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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 28 May 2006
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africa-where do you start?

I'm looking at a cross africa trip UK-morrocco- S Africa. not sure on route or how you would go about visa applications. infact I haven't a clue of where to start besides look on a map on a route but politics play a part so alter the route (who knows this?), are there any bike friendly agencies? Can anyone advise on where to start to find out (guide books are fine but nothing for MC travel. I can get a carnet no problem but where do you start to find out about visa's and a route. I'm not looking at a hardcore route just from the UK to capetown. this would take 3-4month's? costs for visa's and bribes at borders?
please point me in the first direction if you can.

pipe dreams for now but I would like to get it underway for next year-spread costs of papework etc..
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Old 29 May 2006
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Sart with Lonley Planets 'Africa on a ShoeString' that has Visa, climate and other info. If you can get yourself across then the bike will come too. Just more money.

Take a look at what others are doing - especially the comercial operators - get some brochurs on transafrica - mostly by truck - at a travel agency.
Take a look at the travel warnings given out by your government, read others travel tails here ... spend 2 days reading the stuff linked from teh left side bar - links to lots of stuff.
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 29 May 2006
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A good map and plenty of time

The starting point of a trans-Africa trip is to get "Africa on a Shoestring" and the 3 Michelin maps (links at http://photobiker.com/store/books.html#maps )

The Lonely Planet guide gives all the info about the visas. Pay particularly attention to the countries that only deliver visas at the embassy in your home country, meaning that you can't get one on the road. The price for a visa is very variable, anywhere between free and US$50. Bribes are only exceptionally asked. More common are the fake fees at the borders ("With receipt!", they say, waving a receipt book bought at a local grocery store). Only pay fees that come with a government form and always ask for a stamped receipt. Sometimes officials want to see the receipt that comes with the form or the visa.

The Michelin maps are the best for Africa. They show everything from the state of the roads to the availability of fuel, and they usually are accurate. Read carefully the information they give about the rain seasons: some roads are impassable for weeks or even months.

Read everything that was posted here on Horizons Unlimited in the past several years about the few sensitive parts of your trip, especially the unpaved roads and those that you absolutely must take because there is no alternative. Keep a reserve of money in case an area closes down and you need to fly or ship the bike. Learn french if you don't speak it yet (Western Africa is a delight for french speakers).

Finally, I think that 4 months is the strict minimum you should plan for. Personally I would not consider doing it in less than 6 months. Travelers in Africa tend to slow down the further they go, and it's not just because of the sand and the mud. Spend a month in Morocco and the Sahara, another in Senegal and Mali, a few weeks between Togo, Burkina and all the way to Cameroon - and hop! you are already 3 months into your trip and not even half way there. So take your time, you will not regret it. Time is the one resource that's plentiful in Africa. Spend yours with the locals and you will probably be given much more than you came with. It must be one of the reasons why Africa is so unforgettable.

Enjoy the ride,
Pierre (& Merritt too)
Pierre Saslawsky
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Old 29 May 2006
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Good advice from those above. From UK to Cape you currently have to take the west coast all the way down due to the political situation in Central Africa (Eastern DRC, CAR, Chad and Western Sudan which are either not advisable to cross due toi security or impossible due to visa restrictions). That means Western Sahara to Mauritania and then pretty much any route you like as far as Gabon (avoiding the countries listed above obviously). From Gabon you travel through Congo - Cabinda (Angola) - DRC - Angola (again) - Namibia and finally RSA. As a british citizen it is possible (and I recommend desirable at present) to get all visa en-route. Browse the forums here for all the detail as suggested above and again - as suggested above - get the Michelin maps. Good luck!
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Old 2 Jun 2006
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Thanks I ordered the shoestring and lonley planet guides, bike money and time are all fine as i plan for a trip the end of 2007, meanwhile I will be doing a morocco trip as a taster but hiring in morocco rather than riding all the way down from the UK (work & time playing a factor).
Is this trip done frequently by many others and so am i likely to meet others on the way and get advice ? i guess once you commit and do it then your fine, problem is planning visas's, carnet's etc..
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Old 3 Jun 2006
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Some good advice above. As someone said, for a route check with an overland company, when I drove for one we were always up to date with political situations and stayed flexible enough to change en route if required. You will meet other travellers, not so much on the road as at the classic resting spots - good secure campsites generally where folk stop and do maintenance and drink lots of cold . With a British passport (and several others) you can get visas en route generally though I would recommend getting at least the Nigerian one before setting off, it's never the easiest.
In west Africa I think Mali is one of the best countries. The drive in from the border in the west can be brilliant if you get the route right - vague tracks through wee villages for a few days until you intersect the north south dirt road. Tombuktoo is worth it if safe at the time. Gabon is great, Ouagadougou is good even if only because it's a grand name!, Northern Cameroon is fine. The east and south of Africa are well known and full of travellers - I reckon it's better to turn around in Cameroon and take a different route back north!
Lots of great spots that will only be great when you get there. You shouldn't go too much on recommendations as the trip will make itself once you get going. Enjoy.

Last edited by Northern Jock; 3 Jun 2006 at 05:36.
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Old 2 Jul 2006
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Also, the Bradt 'Africa By Road' has useful information on preparation and good quick reference overviews of each country's highlights, red tape, money, etc. Not that expensive and useful for prep, although we tend not to use it on the road, except at border posts to cross refer with other info we've picked up en route.
Our route so far has been Morocco - Mauritania - Senegal - Mali - Niger - Algeria - Tunisia. We're waiting in Tunisia for a Libyan transit visa, then will cross to Egypt and south to Cape Town via Sudan - Ethiopia - Kenya - Uganda - Tanzania - Malawi - Mozambique - Zimbabwe - Namibia.
Let me know if you would like more info.
Good luck
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Old 13 Jul 2006
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Further info would be appreciated

Hi Bel (Landygirl)

I have been reading your posts. We may well follow a similar route leaving around Dec 06/Jan 07. (UK back to South Africa via Morrocco, WS, Mauri, Mali, Niger etc eventually ending up on the eastern route south to RSA)

You wouldn't happen to have website or online blog where we could follow your trip - otherwise I will just keep looking out for your posts on this forum.

Thanks for the information thus far and goodluck with rest of your trip

(Sorry for this posting but wasn't able to contact you directly as I am a new user)


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