Peru - budget reflection

Such a great country and despite getting some less pleasant service it still stays at the top of our list. We loved it.

I was worried, that our travel calculations were way off for Peru and we will spend way over our budget. But, I was pleasantly surprised. The idea was to spend half of the time in Peru on a very tight budget and the other half on midrange. Instead we were on a midrange the whole time and still got under our daily estimate.

We spent 34 days in Peru plus 4 days in the Amazon stayed in private rooms at all times, took a great amount of taxis, ate out almost all the time (even few pricier restaurants) and were not worried about expenses. Due to frequency of tragic bus accidents the buses we took were on the high end. Most commonly we saved on activities, as we found plenty of cheaper alternative ways to do them; such as walking instead of taking the train to Machu Picchu.

As activities connected with wildlife are important to us, we visited the Amazon rainforest. We did not skimp on getting the cheapest tour operator; rather we choose a good one (one of the most eco friendly lodges on Tambopata river) and decided to do a shorter stay in the jungle. Quality is more important to us than quantity, at least at wildlife activities.

Our estimated budget for Peru was 20.50 GBP per person per day and it proved to be very easy staying under it.

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa

Estimated total cost: 1203.00 GBP

Actual cost:  1244.00 GBP

Off budget: - 41.00 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person) excluding Amazon

Estimated per day: 20.50 GBP (no visas needed) MIXED BUDGET

Actual cost: 18.26 GBP MIDRANGE BUDGET

COST PER DAY (per person) whilst in the Amazon (including the flight to Puerto Maldonado)

Estimated per day: 126.70 GBP

Actual cost: 155.75 GBP

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Bolivia - budget reflection

This was South America how we pictured it. From the moment we stepped into Bolivia we fell in love with it, even though we were stuck at the border for 4 hours. Everything about it was charming and made us feel like we again are travelling in our style. Travel that keeps us entertained by challenges and interactions we experience whilst immersing ourselves in their lives. It was the perfect spot to stop and take it all in and instead of rushing in and out.

 We were aware Bolivia was cheap; hence we decided to take much needed Spanish course, which was actually surprisingly productive due to our lovely teacher Shirley at Open Spanish. The course was probably the single most expensive thing we did, and as it is an investment for our future employment, I decided to keep this cost separately from daily budget.

As it was Tan’s birthday I kept the Mountain biking on Death Road and zip lining across its valley separately as well. If it was not this special occasion of Tan reaching his 30s, we almost certainly would not join this activity.  

We spent 38 days in Bolivia staying in private rooms, which we booked directly over the phone or on the spot, through Airbnb and Booking.com. We only stayed in a hostel dorm for one night in Uyuni. If there was any place to not feel guilty spending more than expected it was here, so we indulged in eating out, went a bit health crazy (especially quinoa products and avocados) with our grocery shopping, going out for drinks/cakes/cinema with friends and playing squalleyball. There is so much to do and it was hard to leave.

Now let’s check the numbers. Our estimated budget (mix between midrange and budget) for Bolivia was 10.50 GBP per person per day, but as I mentioned we ended up going for midrange budget which we estimated to 15.00 GBP per person per day.

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa & Spanish School & Birthday present

Estimated total cost: 426.49 GBP

Actual cost:  785.38 GBP

Off budget: - 358.89 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person)

Time in Bolivia excluding Spanish Course and Tan’s birthday present

Estimated per day: 10.50 GBP (+ visa of 54.99 GBP for the whole stay for Tan; 2x30days + photocopies) MIXED BUDGET

Actual cost: 14.97 GBP (includes visa cost) MIDRANGE BUDGET

Excluded activities from cost (per person)

Spanish School & Birthday: 216.38 GBP

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Brazil - budget reflection

Brazil was amazing-Why? Think about spending time with a local family, the colorful carnival with your best friend joining you on your trip, beaches, exotic fruit on the daily menu, and more.

