Warning to all Zambia visitors

Aug 8th, 2006, 04:34 PM
  #1  
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Warning to all Zambia visitors

I just returned from my 2nd visit to Zambia, the 1st being in 2000. This visit was for 23 days, staying at Old Mondoro 3 nights, Chiawa Camp 3 nights, Nkawli 2 nights, 5 days walking safari with Robin Pope, Tena Tena camp 3 nights, Lunga River Lodge 2 nights, Busanga Plains Bush Camp 3 nights and Chiaminuka Lodge 2 nights. Phew!
It was a fabulous trip and I loved the people of Zambia, all our camp hosts, the animals, etc., etc.
Now my warning: In 2000 and again this trip we were scammed by the immigration officials at Lusaka airport. They shorted our visit by 3 days when we turned in our immigration cards upon arrival. In 2000 we thought it just an abberation. Having it happen a 2nd time indicated to us they do this as normal. The 1st time we were told to pay $350. to leave the country since we had "over stayed our visit". We talked our way out of it. I have learned of a Chicago lawyer who had to pay $200 to leave Lusaka. Regardless of what you write on your immigration form they put a date in your passport of what day you are to leave. CHECK THAT DATE BEFORE YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE IMMIGRATION OFFICER. Make them change it right then and there or you'll be faced with paying their bribes to leave. If you are jet lagged and forget to check the date entered in your passport and are faced with this issue as you try to leave, ask to speak to the airport manager. Good luck future travelers to Zambia.
global_laurie is offline  
Aug 8th, 2006, 04:44 PM
  #2  
 
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Thanks for the info. How did you like Lunga River Lodge and Busanga Plains? Was Ed Smythe at Lunga? Please tell us about your experience there.

I visited there twice and have promised myself one more time. Just wondering what it is like now.
safarilover is offline  
Aug 8th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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Sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience...makes me wonder if your tour operator/ground handler got your Visa Waiver letter correct or not???

With 23 nights at such fantastic properties is there anything more you may share further than a passing reference that you had a fabulous trip? Unfortunately, this is overshadowed by your travel warning.

For whatever it is worth, many of us on this forum have traveled to Zambia and never experienced anything like this. The only time I experienced something similar was in departing Zanzibar where a customs official required me to pay $150 for having too much luggage. The $150 went right into his pocket but I just wanted to get home and was in no position to argue.

Roccco is offline  
Aug 8th, 2006, 05:53 PM
  #4  
santharamhari
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Sorry about your situation at immigration.

How was your Kafue experience? Pl.share with us, as many of us would like to travel to that area.

Hari
 
Aug 8th, 2006, 06:08 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Never, ever, limit the time frame on your visa except if a plan is needed for long term stays. Customs doesn't check your schedule. Double the amount of time needed up to 90 days if necessary. If they ask, tell them you are flexible, and if you really enjoy the country, would like to be able extend your visit with the least amount of problems. They don't fine you for that.

Even when going through SA. You get a visa there for SA, leave to Zambia and Botswana, wherever. When you return to SA, with 45 or 60 or 90 days on the SA visa, you don't need another visa from SA, just a stamp showing reentry into the country. This is where it pays to count the days.

luangwablondes is offline  
Aug 8th, 2006, 08:17 PM
  #6  
santharamhari
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Being Indian, i need prior visas stamped in my passport before arriving in Sa or Bots. I sent in my detailed itinerary to the consulates and SA gave me a 3 month multiple-entry visa. Bots gave me a 15 day visa for the exact dates of my visit.....last time, i visited Songwe Village in Zambia i was given a visa waiver arranged by Kwando safaris.

Hari
 
Aug 8th, 2006, 08:49 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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thanks for the warning. both times i've had visa waivers with no problems but good to pay attention to for future trips....
speaking of trips, how about a trip report? 23 days, lucky you!
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 8th, 2006, 11:17 PM
  #8  
 
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I returned home from Zambia this week after a short trip there.
No problem at all with my visa. In fact i just checked my passport and it was stam ped with an extra three days than i needed.
I think maybe you were unlucky or your visa might have been incorrectly filled in by your agent?

It is chaotic upon arrival and i always try to have a copy of my visa at immigration or at worst the name of an officer in the immigration dept.
barnetda is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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My advice to all travellers to Africa for handling surly or corrupt immigration guys.
Learn the name of the national soccer team and at least one top player.
Ask them how they are doing. Bingo, you are free and clear.
For example, in Zambia, ask about the Chipolopolo (copper bullets). . you will be treated like a rock star!
tripster is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 04:30 PM
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I was pleasantly surprised the last time I was at VFA. Unknown to me (I should have looked more closely at my very thorough travel agent's invoice), our Zim departure tax for the first time had been included in the overall cost of the safari. Previously, I'd had to pay it separately in cash. As we checked in, I asked the bloke where we should go to pay our tax; he looked at my papers and said cheerfully, "You've paid it already." I've never had money problems with airport staff in Africa, but I did feel that if I was to encounter trouble, it might be in that unhappy country.

