New Budget Tour To Socotra Island – Visit A Lost World And One of The Most Unique Places In The World

The Lost World. Alien Island. The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

These are just some of the phrases often used to describe Socotra Island, often seen as a highly prized travel destination to visit in most adventurers eyes. Sadly for the past few years it has virtually been off the map due to the awful civil war in Yemen, although thankfully it has never been part of it and remains stable and secure.

Thankfully with the arrival of new direct flights this is all about to change making it more accessible but most importantly – safely! The flights from Abu Dhabi in the UAE will pave the way for tourism to be reborn in a place that is fourth in the world for endemic species in terms of the archipelagos flora and fauna.

My first ever group tours will be run in partnership with Lupine Travel and we’ve already announced two tours that will be running to the island, the first is in October and second during Easter 2018. Group numbers will be restricted due to the limited infrastructure on Socotra.

Itinerary

Day 1: Wednesday 4th October

Upon arrival to Socotra airport, you will be transferred to the Hadibo eco-lodge to acclimatize and have lunch. After lunch, we will head to Ayhaft Canyon National Park. In the canyon we will visit large fresh water-pools where you can swim and relax. All around can be seen a huge variety of endemic plants such as Dessert Rose,  Tamarind trees, Cucumber trees and a wide variety of birds such as Socotra Sparrow, Socotra Sunbird and both Socotri and Somali Starlings.

After swimming, we will drive to Delisha beach which is is packed with pristine white sands full of crabs. We will relax while swimming both in the sea and in a freshwater lagoon. Afterwards we will climb a huge sand dune overseeing the beach. There is also a possibility of watching a beautiful sunset from Delisha.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel in Hadibo.

Day 2: Thursday 5th October

After breakfast, we will drive to the island’s north-east coast to explore a snorkeling site in Dihammri. Once in Dihammri, you can swim, snorkel and dive in the Marine Protected Area of Dihammri, home to one of the richest coral reefs on the archipelago. Dihammri is blessed with more than 200 fish species and 4 of the 5 coral species that inhabit to the island. This shallow reef will allow even the most inexperienced snorkeler to enjoy its beauty. The many marine creatures to be seen whilst swimming and snorkeling include; parrotfish, Moray eel, Rays, turtles and much more. Diving and snorkeling gear can be hired from Dihammri Diving Center. In the afternoon, we drive to natural zoon of Homhil which is home to many sorts of endemic plant like Dragon’s Blood Tree, Frankincense Tree and Desert Rose. Once in Homhil, we will walk along a selection of trails, on one of which takes us to a viewpoint where there is a natural swimming pool and a view of villages below on the plain and of the Arabian Sea.

Dinner and overnight camp at Homhil campsite.

Day 3: Friday 6th October

After an early breakfast, we will drive to Terbak village where Hoq Cave is located. We will then hike up for 1.5 hours until we reach the entrance of the cave, before spending an hour inside. Hoq is the largest cave in the island. Over three km deep, the cave holds a wealth of Socotri history full of archaeological findings such as pieces of pottery, paintings and wooden tables with inscription in Aramaic language dating back to 258 AD. The cave offers an overwhelming beauty and variety of crystal decorations, like stalagmites, stalactites and calcite floors. We then drive to Ras Erisel which is located at the eastern end of the island where the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean meet. Afterwards we depart to the Arher area, which is a meeting point of fresh water from the mountain and salt water from the sea. Arher is also home to another magnificent sand dune. If you are feeling especially fit, you can climb the dunes for a view that is really worth the effort.

Dinner and overnight camp at Arher campsite.

Day 4: Saturday 7th October

Today we drive to the southern coast of the Island, through the unique Defarhu Valley. We will see traditional villages, natural water pools at the bottom of the canyon and the unusual Desert Rose tree growing on the canyon walls. The vegetation here is lush green and the area is full of birds. After lunch, we drive to Hayf and Zahek village to witness the massive sand dunes which have been pushed up against the mountainside by the seasonal winds of Socotra. We then make our way to the very expansive beach of Omak in the Indian Ocean. After swimming, sunbathing and relaxing in the clear water of the Indian Ocean in Omak, we depart to Digub cave, which overlooks a scattering of traditional villages below. There are many stalactites, stalagmites and pools of water in the cave that have seeped through the rock over time.

Dinner and overnight camp at Omak campsite.

Day 5: Sunday 8th October

Today, we make our way to Dixam plateau (700m above sea level) and Shebahon viewpoint. This area is home to many of the Socotri endemic plants such as Dragon’s Blood Tree. The Shebahon viewpoint gives a fabulous vista overlooking Daerhu canyon where we will see breathtaking sceneries and unusual, beautiful rock formations. We then make our way down to the Wadi in the canyon for lunch and swim in the freshwater pools. The afternoon is spent exploring the canyon.

Dinner and overnight camp at Wadi Dirhur campsite.

Day 6: Monday 9th October

Today we explore the Western part of the island. Our first stop will be Qalansiya; a small traditional fishing town. From there we will hop on a boat and head to the remote beach of Shuaab. We are very likely to see Spinner Dolphins and other sea life during the boat ride. Once in Shuaab, we can swim, relax and enjoy the pristine beach as well as have a look at nearby mangroves. After exploring the mangroves in the areas we head back to Qalansiya in time to explore the Detwah lagoon which is a marine protected area renowned for its magical landscape. This area has some of the best views on the island. We end our day by making the long drive back to Hadibo.

Dinner and overnight camp at Detwah Lagoon Protected area. ‎

Day 7: Tuesday 10th October

A free day relaxing around the Detwah Lagoon area.

Day 8: Wednesday 11th October

After an early breakfast we transfer back to the airport ready for our flight back to Abu Dhabi.

Trip Information

The cost of the tour is £795 per person.

The price includes:

  • Visa support documents
  • All ground transport in 4x4s
  • Accommodation and camping equipment
  • Tours, entry fees, permits and English speaking guides
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner each day
  • Bottled water and soft drinks
  • Lupine tour leader

The price does not include:

  • Visa fee
  • International Flights
  • Tips

* Please note the flights are scheduled to depart from Abu Dhabi to Socotra every Wednesday starting from October 2017. Prices are not yet confirmed. Please don’t book your flights to Abu Dhabi until the Socotra flights go on sale (estimated July 2017).

BOOK NOW

Further Information?

