Best Of West Africa Overland, (STM)

location to Dakar 69 days, departing 19 Dec 2012
The coast of Dakar, Senegal

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: location to Dakar
Duration: 69 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:

25%70%

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

Route Map

Countries Visited

Benin

Although small, Benin contains a myriad of incredible highlights and more than punches above its weight! Benin is probably most famous for the traditional vodun (voodoo) culture, which is widely practiced across the country - in the tiny coastal village of Grand Popo we often are lucky enough to witness an energetic and magical vodun celebration, where the whole village comes out to the sounds of drumming and singing.

Further down the coast we find the historic town of Ouidah, which still bears the legacy of the tragic history of slave trading with its crumbling Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá and haunting Point of No Return memorial. Further inland we find the phenomenal floating village of Ganvie, where a whole society has emerged living on stilt huts in the middle of Lake Nokoué and has developed a fascinating and unique way of life.

Further still inland we discover the town of Abomey, the ancient capital of the once-mighty Dahomey civilisation and home to its ruined Royal Palace and museum. At the far north of Benin we find the incredible double-storey mud huts of the Tata Somba people and the remote National Park of Pendjari, one of the best reserves of wildlife to be found in West Africa!

Côte d'Ivoire

Attracting the attention of the local kids on our way out of Yamoussoukro

Côte d’Ivoire is wonderfully rich in culture and natural attractions. The national anthem describes the country as a land of hope, which is indicative of the positive attitude of its people. Always friendly and welcoming, the good nature of the Ivorians will be encountered wherever you go.

It’s really the modernity that sets Côte d’Ivoire apart from other West African nations. Abidjan is one of the most modern cities in West Africa, and its shimmering skyscrapers will astound.

Yamoussoukro, the tiny official capital in the centre of the country, is famous as being the bizarre home of the colossal Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, the largest Christian place of worship in the world! The north is decidedly less developed, and is a region where you can experience a more traditional way of life and more remote roads and villages set amongst the beautiful landscapes that dominate this part of the country.

Ghana

Ghana was the first African country to gain independence from Britain, and today it is a proud and welcoming 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, and the wonderful people are ever smiling and welcoming. Its beaches are the envy of all West African nations, its history and Ashanti culture is fascinating and it has some 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 the bustiling coastal city of Accra, home to some fascinating museums, urban beaches, and many bars and restaurants to check out Ghana's delicious food and exciting nightlife.

The central town of Kumasi is the centre of the Ashanti culture and home to one of the world's biggest markets where you can shop for all sorts of handicrafts and the colourful textiles that West Africa is famous for. On the coast there are the spectacular beaches of Elmina, the incredible jungles and canopy walkways of Kakum National Park, and the colossal old fort of Cape Coast, a haunting reminder of West Africa's slave-trading past.

Ghana has a welcoming feeling and a unique and lively culture, and is perfect to start or end your West African adventure in!

Guinea

Guinea is a country that very few travellers ever visit, but can boast of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the whole of Africa, a strong musical tradition, and very friendly people.

You will be awed by the beautiful forests of the north and the stunning grassy highlands and impressive waterfalls of the Fouta Djallon region, which provides some of the best trekking terrain in West Africa. In the thick humid jungles of the east we'll be able to look for some of the traditional vine bridges spanning over rivers and canyons, a particular highlight in this beautiful part of Guinea. Guinea also contains some of the most beautiful and untouched countryside in West Africa, and we'll travel and wild camp through some incredible remote and challenging roads on our journey through the country.

Rich in culture and tradition, Guinea is one of West Africa's most superb highlights!

Guinea Bissau

Guinea Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, is one of the smallest nations in continental Africa. It is one of the world's least-visited countries, so you'll be greeted with a warm welcome and lots of curiosity! The nation is emerging from its turbulent past and will charm you with its off the beaten track feel and welcoming people.

The capital city of Bissau is a city suspended in time, with its crumbling colonial architecture, pastel coloured buildings, and narrow alleyways which are interesting to explore. Moving further inland, the mangrove-lined rivers and tropical vegetation kicks in, signalling a return to the more typical landscapes so associated with West Africa.

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. 

Senegal

Senegal is one of West Africa's most fascinating destinations. Long white sandy beaches, a superb traditional music scene, a crumbling colonial heritage, a wide variety of landscapes from the dry Sahel of the north to the lush wetlands of the south, the abundant birdlife and friendly people make this a superb place for those who want to explore West African culture, or just kick back and get into the vibe of the real Africa. 

The cosmopolitan capital city of Dakar is the westernmost point of Africa, and has a beautiful coastal location, a temperate climate and a vibrant atmosphere that reflects the country's modern and diverse outlook. You can spend time browsing around the museums, the colourful markets, or just relaxing on the stunning beaches.

Whether you want to mingle with the trendsetters of urban Africa or be bask in the serene sounds of nature, Senegal is the place to be.

The Gambia

The Gambia is Africa's smallest country, hugging the shores of the mighty Gambia River. Although tiny, the Gambia contains some of the world's most stunning wetlands and a bewildering array of birdlife. A boat trip around the lush waterways of Tendaba is one of the best locations to spot herons, pelicans, egrets, ibises, hawks, falcons and much more - it's so good that many birdwatchers travel back to Gambia every year to get their fix!

The Gambia's idyllic cocktail of sunny days, warm welcomes and the beautiful wildlife of the wetlands makes this a place you will not want to miss.

Togo

A wild camp spot in central Togo

A tiny narrow country tucked between Ghana and Benin, Togo is one of the most vibrant countries in West Africa and the traditional home of the vodun (voodoo) religion.

Near to the sprawling capital of Lomé is the small village of Togoville, a historically significant settlement which is an incredible place to wander and get a taste of Togolese life. Togoville is a very important centre of the vodun religion, and you'll see many creepy 'fetishes' dotted throughout the town and may even get to meet a genuine vodun priestess!

