The Student Room Group

Tips on flying to Livingstone solo

Hi,

Hopefully in June I'll be heading out to Livingstone in Africa to do some volunteering.

I've never flown before so it's a little daunting that my first flights will be ~30hrs to get there and 40-50hrs on the way back. Also I'll be doing it by myself.

I'll need to stop over for a night in Johannesburg on the way there. And possibly stop over in both Nairobi and Amsterdam on the way home.

Has anyone flown to Africa before? Or stopped over in any of these airports?

Also, does anyone have any general tips for long flights/ navigating the airport etc.

I'll be googling the airports to get a little familiar with them before I leave.

Thanks :smile:
I once had a 9 hour transit in Nairobi, this was a few years back (since then, the terminal burnt down- not sure how things are now).

The airport was under refurbishment, AC didn't work and it was quite crowded, but you could find a quieter area to sit down and read a book. Take a good book- I had to buy one from the airport shop ( about how the British tortured and massacred Kenyans during the independence struggle- an interesting and enlightening read!). Upstairs there is a 'restaurant' of sorts where, as a transit passenger, you could get a free meal. You can collect the voucher from the Kenya Airways transit desk.

Interesting airport, lots of people travelling from all over Africa, but not the most comfortable place to spend a long layover.

Generally, for long transits- book, water, a travel cushion, comfy clothes, clean socks and patience will see you through, plus money to buy food/snacks.
Reply 2
Original post by standreams
I once had a 9 hour transit in Nairobi, this was a few years back (since then, the terminal burnt down- not sure how things are now).

The airport was under refurbishment, AC didn't work and it was quite crowded, but you could find a quieter area to sit down and read a book. Take a good book- I had to buy one from the airport shop ( about how the British tortured and massacred Kenyans during the independence struggle- an interesting and enlightening read!). Upstairs there is a 'restaurant' of sorts where, as a transit passenger, you could get a free meal. You can collect the voucher from the Kenya Airways transit desk.

Interesting airport, lots of people travelling from all over Africa, but not the most comfortable place to spend a long layover.

Generally, for long transits- book, water, a travel cushion, comfy clothes, clean socks and patience will see you through, plus money to buy food/snacks.


Thank you :smile:.

The transit would be 11 1/2 hours for me so not far off yours. Was yours overnight at all? Mines between 8.30pm and 8am I think.

Will definitely check out the free meal thing so thanks for that. I've got a big list of books I want to read this year so I'll be sure to bring a few.
Original post by sph93
Thank you :smile:.

The transit would be 11 1/2 hours for me so not far off yours. Was yours overnight at all? Mines between 8.30pm and 8am I think.

Will definitely check out the free meal thing so thanks for that. I've got a big list of books I want to read this year so I'll be sure to bring a few.


I think I landed at about 3pm. I was advised at the transit desk not to go into the city because the traffic would take around 2 hours each way, and it can be a bit dodgy after dark. In any case, I didn't have any dollars for the visa.
Everyone speaks English in all these places and they are also all used to tourists. If you get lost, feel uncertain in airports etc, just ask someone, you'll be amazed at how kind people will be. Long haul but not across big time-zones, so if you avoid alcohol and keep hydrated, and sleep as much as you can, you should be fine.

Don't hang around African airports overnight - get yourself a room in a hotel. Usual common sense stuff about not walking around at night by yourself, being careful in bars etc, and not straying away from city centres/tourist areas, and you'll have no problems.

ENJOY!
Reply 5
Thanks both of you :smile:.

I've found a cheap hotel in Nairobi called the Oryx hotel so will probably stop their overnight.

I wont be venturing out of the hotel room until it's time to get my flight, will need the sleep haha.

I think the thing I'm most worried about is actually navigating around the airports. I have no idea where you go, what time to get there, if your bags are transferred for you between flights or anything. Once I'm in a position to book flights I'll probably ring up the airline to check things.
Original post by sph93
Thanks both of you :smile:.

I've found a cheap hotel in Nairobi called the Oryx hotel so will probably stop their overnight.