If you’d like to have a chat about the tour or if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions please feel free to ask me by emailing me here.

You can also visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

All images used have been sourced from Google and quoted to highlight ownership.

The Road to Theth

When people described the road to Theth as extreme, difficult and off-the-beaten track, they weren’t kidding!

My destination is a beautiful and remote village nestled within Albania’s Accursed Mountains, almost completely cut off and only visited by the hardiest of travellers during the winter, whereas in summer between 5,000-10,000 tourists from all over the world descend upon this unique and unspoiled corner of Albania.

Whilst planning my trip the name Theth kept popping up as a must-see place, after doing a bit of research I realised how naturally stunning this place looked and it was decided – I MUST SEE IT!

Accursed Mountains, Albania

My adventure took place in late March 2017, very early in spring; officially the tourist season had yet to begin. After staying overnight in Shkodër I set off bright and early for the 75km drive, to my surprise the road initially was really good – it even had tarmac! After passing several quaint, traditional Albanian villages we arrived in the town of Bogë a.k.a the last civilisation before “the road to hell”, I mean Theth!

Little did I know that our rose-tinted glasses were about to be dramatically shattered, after being lured into false-pretences by good roads (in Albanian standards), as soon as you reach the highest point called Rrasat e Thores the tarmac suddenly stops and you are faced with what can only be described as a “road”. It’s simply covered with rocks, filled with pot holes and has a 2,500m sheer drop down the side of the mountain that still to this day makes me tremble with fear every time I look at my photos.

Road to Theth – No, not a chance, never again (via road) anyway!

I can only insist that if you have a fear of heights, dislike  sheer drops or roads that have a mind of their own then this probably won’t be the best drive for you. Adrenalin and adventure junkies – perfect!

The night before we drove along the Rruga per Theth (Road to Theth) there was heavy rain, although this added to our problems it didn’t prevent us from reaching the highest point of the mountain so we decided to push on not knowing what was around the corner. Along the side of the road there were huge piles of snow and ice that the digger had pushed aside the day earlier. Thankfully for us there’s various panoramic photo opportunities along the route but beware that once you start going downhill these passing places become few and far between due to the narrow road. At Rrasat e Thores I got out of the car and was stood in snow that almost reached my waist, but was taken back by the incredible panoramic view in front of me!

The view from the top…simply breathtaking!

Stupidly I hadn’t hired a car that was a 4×4, initially I thought it was but sadly in hindsight I wasn’t prepared for how bad the road would be. As I began to descend the mountain the road got more and more snowy and icy, this made driving incredibly treacherous and pretty much impossible. After reaching a point where a car was stopped in the road ahead, as it’s so narrow it makes passing impossible. We got out to investigate and had the horrific realisation that the road was closed as we saw a digger was hard at work a short distance ahead clearing the snow (and some of the road).

Sadly the digger hadn’t finished clearing the road of snow which meant we could drive no further.

I’ve never really found myself in a situation like this before, I had several thoughts;

  1. Try to turn around and go back to the top of the mountain and potentially even back to Shkodër
  2. Push the car as far to one side of the road as possible so that cars can pass and walk the 10 miles down the mountain to Theth
  3. Sleep in the car overnight and risk hyperthermia and then still be stuck the next day

One of the key things I decided to do on this trip, that I wouldn’t normally, probably turned out to be the biggest saviour – I had bought a local sim card earlier in the day from a Vodafone shop and amazingly had signal and an internet connection (even better than at home!) which meant I could call my home stay and advise them that we were stuck.

…and we’re stuck!

As I can’t drive, my boyfriend had the unfortunate task of attempting to turn the car around with unfortunately not much luck as it had churned up the snow and ice leaving huge puddles. Thankfully the men who were operating the digger were kind enough to help. A young guy, probably no older than 22, simply got in the car and somehow managed to turn it around and get it into the side. Simple!

This also meant that option 1 would literally have been impossible and option 3 would have just been dangerous and stupid, therefore we had no choice but to grab our things and venture down the mountain. I was aware that it was almost 3pm, the sun sets at approximately 6.30pm meaning it would be pretty dark by 7pm and believe me I do not wish to be out in the wild where potentially bears, wolves or other animals could have had you as their dinner.

After abandoning the hire car we had the painstaking task of trudging through waist-high snow that the digger had yet to clear. Wet feet, tiredness and hunger started to take its toll, thankfully for us you can see Theth in the valley below which often made it look closer than it actually was.

Teasing me the whole way down, I could see Theth Village nestled in the valley below.

Nevertheless around 7pm we arrived into the village at dusk, crossing the main bridge we heard a few voices say, “are you okay, can we help you?!”, I think some locals most have thought we were mad and wondered where on earth these crazy people had just come from simply walking into the village. Thankfully Google Maps guided me the whole way to our home stay for the two nights that we’d booked.

I was greeted by Pavel and Vlora, owners of Bujtina Polia Guesthouse who welcomed us and made sure we instantly sat down next to the traditional wood-burning oven to warm ourselves up and thaw out. After walking for just over 10 miles downhill there was only one thing on my mind – FOOD! I was so hungry, thankfully Vlora had everything ready and provided us with a lovely feast that was perfect for the weary traveller. I was so tired and ended up going to bed about 8.30pm, I don’t think I’ve ever fallen asleep so early but believe me it was necessary – if not just to rest my feet. Sadly I didn’t get that much sleep due to having flashbacks and nightmares about falling off mountains and down sheer drops. Bloody overactive imagination!

Thankfully for me as the sun began to rise it shone through the window waking me up to one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever encountered anywhere I’ve ever stayed. This put me in such a good mood and made me eager to go out and explore the valley, even though my feet, calf muscles and blisters didn’t seem keen.

One of the best views I’ve ever woke up to…

One of the must-see places in Theth is the Blue Eye waterfall (Syri Kalter), a natural pool that’s 3-5m deep. A rare natural beauty, located in a canyon that takes over 3 hours to walk from Theth village, if this place was located in Italy, Spain or Greece it would most likely be overrun by tourists, thankfully for me though we were the only people there.

Chilling in Theth, the water is so clean and pure here that you can drink straight from the river!

The weather was absolutely incredible that day, we had clear skies and beautiful sunshine, enough to make this pasty Brit get sunburnt! On the way to the Blue Eye you’ll encounter a number of bridges that vary in levels of state including one which wasn’t attached and one that you could see straight through the tiny planks of wood. Not a great experience for someone with vertigo!