Further inland you'll find beautiful and peacefull landscapes dotted with tiny villages. Near the highland town of Klouto there are some fantastic walks to take in the views and search for the colouful butterflies that inhabit the area. Klouto is also home to a talented drumming group who perfectly capture the energetic rhythms of life in 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
The coast of Dakar, Senegal
Girl in Dakar, Senegal
Light packing in Dakar, Senegal
Local kids on the road to Dakar, Senegal
The African Renaissance Monument near Senegal, Dakar
The coastline near Dakar, the capital of Senegal
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
The stunning coastal road near Ouidah, 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
A heron seen in the Kiang West National Park, Gambia
Local dancing in Tendaba, Gambia
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
Thatched huts on the beach of Grand Bassam, Cote d'Ivoire
An incredible sunrise in Grand Bassam, Cote d'Ivoire
Making patterns with the ferns in Korhogo, northern Cote d'Ivoire
Traditional fabrics on sale in the Ivorian town of Korhogo
Some of the fascinating wooden masks made in Korhogo, Cote d'Ivoire
The colossal Basilica in Yamoussoukro, the largest church in the world
Attracting the attention of the local kids on our way out of Yamoussoukro
Taking a boat trip through the Baobalong Wetlands near Tendaba, Gambia
Colourful weaver birders in Tendaba, Gambia
Local fisherman heads out onto the Gambia river near Tendaba
Fishing boat outside Ziguinchor, southern Senegal
Local women on the beach of Cap Skirring
The beaches of Cap Skirring in the Casamance region of Senegal
The sunset from the beach of Cap Skirring, Senegal
Local kids checking out the truck in Bissau
Local girl on her way to the market in Bissau

Day 1:

( Wed 19 Dec )

Border information: If you are starting at Douala, enter Cameroon at Douala airport.

Today is an arrival day with a pre departure meeting at 10:00hrs. There are no activities planned so you can arrive at any time. Your leader will leave a note in reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport and insurance details at this meeting. The day will be free to explore the lively and cosmopolitan city of Douala. We overnight in a friendly, comfortable hotel with pool.

Hotel for the night:

Day 2 to 3:

( Thu 20 Dec to Fri 21 Dec )

We drive 200kms to the yellow sands of Kribi Beach, on the Atlantic shore where we camp for 2 nights. The time is free for you to spend at the beach or go on an optional trip to see the Pygmies at Lolodorf.

Day 4 to 5:

( Sat 22 Dec to Sun 23 Dec )

275 km drive to the black sand beaches of Limbe where we camp at a beach hotel. There is an optional visit to Limbe Wildlife Centre to see the Drill monkeys and gorillas.

Day 6 to 7:

( Mon 24 Dec to Tue 25 Dec )

We head north from Limbe and into the jungle roads of Cameroon towards the Nigerian border for 2 nights of bush camping. Depending on the weather the roads here can vary between very bad to bumpy but makes for a real overland experience. If it is wet then come prepared to help to dig the truck out of the mud! 

Day 8 to 10:

( Wed 26 Dec to Fri 28 Dec )

Depending on the road conditions of the last couple of days we should cross the border and enter into Nigeria. We will head to the Afi Mountains where we will stay for a few nights and visit the Drill Monkey Sanctuary where there is the chance to see Pandrillus and also possibly gorillas. Once at the sanctuary we will camp in a makeshift campsite.

Border information: Exit Cameroon at Ekok, enter Nigeria at Ekok.

Day 11:

( Sat 29 Dec )

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

Day 12 to 13:

( Sun 30 Dec to Mon 31 Dec )

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

Day 14:

( Tue 01 Jan )

Today we continue our journey through Nigeria heading 300kms drive towards Jos. If local circumstances permit there may be an optional guided visit of Jos Museum however we may have to drive on past. We will find a secure spot to bush camp for the night on the road to Abuja.

Day 15:

( Wed 02 Jan )

Today is a 230kms drive to Abuja where we camp in the grounds of a hotel.

Day 16 to 18:

( Thu 03 Jan to Sat 05 Jan )

We will cover 640kms over the next 3 days, visiting Oshogbo en route and the Osun Sacred Forest. We will bush camp for the first 2 nights with our aim being Abeokuta for the 3rd day where we camp at the golf club

Day 19 to 20: Abomey

( Sun 06 Jan to Mon 07 Jan )

Crossing the border into Benin we head 170kms for Abomey, the ancient capital of the Dan Homey kingdom where we camp. There's a guided trip of the palace and museum plus lots of free time to explore.

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

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a guided tour of the Dahomey Palace and Museum, the old royal enclave of the capital of the ancient Dahomey empire, one of West Africa's most important old kingdoms

Included in Kitty
About Abomey:

Abomey is the ancient capital of the Dahomey Kingdom, once one of the most powerful empires in Africa.

The Dahomey Empire developed on the Abomey plateau in around the year 1600 CE, becoming an important regional power in the 18th Century after conquering key cities on the Atlantic coast. The Dahomey economy was built around conquest, slavery and international trade, and the civilisation was one of the most important practicioners of the Vodun religion in Africa. They were defeated by French colonial forces in 1894.

You can still see some of the original Dahomey palaces and treasures here, and the Musée Historique d’Abomey is a great place to learn about the history of the region. The palace is full of gold, silver, thrones, and tapestries of bloody battles, a testament to the prodigious wealth of this once-great kingdom.

Day 21: Ganvie

( Tue 08 Jan )

We have a short drive to Ganvie, a town built entirely on stilts in the middle of a lagoon where we'll take a pirogue trip and stay in an auberge in the village.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit 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 Nokoué near Cotonou

Included in Kitty
About Ganvie:

Ganvie is a phenomenal feat of human ingenuity - home to more than 20,000 people, the village is built entirely on stilts in the middle of the large Lake Noukoue and can only be reached by pirogue (dug-out canoe). The ancestors of the Tofinu people used the lake as a refuge from slave traders from the Fon and Dahomey tribes in the 17th Century and the Tofinu have lived on the lake ever since - the stilt village has slowly grown over the past few hundred years. The largest lake village in the whole of Africa, the local people here depend on fishing and fish farming for their livelihoods.