I wont be venturing out of the hotel room until it's time to get my flight, will need the sleep haha.

I think the thing I'm most worried about is actually navigating around the airports. I have no idea where you go, what time to get there, if your bags are transferred for you between flights or anything. Once I'm in a position to book flights I'll probably ring up the airline to check things.


Most airports are easy to navigate and I remember Nairobi being well-signed. Will be flying through Amsterdam later this year and not expecting any problems. Your bags will almost certainly be checked through to your final destination although check this with the airline as different countries (e.g. the US but almost certainly not Kenya or the Netherlands) have different rules.

Bear in mind you'll need a visa to leave Nairobi airport and this can be bought at the airport on arrival- I think US$ and Euro are fine, not sure about £. It really is just a case of leave plane- get visa- passport control-leave airport, then the next day security- passport control- check screens to see which gate flight leaves from- go to that gate. Leave time for everything so you're not rushing around and make sure you have stuff you'll need- clothes, toothbrush, money, passport in your hand luggage.

If you stay in the airport you basically just get off the plane, find somewhere comfy to sit, then go to the gate for your onward flight. As a major African hub, it's a great place for people watching.
Reply 7
Original post by standreams
Most airports are easy to navigate and I remember Nairobi being well-signed. Will be flying through Amsterdam later this year and not expecting any problems. Your bags will almost certainly be checked through to your final destination although check this with the airline as different countries (e.g. the US but almost certainly not Kenya or the Netherlands) have different rules.

Bear in mind you'll need a visa to leave Nairobi airport and this can be bought at the airport on arrival- I think US$ and Euro are fine, not sure about £. It really is just a case of leave plane- get visa- passport control-leave airport, then the next day security- passport control- check screens to see which gate flight leaves from- go to that gate. Leave time for everything so you're not rushing around and make sure you have stuff you'll need- clothes, toothbrush, money, passport in your hand luggage.

If you stay in the airport you basically just get off the plane, find somewhere comfy to sit, then go to the gate for your onward flight. As a major African hub, it's a great place for people watching.


Thanks.

I didn't think about having to get a visa to leave the airport. More added costs! How safe would it be just to find a seat somewhere and sleep in the airport? Would save me the £30 visa, hotel cost and taxi then.
Original post by sph93
Hi,

Hopefully in June I'll be heading out to Livingstone in Africa to do some volunteering.

I've never flown before so it's a little daunting that my first flights will be ~30hrs to get there and 40-50hrs on the way back. Also I'll be doing it by myself.

I'll need to stop over for a night in Johannesburg on the way there. And possibly stop over in both Nairobi and Amsterdam on the way home.

Has anyone flown to Africa before? Or stopped over in any of these airports?

Also, does anyone have any general tips for long flights/ navigating the airport etc.

I'll be googling the airports to get a little familiar with them before I leave.

Thanks :smile:


I did. To Nairobi via Amsterdam and from Kilimanjaro via Dar Es Salaam & Amsterdam.


Amsterdam is the most organised and easily navigated airports I have been in. From arrivals to transfers/departures, it is one very long sweeping arch of a walkway. So you cannot get lost.


As for Nairobi. It has burned down as a previous poster advised.
On you way back, it should be fine as only arrivals burned down IIRC.

When you arrive instead of going through the usual process you get on a bus and it takes you to the entrance to their underground car park which has been temporarily turned into an arrivals hall.

Expect to queue for a good 30 mins as there is only 2 lines for people arriving internationally with a visa. Again you cannot get lost as you can only go one way through the car park and out to the taxi rank.

You will have to wait another good 30 mins unless you get lucky as all baggage for all flights arriving comes from one baggage line. No order to it at all even although they make announcements, bags come from everywhere. A bit like organised chaos.

PS. Be careful at the visa desk. The guy at the counter asked everyone including myself for $50 for the visa, even although we already had one in the hopes people (a lot did) would give him it. Easy scam and he pockets your $50.


Sorry for the long post, but if you need advice/help with anything related to traveling or Africa, please feel free to PM me or ask in here! :smile:
Reply 9
Original post by DotDotCurve
I did. To Nairobi via Amsterdam and from Kilimanjaro via Dar Es Salaam & Amsterdam.


