Top 5 hassle and hassle free-places & the question "First time in Africa?"
Replies: 17 - Last Post: Apr 26, 2012 5:04 PM Last Post By: Anna_
Apr 22, 2012 2:37 PM
Top 5 hassle and hassle free-places & the question "First time in Africa?"After reading a warning about Piazza in Addis Ababa being far from a hassle-free place I was wondering about other people's opinions on the worst tourist hassle on this great continent.
I think my top five hassle places are:
1. Arusha/Moshi (Tanzania) - This may be because it was my first trip to the continent and I hadn't experienced anything like it before. People were literally following us for thirty minutes trying to sell safaris.
2. Bandiagara (Mali) - No, I don't want to buy some nuts. Everyone in town is a guide, some people are two guides, you don't get left in peace for two seconds and no one will give a fair price for a tour, ever, they want more than you get paid in Europe for the job you are highly qualified for.
3. Dakar (Senegal) - Almost everyone's child has a birthday the next day and they want to invite you to the party. Give some money for milk and never see them again. There was some highly irregular procreation going on in that city approximately 9 months + x years ago.
4. Gambia's beaches - You need a guide. No, you need a guide! Quite for what, I'm not sure. But they will follow you anyway.
5.Malindi (Kenya) - Early 2008 so they were having a rough time but I couldn't sit on the beach without four or five people coming up to me. My friend stayed in the hotel and refused to leave. My favourite was "My friend's call me Captain Smiley".
Places I've never been to but I assume are full of hassle:
1. Cairo, in fact most of Egypt.
3. Coastal Ghana.
4. Tunisia near the tourist resorts.
5. Omo Valley, Ethiopia.
Places which weren't full of hassle but were more hassle than I expected:
1. Atar (Mauritania) After weeks of nothing but friendliness no-hopers suddenly appear.
2. Santa Maria (Cape Verde) With thousands of lobster coloured tourists I should have had an inkling it'd be a pain.
3. Douentza (Mali) I'm only here because I have to be, and you guys aren't making it any more pleasant.
4. Harar (Ethiopia) I know where the hyenas are, thanks, it is on this map in the guidebook.
5. Victoria Falls (Zim) "When are you going back to Zambia?" I've never been to Zambia, I'm staying in Bulawayo. "You're a liar." Now why would I lie about that?
Places I thought would have hassle but then were remarkably peaceful:
1. Lamu (Kenya)
2. Great Zimbabwe (Zim)
3. Oualata (Mauritania)
4. Lalibela (Ethiopia)
5. Johannesburg (ZA)
Top five scams (or other) I've been stung by:
1. Mbeya (Tanzania) - Fake bus ticket (Didn't read Paul Theroux's book 'til later.)
2. Nairobi (Kenya) - Safari to Nairobi National Park (taxi to wildlife rehabilitation centre)
3. Djibouti Ville (Djibouti) $11.50 for a pint of beer. This isn't a scam, but still.
4. Malawi somewhere - those guilt trip donation forms, when you've been drinking and you give a buck.
5. Dakar (Senegal) - give me your money or me and my big friend will do various bad things to you in this side street.
Bonus 6 - Dinner with Ali Hippy in Lamu - too much fun to not be value for money.
Top five suspicious deals I've turned down:
1. Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) "Want to buy some 'erb?" (I made the mistake of asking the price and got followed for several days, not straight.)
2. Everywhere "It's $10 for your bag, 9, 8, 7 etc."
3. All over "You're handsome, want to buy me a drink?" (I'm not handsome, and painfully aware of it.)
4. 20 places - "Here's a free gift." (Bracelet - see below)
5. Somaliland - Al-Shabab's Hannukkah Party - I suspected this wasn't genuine.
Two times we scammed the scammer (I will post back if I ever get to 5):
1. Ziguinchor (Senegal) - Free bracelet for my friend but we were more concerned about finding an ATM before going to Guinea Bissau so the woman gave up following us for a reciprocal gift after forty-five minutes. She still has the bracelet.
2. Dakar (Senegal) - Another free bracelet for my friend at the entrance to a little market. We left through a backstreet onto the rocky beach and walked away being chased by the guy - but it was a gift right?
Also, when you've been here a while and people ask you if it is your first time in Africa - do you have a witty reply? I usually make a surly "No."
What about to Mzungu/Toubab/Farangi/Gaal? I usually tell them that part of me is black. (It is.)
Anyone got some Top 5s of their own? I'm in a peculiar mood.
Apr 22, 2012 3:15 PM
1Cairo is surprisingly calm. Not a lot of hassle there.
Luxor however is a different story. It belongs on the top five list.
Apr 22, 2012 3:17 PM
Apr 22, 2012 9:19 PM
3I've pretty much stopped noticing people hassling me. Mostly they try, I smile and tell them no. Usually they offer again, so I tell them no with a dismissive hand motion. This almost always works.
On occasion I get rude, but it's hardly ever necessary. Basically my goal is to use so little energy or attention blowing them off that it hardly registers on my consciousness. I think that's a good thing.
Apr 23, 2012 2:32 AM
Apr 23, 2012 3:31 AM
5Moshi is the most hassle i've ever seen anywhere. One chap followed me for at least an hour despite ever-increasingly hostile suggestions that he leave us alone. in then end i sat in the middle of the road at the top of the town and said he was welcome to come and talk to me all he wanted if he wanted to sit in the middle of about a million cars coming and going at high speed. in the end we got into an actual fist fight as he wouldn't leave us alone still and kept tugging on our shirts before becoming very aggressive. For two more days he still sort us out and even entered a restaurant and sat with us. Jimmy was his name, absolute idiot of the highest order, Moshi has about 1000 Jimmys
Owino Market in Kampala is the largest market in east africa and looks like a hassle death trap, remarkably little interest in tourists inside and you find that the sellers will hawk their goods as much to the local Ugandans
I was in Cairo/Giza during the Egyptian Revolution, apart from one man wanting me to see his perfume shop (seriously, people MUST still fall for this or he would have been long out of business which is a worry) i did not even see anyone trying to hassle me, and i was the only tourist in the whole of the city!