Day 22 to 23: Ouidah

( Wed 09 Jan to Thu 10 Jan )

We drive 120kms to Ouidah giving you ample time to explore the town and an optional visit to the museum. We stay in a campsite by an auberge

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Ouidah History Museum at the old Portuguese Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá, and learn all about the terrible history of the slave trade in West Africa

Free
About Ouidah:

Benin is a country that takes the Vodun religion very seriously - it is recognised as an official religion and is practiced by over 60% of the population. Vodun is spread over wide areas of West Africa and spawned the related beliefs of Candomble in Brazil and Voodoo in the Caribbean. The tiny town of Ouidah is one of the centres Vodun culture, and hosts many voodoo festivals and celebrations throughout the year.

The town also has a fascinating and colourful history, and was an important port town during the days of the Atlantic slave trade. The "Route des Escalves" is a 4km road between the Ouidah's History Museum and the beach, and is probably the same road along which thousands of slaves travelled 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 - the old Portuguese Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá 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 - interestingly the 5-hectare fort was once the smallest recognised enclave in the world, as it was officially part of Portugal until its final annexation in 1961 which expelled the last two occupants.

The town is also home to the fascinating Temple of the Python - the serpent deity Dangbé has been revered in the Ouidah area for centuries, and this temple in his honour is home to dozens of the sacred pythons which freely roam the grounds.

Day 24 to 25: Grand Popo

( Fri 11 Jan to Sat 12 Jan )

A short drive brings us to Grand Popo and the next couple of days offer free time at the lovely beach.

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax on Benin's Grand Popo Atlantic beaches, meeting the local fishermen and soaking up the ambience of the coast

Included in Kitty
About Grand Popo:

Grand Popo, located in the far south west corner of Benin, is a great place for a bit of rest and relaxation on the beach. The town was originally a colonial port, although coastal erosion has destroyed most of the old buildings. It is a pleasant coastal village with a strong Vodun culture and some mangroves to explore nearby.

Day 26: Agbodrafo

( Sun 13 Jan )

Enter Togo and drive 85 km to Agbodrafo, a small quiet town on the shore of Lake Togo. We will camp at an auberge.

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

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax on the beach of the stunning Lac Togo at Agbodrafo

Free
About Agbodrafo:

Only 30 minutes east of the Togolese capital of Lomé is the small town of Agbodrafo, a quiet and serene town on the shore of Lake Togo. The lake is surrounded by a number of small villages, and fishermen drift on the waters in their dug-out canoes. As well as enjoying the lake and the beach, a highlight of our stay is to ride across the lake in a pirogue to the old German town of Togoville with the local fishermen.

Day 27: Togoville, Agbodrafo

( Mon 14 Jan )

Today we take a pirogue trip to Togoville, the centre of voodoo culture. In the afternoon there will be a guided city tour and church visit. We will spend a second night camping at an auberge

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a trip in a local non-motorised pirogue across Lac Togo to the famous village of Togoville, where you can explore the town and learn all about its history and culture

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.

 

Day 28 to 29: Mont Klouto

( Tue 15 Jan to Wed 16 Jan )

200kms 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!

Activity Approximate Cost

Head out for evening of energetic drumming and dancing from the local villagers in Mont Klouto, with dinner included

Included in Kitty

Go on various guided walks around Mont Klouto looking for butterflies and enjoying the beautiful forest scenery

XOF 8000
About Mont Klouto:

Hidden away in mountains of central Togo is the serene village of Mont Klouto - only a couple of hours north of Lomé, it is 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 500 different species can be found here, many of them incredibly beautiful. It's an ideal place for doing some short hikes, and you can take a guided walking butterfly safari through the forests with a local naturalist guide.

Day 30: Lake Volta

( Thu 17 Jan )

255km drive takes us into Ghana. We stop at Akosombo by Lake Volta where we stay for the night in a campsite.

Border crossing: Exit Togo at Klouto, enter Ghana at Denu.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit Akosombo Dam, the colossal 1960s project that provides almost all of Ghana's energy needs and created Lake Volta, one of the world's largest man-made lakes

GHC 5
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.

Day 31 to 32: Keta

( Fri 18 Jan to Sat 19 Jan )

After an optional morning visit to Akosombo Dam a 350km drive brings us to the beach at Keta for a couple of days relaxing in a beach side hotel.

About Keta:

Keta is a coastal town lying in the Volta estuary region, a wetland in the south east of Ghana which comprises of several small islands and a complex of lagoons along the coast. The town has some pleasant beaches and contains the haunting ruins of the Danish Fort Prinzenstein.

Day 33: Accra

( Sun 20 Jan )

190kms drive to the coastal capital of Accra. We overnight in a friendly, comfortable hotel inn central Accra.

Border information: If you are leaving at Accra, you exit Ghana at Accra airport.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, dedicated to the founding father of independent Ghana

GHC 5
About Accra:

Ghana's sprawling capital of Accra is a bustling coastal city boasting a lively atmosphere and some busy urban beaches full of musicians, acrobats and souvenir sellers.

The Perpetual Flame at the Cenotaph in Revolution Square is worth a look, and 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.

Day 34: Accra

( Mon 21 Jan )

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

Today is an arrival day with a pre departure meeting at 10:00hrs. There are no activities planned so you can arrive at any time. Your leader will leave a note in reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport and insurance details at this meeting. The afternoon will be free to explore the city of Accra.

Tonight we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities

Hotel for the night:
Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, dedicated to the founding father of independent Ghana

GHC 5

Day 35: Kakum National Park

( Tue 22 Jan )

Leaving Accra behind us we journey north to visit Kakum National Park.  The park has a long series of hanging bridges at the forest canopy level known as the canopy walkway giving us a close up experience of the park.

