A Travellerspoint blog

South Africans visa requirements for South America

The joys of travelling on an Afrique De Suid passport

sunny 27 °C

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...You are hangingout with your travel buddies from : The land -down and under; your girlfriend/boyfriend from across the pond & some of your budies from Europe . The topic on the agenda is: 'backpacking holiday to South America', everyone starts mentioning visas for some of the countries you might pass through. Suddenly you remember your green 'AFRIQUE DE SUID PASSPORT', the thought of a visa in the same line of thought with your passport elicit an uncomfortable feeling in you... right ? Soon after that your travel buddies say:' yeap I know I need a visa for this country' and some say :'maybe we should avoid this country since we need a visa lets do the other countries instead' ... since this conversation is occuring while you are having a few drinks with your travel budies the brilliant thought everyone comes up with is : LETS backpack most countris in South America, especially the ones to be done.

Opps you then starts getting worried, the question (s) on your mind are :do you need a visa , as you might be backpacking 10 countries do you need a visa for each, suddenly apparently you might have to spend more than you anticipated. The fact that the next round of drinks is on you, sends a much more chilling thought in you, hmmmm that could pay for 1 visa you know? As the night concludes it has been decided that you will be backpacking most countries in South America and since this is a brilliant idea you thought it will be great for you to go as well.

Early the next morning after you have sorbered up , you decide to check your visa requirements as a South African passport holder.

1) You google the internet: ooops there is so little reference to South African passport holders on visa agency sites.

2) You then check each countries embassy sites , some are clear on your visas status but some get you even more confused with the small print at the bottom of the screen : please note that visa requirements might change without prior notice... oooops you are South African maybe you should be worried

3) You then decide to call the embassies you are not certain about , the phone rings and no one picks up... ohh there is a massage in Portugues or Spanish that doesn't help you does it ( that is if your Portugues/ Spanish is as good as mine.. none existance)

4) You then email the consular service, yeap that should work shouldn't it.. you send the email .. days pass and you still havent heard if you need a visa or not...

This time all your travell budies are informing you that they are sending in their visa application forms.... Before you book a day off work to accompany your travel budies to their visa application etc STOP and read:

I backpacked South America on a Afrique de Duid passport ( October 2011). My planned trip for this journey was to travel by road through the following countries

Brazil - Paraguay -Argentina - Uruguay- Chile- Bolivia- Peru- Equodor-Colombia- Venezuela

BRAZIL - NO VISA
As I prepared: No visa was required for Brazil, but its when you are in a que in immigrations at the airport that you start wondering as other people are showing their visa and you don't have one. As I approach the immigrations officer, I hand in my passport ( keeping my yellow fever certificate with me). The officer looks at my passport outside - ooops my emblem is no longer visible, he then opens to the backpage, South African he says looking at me.. with a smile I nod yeap....He flips the pages I try to look relaxed while he does this and then he calls out to his collegue and the next thing my passport is stamped... yeap NO VISA required in Brazil ( I get 90 days on my tourist card) I look at the officer and smile while saying :'thanks' later I learned to say 'Obrigado'
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Paraguay- NO VISA
While at the Foz Iguacu --- I decide to make a half-day trip to Paraguay. As I am queing at the immigrations I start thinking hmm this is one of those countries I didnt get a clear answer on whether I need a visa or not I hope I don't. I approach the immigrations officer, he flicks the pages of my passport, scans my passport & she then stamps it yeeyyyy : 'NO VISA' 90 days ( but I stick to the plan half a day) by the afternoon I am back in Brazil.. this time I say:' Obrigado' to the immigrations officer

Argentina - NO VISA
Its rushhour and all the tour buses are going back to Argentina from the Brazilian side of the Falls, I join the que .. as I approach the immigrations officer he looks at my passport.. flips it to the front page - he then reaches for a stamp - then takes a look at me and he: STAPMS it ,90 days granted on my tourist card : 'NO VISA REQUIRED '
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Uruguay - NO VISA
When I get to Bueno Aires I decide to make a side trip to Uruguay to spend an afternoon in Montevideo... I take a 3 hrs boat trip across. I have to deal with immigrations again, pls do not be confused on this one you must make sure both Immigrations officers stamp your passport i.e. exit Argentina & then enter Uruguay etc any confussion you are in trouble with your tourist card for either.. I am granted 90 days in Uruguay yeeep 'NO VISA' required.. after spending time I cross back to Argentina

