Africa calls to me

Lagos Travel Blog

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It's February again and time for another quick trip.  Originally I had been planning on visiting Poland and Prague in late January after scoring a good airfare late last year.  Then I saw that Continental Airlines had a $540 r/t airfare from Houston to Lagos!  Africa was calling me again and a trip there sounded better than going to Poland in the middle of winter.  I always try to visit multiple countries per trip so I started checking out airfare to nearby countries.  Air Nigeria had a decent roundtrip fare to Gabon that stopped in Cameroon and Sao Tome as well. 

Normally I would prefer to do a trip like this overland.. starting in Lagos, overland to Calabar (Nigeria), ferry to Limbe (Cameroon), then overland through Cameroon to the border of Gabon at Bitam/Ambam, continuing to Libreville, then fly to Malabo.  However I wasn't sure about the schedule of ferries from Calabar to Limbe, from other blogs/guides it only runs on certain days, which didn't match my schedule.  Also the problem of getting a Cameroon visa.. I didn't get one before I left the US and planned on getting it in Libreville.  It is also possible to get a visa in Calabar but again wasn't sure of the details.

I hadn't yet booked tickets but I sent my passport off to the Gabon embassy, turns out it was the wrong embassy (there are two locations in Washington?) but they still issued the visa quickly in two days.  Next was the Nigeria visa, which turned out to be more a hassle.  First you have to fill out an online visa application, and pay the visa fee ($112).  Then you send the application + a processing fee to the consulate/embassy.  My initial attempt, sending it to the Atlanta consulate, was returned due to the price on their website being incorrect ($30 processing vs their site says $20).  Also they wanted a letter of invitation, I had hotel reservations and bank account but apparently it wasn't sufficient.  So yet another set of FedEx fees as I sent the application off to the embassy in Washington instead.  Along with $85 expedited processing since I planned on leaving in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, the Continental fare had expired.. but a new Delta fare came online.  I still delayed booking the ticket as I was investigating what to do/see, I'd hoped to spend more time in Cameroon.  Originally I just planned on visiting Limbe to see the wildlife park, but the Ring Road area sounded interesting, also the Mandara mountains in the northern part of the country.  I also found out that the Africas Cup of Nations soccer matches were going on in Gabon, meaning I could not find hotel availability.  By the time I got my Nigeria visa back and had made up my mind on what to do, the Delta fare too was gone.  So I end up using frequent flyer points to book my flights, into Lagos on the nonstop from Houston and out of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.  This would be my 8th trip to the African continent, it just keeps calling me back.

The next challenge was booking the Air Nigeria tickets... booking sites in the US don't like issuing tickets out of Lagos for some reason :)   After two attempts and a few emails I was able to get the tickets issued from a travel agent in Europe.  I also found a hotel in Gabon.

A flurry of activity ensued.. my travel buddies and I are planning a trip to Central Asia in May and we are just starting to plan out our visa strategy.  I'm planning on sending off our passports the minute I get back from Africa, so I had them fill out the forms and have their passports ready to go.

Africancrab says:
Congratulations on the feature, well deserved.
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012
cthunder86 says:
Congrats on the review. You really got a great deal to visit Africa. What site did you use to find the tickets?
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012
Vanessa_Mun_Yee says:
congrats on your featured blog!
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012
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Lagos
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