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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 2 Oct 2007
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west coast africa with kids?

Need some advice from those who've been there -

We're (still) working on planning for a RTW (hope to leave within the next 12-18 months). We're a family of 4 in a 4x4 - mom, dad and 2 (cute blond-haired) girls who will be ages 10 and 7 at the time.

We definitely want to do africa as part of the trip - we'll have somewhere between 6 and 9 months for that segment. We're starting in france, and want to head down at least to ghana overland, then back up from SA to Egypt and on eastward. (We're starting in paris, and would like to show the kids ghana since hubby was born there when his parents were there doing aid work.)

The question is whether to do the ghana - SA portion overland, or to continue trying to look for a shipping company to ship that portion.

Those of you who have done the west coast - would you recommend doing it with kids? The kids in question are well travelled (20+ countries), and quite adventurous - they've conquored pretty bad roads in places like madagascar and indonesia with no complaints (though our then-toddler didn't really like the cold bucket baths we subjected her to in sulawesi!) - and enjoy new experiences and are quite comfortable roughing it. They're also good at listening to instructions, most of the time - so could be convinced to not head off into the bush in Angola b/c of the land mines ...

They seem to have fun wherever we go, and like nature and culture and antiquities and all that ...

But I can't tell from all of the blogs whether the west coast is basically one 2+ month slog through bad roads with not much else going for it, or whether it's something that is really incredible despite the slog through bad roads and mind-numbing bureaucracy.

Would those of you who have done it, do it with kids?

Thanks for any and all insight!!

Best,
Brenda
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Old 2 Oct 2007
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west coast with kids

I have done the west coast and I would like to take away some predjudice;

- the west coast burocracy was not worse than in other countries (Egypt is worst in Africa) (Cameroon was more corrupt then other countries!)
- it is not more dangerous than other countries (SA is probably the most dangerous country)
- there is enough to see; Cameroon has Waza NP, Chimps in the south, Mount Cameroon, Baca pigmees. If you are in the right season (avoid rainy season), Gabon has a lot of unique NP and wild life (not accessible by car but you can organise from Libreville), Albert Schweitser hospital etc.
- in the dry season the roads should be ok except maybe Angola but the Chinese are working on these roads since mid 2006 and they should get better by the day.

In addition it is very true that this route feels more like adventure and pioneering than east coast.

The challenge is the humid heat which get very difficult to deal with after a while!! It gets to your nerves! But then again in the dry season it might be not so bad (we crossed in the rainy season).

good luck with your considerations!

Cheers,
Noel
exploreafrica.web-log.nl
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Old 2 Oct 2007
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I've done the W. coast myself on foot without kids, but this year I'm taking my goddaughter (from NZ, currently living in France with me) without any hesitation (& thankfully the blessings of her parents!).

We're starting in Abidjan & going as far west as Benin (on foot/bush taxi). Doesn't really cover your question regarding Angola etc but had the flights been cheaper I would have either gone back to Guinea Bissau with her or down to Cameroon & onto Eq.Guinea/Gabon.

She's 12, never travelled (been to Australia) but has her head screwed on & we have a pretty good relationship.

Maybe I'll be able to give you more insight into the trip in January on our return.

As you're in a vehicle, I'd say go for it .. I travelled a lot of Africa from age 10 with my parents & it didn't do me any harm (except I've got 'the bug'!)

Kira
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