Eritrea, Visas

This Trip’s Top Visa Nightmares

I’ve had my fair share of frustrating visa experiences, but the last ones here in Africa deserves to be on the top of my list.

Sudan visa was surprisingly quick and easy after expecting the worst. They didn’t even bother including my last name!

Equatorial Guinea: is famous for being the World’s hardest visa to get. I’ve tried my luck at the Embassy in Yaounde, in Douala and lastly in Addis Ababa. Every time I have brought all the formally required documents, and every time they have just asked for more. In Douala I was asked for bank statements translated into Spanish and signed by the bank. Cholera vaccination was also the first time I heard an country require. And in Addis they kept my documents for two weeks before they finally said “sorry, we handle applications for citizens only. They could have just told me that in the first place..

The only way to get the visa in Africa that I have heard of is to pay a 3-800$ “unofficial fee” to the ambassador in Libreville and she will give it to you in one day. But in order to do that you first need a visa to Gabon, which is also not easy to get!

Gabon: has implemented an e-visa system, advertised with 72hour processing time, which practically is a joke. I have tried several times, with different passports and after weeks of checking the status in their systems every day I would get either the message”on progress” or it would say “no request found”.

I have tried emailing the address listed on the page and the ministry of tourism, but got no response whatsoever. Gabon is rich in resources and apparently don’t need tourism. On my six month Trans Africa trip I remember the government officials as the least friendly of all the countries we went through. Another traveler told me that you will meet the same careless attitude in all of their embassies too.

Eritrea: *cracking my knuckles* is my latest and maybe my most frustrating experince. It is by some called the North Korea of Africa, as you need government permits even to step your food outside the capital Asmara. I was told that all nationalities that don’t have an embassy can contact an agent in advance to get a visa on arrival. I knew it couldn’t be that easy and started the process early. The correspondence went as follows:

April 3st: Unfortunately we cannot arrange a visa for Norwegians as this has to go through the Eritrean Embassy in Oslo. Visa on arrival confirmations can only be arranged for nationalities without embassies.

April 5th: It seems that you are right that there is no embassy in Norway. Please send us the following documents so that we can arrange a visa on arrival

April 25th: We are expecting the visa to be in order by friday and will send it to you immediately afterwards

May 3rd: We are sorry to inform you that a new procedure has taken place. You have to send all your particulars to the Eritrean Embassy in Sweden so that they can give us a confirmation needed for you to get your visa on arrival

May 14th: We hope to get the confirmation for your visa on arrival tomorrow

May 22th and onwards: No more answer

I was calling the embassy in Sweden several times (which of course didn’t answer) and sent over fifty emails to the agent, every time thinking that I was close to getting the visa, but no. My Sudan visa expires today on May 25th and I will have to leave the country empty handed.

When chasing every country there will always be some that will make it extra hard for you. Then you should try to keep your chin up and remember Churchill’s famous quote:

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.