Public beaches near towns or cities can be sometimes very dirty, they use them as a junkyard or public toilet. It is a pity but the truth. You’ll have to walk a few miles further to enjoy a clean dip in the sea.
This tip was in response to a forum question re a visit to Zimbabwe.
Be very careful as the political situation is unstable. But a native Zim friend says it is more heartbreak than anything. There is a Cholera epidemic at this time (Dec 2008)
I just called an ex Zim friend. Left 3yrs ago. She said in the old days you could get a Visa at the airport...does not know now. But if anything can buy one it is US $.
She also said you might get in from Zambia to see Victoria Falls..
I just read something another VT wrote and the need for Visa depends on in which country you hold a passport .So check website http://projectvisa.com/countryinfo.asp?countrycode=zw which he provided.
Me I would still rather have it arranged ahead.
Another member wrote they had flown from Jo'burg in South Africa to Victoria Falls a few months ago and had no problem. To get in to Zambia a visa is now required and there was a line up for that.
Also travel with reputable airline....they usually fly in and fly out. A Zim airline...well you do not know when you will get out. Not a good place to be if you are a" Rhodie" with only a Zim passport. According to the VT Africa travelers it could be OK for tourists.
Hope this helps. Marg
Unique Suggestions: Have enough US$. Be aware of Zim dollars value. Have all your papers in order. Take nothing for granted. Be fit and well. Watch what you eat and drink.
Fun Alternatives: Go elsewhere if at all possible,
One knows it, a trip to Madagascar is expensive.
As a solution, travellers are now tempted to pay for the expensive air ticket to the mythical, dream island and use dead-cheap transportation means. It is sthg I understand but bear in mind that taxi-brousses are not panacea, esp. if you travel there for 2 weeks and that you intend to go through many spots of the island. Roadtrips this way are dead cheap but not comfy all the time. Look at my picture, taxi-brousses are not all like this mini-van. On some portions of RN7 (Tana- Big Southern area), taxi-brousses are huge trucks, loaded with people... Yeah! trucks, not coaches.
Here and there, tourists who planned to travel by taxi-brousses *only*, eventually, ended up turning down half of their plan. They then travelled the first half by taxi-brousses but changed plan and hired 4WD with driver for the rest of the roadtrips. It is common that even backpacking hardliners end digging into that last minute change.
Unique Suggestions: - Choose a sedan as taxi- brousse, or a mini-van or a 4WD (private rental services). It is possible to arrange with other passengers the cost of a 4WD hiring.
Yet, if you are taking a taxi-brousse in a remote area and don't have any choice but the truck:
- Socialize in the truck. Will help you to "entertain" yourself. :)
- If possible, have some walk when there are halts on your itinerary because sitting in the back of a huge truck is not that comfy.
- Bear in mind that a taxi-brousse in remote areas has all power to unexpectedly drop you in the middle of nowhere (well, a dive in a small village). You looked for adventure, no? You have it! :) But just be prepared to that.
Fun Alternatives: Carefully consider transportation means combination according to your budget, your time. Also, never aim too big in Madagascar. IMHO, better travel to few places but you would come to know well, for hiring a guide for instance, instead of wasting your time (say, 8 hours in a truck-brousse) in transportation for only 1 day in a place. For sure, this is one of travels you have to carefully plan.
For instance, there are distances you can easily do with taxi-brousse because roads are well-kept (Tana-Toamasina, Tana-Antsirabe, Tana-Fianarantsoa). On other lines (like Toliara- Taolagnaro/ Fort Dauphin, Fianarantsoa-Ranomafana-Manakara), it's tiring within those trucks esp. in rainy season.
To explore the South, either take your time when roadtripping (taxi-brousse and train combination), either less time but hire a car with driver.
The train is more comfortable and cheaper than taxi-brousse sometimes. Plus, government undertook lately investments and rehabilitation works. It seems like a renewal has come, as for the national rail company (that would be now privatized, if I am not wrong).
Three rail lines from Tana in Madagascar:
- Tana-Toamasina (usually closed in rainy summer for fear of erosion...)