We did not travel midrange as we expected because standard in Brazil was great, with really clean hostels. The cost per day was lower even although I included our 3 carnival parade tickets, did some snorkeling, boat tour, some cliché photos of Cristo Redendor, and indulging ourselves with daily açai. Our behavior was more touristy than usual. At the end of the day it was my best friend’s first long haul travel; well she did not have the choice as she got Sao Paolo carnival ticket as a late birthday present from us. I know I was a bit tricky, but I wanted to share my world of travelling with her, even if only for 2 weeks.

We spent few days with a friends’ family who lives in Sao Paolo, with whom we learned quite a lot (like how to make caipirinha) and immersed ourselves into their culture and cuisine. It was a great experience for which we are very grateful.

In Brazil we spent 30 full days and did a mix of dorms (4 or 6 beds), apartments, private rooms and home stays.  We mostly cooked ourselves, apart from few ginormous lunches with the family and couple of cheap meals out where there was no kitchen available.  

Our estimated budget for Brazil was meant to be in midrange class of 52.00 GBP per person per day. This estimate was decided due to timing of our Brazil adventure (carnival), but to be under the estimate it was not hard at all.

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa

Estimated total cost: 1616.00 GBP

Actual cost:  1051.78 GBP

Off budget: + 564.22 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: 52.00 GBP (+ visa of 56.00 GBP for the whole stay for Tan only) MIDRANGE BUDGET

Actual cost: 33.93 GBP (includes visa cost) MIXED BUDGET

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Uruguay - budget reflection

Beaches, beaches, and beaches. We were being lazy, we loved it and we are not ashamed of it. We had a kind of vacation from our travels. I know a strange concept. We enjoyed Uruguay, although we did not veer off the usual backpacker’s path.

I can say we were on a budget although we planned to do Uruguay on midrange. This decision was made, because in Uruguay being in a budget accommodation is not hard at all. Hostel dorms were generally good, with some pools included! Yeah, hostels have pools.

So no special activities involved, apart from the free walking in national park, pre-carnaval celebrations in Montevideo and some pretty damn good food. In Montevideo we spent a little more on food as we found a big supermarket filled with fresh vegetables, fruits and fish. Fish was on our daily menu the whole week in Montevideo.

In total we spent 13 relaxing days in Uruguay, spending time walking up and down the beach and playing with few meters high waves. Hard life, ha!

Our estimated budget for Uruguay was midrange 36.00 GBP per person per day, but we ended paying much less for our budget way. Yaaay happy wallet, happy bunny!

COST PER STAY

Sum per person (no visa required)

Estimated total cost: 468.00 GBP

Actual cost:  307.07 GBP

Off budget: + 160.93 GBP

 

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: 36.00 GBP (no visa required) MIDRANGE BUDGET

Actual cost: 23.62 GBP BUDGET

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Argentina - budget reflection

Ohh my. The currency in Argentina was greatly devaluated in their economic crisis, but the price of commodities went up through the roof. This destroyed our budget.

Our estimate for Argentina was 3 years old, which we knew it is not a realistic one, but we did not expect to be so wrong. We were on a budget and stayed in dorms the whole time, apart for when we slept in a Hospedaje type of accommodation. We mostly ate home cooked food and only had few empanadas and Locro to try out. In the shops we were searching for the cheapest meals, although they were not always the healthiest. We did not do a winery in Mendoza, but took cheaper option in Cafayate. We tried everything to try to lower our daily spending.

Our route was supposed to take us through the cheaper northern parts, but even there the prices were similar to the ones in Chile. So we changed our plans and hurried out of Argentina, skipping Rosario and Buenos Aires. The only regret about this change was not learning the Argentinean tango, but on the other hand as a former dancer I know ballroom tango. That is sufficient enough for me.