We will camp tonight in the national park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head on foot through the stunning jungles of Kakum National Park at night in search of wildlife

Included in Kitty
About Kakum National Park:

Kakum National Park is a protected area of dense rainforest in southern Ghana, just inland of Cape Coast. The forest contains some very rare wildlife such as pygmy elephants, forest buffalo and an incredible array of birdlife, which we may be lucky enough to spot on a night walk through the winding maze of paths that criss-cross through the trees.

We will also take an early morning walk along the canopy walkways that are set up amongst the tops of the trees, which offer a unqiue and unobtrusive way for travellers to experience the forest.

Day 36 to 37: Elmina

( Wed 23 Jan to Thu 24 Jan )

We head back South to the Atlantic Coast to camp for 2 nights at a stunning beach resort in Bren Akynin, nr. Elmina, allowing to time to visit Elmina castle and also to get involved with a local community project.

Activity Approximate Cost

Freely explore the historic Elmina Castle, the oldest European building in sub-Saharan Africa built by the Portuguese in 1482

Included in Kitty

Participate in a fantastic day of volunteering and community interaction at the Sabre Trust School project, a charity set up to provide early years education to kids across the Elmina region

Included in Kitty
About Elmina:

The beaches along the Ghanaian coast near the town of Elmina are some of best in West Africa. The local people here rely heavily on fishing and cultivating coconuts, pineapples and groundnuts to make a living.

Over the last few years Dragoman have been involved with the Sabre Trust, a local grass-roots charity which is working to improve education for all of the children here. Originally the school here was in a terrible state of disrepair and extremely under-resourced, but gradually this is beginning to improve largely due to the work of the Sabre Trust.

On Dragoman's overland trips through Elmina, we get involved with a variety of projects at the school. Depending on your group's skills and the school's needs, you could be getting your hands dirty helping out with small building projects, participating in educational workshops, or even helping with the teaching. Getting involved at the school is a great opportunity to lend a hand and give something back to the local people here, albeit in a small way. It's also a great chance to experience everyday Ghanaian life at first hand, getting to know the local children and their families.

Day 38 to 39: Grand Bassam

( Fri 25 Jan to Sat 26 Jan )

Border information: Enter Cote d’Ivoire at Elubo

Leaving the Ghana behind us we head west into Cote d’Ivoire to the old French colonial capital city of Grand Bassam situated east of Abidjan.

We stay here for 2 nights in a local hotel allowing time for you to explore the old colonial town.

Activity Approximate Cost

Freely explore the stunning beaches and old colonial buildings of Grand Bassam, the original French capital of Côte d'Ivoire

Free
About Grand Bassam:

The tiny town of Grand Bassam was for a short time the French colonial capital between 1893 and 1896, before a bout of yellow fever forced them to move the capital up the coast to Bingerville. Grand Bassam is a pleasant town with a small old colonial centre, and is a great place to kick back and relax on the serene beaches.

Day 40 to 41: Yamoussoukro

( Sun 27 Jan to Mon 28 Jan )

After a fairly long drive we arrive into the capital of the Cote d’Ivoire

We stay here for 2 nights in a local hotel allowing time for you free time to explore the sites on offer.

About Yamoussoukro:

The tiny town of Yamoussoukro is the official capital of Côte d'Ivoire - although being much smaller and more isolated than the huge coastal city of Abidjan, Yamoussoukro was the hometown of the long-serving post-independence President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who decided it should be the country's capital and proceeded to spend exorbitant amounts of money on developing it. Most of that money was spent on his showpiece project, the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix. Despite such a low percentage of the population actually being Catholic, the President spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this grand basilica - based on St. Peter’s in the Vatican, the basilica is the largest Christian place of worship in the world! The tiny town itself also boasts six-lane highways that lead nowhere, a bizarre 1960s-futuristic hotel, and the secretive Presidential Palace - Yamoussoukro is a surreal place that has to be seen to be believed!

Day 42: Korhogo

( Tue 29 Jan )

Heading directly North to the north-central region of Core d’Ivoire we travel to the town of Korhogo famed for its cloth weaving as this region produces cotton. 

Tonight we stay in a small local hotel.

About Korhogo:

The town of Korhogo in the north of Côte d'Ivoire is famed for its various traditional handicrafts. On a tour around the area surrounding Korhogo, we will gain a fascinating insight into the life of the local Senoufo people and see some of the traditional crafts being made. We will usually visit a collective of painters, a ceramic jewellery workshop, a district of wooden mask carvers and a village of cloth weavers. It's a wonderful place to search out some souvenirs - be prepared to haggle!

Day 43 to 44: Odienne

( Wed 30 Jan to Thu 31 Jan )

Border information: Enter Core d’Ivoire at Sirana

The next couple of days are spent driving from the forested region of Guinea crossing over the border into Cote d’Ivoire.  One night will be spent wild camping en route and the other we aim to either camp or stay in a small local hotel in Odienne depending on the facilities available.

About Odienne:

Odienné is the chief town of Odienné Department of Côte d'Ivoire, lying in the northwestern part of the country. Sites in Odienné include a large mosque and nearby gold mines. The Deng Kele Massif is a solitary granite mountain, 600 metres above sea level, about 15 kilometres to the west of, and visible from, Odienné.

Day 45 to 47: Forested Guinea

( Fri 01 Feb to Sun 03 Feb )

Reaching the Forested mountainous region in south-eastern Guinea we base ourselves for 2 in the surrounding area.  We aim to camp here however we may stay in a local guesthouse depending on the facilities in the area.  During our time here you have the option of visiting nearby villages to see their famous vine bridges or exploring the surrounding area.

Due to the nature of this itinerary there has been a “flexible day” added here to be used at the discretion of the leader.

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek to the Pont de Liana, one of the phenomenal old vine bridges in the forested region of Guinea

Free

Freely explore the forested region of Guinea and the market town of Nzerekoré on foot

Included in Kitty
About Forested Guinea:

Forested Guinea (Guinée Forestière) is a forested mountainous region in south eastern Guinea, one of four natural regions in Guinea which covers around a quarter of the country. The region is known for its diverse ethnic population, including the Toma and Lissi groups, and also became a shelter for large numbers of refugees from the Sierra Leonean, Liberian, and Ivorian civil wars of the 1990s and 2000s.