- Fianar-Manakara (off beat track and hugely rehabilitated in 2003)
If you are into a "truck-brousse only" mood when starting and that you have time, plan extra-money in case you shift plans. You may add days in hotels to relax/ recover or go for more comfortable transportation means. In both cases, it would cost more than the truck. Still, it's possible to avoid internal flights.
If you want to waste half a day of your holiday then fine, but if not avoid like the plague any body carryiny scratch cards who when your challenged say you've won a camera, a holiday or money it's a ploy to get you to go with them.These are timeshare operators and they work near to building sites or new developements, who've been warned!!
Don't be sucked in by the conmen who wait till late at night to trick the unwary after a drink or two!! They trick people out of about 80 pounds by playing find the lady. Or rather they switch the white disc for another black so the person playing looses!! They work with an audience so they can cheat people into believing some-one actually does win!!
There is a statue man who works in the same area as the above conmen; he expects you to pay for a photo you take of some-one with him. You walk away with-out paying and he will thump you!! He's dressed all in white, like an Arab, with a ghostly white face.
When someone offers you an item for 'a special price, just for you...' then don't be flattered and believe it.
Pretend to walk away, and refuse to pay more then half of the price....
If you are buying special things, check them carefully for damages, foults and if they work....
AS I TOLD you before thier are money tourist atractin placse in ethiopia like bird wathing,fishing, travling by biscle the best hotel is SHERATON ADDIS , WOREDA 14, KEBELE 24 P.OBOX,6002 ADDIS ABEBA ETHIOPIA TEL,(251)1 171717,FAX (251)1 172727 THE LUXERY COLLECTIN 800-325-3589 N.T.O (National tour opreaton ) strerlind tevel agency,hadar trvel agency , t-tam travel agency , bahirdar travel agency lot of good service ethiopians welcome to any gust addis is the capital of africa diferent colures people you fell at home 2500m above see level thier is no snow in ethiopia only three months of rainy season july and augest even if it is rain every day you see the sun don't ask me any more you go and see what looks like the contery i garanty you you becomes very hapy
My tips/warnings to anyone visiting Zimbabwe would be:
1. Take US dollars in cash (sterling, euros and rand are also popular but the US dollar is king). Take 10 and 20 dollar notes. They do not like 100 dollar notes due to counterfeiting problems. Travellers cheques will be accepted at the bureau de change but you may not get such a good rate.
2. Never put anything on your credit card. You will be charged the official rate. This includes withdrawing cash from a cash point.
3. Do not charge anything to your hotel bill unless you can settle it in foreign currency. The currency will be converted at the official rate, therefore it is not a good idea anyway. You will not be able to obtain foreign currency from the hotel. We heard of people being unable to pay their hotel bills because of this. Pay all hotel expenses in Zimbabwe dollars.
4. Change money at a bureau de change and get a receipt from the bureau.
these arn't in any particular order
1. street touts who won't take no for an answer
2. the phrase 'hello my friend', at this rate after 2 weeks in africa i would have accumulated about a zillion more friends
3. NOOOOOOO - i don't want a taxi.............. at every street corner i'm asked if i want a taxi. Even infront of the place i am staying at. It gets so annoying i am running out of stories to say to them.
4. footpaths that make dirt roads look good. You need to see it to believe it but put simply the moon is probably smoother then some of the pavements here. (I'm sure some of you know what i mean)
5. the constant feeling of eyes upon me and safety/security concerns i need to be aware of.
Ok, don't get me wrong, i love what i've seen about Africa and there is little doubt there are some wonderful people here and scenery that even makes my jaw drop, but the street touts make it hard to see the nice people and as such i've madeup a fake identity to feed to the street touts to kinda keep them off knowing to much about me. You need to experience it to see what i mean but it does get annoying when the same person says hello to you every day atleast once and is constantly hassling you for a safari, tour, trip, taxi, etc.
You are looking at pictures of an idiot. This guy hangs around the Bungee Jumping station on the bridge between the borders of Zimbabwe and Zambia at Victoria Falls. He will show you a small cloth with a few copper coloured bracelets inside. He will go on to explain that he has hand-made them as his dearly departed Grandfather taught him as a child. He may even elaborate about how it took years to learn the craft. It is all lies. They are made by machines in factories. There are other idiots just like him all over Livingston (Zambia). I had 2 of them together at one point in town when one of them starts with the ‘Grandfather taught me’ while the guy next to him had identical bracelets held out a few inches away!