I did have a tense time with a security official on a previous trip through VFA. I was carrying a camera flash bracket in a separate plastic shopping bag, because it was an awkward shape and wouldn't fit in my camera bag and I was afraid it might get bent in my soft check-in luggage. When the bracket passed through the x-ray machine, I was asked, quite suspiciously, to explain what this strange metal object was. I demonstrated its purpose, and after a few minutes, the security person was satisfied. She was only doing her job, so I didn't mind, but my travelling companion was annoyed by the delay and nearly gave me a fit by muttering "you'd think it was part of a ****** machine gun!" Thank god the remark was not overheard. You just don't utter words like that in any airport in the world nowadays. You'd be hauled off for interrogation even in Australia.

John
afrigalah is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 04:55 PM
  #11  
 
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Your absolutely correct John.
Never clown around with any words regarding terrorism/bombs, etc. Unfortunately it's no laughing matter these days!
I work in Customs in Australia.
Cheers
Marc
africaddict is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 07:35 PM
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africaddict...Customs. mmmm. You never know who's listening, do you? But haven't you found you just can't tell some people?

John
afrigalah is offline  
Aug 9th, 2006, 08:44 PM
  #13  
santharamhari
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Yes, very very unfortunately travelling these days is not the same as it was 6 or 7 years ago....security, etc etc., is a real pain in the neck, but, i guess it's something we hv to live with!!!

Btw, both John and Marc....since you guys are both from Australia.....i sincerely feel sorry for Dean Jones and the recent comments he made on air during the cricket coverage. I think he was just trying to be funny off air and didnt realize he was heard live all round the world!!! Poor bloke...he's a good guy and sincerely one of the nicest TV commentators i enjoy listening to....

Not that, i support his comments, but...we all make mistakes every now and then, and should be given second chances....

Hari
 
Aug 10th, 2006, 12:01 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Hari,

Funny you should mention Deano. Yes, he is a nice bloke...but he also deserves any of several rude labels which will be applied to him in Australia. Any broadcaster who's been in the business for as long as he has should have known that a microphone is the most dangerous piece of equipment in a studio. He's lucky he wasn't a 'cowboy' soldier playing with a loaded gun without the safety catch on.

John
afrigalah is offline  
Aug 10th, 2006, 12:16 AM
  #15  
santharamhari
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John,

He surely deserves the labels....but, having listened to him over the last couple of years (He has done extensive coverage of India matches for the last 3 years, or so)i just feel it was a genuine accident. He kids around a lot, about fellow commentators and unfit cricketers on the field, umpiring errors etc etc., and so....just think it was a slip of the tongue. But yes, he should hv been careful to not let it slip....

If he doesnt go back on air(atleast for our coverage), i for one will miss his commentary.

Hari
 
Aug 11th, 2006, 12:26 PM
  #16  
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It's been very interesting watching the responses to my warning. We are independent travelers - we booked our 23 day safari over the internet. Robin Pope safaris did all the interior air connections for us. Our "papers" were not messed up by our tour operator since we did not use one. We had Zambian tourist visas issued by the Zambian Embassy, Washington DC good for multiple entries over a 3 year period in our passports.
I've traveled to over 60 countries, I am not a novice. I've been to Kenya 2x, Tanzania 2x, Zambia 2x, Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, S. Africa and have never had the problem I encountered both visits to Zambia. The couple standing next to us at immigration was told they also over stayed their visit and needed to pay 1 million Kwacha to leave.
I would never endorse someone taking a chance and going to Zambia after what we went thru. There are plenty of other wonderful animal watching experiences in Africa. So with that in mind, does it really matter what I thought of all the different camps and the staffs?
Old Mondoro managers now are from S. Africa - Rulauf and Helen (for the person who asked).
global_laurie is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 12:28 PM
  #17  
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OOPs - Someone asked about Lunga, not Old Mondoro. No, Ed is not at Lunga River Lodge. Buzz is the camp manager.
global_laurie is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 12:50 PM
  #18  
 
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Of all the people who have gone to Zambia, me included twice, and never had a problem such as yours(on this or any other forum I've seen), there must be something more to this than you are telling. To try to dissuade people from going to Zambia because of your story is nonsense. I for one don't believe your story that it happened twice, once maybe, but twice is against all odds considering the amount of people here who have traveled to Zambia and will continue to do so with absolutely NO problems with immigration.
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 01:20 PM
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Our photo group of 5 arrived in Zambia in 2003, expecting the Visa Waiver document (or group visa?) to be waiting for us. They couldn't find it and had us step aside while they checked through a SAA flight that landed right behind us. We then reminded them of our group and they went looking again. They found the document, apologized for our wait, and checked us through with no problem. Our safari agent had warned us that if the document wasn't in place, we might have to pay for individual visas and had sent us the form, but we didn't have to use it.
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 11th, 2006, 03:00 PM
  #20  
 
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global laurie,

Have you informed Robin Pope Safaris of this incident?

Seems a bit unusual that you would allow this alleged incident to completely ruin your 23 nights in Zambia at some pretty fabulous properties.

I have made numerous visits to Zambia before launching my own tour operation and neither my clients nor I have every experienced anything similar to what happened to you.

As the American Society for Travel Agents (ASTA) motto goes...without a travel agent, you are on your own.
Roccco is offline  

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