The area is also famous for its traditional vine bridges that are dotted around the area - the bridges are masterpieces of utilising the natural environment, using only the vines to make sturdy crossings that span the wide rivers of the region. We will attempt to find a traditional 100-year old vine bridge on our journey through the beautiful area.

Day 48 to 49: Kissidougou

( Mon 04 Feb to Tue 05 Feb )

 

Leaving the forested region behind us we head south east through Guinea stopping en route for 2 nights. We aim to stay one of these nights in a local guesthouse and one wild camping.

 

Day 50 to 52: Fouta Djallon

( Wed 06 Feb to Fri 08 Feb )

Our journey takes us into the highland region of Fouta Djallon in the centre of Guinea

We base ourselves for 3 nights in a small local run hotel in one of the small towns in this region.  From here you free time for the option to take guided walks, visits to beautiful waterfalls or hire bicycles in this stunning part of Guinea.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided 2-day excursion to the stunning highland region of Fouta Djallon, with treks through the scenic hills to the incredible waterfalls and local villages, and an overnight stay in a community guesthouse

EUR 50
About Fouta Djallon:

The dramatic highland landscape of the Fouta Djallon region consists of many towering sandstone formations, beautiful plains and forests. Erosion by rain and rivers has carved deep canyons and valleys into the sandstone, and have produced some incredible waterfalls to visit- the area has some of the best hiking trails in West Africa, and during our time here we'll stay with a small local community in their tiny guesthouse!

Day 53 to 54: Northern Guinea, Mampata

( Sat 09 Feb to Sun 10 Feb )

Border information: Enter Guinea Bissau at Kandika

From Fouta Djallon we journey through Northern Guinea to Guinea Bissau stopping en route for wild camps at Koundara a town located in north-western Guinea and near Mampata, the Bafata region of central Guinea Bissau

Day 55 to 56:

( Mon 11 Feb to Tue 12 Feb )

Leaving our wild camp early we set off early to reach our destination of Bissau.

During your stay in Bissau you have time to explore Bissau Velho the old Portuguese centre of Bissau.

We stay in Bissau for 2 nights in a small locally run hotel.

Day 57:

( Wed 13 Feb )

Border information: Enter Senegal at Wassadou

Today is a full drive day as we journey from Guinea Bissau to Senegal.  We will aim to wild camp this night.

Day 58 to 59: Cap Skirring

( Thu 14 Feb to Fri 15 Feb )

 

Leaving our wild camp early we journey to the Atlantic coastal town and village of Cap Skirring whereby you will have a free afternoon to explore. 

Whilst in Cap Skirring we aim to stay in rooms in a local Campement.

Due to the nature of this itinerary there has been a “flexible day” added here to be used at the discretion of the leader.

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax, sunbathe, swim and explore on the idyllic beaches of Cap Skirring and Kabrousse

Free
About Cap Skirring:

Cap Skirring is a town on the beautiful Atlantic coast of the Basse Casamance region of Senegal. It is a popular seaside resort with miles of palm-fringed sandy beaches and perfect ocean temperatures. The area has long been populated by fishermen, but the French immigrants first started to use the area for beach tourism back in the 1960s - today it is very popular with Senegalese and foreign tourists, and there are many optional beach activities available here.

Day 60 to 61: Ziguinchor

( Sat 16 Feb to Sun 17 Feb )

 

Leaving the coast we head east to the town of Ziguinchor where we base ourselves for 2 nights in a small local run hotel.  Whilst in Ziguinchor if you have not already you will obtain your visas for Guinea Bissau.  The rest of your time here is free for you to explore.

Day 62 to 63:

( Mon 18 Feb to Tue 19 Feb )

 

Border information: Enter The Gambia at Senoba

From Senegal we cross into the Gambia and head to the Bintang Bolong Eco lodge situated on the Bintang Bolong River near the village of Bintang.

We stay here for 2 nights in huts allowing you time for the array of optional activities on offer in this area.

Day 64 to 65: Tendaba, Kiang West National Park

( Wed 20 Feb to Thu 21 Feb )

Leaving the Bintang Bolong River we make our way to the Tendaba Camp the Gambia River.

Tendaba camp is located opposite the Baobolong Wetlands and The Kiang West National Park. he accommodation at the Camp is simple round huts in the so called African rondavel- style, and they are completely made out of natural materials from the bush. We will stay here for 2 nights where we will take an included pirogue trip into Kiang West National Park.

About Tendaba:

Tendaba Camp, on the southern shore of the River Gambia, was the first inland hotel in the country. It remains incredibly popular with tourists and birdwatchers, many of whom return year upon year to immerse themselves in the wonderful birdlife of the area. The nearby Bao Bolong wetlands and Kiang West National Park comprise of some wonderful mangrove and woodland eco-systems, and are home to over 300 species of birds including vultures, harrier eagles, sand grouse, kingfishers, hawks and falcons!

About Kiang West National Park:

Established as a national park in 1987, Kiang West is now the largest national park in the Gambia. Situated on the south bank of the river it encompasses dry deciduous woodland, savannah, mangrove creeks and tidal flats.

Over 300 species of birds have been sighted in the area, including 21 raptors: vultures, harrier eagles, sand grouse, Blue-breasted, Kingfisher hawks, White-shouldered Black Tit and falcons. An ideal spot to watch birds is Tubabkollon Point. This protected reserve of mangroves boasts an outstanding wealth of birdlife, impressive enough to excite even the non-bird watcher!

The West African Manatee, otters, sitatunga and roan antelopes can also be seen, plus rarer sightings of animals such as hyenas, leopards and dolphins.

Day 66: Toubakouta

( Fri 22 Feb )

Border information: Enter Senegal at Farafenni.