The Bridges of Theth can only be described as having a scary level of 10!!!

One thing to point out throughout my whole time visiting Theth and the Blue Eye was how friendly the local people are, I couldn’t speak more highly about them. A lovely elderly lady who delivered the milk and cheese to Bujtina Polia didn’t expect to see tourists sat in their living room that day but was so excited because for the villagers it means an income; one that during the winter is virtually impossible due to the road being cut off. Before she said her goodbyes there was only one thing she wanted at 8am – Raki – an Albanian spirit that I like to describe as fire water! That’s one way to start the morning and brush away the cobwebs.

The very beautiful Bujtina Polia in Theth

Sadly it was time to say our goodbyes to the Polia family and to Theth, after a rather horrific initial experience it turned out to be one of my most amazing adventures, that sadly for me wasn’t over until we got the car back to the top of the mountain. Thankfully Pavel (an experienced mountain guide) drove us back to our vehicle and was kind enough to help us.

The road had become icy overnight which made things rather difficult when your car doesn’t have 4-wheel drive, thankfully his knowledge and experience meant we strapped ropes to the tires that gave them traction but not enough to make it without help. Ironically another car randomly appeared up ahead, they weren’t even asked if they would help but instantly got stuck in and helped us to push the car up the mountain and out of their way so they could pass. This would never happen in England!

Eventually after several false starts we made it back to where we started – Rrasat e Thores a.k.a the top! Tarmac road awaited, but not before my boyfriend got out of the car and breathed a huge sigh of relief that;

  1. We’d made it alive and…
  2. The car still worked! HURRAY

This is one truly off-the-beaten track destination, it’s one of the most remote places to try to access but is hugely worthwhile. Unlike any other part of Albania, Theth is unique, raw and truly awe-inspiring.

You can’t tell me you don’t want to see views like this for yourself? Quick, get to Theth now!

Visit Theth for yourself

I highly recommend a visit, to book your stay go to Booking.com and search for Bujtina Polia. Click here using this link!

You’ll be blown away by how incredible the Albanian Alps are, you can also check out the rest of Albania here.

Further Information?

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

All images copyrighted, if you wish to use any images produced in this blog article please contact me.

Sudan Travel: Guide to the Pyramids, Visa Rules and Khartoum

Sudan Diaries

Experience a country that has more pyramids than Egypt, that has no McDonalds but does have tourist sites that would make most countries envious!

Once the biggest country in Africa until the South went rogue, Sudan is not your typical holiday destination, but with ever-increasing tourism arrivals, could that all be about to change?

When asked where you are going on holiday, it’s highly unlikely you’ll say Sudan. Most people couldn’t point it out on a map, let alone tell you why you should visit. The general consensus is that I’m nuts, mostly because the mainstream media depicts Sudan as a dangerous and unsafe destination to visit.

Come with me on my journey around Sudan...

Come with me on my journey around Sudan…

My Sudan Diaries

So what’s it like to visit? It’s certainly a culture shock at first, I wasn’t sure what to expect but it has definitely encouraged me to see more of Africa. Whilst I was travelling in Sudan I was sadly only there for six days but I sure packed a lot in. Here’s what I got up to…

Sunday 19th February

I absolutely love the feeling of landing somewhere new and exotic, not knowing what to expect or whether you’ll even be allowed into the country. After flying from Manchester and having a short stop in Istanbul, I arrived very early in the morning a bit bleary-eyed and attempting to stay awake.

Thankfully for me I was travelling in a group so I felt safe in the fact that if something went wrong there’d be someone there to help me out. Be sure to collect an arrival card before you proceed to passport control or you will be sent to the back of the queue. As it happens I was the first one through security so I had plenty of time to acclimatise and people-watch at the airport. Whatever you do, don’t take photos in/around the terminal!

You’ll certainly see some sites at the only International airport in the country; I saw people randomly walking in and out of the “secure” areas and even some falcons that a rich Emirati had brought with him.

Good morning Sudan and Sudan Airways - a rare sighting at an airport as they are banned from flying into the European Union.

Good morning Sudan and Sudan Airways – a rare sighting at an airport as they are banned from flying into the European Union.

Whilst preparing for Sudan I was advised not to bring sterling and instead only bring Euros and Dollars, thankfully I ignored this advice as I was able to exchange Great British Pounds at the airport. Using XE.com I was advised that the official bank rate was 8SDP to 1GBP, but for some reason I was offered more than double this and was given 19SDP! This helped make my trip to Sudan one of the cheapest I’ve ever experienced.

After a long journey some shut-eye was required; thankfully I awoke with a desire to go exploring. Khartoum is a strange mix of old vs new, some streets are clean, others are a rubbish dump. It’s quite difficult not to be affected by the dirt and sand in the air so make sure you take nasal spray.

One of the first places I came across was the Corinthia Hotel a.k.a Burj Libya. I’d heard many stories about this place, it’s the most luxurious hotel in the country and was built using Co. Gaddafi’s money. At the time I visited it costs $279 to stay for one night, far more than your average Sudanese can afford (or me for that matter). After ordering ice cream and waiting 45 minutes for it not to turn up I cancelled my order and opted to buy a 25p cone from a local seller outside instead.

Corinthia Hotel a.k.a Burj Libya

Corinthia Hotel
a.k.a Burj Libya

Having previously visited Egypt and sailed down the Nile on a felucca it was only right that I do a boat trip again in Sudan. Head to the Corinthia Hotel and next to the river you’ll be asked if you’d like to take a boat ride, thankfully the Sudanese weren’t pushy but you will need to haggle as you’ll be offered different things so be sure you know what you’re getting into. There was four of us and we paid a total of 300SDP for one hour to see the confluence of the Nile and also Tuti Island. Amazingly we were even offered life jackets!

One thing you must obtain on the first day of travelling in Sudan is a photo permit. They are free and you can get one through a travel agent or hotel representative but without this you’ll be subject to scrutiny if stopped by police. Similar to other countries, many locals don’t want their photo taken but if you strike up a conversion you’ll be amazed at the friendliness of the Sudanese.

Was I in love with Khartoum? Sadly not, it didn’t leave me with the best impression but thankfully I needed plenty of beauty sleep before leaving the capital.

Typical views of Khartoum

Typical views of Khartoum

Monday 20th February

Catching up on my sleep makes me a happy traveller, as does having a shower to make me feel refreshed. Sadly for me the morning that I was travelling to the desert my hotel appeared to run out of water. Hurray for wet wipes!