We are aware that we could take advantage of the Blue market peso, where we could strike a 30-40% better currency deal. There is an illegal currency exchange market (although all newspapers are letting you know the daily blue market exchange), but we did not have enough dollars in cash. We were not aware that in Argentina ATMs do not dispense US dollars, as we did not put enough effort in this sort of research. Due to that we were debating crossing border with Paraguay or Brazil as we were nearby, but for unknown reason we said no to Paraguay and in Iguazu we learned there is no ATM dispensing US dollars.  As a result our budget was suffering like never before. My body was suffering as well, but that is a different story (bedbugs and lice).

So here it is our sum up of our 24 day long budget torture.

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa

Estimated total cost: 291.50 GBP

Actual cost:  640.92 GBP

Off budget: - 349.42 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: 10.00 GBP (+ reciprocity fee of 160.00 GBP for the whole stay for Tan only) BUDGET

Actual cost: 26.71 GBP (includes reciprocity fee cost) BUDGET

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Chile - budget reflection

Here we are in South America for the first time. Climate in Chile was similar to a Slovenian summer and the scenery was not totally off this comparison either. Green country (central Chile), lakes, mountains, and coasts reminded me of my birth country except everything was in superlatives. Instead of small mountains up to 2864m we were witnesses to volcanoes reaching well beyond that.

We heard so many budget reviews from our friends so we were aware that our estimate budget will most probably too low. And just as expected this did happen, but not as drastically as we feared. And to be honest we did not travel on low budget, we travelled in a midrange style. First week we rented a studio apartment with roof top pool, gym, etc. in central Santiago and only stayed in dorms for about a week. We splurged on private rooms and few meals out. Said that, we did a lot of free activities such as free walking tours and hikes, and we did our own tour to the hot springs and a bike trip.

Our estimated budget for Chile was 20.00 GBP per person per day and our estimated midrange budget was 50.00 GBP. And if we are being honest I think we did great, considering that our travels in Chile was more “luxurious” than we originally planned. So here is the budget review of our 20 day Chilean adventure.

COST PER STAY

Sum per person (there were no visas for Chile)

Estimated total cost: 400.00 GBP

Actual cost:  474.80 GBP

Off budget: - 74.80 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: 20.00 GBP BUDGET

Actual cost: 23.74 GBP MIDRANGE BUDGET

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Austria, Vienna - budget reflection

I was thinking to skip this one, as we barely even touched Austria in Vienna. We decided to spend most of our time in Europe with our dog Herbie, so we only checked the Christmas markets. But as we liked the city so much I will put in my budget thoughts.

We did properly explore most of Christmas markets and few attractions (such are Prater, Palace, Sacher), so I believe this can be a good guide to at least the city on a mixed budget.

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: NO ESTIMATE WAS GIVEN (it was not a planned stop)

Actual cost: 25.55 GBP (includes day’s accommodation, food, cake and daily transport ticket) MIXED BUDGET

South Africa, Cape Town - budget reflection

Our least favourite destination so far, but we admit we only stayed in Cape Town and only for four days including arrival and departure day. So it is almost not worth to have a budget reflection. But then again it was one of the places we visited and it did take few crumbs of our budget.

We planned to stay a bit more than a week, but due to all the detours we only had very a limited time. It does not really bother us as our personal experience was far from good. To top it off, we were also scammed and I am now spending my free time emailing to file a police report and government complaint instead of using this time to focus on my book (which I am well behind).

So as I said we spent only few days and we stayed at the cheapest accommodation we could find, which happened to be formal mental hospital neighboring a prison facility for criminally insane people still in use. Based on what all happened it seemed like a suitable place to be. This lodge did have a shared kitchen, which also helped us stay on budget, whilst to go to the city we used a taxi as apparently the train line can be a bit shady.

Our estimated budget for South Africa was 30.00 GBP per person per day and we were actually spending 29.06 GBP. Pretty close, but if I were you, I would raise the budget for about 10.00 GBP. To our spending average I also added the amount we lost due to being victims of the scam. We could have easily avoided it, but our bad week made us more vulnerable.

