South Africans do not require a visa in advance, and it is free. The completion of the carnet was a formality, and allowed the vehicle and all its contents to be imported without any other paperwork. On entering I arranged a 2-month insurance at the border (ZKw 26 250)- although when travelling through Kariba in the past, the insurance office is often closed, so one needs to arrange it in Lusaka. It is easy to change money at the border, especially since the insurance must be paid in Zambian Kwacha.
On the way back there were two differences. First that the Nakonde District Council levies a small tax (ZKw 5 000), and I was issued with an driving permit free of charge. This latter is a recent innovation that one has to approve of - it was the only time anyone asked to see my driving license on the whole trip. It was then asked for at almost every roadblock.
Since I was planning no bird-watching in Zambia on this trip (other than areas I had previously visited) I only contacted Carl Beel about campsites in the extreme north.
Although one can buy a visa at the border, I obtained a single-entry visa in advance, which seemed to be valid for both legs of the trip, as I was not required to pay on my return. The AA carnet removed all customs problems, for the vehicle contents as well as the vehicle itself. A road tax is payable, and normally a payment of US$ 25 is required for one month. However, on my return I was able to obtain a 7-day tax, which only costs US$ 5. Insurance is required - and regularly checked. It was cheaper (and possible) to buy a two-month cover for TSh 26 250 than buying the monthly cover twice. On the way back, it would have been possible to buy the yellow PTA insurance card. This is the one to get, since it covers Zambia to Kenya on a single policy. However, I had never previously been able to find a way of buying it. Money is best changed at the border, where the rates appear to be very similar to that offered at the banks.
Since I was planning no bird-watching in Tanzania on this trip, I didn't try to find out any information in advance, although I did spend some time chatting with Dave Moyer, who is the expert on the eastern arc mountains.
I did not obtain any papers for Kenya, since visas are issued free of charge to South Africans at the border. The standard AA carnet removes all border hassles for the vehicle contents as well as the vehicle itself. A vehicle permit is required, and the 2-month permit cost me US$ 20. At neither border post was insurance available, and one had to get it in Nairobi. Money is best changed at the border, where the rates appear to be very similar to that offered at the banks.
Other information was not forth-coming on the northern desert, with Steve & Don Turner unable to provide any specific information on the larks of the area. However, I was lucky enough to find two of the three hoped for larks.
Before leaving, I obtained a single-entry visa from the Ethiopian Embassy in Pretoria. I had requested a multiple-entry visa, but was informed that they could only issue a single-entry visa. The embassy also provided a letter in Amharic, which was supposed to assist me through customs. This was all that was required, and entry cost US$ 1. More problematic was getting back after visiting Djibouti. It is not possible to get a multiple-entry visa unless you have a permanent residence permit, so you must first leave Ethiopia before applying to re-enter. This is very problematic for overland visitors who might wish to go to Sudan or Djibouti - since from both countries it is essential to return to Ethiopia - unless you wish to ship your vehicle out by air or sea.
No carnet was required at the border, the letter was sufficient. It is necessary to declare all your currency, and there is no reason not to do this, since you cannot change any money other than dollars in Ethiopia, and the black-market gives worse rates than the banks. The only black-market money available was at the Moyale border post, and this is only necessary if (like me) you cross over on a Saturday afternoon. No insurance could be bought at the border, but most towns have an insurance agency. Unlike most countries to the south, there are very few checkpoints, generally only near the Moyale border, and at strategic bridges (not unreasonable for a country at war).
An Ethiopian trip: 27/11/1999 to 17/01/2000Giles Mulholland 31 January 2000