I was thankful that I was finally able to escape the dirt of Khartoum, sadly for me it was only to discover that many parts of the countryside are also a plastic bag wasteland. There’s a huge business opportunity for anyone brave enough to educate people on the art of recycling.

Naga Archeological site

Naga Archeological site

Naga Archeological Site

Naga Archeological Site

I’ll admit that other than the famous Meroe pyramids I didn’t know anything else about any other tourist sites in Sudan. Thankfully for me this meant I was pleasantly surprised when I was travelling around. After veering off the main tarmacked road, it was incredibly bumpy and bone-shattering 45 minutes to reach the Naga (or Naqa in Arabic) archaeological site. I’d personally never heard about this place but it turns out it’s one of the largest ruined sites in the whole country, if this place was in neighbouring Egypt it would definitely be overrun by tourists!

After a really long day I was absolutely gutted to arrive too late to see the sunset over the Meroe pyramids, so my alarm was set for a very early morning to capture the beauty. Sadly for me the only other thing left to do was camp out in the desert, the tent wasn’t really suitable for two people so I ended up the back of a pickup truck in a sleeping bag. Thankfully, it turns out I probably got the most sleep out of everyone in my group as most of their tents collapsed during the night because of the wind.

For me though; camping out overnight sleeping underneath the stars – perfect.

Sunrise at the Pyramids of Meroe

Sunrise at the Pyramids of Meroe

Tuesday 21st February

I’m incredibly lucky to say I’ve seen some of the world’s most memorable tourist sites, however waking up to a sunrise over the Meroe pyramids has to be right up there with one of my favourite experiences. It gave me a feeling that I’d stepped back in time, although sadly the pyramids aren’t quite as abandoned as I initially imagined due to being located just off the main highway heading north.

The reason most tourists will visit Sudan is simply to experience the “less touristy” pyramids. Sudan has far more than Egypt, yet far less tourists. The Pyramids of Meroe are situated in a perfect spot for an ancient city, residing just east of the Nile River. Some of the restoration works left a lot to be desired, however I understand that with limited resources and money the Sudanese have been doing what they can with what they’ve got.

Sunrise at the Pyramids of Meroe

Sunrise at the Pyramids of Meroe

I felt like I'd stepped back in time when I visited Meroe - amazing experience!

I felt like I’d stepped back in time when I visited Meroe – amazing experience!

After leaving Meroe I ventured to yet more pyramids, this time discovering that the site of Nuri belonged to Nubian kings. I strongly suggest making a trip here, the pyramids have been far less damaged and the restoration is much more in keeping with what the original pyramids would have looked like – in my opinion.

Only 10km away is Jebel Barkal, a relatively small mountain – something I wasn’t expecting to find in Sudan as for some reason I thought it was completely flat! Once again, this UNESCO World Heritage site was a complete surprise for me, I was able to explore a recently discovered temple that was undergoing a live archeological excavation. This was an exciting opportunity and one I’m extremely grateful to the archeologists for allowing me to enter Mut Temple and step back in time.

Top L-R: Nuri Pyramids and Karima Pyramids Bottom L-R: Jebel Barkal and Mut Temple

Top L-R: Nuri Pyramids and Karima Pyramids
Bottom L-R: Jebel Barkal and Mut Temple

After becoming a bit templed-out for the day I thankfully arrived in the early evening to my accommodation for the night at a typical Nubian homestay. It wasn’t quite as expected, but after sleeping in the desert the night before and not having a shower even just the thought of a cold shower was enticing. The reality – a shed in the garden along with a bunch of spiders, mosquitos and other lovely creatures as shower guests. It did however help me remove the sand from every orifice!

Wednesday 22nd February

Another day, another archeological site. This time it’s the vast El-Kurru complex, this place was used by the Nubian royal family and houses some of the most fascinating and intact paintings inside the burial tombs. Thankfully excavations are still taking place and no doubt in years to come there will be far more things for travellers to see and experience including the tomb of Tanwetamani and King Shebitku.

El-Kurru

El-Kurru

img_6648

Tomb of Tanwetamani

After leaving El-Kurru, the rest of the day didn’t involve a huge amount of exploring, but thankfully for me I’m one of those sad people who can’t sleep on long journeys so I simply peered out the window, staring at the endless emptiness of sand with only a few glimpses of life by nomadic people with their camels and donkeys. At a pitstop along the way we saw a local minibus picking up passengers, in the form of a goat that was tied to a roof! Only in Sudan.

This goat will definitely have the wind in his hair...

This goat will definitely have the wind in his hair…

The emptiness certainly didn’t last long when we arrived back in Khartoum. Big cities often endure crazy traffic and manic driving but this place was something else, I’m just glad it wasn’t me who had the responsibility of getting us through it all safely. Thankfully though there’s method in the madness and somehow it all seems to work but for this relatively poor country just surviving is all you can hope for.

Many Sudanese still live a nomadic lifestyle, this little boy was collecting water for his family.

Many Sudanese still live a nomadic lifestyle, this little boy was collecting water for his family.

Thursday 23rd February

The one good thing about being back in the capital is that Wifi is freely available and you can connect with the outside world again. I thought that with Sudan being a relatively closed country the internet would be far more restricted but to my amazement I was freely able to access my typical Social networking sites, but hilariously Sky News was blocked – in your face Rupert Murdoch!

Khartoum used to be a sleepy city with few things to do or explore, this is slowly starting to change but thankfully there’s still a few abandoned dark tourism sites to visit including the Mogan Family park. Oddly enough this site is still tended to but most of the amusement park is now derelict, however the guard will let you freely roam and explore where you like. Make sure you venture all the way to the end as you’ll come face to face with the mighty Nile River, directly at the confluence where the Blue and the White Nile meets.

Mogan Family Park

Mogan Family Park

A short walk away is The National Museum of Sudan; housing the largest and most important archeological sites in the country. Although it could do with some improvements they’ve definitely made an effort overall and I found it informative. I’d advise you to visit this place last on your trip because you can visit the actual sites around the country and then complete your tour here and hopefully everything will fit in to place and make sense.

