Music & Magic Of Mali (ZBB)

Bamako to Bamako 14 days, departing 16 Sep 2012

Ratings for this trip

Comfort Zone: Basic / Adventurous

Basic comfort levels. Expect to rough it every now and again. On OVERLAND TRIPS be prepared to have some nights wild camping, campsites with basic facilities as well as some basic hotels, often on a multi-share basis. Some of the roads we travel along may be poor. On our ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS you will stay in simple, budget (1-2 star) accommodation with some shared facilities. Some accommodation may be on a multi-share basis and transport will be mainly local.

Physical Challenge: Moderate Fitness

MODERATE FITNESS: You will travel through areas that may be physically challenging. For example you may be at altitude some of the time. Depending on the trip, activities may include treks of 3-4 hours across hilly terrain, horse-riding and other adventurous activities. A moderate level of fitness is required.

Countries Visited

Mali

Of all the countries that we visit in West Africa, historically by far the most interesting is Mali. Its great empires, trading towns, and its spectacular river, the Niger, make this country a fascinating place to visit. Mali is fast becoming the centre for tourism in West Africa, but for the traveller it is thankfully still light years behind East Africa in tourist development. There is so much to see and do in this fabulous destination. Its diverse people will be for some people the most interesting aspect of Mali

Visitors to West Africa soon see how important music is to the region. The harp sounds of the 21 stringed instrument of the Kora is exclusive to Mali and West Africa. From the middle of the 20th century, guitars became more popular and influenced by dances from Europe were a great form of entertainment. From the 1960's, the influence of Cuban music becan to rise. Music is important to the people of Mali as is cuisine. Many dishes in Mali contain rice as it is popular and in a high proportion of meals. The salads are beautifully delicate and the Insalata Caprese salad combines the tastes of tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil and black pepper which adds to the colourful effect Mali has to offer. The wildlife of Mali is just as colourful. With over 700 species of mammals and birds, the natural world seems endless. Explore across the land and you will discover the habitats of some of the most fantastic animals in the world.

Visit Mali, as West Africa's lost treasure, is ready to be discovered.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Bamako

Sun 16 Sep 2012

Today is an arrival day with a pre departure meeting at 18:00hrs. In the evening we will have the chance to sample Bamako's vibrant night life. We will camp for the night in a hostel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: The Sleeping Camel

The Sleeping Camel

Rue 25, Porte 80

Badalabougou Est

Bamako

+223 78175365

Bamako

Bamako, the capital of Mali, is a colourful, lively city, home to some of West Africa's finest musical talent. Over the years Mali has produced some of West Africa's finest musicians and has a long tradition of tribal music. Today the traditional has fused with the modern and Malian music has become popular all over the world. The clubs of Bamako are a hub for local musicians including some of the most famous such as Salif Kita. If you are lucky one of the greats may be playing when you visit. There are also some interesting museums to explore, infact the National Museum is probably one of the best small museums in West Africa, with some fascinating exhibits relating to Mali's various ethnic groups, including wooden masks, carvings, contemporary marionettes and ancient textiles. The markets are also well worth a look, few tourists head out as far as the Medina so if you want to experience the "real" Mali, it's definitely a good place to start.

 

Day 2: Segou

Mon 17 Sep 2012

Today we will drive 240kms to Segou where we will take a boat trip out to visit local villages and spend the night camping.

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat Trip To Local Villages

Included in Kitty

Segou

The modern city of Segou has a charming and laid back place with a stunning setting on the banks of the Niger River. Definitely worth exploring is the town's fabulous market, which is excellent for buying some of the beautifu materials and batiks that are made here. One of the most popular things to do here is to take a boat trip up or down the Niger River. You can travel either by dugout pirogues or on one of the larger motorised pinnasses, often stopping off at  one of the local villages where mud cloth. Like many places in Mali, Segou also has a vibrant music and arts scene and every February it hosts the amazing Festival of the Niger, but you can catch local musicians playing in local bars and nightclubs all year round.

