Cameroon To Gabon new photos added!!

Crossed the Cameroon border at Ikom, We decided to head for Buea and Mt Cameroon,but approx100kms further down the road the Blue beast developed a hole in the radiator and was leaking badly, so after yet more emergency repairs and water fillings,and being attacked by midges,we drove on to a small town called Nguti were we found a mechanic and a room for the night in the aptly named “Bemmas Hotel”but not before the heavens opened and we got absolutely drenched ,so obviously we had to take shelter in the nearest bar,with all the local guys,drinking warm beer and eating hard boiled eggs dipped in a strange spicy sauce,this seemed the safer option, as Mary reported seeing little monkey’s hands coming out of the “bush meat stew!” The mechanics managed to fix the leak (we think!)

Set off next morning quite promptly,hoping to get to Mt Cameroon for a quick hike (only joking)when after about 50kms on seriously muddy, potholed roads we heard a slight banging,before entering a large puddle and the wheel fell off ! All 5 bolts holding the spacer on to the hub had worked their way loose hidden by the wheel so although we had checked everything seemed ok,this was going to be fun!!

3 wheels on my wagon etc etc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversation went

Bloody hell what was that

Mike – “The wheels fallen off”

Emma – “It can’t have dont be stupid”

Mike – Its lying in the road i can see it in the mirror.

Emma”Ohh no”

 

 

Choice location as well

 

Poor Brett and Mary, must be wishing they had gone on ahead !! cutting a long story short Michael the mechanic/mudman managed to get it back on again,with us all trying to pass things getting stuck in the mud and consequently Bretts flip-flops breaking….fun and games.

 

The scenery has been spectacular in Cameroon with green and lush rainforest, palm and banana plantations it’s easy to see why though, as it’s rained everyday,so far. As you pass through the villages the children all shout “White-man, White-man” I’m not too sure if this is a complement or not! In Nigeria you felt as if they were saying “welcome” and smiling through gritted teeth,it’s a far more natural welcome here and I feel a lot more comfortable as a result.We’ve had a few roadblocks,but with little hassle.

Passed through Buea which is built into the side of Mt Cameroon,but have decided not to climb it,as originally planned,due to poor visibility ,rainy season and well actually just lack of fitness due to sitting in a Land rover for so long !!

So for now we have set up camp just outside Limbe ,whilst we try to catch up on admin,washing and car repairs and whoopee I get to speak to my girls again,whom I miss hugely,as I do everyone. strange beach very nice but black volcanic sand and road to hotel simply diverts as a track around the last lava flow from mount cameroon a few years ago.

 

Black sand ,hot steamy sea very odd


 

 

 

 

 

Regie Perrin lives on

Stayed near Limbe for a few day’s, a nice little town,went to a primate sanctuary,a sister outfit to the Drill Ranch in Nigeria,here we saw many more Mandrills, Chimps,Baboons which are being used to help education in an effort to reduce the killing of these animals for bush meat. We also had a particularly good Cheeseburger ,pizza and beers,after not having had the like for some time,this was heaven… in fact it was so good we even took a photo !

Food glorious food

 

 

The Blue Beast had a new head gasket fitted,having spent several hours with Oscar and Walter the mechanics,and seemed much happier with life. On reflection we think it was this failure which had possibly led to earlier radiator problems as it pressurised the cooling system. They also cured a long standing oil leak as the discovered a fracture in the oil filter housing which they eventually got welded in Limbe, being aluminium this was tricky and several people refused to try for fear of damaging the whole unit.

On our last night we got plagued by hundreds of large biting ants in our tent, discovered they were coming onto the roof via a tree branch . Problem was when you killed one there was a strong smell of almonds/ marzipan which clearly triggered the soldier ants into attack mode -probably one of our worst nights so far and due to lack of sleep tempers sure were frayed next day when we set of for Yaounde !

Managed to get visa’s for Gabon (very easily) no forms photos or anything just hand over fee and passports and collect next day – a taste of Gabon we were to discover. The Congo visa was not so easy, firstly Michael was turned away by the doorman for wearing flip-flops although we only wanted application forms and secondly when we were told to collect them at 3:00 pm the next day,upon arrival the same doorman told us they were shutting and with lots of shouting etc and Michael playing dumb and refusing to leave it was established if we wanted them we would have to pay more, 500 CFA for watchman 5000CFA for doorman we had no intention of waiting until after the weekend,so we had to oblige and they miraculously appeared from a drawer in his desk….yet another scam.

