Travel Guide for all Central African Countries
The Central African Travel Guide will make your travel to these countries easier, a success and more informative. Below are some travel tips that will come in handy whilst preparing your holiday to these areas. While we endeavor to update this information as soon as possible, we advise you to consult the nearest embassy or consular office for up to date information as some of this information may change with time. This information helps you prepare for your holiday and be aware of what to expect when landing in the following Central African Countries; Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.
Baggage space on safari is limited to one medium suitcase or hold-all per person, plus hand baggage (private safaris where there are less than 5 people in the vehicle are not subject to this restriction). Visitors to Treetops and the Ark are asked to take overnight bags only. Suitcases can be left at the base hotels. Hotels will generally store baggage at no extra cost, and baggage may also be stored at the Global Bush Travel and Tourism offices. A baggage weight restriction of 15 kgs per person applies on air safaris, and where very small aircraft are used, this restriction may be reduced to 10 kgs.
French and English are the official languages in Cameroon, French language in Gabon, Chad and Central African Republic, English and Portuguese languages in Sao Tome and Principe, French and Spanish Languages in Equatorial Guinea, French and Lingala official languages in the Congo’s. In addition, most tribes have their own dialects / languages. All the people you will interact with in hotels, lodges, airport and your driver guides will be fluent in either of the above official languages. Clients should specify on time which language they will be comfortable with during their tour. Most of our drivers and guides will speak English or French or a local language called pidgin, while some are multi-lingua; speaking fluent Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese and Mandarin among other languages.
HEALTH AND IMMUNISATION
Since rules concerning disease prevention vary from time to time, most current information should be sought from our office via email and we shall reply immediately, or in the following authorities; the Embassies / High Commissions of Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic and Tourist Offices or from any airline flying scheduled services into these Countries from your country of residence prior to traveling. Malaria is endemic to most parts of Central Africa and intending visitors should start taking anti-malarial tablets before departure and should continue taking them for the prescribed period of time after their return home. A mosquito repellent is also advisable. If on medication, it is best to take a supply of medicines to last the entire trip. Yellow-Fever vaccination is mandatory; however we would recommend that you check with your local authorities as some countries do not require their nationals to immunize against yellow-fever.
Hotels and Game Lodges supply clean drinking water in Thermos Flasks for drinking or brushing; bottled mineral water is available widely everywhere in the country at all supermarkets, lodges and hotels and we highly recommend the use of mineral water. Please do not consume any tap water during your trip.
Visitors may import, duty-free, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, and one litre of spirit.
Hard currencies can be exchanged in cash at banks all over these countries , and in most large hotels and lodges. US Dollars, Euro and Sterling Pounds are most acceptable and will cause the least delay. As a norm, always inquire as to what commission and charges will be deducted first and prior to transaction. Banks are opened from 08:30 hrs to 15:00 hrs on weekdays and from 09:00 hrs to 12:00 hrs on Saturdays. The unit of currency is the Francs CFA (XAF) in Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic. In Sao Tome and Principe the unit currency is Dobra (STD), in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the Congolese franc (CDF). Visit our home page for your most updated currency exchange rates. Most major credit cards such as VISA, MASTERCARD & AMERICAN EXPRESS are rarely accepted for tourist services throughout the country.
January 1, 11 February, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 1, 20 May, 15 August and December 25. Feast of the Ramadan (Religious Holidays for Muslims)
There is a big variety of souvenirs to take home. Most hotels have licensed souvenir shops and there are a large number of such outlets in the main towns. City markets are opened daily where one can purchase souvenirs, besides it can also be purchased in major tourist hotels and airport.
WHAT TO WEAR
Summer clothing is worn throughout the year, although at times a jacket and light raincoat may be necessary for the rainy season.
June through to May is the rainy season where temperatures at altitude level can drop to abo22oc. So carry a pullover/sweater to stay warm. In fact most national parks are at an altitude of over 1500m above sea level, so early mornings and evenings are quite cool.
On safari, wear neutral colors, such as brown, beige and khaki – bright colors may alarm the animals. Casual wear is the norm during the day, a short-sleeved shirt for men, light cotton dresses, or a skirt and top for women. In the evening, in some hotels and restaurants, particularly in the cities, men may be required to wear a jacket and tie, while women will feel more comfortable in a cocktail dress.