Day 3: Bandiagara

Tue 18 Sep 2012

A full day overland takes us to Bandiagara where we camp for the night and enjoy a drumming performance by local musicians

Activity Approximate Cost

Excellent evening of wild Malian music in Bandiagara

Included in Kitty

Bandiagara

Bandiagara is a small, dusty town on the edge of the Dogon territory in Mali. At its heart is the local market, this is one of the few places where mainstream West Africans meet the otherwise isolated Dogon tribespeople. You will also find several shops selling Dogon artefacts.

From Bandiagara it's possible to trek into the hinterland of Dogon country to visit the home of the Dogon tribespeople. This particular tribe has inhabited this area since 500 BC and their civilisation has survived intact until the present day, withstanding strong cultural influences of the Malian, Songhai and Segou empires of Islam, not to mention French colonialism.The Dogon moved into the mountainous Bandiagara Escarpment when threatened by Islam, fully prepared to ferociously defended their unique culture. On Dragoman trips we trek around the escarpment from village to village, getting an insight into the lives and customs of these unique people. We stay overnight with local families, camping on the flat rooves of their houses and in one of the villages the locals organise a traditional ritual mask dance for us.

Day 4 to 6: Bandiagara, Sevare

Wed 19 Sep to Fri 21 Sep 2012

This morning we head visit Songho to see the rock paintings before beginning a 3 day trek into Dogon country along the Bandiagara escarpment. We will enjoy an incredible mask dance on the 1st evening and camp each evening after trekking. On the final we stay in Sevare for the night. For many this section is the highlight of the whole trip.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights / 3 day trek through the Dogon tribal region on the Bandiagara Escarpment staying in homestays in small Dogon villages

Included in Kitty

Witness the masked dance and hear the rhythms of Dogon music

Included in Kitty

Day 7: Mopti, Niger River Pinasse Trip from Mopti to Djenne

Sat 22 Sep 2012

A short 20kms drive brings us to Mopti for a look around the village before we board a pinasse for an overnight journey down river to Djenne. En route we will visit Fulani and Bozo villages and camp the night on the banks of the river.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight pinasse trip from Mopti to Djenne

Included in Kitty

Mopti

Mopti is sometimes described as the ‘Venice of Mali’, built on three islands at the confluence of the Niger and Bani rivers. The best way to get there is to travel by river boat from Djeene, a unique overnight journey down the Niger River on local motorised pinasses. These boats are very large, elongated motorised canoes with a sunshade to protect the occupants from the heat. Travelling by boat is fascinating because life takes place along the banks of the river here, the Niger is a lifeline that runs through an otherwise desolate desert. The roads in the areas are slo poor, so travelling by boat is the best way to get around. Life is rather basic on board the boat, but that is more than made up for by the journey itself. It is not for the faint hearted, but for those with a spirit of adventure it is an incredible journey.

 

 

 The moment we arrive the local grapevine is alerted and traders descend displaying ornate swords, carvings and jewellery boxes. We are sure to see Fulani women, wearing enormous golden earrings to display their wealth. There is also the chance to explore the culture of the local villages.

Niger River Pinasse Trip from Mopti to Djenne

From Mopti, we organise one of the world's most unique river boat journeys, an overnight trip down the Niger River on local motorised pinasse boats. These boats are very large, elongated motorised canoes with a sunshade to protect the occupants from the heat. We will have to provision the boat for the expedition and you will moor up and sleep on the banks of the Niger. The journey is an amazing trip down a river that breathes life into an otherwise desolate desert. You will travel through the area where the river becomes an inland delta. Although we will generally hire our own boat, these vessels are used by the local people as the main trade route. The roads in the areas are poor, and much of the trade passes along the river. We will stop along the way, visiting local markets and villages. Life will be rather basic on board the boats, but that is more than made up for by the journey itself. It is not for the faint hearted, but for those with a spirit of adventure this is an incredible journey.

