African Great Rift Valley Travel Advice - Operation Wallacea

Expedition Information

African Great Rift Valley Travel Advice

Please read each of the sections below carefully. They provide important information relevant to your Operation Wallacea expedition in Tanzania and Malawi, including travel recommendations prior to your expedition commencing. Of course, should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Operation Wallacea office.

Start and Finish Information

The expeditions start at Kisiba in the Crater Lakes region at 07:00hrs on a Wednesday. You will need flights which arrive in Dar es Salaam no later than the Tuesday morning before 10:00 the day before your expedition starts. The will then take an afternoon flight to Mbeya on the Tuesday and will be transferred by bus to Kisiba. The expedition finishes at the Safari camp on Tuesday at 08:00, and the group can arrange international flights any time after 15:00 from Lilongwe airport in Malawi on the Tuesday.

Arranging Your Travel

Packaged School Groups

In the UK and Canada, school groups have the option of a fully packaged expedition with a fixed price. If you have chosen this option then Operation Wallacea will be in contact with the group leader directly and will provide a fully inclusive quote for the expedition including international flights, internal travel and expedition costs. All the travel arrangements are then made by the Opwall travel team.

Non-Packaged School Groups

The alternative to a fully packaged option is for Opwall to provide you a costing sheet for the various elements of your expedition. The three major elements are:

  • The expedition costs – these are fixed at £1225, US$1900 or Can$2075. This cost covers all the transport around the sites from the start point at Kisiba to the end point at Lilongwe airport. The cost also covers food, accommodation, training courses that form part of the schools programmes (e.g. PADI Open Water dive training), diving or snorkelling, participation in the various science projects, safety and medical cover and medical and evacuation insurance cover.
  • The international flight costs from your home country to Dar es Salaam and back from Lilongwe.
  • The internal travel costs from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya and then by bus to Kisiba at the start of the expedition and back from Lilongwe to Dar es Salaam at the end of the expedition, plus any overnight accommodation that you might need before and after the start and finish dates of your expedition.

If you choose the non-packaged option, we will provide you with a quote for your internal travel once you have booked your international flights and sent us your full confirmed flight details. Internal travel package prices start at £164 (US$238).

Medical and Travel Insurance

Opwall has insurance in place to provide medical and repatriation cover up to £1 million (1.5 million) for all participants on the expedition. We do this through Cover-More who are a global insurance company covering in excess of a million travellers every year. Detailed medical and evacuation plans are sent to Cover-More’s medical emergency team in advance of the expeditions. If there are any medical issues on the expeditions all plans have been agreed in advance so there are no delays in providing any medical support that might be needed. The medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall also covers travel to and from the site.
In addition to this medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall, it is strongly recommended that you have top-up insurance (which can also be provided by Cover-More) to cover the following items:

  • If you have an existing medical condition that may be exacerbated by the expedition and require additional medical treatment in hospital other than that provided by the Opwall medical staff in the field at each site, or may even require repatriation in severe cases, then the Opwall medical and evacuation cover will not cover the costs of this additional medical treatment and evacuation. For pre-existing medical conditions then specialist insurance cover can be obtained from Cover-More.
  • Need to cancel the expedition and flights because of illness to you or a close family member, call for jury duty or other insured conditions making it impossible to reach the departure point for the trip.
  • Costs of re-booking connecting flights or overland transfers to the start and from the finish points of the expedition in the event of delays caused in connecting flights or overland transfers due to delayed flights, ferries or buses because of mechanical breakdown of transport or adverse weather conditions, strikes, industrial action, riot or civil commotion, bomb scares, criminal or terrorist acts, etc.
  • Loss of personal baggage, clothing or items such as cameras or electronic items or the costs of having to buy replacement items if baggage is delayed.

For participants who depart from and return to the UK, a special policy which dovetails into the medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall can be obtained from Cover-More. If you wish to purchase a ‘Top-Up’ travel insurance policy to cover additional benefits such as cancellation and baggage please contact the Customer Service team at Cover-More Insurance Services on 01245 272408 quoting reference CMU0009.
Note for Canadian volunteers joining the expeditions all the travel insurance elements described above are included in the package provided by Victor Travel.

Travel Documents

Passport

Please be aware that your passport must have at least 6 months validity (period before expiry) at the time of your arrival into Tanzania and have at least 2 empty pages where the visas will be added.

Visas

In order to enter Tanzania, most nationals require a visa (see http://www.tanzaniaconsul.com/visa.html). Visas can be obtained in advance from Tanzanian embassies in your own country, but most people obtain them on entry at Dar es Salaam airport. On the airplane you will be given an application form to complete and on landing at Dar, queue up on the right hand side as you enter Immigration. The issuing of visas unfortunately appears chaotic and takes a bit of time so take a good book to read! When you reach the front of the queue you will be asked to hand over your application form, passport and $50 for the visa. The passport and money then disappear but don’t panic and just go and stand with the other passengers who have already handed over their passports and money. Eventually 20 – 40 minutes later an official will come out with the passports with the visas in them and shout out the names of the passport holders. Collect your passport from them and go straight through to baggage collection.

Part way through the expedition you will be travelling into Malawi. Most nationals require a visa to enter Malawi (see http://www.immigration.gov.mw/Documents/NEW%20VISA%20REGIME.pdf). This can be obtained at the Tsongwe border crossing from Tanzania and is a similar process to the Tanzanian visa. You complete an application form, hand over your passport and $75. After 20 – 40 minutes your passport reappears and you are in Malawi!

Cultural Advice

As a rule you will find nothing but a very warm welcome from the local people. Swahili is the main language in Tanzania although the guides on your expedition speak English and most local people have at least a few words of English. Because you are staying in a rural secondary school it is important to be aware of a few cultural differences. Even though the weather can be very warm it is considered inappropriate to wear very short or revealing clothes whilst in the school grounds. T-shirts rather than vest tops should be worn, and shorts should be almost knee length (not hot-pants). Girls may wish to wear a sarong over their shorts if they don’t have longer ones.

In Malawi the dress code is more relaxed as you are at a beach location. The official language is English and most people speak it reasonably well, although the main language in usage is Chechewa.

Many governments around the world provide travel advice for their nationals to different destinations. For example in the UK have a look at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office whilst in the US have a look at the US State Department Travel Advice. These government organisations and others like them provide comprehensive travel advice, but it is worth noting that this is just ‘advice’. We constantly monitor these websites for any incidents or disease issues that would affect the expedition and update our own travel advice accordingly.