IMPORTANT TIPS & GOOD READING FOR TRAVELERS TO WEST AFRICA
FOR LONGER TERM TRAVELERS to West Africa one important thing to consider in traveling independently is your arrival point as any excessive amount of overland travel can be tiring. If what you really want to do or see is located on the coast or inland, and you want to travel around overland as well, then buy a one-way ticket closest to your inland or coastal destination. When you apply for a visa at that country's embassy include a zerox copy of your one-way ticket, your planned itinerary and an explanation that you will be traveling overland and flying out of another city and country. Overland travel is the norm in Africa.
You may also buy an open jaw ticket (flying out of a different city than you flew into) with the return portion to be used later when your overland journeying is done. After arriving at your destination, experience it and then begin traveling overland either inward or outward while ending your travel in a different area. There you can then re-group, use the open-jaw return portion or buy your one-way ticket back home as tickets purchased in Africa are much cheaper than in Europe or the USA. In this way you can travel more efficiently by avoiding excess fatigue without having to retrace your steps back to your original arrival point. Overland travel in Africa is tremendously rewarding & the only way to fully experience its true beautiy & authenticity, yet it is for the adventurous and hardy as it also takes a lot of time and physical energy whether by train, bus, foot, motorbike, camel or bush taxi.
LARGEST OPEN AIR GALLERY IN THE WORLD TRUST FOR AFRICAN ROCK ART
GETTING TO AND FROM REGIONS OF AFRICA is expensive so buy your ticket off the web. For great prices & reliable service check out BEST TRAVEL STORE. To West Africa, SAA/SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS at 800 722 9675 flies to Dakar, Senegal 6 days a week from USA Wash Dulles. To South Africa, SAA also features the only non-stop service from the USA with daily direct flights from JFK & Wash Dulles. SAA is also part of Star Alliance so you can accrue miles with United.
FLYING OUT OF NEW YORK ROYAL AIR MAROC at 800 344 6726 sells a round trip economy class ticket JFK via Casablanca to Niamey, Niger for 2 mo. at $1348. or 3 mo. at $1648. You can also include a stopover in Casablance for about $110. but any changes after your departure will cost you a fee.
FLYING OUT OF PARIS the best one-way or economy class round trip price will be with POINT AFRIQUE who fly from Paris or Marseille to 12 different countries throughout North and West Africa. If you can fly to Africa in and out of France this is a better choice for longer term travelers as Point Afrique has an office in each of their destinations where, after traveling overland, you can then purchase a one-way ticket to return. When returning to Paris always be sure to check which airport you arrive in, ORLY outside Paris, or CDG in Paris, as this will save you alot of hassle.
BUYING A RETURN TICKET IN BAMAKO please check out Tam Voyages at Patrice Lumumba Square across the street from Air France. They offer the best service in town and take credit cards whereas other agencies do not. I will never forget the trip I took with Air Senegal International from Bamako to Dakar because I met Ali Farka Toure in the Bamako airport and sat with his son all the way to Dakar. Now that was an extra special experience!
TRAIN TRAVEL IN SENEGAL & MALI please check the DAKAR TO BAMAKO FARES/Schedule. The current situation in 2011 is the Dakar-Bamako train is definitely not running at the moment except for 3 times a week between Kayes & Bamako. If you do decide to take the train, take a first class seat not a 2nd or sleeper as sleepers are hot with no air circulation. A first class seat is your best value and large enough to curl up in. If you're traveling in Ghana, there is a day or night train linking Accra the capital, to Kumasi in central Ghana to Sekondi-Takaradi on the Atlantic coast. Taking a night train in any direction would be far safer than traveling the road at night, although in Niger bus and road conditions have always been good. However due to ongoing kidnappings in Mali & Niger, it is quite dangerous to travel anywhere in these regions due to the movements of AQIM (Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) whose goal is to expel all Westerners from historically Muslim lands.
