Monday 2 November 2015

Zambia Launches e-VISA

The Zambia Tourism Agency (formerly Zambia Tourism Board) is pleased to announce that the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Home Affairs (Department of Immigration) launched the e-Visa facility on Wednesday, 14th October, 2015 at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.

What is an e-Visa?
An e-Visa is an alternative to conventional visas issued by the Department of Immigration in Zambia (through Headquarters, Ports of Entry and Zambia Missions) permitting foreigners who require visas to enter Zambia. Applicants therefore, may obtain their e-Visa approval letter electronically after submitting required information and payment is made by Cash and Credit or Debit Card (Master or Visa) at the point of entry.

The link to download your e-Visa is given on the final step where you will be informed that your application has been completed successfully. In addition, the same link to download your e-Visa will be emailed to you. Immigration Officers at Ports of Entry can verify your e-Visa on their system. However, you are advised to download and keep the hard copy of your e-Visa Approval Letter.

As in the case with other visas, respective Zambian Officials at the Port of Entry reserve the right to deny entry into Zambia to a holder of an e-Visa Approval Letter without any explanation.

The e-Visa facility is open to all foreign nationals who require visas to come to Zambia and can be accessed through the following web portal:

e-Visa Fees
The normal visa fees shall apply as follows:
·         Single Entry-US$ 50
·         Double /Multiple Entry -US$ 80
·         Transit US $50
·         Day Tripper US$ 20

For regular updates and for any changes to pricing, visit the Immigration website: 

Normal validity rules shall apply

e-Visa processing time
For nationals that may obtain visas at ports of entry, the e-Visa will take 3 working days to process and for nationals that require visas prior to travel to Zambia processing time will take a minimum of 5 working days.

Benefits of e-Visa:
·         Convenient and reduces logistical cost
·         Paperless administrative processes
·         Broader reach
·         Optimised use of human resources

Further Details
For further details and enquiries, please get in touch with:
The Public Relations Office
Department of Immigration Headquarters
Tel: +260 211 255282 (PR)
Tel: +260 211 252622 (Customer Service Centre)
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Thursday 16 October 2014

Ebola in Africa

I recently read an article written by Great Lakes Safaris Uganda providing extensive information about the Ebola outbreak and threat.  I thought it was very well written and very interesting.  I have asked Great Lakes to allow me to publish their article here, and they are very happy for me to spread the word.

Although the article refers to to East Africa and specifically to Uganda, the content is absolutely true for South and Southern Africa.  I think it is a very worthwhile read for anyone thinking of travelling to Africa.

Thank you to Great Lakes for a clear and well written article.

Uganda free of Ebola and Marburg virus

"I'm going to Africa and I won't get Ebola" 

Since the last couple of months, the continent of Africa is more and more linked to the word ‘Ebola’, which is frightening many people. Understandable. The deadly virus has killed at least 4,000 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Having that said, Africa is more than only the western part. It’s the world second largest continent and contains 54 different countries. Countries that are all suffering from the impact of the Ebola outbreak, especially East Africa.

For travelers there is virtually no risk of contracting the deadly virus when going on safari in Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania. It would be a shame if all the panic over Ebola and the confusion about geography kept them from visiting a vast, varied and beautiful continent.

We will give you 5 reasons why Uganda (and other East African destinations) are completely safe:

1. Africa is a continent, not a country
As already explained, Africa contains more than 50 individual countries. It is over 30 million sq km, a size that can fit the entire Europe, United States, Alaska and China!

2. Distances
The current outbreak is largely confined to a region that is closer to Europe than it is to most of the popular safari destinations. In fact, Paris in France is closer to the outbreak area as Uganda’s capital city Kampala.
3. Actual cases of Ebola
Currently Uganda has fewer cases of Ebola (zero!) than the USA or Spain; it’s completely free!

4. Risk of transmission
The deadly virus can be contracted only through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who is already showing the symptoms. Ebola is not spread through the air, by water or by food.
Click here for more facts about the Ebola virus.

5. Experience & Precautionary measures
The Ugandan Ministry of Health has dealt with Ebola cases in the past and has gained experience in controlling such calamities. This can be drawn from the recent example when the country was sharing its experience at the UN conference addressing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The government has intensified campaigns to educte the public on the virus and how to manage a possible outbreak in the country. They provide updates on the status of Ebola in West Africa and remind people to be alert and vigilant, and advise to postpone all travel to Ebola affected countries. The Ugandan government has recently also intensified screening of travellers coming into the country at its main airport and other border ports.

