Have managed to add some photo’s to earlier posts if your’e interested
Having seen the elephants,we lazed about in the ridiculous heat,various people came and went trying to spot these wonderful creatures, but with no luck,including a very chatty young French girl who had been to this park several times,but had no luck and was cheesed off that we had seen them within a couple of hours of our arrival. This morning as we were leaving this lovely spot and were giving the night watchman a lift home(complete with bicycle strapped to the Landy roof) a mile up the road he suddenly points toward the bush and there were the elephants.
Abandoned car,got camera and within 50 meters there they were,but despite them being so close,it was still hard to get any decent pictures.family of eight (?) including two babies and several juveniles (Michael say’s it’s because he watched so many Tarzan films,that he spotted them so easily!) All this and before 8:00 am !
Arrived in Ouagadougou,applied for Ghanaian visa’s at the embassy without a problem,infact we were quite happy to sit in this air-conned room all day,but sadly had to leave,found an arty place to stay in town called Yiri Suma,very unusual,with pretty garden and plenty of African arts and crafts about, for which this city is known for.
Such a pleasure driving in Burkina,with no hassle,having not been stopped once. Arrived in Bobo -Dioulasso, Burkina’s 2nd largest city,a charming place,but we got horribly lost,whilst looking for The Grande Mosquee. After many arguments and Michael doing a spot of shopping in the hardware shop, we decided to press on to Boromo to find a camping spot in The Parc National Deux Bales,typically we came across The Grande Mosquee when leaving town,so I hopped out for a few photo’s ,it is pretty impressive,built in 1893 a fine example of mud architecture with conical towers and wooden struts,which support the structure and act as scaffolding during replastering!
After getting lost once more in Boromo,two guy’s on a motorbike showed us the way to Campement Le Kaicedra- a tranquil spot on the river with plenty of birdlife and the promise of possible elephant sightings when they come to drink.
We had just set up camp,cracked open a couple of ice cold beers (from the newly working fridge) and guess what an enormously loud trumpet from what sounded a bit close for comfort, but very exciting nonetheless!The guy running the camp then approached us,to see if we wanted to go elephant spotting, so off we went, after a long walk in some serious heat, we saw three -my first ever, just across the river
I was snapping away (one day you will get to see the photo’s when we eventually get some up!)
Kept on thinking I could hear them close as I lay in my tent that night,but Michael was just laughing at me.We are going out again this afternoon,so will keep you posted . These elephants are quite rare many think west african elephants will be extinct in the next 20 years so we were very lucky.
Fixed the fridge at hotel -. hero for a few minutes, set off next day everyone was more chilled as we approached border and finally got to Burkina Faso – you can see why people comment about the place, very smart welcoming officials, professional polite and good humoured – a joy. Sorted formalities very quickly including visa plus needed lesser passe as carnet not valid here – I had not noticed but customs guy pointed to fact it was not on list.Went on a mission to waterfalls, failed rear brake calliper flopping about,with both bolts missing – strange you can never undo them without huge effort. Fixed by local boys in town in few minutes no messing about.
Camping failed , ended up in posh little place ( Dilling please note!)
Travelled back up north to meet up with Brett and Mary again, drove a long day, including a few hours in the dark, something of an experience in a very potholed tar road to Dabola, They turned up next day and we left the day after for Cote d’Ivoire.
Stayed at a catholic mission in Kankan – very very hot. Brett and Mary offloaded a charity box from a friend of theirs. Had our first puncture – a large bolt, then the fridge broke down – disaster. Left early next morning. This is where fun started, nobody has really been here for years going in our direction, so no maps or roads – there were some which locals used but as they crossed various borders including Mali, all a no go as far as we were concerned.
Hence the search for Tindila, the only fixed point we had about 100 kms away and that itself was still in the middle of unchartered territory We went along tracks which eventually just became bike tracks navigating by direction alone. Bush camped overnight but all very slow 100kms in 8hrs driving. Locals very enthusiastic I think we are the biggest excitement for some time. Some kids look amazed then horrified at the sight of us.
