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NW Africa

Morocco (October – November 2013)

Visa

No need for Europeans

 

Other documents

   Fill in your personal data on a fiche and make about twenty copies, as you will be constantly asked for it at Western Sahara’s checkpoints (starting from Tan Tan to Mauritania).

 

Digital maps

Olaf’s map is particularly detailed for off-road rides in Morocco. It contains most of the pistes described in Sahara Overland.

You can download our waypoints with some of the off-road routes from Chris Scott’s Sahara Overland, some spots for wild camping and other useful waypoints in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

   It is very easy, especially in the desert. Moroccans are quite discreet and friendly. In case you will be spotted by kids, though, they will probably not leave you in peace any sooner before their bedtime.

 

Mauritania (Νovember 2013)

Visa

From the embassy in Rabat, Morocco

Issued: On the same day without any problem.

Duration: One month, single entry

Cost: 31.15 Euros (340 dirhams)

 

Border crossings

Western Sahara – Mauritania: They won’t stamp a Carnet de Passages en Douane unless Mauritania is clearly mentioned on the back page. This makes obtaining the “passe avant” obligatory at a cost of 10 €. Be careful: initially they will issue the “passe avant” just for one week. Ask them to make it valid until your visa expiring date or for as long as you are planning to stay in the country. Otherwise, you can extent it for free later in any of the custom offices around the country. You can buy insurance for your vehicle at the border. Mauritania is not included amongst the countries covered by the Brown Card.

Mauritania – Senegal (Diama): Both policemen and customs officers ask for 10 € each just to do their job. They don’t provide a receipt, of course. It is pocket money, obviously. In case you refuse to pay them, they hold your passport, driving license and any other of your documents that they have.

 

Other documents

   Fill in your personal data on a fiche and make about thirty copies, as you will be regularly asked for it at checkpoints all over the country. Nobody checked our insurance or any of our other vehicle documents.

 

Digital maps

Waypoints and the whole tracks with some of the off-road routes from Chris Scott’s Sahara Overland. The route to Diama border and some other waypoints are made by the team of Kapp2Cape. You can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

   Piece of cake, as the biggest part of the country consists of uninhabited, deserted plains! It will be better, though, not to let policemen at checkpoints know that you wild camp. If it gets dark and there is not a hotel in the area, they may insist on you camping next to the police station.

 

Senegal (December 2013)

Visa

From the embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania

Issued: In one day, with the condition that application and payment have already been made through internet. Don’t expect to receive the second confirmation e-mail for your application. Visit the embassy holding a printed copy of the first e-mail you received, as well as a photocopy of the first five pages of your passport. No need for invitation letter, hotel reservation or flight ticket.

Duration: Three months, multiple entry

Cost: 52.50 Euros

 

Border crossings

Mauritania – Senegal (Diama): Policemen ask for 10 Euros to stamp the passport. They don’t provide a receipt, of course. It is pocket money, obviously. In case you refuse to pay them, they hold your passport, driving license and any other of your documents that they have. You must pay also 4,000 CFA (6.10 Euros) to cross the bridge, but they ask 10 Euros from tourists.

Senegal – Guinea-Bissau (Mpak): This was the first border we crossed without paying a cent! Nobody asked us a bribe!

 

Customs

   Usually, they don’t accept to stamp the Carnet de Passages en Douane at the border unless you are exiting Senegal. So, at the border you get a “passe avant” for three days at a cost of 7.63 Euros (5,000 CFA). Maybe it will be possible to extent it for 1 or 2 days in some customs office, if you pay again the same amount. Before it expires you must go to the customs office at the port of Dakar and have your Carnet de Passages en Douane stamped for free. Just east of the old train station, in Boulevard de la Libération, you will find a huge sign indicating “Douane” (customs office). Enter and head to the second floor, at the office with the sign: “Secrétariat du Chef de Bureau”. There will be many who will offer to help you, expecting to be paid, of course. It is also possible to complete the procedure on your own. No matter how, it takes about two hours.

