My apologies for my absence from blogging recently. Any spare moment I’ve had on the internet has been devoted to planning my trip around the world, which will commence when I leave Shanghai on November 18th and end when I return to Shanghai on February 18th. Planning a RTW trip has proved far more difficult than I ever imagined, and I’m rather well-traveled, not to mention, have been traveling independently for years, and am a tour leader!
Flights–Flights were definitely one of the biggest challenges, compounded by the fact that few agencies who do RTW tickets are willing to start these trips from Asia. Most prefer to start from USA or Western Europe (namely UK). Eventually, the only agency I found willing to do my tickets was Airtreks.com based out of San Francisco but willing to book tickets from any origination point and ship to any location. They have a very useful feature on their site (requires flash) that allows you to enter your flight itinerary (including over land transfers) and it will approximate the total price for you in seconds! It will also suggest stopovers, both free and ones at additional cost. The only drawback is, because its an approximation not based on season, your flights, like mine, may end up being far more expensive than the low-end of the estimate. They were able to get very close to the dates I wanted, particularly given that I was traveling on some popular routes during the holiday season. The total package was also cheaper than trying to book even 2-3 of my major segments by myself. 3 cheers for Deborah at Airtreks!
Visas–Even with the ease of google searching and the internet, it can still be a hunt to find enough accurate info on the internet with regard to visa requirements.
- Egypt-An easy one, all my searches turned up consistent results, Americans can obtain Egyptian tourist visas on arrival at the airport.
- Jordan-My first search found that arrivals at the airport and only some land border crossings would be granted visas on arrival; our sea border crossing at the Red Sea was not one of those entry points. After talking to the sales agent at Intrepid Travel, a former tour leader for the Middle East, he said of course you can get visa on arrival there as I did it for years while a leader. Not that I intentionally doubted him, but things can change or be different whether you’re Australian or American. So I did some more research and found out that indeed, he was correct. At all overland crossings into Jordan, except 1 bridge coming from Israel, visas can be obtained on arrival.
- Kenya-Even now I’m only 98% sure on this one. I will be flying into Nairobi going on a safari into Tanzania and then returning to Kenya, which would theoretically amount to a double-entry to Kenya. However, because of border agreements with Tanzania, it seems Kenya doesn’t recognize the crossover into Tanzania and therefore a single-entry visa is all that’s needed. Kenyan visas are issued on arrival at the airport and whether I need single- or double-enty can be discussed with the visas processor on arrival.
- Tanzania-This one is proving most difficult and confusing. I’m flying into Dar Es Saalam, then taking the ferry to Zanzibar (which apparently requires a passport), then returning to Dar to fly to Kenya and from there taking a safari back into Tanzania. Again, this seems to indicate a need for a double-entry tourist visa. Online research has told me everything from, visas on arrival are possible though not a safe bet and a Yellow Fever inoculation certificate is required, to don’t bother getting a visa ahead of time, it’s easy to get on arrival. The fact that I need a double-entry visa is more what concerns me, particularly given that my second entry won’t be at an airport. The Tanzanian Embassy in Beijing proved no more helpful and perhaps even more confused and unsure than I am. He said I need a multiple, which has to be referred to Dar Es Saalam and is only valid for 3 months. (Right now, I’m more than 3 months away from my arrival in Tanzania.) However, if the border policy of Tanzania is the same as Kenya, then its really only single entry. (This is because of the East Africa Community, which in the future will have a common visa, allowing travel freely through all member states on 1 visa, however this will not enacted until 2010.) Furthermore, discussion boards on Fodors.com said, there is no need to get a visa ahead of time. If anyone can clarify the visa situation for me for Tanzania, I’d greatly appreciate it. There is no longer a requirement for proof of Yellow Fever inoculation, but its still recommended.
Inoculations–I got countless shots and prescriptions before I went to Asia the first time; however, to go to Africa it seems I need countless more. Research suggests I should get Typhoid, Cholera, Yellow Fever, Poliomyelitis vaccinations as well as Malaria tablets. Given that I live in China and many countries won’t recognize these inoculations if done in China, this proves to be a bit of a problem. Can anyone suggest a good travel doctor that can prescribe or administer all of these things in either Hong Kong or Miami? Am I being overcautious or missing any other preventative measures?
Here’s my schedule:
November Shanghai to Los Angeles to Chile to Argentina to Antarctica
December Antarctica to Argentina to Mexico to Panama Canal cruise
January Panama Canal cruise to Miami to Egypt to Jordan to Qatar to Tanzania (Zanzibar)
February Tanzania to Kenya to Doha to Shanghai
More updates on my trip to come (as well as more on China)…