March 28, 2018
Africa’s border crossings have earned a reputation for long queues, confusing protocols and less-than-honest officials. On the whole, we are lucky that small border post crossings are usually quick and hassle-free, but we know this isn’t always the case for the rest of Africa. Here are our top tips for getting through Africa’s notorious border crossings.
The number one rule of any border post. It may be difficult on a hot day with a long queue around, but try. In our experience, border officials never do anything in the face of anger.
Stop before you arrive at the border and stock up on snack and drinks. The wait can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining, and being fed and hydrated helps immensely.
Border officials sometimes arbitrarily change things around to keep things interesting. Ask around to make sure you are in the right line.
There is nothing worse than waiting in a queue for hours to get to the front and be told you are missing a critical piece of paper. Again, ask the people around you for help while you are waiting, so to avoid any issues by the time you get to the front.
You never know how long a queue may be and you might have to spend some time in a line in the sun. Make sure to wear a hat to protect yourself while you wait.
If it seems too good to be true, in Africa it 100% is. If you decide to pay someone at the border, expect to be ripped off or the ‘fee’ to increase again and again just as you feel like you are getting somewhere.
In real life you will be hard pressed to find a border official that will try hard to help you. Be cautious of those who come up to you – even if they look official. It is most likely they are not a real customs officer.
It may be tempting to document a border crossing experience in Africa as proof for the story you plan on telling later, but don’t. It is actually illegal to photograph airports, police stations and border crossings in Southern Africa.