Sunglasses and a hat for protection against the sun are recommended and swimsuits should be packed for the swimming pool or beach. Topless sunbathing is not permitted
WHAT TO BRING
A pair of binoculars will greatly enhance game viewing while a torch to find your way around camp after dark is a good idea. Don’t forget the camera, camcorder and a plentiful supply of film and spare batteries. Books, pencils, crayons and candy are very welcome as gifts to the children of local villages that you would pass (or visit) whilst on safari.
POST & TELEPHONES
Keeping in touch by email, telephone and mail is generally easy. Direct overseas dialing and email facilities are possible / available from major centers and increasingly from remote places such as game lodges. Call home bureaus are in plenty in Central Africa as are the cyber cafes for email and internet access. Like most public facilities, the post office hours are from 08:00hrs to 15:00 hrs Mondays to Fridays, and on Saturdays until noon.
TIPPING & GRATUITIES
Tipping is customary in Central African countries but not mandatory. Whilst the actual amount of money to tip is left at your discretion, we would like to recommend (US $ 2 – 5 per service rendered is acceptable) for porters and waiters and safari drivers / guides (US $ 8 – 15 per person per day is acceptable).
Normal precautions as in any other destination should be taken. Visitors should never carry large sums in cash and women should keep a tight grip on their handbags in crowded or busy streets. You are advised not to leave cash and valuables in your hotel rooms, but to use safe deposit boxes which are available at a minimal cost at all hotels and lodges. Jewelry snatching is quite common in crowded city streets, and as such very noticeable adornments should be avoided. As in all major cities, walking alone or in small groups at night could be considered dangerous, and should be avoided. Reliable taxis are available (your reception desk will assist you with this).
INTERNATIONAL AIR SERVICES
There are two main international airports in Cameroon; Yaoundé and Douala and other internal airports, Gabon has two main international airports; Libreville and Port Gentile, Equatorial Guinea has one main international airport in Malabo, Chad has one main international airport in Ndjamena, Republic of Congo has two main international airports; Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, Central African Republic has one main international airport in Bangui, Sao Tome and Principe has two main international airport in Sao Tome and the other in Principe, Democratic Republic Of Congo has one main international airport in Kinshasa. These airports connect the world to Central Africa with flights to and from. Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Paris, Brussels, Casablanca, Istanbul, Lagos, Lomie, Dakar, Brazzaville, Libreville and Malabo, with carriers such as; Camair-Co, S N Brussels, Air France, Ethiopian Airways , Kenya Airways , South African Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Turkish Airways, Rwanda Air, Gambia Bird, Equatorial Congo Airline,Air Senegal, Air cote d’Ivoire, Trans Air congo and Ceiber Intercontinental.
PASSPORT AND VISAS
Your passport must be valid six months after date of travel. Visas can either be obtained from the Central African countries Embassy/Consulate in your country of residence, or we assist you get the visas at customs office upon arrival at any of the International Airports in Central Africa. The amount to pay for the visa processing is vital to check with us at your time of travel.
Central Africa is +1 hour GMT.
AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX
An International airport departure tax of US$ 23 (10000FRS) or the equivalent in any other foreign currency is levied. For domestic flights charge US$ 3 (1000FRS). Your agent will advise you accordingly.
While we encourage you to carry your camera and camcorder, taking photographs at airports, parliamentary buildings, some government official buildings, near military installations of policemen, the president/presidency, the national flag, the State House, state properties and prisoners, is completely prohibited in most Central African Countries most especially in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Prior to taking photographs of local people, permission should be obtained and a fixed price agreed upon. Please seek the assistance of your driver / guide regarding this matter.
BEHAVIOUR IN TOWN
Central African Countries have several religions, with Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptist and Muslims being the most predominant. Therefore you are requested to observe certain modesty in your dressing.
BEHAVIOUR IN PARKS
The animals are at home, do not disturb their daily life, do not throw litter and do not encourage your driver to drive off the track. Don’t be disappointed if you have not seen all the species on your list, consider on the contrary that you have been lucky to see what you have seen and enjoy the landscape and the immensity.
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