Company : Oasis Overland
Duration: 2 months to 3 months
Approx Costs: 1500 to 2000 £ Pound (UK)
This epic West African expedition takes you from the UK to Accra on an unforgettable overland journey.
This epic West African expedition takes you from the UK to Accra on an unforgettable overland journey.
The adventure begins in Morocco, with it's ancient medina's, souks, through the High Atlas then following the coastline down into the deep deserts of Mauritania, onto the real West Africa with it's bustling colourful markets and amazing cultural sites, finishing the trip on the stunning beaches of Ghana. You will discover a continent most travellers only dream of and have the experience of a lifetime!
*Alternative route: If neccassary the trip will travel from Senegal to Mali and then on to Cote D'Ivoire (in place of Guinea and Sierra Leone)
Days 1 to 14
We begin our journey from the UK to Cairo in Gibraltar or southern Spain where your Trans Africa Crew will meet you from your flight. Here, the weather is warmer and as it is a duty free port, we can stock up on supplies for Xmas and New Year. We will then cross the Straights of Gibraltar by ferry to Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the North African Coast. In Morocco we visit Chefchaouen - set in a fertile valley of the surrounding Rif Mountains - where we will camp on a ridge overlooking this picturesque town with its white roofs, blue alleyways and narrow streets. You can wander around this relaxed town and even visit one of the old hammam bath houses. The Roman City of Volubillis is a remarkably well-kept reminder of the Roman presence in North Africa 2000 years ago. On this leg of the overland Africa trip, we spend some time wandering around the ancient streets and monuments before driving to the fortress city of Fez, known for its huge covered bazaar with narrow winding alleys, crammed with craft workshops, restaurants, food stalls, mosques, dye pits and tanneries.
Days 15 to 28
Our few days in the capital Rabat is spent organising visas before travelling onto Todra Gorge where its massive red and orange cliffs rise a thousand feet on each side of a sandy river. From Todra we cross the Sarhro Mountains and follow the Draa Valley past numerous scattered Kasbahs - Ait Benhaddou being one such example that has been the inspiration for many a Hollywood film set. The old capital of Marrakech is our base for the next few days of our Trans Africa overland adventure - allowing you the chance to wander around the Jema el Fna. This square is alive with activity through the day - from storytellers, snake charmers, water sellers and musicians. A nightly ritual sees hundreds of food stalls transform the square into one of Africa's largest local eating areas - the aromatic smells of fresh local food is fit for locals and tourists alike. The fishing port of Essaouira is our last major stop in Morocco before we head south following the rugged Atlantic coastline towards Mauritania and the Sahara Desert.
Days 29 to 42
On this leg of the overland Africa trip, after crossing into Mauritania we will travel to the desert city of Nouadhibou, depending on the current FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) travel advice, we will do one of two routes from Nouadhibou.
Option1: We leave civilization behind and travel into the desert proper, making our way toward the capital, Nouakchott. We drive off-road for hundreds of miles, occasionally having to dig the truck out of very soft sand where the use of sand ladders will be our only way forward.
Option 2: The alternate route from Nouadhibou will see us drive south on a sealed road. Passing small isolated villages surrounded by vast desert, we will also see herdsman migrating with their camels in search of water, before reaching the capital, Nouakchott. With very infrequent traffic on the roads, no food crops being grown, leaves one wondering how tough it is to live in such harsh desert conditions.
Both options bring us to Nouakchott where we spend a couple of days reorganising the truck and life in general after our dusty desert travels. It is quite incredible to think that slavery was only abolished here in 1980 and it is rumoured that it still continues in some outlying areas. South of Nouakchott, we aim to travel through a remote border into Senegal, passing along the piste through Diawling National park (weather permitting).
We enter sub Saharan Africa by crossing the Senegal River into St Louis, West Africa’s first French settlement and from where French colonialists conquered the interior. Senegal has a very different feel to the west Saharan countries we have just come from. We begin to be exposed to West Africa's vibrant food and music culture, colourful fashion and markets. We will start getting used to bad roads, 'interesting' local driving styles and a mixture of modern West African cities as well as some fly blown and remote border posts and villages. Welcome to West Africa - we hope you love it as much as we do!
