Obtaining visas in order to travel overland from Morocco to Cape Town is the major challenge of this trip. On this page, I hope to give as complete information on getting visas as I can. Information is sparse and most travellers doing this trip have been relying on www.horizonunlimited.com, a travel blog/forum. But visa information is in a constant flux as staff at embassies and country requirements change frequently. Prices change frequently and go up often on a yearly basis. Few are cheap and most cost in the 100$ range.
One couple traveling this route visited every embassy in each country they traveled through and were able to obtain the necessary visas. That would be onerous but one way to make it all happen.
Download the appropriate number of application forms online and have them printed ideally at home.
For countries that require you to obtain visas at home but they will expire before you get there, embassies in many countries along the way will extend those expired visas, even though they won’t issue a new visa. Therefore it is always best to get the visa even though it may expire if it is necessary to do so in your home country. If there is no embassy in your home country, this may help you get visas along the way, but is not guaranteed. At home you can use embassies in neighbouring countries.
Before leaving home, obtain the following paperwork.
30 copies of passport information page.
30 passport photos.
10 copies of yellow fever certificate.
2 copies of credit card.
All these should be on A4 sized paper.
Passenger Manifest. Before your trip prepare a passenger manifest using Excel or similar graph that lists: Name (surname, first and other names), Sex, Nationality, Passport #, Country, Date of birth, Occupation, City of birth, Issue and Expiry date of passport, City where passport issued, Parents first names, Profession and Visa number for country in. Ideally the headings should be in the language of the country traveling through. Make many copies (5-10 per country) as they hugely simplify travel. This manifest is requested at every police/military checkpoint and embassy so literally hundreds are necessary.
A passport with at least 26 available pages is necessary, more if you plan on going to Lesotho, Swaziland and/or Mozambique once in South Africa.
This is the only visa that MUST be obtained in your home country before departing. As the visa is issued for only 3 months, and as we were to be in Ghana just within that 3 month time frame, it needed to be applied for just before leaving home (mine arrived back the day before I had to leave my apartment for London).
We had 3 people on the trip who left London without this visa. The Indian man was refused when applying in India, but was able (by knowing someone in immigration Accra) to get a letter with the visa but I think this would be difficult! At the Ghana border, it took 3 hours and several phone calls to Accra to sort his unusual visa.
A New Zealand/British couple on our trip had to fly back to London from Marrakesh to get their visas and missed about 9 days of the trip. The NZ woman was able to use her British work permit so applied in London rather than couriering her passport home to Auckland. They were able to rejoin the trip in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
Apparently this visa can be obtained in Burkina Fassa and Dakar, Senegal.
We met a Swedish couple with two small children doing the same Morocco to Cape Town trip as us, but over a 10-month period. They had no visas when we met them in Senegal (if you can read Swedish, or get their posts translated, follow their trip on www.familjpaaventyr.com). They were able (as Swedes) to get a Ghana visa in Dakar, Senegal as were a Hungarian couple I met.
The visa has many requirements. Refer to their web site in your home country.
Visa-free. Most visitors to Morocco have visa-free entry and are allowed to remain in the country for 90 days on entry. Schengen member states, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Hong Kong (30 days), Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Niger, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore (30 days), South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela
Exceptions to this include nationals of Israel, and most sub-Saharan African countries (including South Africa). Moroccan embassies have been known to insist that you get a visa from your country of origin.
Extensions. Simplest to leave (eg travel to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla) and come back a few days later. Your chances improve if you re-enter by a different route. The Spanish enclaves have the same visa requirements as mainland Spain.
Visas for Onward Travel Four visas were obtained in Rabat and it is important to start on a Monday and do them in a specific order in order to get all four in 5 days.
Mauritania. Everyone, except nationals of Arab League countries and some African countries, needs a visa, which is valid for a one-month stay. These are issued in 48 hours at the Mauritanian embassy in Rabat (apply before noon). Visas cost Dh1,450, with two photos and a passport photocopy. An onward air ticket to Nouakchott is not required. Get to the embassy well before the 9am opening time, and be prepared to fight for your place in the queue. They do not keep your passports. As a result get this visa first when in Rabat. After doing all the paperwork, go to the Mali Embassy, just down the street.
Mali. This is a very friendly embassy – it issues visas in an hour for 250Dh with no photos or other requirements.
Cote d’Ivoire. Rabat is the best place to get this visa and go there immediately after Mali as they keep your passports. They actually stayed 2 hours after closing on Monday to enable all 21 of us to do the paperwork. It takes 2 days and considerable bureaucracy – everyone in our 22 person group entered individually, were photographed and fingerprinted and picked up the visas in 48 hours. It is necessary to pay for the visas online at home (68 euros) and print out the receipt to give to the embassy.