Across Africa- take care. If they offer an antique when you can see other copies. Haggle the copy price or walk away.
I took pictures of this guy because he is the worst. He will start by sounding like he works with the bungee jumping people. He does not. He will follow you and will also follow you again when you return over the bridge. He is a major nuisance. Just keep saying ‘NO’ in a slightly loud manner. Most scurry away, not this guy. Do not even speak to him if you see him. And do not buy the bracelets unless you really want them and you should only pay $2-3. If that.
This story was originally about visiting Lalibela in Ethiopia. However, taking shoes off and discovering a shoe keeper when you leave a church is very common in Ethiopia. You may find similar situations in oter places as its a 'job' that puts rice on a family's table.
So here is the story!
It’s great. You have to take your shoes off to enter the sacred Churches. The shoe minder protects your shoes. In fact, he moves them at least once when you go through a passageway between 2 churches and come out in a different place. Then there’s the guards as well. They guard the entrances to some of the other sacred Churches. You are safe and your shoes are safe from robbers. All of these guys have picture ID’s around their neck so you know they are legitimate. They expect a tip for your protection.
Wait a minute! Of course they have ID’s. The whole area is fenced off and patrolled. Thieves can’t get anywhere even remotely near you, the churches or your shoes! Yep, this is a job created to give some guys a job. Do give them a SMALL coin or 2. No more. The cost of living is very cheap here and these guys have a never ending supply of other tourists 7 days a week.
At the end of the tour you will go to see Bet Giorgis (the deep cross Church) that is outside the compound. Guess what? Beggars will hound you unmercifully there and there is no guard or shoe minder. They don’t like working there. They like being protected back in the compound! Watch your shoes!
There are a number of offers (especially in Southern Africa) to walk with lions. Very often, it is sold as a unique wildlife experience and alleged that the money earned with tourists (or volunteers) is meant for conversation or to re-introduce lions or cheetahs into the wild. The animals people "walk" with were raised in captivity, often are bred on special farms. Once they are too big and possibly dangerous to roam around tourists they are retired, in the worst case scenario sold to a hunting ranch where they make easy prey for paying hunters who want a big trophy.
Plain logic should tell this kind of business is not in the interest of the animals. worse, even if they are reintroduced into the wild, they don´t have the skills to survive: They never learned hunting, and they lost the fears of humans.
If you are interested to find out more about this from a more scientific angle - Oryx magazine published an article about the "conversation myth" that walking with lions is a way to help them.
Fun Alternatives: watch the animals in their natural habitat - you might not get that close, you will not be able to feed or pet them (not the smartest idea, especially as far as the attentive mother lion is concerned) but you can watch them right where they belong.
If you have the budget - doing a walking safari must be an awesome experience, being right around the animals without the shelter of a jeep or minibus (again, from a reasonable and healthy distance). Unfortunately, these tours are very expensive.
All across Africa you will see the street tailor. Often just a man with a small table and a sewing machine. Often a very old sewing machine. These guys are amazingly talented. You will see sellers in the markets selling bolts of cloth. These folks can turn them into dresses, trousers, shirts, you name it. They can create anything - including European styled suits. Often they can imitate any design you even just have a photo of. What they are very useful for on your travels are minor repairs. Small tears, hems resewn, just about anything. And any alteration including adding pockets.
Just agree the price BEFORE they do any work.
I didn't in Uganda (3rd picture) and the guy charged me $5 for a hem. The same price I could get at the time in a shop in the USA. Should have been much cheaper.
Haggle! Just like the locals. And don't be afraid to say no and walk away. Small alterations should be very cheap. The cost of living is less and they don't pay taxes. So don't pay the equivalent price you would in say Europe. You both win and you can spend your money with more people on your travels.
Keep your eyes open almost everyone in this place is a crook. Snake-charmers create distraction while the children pick pocket the crowd. Do not buy knives because they will get them back from you before you get on the boat. If your on a tour bus notice that they do not let you see out the back by hanging blankets. If you do get to see like I did you will notice the Mercedes Benz with the 'POOR GUYS' following you to the next stop so they can try and sell you knives.
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