Day 8: Djenne

Sun 23 Sep 2012

Our river journey ends and brings us to Djenne where we camp on the roof of an auberge

Activity Approximate Cost

Two night stay in the town of Djenne

Included in Kitty

City Tour

USD 3

Djenne

Djenne is the oldest and most impressive of the Saharan trading towns. It was the capital of the Soninke Kingdom in the eleventh century and by the 1200's it had become a very wealthy city, trading in gold, ivory, spices, arts, woods, etc. In 1325 the city was conquered by the Malian Kingdom and later by the Songhai Empire. Trade flourished between Djenne and Timbuktu, the Songhai capital, until the Moors and Moroccans finally destroyed the Songhai, after which Djenne remained in Moroccan hands until the eighteenth Century, when the town gradually went into decline. Once a week, on Monday morning, Djenne explodes into colour, with its bustling market thronged with a mixture of tribespeople each wearing their own distincitve brightly coloured robes. The famous great mud mosque dominates the city and the market place is still a turmoil of yelling, laughing, haggling, dealers and customers jostling one another.

Day 9: Djenne

Mon 24 Sep 2012

This morning we have the chance to explore the famous Monday morning market at Djenne, one of the 'must sees' of any West African trip. In the afternoon we will journey out to a Fulani village before we return for the night to camp again in Djenne.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the Djenne Monday market and vast mud mosque

Included in Kitty

Horse drawn visit to Fulani village tours near Djenne

Included in Kitty

Day 10 to 11: Bani River Eco-campsite

Tue 25 Sep to Wed 26 Sep 2012

Today we drive 250kms to the banks of the Bani river where we stay for 2 nights at a beautiful eco-tourism campsite with great facilities. Here we will experience more Malian music and dance with various optional activities available.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit a stunning eco-campsite on the banks of the Bani river

Included in Kitty

Enjoy an evening of dance from Ouassasso Bambaman masks

Included in Kitty

Visit N'goron, a Somono fishing village

USD 5

Bani River Eco-campsite

On the banks of the Bani lies a wonderful campsite, founded in the 1960's by Father Bernard Vespieren, a missionary converted to assist rural development and a bambara fisherman, Lamine Samake.

From the friendship of the two men, a multitude of projects were created with and for the disadvantaged population through the Association for Rural Development (AEDR) and Mali Aqua Viva.

Our campsite is the headquarter and the visual display of the AEDR. It is an oasis in the middle of the bush surrounded by 200,000 eucalyptus, orchards, fisheries, a village with its school, its dispensary and a population of 500 people; a centre for the use of renewable energy aimed to promote solar energy and biogas, a model farm well equipped, employing over 50 families, and a centre for solidarity tourism with infrastructures of an outstanding quality.

The campsite is the perfect place to have a drink and enjoy the sunset over the river. Right in the middle of the hotel ground, a large swimming pool and lounge chairs await you, giving you the chances to relax and cool down after the visits of the many great tourist spots.

The orchards of the campsite are a great place to wander amidst eucalyptus plantations, dozens different species of trees (mango tree, frangipani tree, kapokiers, flamboyants, rôniers, palm trees, date palms, coconut trees, arbres du voyageur...) and to go bird watching (cranes, peacocks, coucals, bee-eaters, kingfishers, parakeets, rollers...) or observe the wild animals (monkeys, caiman, gazelles...) which populate the areas.

Day 12: Segou

Thu 27 Sep 2012

A 100km drive brings us to Segou once more which offers a great chance to explore more of this wonderful town.

Day 13 to 14: Bamako

Fri 28 Sep to Sat 29 Sep 2012

Today we drive 240kms back to Bamako where we visit a fantastic community project which we support then in the evening you have a chance to enjoy the capital's vibrant Friday night life before saying farewell to your fellow travellers the following morning when the trip ends. We camp for the night at the same location as the trip began.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the amazing nightclubs of Bamako, West Africa's finest.