Today we cross back into Senegal and head to the small town of Toubakouta situated close to the Sine-Saloum Delta. If time allows on our journey this day we will stop to see the Medina Baay Mosque in Kaolack on of the largest and best know mosques in Senegal.  

Tonight we will stay in a small local run hotel or Campsite in Toubakouta.

About Toubakouta:

Situated amongst a maze of mangroves, the tiny town of Toubakouta is one of the most beautiful spots on the Sine-Saloum Delta. We base ourselves here to take boat trips into the Parc National du Delta du Saloum, which is teeming with birdlife, features some beautiful mangrove scenery, and is dotted with small islands and villages.

Day 67: Sine-Saloum Delta, Toubakouta

( Sat 23 Feb )

We head out today to the Sine- Saloum Delta for a pirogue trip in search of the stunning array of birdlife that the Delta area hosts.

Tonight we will stay again in the small local run hotel or campsite in Toubakouta.

About Sine-Saloum Delta:

The Sine-Saloum Delta is an 180,000-hectare area that encompasses the Saloum Delta National Park, and is a truly stunning part of Senegal. Formed where two rivers converge on the mighty Atlantic Ocean, it's a region of great diversity consisting of a unique estuarine environment, glorious beaches, mangrove swamps, sand islands and ever-shifting dunes.

The region is a pleasure to explore; by navigating the lush greenery of the labyrinthine waterways in a pirogue you're sure to absorb the region's gentle magic. Thanks to its ecological diversity it is also rich in animal life, and for birdwatchers, the Delta will also not disappoint; home to a stunning variety of birds, such as flamingos, pelicans, herons, gulls, terns, egrets and avocets. Many of the hotels will arrange special birding trips to view them in their natural habitats.

 

Day 68: Dakar, Touba

( Sun 24 Feb )

Today our overland journey takes us north towards our final destination of Dakar.  On our journey today we will stop to see the Medina Baay Mosque in Kaolack (if missed the day before) and the Great Mosque at Touba.

Upon reaching Dakar we will most likely head out for a final group meal together tonight in Dakar.

Tonight we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities in Dakar

About Dakar:

Senegal's bustling, cosmopolitan capital of Dakar is always bursting with life. This is a city of busy streets, colourful markets and vibrant nightlife - at first it can seem chaotic, but embrace the rhythms of Dakar's life and you'll come to appreciate it just as much as the passionate people who live here.

The beautiful Île de Gorée is worth a visit, and you can learn about some of the appalling history of the Atlantic slave trade that was once common there in the 18th Century. The Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noir (IFAN) Museum has some great displays of show masks and traditional dress from all across the country. Or you may prefer to just wander the streets, browsing the markets and soaking up the atmosphere. Dakar also has a lively arts scene and you may be able to find some great live music here!

About Touba:

Touba is the second-largest city in Senegal and is the spiritual centre of the Mouride branch of Islam. The area was a remote wilderness until 1887, when Cheikh Amadou Bamba (the founder of the Mouride sect) is said to have had a moment of transcendence and decided to found the city of Touba here. The Mouride branch of Islam focuses on the doctrine of hard work, and sees working as holy an endaevour as prayer - Mourides make up about 40% of Senegal's population and are incredibly influential over the politics and culture of the country.

At the centre of Touba is the Great Mosque, completed in 1963 and purported to be one of the largest mosques in Africa. The mosque has five minarets, three large domes, and is the burial place of Amadou Bamba.

Day 69: Dakar

( Mon 25 Feb )

Today is your final day and there are no activities planned.  No accommodation is provided for tonight, however we are able to book you additional accommodation in Dakar. Please ask at time of booking.

Border information: If you are leaving at Dakar. You will exit Senegal at Dakar Airport.

Activity Approximate Cost

Freely explore Senegal's bustling and cosmopolitan capital, and see its magnificent Presidential Palace, Grand Mosque and busy Médina district

Free

Take a trip to the atmospheric and historic island of Goreé, exploring its ancient buildings and stepping back in time

XOF 5000
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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.

Exploratory Trip Warning - this is a new trip for us!

Please note that all or part of this trip is a brand new itinerary, and could be going through completely new areas for Dragoman. This is what we call a New or Exploratory trip, and it means that all the passengers on these trips for the first season are the route's pioneers!

However, while we have thoroughly researched all aspects of this new route and put the itinerary together with the best of intentions, please note that your crew will be finding a lot of information out for us on the ground, will be playing a lot of things by ear, and may alter the itinerary slightly in places where it becomes necessary. Most trips will have slight or significant changes made to them after this first season, and frankly we would be very surprised if an Exploratory trip was to run perfectly to the published itinerary. Usually we find that this is rarely a problem but rather an exciting feature, that there are much more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, and these Exploratory trips are a fantastic opportunity to shape the trip as a group.

However, the warning is sincere and these trips must be viewed as Exploratory - if this concerns you or you would rather stick to a tried-and-tested itinerary, then we recommend that you wait a year or two until we have this itinerary perfected following operating it many times, or of course to consider one of the more established trips in our extensive portfolio.

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.

We will be travelling to areas in remote locations where medical assistance will not be available. If you have a medical condition such as a heart condition that would put you at risk, we would suggest that this is not the trip for you. Also, please be aware that should an emergency occur, there is likely to be a considerable delay in accessing medical care, and by joining our trip you accept this risk.

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, Dragoman will obtain this on your behalf as part of your trip price - we will contact you to request additional information in order to make this application for you.

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, you may find it beneficial to use a specialist visa agency to assist you with your applications. While this does sometimes increase the cost, it usually makes the process much easier for you. We have a long-running partnership with The Visa Machine, a specialist visa agent who we recommend to help you apply for your visas (especially if you are applying for several countries at the same time).

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. 

Australian, New Zealand, Swiss & Norwegian nationalities require a guarantee letter from Dragoman if applying for a visa in the UK.
Citizens of the EU, Japan, Canada, the USA and a few African countries are exempt from applying for a visa for a stay which does not exceed three months (90 days).