 

Vehicle Insurance

The insurance they sell at the border is more than double the price you would pay in any insurance agency. It’s much better to buy insurance for Senegal from any agency before entering in the country. An honest insurance broker in Ziguinchor is:
Cheick Jidiane Barro
La Prevoyance Assurances
Rue Javelier
Pres du Restaurant “Le Kasse”
Escale Ziguinchor
Telephone: (+221) 77 558 57 77

 

Motorcycle repair shops

Mad Bikes: Good mechanic for big motorbikes with tires and other spare parts, Telephone: (+221) 77 450 66 67, Coordinates: N14 45.307 W17 28.343

Another mechanic with tires and other spare parts, Telephone: (+221) 77 648 56 10, Coordinates: N14 43.614 W17 30.004

If you need a really good welder for aluminium or any other general mechanic works, your best bet is the guys at: N14 41.564 W17 25.888

 

Digital maps

Waypoints with some beautiful spots for wild camping, mechanics, embassies and other useful spots. Most waypoints are made by the team of Kapp2Cape. You can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

There are many great places in the savannah, the rainforests and the isolated beaches. Senegalese are discreet and won’t bother you.

 

Guinea-Bissau (December 2013)

Visa

From the consulate in Ziguinchor, Senegal (N12 34.832 W16 16.054)

At the embassy in Dakar they asked us 45,000 CFA!

Issued: On the spot

Duration: One month, double entry

Cost: 30.49 Euros (20,000 CFA)

 

Border crossings

Senegal – Guinea-Bissau (Mpak): This was the first border we crossed without paying a cent! Nobody asked us a bribe! We used our Carnet de Passages en Douane but if you don’t have any, you can just buy a “passe avant”.

Guinea-Bissau – Guinea (Candembel): In the village called Candembel we waited a few minutes for a policeman to come and stamp our passports and Carnet de Passages en Douane. He didn’t ask us a bribe! We entered in Guinea by crossing the border through trails.

 

Digital maps

Garmin City Navigator Pan-Africa NTU 2013.30 map is very useful if you plan to wander in the vast plains of the savannah. It contains many dirt roads. In fact most of them are actually trails, usually accessible by motorcycle. Many of the roads shown on the map does not exist, while others are not accurately marked. Many of the villages, also, are misplaced on the map.

Open Street Maps are really accurate but unfortunately they lack detail. Many dirt roads, even those wide and easily accessible that are being used regularly, are not shown on the map.

Our off-road route through which we crossed in Guinea, a couple of beautiful spots to wild camp and another interesting spot to visit: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

There are beautiful places in the savannah and the locals won’t bother you.

 

Guinea (January 2014)

Visa

From the embassy in Dakar, Senegal (N14 41.847 W17 27.852)

Issued: In one day without any problem.

Duration: One month, single entry

Cost: 53.36 Euros (35,000 CFA)

 

Border crossings

Guinea-Bissau – Guinea (Kissomaya): We entered in Guinea by riding on some trails through the savannah, so we didn’t cross a proper border post. We passed a few villages in Guinea where there were checkpoints but they couldn’t stamp our passports. A few times they checked our yellow fever vaccination certificate. After about 30 km. (19 miles) we arrived in the village of Kissomaya, where a couple of policemen stamped our passports. They asked us an 1.52 Euros (1,000 CFA) bribe but we managed to avoid it.

Guinea – Ivory Coast (Tounkarata): In a hut in the village they stamped our passports and didn’t ask any other document either for us or for our motorbikes.

 

Digital maps

Garmin City Navigator Pan-Africa NTU 2013.30 map is very useful if you plan to wander in the vast plains of the savannah. It contains many dirt roads. In fact most of them are actually trails, usually accessible by motorcycle. Many of the roads shown on the map does not exist, while others are not accurately marked. Many of the villages, also, are misplaced on the map.