I’m not sure if you are like me but postcards are still a must when I’m travelling; especially the more exotic locations. However in Sudan you’ll struggle to even find a post office, in fact there are no post boxes in the whole country so try to head to main depot in Khartoum. I was easily able to find postcards for China and Hawaii randomly but you’ll struggle to find any decent postcards of Sudan; a definite business opportunity for any locals reading this!

Goodnight Khartoum

Goodnight Khartoum

Friday 24th February

Sadly today is my last day, it has been a very short trip to such a large country but the lasting impression of waking up at the ancient Pyramids of Meroe will stay with me forever.

If you fly into Sudan it’s likely your flight will be an early morning one, mine was scheduled for 3am so it was an incredibly early start. My advice would be to make sure you leave at least 2 hours to get through the airport as it can be a rather beaurocratic process. There are currency exchange desks before you pass through security, make sure you change any additional currency as there isn’t any other opportunities afterwards. I ended up buying a coffee pot that I didn’t need simply to get rid of my last remaining 100SDP.

Any adventure traveller will tell you about the various times they’ve become ill whilst travelling, sadly for me once I returned to the UK I spent the following week in my sick bed getting over contracting an infectious disease called Chikungunya that I’d caught during my time travelling, what a way to end my trip.

The joys of adventure travel!

sudanvisa

My Sudan visa and trusted Bradt Guide book.

Visit Sudan

Inspired to visit? It’s surprisingly easy if you join an organised group tour as they’ll arrange a sponsor in the form of a local company; once this is received you can then apply for your visa. I travelled with UK based travel agency Lupine Travel who offer tours to unique destinations including Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea. As I no longer live in London the embassy thankfully accept applications by post making it easy to get a visa.

What do you need to include?

  • One passport photo
  • Original Passport
  • Completed and signed application form
  • Yellow fever certificate – not required but would be advantageous
  • Postal Order for total of £55
  • Return special delivery envelope (including postage)

For more information please visit the Embassy of Sudan in London.

Your adventure awaits...

Your adventure awaits…

Travelling to Sudan

Would I visit again? It’s unlikely, but not for any bad reason, mostly just because I don’t go to the same place twice. Khartoum isn’t somewhere that would feature on my list of beautiful cities and the Sudanese need a serious lesson in recycling and not filling their countryside with plastic bags and rubbish. However the archeological sites more than make up for these downfalls and I’d strongly recommend visiting soon before your typical tourists find out about this place.

What will you need to take? Here’s a brief list of suggestions for items to take with you;

  • Toilet roll / wet wipes
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel
  • Nasal spray
  • First Aid kit
  • Long trousers (do not wear shorts due to strict Sharia Law)
  • Mosquito spray/net
  • Microfibre travel towel
I'm proud to travel to countries where I can fly the LGBT flag. Will you follow in my footsteps?

I’m proud to travel to countries where I can fly the LGBT flag. Will you follow in my footsteps?

LGBT Travel to Sudan

Let me point out the obvious; Sudan isn’t the first country you’d think of when you think of organising a holiday for an LGBT traveller but intrepid types are exploring, despite the risks. Let’s just say, don’t put it about! I didn’t receive any animosity, but then I would also say don’t make it hugely obvious either as this could land you in some hot water. If you’re an LGBT traveller and would like some advice or a chat about my trip here please contact me.

Further information?

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

All images copyrighted, if you wish to use any images produced in this blog article please contact me.

Top 10 Countries To Visit In 2017

Where should you be exploring in the new year? No ideas yet? Don’t worry, I’m here to provide you with some hints and top tips for the top 10 countries to visit in 2017.

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1. United Kingdom

This entry is sure to confuse many of you, however due to Brexit and the Great British currency crash, a trip to the U.K is now more affordable than ever for International visitors. I bet you are thinking that the U.K isn’t a very adventurous destination? Well, time to think again, there’s many off-the-beaten track places to see in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • When to visit: April or August/September
  • Top Tip: Don’t just visit London!
  • Must see destination: Whitby, Shetland Islands, Tenby or Derry

Check out my articles about a staycation in Liverpool, walking in the Lake District and discovering the historical food culture of London.

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2. Uzbekistan

As of 1st April 2017 (no it’s not an April fools joke), you’ll be able to enter Uzbekistan without applying for a visa in advance. This is a huge step forward for the Central Asian nation famous for its red-tape visa rules and bureaucracy, I’m in no doubt that it should kick-start a spike in tourist arrivals and an interest in the fascinating history of the Silk Road. I’m hoping to squeeze a trip to Uzbekistan into 2017, anyone else with me?

  • When to visit: March or September
  • Top tip: Try the train from Tashkent to Samarkand or Bukhara
  • Must see destination: Samarkand

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3. North Korea

What I hear you say! Why on earth would you visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)? Well, I’d say that with Donald Trump soon to be in charge of the White House you’d better get here pretty sharply.

If you like being ushered around and having no freedom to do anything on your then North Korea is for you! However, you’ll get to see one of the most isolated countries on the planet and have a completely unique experience, I’m really intrigued but sadly haven’t yet been able to venture here. The country is attempting to open up by creating International marathons, golf tournaments and event a ski resort to attract investment and foreign tourists…all in the name of cold, hard cash.

  • When to visit: April – July
  • Top tip: Fly with Air Koryo to experience the world’s only 1 star airline
  • Must see destination: Pyongyang

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4. Georgia

I’m finally going to be visiting Georgia in 2017 and I can’t wait! As a country on the far edge of Europe, this place has a huge amount to offer including some of the best scenery, food and wine in the region. Georgia lies along the eastern edge of the Black Sea in the heart of the beautiful Caucasus Mountains, if you really feel like stepping off-the-beaten track then you should visit Georgia’s two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

  • When to visit: Best in Summer but if you like skiing visit in Winter
  • Top tip: Georgian wine is some of the best in the world, try it!
  • Must see destination: Gori (home of Stalin)

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5. Senegal

A unique blend of French and Middle Eastern influences, Senegal has never truly shined when it comes to its tourist market. However, this is a tragic shame as there’s fascinating beaches, tasty food to sample and even some of the most unique wildlife to see in its tropical forests.

  • When to visit: November to May
  • Top tip: Learn to deal with the constant pestering
  • Must see destination: Casamance Delta region

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6. Japan

If the fact that you can visit not only a cat cafe doesn’t tempt you enough, how about an owl cafe?! I’m sold, when can we go?