Senegal 

Citizens of all countries will not need a visa to enter Senegal as a tourist for up to 90 days.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).

The Gambia 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and most EU countries will not need a visa to visit The Gambia as a tourist for up to 90 days. Citizens of the USA, France, Spain and Portugal will need a visa, but this can be obtained on arrival at the border. Citizens of South Africa, Slovakia and Ukraine will need a visa and this must be obtained in advance.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Togo

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

The easiest way to obtain the visa will be en route whilst in West Africa, with the help of your tour leader. We have built time into the trip to visit the Togolese Embassy in Accra, Ghana, where we will all visit as a group to put the applications in, then collect the passports in the afternoon and continue with our trip. Please bring 2 passport photos for the application. At the time of writing (2014), the cost was USD85 for all nationalities.

Due to the difficulty and expense of obtaining a Togo visa in many countries, we do not recommend trying to get the visa before travel. However, if you do wish to obtain your Togo visa in advance, please make sure you apply for a Multiple-Entry visa valid for 30 days.

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

Hotel Le Galion,
Rue de Camomilles,

Lome,

Togo
Tel: +228 2222 0030

 

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers upon entering the country.

Guinea 

Citizens of all countries (except West African countries, Egypt and Tanzania) will need a visa to enter Guinea as a tourist for up to 90 days.

You must obtain the visa in advance, and you cannot obtain the visa at the border in any circumstance. You can either apply yourself directly to the embassy, or hire a specialist visa agency to make the application on your behalf (which is recommended, especially if you are applying for several visas).

In an emergency, it has been possible in the past to obtain Guinean visas in 1 day in Accra and Abidjan (for Westbound trips), Dakar (for Eastbound trips) and Freetown (for trips starting in Freetown), however please be aware that the rules on this are notoriously subject to change, so it would be much better to obtain the visa before you travel rather than relying on this.

IMPORTANT NOTE - if you are our trip that starts in Dakar and finishes in Accra (or vice versa), then you must obtain a Double Entry visa to Guinea.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers upon entering the country.

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 a specialist visa agency 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 valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers upon entering the country. If you arrive at Accra Kotoka International Airport without a certificate you will be vaccinated at the airport (at massive expense).

Guinea Bissau

Citizens of all countries (except West African countries) will need a visa to enter Guinea Bissau as a tourist for up to 90 days.

The easiest way to obtain the visa will be en route whilst in West Africa, with the help of your tour leader. On Southbound trips, your crew will visit the Guinea Bissau Consulate in Ziguinchor, Senegal in order to make the application on behalf of everyone in the group; on Northbound trips, your crew will do the same in Conakry, Guinea. This is a simple process which is done in 1 day, please bring 2 passport photos for the application.

At the time of writing (2014), the visa costs are USD80 from the consulate in Conakry or USD40 from Ziguinchor.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers upon entering the country.

Côte d'Ivoire

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

You must obtain the visa in advance, and you cannot obtain the visa at the border in any circumstance. You also must apply directly to your closest Ivorian Embassy or Consulate for this visa, and attend in person to give biometric data. Visas are often only issued 3 months or less before your intended arrival.

For British residents, please go to http://ivorycoast.embassyhomepage.com/ivorycoast-visa-information.htm for information on how to apply for the visa and arrange your appointment. If there is no Ivorian representation in your country (such as Australia or New Zealand), you will often be able to apply for the visa at your nearest French Embassy or Consulate, who are authorised to issue them - you will still need to make an appointment to attend in person. Another option is to obtain the visa at the Ivorian Embassy in Accra, Freetown or Dakar, although you will need to allow at least a week for the visa to be processed in these places.

Wherever you apply, you will need 2 passport photos, an employment letter, a travel itinerary and trip voucher, and a copy of a confirmed hotel reservation - Dragoman will provide this hotel confirmation for you, but we will need to apply for it approximately 3 months in advance of the trip. In order for us to apply, we will need the passport details of everyone in the group in advance – please send this information as soon as possible after booking. We recommend that you wait until you have received this confirmation before making any appointments at the Côte d'Ivoire Embassy.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers upon entering the country. Please note that Côte d’Ivoire also require proof of vaccination for meningitis to be shown at all land borders when entering the country - if you do not have proof, then they will insist on giving you the vaccination at the border at your own cost.

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 was founded in 1981, and has had many years of 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, sometimes 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 between 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 wonderful aspects of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and 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 Cuzco and during the Inca Treks. This means a group starting a trip in Cuzco will embark on the Inca Trail at the same time as a group finishing in or travelling through Cuzco. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Cuzco and on the Inca Trail at the same time.

Please note that there is also 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 a group starting their trip there. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 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 8 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to 6 months on the road as a trainee. Our crew are trained to manage and operate the trip safely and efficiently and their duties include: planning the trip according to the itinerary, driving and maintaining the truck, securing services of local guides, general logistics, health and safety, liaising with bureaucracy, dealing with issues where needed and offering advice and support to our customers. In addition they have a basic knowledge of the places visited and will be able to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your tour leader is new to a particular region or training other crew, new to the area.

On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. However on our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. 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, the Americas, India and Turkey, in addition to our crew we will employ local guides in specific locations of interest (for just a few hours up to a few days).

On the majority of our trips in Central Asia, China and South East Asia, in addition to our crew we will have a local guide on board who will travel with us for the entire duration of our time within one country. In these cases, the local guide becomes a third crew member and is able to offer their local knowledge as well as an insight into their country and the lives of the local people.

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 in hotels or hostels, 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 greatly depending on what options are available at the time; hotels can vary from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to high standard hotels with good facilities! Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share, but in South America many rooms are triple-share. Hostels, gers and yurts are nearly always multi-share.

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. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we wild camp away from the tourist crowds. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays allowing us to get close to the indigenous population and ensuring that our money stays within the local community.

