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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 8 Dec 2009
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Travel Times for West Coast Africa

In the summer of 2010 a good friend and I are planning a trip form Togo to Morocco on bikes. I have searched far and wide on the internet and have found no comprehensive data on the time necessary to complete this journey.

I have created this thread to hopefully start a sort of collection of times required to travel through countries on Africa's west coast. So that not only I but others may find answers to their queries here. Please feel free to post either time required for simply crossing one country, or time required for crossing a stretch of countries. Also please indicate wether the time specified is for just straight driving or with time for stops and other enjoyable experiences. Thank you.
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Old 8 Dec 2009
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Sounds like you have a time limit...?

It all depends on the routes chosen and your riding and traveling style. And luck / preparation -- a breakdown can cost two hours or two weeks. I would look at it this way -- figure on averaging hmmmm 225 miles / 365 km a day, maybe 250 miles, if you keep a fairly aggressive pace and skip most of the attractions and are fairly lucky and are on large cylinder bikes.

You'll lose time at the borders. Unless you have visas in advance, some visas will take two days to secure, more if a weekend is involved.

None of the major roads from Togo to Morocco are especially challenging, though there is plenty of opportunity to run challenging piste if you like. In Mali and farther north you can run 500 miles a day on wide open pavement, if you have to.

Ideally, it would be great if you could take two months for the journey and really enjoy it. Ghana in particular is great fun, and is an English speaking country. Good luck ~~
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Old 8 Dec 2009
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Hey I just found a similar thread you started in this Route Planning forum about riding Morocco to Togo and back in a month. (?!) Dude no way, even if you stay on tarmac the whole way.

A month is not much for a moto adv in Africa any way you look at it. Shipping bikes from the U.S. and back will take at least a few days of prep and waiting. If all goes well. Same with trying to buy bikes in Africa.

I think you posted as well about buying bikes in Ghana or Togo. There's a KTM dealer in Lome, Togo, and there might be seller of large cylinder bikes in Accra, not sure. Otherwise for Ghana/Togo you're looking at buying small cylinder Chinese bikes -- no shortage of those in West Africa, that's for sure!

But reliability and proper packing will be issues. Don't expect to find anything larger than 250 cc. And carnets may be an issue, though it's said to be possible to do your ride without a carnet.

And generally, everything moves slowly in Africa. If you have to keep a hellbent pace, you're missing out on half the fun. I hate to sound like a party-pooper but a month is really tight for riding Africa.

But hey it's bound to be an adventure eh?

Mark
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Old 8 Dec 2009
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Thanks for replying in at least somewhat of a positive attitude! I mean originally our plan was to travel from south africa to morocco in a month... which we were told could be done in three weeks.... hahahahaha. That then became Morocco to Togo and back. Which has now been reduced to simply fly into togo/ghana and get to morocco.

We have so far allotted about 35 days to complete this journey. Do you still think this is possible/enjoyable? Could you recommend a route/distance that would be possible in the allotted time?
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Old 9 Dec 2009
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Yeah, you can do Ghana to Morocco in 35 days and even squeeze in a little sightseeing. It might be a a little tight especially if something goes south and chances are you'll wish you had more time, but hey... I took just over two months to get from Morocco to Accra, with a few detours and layovers and what not. And another three months to Cape Town FWIW...

You'll have a fairly good choice of routes at least especially starting out from Ghana. All depends on which way you want to head. The Michelin map and Rough Guide to West Africa will have all the info you need to plot a course. If you don't know French learn as much as you can, it will make your travel more rewarding...

Do recognize that the summer heat is going to be absolutely brutal ... !

What are you planning on doing for bikes?
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Old 9 Dec 2009
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A month is just about right for a quick trip through Morocco. Or an exploration of Togo and Benin, with a chunk of Ghana or Burkina thrown in. But this assumes you know how to ride, and know how to handle yourself in those sorts of places.

But if all you really want to do is ride ride ride (plus collect visas and deal with whatever shipping nightmares you run into), without stopping to do more than glance around and snap a few photos, then I think you can do Lome to Spain in 35 days. If you don't get hurt, break down or get sick....chances of which are better than average.

You've already got most of the information you need to plan your trip. Get a Michelin West/North Africa map and start counting miles. Divide by 200/day (my rough rule of thumb) or the 225-250 quoted above. You need to learn to ride, too, right? Then, you need to learn to ride in the Togo--not an easy place to start, but then again neither is Morocco, Ghana, Burkina Faso or the others--they're different from, say, Denver by an order of magnitude. You're going to buy a bike in Togo? Without speaking French, or do I misremember this part? Maybe try Ghana instead; that'll be difficult enough, and more expensive than it would be in the States, with less selection (and little in the way of real protective gear).

I'm not trying to be a jerk about this, but you could have the adventure of your life learning to ride a bike, then touring Spain and Morocco for 35 days. Or rent a bike in Accra (there's an American/Ghanian couple there renting various bikes). Why back yourself into a corner from which you have no ready escape, rather than plan something open-ended for your first time out? And why in the world Togo, anyway? It's a nice country with fun riding in the hills, but it's not exactly Africa For Beginners.

Keep asking questions, and keep adjusting your plans....but first buy a map and at least one guidebook and do some of the basic research.

enjoy,

Mark
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