 

We enjoyed Yaounde, it had a nice feel to it ,compared with many other African cities we’ve been to ,hilly,green and spacious easy to get round, with some good restaurants, in particular a Turkish one ( a bit strange in Africa) and excellent Boulangerie’s……good to have nice bread again !

Have had plenty of thunderstorms and rain here, including a mini tornado which turned Brett&Mary’s tent inside out whilst also taking the school roof off, a soggy night was had by all.

 

We celebrated Brett’s birthday with Champagne, chocolate cake and a Chinese meal later in the day,all rather delicious after the basic grub of late.

 

Very dodgy bridge - Emma not happy at all, big drop!

 

Miles of this

 

And this - the Foret

 

 

Nigeria – The Good The Bad and the Lovely

Smooth border crossing into Nigeria, having got the car fixed, apparently the suspension bush had mangled itself after endless hours of battering from the bad roads. Once again the local guys came to our rescue, including the mechanics Aunt who took us into her mud hut and gave us fermented millet to drink, a strange concoction and definitely an acquired taste, Michael quite enjoyed his,possibly because it packed a punch ! Whilst in the hut I took some instant polaroid photo’s of her and her children which they loved , we were then able to continue on our journey. In Nigeria we were given an extremely warm welcome,both by the police and the local people,who, in the villages would run after the car waving and smiling ! All was going well,we’d found a bank,filled up with Diesel, had plenty of time -we thought.Then the road turned really rough and because it had rained ,we were going through massive puddles/potholes,the light was getting bad and we still had some distance to cover to get to a resting spot for the night. We didn’t really want to wild camp,as it was nearly dark and you are never quite sure if you’re going to wake up in the midst of a village,as there’s no light, so we continued,once again driving in the dark,which is not particularly sensible. Went through several unofficial roadblocks with guys shouting pull over pull over, I could see the nailed planks they use as enforcement measures – the infamous “stick men “ luckily I managed to force through with Emma unaware, saying “but they wanted you to stop” when will she learn !

Finally, we arrived after 3 hours of very rough roads in a town and staggered into a hot stuffy little room with a very intermittent fan, but were so relieved to have reached our destination, we went out like a light !

Next day we headed for Abuja,capital of Nigeria, lots of road blocks, one very aggressive traffic police officer throwing his weight around but we smiled and got by. Not far from Abuja, going into a town called Suleja, another road block in slow traffic by yet more “stick men bearing nail studded planks, trying to force us off the road wearing fluorescent jackets, I refused, thinking blocking the road would be the best option which turned out to be a good guess as there were many other people around and it caused quite a commotion. Attempts at getting money were refused and after about 20 minutes they removed the spiked sticks and off we went. Several more were met going out of the town, tactics by then were to drive towards them at speed and they jumped clear. Not very pleasant at all.

Spent a night camping at Abuja Sheraton (of all places to be allowed to camp!) where we met Brett & Mary again(our sometimes travelling companions) – not bad, it’s normally $350 a night but pretty cheap to camp – some official use of facilities etc and better still,we managed to blag a Cameroon visa in 2 hours by chatting up the two nice reception ladies who fought our corner. This saved 4 days of waiting due to weekend/ bank holiday etc – major success!!. We also had several snarly Rottweilers to keep us company in the compound at the Sheraton so we felt quite safe and secure!

Just have to say,driving into Abuja on the motorway was the most hairy experience,I’ve ever had,besides them all driving like lunatics,it seems quite acceptable to do a U-turn through all 6 lanes on a motorway here! There are no roadmarkings, bridges are taxi ranks, everyones flat out in any lane they want. People are selling stuff which drivers just stop and buy, the number of deaths is huge.Nothing like it anywhere else we have ever been. Then a very good surface justs stops for 50m of very rough stuff – chaos followed by army roadblock where you are funnelled into a single lane  London has got nothing on this its like driving in the country in comparison.

Heading out of Abuja with our South African friends we were confronted by some more unpleasant traffic police,early in the morning,but this time we were travelling in convoy and after some debate they let us go ….just after money again,no doubt,but we stood our ground and safety in numbers helps!