Sadly for me it’s unlikely that I’ll visit in 2017, but with a country that’s as uniquely modern as it is historical, Japan has a huge amount to offer a travel geek like me. I have a list as long as my arm of things I’d like to see or do here including travelling on the Bullet train, standing in the middle of Tokyo at rush hour and feeling the buzz whilst discovering a traditional Japan in the streets of Kyoto.

What you waiting for?! Don your kimono and wooden shoes, grab a samurai and discover the quirky, unique nature of Japan.

  • When to visit: Any time but March is a good time to see the cherry blossom
  • Top tip: Buy a railway pass to travel around this amazing country by train
  • Must see destination: Kyoto

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7. Mauritania

Most visitors to North Africa wouldn’t consider Mauritania as a place to visit, however you’d be surprised at how easy it is. I’ve discovered that the country recently relaxed their visa rules and you can now receive a visa on arrival, what better excuse do I need?! Although there isn’t many major tourist sites to see, the country is really unique and is just waiting to be explored. Make sure you check out the world’s longest train and the vast Sahara desert.

  • When to visit: December to March
  • Top tip: Take an adventure of a lifetime on the world’s longest train
  • Must see destination: Adrar

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8. Armenia

A country steeped in history and said to be the birthplace of Christianity, Armenia is slowly starting to appeal to Western tourists and open itself up. Armenia is another country that I’ll be getting to visit in 2017, flying into the capital Yerevan will be an experience in itself as I don’t expect any luxury, but the beauty of adventure travel is I may be pleasantly surprised.

  • When to visit: May – September
  • Top tip: Don’t mention anything about Azerbaijan, the country’s are both still at war
  • Must see destination: Dilijan (a.k.a Little Switzerland)

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9. India

Regularly featuring in many must-see lists, India surprisingly doesn’t receive as many visitors as you might think. Only 7.5m arrived in 2014, that might sound a lot but given that over 1 billion people live here, India certainly has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential. Even though I’ve included it as one of my top countries to visit, I’ve not had the best experience having recently tried to apply for an Indian visa but unfortunately due to the awful system I was unable to pay and therefore missed out on gaining an e-visa.

  • When to visit: December to May to avoid monsoon seasons
  • Top tip: Prepare yourself for an assault on every one of your senses, expect the unexpected
  • Must see destination: Darjeeling

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10. Mozambique

Fast becoming one of Africa’s must-see destinations, Mozambique is somewhere that I’ve had on my must-see list for several years now that the horrendous war is over and the country is finding its feet. Whether you’re interested in seeing incredible beaches, tea plantations and even rare wildlife such as rhinos and giraffes. Unfortunately I won’t make it there this year, but if you visit I’d love to hear your stories.

  • When to visit: August to October for seeing Humpback whales or November/December for the key bird watching season
  • Top tip: Visit now before everyone else discovers the natural beauty of Mozambique
  • Must see destination: Quirimbas Islands

 

Further Information

If you’d like to read my recommendations for 2016 and 2015 click on the year to discover unique adventures.

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from any of my trips please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

Which Countries Do British Passport Holders Need A Visa For?

Applying for a visa can be the killjoy of every potential holiday. Thankfully being a British passport holder can be quite a powerful thing, it is ranked as the third best in the world to have due to the visa-free or visa on arrival access that’s available.

Although British citizens can easily step foot into 176 different countries there’s another 40 that make life a little bit more difficult. This list is a bit like my nemesis, my aim is to visit all of them but sadly some are far more complicated than others. Let’s take a look at where they are and how you can visit these entry restricted places.

*This list does not include the easy e-visa or visa on arrival countries

Afghanistan

Band-e Haibat lake, Afghanistan. Photo source: Wikipedia

Band-e Haibat lake, Afghanistan. Photo source: Wikipedia

Tourist visas for Afghanistan can be a bit of a faff, thankfully they can now be purchased for 90 days, however you must attend an appointment at the Embassy in London with all the required elements including an invitation letter, completed application form, photo, evidence of employment, proof of address and a personal statement that confirms you are aware of the risks involved and take full responsibility.

Algeria

Algeria. Photo source: Telegraph

Algeria. Photo source: Telegraph

Unlike neighbouring Morocco, Algeria requires British citizens to apply for a visa in advance. This can take up to 4 weeks and be aware that if your visa is refused or cancelled the fee is non-refundable!

Angola

Miradouro da Lua, Angola. Photo source: Wikipedia

Miradouro da Lua, Angola. Photo source: Wikipedia

Although visa requirements most certainly discourage tourism, Angola has some incredibly beautiful beaches just waiting to be discovered. If the country relaxes the Soviet-style rules I foresee a very bright tourist future for Angola. When applying for your visa you have 12 things that you must complete to be granted a visa!

Belarus

Belarus Victory Parade, Minsk. Photo source: BBC

Belarus Victory Parade, Minsk. Photo source: BBC

As the last Dictatorship of Europe it is no surprise that the visa process can be rather long and complicated. To encourage tourism, President Lukashenko has introduced some new rules; as of 12th January 2017 you can now enter Belarus visa-free for trips of 5 days or less.

Benin

I'd love to watch the Voodoo ceremony in Benin. Photo source: Reuters

I’d love to watch the Voodoo ceremony in Benin. Photo source: Reuters

A tiny West African nation that is little-known outside the adventure tourist market, home to tribal cultures, ancient voodoo traditions and amazing colonial architecture. I’ve never previously considered visiting Benin, however the visa process appears really simple so who am I to complain?!

Bhutan

Tigers Nest, Bhutan. Photo source: unknown.

Tigers Nest, Bhutan. Photo source: unknown.

Often described as the “last Shangri-La” due to its pristine environment and strict entry rules. You’ll need to have a substantial budget to visit Bhutan due to its enforced request of having a daily spend, this is approximately £190 ($250) per day depending on the season, although this fee does include your accommodation, food, transport and a guide.

Cameroon

One of the largest volcanoes in Africa - Mount Cameroon.

One of the largest volcanoes in Africa – Mount Cameroon. Photo source: Shutterstock

Can you point Cameroon out on a map? Most likely not, I had to do a quick search so I could confirm I was in the right place…I wasn’t! Cameroon is surrounded by conflict zones and many parts are off-limits. The visa process appears relatively straight forward apart from the letter of invitation with the Cameroonian Police from your host, partner or contact in the country!