Border crossing not so friendly!!, followed by second puncture, roughly at same time , drove through before fixing.
Long very rough road huge potholes, rocks, washouts much banging rocking etc and very slow.
Emma had a premonition ( fantasy!!) about a hotel and one actually turned up in Boundali , run by a lovely lady (Madesline Assoh tel 00225 07398316 or 05768687) will add waypointsoon, nice rooms including a fan and very cold beers – heaven.
Emma was ill with bug in the night, so last 50kms on bad road were not much fun. Eventually reached a town, Odienne where bolshy guards messed us about, finally we were summoned to the central police station. The main man was fine and I think it was simply because his boys had been so hopeless that we were called in. On our way we had another encounter with stroppy checkpoint man who was not too bright – he got all excited because I insisted I was the driver but he saw Em getting out and insisted she was driving – until his guys pointed out it was right hand drive. Repeat performance over vehicle papers, he refused to look at the Carnet document insisting it was for customs only then after a lot of ranting,he finally looked at it and realised it was what he wanted all along . His guys were sniggering away behind his back. Everyone else has been very nice. After a few hundred miles of extremely rough roads the last stretch to Korhogo was perfect tarmac with no one on it – quite bizarre. C’est Afrique as they say.
Modern hotel here with pool no less, aircon and toilets – just as well. After emmas turn I then got the lurgy so currently resting near WC. Will sort out some repairs etc tomorrow then leave for Burkina Faso in search of Ghana visa, if not forthcoming we will go down through Togo & Benin which sound nice. Brett and Mary have gone on, they had visas and Mary was not keen on Cote’D’Ivoire. Will probably meet with them later, especially as we all have to tackle Congo and get Angola visas at some point. – big potential problem.
Internet here is very slow so no photos – 2 line e mails can take ages and several goes. But given much of the area has no electricity or roads its not surprising.
Went to sort out bits and pieces – roadside repair for tyre , they had great homemade devices for breaking bead on tyre, patched inside with my kit, and they were very happy (and jealous)when I produced electric pump . All good stuff and would put UK tryre fitters to shame with all their fancy kit. Then to” vindanage”, since morocco I noticed most big petrol stations have a carwash attached put also oil change service centre. I had all filters so seemed like a good chance to do service – a bit early but wisdom has it that’s the way given heat dust etc. Turned out to be absolute gem cost 40000CFA which is say £45, of which the oil was about 95%and took half an hour whilst I drank a cold coke – all I could manage in the heat other than to pass the mechanic a few bits. He checked all other fluids topped up diffs etc, all very carefully and quickly. given it costs about £400 in a local garage for the same thing and takes all day it seems to me to be a very good idea. Cleaned out the “voiture ” pending start again tomorrow. Found a nasty mush in fridge – wine box mixed with frankfurters and Laughing cow cheese plus extras all having stewed for a few days. its amazing what happens with the constant vibration/ banging about lids undo everything works loose, enamel and plating of cutlery is worn off – all in only a few weeks.We are still dropping stuff as its simply unused/useless. Everyone tells you this but I suppose its a process of personalisation that everyone has to do for themselves.
ps Emma woke up with large,but luckily dead(having been slept on) spider in her top, as she had more pressing things on her mind,ie a bug, she didn’t seem to complain too much !
Early start road very dusty, twisty with big drop offs. Landy turned red as did most of our kit and us! 71 miles took about 5 hours but ended up in nice hotel in town called Labe – delicious local pizza thing and coldest beers for ages – can’t believe how much we are drinking and how good cold drinks can be. Took off tent outer cover as just complicates things – big mistake massive tropical downpour early evening – cover back on but too late – damp night for all.
In the country we are definitely a source of curiosity to say least!
Met a crazy Dutch couple in a camper van half-way up the mountain,so stopped for a chat,they had got this far without four wheel drive,and were seriously struggling,it was so funny as we were all bright orange from the dust ,discussing our various journey’s….it would seem The Blue beast has gone from laughing stock to fastest thing on the track theres nothing better on dodgy roads(according to Michael anyway!)