Big Daddy Drill

 

We wanted to get out of Nigeria,but not before we had spent some time at AfiMountain Drill Ranch, a conservation project to breed and release Drills, the third largest primate in the world.

Drills

We cannot recommend this place highly enough,it is currently run by an American volunteer called Chris and a team of extraordinarily knowledgeable team of locals.

Camp / everything room- with view of Afi mountain home of extremley rare/endangered Cross River gorillas

 

 

 

 

 

Here you can experience the stunning views over the mountains in the jungle,we took a vertigo -inducing rainforest canopy walk, the photo’s just don’t do it justice!

Not for faint hearted - 30m up but trees are about twice as high again up to 130 feet here thats 12 storeys

 

Had a delicious meal with Brett&Mary,earlier we had spotted 2kilo’s of fillet steak which we couldn’t refuse and were having serious cravings for Tims roast beef and yorkshires so we marinated it and cooked it over hot coals with scrummy potatoes and salad,we even had wine……..complete bliss,and all in the most incredible surroundings.

 

Next day had a wonderful time watching and learning about Drills and rescued Chimpanzees, (which sadly can’t be released into the wild because of humanisation as young animals. )

Young chimp who was very shy


Camping in the rainforest and swimming in the Bano waterfalls(in a tropical rainstorm) 

Swimming in the jungle

has been amazing,with me having to overcome my fear of all things creepy and slimy,especially when having to go to the loo at night, with only my head torch for company! Strangely quiet and quite eerie by night,and we’ve enjoyed it hugely.

 

 

 

Michael became mates with a young Civet( a weird,dog/cat/ badger thing ) very unusual to see one apparently, let alone handle it.

Young civet - less than half grown

 

We were also lucky enough to spot

its drunk my beer

a Tree Viper-so I’m told !

Togo And Benin

 

Left Ghana yesterday and crossed the border into Togo, a tiny slip of a country. you can get your visa on the border itself and after the usual formalities, we moved swiftly through,then onto DRC Embassy to get yet more visa’s, and we can collect these later today,we are currently camping at Chez Alice,just outside Lome, a rather strange place,Swiss-owned, full of weird hand carved animals and objects,you get the feeling they are looking at you all the time, I can’t really explain !

Chez Alice - Voodoo figures Emma says

As I type this, Michael is at the Mechanic’s (again !!) and a young guy from the Embassy has just arrived at Chez Alice with our passports,complete with visa’s delivered by hand ….I’m seriously impressed,it does not usually work this way!! Hopefully we won’t have to go back into Lome now.

Michael was told he was very handsome, by a policeman that stopped us yesterday,so that pleased him, I don’t think anyone’s ever told him that before,least of all The old bill !! it must be the weight he’s lost since our travels began ,which must be mainly due to the heat and lack of fine wine,although why the same hasn’t applied to me I’m not sure !( maybe it’s the Avocado a day I’mconsuming,as they are extremely large and whilst good for my skin,must be highly calorific, but just so yummy !!)

Whilst on the subject of food,I had better point out some of our finest delights. Top of the list has to be the Pineapples which are longer,thinner and juicier x 10, these are simply to die for. Again, Mango,so many types,all good and pitifully wasted (somebody must want to import them, Malcolm)Watermelons,these are everywhere on the side of the roads, soooo sweet !Bissap…. a purple drink, made from water and hibiscus leaves,very good for breakfast,not disimalar to Ribena.

Favourite tipple….ice cold Beer

Rice (jollof) the staple,with various sauce,sometimes,bland,but mainly delicious.

Small quantities of meat (chicken) and fish ,occasionally seems to keep Michael quiet.

We are back to speaking French again now,it’s very tricky all this changing,I like things to keep things simple, but the one consolation of being back with the French is that the bread has become almost as delicious once again,it has to be said it was awful in Ghana, although the rest of their food was spicy and delicious,some of the best we’ve tasted.

Moved on to Lake Togo for a couple of days, a beautiful spot, where once again we were the only ones camping,we were also treated to some lovely fresh Gambas and fish, the local ladies did some washing for me which was a bit of a treat, all in all a good time was had.

Lake Togo

 

Hard Work This

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishermen on lake togo - Emma up early

The people of Togo are particularly well dressed ,bright colours for both men and women,it seems,we found them so friendly and helpful,would stay longer, but must move on to Benin.

