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  #1  
Old 24 May 2011
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Cassamance to Labe (Guinea) Advice

Hi guys,

I am planning a trip from the Cassamance region onto Guinea Biaasu, then into Guinea and onto Sierra Leone. It will be in my own vehicle (a truck).

Could anybody give me advice on the following:

1. I have about 5 days in the Cassamance region, entering from Gambia. If you had 5 days, what would be a good itinerary? The must see places if you like? I will need to get my G Bissau visa in Zig so will need a nightstop there.

Is Cap Skiring worth visiting?

2. I plan to cross from G Biassau to Guinea at the Kandika border crossing, carrying onto Koundara then onto Labe. Some people say the Chinese have started grading this road ready to lay the tarmac? How far have they done? Will this road be a nightmare to do in a truck (approx 9 meters long, 9 tonnes in weight). I'm told there is a ferry across the river on tsi route, and saw a pciture of it, and it looks okay to take the truck.

3. With 3 nights to play with, again, what are the must see places in the Fouta Djalon? I'm on a bit of a schedule so can't really spare much more time. Is Pita a good place to base myself and explore from there>

Would sure appreciate any help with these question, thanks everybody.
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  #2  
Old 24 May 2011
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Shutes

OK, this information is 2 yrs old, me and the wife did the Koundara to Labe route on a couple of XT 600,s
The route is difficult(we did it in the rainy season) but there were petrol tankers using this trail,about 300km if I remember correctly, a road it aint, but you should be fine in your truck, the ferry you mention will easily take your truck.
Accomodation in Kuondara is interesting, the only decent accomodation had been taken by the UN, The next option was a guest house run by a Gambian, can,t remember the name but if you ask you will find it, and when we were there the gas station was closed and we had to buy gas by the litre in whisky bottles,
The guy showed up with a wheel barrow full of bottles.
Labe is a much bigger and better place, the ATM worked, a first for 2 weeks,
A good cheap hotel in Labe is the hotel de Sala, and a must see are the Shutes de Sala, try and find a Italian guy who runs the Pizza place just out of town,Flavio I think, he is a mine of local information and we would never have found the shute de sala without his info
Avoid Conakry if at all possible, its a shit hole with 1 ATM for about 500.000 people, we quede for 3 hrs and then the cash ran out
We had a great time all in all and Labe was the highlight of our time in Guinea, we spent 10 days there riding the trails around there, hope this helps I can,t think its altered that much, its not that well travelled
Good luck mate, Pete n Brucella
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Old 25 May 2011
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Hi Pete, many thanks for the write up, some great information there. Reassuring to know petrol tankers were plying this road, so we should be fine. Will have to spend a few nights is Conakry to get our Sierra Leone visa, but hopefuly not too long as then we can maximise our time in the Fouta Djalon.

Thanks again Pete, much appreciate the information
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  #4  
Old 25 May 2011
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Hi,

you can get your Sierra Leone Visa also in Banjul, with a bit begging they made it same day for us. Than you can do Conakry just optional.

regards
Bernd
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Old 25 May 2011
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Thanks Bernd, it's always good to know there are alternatives.

I think the problem visa for us will be Cote Divoire. I am hoping to get it in Conakry or Freetown, but it sounds very difficult if you are not a resident of that country. I'm hoping Ouattara will make it easier!
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  #6  
Old 25 May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave The Hat View Post
I think the problem visa for us will be Cote Divoire. I am hoping to get it in Conakry or Freetown, but it sounds very difficult if you are not a resident of that country. I'm hoping Ouattara will make it easier!
All info as of May 2010:

I got my Sierra Leonian and Ivorian visa in Conakry. The ATM situation was fine, several banks, no problems at all.

Sierra Leone wanted me to buy a laissez-passer for the bike, which I did. At the border (Conakry to Freetown), they wanted to stamp the carnet, even though mine did not cover Sierra Leone. I convinced them to stamp the laissez-passer. In hindsight, I should have just removed the carnet's backcover, where it lists the countries covered, and bluffed my way through customs, like I did from then on. (Note: At the Guinean border, coming from Bamako, this would not have worked. Customs guy checked whether I could use the carnet in Guinea. I could.)

