Sunday, January 2

These are the places that are off the list...

We probably won't go into Equatorial Guinea. The country has one of the worst human rights records and I have read a few accounts of tourists being thrown into jail. The country is rich from oil and worry that tourists may be mercenaries trying to overthrow the government so they don't give out visas easily.

Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) had an armed rebellion in 2002 split the country in two - the north of the country is controlled by New Forces - the South by the government. Since 2002, the country has alternated between peace and violence. We will ask other travellers for advice closer to the time, but currently we don't plan to go there.

Djibouti is only possible if we go via Eritrea due to security issues with the Ethiopia and Somalia borders. Djibouti itself is considered very stable and safe. Places of interest are Djibouti City (cosmopolitan), Lac Abbe (lunar landscape), Lac Assal (salt lake), Goda Mountains (green mountain surrounded by dry landscape), Tadjoura, Snorkel with whale sharks. Djibouti is expensive and has very good infrastructure.

Chad has very high travel warnings. All border areas are dangerous. The government is increasingly losing its grip on the country. Lake Chad varies in size over time. It shrank by 95% between 1963 and 1998. Apparently the 2007 images show a small amount of improvement. There have been several conflicts over water here.

Central African Republic has very high travel warnings. All border areas are dangerous. The country has been continuously been damaged by invaders or governments.

Algerian visas are not being offered to tourists. Civil war in 1992 closed tourism for a long time. Tourist abductions in 2003 are the most recent cause for visa restrictions. The border with Morocco is closed. Algeria has a long list of interesting places to see including Tassili NAjjer (UNESCO), Hoggar (UNESCO, mountains), Tamanrasset (tribal culture), Algiers, Timimoun (oasis in Sahara), In Salah (town split in two by creeping sand dune), Assekrem (dark peaks), Constantine (deep gorge), Djemila (UNESCO, Roman town), Touggourt (traditional start for motorised across the Sahara). I would love to do the Algeria Sahara crossing instead of Morocco and Western Sahara, but it doesn't appear possible.
National Geographic Pictures - http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/algeria-photos/

Somalia - Pirates, no government, kidnapping, warlords, civil war. Apparently Somaliland (northern region trying to form their own country) is safe, but we won't risk it.

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