Apr 23, 2012 4:34 AM
Apr 23, 2012 11:02 AM
7Good lists, iggyab!
When did you meet Ali Hippy?
I can only think of 1 place where I found the hassle really bad - Gambia.
Otherwise I more or less ignore it, or I guess I do, as i can't think of anywhere else I've been bothered.....
Apr 23, 2012 9:26 PM
Apr 24, 2012 8:53 AM
91. Ojota Motor Park, Lagos - a swarm of minibus touts seething around me every step I took. The only place I've experienced more hassle in a transport depot is in Tashkent
2. Stone Town, Zanzibar - when I visited, certain guesthouses in Stone Town would pay any tout who turned up on your coattails, regardless of whether or not you'd actually ever said a word to him. Not a pleasant policy for tourists arriving at the port.
3. Tanger - Within sight of Europe, but a world and a half away. The only time I can remember having a toddler in diapers swear at me.
4. Mopti - Even Malians have to keep their wits about them when they visit.
5. Beach area, Gambia - Why on earth anyone would ever fly out specially here for a beach holiday is beyond my imagination...
I'm surprised Atar and Doentza are on your list. I personally experienced almost no hassle in these places, except for some beggar boys in Doentza. Though I was in Atar in the height of summer, and the weather then is hardly condusive to touting, or indeed anything really...
Apr 24, 2012 1:07 PM
10Having a guide, instead of spending all your time trying to avoid having one, means you won't get hassled at all. It doesn't always work out, but boy when it does it makes a huge difference to the experience. I was in Djenné last October - with a guide, in a straggling group. It was magic, no hassle whatsoever. Agree the price ($10 for a full day is usually about right) and be sure you don't absolutely hate the guy from the off. And have a plan for what you want to do, not what he wants you to do.
Apr 25, 2012 12:37 AM
Apr 25, 2012 9:44 AM
12When I got off a bus in Mopti with some Dutch travelers I'd been talking to, we were instantly surrounded by people demanding to carry our backpacks, take us to hotels, sell us various crap, and guide us in Pays Dogon. I brushed them off and stood to the side while the Dutch people got mobbed, losing composure and eventually breaking down completely. It was amazing to watch so close up--these touts immediately figured out that I had nothing for them and left me alone, focusing all their energy on the poor Dutch folk. At one point I waded back in through the crowd and offered to help them get rid of the pack of touts, but they couldn't even relate to what I was saying by that point, so I waded back out again and walked to a hotel.
Where I met them later on. They described how helpless they'd felt, and how many people they'd had to pay and all the promises they'd made for various services later on. I explained that they didn't need to submit this way, and that all this stuff was under their control, but I might as well have been speaking a different language--they had no idea what I was talking about.
Then I got malaria and never saw them again. But I never lost my astonishment at how different their experience was from mine, and how they weren't able to see that it was up to them to create the experience they wanted, rather than submit as if powerless to take charge. To a great extent, that's what this thread is about.
I've been to most of the places listed above. None particularly stand out for me in terms of hassle, although I admit I was taken by surprise motorcycling through the Rif by boys on bicycles playing chicken with me in hopes of running me off the road (so that they could sell me local agricultural products), and taxis chasing me down on winding mountain roads at considerable risk to their own life and limb for the same purpose. I thought it was interesting and somewhat amusing, and it didn't make me think of the Rif as a place where I got hassled a lot. This, too, is in large measure what this thread is about.
Apr 25, 2012 11:12 PM
13"Femme de Sarko", that's a good one, never heard that before! I happened to be in Dakar when Sarkozy came in for a visit, and somehow they managed to line the streets of downtown with groups of men wearing "Bienvenue Sarkozy" (or something like that) T-shirts and making lots of positive noise for when his motorcade drove through. As long as he bothers to turn up, they'll like him for a day...
#13 - The first time I went to Mopti, I arrived on the Comanov ferry where I had befriended various Malians who were sleeping on the same corner of the deck as me. We had about 6 hours in Mopti. Before we arrived, the people around me started packing up all their things and putting into one place where they could easily keep an eye on it. I was told several times to be careful in Mopti, and warned about the cons and thieves in the city, and one woman told me stories about how the folks of Mopti had tried to cheat her and her friends in the past. As I left the boat, I was warned once again to be careful. This didn't happen at any of the other ports along the route, only Mopti. In Djenne, there's only hassle for the foreign tourists, but in Mopti, everybody gets hassled. My biggest recollection of hassle in Mopti is from bottled water touts - they'd follow you around suggesting that you might be thirsty, and trying to get you to buy a bottle of water from a certain kiosk - presumably one where you got over-charged and they got commission. I don't think I've come across such concerted hassle for such a petty purchase like a bottle of water anywhere else in Africa.
Apr 26, 2012 8:11 AM
14I remember being asked by several lads in Mopti if they could help me to buy a case of bottled water for the Comanev trip up river. Innocently, I replied that I'd asked at the office and they'd confirmed that drinking water was available in the dining room on board, so no need to buy any. This was true, and nobody asked me twice.
On a cycling trip in Tanzania, when stopping for refreshments in villages along the way, the local people frequently warned me not to stop in the next village (they're all thieves there!) or expressed surprise that I'd stopped in the previous village and not been robbed. Mind you, I was also warned that I'd be eaten by wild animals if I continued cycling.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$78.00 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$134.14 per night
(1 star Hotel)
From US$9.63 per night