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  #1  
Old 30 Jan 2009
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getting visas on the road - advice and tales?

Hi everyone, I'm really sorry if this has been discussed before but there's SOOO much info in some sections, it gets hard to trawl through plus it gets out of date, I needed to ask! If there is a relevant thread to look at, please point me in the right direction..

Anyway, my query relates to long-term travel and organising visas as you go. We've backpack-travelled before for 5 months with all visas arranged up-front. This time we're going for about 18 months and with our own vehicle (motorbike). Due to the vagaries of travelling long-term, I accept that I can't have all the visas arranged up-front as things go wrong, timings for starting visas can be missed, etc etc. I've been trying to find out how others have managed getting their visas on-the-road, but am finding it difficult to get a handle on the whole process and how people have decided to do what they have done.

So can anyone post some details about how they have gone about it? Do you try to get several visas while in one particular country? Do you find you have to spend days waiting to get them? Do you run from one embassy to another constantly over those days? How do you deal with arriving late for the start of a visa you got 3 countries ago? Does it matter?? How do you decide which country to get your visas in and in which city?

Any specific advice anyone can provide for Central & South America and Africa, particularly West & Central Africa (we're don't have an exact route yet but know we're heading in that direction!!) would be much appreciated.

Thaks, Tam
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  #2  
Old 1 Feb 2009
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You have to get visas on the road

Hi Mrs X!

When you make a long trip you have to get your visa on the road. Where and how depends on the country and of your nationality. When I was in Tehran I spend four days to get a visa for Uzbekistan and a visa for Kazachstan. Acccording to general available information it is possible to get a visa for Kazachstan in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. But Uzbekistan and Kazachstan quarrel on a more or less regular basis and during a quarrel they close their embassies. Therefor I went for my Kazach visa in Tehran. Those things you ought to know when you are traveling. Generally it is told to you bij fellow-travellers or from websites. On this website, in de section of Africa south of the Sahara you find a thread about getting visa for Angola for example. You also should look on maps. Travelling from Tashkent to Almaty you pass a small pocket of Kirgiz territory (at least, if yoy take the main road). You have to think about that. Just for passing through it is possible to get a transitvisa at the border. If you want to spent some time in Kirgizstan you may buy your Kirgis visa in Tashkent. However, if you want to visit Kirgizstan after being in Almaty you should buy your visa in Almaty because a visa bought in Tashkent will be used by passing the territorial pocket and so you have to start again in Almaty. Yes, it is complicated! Getting visa means strategic planning! To make it a bit more complicated, the rules may differ according to nationality. For you, as a british citizen (I suppose), it is more easy to get a visa for a commonwealth country than for me, with dutch nationality; in many instances you even dont need a visa for countries were I have to queue up. On reverse, for me it is not too difficult to get a visa for Iran because The Netherlands is completely harmless according to Iranian authorities ("it is a nice country with cows and flowers") but it may be very difficult for you, as a British citizen because the UK is regarded as a colonial power. That's the way it works. According to me, the visa game is an essential part of travel experience. Take it!!


Good luck, Mart


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  #3  
Old 2 Feb 2009
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I had an irritated initial response to the original post, which concludes by asking for any specific advice regarding visas for Central and South America and much of Africa. Hey, that's fifty or more countries! All the information you crave is readily available; you've just got to do the legwork. That means some combination of phone calls to embassies, talking to other travelers (who spend almost as much time discussing the best places to get visas as they do talking about varieties of intestinal ailments and finding the best exchange rates), pouring through redundant, often inaccurate postings on your preferred internet sites, studying guidebooks, using internet search engines, etc.

Then it occurred to me that maybe the OP is asking about general approaches, not country-specific advice. This makes more sense, in a way....except that asking the question suggests a belief that there must be a magic formula of some sort--a methodical approach which applies readily to any and all situations. Well, the magic formula doesn't exist (except in Europe, where the whole concept of international borders seems substantially different from the rest of the world). For this reason it's fortunate that for a Westerner most places are really rather simple: you show up, they charge you some money or not, they stamp your passport, they wave you on through. In my experience, this is often true even when the official rules say you're supposed to have gotten a visa in advance. You only need to pay attention to the special cases.

The kind of information that really matters, and which I stash away mentally against future need, concerns the few countries which are really and truly difficult. Angola is currently giving people fits; Burma used to grant only brief transit visas; Indian and Ghanian bureaucrats are cut from the same annoying, rule-bound mold; etc. I also pay attention to countries which are notably more expensive than others (Sierra Leone and Liberia were both charging US$100 last I checked) or which require invitations (Russia, Nigeria). Note that I haven't actually been to some of these countries; I've just been listening to what people say. That way.I don't ever need to start from scratch.

Personally, I pay more attention than I like to admit to the Lonely Planet (Thorn Tree) and Hubb discussions; there's hardly anything I need to know which hasn't been addressed repeatedly by others on one or both boards. I read guidebooks, though not in any real detail. I talk to other travelers. When I'm really and truly stuck, I ask *specific* questions on-line. Sometimes, just for the hell of it, I trust my dumb luck by showing up visa-less even when I've been warned I'll be denied entry. Surprisingly, this usually works out fine. In fact, it all works out in the end, sooner or later.

