arriving late in the afternoon. We stay in a comfortable hotel with a pool.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore Douala, Cameroon's most lively city.

Included in Kitty
About Douala:

Douala is the largest city in Cameroon and the capital of Littoral Province. The town lies on the banks of the Wouri River and has a bustling, tropical ambiance. Leafy, colonial decay rubs shoulders with the modern, marble facades of banks, five-star hotels and business houses. It's a lively and cosmopolitan city with a brilliant nightlife, so despite the hot and sticky climate, it makes for an interesting stop.

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Day 34: Douala

( Thu 13 Dec )

The trip ends this morning and no accommodation is provided.

Border information: If you are leaving in Douala, exit Cameroon at Douala airport.

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Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.

We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature, overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of these areas do not adhere to 'Western' safety standards.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation for West Africa itineraries

The roads in West Africa can be very rough, which makes for some long bumpy travel days. Much of the area is very hot and humid. It is however all worth it for the spectacular scenery and for travelling through regions that very few other westerners go!

Accommodation in the region tends to be very basic. Where there are public campsites or hotels, the bathroom facilities can be very basic, and may be non existent in the case of many of the bush camps on this itinerary. There is never toilet paper provided and shower facilities, if existing, often consists of a bucket of cold water and a jug. Once again, the spectacular serenity and chance to sleep so close to nature makes a little inconvenience all worthwhile and part of the African overlanding experience. Note that not all campsites are as basic as this description; it's just to make sure there are no surprises for you.

You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts.

Lastly, the step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp.

Visa Information

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.

The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, please complete the ‘Visa Support Form’ available at this link: http://dragoman-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/visa-support.

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible. Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply. ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application, thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process. The visa service is not always available for all nationalities or non-UK residents, depending on the requirements of each specific embassy. The Visa Machine will advise you what they can and cannot provide for your specific circumstances.

As you will often need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure.

Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.

For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc. 

Ghana

Citizens of all countries (except West African countries) will need a visa to enter Ghana as a tourist for up to 30 days.

You must obtain the visa in advance, and you cannot obtain the visa at the border except in certain special circumstances – it is highly recommended that you do not try this, and simply get the visa in advance. You can either apply yourself directly to the embassy, or hire The Visa Machine to make the application on your behalf (which is recommended, especially if you are applying for several visas).

IMPORTANT NOTE - if you are on our trip that goes through Togo and Benin and then returns to Accra, you must obtain a Double or Multiple-Entry visa for Ghana.

If you are asked to provide an address in Ghana on your visa form, please use the address below:

The Stumble Inn,
Elmina,

Ghana
Tel: +233 5414 62733

 

If you are asked to provide a host in Ghana on your visa form, please use the details below:

Aubrey Malcolm Green,

Sabre Trust Project,
Elmina,

Ghana
Tel: +233 2415 90201

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Ghana.

Personal Spending

West Africa Currencies and Cash

In North and West Africa we recommend bringing Euros and not US Dollars. Please note that although we do quote kitties, personal spending and other items in US Dollars (because we operate globally), for trips passing through these countries it is better to bring Euros as exchange rates are more favourable. It is still possible to change USD if you need to. If you pay the kitty in EUR, the trip leader will confirm the exact exchange rate between USD and EUR to be used for the kitty at the pre departure meeting.

It is very easy to change your money into local currencies at borders and in most towns, so it is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, but in West Africa travellers cheques are almost impossible to change so for that reason we recommend a mix of cash and ATM cards. Please note that most ATMs only take Visa cards NOT Mastercard.

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are no more than 8 years old. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Cash machines are readily available in most areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges. Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities. Please bring the majority of the money you intend to change in large denominations (USD/EUR100 and 50 bills) as the exchange rate is often significantly worse if you try to change smaller bills; however, it is also a good idea to have some smaller bills as well, as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over USD50.

What else you need to know

Overland Lifestyle and Trip Suitability

Dragoman has 32 years experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up close. Your journey will be overland across vast distances so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention:

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Who Travels with Dragoman?

Our groups are made up of people from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18 (or 7 on our Family Trips), as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.

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Group Size

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as group starting a trip in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew and Guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. The crew are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip. On our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and for them to offer suggestions of things to do and see.

On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.

In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or the entire journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people.

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew. Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Accommodation on Tour

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying hotels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary depending on what options are available in each of the areas we travel through and the nightstops on our routes; The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses.

Equally, the type and standard of hotel accommodation will vary greatly depending on what is available in the area; hotels can vary from very basic multi-share rooms without electricity or running water all the way to high standard hotels with good facilities!

One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp; this allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.

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The Kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park entrances, excursions and local guides).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.

Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips) or via our new scheme where you can pay in advance 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip (please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v1.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip). 

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars, or Euros in West Africa). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders are experiencing frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept TCs on our trips. As an alternative, in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines and use either a cash passport or a debit card.

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Meals and Group Participation

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

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Dietary Requirements

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others.  If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, or would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring these with you.  Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

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Itineraries

Our itineraries are our intention but travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

• The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

• Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

• Leaders reports from off the road

• Local contacts we have built up over 33 years of experience

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advise when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advise rather than the advise of other governments.

However we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. Check to ensure that no travel warning is invalidating your travel insurance Here are a few useful addresses:

UK  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

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Health

You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.

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Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases

Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your GP / travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever and Chikungunya are continuing to spread and becoming a bigger problem around the world. Bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping outside, use a mosquito net. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

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Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

We also recommend you check out any specific health advice for the country you are travelling to either via your GP or the following websites: www.nathnac.org or www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

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Safety & Security

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

We want you to have an enjoyable time but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings.

• Crash Helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Homestays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.

• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or homestays

Fire Safety – Campsites

• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.

• Know how to raise the alarm.

• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.

Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.

• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group. Food Safety We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.

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Personal Safety

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.

• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away by the crew.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included, whilst others are optional (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas). These require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip to its fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish to, or have the physical ability to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the Client ‘on the road’ subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the Client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

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Included Activities

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, I pads, phones etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas.

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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Emergency Contact

We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

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Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers, however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).

The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to- there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.

For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:

• Sleeping bag* - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months.

• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides). It will help keep your sleeping bag clean, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Ground mat or compressed foam*

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship

• 2 pairs of shorts

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking

• 1 pair of sunglasses

• Warm sweater/fleeces

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops

• Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)

• Swimwear

• 2 small towels

• Washing kit, including a small mirror

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush & washing line (just a length of cord)

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)

• Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)

• Good water bottle at least 1 litre

• A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.

• Alarm clock

• Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)

• Writing materials & notebook/diary

• Multi purpose knife.

• Mosquito net - The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Ones" (moistened tissues) and hand gel

• Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp

• Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge. For a comprehensive kit list take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. You will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/c/381/Overland

 

*For trips with camping nights

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Personal Medical Kit

All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:

http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/pharmacy

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Passports

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.

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Pre and Post Trip Accommodation and Connecting Flights

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations.

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.

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Continuing Your Trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If on your trip you decide that you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

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Contingency Emergency Fund

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

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Responsible Tourism

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

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Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!

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Electrical Equipment

Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

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A Few Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman groups. It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children. Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

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Issues on the Trip

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on

customer-relations@dragoman.co.uk.

You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

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Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.

On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD $1 to USD $4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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Our Community

At any time before or after you book, you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and you can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in - it's free and easy. We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other

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Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

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