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa

Estimated total cost: 138.40 GBP

Actual cost:  116.23 GBP

Off budget: + 22.17 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: 30.00 GBP (+ visa of 36.80 GBP for the whole stay for me only) BUDGET

Actual cost: 29.06 GBP (includes visa cost) BUDGET

Namibia - budget reflection

Wow Europe in Africa. The cities are orderly, almost no litter by the road and some luxuries on shop shelves. This means pricier country. We overestimated the daily budget as we knew we will probably rent a car, which is not the cheapest thing to do.

There was again an unfortunate situation regarding getting South African visa (more about that next month) which forced us to buy tickets to Europe and back. Well all in all we were planning to go on a short Europe detour as our dog Herbie is not doing well. For this our Namibia timeline changed and we had to plan in a rush to try to get the most out of our stay there. But although we were restricted by time we managed to bury our daily estimate very deep in the ground. This makes me ‘the financial fairy’ happy.

We spent 10 days in Namibia staying in hostel and being extremely lucky with the accommodation. We got upgraded two out of three times, which made us feel less frustrated with all the problems. We decided to rent a car and drove from Windhoek to Etosha and then to the Atlantic Ocean in Swakopmund. We rented a tiny VW Polo as we realized we can do a self-drive safari in a 2WD and that Etosha is one park where we do not need a guide and the entrance fee is as cheap as burek. We saved money by using SC accommodation to have home cooked meals, we actually ate mostly salads and I decided to stop drinking beer with Tan in the evening. Giggle water is my new evening treat.

Our estimated budget for Namibia was 50.00 GBP per person per day and I think we did pretty good job in exploring the country and experiencing different type of safari. We haven’t done self-drive safari until now.

 

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa

Estimated total cost: 515.00 GBP

Actual cost:  348.88 GBP

 

Off budget: + 166.12 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: 50.00 GBP (+ visa of 30.00 GBP for the whole stay for me only) BUDGET

Actual cost: 38.76 GBP (includes visa cost) MIXED BUDGET

 

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

How not to throw money at your problems while travelling

Try to follow these three rules and you can hopefully keep money in your pocket even when …. hits the fan.

1.       You Have time

2.       Ask – you never know unless you ask, then ask again, then ask someone else

3.       Don’t self wallow, it wasn’t that bad a day or experience – As Louie C.K. said “You’re flying!!!! Travelling at hundreds of miles per hour, over the earth. Don’t you realize how incredible that is!!”

While travelling inevitably something comes up. Your booking isn’t in their system, you forgot to set your watch back, your visa gets denied, your car breaks down, something gets stolen and the list goes on. There are some things that come up like very serious crime that would fall outside this list, but this is for more common travel problems, the mundane ones.

                Our most recent trouble was first no visa’s issued at a border, then no visa issued at an embassy, then a rental car company not accepting Amex or Visa Debit/Credit. With all of these things when the problem first occurs you think to ‘throw money’ at the problem. If the border denies you see if you can pay extra to settle it at the border, get a plane to your destination, or get a taxi for 300km to the embassy. But all these options cost hundreds of pounds and some of them aren’t even an option. Another situation we often had was again a man made problem, that when you get to the bus or ferry someone informs you that it’s all sold out or just about to leave and you need to make a decision. The thing about all these situations is that you do need to make a decision but you have longer than “RIGHT NOW!”. In both these situations you have time. So rule 1 - “Move quickly, but don’t rush” (thanks Dad).