Easy border crossing from Togo into Benin,which is also a small country, by African standards police and customs,very relaxed,hadn’t been going too long though,when stopped at peage for going under barrier when we should have gone through a different one with the lorries,so they seized the opportunity to fine us,our own stupid fault ….but really.

Also saw our first Monitor Lizard crossing a busy main road (very slowly) we waited ,as did two guys on a motorbike and watched whilst it took an age to cross. What a strange and fascinating creature (so Michael say’s )

People wot live in the lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrived in Cotonou, Benin’s bustling capital and found a nice,if not rather bizarre little Hotel IN the port,which,whilst an oasis with a pretty garden and pool ,was surrounded by hundreds of containers/cranes….only in Africa !

Cotonou market - obsessed with food? us? The stuff of dreams to us

After a swim and a goods nights sleep, we set off for the Angolian Consulate, here we were told by the sweetest and most friendly of men, that he couldn’t issue us with a visa as these were the rules but that we should have no problem getting one at the border. He was genuinely interested in our travels,and roared with laughter when we told him we had crossed the desert,seeing no-one for mile upon mile,he seemed to think we were barking mad and was rolling about on his chair laughing his head off as we told him a few tales !! I wonder why ?!

In fact many people have shown great interest in our trip and when we say we’ve driven from England to this point,whether it’s the guy filling up the petrol tank or the owner of a camp site,they want to hear your story and with our rather appalling French, we seem to spend endless time explaining things, but have met some really lovely people as a result.

The Blue beast is not well and has developed a serious judder,which is extremely hard to control.We thought at first the wheels needed balancing,we’ve already had this done twice,but it appears now to be slightly more than that,so is going in for some repairs today,unless Mike the Mechanic can fix it,given all the giant potholes and generally awful road conditions,it’s not really that surprising .

Whilst stopped on the side of the road,with the wheel off,we were approached by a nun,who wanted to hitch a ride with us,she then proceeded to drink our bottle of water and leave because we were taking too long !

We are staying in Dassa Zoume, in the middle of Benin, the rainy season is well and truly upon us and we’ve had many downpours,which in turn seems to attract more of my mosquito friends.

Moved on to overnight stay in Parakou heading for Nigerian border and Abuja in search of the mystical Angolan visa no comms anticipated for a while.

Green turtles,Big Milly’s Backyard,Accra and beyond?

Have moved south now to Ghana’s coast where we are camping on a beautiful stretch of beachwith palm trees, white sand and surf, for us its a break from the intense heat we’ve been experiencing ,although its extremely humid and our glasses keep steaming up, but at least the strong sea breeze is keeping us cool, particularly at night.

suffer oh cold ones

 

 

Green Turtle Lodge (where we are staying ) is run by a young English couple,who are leaving and going back to Cornwall after 9 years here, having obviously made a great success of it.

Our House

Certainly its a great place to relax and the car needed a few minor repairs ,as the roads getting here were so bad (100 kms of serious potholes) things start pinging and popping off right left and centre ! As for my kitchen, it gets seriously rearranged everytime we’re on the road from the bumpity bumping, tin cans get dented, jars unscrew themselves,anything non-stick is now extremely stick-stick and it all just ends up in one big mess and needs constant reorganising,but hey-ho,we were as prepared for this as we could have been and there’s   not a lot you can do to prevent it.

A Room With A view

 

Heading to Accra next to try and get visa’s for Nigeria,this could prove interesting,

wev’e been told and we may have to hang around for a few day’s , before obtaining them, so fingers crossed Have had mixed reports on Nigeria itself, and will be aiming to move swiftly through,firstly though we go to Togo and Benin, but can hopefully get visa’s for these at the borders . Signing off now as no internet to post this,will continue tomorrow.

Spoilt For Choice - Part of Kumasi Shoe market wall display

 

We had a massive tropical storm in the wee hours of this morning, woken up by the worryingly loud thunder and spectacular lightning,the winds then picked up and the torrential rain began,we were rocking to and fro ,the awning came undone ,starting to crash about and the ropes tied themselves in masses of knots as we later discovered when we finally emerged from our soggy weather beaten roof-tent. All fun and games , though I have to say it was quite scary, I think everything seems worse in total darkness !.Now the sun is out again and drying things out very quickly,which is a bonus. It is the start of the rainy season here in Ghana and in fact many other West African countries, so I fear we have plenty more of that to come !