Chile- NO VISA
As I approach the Argentinian- Chilian border I am begining to wonder if I don't need a visa or not.. what if I do I have just spent almost 28hrs hours on this bus the thought ohh noooo... I approach the immigrations officer on the Chilian border post, he flicks my passport which by now is almost full. She then shouts something in Spanish, her collegue shouts something back & her response is Afrique de suid... the response is No visa.. by now I am grinning from one cheek to the next.. passport stamped , tourist visa card stamped 90 days: NO VISA required.
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Bolivia - NO VISA
Is my visa free luck runnig-out ? As I que on the Chilian- Bolivian border post ( I join the que on the Bolivian side- please beware when crossing this border post, it could be confusing since both the Chilian & Bolivian immigrations are in the same place next to each other, que first to exit Chile and then que to enter Bolivia or else you might have to start afresh if you mis one). As there is only one que for eveyone (locals & foreigners) I find myself behind two American backpackers and as they sortout their visa payments I approach the immigrations officer who speaks no word of English. Not only that but I bet besides American passport holders she had no idea of a South african passports and visa exemptions. According to the Bolivian embassy I do not need a visa for Bolivia.. well she looks at my passport , I see the confussion on her face.I bet I disapointed her by not being American, frankly I just might just have messed up her day. She tries to inquire about my passport apparently no one knows. She then makes a call but no one picks up, she informs me to wait while she awaits for a call back.As she stamps other people passports I am looking at the phone anticipating it to ring and it doesn't. Finally my bus driver keeps bothyering her regarding me, she then says then :' she says US$ 30.00 in Bolivian Boliviano. I am confused, I figure I can either urgue with her regarding that. Since I cann't speak Spanish nor can she speak English I figure it urguing will not help me at this point. I ask for a cambio to change my US$ into Bolivianos, I locate it and I change my money as I go back to pay. A visa sticker is atteched on my poassport and I am granted 90 days on my Tourist card ... yeeyyyy that wasn't bad. YOU DO NOT NEED A pre-arranged VISA for BOLIVIA
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Peru - NO VISA
As I cross the Bolivian- Peru border post at Lake Titicaca ( Copacabana) I approach the immigrations officer ,the officer looks at my passport. By now I have realised that most immigrations officers in South America are not familar with my South African passport. As always the immigrations officer inquires from a collegue regarding my passport and the next thing, my passport is stamped and I am granted 90days on my tourist card : NO VISA required
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I soon realise how huge South America is and since I spent a few extra days in Peru due to a 4 days long weekend holiday I realise that I cannot make it all the way to Venezuela. This implies that I cann't make my way to Equidor- Colombia - Venezuela but for those countries: SOUTH AFRICANS DO NOT NEED A VISA .. From Lima (Peru) I fly back to Rio ( Brazil) ....

So while your travel budies are applying for visas ... do not fret my South African peeps YOU DO NOT NEED A VISA for :

Brazil - Paraguay -Argentina - Uruguay- Chile- Bolivia- Peru- Equodor-Colombia- Venezuela

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Posted by Thuligal 11:45 Archived in South Africa Tagged backpacking Comments (6)

'Thankyou' for being there durring my travells

From me to you

sunny 27 °C

This is a note from me to you..
I am extremely greatful because you were there when a dream journey began, you were there durring the dream journey and you were there when the memories were formed. You probalbly have forgotten my face, my name, where I was from & where I was going BUT I haven't forgotten you & this is a quick note to say : 'how greatful I am that I met you durring my travells'