                During this time you have time to figure out a solution, this is also where Rule #2 comes it, “You never know unless you ask.” (thanks again). I used to hate as a kid when my Dad would force me to ask a question instead of him doing it. Why did he put me in these uncomfortable situations!? But now it all makes sense, we have found that despite the world being built on systems it is invariably still controlled by people. It is usually a person who is causing your problem (or a person’s interpretation of policy), and usually there is a person who can solve your problem. At the border we talked our way behind the border counter. There they explained the rules and actually showed us the new regulations (which were not posted anywhere), therefore explaining our problem. When we arrived at the embassy we talked (nicely) to the woman behind the counter about our situation, usually there is a 5 day waiting time but because we actually talked to her she said “just bring your information and we will see what we can do.” In other words, it takes 5 days for those who just accept the sign but since you asked we can help you today. This also works over the phone, if you didn’t get the answer you liked, just try calling that office or whomever a few hours or days later. Inevitably you will get a person who can help you, or more often the case is willing to help you because they know what they are doing and the unhelpful person usually covers their ignorance with just telling you “that’s not possible.” Or go to your hotel/hostel/internet café and ask/check online if you can. With touts and other sellers when you are trying to buy something in a short about of time will often tell you that the bus/taxi/ferry/safari is about to leave or that a deal will expire right now!!! That may be mostly true, but mostly the bus and deal is still on for at least the next few minutes. So take some time, shop around a little, haggle etc. If the seller thinks they might make a sale they will take time, which means you also have time to ask around for a better price. If you do happen to miss a bus or ferry very rarely in this world is there not another one or another route. If you miss the bus sometimes there are long distance taxis, or other bus companies run the route but they are just not as well known. If you do miss the bus or have problems with a sale or missed a service don’t think you are the first to have this happen to you. Many travelers come across problems ranging from transport to sales to police, don’t wallow or try to take the easy way out!

                So rule 3, don’t think you are the most unlucky person in the world! Sometimes on bad days we try to take out the problem with money. Had a bad day so you get a hotel room way outside of your budget, or eat an extravagant meal, or get a private transport service, or go to the club and make it rain. We heard a story about a young guy who while backpacking across Africa just kept 50$ in his passport so when he got stopped by the police they would just let him go. This is a horrible solution, it both breaks his travel budget and screws over the next traveler coming through - they will look like a walking ATM. This traveler probably had a bad experience with being hassled by the police so now he is just trying to buy his way out. A bad experience is usually washed off after a chat, beer and food. When you recover and get to your hostel or guesthouse you usually feel better after having something greasy, a beer then telling about your horrors. After that you realize that life is actually pretty great. You realize the joy of being halfway across the world and the comfort of simple food and drink. You are halfway across the world and actually you got there pretty quickly compared to 50 years ago….. life is pretty great!

                 There are many more small things to write about, but I think these are the big three. When you have a problem you have time, ask questions until you get the right person and right answer (I think I also got some grades changed because of this), and regardless of the outcome try to remember that life is pretty great – you are out in the world to experience it for both the good and the bad things. And maybe if that doesn’t make it better get a few more beers in.

             

Zambia - budget reflection

Zambia was great even with the unwanted extension week. Although we had to return from border in Sesheke back to Lusaka to sort my Namibian visa, we still did very good job with our budget. However I must admit we were staying in dorms for majority of our time in Zambia as staying in private rooms would put our budget over the roof.

In Zambia we spent 30 days in total, clearly not covering as much ground as we did in Tanzania, but still got a pretty good feel for the country. We travelled from North to South, stopping at plenty of places, both big and small. It was hard at times being in dorms, at times we had to be in separate ones (male dorm and female dorm), but we prioritized. A little bit of suffering during the nights meant being able to go for a rhino walk (which is sort of walking safari), canoeing and swimming in upper Zambezi, and some other smaller adventures.

Our estimated budget for Zambia was 30.00 GBP per person per day and in this case we did have to try to stay under our budget, by as I wrote before staying in dorms (sharing it with guys with no regards for others i.e. their stuff all over the place, empty redbull cans under my bed, on the floor and more) and we self catered for the most part of it. The last was not only a budget conscious decision, but also our desire to cook something less greasy or starchy (although we had pasta including Sean’s deadly bacon & cheese on the menu ;)).

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa

Estimated total cost: 930.00 GBP

Actual cost:  779.54 GBP

Off budget: + 150.46 GBP

COST PER DAY (per person)

Estimated per day: 30.00 GBP (+ visa of 30.00 GBP for the whole stay for each of us) MIDRANGE BUDGET

Actual cost: 25.98 GBP (includes visa cost) BUDGET

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Tanzania - budget reflection

Being out of Tanzania, means we owe you a post with our budget. So let’s see how we did.