The East African community stands together against Ebola and other countries have introduced similar measures.

Statistically, the chance of contracting Ebola on safari is effectively zero. You are significantly more likely to be killed by a falling coconut!

Or attract a completely other type of virus, also known as the “Africa virus” which makes you want to come back to Africa again and again. Definitely very dangerous and contagious!

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Friday 10 October 2014

Work Life Balance

Isn't that the simplest notion - divide up your time, equally, amongst the areas in your life that require attention - apportioning it happily across family, friends, work, charitable works, sport, excercise and health, leisure time and your career.

HAHAHAHAHAHA - what a joke.  It is just about impossible to achieve.  There simply aren't enough hours in the day.  And, for goodness sake, wasn't the electronic age supposed to be labour-saving, add efficiencies and give us mere mortals untold hours of extra capacity.  Instead, we seem to be, more than ever, bombarded with information and mis-information - on call and available every moment of every day!  It seems to me that my destination of choice at this moment, would be anywhere in the world that has no cell phone signal!

Any game lodge would do - and if there were no ellies, even better!

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Wednesday 10 September 2014

Walking with Lions

Walking and interacting with wild animals is an amazing and profound experience.  There are so many options - petting cheetah cubs, or lion cubs, visiting animal sanctuaries, with the possibility to pet the exotic creatures that live there.  Recently, I visited a cat sanctuary and the highlight was petting the fully grown cheetahs.  There must have been at least 50 people in the enclosure.  The cheetah looked positively shell-shocked.  What was supposed to be a fantastic happy experience was simply miserable.  As much as us humans get a thrill out of these up-close encounters they harbour a dark and miserable secret...

I am by no means an expert, but, we at Discovering Africa, and, our sister companies, including Thompsons Africa will not sell the Walking with Lions experiences that are all too available within Africa.  The reason is this:  Once the juveniles become too big, and pose a threat to the tourists, they are sold off and used in the canned hunting trade.  It is a despicable practice that I urge everybody to learn about in order to avoid inadvertantly supporting.

Please don't book Walking with Lions.

Some of the sanctuaries do fantastic work.  Please research very carefully the organisations that you support.

There is lots to know and understand and I feel that I have hardly begun to know....
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Monday 28 July 2014

Tea With Grandma at the Best Hotel in the World (The Oyster Box)

I met up with a client yesterday, for High Tea at the Oyster Box - which, in case I haven't mentioned before, is the best hotel in the World!!  I love it - it is so happy and joyful - loads of treats and special attention.

Anyway, that is not what was the most special aspect of this visit.  My client, Nadine, lost her husband and travelling companion, many years ago.  They had travelled extensively together and upon his death Nadine feared that her travelling days were over.  But then, she struck on the idea - each year she would take one of her grandchildren on an exotic holiday - she has ten.  This time, she was travelling with 12 year old Erik - he is number 6. So, she has 4 more years to go - and then, her children are demanding that it  is their turn next!

It was wonderful to see the interaction between Grandma and Erik.  They are truly generations apart, but, the excitment and wonder of this trip was absolutely palpable to see.  Erik was just about bursting with the thrill of his experience, his grandma and I could barely get a word in edgeways!  He has been exposed to new sights and sounds, tastes, cultures and circumstances.  And he and his gran have bonded on a one-on-one basis in a unique and extraordinary way.  It has been a fantastic experience for him, and, as Nadine says - when life sends you lemons, make lemonade!

When I asked her which has been her favourite trip she said: "The next one"

How fabulous - I am stealing that - my favourite trip is also The Next One

Until next time x

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Tuesday 24 June 2014

Thank you and hambe gahle

That means - thank you and "go well".

It was with some trepidation that I asked Francois to be my Guest Blogger during his travels.

Firstly, I thought, what a cheek - it is an imposition and too much to expect and, secondly I thought, what if things go horribly wrong and they have an awful time!!!

Anyway, I decided that it would be an interesting exercise, and, taking risks does add an element of excitement, so, I figured the pro's outweighed the con's.