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I am greatful that as we were queing for our flight you kept me company by chatting to me, because then just then I realised that I might have left home alone planning to backpack solo but I will never be alone durring this dream journey :)
I am greatful that you smilled when you saw my face & nodded to acknowledge my existance :)
I am greatful that you kept me company when we awaited our connection flight :)
I am greatful that you asked me who was I, where was I from & where I was going :)
I am greatful that you told me who you were, where you were from & where you were going :)
I am greatful that you called my seat number to make sure I was having a comfortable journey & you kept me company during the long flight :)
I am greatful that even though you were a stranger in a strange-land as I was, but you kept me company durring those long bus ride :)
I am greatful that you thought it will be fun if we shared our expenses and shared a taxi to our destination :)
I am greatful that you greeted me when we met in that hostel's dorm :)
I am greatful that our conversation about your bed above mine resulted on us hikking together :)
I am greatful that even though we had langauge barriers but you smilled each time you tried to communicate & you kept smilling when you realised that we cann't communicate due to langauge barries.. :)
I am greatful that you had a chat with me durring breakfast.....FYI yeap there were odd scenes in that 10 bed dorm but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I loved the snorring, the smelling feet, people returning back in the morning drunk, single bed occupied by more that a single person :)
I am greatful that you allowed me to join the tour group with you, to tag along as you went sight seeing, to tag along as you went for dinner/ drinks :)
I am greatful that took to the dancefloor with me that was a fab night :)
I am greatful that I was a foreigner amongst you and you treated me with such respect :)
I am greatful that you taught me useful phrases in your langauge :)
I am greatful that shared you local cusines with me and you taught me how to eat it :)
I am greatful that you allowed me in your house, you introduced me to your family and you celebrated my birthday with me.. I was at home away from home :)
I am greatful that I have never felt in danger because I met you and you were around me :)
I am greatful that you treated me with care & understanding even though I didn't understand your customs :)

I am greatful that in this present age and time with the current state of affairs in the world I can still trust my fellow beings & not fear being around others because I met YOU & YOU kept me safe :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Posted by Thuligal 01:51 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

A night to remember in Nazareth

Attending mas presented in Italian

sunny 24 °C

==Attending== Catholic mas presented in Italian while in Nazareth was a shock to me. A few logistics made this ordeal shocking, firstly: I am not catholic and secondly: I do not speak a word of Italian. Apparently life is full of suprises and this evening was going to be one of those.

The ordeal started when I arrived in Nazareth from Tel aviv around 21:30, upon arrival I took out my lonely planet travel guide and started looking for a youth-hostel to spend the night. I choose a highly recommended youth-hostel 'sisters of Nazareth convent'. I wasn't in any way about to take the vow of celebecy but I figured it will be a nice place to spend an evening. Due to my inabilty to read a map, I attempted to no avail to locate the youth- hostel. I even tried to ask people for directions but since most people in Nazareth spoke Arrabic I soon realised: salam & shokran were not sufficient for asking directions nor for understanding directions when offered either. Each time I asked people they pointed me up towards a hill. As I hikked the the hill I met a group of Italian tourists who were going to the same direction as I was. I asked their tour guide for directions, he informed me that I should come along with them since they were going to the same place. I simply assumed he knew where the hostel was. After 30 minutes of hikking we finally reached our destination. Suprise- suprise our destination was a convent. The tour guide approached a nun & I saw them looking at me. For a second I thought shortly I will be taking a shower; locating a nice resturant and having a well deserved rest . The nun then appraoched the group and said something in Italian. Everyone started going inside the church and I followed as well ( I couldn't be left outside in the dark). As I entered the church everyone looked at me and they started smilling and nodding. A few people attempted saying something to me but I gues they figured out that my Italian was non- existing they resorted into nodding & smilling. To my suprise the nun returned and started presenting a sermon in Italian... what!!!! not only that she started reading from a book, Communion was served and then I saw people approaching the front of the church lighting candles & saying their 'hail Mary' prayers etc . After an hour of this experience I was speechless, I stood aside seriously confused and wondering how did I get myself in this dalema. Finaly the mas concluded horay!!!, excitedly I expected the nun to inform me where to go. Suprisingly the nun disapeared and the group approached the second church buliding, I followed the group again , as we entered the second church building everyone sat down and another nun started speaking in Italian again, at this moment I decided not again. I left the church bulidling and managed to locate the nun who conducted the initial mas service. She invited me into her office and she made a phone call. She spoke Arrabic on the phone, then she attempted speaking to me in Itailan and my confussed look gave her an idea that I can't speak Italian, she then attempted saying something in Arrabic of which I said 'nay Arrabic' either. She then proceded on her telephone conversation, durring which she then made a sign of numbers with her fingures , I then realised she is informing me of an amount. I decided to take out all the New Israeli Shekels from my wallet and placed them on the table. She picked the money she wanted and I realised how much the room was going to be, of which she made a point of showing an eating sign.. hoorray its a 'bed & breakfast' yeeyyyy I agreed. Finally I could visualise a clean nice room, clean shower & a comfy bed. She then hanged up the phone and she pointed down the road. I could see she was giving me directions but I couldn't hear what she was saying, all I knew is that I had to go back down the hill and from there I couldn't tell you where I was meant to go. I think she figured there was no hope of getting me to understand anything she was saying the next thing I heard was : yala- yala- yala ( that I understood she meant go-go-go)

