In most occasions when you buy something at a local shop or in the street, you are supposed to bargain. The vendor will always tell you a higher price as a first, so you will have to start this interesting bargaining game. African traders are hard to convince, so here are some rules:
- Don't ask the price unless you're prepared to bargain.
- Don't point at something to show it to your friend...
- Relax... they are going to try very hard to get your attention.
- It's more polite to say "la prochaine fois" (next time) than "no."
- When bargaining, their first price is NEVER their last! Neither should yours be. Start much lower than what you want to pay, then get more reasonable.
- Try to ask someone who is experienced in shopping for moroccan souvenirs for what a good price is. (Don't ask someone who is selling them!)
- Walking away is a good technique to get a lower price.
- Don't be in a hurry... you'll end up paying more.
- "All that glitters is not gold,"... and all that is black is not ebony.
- BUY LOTS OF STUFF!! (it will probably be cheaper than at home) Remember your trip forever!
When you make a phone call in an internet-café or phone-shop you can expect a phone call when you’re back at home. Some operators guard the phone numbers you’ve dialled and they use it afterwards to ask for money or an invitation letter.
When you are travelling by public transport the luggage boys or porters will ask you to pay for your luggage. First ask your fellow travellers if they paid for there baggage. Most of the times you don’t have to, but you are always free to pay some small money.
Big game hunting is legal in several African countries, Benin, Cameroon, C.A.R., Tanzania,….... I don’t wanna encourage this because I prefer living animals instead of death ones. But the big money enters the country and development and protection will follow. Governments have shooting quotas, so when everything happens correctly the wildlife will not experience any damage.
Fun Alternatives: Cameras instead of rifles
Pictures instead of bullets
Public coral reefs in the Red Sea are most of the time OVERcrouwded and for the greater part destroyed by incautious tourists. When you dive into the water, you’ve got to keep in mind that there are other visitors coming after you. TAKE NOTHING BUT PICTURES & DO NOT STEP ON THE CORAL. Corals are living creatures and when you touch them, they certainly will die.
Across Africa you will encounter friendly children, often in groups. Always friendly and sometimes offering to help, sometimes begging. This tip was written to help you understand some of their motivations and the impact, potentially very negative, you may have on them.
I divide interaction with the kids on my travels into the following groups:
• Genuinely friendly & inquisitive
Congratulations. You are probably in an area not well developed by the Tourist
Trade yet. Many want to just practice the English they have learned in school.
Please stop and speak slowly and encourage their learning. Do not offer money.
If you have a digital camera ask (or motion) if it’s OK to take their picture. Then
show them the result! You have new friends.
• Children asking you to take their picture.
Often a scam. If they ask for money before, say no. They may walk away. Never pay money if they ask afterward. They need to learn the difference between scamming and business.
• Selling things/shinning shoes.
Selling tissues, chewing gum and shinning shoes is a business. They pay for materials and make a small profit. Please do purchase from them outside of school hours. Never overpay. It encourages bad habits.
NEVER GIVE THEM MONEY! If they see this is lucrative they will leave school and will be out there begging for the next 60 years. Do give them food. They cannot resell this and will eat. Even leftovers from your lunch are fine. Many large cities also offer meal tickets you can hand out.
• Children asking for pens
Sometimes this is helpful, unless there is a store nearby selling pens. Sometimes they resell the pens. Be cautious.
• Asking for clothes
If they really need it, take them to a shop. Kid’s clothes are cheap.
• Wanting to guide you somewhere
Tell them upfront you will not pay. They still tend to take you there. If they were generally helpful, only pay a few pennies. Maybe future Tour Guides. Give them to much and they hassle/plague future visitors. And stop going to school!
Made a mistake? We all have. Just be more cautious next time. Food is always OK. It helps. A ball if you have a group of kids doing nothing else will get them off the street. Ask them about school and encourage them to get a good education. They are the future of their country. Just remember you can have a life-lasting impact on these kids. Be careful what you do.
Make a quick assessment. Always be friendly, but if it veers towards any sort of encounter where they may want money from you. Think about it. Is it School time? Are you encouraging them to NOT get an education? Always refuse up front to pay. You can always change your mind. Never overpay. You dehumanise everyone involved and maybe encouraging criminal mentality rather than an inspiring a future Entrepreneur that will benefit their village or town.
And watch out for this character:
• A ‘Guide’ throws the small coins you gave him down or complains about being too small.
Pick up the coins or take them back out of their hand. They have shown you disrespect and see you as a stupid victim rather than a welcome visitor. There is no warmth in their heart. They need to respect money, a hard day’s work and you. Every time I have taken the money back they have persisted in asking for more money, once up to 5 days!
I have learned this valuable lesson too many times. Agree the price before agreeing to buy and goods or services. In Zanzibar I agreed to buy a beef skewer from a food stall for 50 US cents. I then asked for chicken, ate it and was told I owed $7 ! Bastard. The tailor in Uganda who charged me $5 to hem some trousers only charges locals 30 US cents for the same work. You will probably always pay more, but agree first and never accept the first 2 prices. Once agreed – the deal is done. You cannot renegotiate. That applies to Taxi Drivers (thieving scum) who want to renegotiate when you get there. The price never goes in you favour.
