Traveling through West Africa is often different from traveling in other countries. We think it is important to properly discuss and prepare the trip together with the travelers. We provide as much information and practical tips as possible in advance. We do this through one or more conversations via email, whatsapp or by telephone. For group travel we organize if possible through a meeting.
Your passport must be valid for at least another six months on the date of return journey. Make sure that there are enough blank pages in your passport for the visa and entry and exit stamps.
Do not bring too much clothing. You can have your clothes washed quickly and cheaply. You will not need a thick coat, but a sweater for the evenings or during your flight may be welcome. Long trousers, thin socks and a long-sleeved shirt offer pleasant protection against mosquitoes in the evening. In some places it is mandatory to wear covering clothing (long pants, long skirt), but in West Africa it is generally no problem to travel with uncovered legs as a tourist. Separate walking shoes are useful for long hiking trips.
You can withdraw money in many places in West Africa with a VISA credit card or with a Maestro bank card.
You can exchange cash at the border crossings, airports, banks, supermarkets and the larger hotels.
Expenses for your own account: The costs for accommodation, meals, drinks, guides, entrance fees and personal expenses are not always included in the price of the trip. How high these costs are differs per country and per person. If you want to know how much money you need per day, we can help you make a calculation.
Anyone who travels in West Africa with a focus on hygiene and skin care reduces the risk of health problems a lot. Below are a number of things to keep in mind.
The tropical sun is bright. Sunburn and sunburn are easier to catch than you think. Avoid the sun as much as possible during the hottest hours of the day, wear a hat when you walk and use a good sunscreen. Drink a lot, because of the heat you lose large amounts of moisture. Get into the habit of treating any wound, no matter how small, with something like iodine. Infections are fast and often persistent in the tropics.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises all travelers to Africa to ‘take all possible preventive measures to prevent malaria’. It is imperative to avoid getting stung and taking malaria tablets. Especially in the rainy season, the risk of malaria is greater (more mosquitoes). Let the GGD inform you about the various prophylaxis. Also bring evening clothes that provide protection for the legs and arms. An anti-mosquito repellent with “deet” in it is recommended. Most of the rooms where we sleep have a mosquito net.
Always consult a specialized medical institution for what you need. This depends on previous vaccinations, any sensitivity to certain substances, pregnancy, age and the current health situation on the spot. We advise you to start providing information about the necessary vaccinations at least six weeks before the departure date. Your ‘yellow passport’ may be checked for yellow fever at customs. A DTP injection is standard. Meningitis can occur locally to an increased degree, especially in the dry season.
The most common health problem besides burning is diarrhea. Vacationers are often affected in the tropics. In most cases it is a completely harmless phenomenon caused by changes in diet, the heat or by harmless bacteria. The main risk is the chance of dehydration. Dehydration means that the body loses more fluids and salts and glucose than it takes in. This can be prevented by drinking a solution containing minerals and sugars. Instead of this solution you can also drink soft drinks without carbonation and strongly salted broth. If the diarrhea is accompanied by a severe fever, blood in the stool or severe vomiting, it is wise to consult a doctor. If the diarrhea lasts for more than a few days without the above side effects or if you have to travel, you can use a product that inhibits the diarrhea.
If you wear contact lenses, also, if possible, bring spare glasses with you. Contact lens wearers often suffer from irritated eyes due to dust and drifting sand.
Ask your pharmacy to prepare a medical passport for you. This contains the substance names and the exact composition of the medicines you use. Keep this document and your medicines in your hand luggage. If you suffer from a chronic illness, ask your doctor for an explanation of your condition and the therapy in English.
Some more advice for a pleasant stay
Give your body and mind time to calmly adjust to the new time zone and location. Avoid tensions, don’t plan everything right away. In any case, take it easy on the first day. Getting up early is good practice; in warm countries, the morning temperature is often the most pleasant. In addition, the people in the countries you visit are also used to getting up early. If you adapt to their rhythm, you will see the most of the country. When you are well rested you can best process all new impressions, you have enough energy to do a lot and you have the most resistance to disease.
Tips against annoyances
A few tips to avoid minor annoyances:
- If you want to buy something, you can make it a sport to negotiate yourself, but if you want to make sure you pay a normal price, talk to the tour leader.
- Don’t be too flashy with valuables (money, passport, cell phone, cameras, jewelry).
- If someone imposes himself and continues to walk with you, make it clear whether or not you like it. If you let yourself be guided, this person sometimes expects a reward afterwards.
There are plenty of opportunities to stay in touch with the home front and the rest of the world. In most countries in West Africa, chances are you can use your own mobile phone and SIM card to make calls, but that can be quite expensive. Wi-Fi is available in a number of places, especially in hotels. A common method is to buy a prepaid SIM card with an internet connection. This is possible from about 10 euros.
Insurance is not included in the trip. Thiosane Travel recommends that you take out good travel and cancellation insurance immediately after booking.
As a rule, your own health insurer will reimburse medical costs incurred abroad. Reimbursement always takes place afterwards, on the basis of a claim with receipts. Check with your insurer which costs are reimbursed in the countries you are traveling to.
For most countries in West Africa you need a visa. Most visas can be applied for in advance at the country’s embassies. In some cases it is also possible and cheaper to apply for your visa at the airport or at the border.
Filming and photography
No permit is required to take photos or video. It is, however, prohibited to photograph military objects, police stations, airports and some public buildings.
If you want to take a photo of someone, first get permission from that person or, in the case of a child, from the parents. This shows respect and courtesy and prevents problems. Many Africans do not want photos to be taken because they believe that tourists are making money from the photos at their expense. Keep in mind that sometimes you will be asked for money after taking a photo.
Passport (tip: also bring a copy, this is useful if you lose it)
Yellow passport with vaccinations
Money, checks, Visa card
Medicines / Travel pharmacy
Photo / video camera
Mobile phone and charger