Central African Republic

As the Central African Republic descends into chaos, sadly it's not only the people that suffer. Photo source: USFWS

As the Central African Republic descends into chaos, sadly it’s not only the people that suffer. Photo source: USFWS

The FCO currently advise against all travel to the Central African Republic due to the ongoing civil war. There’s no embassy in the UK, however you can apply for a visa via the French Consulate-General in London who accepts applications.

Chad

Camels in the Mountains, Chad. Photo source: Thinkstock

Camels in the Mountains, Chad. Photo source: Thinkstock

I really want to visit Chad, but they certainly don’t make it very easy! There is no Embassy in London, therefore your nearest place to visit will either be Paris or Brussels, however if you don’t speak French it will virtually be impossible to secure a visa. Sadly very few people could tell you exactly where Chad is, let alone why you should visit!

China

Great Wall of China. Photo source: Telegraph

Great Wall of China. Photo source: Telegraph

Although I’ve previously visited Hong Kong, I never ventured to the mainland and I greatly regret this as China has rapidly developed in the last 10 years. For UK citizens you must apply via one of the three application centres in London, Manchester or Edinburgh, be aware that there’s a variety of visa options and prices but the process thankfully isn’t complicated.

Congo (Republic of the)

Congo Basin Gorilla. Photo source: World Wildlife

Congo Basin Gorilla. Photo source: World Wildlife

Definitely don’t get the two Congo’s mixed up, the Republic of is also referred to as Congo-Brazzaville highlighting the capital city. You must be granted a visa before arrival, similar to several other countries on this list you must obtain an invitation letter and already have your flight and hotel confirmations ready. According to the website it says the visa will be ready the next day, I’d love to test and see if this is true!

Congo (Democratic Republic of the)

Mount Nyiragongo lava lake. Photo source: Martin Rietze

Mount Nyiragongo lava lake, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo source: Martin Rietze

When people ask where would you like to visit next, I’ve never ever heard anyone say the DRC. Tourism is very much in its infancy in the DRC, with red tape and unofficial bribes often needed this instantly puts many people off. You can apply for your visa via the Embassy in London, but expect a delay of 2-3 weeks so plan ahead.

  • Visa fee: £60 for a single entry visa, plus $50 as an International departure tax upon leaving the DRC
  • DRC Embassy in London (in French)

Cuba

I *heart* Cuba! Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

I *heart* Cuba! Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

Although you only require a Tourist Card for Cuba I have included it on this list as you still have to apply for it from the Embassy in London or via your travel agency if you are travelling with a group. It is probably the easiest visa to get on this list!

Equatorial Guinea

Lovers’ Beach, Annobón island, in Equatorial Guinea. Photo source: Guardian

Lovers’ Beach, Annobón island, in Equatorial Guinea. Photo source: Guardian

Equatorial Guinea is a small but rather unusual country, divided in two with the largest part being on the mainland whilst the capital city sits on Bloko island. Getting a visa for Equatorial Guinea isn’t easy, there are plenty of hoops to jump through, especially considering the fact that tourists must prove that they have at least £2,000 in their bank account or risk having their visa rejected.

Eritrea

Dahlak Archipelago in the Red Sea, Eritrea. Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

Dahlak Archipelago in the Red Sea, Eritrea. Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

Eritrea is one of my favourite countries that I’ve been lucky enough to visit, I travelled with a group on a recce tour around Eritrea which made things much easier. To get a visa for Eritrea you will need to be booked on a tour with a local company, they will issue you with an application number which needs to be used when you submit your visa request. You may be required to have an interview whilst visiting the Embassy although the visa takes 2-4 weeks to process as it gets sent straight to Asmara (the capital city) for authorisation.

Ghana

Wish you were here? Beautiful Ghana. Photo source: Wikipedia

Wish you were here? Beautiful Ghana. Photo source: Wikipedia

Often described as the first place you must visit in Africa to ease you in, Ghana is a safe, secure and stable country with an incredible history. The visa process is relatively straight forward although you must be immunised for yellow-fever and provide proof. It can take up to 15 working days to receive your visa so plan in advance.

Guinea

Conakry Mosque, Guinea. Photo source: Lonely Planet

Conakry Mosque, Guinea. Photo source: Lonely Planet

Sadly I haven’t been able to find that much information about obtaining a visa for Guinea, the Embassy in London doesn’t appear to have a website and their office has recently moved from Kilburn to Kensington.

Iran

Royal Square, Esfahan, Iran. Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

Royal Square, Esfahan, Iran. Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

If you aren’t British, American or Canadian then an Iranian visa will be simple to get on arrival. Sadly for our three nations we must apply in advance, for Brits we must apply via the newly reopened Embassy in London, you will need an application number but this can be sought via the Embassy directly.

Iraq

Red Prison in Kurdistan, Iraq. Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

Red Prison in Kurdistan, Iraq. Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

Why on earth would you want to visit Iraq? WELL… avoiding the pre-conceptions, the people are incredibly friendly, welcoming and the food is delicious. I visited the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq in 2014 and absolutely loved it. Thankfully you don’t need to apply for a visa in advance for Kurdistan, however for the rest of Iraq you will need to apply at the Embassy.

Liberia

Liberian smiles. Photo source: PSI

Liberian smiles. Photo source: PSI

Similar to Guinea, I’ve been unable to find much information about applying for a Liberian visa. There doesn’t appear to be an Embassy website, however you can apply using various agencies who will charge you more. Tourism is very much in its infancy in Liberia, very few people visit due to a lack of infrastructure, which was recently made worse by the ebola outbreak in 2014.

Libya

Leptis Magna and the Mediterranean, Libya. Photo source: UNESCO

Leptis Magna and the Mediterranean, Libya. Photo source: UNESCO

Currently the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Libya. During calmer times the most famous tourist attraction was Leptis Magna, one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres, although unfortunately at present its status is unknown due to the ongoing conflict.

Mali

Timbuktu, Mali. Photo source: ABC

Timbuktu, Mali. Photo source: ABC

Where did it all go wrong for Mali? Tourists used to flock here to see Timbuktu and then unfortunately the insurgency started and it was pretty much all over for the tourist industry of Mali. If, however that still doesn’t put you off, you can apply for a visa at the Honorary Malian Consulate in London.

Mongolia

Nomadic life in Mongolia. Photo source: Wikimedia

Nomadic life in Mongolia. Photo source: Wikimedia

Mongolia is a huge landlocked country that is still traditional and unique in its values, it is one of the last places on earth you can experience nomadic life. When applying for your visa you’ll need a completed application form, visa fee and also a letter of invitation which can be done through a local tour company.

