What you need to know to plan your next trip to Guadeloupe
If you haven’t read part 1 of this blog on my trip to Guadeloupe, check it out here. In this blog I will look at the admin logistics you might find useful if you intend visiting Guadeloupe. Overall, I highly recommend that you purchase Mirva’s book on the island. It is the most comprehensive book you will find on planning your trip to the island written in English and packed, I mean super packed with all the info you will need for your next adventure in this French country.
Travelling the Caribbean Islands was an interesting experience. Since I visited during their low season, aka – Hurricane season (Boitumelo!), the flights were not full and they hopped from one island to another. Here are the logistical details on the trip…Yes I did have a hurricane scare and got stuck on the island for two extra days. That experience will make you appreciate the importance of travel insurance.
Visa required?: Yes for South African Passport holders. It cost R874.60. Since I reside in Botswana but use my South African National Passport for private travel, I had to use the French Embassy in Rosebank, Johannesburg because the embassy in Gaborone does provide this service anymore. Fortunately, my application was processed in a day. Information on application of the visa can be found on this link. https://france-visas.gouv.fr. DO NOT USE the CAPAGO website if you are from Botswana, Namibia or Zambia. I did not know this and had paid on the CAPGO website, but fortunately I was refunded.
Travel Insurance: This is a must when you apply for a Schengen visa. In fact, your documents must not just say “Schengen”, they policy documents must explicitly mention the names of the Schengen counties you intend to visit. I had to buy another Travel insurance as the one offered by the bank whose Cheque card I used to buy the ticket did not state the country name. Anyway, it ended up being a blessing in disguise given that I was stuck for two days and had to claim.
Flights: When going to Guada, I had been in Grenada for a week so I flew from there and my return ticket with Liat was R7 083.75 (±520USD), not sure why the ticket was in USD and not Euros. So from Grenada on Liat Airlines to Barbados, then to Guadeloupe. On my return however, I flew from Guadeloupe, to Martinique (another overseas French region in the Caribbean) on Air Caraïbes, then to Barbados and then Grenada on Liat Airlines and the plane was still going to St Martins. The return route was due to the hurricane scare and the two days extra I had to stay on the island. I also had to catch my return flight from Grenada to New York which ended up not arriving due to a technical and got to be accommodated at the Radisson Grenada for a night J. Fun! Temporarily because then I missed my connection to Johannesburg. So then, for my return from Guadeloupe to Gaborone, I had to take eight aeroplanes, yes you read that correctly. 7 boardings and offloadings to get to sweet Gaborone. I slept for about 2 days afterwards J.
There are couple of airlines that operate on the island, although other seasonally; Air France, Turkish Airlines (seasonal), Jet Blue, Liat, Air Caraibes, Air Antilles, Turkish.
Currency: Euro is the currency of use here which was quite eina! on my pocket. At the time I was there, the exchange rate was R16.37 to the Rand.
Public transport: There are busses you can use but I would say the best way to explore the island would be to hire a car. To lower costs, you can structure itinerary and activities in such a way that you only have to use a car for a few days especially for when you will explore Basse-Terre and opt to use busses on other days when you will around Grand Terre. I was able to explore the majority of GT using busses. I had initially toyed with the idea of spending half the days on one side of the island and half on the other, but the cost of accommodation was cheaper when using one establishment. So I commuted from Bas-du-Fort for all my excursions and it was slightly difficult with no car but not impossible. Just language was my main problem.
Accommodation: I stayed in an AirBnB at Bas-du-Fort for 10 days and it cost about R5 300 ($387.52). Staying in Gosier may be ideal since you will be right by the beach, or close by, and there are shops and eateries on all streets. Gosier is quite touristy though and it is a busy little town to experience typical Guada lifestyle. I basically chose my accommodation based on the exclusivity of it, and of course having the beach as your backyard is nothing to complain about.
Wheather: The weather was great most of the time except for when we had a hurricane scare. Yes Hurricane Isaac which was later downgraded to Tropical Storm Isaac hit while I was in Gaudeloupe. Lodging in an accommodation which is 10 steps from the sea is quite scary during a tropical storm. So it may be a good idea not to go during hurricane season. But this was their low season so prices were on the low side. Also, I happened to go at that time since I had already booked a trip to neighbouring Grenada.
Language: French, French, French and more French! Did I mention that the people here speak French? Remember that everything is written in French and not a lot of people speak English. By not a lot of people I dare say the majority of those I met did not speak English. Unless the odds were really against me. Creole is a popular local language and the creole culture is rich on the island with cuisine and dance. It suffices to say if you speak no French, it will be very difficult for you to get around. But, that’s what we travel for right? – Adventure so #JustGoExplore