Guinea. Visas take 2 days and cost 750Dh. Need 2 pictures. As soon as your passports are obtained from Cote d’Ivoire, go to the Guinea Embassy and apply.
Everyone, except nationals of Arab League countries and some African countries, needs a visa, which is valid for a one-month stay. These are issued in 48 hours at the Mauritanian embassy in Rabat (apply before noon). Visas cost Dh1,450, with two photos and a passport photocopy. An onward air ticket to Nouakchott is not required. Get to the embassy well before the 9am opening time, and be prepared to fight for your place in the queue. They do not keep your passports. As a result get this visa first when in Rabat. After doing all the paperwork, go to the Mali Embassy, just down the street.
Visas for onward travel.
Democratic Republic of Congo. In the past, Oasis Overland has obtained that in Ghana, but there were many difficulties. So Steve decided to try getting it in Nouakchott. After long negotiation, they decided to give us one. It was difficult to convey the message of when we wanted the visa to start. The earliest we would arrive in the DRC was projected to be March 5. Steve thought they would give a 3-month visa so requested they start it on February 12. They did but the visa was only for one month and ended on March 12, a few days after we arrived!
Cost 100 euros. Need two photos. Required 1 day.
Free visa on arrival for everyone on the trip including the Indian. Actual yellow fever vaccination certificate required. There were unexpected costs for the vehicle permit.
Visas for onward travel:
Sierra Leone. Requires 2 days at the embassy in Dakar. 2 passport photos, photocopy of passport, Yellow fever copy, hotel booking, itinerary of trip specific for Sierra Leone. Cost 60,000CFA, 120,000 for UK citizens.
Liberia. Requires 2 days, 1 passport photo, copy of passport, yellow fever vaccination. Cost 90,000CFA.
Ghana. Several independent travellers were able to obtain their Ghana visa here.
This visa was obtained easily (in about one hour) at the Mali Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. Requires 2 passport photos. Cost 250Dh.
Visas for Onward Travel.
Nigeria. The only reason our trip went to Mali was to obtain the Nigerian visa. In Steve’s experience this is the best embassy to use but it was still cumbersome and took over 2 days.
Cost depended on country from a low of 40,000CFA for New Zealanders and Australians to 70,000 for British (Canada 65,000).
This visa was obtained in the Guinea Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. Visas take 2 days and cost 750Dh.
This visa was obtained in Dakar, Senegal. Requires 2 days, 2 passport photos, photocopy of passport, Yellow fever copy, hotel booking, itinerary of trip specific for Sierra Leone. Cost 60,000CFA, 120,000 for UK citizens.
This visa was obtained in Dakar, Senegal. Requires 2 days, 1 passport photo, copy of passport, yellow fever vaccination,. Cost 90,000CFA.
Rabat is the best place to get this visa and go there immediately after Mali as they keep your passports. They actually stayed 2 hours after closing on Monday to enable all 21 of us to do the paperwork. It takes 2 days and considerable bureaucracy – everyone in our 22 person group entered individually, were photographed and fingerprinted and picked up the visas in 48 hours. We had paid for our visas online at home (68 euros) and printed out the receipt to give to the embassy.
This is the only visa that MUST be obtained in your home country before departing. As the visa is issued for only 3 months, and as we were to be in Ghana just within that 3 month time frame, it needed to be applied for just before leaving home (mine arrived back the day before I had to leave my apartment for London and the start of the trip).
On the trip, we met several independent travels who obtained a Ghana visa in Dakar, Senegal. It apparently can also be obtained in Burkina Faso.
The visa has many requirements (4 copies each with a passport photo, proof of flights in and out, letter of invitation). Refer to the requirements listed in the Ghana Embassy web page in your home country. As our trip was arriving overland, a letter outlining your itinerary is necessary. ]][[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
Visas for onward travel:
Angola. Cost US$300. Required 10 days.
Togo. Cost 35,000 CFA + 50 Ghana cedis administration fee.
Benin. Cost 140 Ghana cedis.
This visa was obtained in Accra, Ghana in one day.
Cost 35,000 CFA + 50 Ghana cedis administration fee.
Visas for onward travel:
Gabon. Cost 65,000 CFA.
Congo. Cost 90,000 CFA.
This visa was obtained in one day in Accra, Ghana.
Cost 140 Ghana cedis (US$14).
The only reason to go to Mali was to obtain the Nigerian visa. In Steve’s experience this is the best embassy to use but it was still cumbersome and took 3 days.
Cost depended on country from a low of 40,000CFA for New Zealanders and Australians to 70,000 for British (Canada 65,000).
Visas for Onward Travel:
Cameroon. Application took 36 hours. Cost 100$US.
