Monthly Archives: August 2017

What’s the fall color outlook for Western North Carolina?

It might not be the most colorful forecast, but fall foliage prognosticators are calling for an “average season” in Western North Carolina

      

 

 

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Central African Republic

See the Department of State Fact Sheet on the Central African Republic (CAR) for information on U.S. – CAR relations.

Travelers entering CAR are required to have:

  • A valid passport
  • Evidence of yellow fever vaccination

The Central African Republic does not require visas for visits under 180 days by U.S. passport holders. However, not all airlines will board U.S. passport holders without a valid visa, so travelers are advised to check with their carrier.

For visa and entry requirement information contact:

  • The Embassy of the Central African Republic, 2704 Ontario Road, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009, telephone: (202) 483–7800 / 7801, fax: (202) 332–9893. 
  • Outside the United States, contact the nearest CAR Embassy or, if none in the country, the nearest French Embassy.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of CAR.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

The U.S. Department of State advises against all travel to the CAR. Review the Travel Warning for the Central African Republic. Embassy Bangui cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in the CAR at this time. U.S. citizens in need of assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Before traveling outside of Bangui, contact the Gendarmerie Nationale about travel restrictions or required permissions. U.S. citizens should:

  • Carry all proper paperwork at all times, including travel orders from your organization.
  • Obtain a permit to travel to the southwest due to the presence of sensitive mining areas.

Despite the peaceful election of a new president and National Assembly in 2016, and the continued presence of a United Nations stabilization force, the security situation in the CAR remains fragile.

Spontaneous demonstrations take place in the CAR from time to time. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. Avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and exercise caution within the vicinity of any demonstrations. Stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

In the interior of the country, we receive frequent reports of armed robbery and kidnapping by highwaymen (called “coupeurs de routes” or “zaraguinas”), especially during the December to May dry season.  Travel in the interior is strongly discouraged due to:

  • Militias and armed individuals and groups operating throughout the country;
  • Lack of government presence and control, including in Bangui;
  • Attacks on travelers throughout the CAR, including on Westerners, missionaries, and NGO workers; and
  • Presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in eastern CAR.

Crime: Crime in Bangui is common. Beware of:

  • Petty theft in large market areas;
  • Armed gangs in outlying residential areas;
  • Violent demonstrations, looting, burning of buildings, and roadblocks during periods of civil unrest and conflict; and
  • Checkpoints staffed by armed actors seeking bribes and impeding the work of peacekeeping forces.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should contact the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon

Report crimes to the local police at 117 (local equivalent of “911”) or the Gendarmerie at 2161-2200 and contact the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon at + (237) 22220-1500 ext. 4341/4023. 

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

Victims of crime in Bangui may have to pay to send a vehicle to pick up police officers due to the shortage of police vehicles and fuel. 

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

The U.S. Embassy in Cameroon can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy in Cameroon for assistance.

For further information:

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws and penalties. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Drugs: Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the CAR are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Photography: Taking photographs of police or military installations, airports, or any other government buildings is prohibited. Unauthorized photography may result in the seizure of photographic equipment by the CAR authorities. Police or other government authorities can provide information and grant permission for photographing a particular subject or location.  Locals in the CAR may be very sensitive to all photography; you should obtain permission first.

Corruption:
Corruption remains a serious problem among the CAR security forces, some members of which have harassed travelers for bribes. At night, the roads in the capital are often manned with impromptu checkpoints, at which police or soldiers ask motorists and travelers for money.  

Banking: Banking infrastructure remains limited in the CAR, and facilities for monetary exchange exist only in the capital. There are few ATMs in the CAR. Exchange bureaus and banks normally accept dollars and euros, with the exception of West African Francs (CFA). Credit cards are not used in the CAR, and purchases of goods and services, including hotel rooms and airline tickets, are cash transactions. 

Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations are illegal in the CAR and the penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity. The penalty for “public expression of love” between persons of the same sex is imprisonment for six months to two years or a stiff fine. When one of the participants is underage, the adult may be sentenced to two to five years imprisonment or a fine. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Public infrastructure is generally in poor condition and sidewalks, buildings, and public transportation do not cater to special accessibility needs.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: Sexual assault and domestic violence are widespread in the CAR.  See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

Medical facilities are extremely limited in the CAR, and the quality of care is unreliable. Ongoing disruptions in electricity and water treatment and lack of basic services, such as sanitation, contribute to a high incidence of malaria and other waterborne diseases. Many prescription medicines are not available in country.

