Obeying local laws and staying healthy in Equatorial Guinea

Getting legitimate entry into Equatorial Guinea may be where your problems start. Procuring a visa can be difficult, as processing times may be long and you might require the invitation of an organization to be let into the country. You might experience questioning and scrutiny at the airport.

You will encounter in Equatorial Guinea some of the same local laws and restrictions that you will in other parts of Africa. Taking photos of certain places, for instance, is a closely-monitored activity, and you will require permits from the Ministry of Information and Tourism to snap shots of airports, harbours and any government or military buildings. However, this "allowance" doesn't get you much -- maybe two photos with a 17,000-CFA price tag, and it does not guarantee the police won't question you anyway. If you are seen photographing places like the Presidential Palace, you make be detained or fined. Worse, you could have your camera carted away.

Wearing or having packed with you any clothing with camouflage, binoculars, guns, large knives and other items might arouse the suspicion of security forces and lead to apprehension. Possessing, using or trying to traffic drugs will receive a prison sentence. While homosexuality as a whole is not banned, certain sex acts between people of the same gender are, and the orientation is not socially accepted. Also know that travellers are not really a common sight in Equatorial Guinea, and you might attract attention from locals, especially if you are a female. Women may be subject to catcalling and starting in Malabo, where there is a large concentration of male oil workers. Ignore them.

When travelling around, you will notice that credit cards and travellers checks are not accepted at most places. You will need the local currency, CFA, as many retailers and restaurants will not take dollars or euros. You can exchange your money at a local bank. You are allowed to bargain at markets around Equatorial Guinea.

In terms of the standard of medical care, most hospitals and clinics are certifiably poor. Even emergency services are limited, and scary as it sounds, severe problems will require evacuation all the way to Europe. You can get some basic medication Malabo and Bata. You do run the risk of getting ill when travelling in Equatorial Guinea, as the common African illness malaria can occur here, too. Cholera, tuberculosis and water-borne diseases may also strike. Get proper vaccinations and tuberculosis testing before and after travelling to Equatorial Guinea. If you swim in freshwater areas, you may get schistosomiasis.

Be aware that officials in Equatorial Guinea make travellers carry an international vaccination certificate when both entering and exiting the country. Officials will check passengers for this document on flights. If you do not have this paperwork, you will be fined 5,000 CFA, and if you are arriving in the country, you may not be allowed out of the airport.

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