Open Street Maps are really accurate but unfortunately they lack detail. Many dirt roads, even those wide and easily accessible that are being used regularly, are not shown on the map.

Our whole route in the country, which may help you on the off-road sections, some beautiful spots to wild camp and some interesting ones to visit: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

The mountainous region of Fouta Djalon has gorgeous places to wild camp. In the rest of the country it’s usually not so difficult to find a nice and quiet spot.

 

Ivory Coast (January 2014)

Visa

From the embassy in Dakar, Senegal (N14 41.908 W17 27.522)

Issued: In one day. They asked us for our yellow fever vaccination certificate. They may ask you for a letter describing your itinerary, as well as a hotel reservation.

Duration: Three months, multiple entry

Cost: 99.09 Euros (65,000 CFA)

 

Border crossings

Guinea – Ivory Coast (Sipilou): They stamped our passports in a hut and at the customs office, a few meters further ahead, the just checked the registration documents of our motorbikes.

Ivory Coast – Ghana (Noé): They stamped our passports and we were ready to go quickly without any trouble.

 

Digital maps

A few off-road routes, a couple of wild camping spots and the embassy of Ghana: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

Since most of the country has been turned into a huge field of plantations, it’s hard to find space for wild camping. However, we were always able to find a place finally and the locals we met were friendly.

 

Ghana (February 2014)

Visa

From the embassy in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (N5 21.533 W3 59.238)

Issued: In one day. Most Ghanaian embassies want you to apply for a visa in your country of residence, so they wouldn’t grant us a visa in Ivory Coast. We explained to them that we are already on the road for some months, so we couldn’t take a visa from our country. We also presented an invitation from a Ghanaian and a hotel reservation and they finally gave us the visa.

Duration: One month, single entry

Cost: 45.74 Euros (30,000 CFA)

 

Border crossings

Ivory Coast – Ghana (Noé): They immediately asked for the Carnet de Passages en Douane and they checked it three times throughout the border crossing. The offices are pretty organized and the staff works effectively.

Ghana – Burkina Faso (Tumu): The friendly officers stamped our documents and in twenty minutes we crossed the border without any trouble.

 

Digital maps

Open Street Maps, even in large cities like Kumasi, show only the major roads. On the contrary, Garmin City Navigator Pan-Africa NTU 2013.30 map has plenty of details in the cities as well as out of them.

A few off-road routes, some wild camping spots (don’t miss the “Deserted Lodge!!!”) and some interesting places to visit: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

There are beautiful beaches on the south but the locals gave us a hard time. A child we were playing with, grabbed Christina’s mobile phone. In the area between Ho and Hohoe some villagers took us for criminals, so we were surrounded by a bunch of policemen with machine guns! We ended up pitching our tent outside the police station. You can read the whole story in the relevant article. The savannah on the north has more empty space and somewhat friendlier people.

 

Burkina Faso (March 2014)

Visa

From the embassy in Accra, Ghana

Issued: On the same day without any problem.

Duration: Three months, single entry

Cost: 46.17 Euros (146 Cedi)

 

Border crossings

Ghana – Burkina Faso (Tumu): They stamped our passports and in order to avoid paying for a passe avant, we used our Carnet de Passages en Douane.

Burkina Faso – Togo (Sinkasse): They stamped our documents without any hassle.

 

Digital maps

Open Street Maps don’t have enough details on remote off-road routes. Garmin City Navigator Pan-Africa NTU 2013.30 is even worse and confusing. Garmap Sub-Saharan Africa Streetmaps 2012.2 are the best ones, with many details, village names and off-road routes!

A few off-road routes, some wild camping spots, interesting places to visit and some embassies: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

There is enough space in the savannah and the locals don’t make any troubles.

 

Togo and Benin (March 2014)

Visa

Visa Touristique Entente (for Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Ivory Coast) from the Passport Service in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (N12 21.616 W1 32.411)

Issued: In three days. As we realized, this visa is only issued now in Ouagadougou and Niamey.