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Dengue
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Malaria
  • Diarrheal diseases
  • HIV
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Zika

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Further health information:

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Zimbabwe

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Zimbabwe for information on U.S. – Zimbabwe relations. 

You need a passport, visa, return ticket, and adequate funds to cover your stay to enter Zimbabwe. If traveling to Zimbabwe for tourism, business, or transit, you may obtain a visa at the airports or other border ports-of-entry. There is currently no option of obtaining a Zimbabwean tourist visa in advance through the Zimbabwean Embassy in Washington. You can expect to pay 30 USD for a 30-day/single-entry visa or 60 USD for a 60-day/multiple entry visa. Extensions are possible and require visiting the Zimbabwe Immigration Office’s public window. Travelers who intend to engage in any non-tourism related activity require a visa in advance of entry. Immigration officials often detain tourists who indicate that they are journalists or professional videographers or photographers. Contact the Department of Immigration Zimbabwe for further details and information on other types of visas and entry permits. 

Zimbabwe has implemented measures to stem the flow of U.S. dollars from the country due to their cash liquidity crisis. You should:

  • bring cash sufficient for the duration of your trip;
  • depart the country with no more than $1,000, unless declared/documented upon entry;
  • prepay expenses such as hotels, flights and tours by credit or debit card;
  • contact the Zimbabwean authorities in advance to review the new currency; measures and confirm that the relevant policies have not changed.

 (See www.zimra.co.zw and www.rbz.co.zw for contact information.)

If you are traveling to or through South Africa, be aware that they require at least two blank visa pages in your passport for each entry otherwise your entry may be denied. Additionally, South Africa requires that minors traveling with only one parent or with individuals other than a parent have signed and notarized permission from the parent/s and original birth certificates. See the Country Specific Information for South Africa for details.

HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Zimbabwe. Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites

Crime: Criminals operate in the vicinity of hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas of major cities and tourist areas such as Victoria Falls. The downtown sectors of Harare, and its high-density residential suburbs, are particularly high-crime areas. 

While in Zimbabwe:

  • Always secure your possessions in public areas. 
  • Avoid displaying or carrying unnecessary valuables and large sums of money. 
  • Leave your passport and valuables in the hotel safety deposit box or room safe. 

For your safety while driving/riding in a car:

  • Be alert for “smash and grabs,” where thieves break car windows while you are stopped at intersections and take things within reach. 
  • Keep car doors locked and windows rolled up. 
  • Put valuable things under car seats or in the trunk.
  • Leave sufficient room between cars to maneuver and drive away from danger. 
  • If you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station or other protected public area for assistance. 
  • Reduce your time at traffic lights at night by slowing in anticipation of the light change.
  • Be cautious of ploys to lure you out of your car and of drivers in vehicles without license plates who stop to render aid or cause minor accidents. 
  • Drive to a well-lit and populated area before making repairs or exchanging information following an accident.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

Report crimes to police at the Harare Central Police Station, 777-777, and contact the U.S. Embassy at + 263 04 250 593. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

  • Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

 

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some crimes are prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Zimbabwe can be severe, and convicted offenders can expect average jail sentences of three to seven years and heavy fines. Authorities may detain you for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or for taking pictures of government buildings and police stations. 

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Photography: Photographing the Munhumutapa Building, which houses the President’s offices, is punishable by a jail term and there is no provision for paying a fineIt is not always apparent what the police deem sensitive and they have detained people for photographing anything they view as sensitive, no matter how innocuous it may seem. You should seriously consider the risks of taking pictures anywhere in Zimbabwe other than game parks and other obvious tourist attractions.

Political Sensitivities: U.S. citizens have been detained and threatened with expulsion for the administering humanitarian aid and expressing political opinions or criticism of President Mugabe. The streets around the President’s residence and the Botanical Gardens are closed to vehicle, bicycle, and foot traffic from 6 pm to 6 am daily. President Mugabe and senior government officials travel around Harare with large and aggressive motorcades that have been known to run motorists off the road. Security personnel occasionally beat and harass drivers who fail to pull out of the way quickly. Move quickly off the road and come to a complete stop if overtaken by a motorcade.