The city of St Louis, is located at the mouth of the Senegal River and is an interesting place to visit. We will spend a couple of nights near town camping within the national park 'Langue de Barbarie', well known for its fauna rich with various species of birds. You can take a pirogue trip and bird watch, relax and swim on the sandy beach, try your hand at fishing and much more.
Our Overland route through Senegal will probably take us to Dakar with its great nightlife. Like any large city in the world Dakar has its undesirables so compared to the laid back country side and small towns that we are more familiar with, in large cities we learn to take care and go out and explore in pairs.
We visit Tambacounda, a bustling market town at the junction of many trade routes. Dependent on the current situation in each country, we again have a choice of two routes from here. Option one takes us through Mali and option two through Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Days 43 to 63
Option 1: Driving through Sahel scrublands, we head to the border and cross into Mali.
After a few days of dusty, stony, corrugated roads, smooth asphalt becomes our main desire! We pass slowly through many spread out villages harbouring free range goats, cattle and hardy chickens - some of which we may buy for a spit roast as we head towards Mali’s capital, Bamako. The city abounds with lively bars, cold beers, markets full of fresh fruit and vegetables and people with different culture, language and dress to those in the Western Sahara. The town overlooks the Niger River and has some good live clubs - allowing the night owls in the group to enjoy some late night drinking and dancing to some world famous Malian music.
Leaving Bamako we travel through southern Mali via the town of Bougouni and reach the border with Ivory Coast, more commonly known in its French form, Cote d’Ivoire.
Option 2: From Tambacounda we make our way to the border with Guinea.
‘One of Africa’s best kept secrets’ – this is often an overused phrase but at Oasis Overland we feel privileged to be overlanding through Guinea. Because of a lack of international flights and tourist infrastructure (and let’s face it, a lack of knowledge in our ‘advanced first world’ about West Africa) we can appreciate Guinea’s spectacular tropical forests and waterfalls as we cross Fouta Djalon plateau and the beautiful hilly hinterland without hardly seeing another tourist or foreigner.
Although one of the poorest countries Guinea Conakry (as it is usually called in West Africa) is also one of the proudest in West Africa. Its people have stood together and survived the always difficult post colonial era of independence without resorting to tribal conflicts or civil war. The first colony to gain Independence from France they stated they preferred ‘freedom in poverty, than prosperity in chains’. Near the Liberia border at Bossou we have the unique opportunity to Trek to see wild chimpanzees.
Sierra Leone - Famous for its diamonds, fortunately Sierra Leone recovered from its disastrous civil war and became one of the safest countries in which to travel. However, its roads are still abysmal so it can be slow going on our drive to the coast. However, we can enjoy its serene palm fringed beaches and remoteness, camping on the coast south of Freetown. Crossing rivers without bridges and sometimes narrow log bridges we enter Cote d’Ivoire on some challenging dirt roads and jungle tracks. Passing through remote small villages this is where the food stocks on our overland truck get put to use and you may be required to dig the truck out of mud or sand.
Both options bring us to the city of Yamoussoukro. Built by President Boigny, one of the classic ‘Big Man’ dictators it was an expensive and vane project to glorify himself with six lane highways leading nowhere and a huge Basilica built to copy St. Peter’s in Rome. A further day’s drive away is Abidjan, one of West Africa’s modern cities with skyscrapers and flashy restaurants. However, it very much has the feel of having seen better days and as with so many cities, ostentatious wealth mixes side by side with abject poverty. Our Africa Overland Adventure now heads east along the coast past tropical beaches such as Grand Bassam with its dugout canoes close to the frontier with Ghana.
In Ghana we notice another change in people and culture - especially the language! For the first time in two months of our overland Africa travels, we are in a country where English is the main language. We spend a night in Mole National Park in northern Ghana and get the opportunity to game walk with an armed ranger - hoping to view some of the numerous elephants and other wildlife that inhabit this park. Making our way to the coastline we stop off at Kakum National Park where you have the opportunity to embark on a canopy walk, or walk through the nature trails in the forest. Following the Coastline we pass the castles of Cape Coast and spend a couple of days relaxing on the palm-fringed beaches before making our way to the capital Accra.
Trip Price: £2575.00 + Local Payment.
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