Trying to call Laura today, as it is her Birthday,but failing miserably,so I’m sad about that……..

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURA!! Hope you are having a great day and I’ll make sure Dad puts a few quids in your account asap !!

Another one for Toby

 

Now in Accra, having spent a very noisy weekend in Big Milly’s back yard camping in amongst some serious reggae extravaganza,with loud,but very good bands playing until the early hours, lots of dancing and general booty shaking,luckily I managed to restrain Michael,as I felt this was better left to the locals and young volunteers (feeling our age I think)

 

Our passports are now with The Nigerian Embassy,the visa’s are 200 dollar’s each….crazy money,but has to be done and we will hopefully collect them tomorrow.

The traffic in Accra is fairly horrendous and we spent much of yesterday(whilst looking for the Embassy) sitting in traffic,whilst Michael loathes this, I could quite happily do all my shopping from the comfort of my own car seat,as the sellers weave in and out of the cars,with all their wears on their heads selling anything and everything from food and drinks,spare parts for cars, telephones, rolls of carpet, the list goes on,but at least it’s quite entertaining,while sitting in traffic(even if we don’t need carpet for our Landrover House !)

 

Ghana and Mole Park

On we went across to Ghana, nice drive across country through villages before joining a main dirt road. Border crossing very simple. Seemed strange to be talking English again we both keep breaking into our tragic frainglais.

Local Village - styles vary quite a lot

Stayed in a small hotel in Wa, then on to Mole National Park the next day. Lovely site, still allow camping and we are only ones here. Restaurant bar and pool on escarpment overlooking waterhole and forest – such hard work!!. warthogs and bushbuck next to where we were sitting at poolside with other beasts in valley below, Cob antelope by tent plus group of bushbuck. Something quite big seems to live under a tent platform nearby – warthog hole I think?

Up at 6:00am this morning,met our very interesting and informative guide called Ozzy, saw many beasts ,various Antelope, Cob ,Bushbuck, Waterbuck ,two types of croc and Elephants (a group of eight males) having an early morning swim, a hundred photo’s later we returned,to our camp ,I was having a sort out in the car and Michael was having a little snooze, the next thing I know ,I’m being attacked by Monkey’s (red/brown Patas) from all directions,they had found a Mango skin and that was it,I was screaming at Michael to come rescue me,which he did,but by this time they were running off with all sorts. This was not the last of the monkeys ,as later in the day another huge one ( actually a baboon) came, opened up our “Really Useful Plastic Box” which was shut tight and made off with, can you believe, our very last bag of chicken flavoured crisps. (horror of horrors!)

Since then a family of Warthogs have been helping me do the washing and causing great amusement !

Our Campmates

 

Patas Mother stealing rubbish - our fault

 

View from campsite/lodge

male cob antelope

 

The Legend Grows

 

 

Left after picking up visas heading for Ranch de Nazinga on the Ghana border, got there Ok paid our fees entered parc heading for camp 20 k away and again more elephants.We clearly have talent here!!.

 

greeted on arrival

Went out for drive with guide after arriving and after seeing various antelope warthogs etc came across a herd of at least 50 plus at point blank range including lots of young. It was then we realised we had the gift – I had always wondered about those noises Emma made at night. Also to cap it all got back to room ,when a young male elephant pops out 30 yards away and casually walks past.

included lots of babies and protective mums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma elephant woman with guide - Can we go now??Please!!!

Up the next morning for another tour, lots of game then we came across a lone male guide, who said drive up the road so I did until he was very close – at which point he charged – they are very quick and very big!! – I shot forward a bit, he bashed a tree over easily waved a branch about then having established who was boss nibbled calmly at leaves while I took photos a few feet away. It does get the heart going I have to admit and with ears spread etc, they are very big. Back at camp having breakfast we were asked by other guides what we had seen when we said an old 1 tusked male they asked – did he charge? Then laughed when we said yes. He’s about 80 they think,but have since been told it’s unlikely this to be true, but he’s definitely the boss of the area. They then told loads of tales in French which I could not follow about the charges and scares he had caused in the past. It seemed to involve a lot of wet shorts/ trousers it seemed

Mr Grumpy who charged us