Currency: Zimbabwe is experiencing a cash crisis. Foreigners who do not have Zimbabwean bank cards are unable to access cash from banks or ATM machines throughout the country. The United States also has targeted financial sanctions on certain Zimbabwean citizens and entities. For more information, please consult the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for up-to-date information on these sanctions.

Roadblocks: The government frequently uses marked and unmarked road blocks to enforce order and collect fines, particularly in urban centers and on major roads. Quickly comply when instructed by police or security officials to stop at a roadblock.

Currency: You should carefully review the U.S. sanctions program currently in place prior to engaging in the purchase/sale or transfer of money and other assets with a Zimbabwean citizen or entity. U.S. citizens are advised to consult the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for up-to-date information on these sanctions.

Game Parks: Safety standards and training vary at game parks and wildlife viewing areas. You should ascertain whether operators are trained and licensed. All animal should be respected as wild and extremely dangerous.  Travelers should keep a safe distance from animals and remain in vehicles or other protected enclosures when visiting game parks.

Hunting: Tourists wishing to hunt in Zimbabwe must be accompanied by a licensed operator. You should request and check the authenticity of their license by contacting the Zimbabwe Association of Tour and Safari Operators (ZATSO). Hunters should confirm that they are not hunting on illegally seized land or on a nature conservancy as you may be subject to arrest, lawsuits, fines, seizure of possessions, and imprisonment. You should also contact the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Washington, D.C. to determine what permits are required by the Government of Zimbabwe for importing weapons into the country.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: The constitution of Zimbabwe outlaws marriage between people of the same gender and allows for discrimination based on sexual orientation. Consensual sex between men is criminalized in Zimbabwe, with both parties subject to fines of 5,000 USD or a year imprisonment or both.  While there is no explicit legal prohibition against sexual relations between women, societal violence and harassment against LGBTI individuals is pervasive. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our  Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The Zimbabwe constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, access to public places, and the provision of services. However, the law is not widely known, poorly implemented, and rarely enforced.  Persons with disabilities face harsh societal discrimination and widespread physical barriers. Many public buildings do not have wheelchair ramps, operational elevators, or suitable restroom facilities. Public transportation does not include lifts or access by wheelchair. Road crossing aids for the disabled are nonexistent and sidewalks in urban areas are in disrepair and cluttered with numerous obstacles.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

The public medical infrastructure in Zimbabwe is subpar and medical facilities are limited. Serious illnesses or injuries require medical evacuation to South Africa.

You should:

  • Bring medications sufficient for the duration of your trip in original packaging;
  • Carry your prescriptions;
  • Be prepared to pay up front for medical services
  • Be prepared to arrange your own transportation to medical facilities.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

The power supply in Zimbabwe is 220 volt 50 Hz and unreliable. Travelers who use electrical medical devices should consider alternatives and verify with lodging accommodations that your needs can be met.

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Tuberculosis
  • HIV
  • Malaria
  • Bilharzia

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Put your face on your luggage and you will never lose it again!

You’re at the airport fresh off a long plane ride.

      

 

 

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Alaska Airlines, Singapore Airlines announce frequent-flier pact

Alaska Airlines is adding Singapore Airlines to its already broad line-up of frequent-flier partners. The carriers also plan to forge a new codeshare pact.

      

 

 

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List: Airlines waive change fees for Hurricane Harvey

Airlines have waived change fees and warned of possible flight disruptions as Harvey affects the Gulf Coast of Texas.

      

 

 

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Seven once-in-a-lifetime safaris that aren’t in Africa

There are plenty of places where you can come face-to-face with wildlife in its natural habitat.

      

 

 

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Overnight operations at Denver International Airport

      

 

 

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Bucket-list safaris outside of Africa

     

 

 

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Harvey: Houston airports to resume limited operations Wednesday

Houston’s two busy airports will resume limited operations at 4 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET), the airports’ operating agency announced Wednesday afternoon.

      

 

 

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