Duration: Two months, single entry. This visa is valid only for a continuous trip in the five countries where it is valid. If you visit another country in between, then the visa is cancelled. Its maximum total duration is two months, starting from the date of issue.

Cost: 38.11 Euros (25,000 CFA)

 

Border crossings

Burkina Faso – Togo (Sinkasse): They immediately recognised the Visa Touristique Entente. In order to avoid paying for a passe avant, we used our Carnet de Passages en Douane.

Togo – Benin (Hilla Condji): They stamped our documents without any trouble. While entering in Benin, we didn’t need to buy a passe avant but we didn’t stamp our Carnet de Passages en Douane either.

Benin – Nigeria (Illara): They stamped our passports quickly and without any trouble.

 

Digital maps

Open Street Maps don’t have enough details on remote off-road routes. Garmin City Navigator Pan-Africa NTU 2013.30 is even worse and confusing. Garmap Sub-Saharan Africa Streetmaps 2012.2 are the best ones, with many details, village names and off-road routes!

A few beautiful off-road routes, Chez Monique and the embassy of D.R.C.: you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

On the north you can find some free space in the savannah but on the more densely populated south it’s hard to find any space.

 

Nigeria (April 2014)

Visa

From the embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (N12 18.331 W1 31.265)

Issued: In two days. The days when the embassy handles visas are Tuesday and Thursday, from 10:00 to 12:00. You must apply one of those days and collect your passport the next visa day. They did not ask us either for an invitation or to be Burkina Faso residents!

Duration: Three months, single entry

Cost: 113.58 Euros (74,500 CFA). The price for Greeks was one of the most expensive ones!

 

Border crossings

Benin – Nigeria (Illara): Immigration Service and Customs Office are hidden somewhere in the town. Somebody from the border can lead you there. Nobody asked us a bribe! They stamped our passports and they wrote the date until which we are allowed to stay in Nigeria. Even if the visa expires later than that date, you are not allowed to stay any more. So, it’s better to ask them to write the date that your visa expires. They also stamped our Carnet de Passages en Douane. After the border there are more than ten checkpoints on the road. It seems they are legitimate, so you have to stop there.

Nigeria – Cameroon (Mfum): They stamped our documents without asking for any bribe.

 

Checkpoints

There are many checkpoints on the Nigerian roads by the police, the army, the customs service, the immigration service, the narcotic police and other authorities. There are also some roadblocks, mostly in remote areas, set by some guys in order to collect money from the drivers that pass by. You don’t have to stop there unless they use that board with nails which they put in the middle of the road forcing the drivers to pull over. Actually, that’s what many Nigerian authorities do too.

The local motorcyclists pass through them, even if cars are waiting, and they just horn and wave to the policemen. That’s a good way to handle them. However, if they signal you to stop, then we would suggest you to stop. They stopped us eleven times in Nigeria but the policemen and the army officers were always friendly to us, they never asked us a bribe and they never checked anything. The only negative experience we had with them occurred when we didn’t stop at a checkpoint of the Immigration Service. The officers chased us and after checking all our luggage for a couple of hours, they took 50 euros from us. We could avoid this by stopping at the roadblock at the first point. You can read more details on the relevant article of ours.

 

Digital maps

Garmap Sub-Saharan Africa Streetmaps 2012.2 were again the most detailed maps that we had. They include many streets and landmarks in the cities, as well as roads out of them and off-road routes.

Cameroon’s consulate in Calabar, a shortcut to travel from Ibadan to Benin City and from Enugu to Calabar (for the latter you need to ride for a while on dirt roads and paths and you must load the bike on a pirogue to cross Cross River. However, they told us that there is a bridge in another route south from the one we took): you can download the file in GPX format.

 

Wild camping

We avoided wild camping because of the security situation.

 

Where is mad nomad
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