Africa has long been the centre of interest for travel enthusiasts and adventurers. In fact, it still exists as a somewhat unknown continent, full of raw beauty.
As Bangladeshis, sometimes we may feel our travel destinations are limited because of our weak passport. However, other than neighbouring India, Nepal, Bhutan and Thailand, there are quite a few exotic locations in Africa which we can visit. A Euro tour is too mainstream, you can tell yourself.
What is interesting is that some countries like the Gambia do not even require visas for Bangladeshis. Not every African country has an embassy or consulate in Dhaka, and in that case, there are e-visas.
Some countries have a bit more complicated process, like South Africa, where you have to get the visa from the New Delhi South Africa High Commission. It is advisable that you get the visa and flight tickets from a trusted travel agency.
Understandably, an African trip will require a heavy budget. For example, a week-long to 10 day trip to Kenya can cost up to Tk3 to Tk4 lakh per head. But you can always reduce the cost by staying at cheaper hotels, using public transportation and eating at local restaurants.
You would be surprised by how many African dishes are influenced by Indian cuisine; there is a use of hot pepper, turmeric, different kinds of chilis and even garam masala. But there are mild dishes too, and unique desserts.
Travel enthusiast Tareq Onu said, "Africa is still largely unknown to Bangladeshis, which gives them the opportunity to witness natural wonders and experience a cultural journey in the African countries. Some of the places are still authentic and not completely spoiled by tourists, so they can explore as much as they want. E-visas, on arrival visas etc make it hassle free for Bangladeshi travellers."
Africa has 54 countries, and many of them are a lifetime travel destination and all of them are unique in their own ways. We picked four out of them that you can visit:
Why should you travel all the way to Kenya from Bangladesh? Because at the Masai Mara Nature Reserve, within a few hours you will get to see lions, cheetahs, leopards, the famous African bush elephant and even rhinos. You won't see this anywhere in the world.
If you are visiting between January and March, you can even witness wildebeest migration.
Lake Nakuru (home to bright pink Flamingos), Amboseli National Park (includes a Maasai village), Diani beach (deep blue water) - this East African country is full of gorgeous natural spots.
Kenya is one of the top 10 food destinations in Africa. From ugali (boiled cornmeal) to bhajias (fried potatoes), rotis and delicious seafood, make sure you get a taste of all them.
There are studio apartments which can cost as low as Tk3,000 per day but there are hotels and resorts like Swahili House and Crowne Plaza Nairobi, which will cost you between Tk11,000 and Tk25,000 per night.
For Bangladeshis, Kenya issues e-visas. For the e-visa application, you need to submit documents like scan copies of valid passports, return ticket, accommodation proof etc.
Single entry e-visa for 90 days costs $55.20 and multiple entry East African Tourist visa costs $109.32.
Thai Airways round-trip tickets from Dhaka to Nairobi (via Bangkok and Addis Ababa) will cost around Tk1,20,000 (approximately). Qatar Airways tickets are more expensive (approximately Tk2,00,000) but there is only one stop in Dubai.
Why does anyone visit Egypt? Obviously the pyramids and mummies are the main attractions. But there is much more to this country and it is gradually becoming a popular travel destination among Bangladeshis.
With its bazaars, great food, Coptic Christian churches and countless beautiful mosques, and above all the great pyramid of Giza, this country is fascinating.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
If you want, take the world famous train journey from Cairo to Luxor, visit the Valley of the Kings, and take a cruise on the great Nile River.
If you have time, you can go far into the Sahara desert, visit the Aswan dam and the temples of Abu Simbel made by Ramses II. Add the Red Sea to your list.
Bangladeshis can get an on-arrival visa at the airport. You can also apply for a visa at the Egyptian embassy in Dhaka but they are mostly for work or study related trips.
There is the option of getting an e-visa as well. Along with regular paperwork, you will also need to submit proof of funds for the visa.
Amazing tours BD offers an 8-day tour to Egypt (Cairo, Alexandria, Byzantine and Ottoman, and Bosphorus) at Tk1,65,000. It does not include visa fee, domestic air ticket, and lunch and dinner.
Obokash has packages like Explore Cairo in 5 days and explore Egypt in 4 days. The first starts from Tk41,000 but does not include visa fee, air tickets, entry fee for the pyramids and lunch and dinner. The other package is the same, but starts from Tk45,500.
Round-trip air tickets from Dhaka to Cairo (Air Arabia via Sharjah) start from Tk90,000 (approximately).
3. The Gambia
The Gambia is a small country almost inside Senegal. It is situated along the River Gambie, also called the tongue of the Atlantic. The main reason why you should visit is that it does not require a visa for Bangladeshis.
Also, the locals are known to be warm and friendly, just like us. There are uncrowded beaches, and lovely sunshine all year round.
The Gambia got more famous after the web series 'Roots' was released, based on the novel of the same name by Alex Haley.
The Gambia will offer you various natural landscapes, wildlife, and rural culture but Jufureh, known as the village of Kunta Kinte (the main character from Roots), is the centre of attraction for most people. October to April is a good time to visit.
Beach resorts can cost you between Tk6,000 to Tk12,000 per night.
Round-trip tickets from Dhaka to the capital of the Gambia, Banjul, (Qatar Airways and Royal Air Maroc via Doha and Casablanca) will cost Tk2,86,000 approximately.
4. South Africa
Do not all Bangladeshis hold Nelson Mandela close to their hearts? This should be the lone reason for us to visit South Africa, the birthplace of this magnanimous person.
The Table Mountain, the meeting point of the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean and the infamous prison in Robben Island which has the memory of Nelson Mandela (and the African penguins) are tourist favourites.
Durban and Port Elizabeth are both known to have a lovely multicultural ambiance.
The Kruger National Park is a must visit if one has the time and budget, but otherwise you can visit a few national parks next to Johannesburg which are budget and time-friendly.
Johannesburg has a locality called Soweto which is a must visit place to see the old home of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
But before visiting this city, you must keep track of the local crime situation and avoid specific areas. Surprisingly, you will find thousands of Bangladeshis in this area.
You will love the spicy bunny chow (hollowed out bread loaf filled with curry), and the sweet malva pudding with apricot jam.
Getting a South African visa is a lengthy process (takes one to three weeks) because the embassy in New Delhi gives it (the agent will get it for you, you won't need to go there). South Africa has no embassy or consular office in Bangladesh.
Additional paperwork for visa application includes a cover letter and a plan of the tour.
Round-trip tickets from Dhaka to Johannesburg (Biman and Ethiopian Airlines via Delhi and Addis Ababa) will cost around Tk1,30,000.