We have basically stopped commenting on overloaded vehicles which paradoxically is almost everyone -imagine a Peugeot 504 estate with a massive roofload/pile with a large bullock strapped to either side, and one horizontal on the top,not to mention various chickens,goats and oh yes some passengers,full complement internally, with a few keeping the bullock company!
We also saw a guy, on top of a pile on top of a vehicle with his hands over his eyes,as he swayed two metres from side to side,whilst the front end dug a groove in the track because of lack of suspension ….terrifying
Some of the petrol tanker driver’s could win the world rally championship !
Labe to Conakry
We left Brett & Mary heading for Conakry , strangely we all commented on how nice itwas being only low 30c we must have passed some heat threshold in the previous few days as it was only a few weeks ago we were melting at that temperature.– lovely countryside changing all the time good roads to start – not thought to be any – but got very potholed – big sized – half way there. Loads of fruit and veg for sale – I got pushed into buying 6 pineapples, dozen avocados, bananas and 6 corn on cob complete with new basket for about 6 quid not sure how we will eat it all.
Quite a long way to Conakry – which does not come with a good description – very tatty – making good time until about 4pm and about 40ks from town when it ground to a halt – street market all the way crazy stuff – dual carriageway half closed – closed half seemed to be used for everything from football matches to bands playing to large crowds. Progress none existent got pulled by police half way there caused great chaos as landys turning circle meant much tooting etc. finally got to town about 8pm eventually found only lace in guide book which is a hotel/ catholic mission. We slept inside compound in our tents. Picked up a local tour guide the night before – very nice but would rather he went away went of to embassy only to find it closed – holiday – Easter Monday it seems which is a bit odd in a muslim country. So sat here waiting to see if they have a room for tonight – very busy seems to be occupied by lecturers for catholic university while accommodation is being built. Chatted to a few who were very friendly and interested in what we were doing. Hoping also the wee fee man will turn up.
Forgot to add theres virtually no electricity outside towns here and as the lady in the Labe hotel said if the have power they dont have phones/ internet or vice versa. Hence relative silence. Also connections are very poor/ slow so posting a single photo takes for ever.
I think the locals are finding the fact that not only are we white,but non french speaking something of extreme interest,but they all have an English football team they support! Michael keeps telling them Drogba is a “Big girls blouse “ which of course takes some explaining!!
So far life is good on the road,albeit a bit stressful at times and I’ve never been quite so filthy,even when I was a child, the dust is thick , does not seem to wash out and there is a fine layer of it over everything,including the sheets. C’est le vie !!
Spent the night in a basic room then up early for the embassy, a guy we had met – refugee trainee doctor from Central African republic wants help as it seems does everyone – had washed the landy.
Got there and promptly told to go back to internet cafe to transfer money for visa, returned then fun started lady filling in forms not too hot – seven hours and two pages of same basic info as on form/ passport already later we got finished. Some French company has sold them a “biometric visa system” which does not work with power let alone in a country where power is intermittent. It refused point blank to accept Emma had any fingers despite creams and pressing of hands etc by various staff members and did not appear to have UK listed until I remembered the old “rouame uni” heard on European song contest – perverse French programmer I think.
Had to wait 48hours so left for small island having left the car in the Novotel car park for security,the little fishing port was pretty grim, but once past plastic bags, islands looked great and landing confirmed our impressions.
Laid back even for Guinea, small bar hotel,but no one else here apart from a few French air hostess girls, who stay here on stopover, as its only an hour from town max. lovely supper 2 x 3 -4lb bass plus spicy bits and frites 30000 guinea francs – £3 can’t be bad
spent the next day on our own beach with chicken riz (rice) – Guineas traditional staple – chicken was a bit tricky to catch but gave several guys some exercise served with spicy onions/ tomato sauce and pepper chilli version very nice indeed. Tres jollie!
Going back to Conakry tomorrow to collect visas and also to tackle the mysteries of Guinea internet again on the way and see if we can get some photo’s posted somewhere.
