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Travel Documents for Africaby Dalene Ingham-Brown

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When packing your luggage for an overland trip, the rule of thumb is to pack light, however, when it comes to documentation, you can never be too prepared. Without packing the essential travel documents you may find yourself reaching for those emergency contact details because you may have to cancel your trip.

documentation-in-africa
Photo by Ove Tøpfer

What documents to pack on an overland trip to Africa:

1.  Visa
A valid visa grants you permission to enter a country, meaning you’ll need one depending on what country you are from and where you are travelling to. It’s best to check, nay DOUBLE-check, each country’s immigration information to see if you can acquire a visa on arrival or if you need to get one before you leave your home country. Check out the African visa guidelines and be sure to confirm information with your travel consultant in case of industry updates.

2.  Passport
Make sure you are carrying a valid passport with you at all times… one with enough clear pages for all the stamps you’ll be collecting along the journey. No passport, no pass.

3.  Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance is extremely important. Don’t travel without it! When overlanding in Africa you will be visiting remote areas and may be embarking on adventure activities. If something goes wrong and you need to be air lifted, the last thing you want to hear is “You didn’t take travel insurance? Oh dear, you stay here and pray while I go find a tourniquet”. Travel advice of the decade: Insure. Insure. Insure.

4.  Money
Regarding money, most African countries accept USD, EUR, GBP and Namibia and South Africa largely accept South African Rand. Remote areas in Africa only accept cash and do not have credit card facilities so it is a good idea to carry cash with you. If you are worried about carrying cash on you, opt for traveller’s cheques. If traveller’s cheques are lost or stolen they can be replaced if you still have the receipt issued to you when you bought them.

5.  Vaccination Documents
For some areas, vaccinations for malaria and Yellow Fever are essential. Make sure you are aware of any risks and get all required vaccinations before travelling. Once you have received your vaccinations for an area, you will receive a vaccination certificate which you will need to carry with you on your journey through Africa. It’s a good idea to write a list of your allergies in your vaccination certificate booklet so that in the unlikely event of you not being able to speak for yourself, your booklet will offer your medical information and requirements. Read more about health and safety tips for visitors to Africa.

6.  Contact Numbers
When travelling, you should keep the telephone number of your travel consultant with you. This is just a safety net, so that if you get sick, lost or need to make new bookings while in another country, your travel consultant will be able to help you with advice and resources to get you out of a pickle.

7.  Copies
So you’ve packed your visa, passport, travel insurance, traveller’s cheques, vaccination certificate booklet and contact numbers. Now make sure that you have certified copies of these documents made. One set to leave at home and one set to take with you on your journey. Just in case. So now that you know what documentation to pack on a trip to Africa, its time to browse through a selection of African overland trips and pick your adventure.

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