UPDATE, July 30, 2016: Uganda now issues E-Visas, but visas can still be obtained on arrival. Meanwhile, the cost of single-entry visa has been reduced back to 50 USD, For latest information, it is recommended to visit the Brad Uganda update blog.
Following neighboring countries Kenya and Rwanda, Uganda is now set to introduce online visa application. It was to be effective since June 1, 2016, but has now been delayed indefinitely. Once the e-visa system is up and running, visa on arrival is expected to be scrapped altogether (though, as a precedent, this has never materialised in Kenya).
Jovago.com is a relatively new hotel booking machine, launched in Nigeria in 2013. Despite its short history, it is already considered a leading online booking service in much of Africa. While Africa-centered, Jovago has listings worldwide (probably through other booking machines). Their primary markets are in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in some Asian countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. Jovago.com has already gained popularity among locals, but few western tourists have heard of it yet. Anyone travelling in Africa, especially those on budget, should make use of the service.
Those of us used to travelling in Africa are likely to have seen trucks full of (usually) western tourists. That’s a fairly popular way of getting around Africa. Typical to overland truck tours is:
- Trucks specifically fitted to sustain rough roads and carry passenger, equipment and luggage
- Tours may last weeks, sometimes even months
- Tours cover more than one country
- Tours end at a different place (and country) than the starting point
- Many tours are planned to minimise costs (e.g. camping)
Most overland tours take place in Southern Africa. East Africa is another hotspot. A few operators offer tours also in Northern or Western Africa. The most popular route is arguably from Cape Town via Namibia and Botswana to Victoria falls, this itinerary takes usually around 20 days.
Update January 2017: Univisa issued again
Last year we wrote about KAZA UniVisa, the tourist visa that allows tourists to visit both Zambia and Zimbabwe, mainly targeting those visiting Victoria Falls. In bad news, the issuing of UniVisa has been suspended, at least temporarily. There has been no official statement by either country, the issuing of UniVisa was stopped after UniVisa stickers ran out, first in Zambia, then in Zimbabwe. No information is available whether the visa will be reinstated.
Kenya tourism industry has been hit hard last couple of years due to security fears following a series of terrorist attacks. The situation has improved since, and UK and US have lifted most of their travel warnings to Kenya. Recent high profile visits by Barack Obama and the Pope have further helped in restoring confidence in Kenya as a safe destination. To boost renewed interest in Kenyan tourism, the Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta announced lower National Park fees, and waiving of visa fees for visitors under 16.
Lonely Planet, best known for large selection of travel guide books, has released its “Best in Travel in 2016” lists. Botswana was named the number one country to be visited. This is a great recognition to Botswana that has steadily improved its popularity among tourists over years.
Botswana businesses and industries, driven by mining, concentrate in southwestern parts of the country. In contrast, major tourist attractions – game parks and Okavango Delta – are mostly located in northern Botswana. Maun is the local tourism capital. It is a relatively small town, without much to do in itself, but is considerably more pleasant than big congested cities in other countries. Another small touristy town is Kasane, in the northeastern corner of the country. Both towns are connected to Johannesburg by direct flights.
The topic question is what I hear too often when trying to buy something while travelling abroad. So I have only big notes for a purchase of minimal price. What I pay with cash is drinks, snacks, small meals, bus rides, tips or other minor payments. Bigger payments like flights and hotel nights are usually paid by credit cards. Paying with large notes also eats my credibility as a budget traveller. Imagine, for instance, haggling hard for a cheap taxi ride only to hand over a large note hoping he got enough change.
This article provides some recommendations how to stay safe while travelling. These tips are useful regardless of the destination, but especially when travelling to those countries where security risks are the most.
The World Economic Forum has published the 2015 edition of its biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report. The ranking is dominated by western countries, the top three positions are taken by Spain, France and Germany. The best African country is South Africa, 48th, thus just making the top-50. Seychelles, Mauritius and Namibia are the only other African countries reaching the upper half of the table (TOP 70). Instead, the bottom 25 has 19 African countries, and that includes Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique that are actually fairly popular with tourists. The last place (141) is taken by Chad.
Ethiopian Airlines is an unlikely success story of African aviation industry. There are very few profitable airlines in Africa but Ethiopian Airlines has managed to operate profitably for years. At the same time self-proclaimed “Pride of Africa”, Kenya Airways may go under any date, while South African Airways is kept flying only by government subsidies. With a growing fleet size of about 75 aircraft and the destination count now over 100, Ethiopian is one of the largest airlines of the continent. The airline has grown steadily since it was founded in 1945, turning 70 years this December. Despite being wholly government owned, the airline has been spared of unnecessary political disturbance, even during less stable times Ethiopia has endured over the decades. The airline even bought American aircraft during the 80’s communist regime.