|Route:||Accra to Accra|
|Transport:||Overland expedition vehicle, Pirogue (dugout canoe)|
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!
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!
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.
Border information: if you are joining in Accra, then you will most likely enter Ghana at Accra Kotoka International Airport (IATA code: ACC).
There will be an important group meeting at 10:00am at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport, visas, and insurance details at this meeting.
The afternoon will be free to explore the city of Accra.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Accra before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Accra.
In Accra we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Niagara Plus Hotel
14th Lane (Behind Koala Osu)
Tel - +233 21 772404
Please note that in Accra there are 3 Niagara hotels: Niagara Hotel, Niagara Inn and Niagara Plus Hotel. The Niagara Plus is located in an area of Accra known as Osu, and this is where our groups stay.
Visit the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, dedicated to the founding father of independent Ghana
Learn all about the history and culture of Ghana in the National Museum
Visit the famous Labadi Beach situated on the outskirts of Accra
Freely explore the huge Independence Square and Black Star Arch in Accra, where independence was celebrated in 1957
Freely explore the area of Jamestown, Accra's oldest district and a vibrant fishing area
Visit the outside of the famous Osu Castle, the seat of power in Ghana since the 1600s
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.
This morning, we will apply for Togo visas at the Togolese Embassy in Accra. Once they are issued, we will leave Accra and head north to the village of Akosombo.
In Akosombo we will stay in a campsite next to the River Volta.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
The small town of Akosombo lies on the serene banks of Lake Volta, one of the world's largest artificially-created lakes. It was formed in the 1960s after the construction of the nearby Aksombo Dam, which supplies around 70% of the country's electricity demands.
Today we will have an included visit to the nearby Akosombo Dam, a major project built in the 1960s to provide almost all of Ghana's energy needs. The rest of the day will be free to relax at our campsite in Akosombo.
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
|Included in Kitty|
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.
Border information: Exit Ghana at Klouto, enter Togo at Klouto.
Today we will have a full day's drive to the spectacular Mont Klouto, crossing the border into Togo.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
In Mont Klouto we will stay in a campsite, with the option to upgrade to dorm accommodation.
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.
Today we will have a free day around the beautiful Mont Klouto region, with the opportunity to head out on optional forest walks or to visit Kpalimé town nearby.
In the evening, we will head to the village centre to see a spectacular show of drumming and dancing from the local villagers.
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
Over the next 3 days we will drive up the length of Togo, all the way through the remote northern border with Benin. We will wild camp for 2 nights en route.
Estimated Drive Times - 8-9 hours each day.
Border information: Exit Togo at Ketao, enter Benin at Ouaké.
Today we will cross the border into Benin, before continuing our journey to the Tata Somba region close to the town of Tanguiéta.
In Tanguiéta we will stay in a basic local eco-lodge.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
The Somba people (also known as the Tammari people) are an Oti-Volta-speaking people in the far north of Benin and Togo. They are famous for their two-storey fortified houses, known as Tata Somba ("Somba house"). The ground floor is used for housing livestock at night, internal alcoves are used for cooking, and the upper floor contains a rooftop courtyard and is used for drying and storing grain as well as sleeping quarters. These evolved by adding an enclosing roof to the clusters of huts joined by a connecting wall that are typical of Gur-speaking areas of West Africa.
This morning we will go on an included walking tour of the nearby Tata Somba villages with some of the local villagers. This is a fascinating visit to an area rarely visited by tourists, where we will learn a lot about the local traditional way of life and explore the famous two-storey mud huts of the area.
In the afternoon, there is the option to walk through the stunning area to some nearby waterfalls.
Go on a guided tour of the Tata Somba villages of northern Benin, learning about the traditional culture and way of life and visiting their incredible 2-storey 'mud castle' homes
|Included in Kitty|
Head out on a guided walk through the beautiful scenery in the hills of the Tata Somba region to visit some local waterfalls
From the Tata Somba region we have a short journey north to the beautiful Pendjari National Park.
We will stay for two nights wild camping in the National Park, where we will have freedom to explore and head out on game drives in the truck in search of wildlife.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours to the park, then as much time as required on game drives.
Visit the stunning landscapes of Pendjari National Park, famous for being one of the best wildlife reserves in West Africa
|Included in Kitty|
The Pendjari National Park is situated in north western Benin, adjoining the Arli National Park in Burkina Faso. The park is named after the Pendjari River and is known for its wildlife. It is home to some of the last populations of big game in West Africa, and if you're very lucky you may spot elephants, hippopotamuses, buffalo, baboons, various antelopes, and even West African lions! Even if you're not lucky enough to spot some of the larger wildlife here, the park is also famous for its richness in birdlife and it is one of the most scenic areas of West Africa.
Today we have a full day's drive heading south through Benin. We will wild camp somewhere en route between the towns of Natitingou and Abomey.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
Our journey today continues to Abomey, the ancient capital of the Dahomey kingdom. On arrival we will take an included tour of the Dahomey Palace and Museum.
In Abomey we will stay in a campsite, with the possibility to upgrade to rooms.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
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|
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.
This morning we will drive to Abomey-Calavi (a port on the outskirts of Cotonou), where we say goodbye to the truck for the night and jump aboard motorised pirogues to Ganvie, a fascinating town built entirely on stilts in the middle of Lake Nokoué.