Amsterdam is the most organised and easily navigated airports I have been in. From arrivals to transfers/departures, it is one very long sweeping arch of a walkway. So you cannot get lost.


As for Nairobi. It has burned down as a previous poster advised.
On you way back, it should be fine as only arrivals burned down IIRC.

When you arrive instead of going through the usual process you get on a bus and it takes you to the entrance to their underground car park which has been temporarily turned into an arrivals hall.

Expect to queue for a good 30 mins as there is only 2 lines for people arriving internationally with a visa. Again you cannot get lost as you can only go one way through the car park and out to the taxi rank.

You will have to wait another good 30 mins unless you get lucky as all baggage for all flights arriving comes from one baggage line. No order to it at all even although they make announcements, bags come from everywhere. A bit like organised chaos.

PS. Be careful at the visa desk. The guy at the counter asked everyone including myself for $50 for the visa, even although we already had one in the hopes people (a lot did) would give him it. Easy scam and he pockets your $50.


Sorry for the long post, but if you need advice/help with anything related to traveling or Africa, please feel free to PM me or ask in here! :smile:


Thank you very much.

You've put me at ease about Amsterdam :smile:. I've found a good, cheap hotel there too with free airport transportation which is handy.

I'll be arriving into Nairobi from Livingstone at around 8/8.30pm I think. Have you ever stopped overnight in an airport? Or would you? Just it would save me the visa/taxi/hotel hassle. Flight the next morning is at 8am.
Original post by sph93
Thank you very much.

You've put me at ease about Amsterdam :smile:. I've found a good, cheap hotel there too with free airport transportation which is handy.

I'll be arriving into Nairobi from Livingstone at around 8/8.30pm I think. Have you ever stopped overnight in an airport? Or would you? Just it would save me the visa/taxi/hotel hassle. Flight the next morning is at 8am.


Good to hear you're feeling better about Amsterdam. I would not look at the map on their website as it makes the place look so much more confusing.


Ah so your stop at Nairobi will be a transfer. I am sure you take a different bus (2 will arrive at the plane) and it takes you into the airport rather than the car park, so it would be a lot more comfortable to stay overnight. If you are staying in Nairobi I highly recommend the Kivi Milimani hotel. It is about 20-30mins in average traffic from the airport.

I've not personally staying overnight in an airport before, but there are always people sleeping there, you won't be the only one.

Just have to be extra careful. All valuable in your bag, sleep with bag on/under head (may save the need for a pillow) and a padlock is always good for your bag.

Edit: For Amsterdam, it can be a good 20 mins walk from arrivals to the furthest transfer, so budget that into your time.
(edited 10 years ago)
Reply 11
Original post by DotDotCurve
Good to hear you're feeling better about Amsterdam. I would not look at the map on their website as it makes the place look so much more confusing.


Ah so your stop at Nairobi will be a transfer. I am sure you take a different bus (2 will arrive at the plane) and it takes you into the airport rather than the car park, so it would be a lot more comfortable to stay overnight. If you are staying in Nairobi I highly recommend the Kivi Milimani hotel. It is about 20-30mins in average traffic from the airport.

I've not personally staying overnight in an airport before, but there are always people sleeping there, you won't be the only one.

Just have to be extra careful. All valuable in your bag, sleep with bag on/under head (may save the need for a pillow) and a padlock is always good for your bag.

Edit: For Amsterdam, it can be a good 20 mins walk from arrivals to the furthest transfer, so budget that into your time.


Haha okay I'll try to avoid looking at the map.

Yeah my flights will be:

Home -----> Amsterdam -----> Johannesburg ----> Livingstone

Livingstone ----> Nairobi ----> Amsterdam ----> Home

Thanks for the hotel name, I'll check it out. Tbh I'd rather stop somewhere overnight with being alone. Would feel safer. Just annoying about the cost.

