Coffe Table Photography book out now!
999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
Malawi is a relatively small country, and we certainly didn’t go exploring into it’s remote corners. I’m not at all surprised to see we have only covered 808 miles during our time in the country.
We roll up to the enormous border at Lponga/Ipinda and have no trouble getting stamped out quickly at Immigration. After a quick look at the Jeep Customs hang onto my Temporary Import Permit and we’re free to go. For the first time in a long time there is an official currency exchange, so I swap my remaining Malawian Kwacha into Tanzanian Shillings. It feels almost too civilized to do it inside and get a receipt rather than out in the open with the street exchange guys as I have come to love. The border on the Tanzanian side is equally easy, and for $50USD each we get a one month visa no problem. With everything going so well, I should have anticipated a snag.
At customs the friendly man asks for the Carnet de Passage for the Jeep – this is the International Customs Document that costs a fortune and that I don’t have. Oh, he says, this is a problem.
Tanzania do have the concept of a Temporary Import Permit, though he insists it is only for vehicles registered in nearby African countries. Because the Jeep is registered in Canada, the only way it can enter is with a Carnet.
I have never heard this rule before, though I’m not surprised – the rules change every three months, and every border guard just does what he or she wants anyway. I’m sure if I came back tomorrow the story would be different, though I don’t want to spend the night at the border, and going back into Malawi will cost more visas. The man behind the counter is very friendly, and so we talk around the problem for a very long time. I explain the trip I’m on, show him the map on the hood and all the visas in my passport. I make it clear I have never had this problem before, and of course I will be taking the Jeep out of Tanzania into the next country. I want to make this clear to him, as this is what they’re most worried about – that I will try to sell the Jeep without paying import taxes and whatever else Tanzania requires.
Over the course of a couple of hours the Customs guy slowly comes around, and eventually he gives in. He fills in a Temporary Import Permit, and the Jeep will be permitted in the country for a total of three months. I must pay a road tax of $25USD per month, and so I walk over to the bank where I deposit the money.
After waiting in line for an eternity at the bank the TIP is ready to go when I get back, and so we’re free to drive off into Tanzania, country number 27!
We put in a couple of massive days and drive clear across the country, all the way to the big city of Dar Es Salaam.
Do you know what lies just off the coast from Dar…?
PS I’m not sure what advice I should give to others with foreign vehicles trying to drive into Tanzania. On one hand the Carnet is supposedly mandatory, though for the exorbitant price it would be a shame to get one just for Tanzania!