A deal is a deal.
Have you already been 'stung'. Learn not to do it again. Always think before you buy. I hate the tailor in Uganda who charged me what I would pay in America. He loves me though.....
Learn to walk away. Sometimes running is good too. Walking away lowers the price. If you are faced with someone asking $30 for a small box of 4 tea bags and surrounded in a shop by 4 screaming men - run! Yes, this happened to me in Marrakesh. When they start at a ridiculous price they are criminals. Learn to be rude. There is a time and a place.
Across Africa I keep finding that official Tourist Information offices do not like being open on Saturdays and Sundays. Sundays, maybe I can understand in some countries. Why the whole weekend? Most travellers arrive places on the weekend because many airlines give discounts for staying over on a Saturday night! If you are a Minister for Tourism in any African country – Please open on the weekends! This is yet another reason to have a guidebook and do research before you go.
All these pictures are of criminal activity. In fact you are looking at an illegal invasion and international border crossing – by me. Why did I not just go through the border post? Because the country (Angola in this case) makes the whole process to long and/or expensive. Why do many African countries have high visa fees? Because some poor countries have no capacity to have personal income tax or even a sales tax, so the tourist at the border gets it in the wallet. Now, you may ask, why then make the paperwork complicated and take forever? Because that creates jobs for people. The longer the process, the more people on a living wage. I appreciate the need to raise revenues, but to a budget traveller it comes across as ‘we may not really want you’ or ‘hurry up and get out’ when the time you can actually stay is close to the time it took to get the visa.
Unique Suggestions: Check this website and make sure you plan ahead:
Countries can and will refuse you and keep your fee if you mess up.
Fun Alternatives: There is no alternative. Unless you do like I did and illegally enter Angola and Zimbabwe. I take no responsibility for any beating and/or incarceration you receive if you try and imitate me.
This is not only a Tourist Trap – it is a trap for local people as well and is sadly true in many places in Africa. When you go to the pharmacy (chemists) to get some pills for a cold – they charge you for each individual pill! Despite the fact that the manufacturer never intended this to be so. Then you often have a 100% import tax on the medicines in many countries. Now the price is really going up. I purchased these cold tablets and bought the whole box. That is what you need to get rid of a cold. The price? By the time it was all added up it cost more than it would in the UK! It was about double what the price would be in the USA.
Now combine further that fact that many local people have low wages and they can only afford some of the pills. That means they may often not be able to afford the full course of medicine for illnesses.
This applies even to asprin!
Unique Suggestions: Shop around. Prices vary considerably. Also, you will be charged more for being a foreigner in some places. Be prepared to pay high prices, but you don’t want to be ill or run out of anti-malarial medication on your travels. Also spare a thought for local folks.
Think about it. You are entering a Border area and are inside a heavy security area run by the government. There in front of you – before you are allowed to leave the border area – is a Bureau de Change. Can you say monopoly? Only once have I have only ever seen a relatively competitive rate at one of these places, and they charged a fee on top! Not all land borders have them, but heavy tourist & trade areas do.
Unique Suggestions: Only get enough to get you where you need to go if you really need some local cash.
Fun Alternatives: Always research before you go so you know what a good rate is. Then check around BEFORE you go over to get an amount you need until you can deal with banks, ATM’s & Bureaus with competition where you are headed to.
Do not let the driver of your rented car take you to a hotel or restaurant. They take you to the most expensive one!! Our driver took us to the best hotel in Livingstone after a morning's ride from Lusaka. No doubt it was a 5 star resort, but we did not expect to be there for just freshening up!!! We asked him to take us directly to the Victoria Falls!! It was more refreshing there!!!
There are several places in Africa where you can PET wild animals. Sitting on the bag of a hippo, together on the photo with a lion, stroking a crocodile you can’t imagine what they do to attract tourists to give them the perfect snapshot(for money).
These animals aren’t the same as your dog, cat or tortoise at home, they are wild animals who will come and pose for some food, so keep in mind that all tranquillity can change within a second.
THESE ARE STILL WILD ANIMALS AND ACCIDENTS HAPPEN!!!
I have beent here visrtually, thanks to visit by my parents in 1955, and i have flown over a few times, Swissair, East African Airlines
picked it up on BBC today --> "Butterfly farming proves worth a flutter"
Unique Suggestions: visit the official website of innovator ..." The butterfly idea was brought to the farmers by Theron Morgan-Brown, a young American biologist. "
i do approve, will like to hear from other VT members who are into eco-travel,
sustainable development etc
All that is, is the result of what we have thought. -- Buddha
Fun Alternatives: http://www.geocities.com/marysoderstrom/africa.html
When you visit a restaurant or go shopping, always recount your bill.
I don't say they're all crooks and cheaters, but when they think you’re a tourist, the end result of your bill could be a few percentages higher.
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