Two hours later after arriving in Nazareth, with my rucksack firmly in place I started hikking down the hill again: shwai -shwai (slowly) I hikked back down. I had two options at this point to be stressed out about the fact that it was midnight and I still didn't have a place to sleep or to laugh out this experience . I opted to laugh at the experience and I reminded myself that these are the joys of backpacking. Its midnight : I am tired; I am in need of a nice hot meal ; I am in need of a shower and mostly I am in need of a clean comfy bed to lay my head on. It was midnight and I was roaming the streets of Nazareth without a clue of where I was going to spend the evening BUT I knew there was an empty bed in a hotel/hostel out there which had my name on it , I just needed to find it. Luckly I managed to find a nice youth-hostel just outside the ' Basilica of the Announciation' ( it is the largest church in the middle east and it stands at a proposed site where it is believed the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin mary that he will bear a son) . I checked into an 8 bed-sleeper dorm horray I had my long awaited shower, instead of a meal I settled for a falafel sandwich and finaly I had a bed to sleep, funny enough I did not hear any snoring in the dorm that evening but I gues that was because I was too exhausted. What a night indeed :)

Posted by Thuligal 01:22 Archived in Israel Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Beirut

'Paris of the Middle east'

sunny 38 °C

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BEIRUT known as the Paris of the Middle East, it was when I arrived in this wonderful city that I realised why its known as the Paris of the Middle east. All of a sudden I hear 'Bonjour' 'Cava' instead of 'Merhaba' or 'salam', suprisingly I start saying 'merci buku' instead of 'shokran'. When I approach people to ask for directions I am asked : la franco/ Arrabic.. my response is 'Nay- no French / Arrabic' only English this is followed by head shaking and confused look hmmm .Language is not the only reminder or difference from the rest of the middle east but the lifestyle of this city is surely different from anywhere you have been in the middle east. You also get the American influence in this city.

Church next to a mosque

Church next to a mosque

As you walk down the street you see a churche standing next to a Mosque.The church-bells starts ringing: 'ding dong- ding -dong'!!! and all of a sudden a call of prayer is heard from a mosque next to it. After spending three weeks in the Middle East durring ramadan this occurance was very odd indeed, I thought to myself it can only happen in Beirut. As you stroll the streets you notice the multi-culturalness of this city people from all walks of life, nation and race etc. The long robes and Hijabis are replaced by woman wearing skimpy shorts walking hand in hand with their boyfriends. The small coffee shops which sell Arrabic coffee in small glasses are replaced by many American style coffee shops, all of a sudden you have an option of ordering American late instead of Turkish/ Arrabic coffee.
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As you procede in the streets of Beirut you notice the past this city has been through. Bullet holes on buildings walls, this is a reminder of the horrible past this amazing city has gone through.You also notice placards with missing persons notices all over the place, family members searching for their loved ones who went missing durring the war. In all this you still notice how this city has recovered and rebuild itself after the war, new buildings around this city makes you to realise this is a resistance city indeed.

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As you navigate this city you see the big american style cars, you notice their emergency numbers, police cars etc you might be forgiven to think for a minute that you were in America. To make matters worse when you enter a shop to purchase a drink you are priced in US dollars or Lebanese pound (L£/ Lebanese Lira (Arrabic)) which has equivalent exchange rate with the American dollar , this made it the most expensive city in the Middle East (this was before I went to Israel). As I proceded in my navigation of this city I noticed a billboard for 'Ushers' concert to be held in a weeks time oppps its pity I will have left in a weeks' time, I would have loved seeing Usher in Beirut.