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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 whilst staying in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park or historical site entrances, excursions, etc.).

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). Alternatively you can pay in advance via a bank transfer 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip - please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v6.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip. Please also note that this option is not available for our trips to West Africa or Iran.

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (usually in US Dollars). 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 impossible to change around the world, with passengers and our leaders having experienced frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change them. For this reason we cannot accept traveller's cheques on our trips.

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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, the 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 group's 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 using 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 them to 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, that you would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring this 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 developed and published with the best of intentions, however 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 many years of experience.

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advice 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 advice rather than the advice 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. If there are any travel warnings present for the region you will travel to, as well as considering whether you are happy to travel despite the warning you must also check to ensure that it is not 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

Some areas that we travel to have a risk of contracting malaria. If you will travel through these areas, it's always best to get expert advice before travelling about the types of malaria pills available, whether they are recommended, and take any that are prescribed as instructed. Consult your GP or travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika are continuing to spread and are becoming a bigger problem around the world. Mosquito bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases, as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available. Health professionals have issued warnings for pregnant women travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus - please see more information here.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn, 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 your windows, tent door, etc. and use a mosquito net in hotels or if sleeping outside where there are mosquitos present. 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 protections vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest specific health advice on the regions and countries you are planning to travel in, so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel. The following websites are also a helpful resource: www.nathnac.org and 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.

Of course 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, a door, 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 and driving styles may be very unpredictable, so please remain very vigilant when near roads and vehicles.

• 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 if possible.

• 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, have dangerous gaps between the stairs and the wall, 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.

• 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 away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.

Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group the tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

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

• Ensure the cooking area is well away from the tents.

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

• Ensure any soil toilets are a minimum of 50m away from the tents and the cooking area.

• All food waste should be burned or buried a minimum of 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife in the area.

• 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

• 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.

• 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 a reality of life in these regions. Therefore please think carefully about where you eat, 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. 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.

• Always remain aware and vigilant, and stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Always avoid carrying your passport, driving licence, air tickets, and other valuable items around with you unless this is essential. Instead, keep valuables such as this locked away in the truck's safe, or the safety deposit box in the room or reception of the hotel/hostel.

• If you are carrying cash, cards or valuables, use a money belt or neck wallet which are more easily concealed and more difficult to pickpocket.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery, watches, etc. away with you in the first place.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

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

• Always try to walk with confidence and purpose, which will help you avoid looking like a lost tourist!

• Take special care when walking to avoid spraining or twisting your ankle on potholes, cobbles and uneven ground. 

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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 (e.g. hiking the Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas, visiting the Taj Mahal, etc.), whilst others are optional (e.g. white water rafting in Uganda, zip-lining in Costa Rica, etc.). Some of these activities 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 and its activities to their fullest.

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

Always ensure that your travel medical insurance covers you for all included and optional activities that you wish to participate in.

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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 list is designed to be a helpful guide as to what is commonly available in each location, and is neither an exhaustive list, a guarantee that the activity is available, or an endorsement or recommendation. Please note that certain activities may not be available on your particular visit if they are overbooked, underbooked, out of season, or for any other reason - the list of activities is made according to our latest information and in the best faith, but please be aware that things may change between our last visit and your arrival. Please also note that it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, and it is recommended to give yourself extra time in your joining or ending city if you would like to participate in some optional activities there. 

Prices listed are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated - again, these prices are displayed according to our latest information and in the best faith, but prices do fluctuate due to exchange rates, season, numbers of participants, and simple increases from the operator - any prices listed are a guide only and certainly cannot be guaranteed. 

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 £2,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000 (or the full cost of your trip). 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, tablets, phones, ipods, etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss. Please note that you should be insured for trip postponment or cancellation purposes immediately upon paying a deposit.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity that you intend to undertake (whether included or optional). As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding, etc., 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. Many credit card medical insurance policies are not valid for travelling outside your country of residence or outside the EU.

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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 your home country to start the trip 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) 7985 106564

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Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag for 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 truck's back locker which will be inaccessible during a drive day, 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 a large rucksack with a capacity of about 80 litres (approximately 70cm high, 40cm wide, and 40cm deep). 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, 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.

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

• Sleeping bag* - check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert, mountain and high-altitude regions and Patagonia can be very cold, especially in winter months.

• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides) - this will help keep your sleeping bag clean, provide extra insulation on cold nights, 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. Men should bring a pair of trousers that covers al their legs and 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, Patagonia 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 and washing line (just a length of cord).

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs - only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5V batteries are widely available en route.

• Passport photos - at least 4, and more if you are applying for visas en route.

• Good water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity.

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

• Alarm clock.

• Pocket calculator - useful when exchanging money.

• Writing materials and 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 Wipes" (moistened tissues) and hand gel.

• Toilet paper - this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route, but one roll may be worth packing.

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

• Extra batteries for your camera, etc., as there may are only limited opportunities to recharge them en route.

For a comprehensive kit list, take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. Dragoman customers can receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click here to see the kit list - 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 standard motorist's first aid kit on board for use in emergency situations only. The first aid kit is in compliance with UK standards for first aid provision within motor vehicles, and contain supplies to treat road side injuries. We do not carry prescription medications, 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 travel medical kits. They have been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contain everything you would need for any minor incidents and health issues. For more details please visit their website:

Overlander kit (including painkillers) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2910/Overlander-Medical-Kit-(P)

Independent kit (including painkillers and antibiotics) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2909/Independent-Medical-Kit-(POM)

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Passports

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of your 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 your trip. If you change your passport, please remember to inform us as soon as possible - however, please be aware that changing your passport can cause big problems if you need to apply for visas or permits (such as the Inca Trail or Gorilla Trekking) in advance.

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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 you're on one of our trips and decide that you would like to continue with us, 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 from the link below:

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 the bottle, 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 on 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 usually equipped with a 12-Volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12V 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 adapter for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850 MHz 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.

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, as well as other presence on other social media platforms.

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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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