Mozambique

Beautiful Mozambique. Photo source: Unknown

Beautiful Mozambique. Photo source: Unknown

Mozambique – a country that’s very high on my list of “must-sees”, sadly it is also one of the 41 who still require you to apply for a visa before you arrive. It’s a painless process however, you’ll need your completed application form, two passport sized photos, return flight confirmation documents, hostel/hotel confirmation documents, 1 recent bank statement and also a copy of the first page of your passport (containing your photograph).

Nauru

Before the London Olympics 2012, the Queens Baton arrived in Nauru for a tour. Photo source: Visit Scotland

Before the London Olympics 2012, the Queens Baton arrived in Nauru for a tour. Photo source: Visit Scotland

Nauru – officially the least-visited country in the world and the world’s smallest independent nation. Nestled deep in the South Pacific, this place won’t come up on your travel list unless you’re visiting Australia or New Zealand as it’s incredibly remote. There’s no UK embassy, however recent changes were brought in and almost everyone needs to apply before arriving, from what I can tell it is free.

Niger

The Niger in Niamey, Niger. Photo source: Wikimedia

The Niger in Niamey, Niger. Photo source: Wikimedia

I can sadly confirm that I know nothing about Niger, other than it’s in Africa and the Sahara desert occupies a large part of the country. Sadly there’s no UK embassy or honorary consulate anymore, therefore you’ll need to head to Paris to apply with a completed application form, 2 passport photos, a certificate of yellow fever vaccination and a copy of your onward travel.

Nigeria

Fish vendor in Nigeria. Photo source: BBC

Fish vendor in Nigeria. Photo source: BBC

Due to the insurgency taking over Northern Nigeria it is currently advised against all travel to this part of the country. Nigeria has recently outsourced all of its visa applications to OIS, you’ll now need to apply and pay their huge service fee when submitting all documents.

North Korea

One of the most isolated countries in the world - North Korea. Image courtesy of Lupine Travel.

One of the most isolated countries in the world – North Korea. Photo source: Lupine Travel.

This country certainly needs no introduction, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is a fascinating place that was completely cut off until 1953. I’m lucky enough to have visited the North Korean embassy in London, a very unique place that’s situated in West London, far away from any other Embassy. A random experience, but the Koreans that I met were very warm and welcoming. To get a visa for North Korea you’ll need to book onto a tour, I recommend Lupine Travel.

Pakistan

Nanga Parbat, Pakistan. Photo source: Wikipedia

Nanga Parbat, Pakistan. Photo source: Wikipedia

Pakistan can be a rather difficult country to explain to people why you want to visit, however it has a lot to offer and hopefully with the power of Social Media this will become more obvious in the near-future. There are six visa application centres in the UK including Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham, Glasgow (opening soon) and also two in London.

Russia

So it's cold in Russia in winter...

So it’s cold in Russia in winter… Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

The biggest country in the world, often misunderstood but a unique place to venture to. If like me, you’ve visited lots of countries you’ll have a panic attack just writing the visa application form by trying to remember all the countries you’ve been to in the last 10 years. Thankfully after attending the processing centre in London you’ll have your visa within a few days.

Saudi Arabia

Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia. Photo source: unknown.

Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia. Photo source: unknown.

Saudi Arabia represents one of the last frontiers in tourism, there are so many rules and very few opportunities to visit for tourism. The best chance of gaining a tourist visa is if you travel with a Saudi-specific agency but these are notoriously difficult to find and acquire.

Sierra Leone

Banana Islands, Sierra Leone. Photo source: Out of Bounds tours

Banana Islands, Sierra Leone. Photo source: Out of Bounds tours

After sadly being flawed by the ebola outbreak in 2014, Sierra Leone has struggled to get back on its feet. I don’t believe the expensive visa fee is helping to attract tourists as this has so far definitely put me off. The application process is straight forward and you can apply in person or by post, expect to receive your visa within one week.

South Sudan

South Sudan Cattle herder. Photo source: BBC

South Sudan Cattle herder. Photo source: BBC

The newest country in the world, South Sudan thought it would ease all of their problems to become independent, sadly it seems to have created new ones. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to South Sudan due to the ongoing civil war although the visa application process appears relatively simple I’d probably advise to wait a few years to see how the conflict unfolds.

Sudan

Meroe Pyramids, Sudan. Photo source: BBC

Meroe Pyramids, Sudan. Photo source: BBC

It is said that the number of pyramids in Sudan far outweigh the number in Egypt, sadly this fact isn’t quite as well known by tourists yet. To apply for a Sudanese visa you’ll need to apply directly at the Embassy, however your request will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Khartoum and this can take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to be approved.

Syria

The historic caravan city of Palmyra in Syria has to be one of the most amazing places I've ever been to, especially when I arrived at 5am on a camel just as the sun was rising.

The historic caravan city of Palmyra in Syria has to be one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to, especially when I arrived at 5am on a camel just as the sun was rising. Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

As of 2012 it is not possible to apply for a tourist visa for Syria due to the ongoing conflict affecting the country. I was lucky enough to visit in 2010 and was required to apply/collect my visa from the Embassy in London.

Turkmenistan

I loved my time visiting Darvaza, aka The Door to Hell! Turkmenistan.

I loved my time visiting Darvaza, aka The Door to Hell! Turkmenistan. Photo: Travel Geek UK (All rights reserved)

Almost everyone needs a visa to enter Turkmenistan, the London embassy operates a rather strict calendar for applying/collecting your visa. When I purchased my visa from the embassy in 2015 I was charged £33, however this can fluctuate due to exchange rates.

Yemen

Socotra island, Yemen. Photo: National Geographic

Socotra island, Yemen. Photo source: National Geographic

Sadly now described as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Yemen was previously accessible although often with Government warnings. It’s currently impossible to get a visa for Yemen, the FCO advise against all travel to the country (including Socotra archipelago). I found one website selling visas for £135, however the Yemeni London embassy website no longer appears to be functioning and has been taken offline.

Disclaimer

  • Last updated: 4th March 2017
  • This list does not include countries that have e-visa facilities
  • It also doesn’t include any dependent, disputed or restricted territories
  • The advice listed only refers to British citizens visa requirements
  • It is possible to gain some visas from neighbouring countries, but not guaranteed

Further Information

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from any of my trips please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.