Travelling in West Africa

Our friends at Immigration never fail to amaze. After all the crap I had to endure getting my visas sorted over the past few months, now it's Dorota's turn to endure their incompetence.

On Tuesday, a worker from her host organisation spent 3 hours waiting for them to check whether her visa was ready. It was due to be stamped and ready for collection on June 20th. She waited, waited and waited but all to no avail. In the end she inquired from another officer, who informed her that the person she was waiting for had gone home and the documents she was waiting for were in a locked room of which nobody present had the key. Yesterday was Republic Day, the 49th anniversary since Ghana gained full independence from the UK, so nobody in State Institutions were working. Today, we hope but do not expect the issue to be resolved.

This all means that we are loitering around Accra waiting for her passport so we can get La Visa Touristique Entente (LVTE) for Togo, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire. It costs 30,000 CFA (90 Cedi or 45 Euro) and in theory at least grants one the right to cross each border of the above mentioned countries, cutting out at least 22,000 CFA and a lot of waiting at various embassies in the process. From what I have heard though, Niger border guards do no respect it, so looks like our net saving will be 12,000 CFA each. All in alkl, it seems well worth waiting for at ther Togolese embassy in Accra which will process the application in the same day if you drop it in at 9am (collect at 2pm). For fellow travellers reading, just bring a long the 30,000 CFA, 1 photo, your passport and fill out 2 forms in the embassy. Et voila!

We inquired at the Burkina Faso embassy whether it's possible to get LVTE there but they informed us that even though they recognise this 5 country visa, they do not issue them.

So we hope to head to the Ghana-Togo border town of Aflao (4 hours from Accra, about 6.50 Cedi by trotro) on Saturday morning and stay a couple of nights in the Togolese capital Lome. Our plan is to take things as they come and focus on visiting interesting social development projects in the regions we come across.

Unfortunately, one of our friends has the connection lead for our camera so I guess I'll be unable to upload photos as we travel. Anyhow, I'll try account for them in descriptive language so you can use your imagination. That is, if we ever get out of Accra.


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