To answer the specific question: well yeah, sometimes I settle into a regional center and collect visas, which can involve a certain amount of running around, but these are usually places where I want to spend a couple of days anyway. I try not to get stuck anyplace unappealing, and when there's a long wait involved I'll pay extra to expedite (almost always possible except when one country is trying to teach the other a lesson of some sort) or find something fun to do in the meantime. Is it really a problem having to kill a few days in Dakar, London or Nairobi?

There: I've written almost a page, all of which amounts to suggesting you just blunder ahead and do what comes naturally. But....if asking questions about visas, why not state your nationality? Otherwise, how will you know whether to trust whatever specific advice you're given?

Yours in a directionless, rudderless world,

Mark

Last edited by markharf; 2 Feb 2009 at 17:34. Reason: edit for clarity
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  #4  
Old 2 Feb 2009
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see my post on Sudan

Just added a new thread on my experience with Sudan.
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...543#post226484
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  #5  
Old 3 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
I had an irritated initial response to the original post, which concludes by asking for any specific advice regarding visas for Central and South America and much of Africa. Hey, that's fifty or more countries! All the information you crave is readily available; you've just got to do the legwork. ...[SNIP]

Then it occurred to me that maybe the OP is asking about general approaches, not country-specific advice. This makes more sense, in a way....except that asking the question suggests a belief that there must be a magic formula of some sort--a methodical approach which applies readily to any and all situations. Well, the magic formula doesn't exist...[SNIP]

The kind of information that really matters, and which I stash away mentally against future need, concerns the few countries which are really and truly difficult....[SNIP]

Personally, I pay more attention than I like to admit to the Lonely Planet (Thorn Tree) and Hubb discussions; there's hardly anything I need to know which hasn't been addressed repeatedly by others on one or both boards. I read guidebooks, though not in any real detail. I talk to other travelers. When I'm really and truly stuck, I ask *specific* questions on-line.
...[SNIP]

There: I've written almost a page, all of which amounts to suggesting you just blunder ahead and do what comes naturally. But....if asking questions about visas, why not state your nationality? Otherwise, how will you know whether to trust whatever specific advice you're given?

Yours in a directionless, rudderless world,

Mark
++1
In fairness, sometimes it's hard to sort out what is general/ specific; and folks have different 'styles' of search: first, reach out to ask a question vs. legwork first. It's a chronic challenge on this & every web or non-web info source.
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  #6  
Old 6 Feb 2009
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Thanks to Mart and Quastdog, that's the sort of information I was after. Keep it coming!

Thank you also to Mark for rethinking what sounded like could have been a very unpleasant read (I never saw it) and taking time to re-read my post and respond accordingly. To be fair, as I noted, I've already been doing a lot of legwork so now decided to post a question. As you realised, I was asking about general approaches, much like a number of other posts out there about 'how do you live this life', 'how do you pay for it' etc. I am certainly not under any misguided belief that there is a magical formula out there for obtaining visas! I simply thought it would be interesting to see what others have dealt with, whether they pick up one visa at a time or try to do multiples at once, and to swap some stories about it all. It's an important part of trip planning and can seriously affect the 'flow' of the trip.

As for sitting in a city for a few days, I certainly don't mind this, but don't like the idea of being stranded for a week waiting for one visa then having to race out of the country I'm in without seeing it! But I accept that is likely to happen at least once (or more). As you've noted, trying to get 'stuck' for a few days in a place you want to see is a good idea (rather than in a terrible location). So which places would you recommend (and not recommend) to visit while doing visa applications?

As for my nationality, I accidently left that out and had meant to post it - I'm Australian - but it doesn't really affect my original question. Regardless of nationality, how are people managing all this, minimising the amount of time dealing with paperwork and maximising time to see places?

Finally, regarding my request about specific advice, I've often found in posts that people ask where you're travelling and decide to respond accordingly. I was just trying to avoid that by being upfront. I don't intend people to give me advice for every country on my trip! Just some generalist advice and experiences. I've read plenty of blogs for places we're going to, but no-one seems to say 'and we chose to get our visas in this city for countries X, Y and Z because they had all the right embassies and the city was really nice'. I guess that's what I was looking for.

Cheers, Tam

Last edited by Mrs X; 6 Feb 2009 at 16:36. Reason: spelling
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  #7  
Old 6 Feb 2009
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As you say there seems to be no magic formula to the visa problem and we are in the same boat so are going to get as many as possible before we leave the UK, I was wondering if your occupation made a BIG difference in getting one ? if that is the case what should we put and will it be checked ? ( I'm a self employed data/telecomms engineer, will they think i'm a spy ;-) )
With respect the responce you have had I think it seems to be a USA/UK/Europe divide !

Regards
Pete
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