So we spent 38 days in Tanzania (11 on a safari and 27 on our own). Our estimated budget PER PERSON PER DAY excluding safari was 61.00 GBP. We believed that with the standard of accommodation being lower than Kenya we will want to use our midrange estimate. Second reason for using midrange estimate was the thought of us doing more activities that are in general pretty pricey.

We realized that the very low budget accommodation still met all our needs (clean bathrooms and somewhat comfortable beds) so there was no need to upgrade the accommodation. There were also some activities that were unplanned and were somewhat cheaper and more interesting than doing the usual game drives. Do not take me wrong, we loved all our game drives but as our safari took us to some of the best parks and we saw most of the animals (cheetah was missing), we believed that doing even more game drives could take that specialness away. You have to know when to stop so you end on a high.  

At the end we realized that our daily budget was not only lower than our midrange estimate (61.00 GBP) we thought to use but also lower than the budget one (25.00 GBP)  without making any special sacrifices. We still treated ourselves with milkshake and burger or pizza every now or then so it was not hard at all to stay on track.

Just as in Kenya we were aware that in Tanzania our safari budget will be higher than an estimate, as our estimate was based on the cost of safari excluding any everyday purchases (e.g. water, snacks, beer).

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa

Estimated total cost: 2952.25 GBP

Actual cost:  2003.86 GBP

Off budget: + 948.39 GBP

COST PER DAY

Time in Tanzania excluding safari

Estimated per day: 61.00 GBP (+ visa of 61.00 GBP for the whole stay for Tan and 30.50 GBP for the whole stay for Lu = averaged 45.75 GBP per person) 

Estimated per day: 61.00 GBP (+ visa of 45.75 GBP for the whole stay) MIDRANGE BUDGET

Actual cost: 22.62 GBP (includes visa cost) MIXED BUDGET

Time in Tanzania whilst on a safari

Estimated: 118.75 GBP

Actual cost: 128.71 GBP

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Tanzania-Zambia border crossing at Tunduma-Nakonde

Three days ago we passed through the border at Tunduma-Nakonde by foot using public transport. Here is a guide on how to do it since everything we found online was misleading. So first and for most; yes it is possible, actually not that difficult, and THE VISA CAN BE BOUGHT AT THE BORDER.

We started from Iringa on our path out of the country so I will start from there. We left Iringa using public transport by taking a Kimotco bus. I believe the bus left at 7am and we arrived at Mbeya around 2pm. In Mbeya we stayed at Mbeya Peak Hotel. A very reasonable hotel with a bar and clean rooms for 40,000TSH, but most importantly it is only about a 10 minute walk from the bus stand.

Border Crossing Day:

We left the hotel at 06:00am, walked for 10 minutes to the bus stand. We were told by the front desk there would be mini buses to Tunduma in the morning starting from around 5:30am. When we got to the stand we stood on the street to eye the situation. (Warning the touts will see you and come up to the street) The minibuses line up in order they are leaving. But there are a lot of vans and full buses parked around, but the minibuses are all in a line. The first bus in line is the first bus to leave, walk to that bus and ask the driver  if he is going to Tunduma. Or the bus will have something in the front window saying Tunduma. If he says yes or if the bus says Tunduma, just get in the mini bus. You do not need the full size buses to get to Tunduma. Upon entering the bus stand the swarms of touts came for us, they will tell you that the mini bus is the wrong bus or try to sell you tickets or anything to keep you out of the bus and talking to them. Just say no thank you and get on the mini bus. The ticket for us was 4000tsh per person. The bus sits for about 20-30 minutes on the lot before leaving for Tunduma. Make sure you don’t pay until the bus has left, that way you don’t end up paying a tout, but that you are actually paying the conductor. This is tricky since you don’t know who the conductor is until you leave the bus stand. The bus is slow and makes a lot of stops, but it should take just over two hours to get to the border. We got off at the last possible stop, our driver announced ‘Zambia’ to everyone, but not every driver may do that.

