Sometimes we do things, initiate initiatives and go to places that even I think are too silly to be true, let alone sensible. But we have done them, initiated them, and now there is no way back. Here I will write, from time to time, the story of the West Africa Expedition, of which I have no idea yet how it will end. I know how it began, though. Read on!
How on earth did we get here?
It all started with an email. Kumakondo, a travel agency specialised in Africa journeys, announced that they were organising a ‘transit trip’ through parts of West Africa. Read more.
Alonso, who, I think, is the owner, the organiser, the guide, the driver and everything else you can think of at Kumakondo, responded quickly to my request, and sent me a more extensive brochure on the ‘transit trip’. In essence, the plan is to drive in 40 days with a truck from Chad to Sierra Leone, through Cameroun, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. A little over 5000 km. With a small group of likeminded lunatics, max. ten pax. Read on.
16 Nov. 2022
I casually asked Sofia what she thought about her birthday present. “Which birthday present”? “The one I sent to you by email”. “Didn’t see anything”. “Well, have a look then!” And I didn’t think more about it; at the most I would be subjected to ridicule and mockery.
“I am in!”
So I did get a response, after all. Not exactly what I had expected, though! After all, Sofia is usually the brake on my wildest and most extreme travel ideas.
I brought up that the area where we are going is not the most stable in the world, lots of terrorist organisations, and so on. Read on.
We talked a bit more about the trip, and about the issues, especially the security points. We agreed we could look at this in two ways: if we join the trip, we assume that we have a responsible group leader, Alonso himself, who knows the area, but being a group makes us quite visible, and thus a potential target for kidnapping. If we travel alone, we are more nimble, move quicker, less obvious a target. On the other hand, if we don’t join the trip, we will never make this journey; others, yes, but across West Africa? Highly unlikely. Because we don’t have the local knowledge that you need for such a trip.
A look at the map with terrorist activities shows….. Read on.
29 Dec. 2022
And what you all have to do before leaving!
After having secured our place on the trip by paying a significant amount of money as a deposit, we took off to Argentina for visiting family and friends, and didn’t think much about the African adventure anymore. But now we are back, and we have to start working; there is a lot to do, in terms of visas, vaccinations and flights.
And we need to arrange our self-inflicted extension, too. Once at the end of the transit trip, the organised part, we are actually quite close to The Gambia, where we could recover from the hardship in one of the pleasant lodges the country is known for. And once in The Gambia, it is a relatively short haul to Dakar in Senegal, which I reckon is one of the most fascinating capitals of West Africa. And on the way to Dakar, we might as well spend a few days in a game reserve and get a short safari in.
Let’s first sort out the tickets. Not a big deal really, the ticket sites that normally work to find the cheapest tickets for your city break, they also work for tickets further afield. Read on.
We have done some visa research. First the good news: our self-inflicted extension of the trip, through The Gambia and Senegal, does not require visas for EU citizens. Read on.
Visa nr 1 – Chad – in the pocket, or rather, in the passport, visa nr 2 – Liberia – in progress. Read on.
We have made an appointment at the Travel Clinic, to get up to date on health issues in West Africa. We know about compulsory Yellow Fever vaccinations, we already needed to proof this for our visas, but how about malaria and other tropical diseases? Not to mention Ebola, a potentially deadly virus endemic to West Africa, and competing with kidnapping as the main risk during our trip. And monkeypox, another one originating from the same place? Read on.
We got nr. 2 – Liberia. Sofia went to Brussels, by train, to collect the visas. A good exercise in developing patience, which we no doubt will need during our expedition. Did I tell you already that we now refer not to our trip, anymore, but ‘the expedition’? Seems more appropriate. Read on.