Applied in Abuja, Nigeria. Yellow fever vaccination.
This visa was obtained in Lome, Togo. Two photos, yellow fever vaccination and photocopy of passport. It was received the day we applied.
Cost 65,000 CFA.
This visa was obtained in Lome, Togo.
Cost 90,000 CFA, up from 60,000 the year before.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
In the past, Oasis Overland has obtained that in Ghana, but there were many difficulties. So Steve decided to try getting it in Nouakchott. After long negotiation, they decided to give us one. It was difficult to convey the message of when we wanted the visa to start. The earliest we would arrive in the DRC was projected to be March 5. Steve thought they would give a 3-month visa so requested they start it on February 12. They did but the visa was only for one month and ended on March 12, a few days after we arrived!
Cost 100 euros. Need two photos. Required 1 day.
This visa was obtained in Accra, Ghana. It required 9 days but the embassy did not require possession of our passports so the Togo and Benin visas could be obtained while we waited. We were able to go to Cape Coast and Elmina during the waiting time. The visa was actually available on day 8, but the cost (an exorbitant US$300) had to be deposited in a local bank and the stamps were inserted on day 9. The truck traveled to Akosombo in the Volta area of Ghana and Steve took a taxi into Accra to pick up our passports on day 10.
Required documents: Copy Ghana visa, translated UK to RSA itinerary, completed visa application, 3 passport photos, hotel reservation, support letter from Oasis, 1 passport copy, copy credit card, copy drivers driving license, copy Angola visas issued previously, copy yellow fever vaccination.
Some countries are required to obtain visas at home for Namibia, two that I am aware of are India and Hungary (and most Eastern European countries). The only embassy that will issue visas to non-nationals is in Abuja, Nigeria. Our Indian passenger was able to obtain one there.
Hungary presents an unusual problem as there is no Namibian embassy in Hungary and that often works to get a visa on the road. Using that as an excuse had not helped them in any of the embassies that they had tried. There last hope was Luanda, Angola or possibly Brazzaville, Congo.
Travellers from most Commonwealth countries (including Australia and Canada but not New Zealand who must obtain the visa at home), Western European countries, Japan and the USA are issued with a free 90-day visitor’s permit on arrival. Your passport must be valid fro at least 30 days after the end of your stay.
If you aren’t entitled to an entry permit, you’ll need to get a visa before you arrive. Visas aren’t issued at the borders.
Visas for onward travel. Many nationalities don’t require a visa to enter Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana for limited periods.
Mozambique. It’s cheaper to pick up a visa on the border rather than using the one-day service available at consulates.
Zimbabwe. Visas should be available at the border for most nationalities but given the country’s volatility, it may be expedient to apply at the High Commission in Pretoria.
Citizens of most Western European countries, the USA and most Commonwealth countries are granted a free entry permit at the border or airport. The standard stay permitted is between 14 and 28 days and is renewable by leaving and reentering or by application to the Director of Immigration & Passport Services. No vaccination certificates are required unless you have recently been in a yellow fever area.
Most people don’t need a visa, but if they do, one can be obtained from the Swaziland High Commission in Pretoria. If staying for longer than 30 days, apply for an extension of stay.
EAST AFRICA This is very brief and incomplete (I have not traveled in East Africa and these are things told by fellow travellers).
EGYPT. Visas are required for most foreigners, and are vailable for most nationalities at airports on arrival.
Airport-arrival single-entry tourist visas are valid for 30 days and cost US$15, payable in US dollars, British pounds or euros. Multiple-entry visas are applied for in advance or issued at visa extension offices within Egypt.
South Sinai free 15-day visas are issued at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport, and are valid for travel between Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba, including St Katherine’s Monastery but not Ras Mohammed National Park. If you plan to travel to other parts of Egypt, buy a normal single-entry tourist visa upon arrival at the airport instead.
Travelling by ferry from Jordan, visas are available at Nuweiba Port on arrival.
From Israel, a South Sinai free 15-day visa can be issued at Taba border. Single-entry tourist visa at the border are only available if guaranteed by an Egyptian travel agency; otherwise, apply in advance in Tel Aviv or at the consulate in Eilat.
At the time of research it was not possible to get an Egyptian visa at the Libyan border: apply in advance. Overland from Sudan, visas are available on the Wadi Halfa ferry for most nationalities, though check before departure.
You’ll need one photo and two photocopies each of your passport’s data page and the visa page. The fee depends on where you apply but is about E£50. Multiple-entry visas can be applied for at the same time and cost an extra E£60.