As soon as the door opened on the mini bus at the border there were touts. One tried to grab my bag from the floor and was attempting to pull it out. Do not let them get your bags, they might offer to carry, or help with visa or getting transport but you can do it all yourself and if they carry your bag even 5 meters they will ask for a hearty amount of money. While walking to the border they will follow the whole way and through the border as well and will wait for you outside of offices. Again, you don’t need their help at all.

When we got out of the mini bus we saw a sign that said ‘Zambia’ with an arrow. If you do not see the sign, no worry, there is a lineup of trucks/lorries going through the border. We walked through the trucks past the ‘Tanzania Revenue Service’ and continued till we saw a building which looks like a border office, it also was flying the Tanzanian flag from a flagpole. We got a yellow exit form from someone at the front door, then just waited in line to get your exit stamp on your passport. We then walked about 100 meters towards Zambia again sort of following the trucks. There should be another similar looking office (although I would say the exterior is a little more beige). There you will have to give your Yellow Fever card, then get an Ebola check (temperature check), then wait in line for your visa, get your visa stamped, and fill out a visitors card including where you are staying. The visa for Slovenia and America were both 50$ each. That is all you should have to pay for the border!!!

So at the border you need:

Exit stamp from Tanzania

Visa for Zambia ($50)

Entry stamp for Zambia

(and remember there is a time difference between Zambia and Tanzania, Zambia is one hour back +02:00 GMT)

Once through the border we just followed the main road, it’s about 500 meters to the bus stand which is on the left hand side of the street (walking away from the border). There were also a million touts in the bus stand plus the ones which followed us from the border. Tell them you do not need any help, and to please go away. (Or if you happen to have a feisty Slovenian girl then she can tell them off!) We bought a ticket from the Shalom ticket desk, with a bus leaving at 2 PM. In the bus stand only buy tickets from the ticket desks. The only person you should be trying to buy a ticket from is the one sitting behind the little desks and who didn’t come to find you. Also there is no charge for luggage and watch your bags because ‘porters’ will come to try and take them, then charge for the luggage fee, there is no fee.

We left the hotel in Mbeya at 06:00 am and we were through the border with bus tickets bought by 10:00 am. The only real issue was that the buses leave much later. We bought bus tickets from Shalom, which had a bus leaving at 2pm (14:00). This is bad if you are planning to go all the way to Lusaka, it means you will travel through the night which is not the best. We went and bought tickets to Mpika (halfway) for 80 ZMK each. We got to Mpika about 7, so it was dark out. That is not the best, but the bus drops you off at the Puma station. If you book ahead in Mpika, book at Bayama’s. It is an excellent place with wonderful food – GET THE PIZZA OR BBQ CHICKEN! But also, it is less than a five minute walk from the Puma gas station. When you get off at the Puma gas station you will see there is another gas station across the street. If you are looking at that gas station there is a side street to the right of the station (east of the Puma station). If you walk about 3 minutes down this road you are at Bayamas. It has a circular green and red sign. The owner is usually around, or ask at the bar about availability or for your room. I would suggest booking in advance though, we missed out on the budget rooms, but the doubles were excellent and very reasonably priced.

In the time you are waiting for the bus in Nakonde there is food at the gas station down the road (2 minute from the bus stand) and a Barclays right next to the bus stand (30 seconds down the road). Just be prepared for the wait for the bus!

At anytime if you are confused about where you are while going through the actual border, just follow the line of trucks/lorries which are going through. The main road takes you past all the visa offices and to the bus stand. And YES you can get your visa at the border so you do not need to do anything before you get to Tunduma, and yes it is all possible by public transport.

