A Visa Safari in Vain (Or, an Opportunity to Learn From Our Mistakes)

N.B.: Apologies for the delay in posting updates. The last couple of weeks have been pretty much non-stop sightseeing and meeting up with friends and family abroad … culminating in flying back to the United States! Now that we’re done traveling (for now, at least), we’ll have plenty of time to post about the rest of our adventures in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe!

Here’s something that we learned the hard way: If you’re an American, you can’t just pop into the Sudanese embassy in Addis Ababa and leave with a visa.

You may recall that our original itinerary had us traveling overland from Southern Africa to Cairo. We made the hard decision to skip Kenya, but we still planned to travel through Sudan on our way from Ethiopia to Egypt.

Sudan, conveniently located between Ethiopia and Egypt.
Sudan, conveniently located between Ethiopia and Egypt.
Continue reading A Visa Safari in Vain (Or, an Opportunity to Learn From Our Mistakes)

Rain, Museums, & Pizza in Addis Ababa

We loved Uganda (it ranks among our favorite countries visited on this trip), but we were looking forward to Ethiopia. We weren’t just excited about the food or the famous sites (although we were excited about both!), but because Ethiopia would be so different from the countries we had visited in Southern and East Africa. Just for starters, Ethiopia’s national language, Amharic, is not written in Roman characters, and Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar (rather than the Gregorian calendar) and therefore is seven years behind the rest of the world.1

We were also looking forward to taking a breather in Addis Ababa. Our plans for the Ethiopian capital included picking up Egyptian and Sudanese visas,2 and so we anticipated having some time to kill. After thirteen days of near-constant travel in Uganda, that didn’t seem like such a bad thing. We didn’t realize how much time we would need to kill, but that’s another story . . .

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Welcome to Addis Ababa! | image credit: Sam Effron

Continue reading Rain, Museums, & Pizza in Addis Ababa

Skipping Kenya

Although not something that we widely publicized here, one of our central plans for this African adventure was to travel all the way from Cape Town to Cairo in one uninterrupted overland journey in a sort of reverse Dark Star Safari.1 In pursuit of this goal – and the resulting opportunity to get to see Africa unfold and gradually transition from Southern, to Eastern, to Northern – we have endured some particularly long and/or arduous bus journeys between destinations which reasonable people would have otherwise flown.

Up through Uganda, we had been fairly successful in traveling overland from South Africa, through a circuitous journey over several months, snaking thousands of kilometers along the way through Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, and Rwanda.2 Aided by our American passports, we had been able to easily obtain visas on arrival at the borders of each of the countries we had visited in Southern and Eastern Africa. Unfortunately, this would not be the case for Ethiopia. Although visas are readily issued on arrival at the international airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia strictly refuses to issue any visas at its land borders. Our only recourse, therefore, would have been to apply for a visa at one the Ethiopian embassies we encountered along the way during our travels across Africa.3 Continue reading Skipping Kenya