On the first issue - I think Francois enjoyed his Blogging job - I don't think it did become onerous and, I guess, had he got fed up with it, he could have given up on it, with no hard feelings.

On the second issue - well...  Perhaps it is the nature of travel that things can and will go wrong.  It is how these hiccups are resolved that make the difference, and prove a measure of the worth of the tour operator or travel professional.  It is fantastic to work for a company that has such a solid reputation throughout our Region - our suppliers are diligent about providing a top class service, and, if for whatever reason they fall short in this delivery, they generally do all necessary to make good.

I think that the few hiccups that Francois encountered were speedily resolved.  The grumpy border officials, and in-efficient airline staff are probably the "luck-of-the-draw" in Africa and, actually, anywhere in the world!  I had a very interesting body-search by an American security officer once - I really thought he should have sent me flowers afterwards!  Often during my travels the border staff have been charming and lovely, but, once, travelling with friends and family, they were just revolting!

I think our guest blogging experiment was an unmitigated success and I enjoyed the experience a lot.

Thank you Francois for your wonderful African Tale!

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Monday 9 June 2014

Homeward Bound...

We've come a full circle - almost.  We are flying home as I write this.
Let me answer the easy questions first.
Yes we had a great time.
Yes we felt safe everywhere we went.  (Of course, we applied common sense and big city rules in our travel and were aware of that crime is an issue that South Africa is aggressively combating.)
Yes absolutely we would use Elizabeth Edwards as our southern Africa travel consultant again.
If one had enough time and money to visit one of the countries we visited which one would it be - South Africa is hands down the first choice.  Zimbabwe would be a close second.
Now for some final random thoughts and musings.
We've travelled extensively in the USA and internationally - pretty much as independent travellers. We wanted to do an African trip on our own without relying on a guided mass sales tour or using a package reseller who has never set in Africa.
The down side is that as independent travellers things can go wrong and as much as I plan and research (and pester Elizabeth with questions) the resolution of issues cannot simply be delegated to the tour leader.
We also recognize that we covered a lot of ground in various modes of transportation - after a few weeks of driving, flying, flight connections and such the rigors of travel would catch up with us.  This especially true when things happen at a much slower pace.  Or if minor expected conveniences such as a jetway to get to a plane, orderly boarding of an aircraft and an orderly retreival of luggage usually never materialized.
In many instances along our travels we were approached by people who wanted to sell us something or ask for spare change (even in Cape Town) and invariably one had to negotiate and bargain for many purchases.  That could be a grind.
We encountered first hand the issue of luggage theft and tampering in Jo'burg airport.  Very early in our trip one of our suitcases was tampered with - locks picked and contents ransacked but nothing of value or interest so nothing was stolen.  But we still felt violated on a certain level.    The solution was to wrap all our luggage for every subsequent leg of our trip.
And yes the domestic airline we used several time manged to lose one of our bags on one of the last legs of our trip.  Of course, that is an expected part of travel. The unexpected and unacceptable part is the lackedaisical and almost apethetic response to this fact of travel that we encountered.
Speaking of the domestic airline - carry on luggage (hand luggage) is a source of constant irritation for airline staff and passengers (all over the world).  Yet in South Africa we observed people who appeared to be locals ignore the airline rules with impunity.  In many cases the individuals would simply argue or walk past gate agents, ramp personnel and even the flight crew with a certain sense of entitlement.  Yet, over and over again the tourist types would be singled out for arbitrary and uneven application of baggage rules even when none were violated.  Full disclosure: I filed a formal complaint against the purser of one of our flights for her complete and utter unprofessionalism and extreme discourtesy.
As one reads this post one may get the impression that the trip was a dismal failure.  This is CATEGORICALLY not true.  We had a FANTASTIC time and have had memorable experiences which will continue to mould us as individuals interested in travel and more importantly as humans looking for a better future for all of us.
I mention and blog about our experiences not to dissuade anyone from making a simply magnificant trip to Africa.
I hope our experiences will prove helpful in others' planning and establishing a base line of expectations - both crucial aspects of a successful trip.  Keep in mind a trip to Africa is not similar to a trip in Europe or USA.
Elziabeth, thank you for all your help and giving me the opportunity to describe our experiences.
Borrowing a phrase, we indeed have dreamed the destination and lived the journey!

Hope many others do the same.
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