When leaving Mpika there is a daily bus (even on Sundays) run by Juldan Motors (ask for the office, it’s a little separated from the other bus companies). It cost 140 ZMK per person, we didn’t get to pick seats, but fortunately the driver put us up front. We were NOT dropped off at the Inter-City bus stand in Lusaka, but at the central or main bus stand. So ask your conductor or driver before you go so you know which bus stand in Lusaka you will end up. Good luck and here are the costs below!

Costs:

Mini Bus – 4000 TSH/person

Visa’s – 50$ (Yes, you need dollars, not Kwacha or Shillings)

Bus – 80 ZMK/person

Bayama’s – 150 ZMK (or 80 if you get the budget rooms)

Mpika-Lusaka – 140 ZMK/person

Please comment or write us if you need more help or notice an error. 

Kenya - budget reflection

We finished off with Kenya which means it is time to check how we did with our budget.

Unfortunately we did not have much time in Kenya as we were time restricted due to our safari start date. However, we do know that we are coming back at least to Kisii and Masai Mara at one point in our future. And whilst being there making sure to visit our new friends Makori, Issa and hopefully Odoyo (the safari trio).

So we spent 13 days in Kenya (8 on our own exploring Nairobi area and the rest on a safari). Our estimated budget PER PERSON PER DAY excluding safari was 25.00 GBP. We would be able to meet our daily estimate, but there was our mistake not noticing that the camp charges for using their camping gear. Well we were aware of it, but at the time of the booking there was no option to book our spot and adding the cost of their equipment. But hey, we learn from our mistakes. Just as we learned from our first day in Nairobi, which the most expensive one, as we were still green to sub Saharan Africa.

We were aware that we will go over our safari budget estimate, as our estimate was based on the cost of safari excluding any everyday purchases (e.g. water, snacks, beer).

COST PER STAY

Sum per person including visa

Estimated total cost: 824.31 GBP

Actual cost:  817.54 GBP

Off budget: + 6.77 GBP

COST PER DAY

Cost per stay is more important for us as there is visa included in the estimate and in the actual cost. But if you really want to know our average cost per day you have more details below.

In general in all our country estimates per day we did not include our visa cost, but in our actual costs we included visa as well. It would be tricky to estimate visa cost per day as we do not know how long we will actually stay in each country. For this reason in our prior to travel planning we had separate category for visa costs, and we added them at the end of the trip as an actual cost.

Time in Kenya excluding safari

Estimated per day: 25.00 GBP (+ visa of 30.56 GBP for the whole stay) BUDGET

Actual cost: 27.34 GBP (includes visa cost) BUDGET

Time in Kenya whilst on a safari

Estimated: 118.75 GBP

Actual cost: 119.77 GBP

The route (googlemymaps)

The route (googlemymaps)

Backpack contents

Each traveller takes the things he/she can't be without. We could be travelling with less than we actually have, but at the moment we are comfortable of carrying the extra weight. Tan has 55l backpack and I have 35l. Looking at the below list, just amazes me, that we managed to pack everything and both bags together weight less than 30kg. Yaaay

We also have one day backpack and one day overshoulder purse. And everything fits in our two backpacks.

When packing we were trying to make sure most things were lightweight and not too bulky. For very bulky items we used compression bags, for the rest we used packing cubes (for organizing different items - just so that I don't go crazy).

Our buying policy:

If we had old usable clothes or extras, we took those, instead of buying new ones. Also this past few years we were careful with our purchases. For the last few years our presents to each other (birthday, Christmas, etc) were connected with our travels (backpacks, camera, compression bags, etc.).

I am sure that along the way, we will discard some items, but at the moment we found most of them already useful. And we are only on the road for a week.


What are items, you found the most useful on the road?



Our budget

No travel budget is wrong budget, just like no travel is wrong travel. Everybody decides on their own what they are comfortable with. We decided on our budget by getting a rough idea through other blogs and budgetyourtrip website. We then discussed where we would like to spend more and what are the experiences we do not want to miss. 

Although we made our estimate, this is just guessing and we will see how close to that budget we can get.