In Ganvie we will stay in a basic hotel in the stilt village itself!
Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.
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.
Today we will start with an included tour of the stilt town of Ganvie, exploring deeper on our pirogues and soaking up the unique way of life in the floating village. Following this, we will head back to land to re-join the truck and drive along the coastal road to Ouidah, where we may hopefully see many of the local fishermen bringing their catch in.
In Ouidah we will camp at an auberge on the beach.
Estimated Drive Time - 1-3 hours.
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
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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.
Today we will take a very interesting half-day tour of the sites in Ouidah, including the Voodoo Python Temple, the "Route des Esclaves" (Slave Route), La Maison du Brésil art gallery and the Ouidah Museum of History in the old Portuguese Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá.
After this, a short drive from Ouidah brings us to Grand Popo, where we have 2 nights of well deserved relaxation on the beaches!
In Grand Popo we will camp at an auberge.
Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours.
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
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See the Vodun Temple of Pythons in Ouidah, dedicated to the voodoo snake diety Dangbe and home to hundreds of revered pythons!
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Visit the Point of No Return, the UNESCO-built memorial to the thousands of slaves that last departed Africa at that point - there is also the option to walk the 4km route from the fort to this point, known as the Slave Route
|Included in Kitty|
Visit La Maison du Brésil, an excellent exhibition of modern scuplture, paintings and photos, as well as a museum of voodoo culture and objects related to the African diaspora
|Included in Kitty|
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.
Today we will have a free day at Grand Popo for relaxing on the beach or taking a pirogue trip around the nearby ocean and mangroves.
There is also an option this evening to visit an incredible local vodun (voodoo) ceremony in the nearby village, complete with very energetic dancing and incredible magic tricks! It may also be possible to take a night walk in search of Atlantic turtles, which lay their eggs on the beaches between November and March.
Relax on Benin's Grand Popo Atlantic beaches, meeting the local fishermen and soaking up the ambience of the coast
Observe a local voodoo celebration in the nearby village of Grand Popo, watch the hypnotic drumming and dancing of the 'Nightwatchman', and see some mind-blowing black magic!
Explore the rivers, mangroves and villages of Grand Popo on a pirogue trip around the local area
Head out at night to walk to the remote beaches where Atlantic Green Turtles are often seen laying their eggs between Novermber and March (please note that sightings of turtles are not guaranteed, and the chances of seeing them are more like 50-50!)
Border information: Exit Benin and re-enter Togo at Hilla-Condji.
Leaving the beach behind, our journey continues over the border from Benin and back into Togo. We will head to the small quiet town of Agbodrafo on the southern shores of Lake Togo.
This afternoon we will take an included pirogue trip to Togoville, the centre of Vodun culture, where you will have a guided city tour and church visit.
In Agbodrafo we will camp in the grounds of an auberge on the lake shore.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
Relax on the beach of the stunning Lac Togo at Agbodrafo
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|
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.
Border information: exit Togo at Lomé, enter Ghana at Aflao.
Today we will cross back into Ghana and head for Keta, where we will visit the very atmospheric and evocative ruins of the abondoned Fort Prinzenstein, built by the Danes 300 years ago as a transit point for transporting slaves to the Americas.
In Keta we will stay in a small local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Visit the ruins of the small Danish slave fort of Fort Prinzenstein, and take in its haunting and moving atmosphere
|Included in Kitty|
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.
The final drive of this trip takes us back to Accra, the chaotic capital of Ghana!
In Accra we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Border information: if you are leaving in Accra, you will most likely exit Ghana at Accra Kotoka International Airport (IATA code: ACC).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Accra. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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,
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).
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,
Tel: +228 2222 0030
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers upon entering the country.
Citizens of all countries (except West African countries and South Africa) will need a visa to enter Benin 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 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).
It is also possible for most nationalities to obtain a visa in the Benin Consulate in Accra, Ghana, which may be a good option for those arriving early to Accra - this takes between 1-3 working days to process, but please note that there may be additional charges in order to get an express visa in Accra.
If you are asked to provide an address in Benin on your visa form, please use the address below:
Tel: +229 2250 0168
#A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission.
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.
Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on our trips in all of Africa, we recommend you allow between USD10 and USD20 per day.
This will cover individual expenses such as drinks, meals whilst out (when staying in cities), souvenirs, tips and personal permits.
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.
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.
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 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 most other areas 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 Ethiopia, Sudan, 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.
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. 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 when staying in hostels, gers or yurts.
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 single sex, twin-share, but in South America many rooms are triple/quad-share. Hostels, gers and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex.
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.
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 unique to overlanding and 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 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.
We cannot accept traveller's cheques on our trips.
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.
If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and tell 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.
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.
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:
Australia - http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
New Zealand - http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
United States - https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html
We also recommend that you check out the UK Travel Aware website before you travel at https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up-to-date country information to help you plan a safe trip.
We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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. The roof hatches can only be opened and the roof seats used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in the roof seats without seat belts.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We have an out of office hours number you can call 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 you can not get through please leave a message with you name, reference number, contact details and a message with the help that you need and we will get back to you.
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.
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. 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.
• 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.