Included in Kitty

Visit N'goron, a Somono fishing village

USD 5

Return to Bamako for a last blast of African sounds

Included in Kitty

Visa Information:

Important Notes

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

 

We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic 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, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation for West Africa Itineraries

Roads in these parts of Africa can be very rough, which makes for long bumpy travel days. You may be travelling across deserts, through jungles and through wild Africa savannah lands... It is however all worth it for the spectacular scenery and for travelling through regions that very few other westerners go (OK, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman perhaps, but we were there first)! 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. There will be plenty of nice surprises along the way! Lastly, the step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp.

Visa Information

Most countries we visit on our travels will require visas. 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 be aware though that rules do change, often without prior warning, which is why it is important that you check for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you can choose to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate.  However, our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible.  Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply.  ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application, thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process.  This should apply for ALL nationalities and countries of residence.

As you will 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. However if you do need to travel in this period please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you work out the options for your visa application process. 

Mali

The visa needs to be obtained in advance.

If you are flying directly into Mali, a visa can be obtained through our agent in Mali by emailing a copy of your passport through to your sales consultant. Our agent will then obtain a visa on your behalf and email back a confirmation reference which is sufficient for you to be allowed on a flight to Mali. The proper visa can then be placed in your passport upon arrival in Bamako.

Alternatively, if applying for your visa in your country of residence you are likely to require a Letter of Guarantee which can be requested from our sales consultant. Contact details in Mali may also be required to obtain the visa. Our joining hotel there is as follows:

The Sleeping Camel

Rue 25. Porte 80

Badalabougou Est

Bamako

Mali

Personal Spending

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on this trip, we recommend you allow between a minimum of US$10 and a maximum of US$20 per day.

This will covers expenses such as your optional activities, drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips and personal permits.

What else you need to know

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 your 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 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.

Accommodation on tour

Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip, in accommodation ranging from twin to multi-share. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities. 

Group size?

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

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

Who travels with Dragoman?

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

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 catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories 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 - you can join here

Our crew and guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips two western crew who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation will accompany you. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. On trips South of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. 

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew.

Your tour leader has a duty of care to all of their passengers and therefore they have the authority to ask passengers to leave the trip if they require medical assistance, 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.

Health

All Dragoman travellers 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 assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude them 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. 

For trips that travel to areas of high altitude we also require all travellers to complete an altitude questionnaire. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases customers 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. 

 

Vaccinations

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

 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. Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

A good source of up to date information is the world Health Organisation - http://www.who.int/en/

Malaria

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

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wear long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping out, use a mosquito net. Wear repellent applied directly to the skin or soaked into 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, in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

Meals and group participation

On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger - you're part of the crew. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc.

While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. 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.

Responsible tourism

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

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 customers.  It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special.  The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children.  Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. 

 We expect all our customers 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.

Safety and security

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

Please note: Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.

The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of 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 31 years of experience

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougoThis website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip.

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. You should always make yourself aware of the travel advice before you book and again before you travel. Below are links to some of the websites

Britain. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country

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 comprehensive passenger liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £3,000,000 and £10,000,000 respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

Emergency contact

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

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

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564.

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.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. 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. We recommend that any policy has the following minimum levels of cover: Medical (incl. repatriation) £5,000,000 Personal Liability £5,000,000 Cancellation and Curtailment £5,000 Loss of Baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice.

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.

Passports

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

Luggage & Kit List

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a comprehensive kit lists take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel have created.  Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list

Water

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

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

Personal medical kit

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

nomadtravel.co.uk/catalog/view/dragoman-medical-kit

Electrical equipment

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

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

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. The kitty is payable in instalments 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 & kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

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

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility & 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 & 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.

At least half of your kitty should be paid in cash in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars or Euros in West Africa). The outstanding amount can be paid in local currency during your trip; your leader will give you the exchange rate.  Most of our travellers choose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.

Continuing your trip

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

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 should be prepared to contribute towards the costs 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.

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 USD10 to USD15 per person.

Currencies & Cash

Euros not Dollars - In North and West Africa (Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon) we use Euros and not US Dollars. 

In term of local money 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 dated from 2003 or later. 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, MasterCard 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 a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over $50.