Kyle in Lake Assal, Djbouti

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Djibouti Visa Secured

The reality of planning an expedition is a lot of forms, permissions, and paperwork. First, I need permission to enter Djibouti, which I got yesterday morning when my visa approved, stamped, and signed by the Djibouti Embassy in Addis ababa, Ethiopia. The Embassy was wasy to find, and the whole process took only a few hours. The employees speak English really well, and since I am an Ethiopian resident until tomorrow, they let me pay in Ethiopian Birr instead of US Dollars.

My multiple-entry work visa for Ethiopia will be null and void as soon as I leave the country. I'm traveling to Djibouti by bus, so as soon as I get stamped out of Ethiopia at the border, the visa is finished. I'll have to get a new single-entry tourist visa for Ethiopia at the Ethiopian Embassy in Djibouti City before I leave. After I cycle down to Addis Ababa, I'll have to get my Kenya and Uganda visas. It's a continuous process that has to be done in the right order.

The paperwork continues, not only to fully out-process from Peace Corps, but I finally verified my travel insurance policy. All volunteers get a free month of health insurance after finishing Peace Corps, so I'm extending that policy for the duration of Low2High. I opted for the more expensive policy which offers international medical evacuation services. I figured it's worth the extra money considering what the next few months of my life are going to be like.

My budget for the days I'm actually on the road is about $10 USD / day for food and lodging. I figure about 80 days of cycling, so $800 USD. It'll be relatively cheap to live once I'm actually going. In contrast to that, if I figure roughly $40 for each visa (a low estimate) x6 countries, that's $240, plus 2 additional months of health insurance for $326, and I'm at $566 USD. It's pretty incredible how quickly the other expenses add up. I haven't even factored in the cost of climbing Kilimanjaro, which will be the biggest of all. Conservative estimates are around $1,000 USD per person. It's a cash cow for Tanzania, and people will pay it. I hope that most of the money stays in the pockets of the people who guide on the mountain and work to conserve it.

I've gotten way off point here. I have my Djibouti visa! The first legal hurdle has been crossed. Fingers crossed that all the visas are this easy.

Time to study French some more.



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