In the evening Beirut is a totally new game ball at hand. Tourist in youth hostels take out their make-up bags (large amounts of sun-screen are replaced by make-up foundations etc, hair gets transformed -hair - straigthners come out of bags and dormicilary rooms in the hostels become hair saloons with everyone having to wait for the plug to connect their straightners. Day outfits (khakhi trousers/jeans etc) are replaced by little black numbers, all of a sudden travel budies become hot ladies on a mission. You will be forgiven to think that you are in one of the party cities in the world. Going out for a meal in Beirut needs some serious arrangemnets to be made prior to attempting to enter one of their renowned resturants. Families celebrating birthdays or any other occasion,women well dressed seating in company of their male family companions or not , some strange seating arrangments can be observed as well which make you to wonder if they are family members, wife /wives, girlfriend or female companion for the evening ??? you can be bewilded as you observe the occurances in this resturant. After finishing my wonderful Lebanese meal, I decided to navigate the streets of Beirut by night. Strolling along the streets you notice people heading to the night clubs of Beirut,you hear music busting from the night clubs, you can party till the early hours. You will also notice families out and about, the night suddenly became a day. My watch tells me its midnight but BEIRUT tells me its midday...

Posted by Thuligal 10:39 Archived in Lebanon Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Crossing the separation wall into the westbank

The journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem

sunny 34 °C

WHEN I entered Israel I was advised against visiting the Westbank by the Israeli customs, Since this advise was offered after the 4 hours of interogation my response to that advise was: 'I have no plans of going to the Westbank'. Call me a liar or a coward there was no way I was going to be denied entry into Israel due to my plans of visiting the westbank. When they stamped my passport for entry the first thing on my mind was the 'separation wall' & the 'Jewish settlements' . I had planned to backpack the rest of Israel before going to the westbank , due to this I had a previlege of meeting a few 'Palestinian activists' tourists who were at the Westbank supporting the olive picking mission. They were involved in helping a Palestinian family to pick olives durring harvest time. After hearing all their stories ( besides their engaging political views which I did find engaging BUT I was uncomfortable discussing them in a bus next to a young Israeli soldier wearing sun glasses and holding a gun), I was much more convinced though that I need to visit the Westbank. Although my counsular service advised against any visits to the Westbank I figured out it can't be that bad, can IT? I did contemplate of attending an organised march around the villages on Friday BUT I decided against that idea (personal experience with riot marches and me nearly getting killed). Anyhow besides the marches I still had all the tourist sites to visit in the west bank. I took a taxi from Jerusalem bus station to the separation wall, I was overcharged for the journey, it is best to take a bus from the bus station to Damascus gate and then take a minibus to the separation wall. I arrived at the gate just after 18:00. Upon arrival I found a long que of Palestinian men who were from work (Jerusalem) going back home (Bethlehem). I have to mention Palestinian men since I was the only Woman in this long que of almost two hundred men. Anyhow I joined the long que, while I was queing one of the guys in the que told me not to que but go through. I was amazed at this but I wasn't about to start questioning why I can just skip the que, I did pretend to look around to check if anyone was against the idea of me skiping the que but eveyone just looked at me. As no one objected to the idea of me skiping the que I started making my way to the front of the que. As I was walking I heard the men 'whisthling' and saying stuffs in Arrabic. This was the only time I was happy that my Arrabic was limited to a few words or else I don't think I would have liked hearing what was being said about me, but they were all smilling and excited about whatever they were saying. I figured out that they are just being typical men. When I reached the front of the que, the Israeli soldier just let me pass through without even checking my passport. After I went through the men behind me started showing their permision slips. From the passport/permision slip control point I had to walk through a long corridor, when I finaly exited the coridor to the other side of the separation wall. I then took a taxi to Bethlehem, I tried to find a cheap youth-hostel but due to the fact that Bethlehem is reported to be unstable and dangerous etc there is a shortage of reasonable accommodation, basically I struggled to find a cheap hostel I finally checked into a into a hotel. In the morning I joined a group of tourist who were volunteering in olive picking, In the afternoon I went sight seeing: Visited the church of Nativity (as a christian that was an AMAZING experienece), due to curiosity I had to see the 'Jewish settlements' and 'the Graffitti on the separation wall'. In all my stay in Bethlehem I never in anytime felt unsafe. I walked from my hotel to resturants,tourist sites etc on my own besides the usual staring I felt safe indeed... I am glad I visited the Westbank wonderful experience indeed, going through the well known SEPARATION WALL was a lifetime dream come true. Funny enough when I exited Israel I was interogated again for 2 hours and I was asked if I had visited Bethlehem.. my answer to that question was ........... :)

Posted by Thuligal 11:06 Archived in Israel Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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