Do you only know the gate number you're boarding at when you get to the airport or are you told before hand? Would be handy to plan where I had to be in advance. The gap between Amsterdam and Jo'burg is only 1 hour 40 minutes so don't want to be faffing around.
Original post by sph93
Haha okay I'll try to avoid looking at the map.

Yeah my flights will be:

Home -----> Amsterdam -----> Johannesburg ----> Livingstone

Livingstone ----> Nairobi ----> Amsterdam ----> Home

Thanks for the hotel name, I'll check it out. Tbh I'd rather stop somewhere overnight with being alone. Would feel safer. Just annoying about the cost.

Do you only know the gate number you're boarding at when you get to the airport or are you told before hand? Would be handy to plan where I had to be in advance. The gap between Amsterdam and Jo'burg is only 1 hour 40 minutes so don't want to be faffing around.


My gap at Amsterdam was only an hour and I had about 45 mins to kill. 1hr 40 is plenty of time to get a snack and relax.

You won't know your gate number until you get to the airport. Even if it was printed on your ticket beforehand, always check as these things can change. When you get off at Amsterdam, there is 3 massive TV's hanging from the ceiling with your flight number, gate and gate opening/departure time. You cannot miss them, you have to pass them to get to your gate anyway,


Also a tip for when you get to your gate. Make sure you have been to the toilet before you go through the scanners, as there are not toilets or anything past the scanner where you go through to get into your gate. Or at least it was like that at my gate for Nairobi.
Reply 13
Original post by DotDotCurve
My gap at Amsterdam was only an hour and I had about 45 mins to kill. 1hr 40 is plenty of time to get a snack and relax.

You won't know your gate number until you get to the airport. Even if it was printed on your ticket beforehand, always check as these things can change. When you get off at Amsterdam, there is 3 massive TV's hanging from the ceiling with your flight number, gate and gate opening/departure time. You cannot miss them, you have to pass them to get to your gate anyway,


Also a tip for when you get to your gate. Make sure you have been to the toilet before you go through the scanners, as there are not toilets or anything past the scanner where you go through to get into your gate. Or at least it was like that at my gate for Nairobi.



Ah that's good to know then, books will definitely come in handy!

Thanks, I'll be sure to check. I'm sure there'll be plenty of people around to help if I need it too.

Ah that's good to know, thank you. This is making me more excited now :smile:
Original post by sph93
Ah that's good to know then, books will definitely come in handy!

Thanks, I'll be sure to check. I'm sure there'll be plenty of people around to help if I need it too.

Ah that's good to know, thank you. This is making me more excited now :smile:


http://www.sleepinginairports.net/list.asp?region=5&country=Kenya&city=Nairobi&terminal=NBO#.UtPyrLSmFuM
Reply 15


Thanks, I checked it out a few days ago. Going to get the visa and stop in a hotel I think.
Reply 16
Flights have changed a little now due to me flying back a day later. So I now don't need to stop over in Nairobi because the plane is flying through the night :smile:.

How soon should I get to the airport before my fight leaves? This only really applies to Leeds for my first journey at 6.20am, making my way back to Jo'burg airport from the hotel for a 11am flight and departing Livingstone at 1.30pm. For the other journeys I'll just be sitting in the airport between flights.

With the Leeds and Livingstone departures I'll have bags to check in. But Jo'burg is a transfer so I'm hoping they'll have put my bags on my next flight to I just need my hand luggage. Will check this when I've booked.
Original post by sph93
Flights have changed a little now due to me flying back a day later. So I now don't need to stop over in Nairobi because the plane is flying through the night :smile:.

How soon should I get to the airport before my fight leaves? This only really applies to Leeds for my first journey at 6.20am, making my way back to Jo'burg airport from the hotel for a 11am flight and departing Livingstone at 1.30pm. For the other journeys I'll just be sitting in the airport between flights.

With the Leeds and Livingstone departures I'll have bags to check in. But Jo'burg is a transfer so I'm hoping they'll have put my bags on my next flight to I just need my hand luggage. Will check this when I've booked.


Transfers will put your bags on each plane.

As a rule of thumb I give myself a 2 hour window. I always arrive 2 hours before my flight.
Yes true

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