Hopefully then it’s off to Cote d’ Ivoire,then Burkina Faso, but will keep you posted, not much hope of internet for at least another week or so. Hope to get a visa for Ghana in Burkina, if so , slow journey through here,but internet could be better by then,so will continue blog then.
Keep the comments coming,when we do finally get to see them, it gives us a good laugh !!
Left early next morning very slow road dust everywhere huge ruts potholes etc crossed out of Gambia into Senegal quite easy we thought then across Senegal heading south to other border very hot as it had been for a few days – mid 40cs all day. Crossed out of Senegal and as there was a 30k strip of no mans land we decided to camp there because we were not sure how busy/ easy it would be in guinea.. Drove off road very hot so used shower thats when trouble stated bees every where so problems until dark.
Very hot night even Brett and Mary rated it as the hottest they had encountered. Early start next morning into guinea road good to start then very windy and dusty as we climbed to central highlands very picaresque – sort of Hollywood style Africa – trees, bush, palms etc. People very laid back and welcoming. Wild camped in bush again. Strange feature is animals – cows and goats are all mini sized here.
Left town early in morning, Emily threw a major wobbly and we ended up touring various well dodgy tracks for an hour before finding a route to main road – no maps or signs to help. Road was good for a long way then changed to dirt. Nice country but loads of police stops (28 in 250 miles)we are something of a novelty as most overlanders cut this corner of Africa off and travel from Senegal to Mali then Burkina Faso. As a result loads of chat required and very slow progress. Spent the night in small family compound Camping Traditions in Basse in eastern Gambia we only just squeezed in(I altered gate and roof ladder a fair bit in process) but sorted it with hammer and help from a guy sitting by roadside – cost 1 beer in paper bag. Nice local style meal of chicken and rice. Loads of kids, goats, chickens etc
Photos to follow
Whilst at Sekuta (German campsite) we met Brett & Mary, a young South African couple whose blog Emma had been Stalking in the UK as they travelled up East Coast to Europe and UK before setting off home again to South Africa. They were waiting for situation in Mali to settle as it basically controls the way forward. It became apparent that things were not going to be resolved quickly which left us with a problem – no visa for Cote d’Ivoire which we now needed. They had their visa but the country does not have a good reputation – mostly historical – so we agreed to tackle that together. To find a visa we made plans to travel through Guinea – somewhere theres not a lot of info on and not visited by tourists especially the route were were planning. Luckily after a tour of Sekuta (suburb of Banjul the capital) with a taxi driver who knew less than we did it seems we got our visas in 2 hours – new record for all but at a price as we both opted for multiple entry type thinking if we crossed out to try Mali we may not get entry therefore have to return.
New route meant travelling length of Gambia through part of Senegal again and into Guinea. We have to travel to capital Conakry on the coast to try to get Cote d’Ivoire visas and meet up with them to cross into Mali/ Cote d’Ivoire depending on situation.
Photos to follow
We spent a wonderful 3 day’s at Zebrabar near Saint -Louis, a little piece of paradise after a long journey,palm trees ,sandy beach and even breakfast thrown in,which has to be good
.Met the local people,who loved having a chat and bought plenty of fruit and veg from the ladies in the market.
Saint-Louis itself was a busy vibrant place,with funky brightly coloured buses everywhere , black and yellow taxi,s,goats on leads and horse drawn carts,just great for people watching. aving had another horrendous border/ferry crossing at Rosso,this place was just what we needed.
Left Zebrabar(rather sadly)had a long drive in 40c,passing through many different villages,got toH
Gambia border,expected this to be fairly straightforward,but once again,they tried to pull a fast one,
making out we hadn’t paid enough,when we refused to pay more they took us into a compound telling us they would search the vehicle for drugs…….Michael spun them a yarn and they finally let us go ,but by the time we got to Barra the port,we had missed the last ferry and spent the night in a rather unsavoury compound,until the early morning ferry to Banjul . The pool by the car door was from overflowing bogs – nice touch!
Finally found camp site we were looking for nice compound run by a German couple Jo & Claudia very helpful Jo has spent abnormal years in Africa wee fee and money Changing available