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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 16 May 2006
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Exchanging $, Cape Town - Nairobi

We will be travelling from Cape Town to Nairobi (South-Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya). As we will be going as fast as we possibly can, we will not have a lot of time enroute to exchange our cash into local currencies. We will be riding every day, an average of 300 km a day, hence if exchange opportunities doesn't fall right into our lap, we will have a problem.

Our question are as follows:
  • What is the prefferred currency, US Dollars or Euros?
  • How easy is it to exhange money en route?
  • Any particular places where exchanging money will be easy or difficult? To what degree and with what implications?
  • Is it easy to exchange money at borders?
  • Should we obtain local currency for the country we are entering before entering or after? Why? How important is this?
  • Will it be difficult to sell local currencies when leaving a country?
  • Will local currencies be easy to sell at an ok rate in a neighbouring country, or should they be sold before leaving? In short, which side of the border should we buy or sell our local currencies (preferably in the same place).
  • Can we pay for stuff using US Dollars or Euros? What items? How lucrative/unlucrative is this?
  • How much cash for our estimated expenditures for one country should be bought at once. All of it? 50% of it? Enough for three days? Etc?
  • Other reccomendations and consciderations.
Any comments are appreciated, but please bare in mind that we will be travelling fast, hence we will not have a lot of time to spend on searching out monay changers, waiting in lines, waiting for money changers to open, etc.

Thanks to all of you who have been so kind to aid me so far (too many to name), and thanks again for this aditional piece of support.
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Old 2 Jun 2006
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In the last month, I have been in both South Africa and Kenya. In each country, I just take my Canadian or Swiss bank card and stuff it into a cash machine (the things are everywhere), and the cash machine then spits the local money out at me.

The exchange rate from the cash machines is excellent - it is bank rate - and you don't have to worry about carrying large amounts of cash, or trying to buy some obscure local currency in another country.

If you want to carry cash, the US dollar is King in Africa. Just be sure to bring fresh, clean, (never torn or damaged) banknotes of the very latest series - in most places in Africa, people will not accept US banknotes with print dates of 1999 or earlier.

My suggestion is that you get about US $100 worth of currency of the country you plan to visit first prior to landing there (meaning, buy it in Europe or wherever), then use a bank card for the rest of your trip. If you carry two bank cards (a Visa and a MasterCard) that are both capable of making cash withdrawals from your bank account (not credit card advances), you will be all set. Just be sure to test out the bank account withdrawal function of the two cards thoroughly at home - sometimes the PIN numbers are different if you are making a bank account withdrawal - and notify your credit card company of your intent to travel in Africa before you leave.

I kind of suspect that Botswana and Tanzania will be equally as contemporary as Kenya and South Africa so far as bank machines (ATMs) are concerned, but I don't know for sure. As for Zambia - I think that place is kind of screwed up, I wouldn't count on finding functional ATMs there.

Last edited by PanEuropean; 2 Jun 2006 at 01:18.
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Old 2 Jun 2006
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There are plenty of ATMs in Zambia, particularly in Livingstone and Lusaka.
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Old 2 Jun 2006
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South Africa


it is no problem to change € into ZAR. Also here are ATMs at every corner, but they also charge fees. And by some ATM you only can draw 1000 Rand. Absa ATMs are nomaly good for 3000 Rand.

c u

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