IF YOU WANT TO BE INFORMED ABOUT TROPICAL DISEASES, their risks to your health and are looking for an alternative to vaccinations, then read THE WORLD TRAVELLER'S MANUAL OF HOMEOPATHY by Colin B. Lessel, ISBN 0 85207 330 5. It is the most straight forward book I have ever read on the subject. Read it at least 2 months before you depart. Also the HANDBOOK OF HOMEOPATHIC ALTERNATIVES TO IMMUNIZATION by Susan Curtis, Winter Press, UK., ISBN 1 874581 029. Lonely Planet's West Africa, 7th edition, 2009, section on Health is also very practical and informative. For one of the most educational articles I have ever seen on MALARIA, read July 2007 National Geographic's BEDLAM IN THE BLOOD. However, if you do not want to ingest malaria tablets then absolutely do not go to Africa without your one most important item a Travel Mosquito Tent at only $89. Also your second most important item a Portable Water Purifier at just $112. Traveling with & making daily use of these important quality items can save your life in West Africa.
HEALTH AND TRAVEL ALERTS For the latest news concerning health or political situations please check individual African countries at ALL AFRICA NEWS.COM or IRIN NEWS.ORG. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree Travel Forum is as an excellent source of online networking with other travelers to Africa.
YOUR SAFETY AND SECURITY
AS OF JULY, 2010, THE U.S. EMBASSY IN NIAMEY, NIGER warns U.S. citizens of the continued threat of attacks against Western targets in Niger and throughout the greater Sahel region. In response to the Mauritanian military raid conducted with French assistance in northern Mali on July 22, 2010 it is believed that AQIM or Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb is planning imminent retaliatory attacks on Western interests in the Sahel. AQIM formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching & Combat (GSPC) is known to have a presence in northern Niger & Mali. The GSPC began as a terrorist group seeking the overthrow of the Algerian government and has been designated as a terrorist organization by both the USA and the European Union. AQIM operates directly or through criminal gangs who carry out kidnappings on their behalf or pass on their kidnap victims for monetary gain.
FOR THE LATEST SECURITY INFORMATION, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affair's Internet site at www.travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, & specific country information can be found. Current information on security can also be obtained by calling 1 888 407 4747 toll free within the US/Canada or for callers from other countries by calling a regular toll-line at 1 202 501 4444. These numbers are available Monday thru Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm EST.
U.S. CITIZENS IN NIGER & MALI should maintain good personal security practices and remain aware of their surroundings at all times, including always locking their homes and cars, varying routes and time of travel, & avoiding drawing attention to themselves. When going out, they should avoid being part of large, highly visible groups of Westerners, and should be particularly alert when frequenting locales associated with Westerners. The U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger is located on Rue des Ambassades, (227) 20 72 26 61. The after hours emergency number is (227) 20 72 31 41.
Foreigners who elect to travel in northern Niger despite the current security situation must submit an approved travel plan through the office of the Governor of Agadez. Travelers should first contact the Syndicat de Tourisme in Agadez, 96 98 78 81 to enlist the services of a registered tour operator who will formally coordinate with Nigerian government and security officials on tourist safety and security in the North and who can facilitate the submission of the required itinerary and intended route.
For travel in any remote area of the Sahara or sahel, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to use registered guides, to travel with a minimum of two vehicles equipped with global positioning systems (GPS) and satellite phones. Travelers are advised to avoid restricted military areas and to consult local police authorities regarding their itinerary and security arrangements.
AS OF AUGUST, 2010, THE U.S. EMBASSY IN BAMAKO, MALI advises American citizens to avoid travel to Mali's northern regions beyond the cities of Timbuktu and Gao due to the kidnapping threats to westerners by AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), and to exercise extreme caution when traveling in any isolated areas within Mali, the Mali-Niger-Burkina Faso border, as far south as Segou/Bamako, or to areas north of the Niger River such as Tessalit, Lere, Goundam and Menaka. U.S. citizens are specifically reminded that included are Essakane, the site of the popular music event Festival au Desert, as well as sites in the regions of Kidal and Gao where many other musical and cultural festivals are traditionally held between December and February. It should be noted that in addition to the potential terrorist and criminal threats, these festivals are located in particularly remote locations, and the U.S. Embassy would have extreme difficulty rendering assistance should an emergency occur.
REGISTERING FOR YOUR SAFETY Americans residing or traveling in Mali are urged to register with the Department of State or in person at the U.S. Embassy in Bamako or Niamey. BY REGISTERING, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali is located at ACI 2000 at Rue 243, Porte 297. The Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali. Telephone: (223) 270-2300. The consular fax number: (223) 270-2340.
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