Everyone, except Egyptians, needs a visa (if there is evidence of travel to Israel you will be denied) and getting one could be the worst part of your trip. Some embassies are easier to deal with than others and in all cases a transit visa (which gives you up to a fortnight to transit the country) is easier to get than a month-long tourist visa. Currently Cairo and Aswan (Egypt) remain the easiest places to get a visa; they are normally issued in a couple of days or even less in the case of Aswan. A tourist visa is very hard to get in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), but transit visas are possible. In Europe the embassy in London is barely worth bothering with, but at the time of writing the embassy in Paris was issuing tourist visas within 48 hours; in the US it’s a slow old process to say the least! Expect all this information to change constantly.
If you need a tourist visa rather than a transit visa, it helps to let an agent arrange it. Most of the time they will get you a counter visa: they arrange everything at the Ministry of Interior in Khartoum and you pick it up at the airport. This service is likely to cost around US$150 and, if you are lucky, can take as little as two days. The other option (used primarily by those crossing overland, since it costs more) is an invitation visa, in which you are sent a number that you give the embassy or consulate that should speed up the normal process. With either option, there is a good chance something will go wrong along the way, so get started as early as possible. If the listed tour companies give you the run around, it’s also worth trying some of the hotels in Khartoum. The Bougainvilla Guesthouse and Acropole Hotel are very helpful in this regard.
You have to register within three days of arrival in Khartoum, Port Sudan, Gallabat or Wadi Halfa. In Khartoum, go to the Aliens Registration Office (61 St, Al-Diyum East; 8am-2.15pm) ; the process costs S£241. You need one photo and photocopies of your passport and visa (there’s a photocopier in the building) and a letter from a sponsor in Sudan; your hotel will normally act as your sponsor and provide you with the required letter. Even cheap hotels should be able to do this although you might have to go and collect the required form from the office for them to fill in. If for some reason your hotel can’t or won’t do this then tour companies such as Mashansharti Travel Agency will complete all the registration formalities for you for S£60. If you’re travelling with a tour company they will take care of this for you. If doing it all independently allow several hours and a headache.”
“There is also another office at the airport. Technically this office is only for emergency cases and shouldn’t be relied on, but on Fridays, when the main office is closed, you can do it here.
If you registered on entry at a land border, you need to do it again in Khartoum, but you don’t have to pay again. In many towns you will need to register with the police – this is free.
The Sudanese authorities have always been renowned for their paranoia about foreigners nosing about their country, and travel permits were required for journeys to more sensitive areas outside Khartoum. Recently, however, the authorities have become even more paranoid and now any and all travel outside Khartoum requires a permit. Take one photo and a copy of your passport and visa to the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife (0911121856; Al-Mashtal St, Riyadh; 8am-4pm Sun-Thu) in the Riyadh area south of the city centre. A permit covering everywhere featured in this book (except the Nuba Mountains, which are out of bounds) can be issued on the spot. “they are accompanied by their husband or brother (and can prove it).
South Sudan Not the most helpful of embassies and more than a little vague about what is required in order to obtain a tourist visa! What you will need though is a hotel reservation/letter of invitation, S£180 and two passport photos. Visas take two days to issue. This permit is a combined travel and photograph permit. Carry dozens of photocopies of this permit along with copies of your passport and visa to give to police.
Visas for Onward Travel
Visas for the following neighbouring countries are available from embassies in Khartoum.
Egypt This consulate is not the most organised place – arrive early to beat the worst queues. You’ll need two photos and US$20. The visa is ready the same day. It’s easier to get a tourist visa on arrival (which most but not all nationalities can do), especially if you’re flying.
Ethiopia. One-month visas cost US$20 and require two photos. You can pick your visa up the same day.
Saudi Arabia. Visa applications are handled by travel agencies (many of which surround the embassy), which can get you a transit visa in two days (perhaps one day if you go very early). You need a visa to a neighbouring country (normally Jordan), two photos, a letter of introduction from your embassy and US$100. Visas are not issued during the haj and nor are they issued to unmarried women under 40 unless they are accompanied by their husband or brother (and can prove it).
South Sudan. Not the most helpful of embassies and more than a little vague about what is required in order to obtain a tourist visa! What you will need though is a hotel reservation/letter of invitation, S£180 and two passport photos. Visas take two days to issue.
Nationals of most Western countries can obtain tourist visas on arrival at Bole International Airport. The process is painless and the one-month tourist visa costs only US$20, substantially less than that charged at some Ethiopian embassies abroad.
Be aware that visas are not available at any land border. If traveling south, visas are usually issued within 5 days at the land border but this is not possible if traveling north.
Ethiopian visas in Narirobi. Bad news for overlanders! Ethiopian visas are only ”
SOMALILAND. Visas only available in Ethiopia.
This post is incomplete and will be updated when I have time.