Ivorian visa in Conakry no problem at all. Got a laissez-passer as well. I entered Ivory Coast from N'zékoré to Man, see attached GPS track. Ivorian border crossing up there is a rag tag bunch of thugs (Forces Nouvelles), who had me empty all my bags and made me pay the only bribe I every payed in Africa. They didn't care about the paperwork. In fact, since they were FN, they refused to stamp anything. I got a "Vu à passage" stamp in Douékoué, which was the first town controlled by the Gbagbo central gov't.
Of course, all this might have changed since Ouattara's take over.

The southern route Harper, Liberia to Ivory Coast is different. Bernd S wrote a good post about it in 2010. Just note that on my route in 2010 I was never asked for a Plaque Touristique and the Conakry embassy didn't even know what I meant by that. I got a LP.

Cheers,
Julian


Quote:
Originally Posted by bernd s View Post
We did Harper to Ivory Coast in November 09 with our Landcruiser. Within the rainy season the road to Harper is tough. Some real big mud holes. It should be rough but ok after the rainy season.

The Ferry to Ivory Coast is working. There are even two. One UN (you may need a ordre de mission) and one of a rubber company (10.00 CFA for a car/Landcruiser).

Boarder post on Liberia side was ok. Ivory Coast demanded fees on every desk but after some shorter and some longer discussion we did not pay.

The real problem starts with custom. They do not accept a Carnet de Passage which you may not have anyway. But with a non Ivory Coast registration you need a Plaque de Touristique which is a laissez-passer. But you cannot get it at the boarder post because they need computer and internet to issue it. Therefore you have to go to the port custom in San Pedro. This does not work on week ends and they will not let you go alone. We had hours of discussion but got an escort. We refused to pay anything but another car with a Niger number plate had to accommodate the escorting custom guy plus pay the equivalent of 100US$. The Plaque de Touristique is 30.000CFA and valid for 2 month.

The custom boss in San Pedro confirmed that Carnet de Passage are not accepted and the necessity of the Plaque de Touristique. According to his information the boarder post further north cannot issue it too. So you may have the same story there. The boarder post to Ghana told us that they can do it.

All Checkpoints where asking for the paper. There are a couple of checkpoints till Abidjan, from there to the Ghana border there was none. The staff at the checkpoints tries to do their best to proof the bad reputation of Ivory Coast. They are demanding and annoying but with a bit of African negotiation skills we managed to come through without bribing.
Attached Files
File Type: gpx Nzekore to Man.gpx (222.3 KB, 134 views)
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Old 25 May 2011
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Dave, haven't you done the West Coast already in 2010? Back for more?
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Old 25 May 2011
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I travelled in West Africa in 2003, and more extensively in 2007 and 2008. I am LONGING to go back out there! Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cote Divoire will be new for me so Im doing lots of reserach in anticipation! I am looking very forward to my journey next year (2012).

Inyang said he travelled on the road between Nzerekore and Man last year. He said there were some suspect bridges. We will be driving a 10 tonne truck, so am a little concerned if we can go along this road or not? Were there any bits of this road which would be impassable in a truck?

Thanks you so much for the information, and for the GPS attachment, I sure appreciate it
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Old 26 May 2011
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We will be driving a 10 tonne truck
The road is OK on the Guinean side. Boarder to Danané starts off pretty bad and gets progressively better. With a ten tonne truck... I don't know. With proper ground clearance and some bridge-building on your side... I'm a bad judge of that, I only know bikes.
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Old 26 May 2011
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Dave,

we got the Ivory Coast visa after a bit of begging (again ;-)) within 2 hours in Monrovia.

I am afraid that your biggest problem will be the Ghana visa. According to traveller reports it looks like at the moment they issue just in the country of origin and the embassies follow the guideline. So start early to look for the visa or bring it from home if possible.

I just can recommend taking their requirements for hotel reservation e.g. serious. Expecting a fairly developed and touristy country we did not and where rejected in Monrovia. They are ultra clerks and just used to NGO travellers. The idea of independent tourism didn’t reach their embassy / mind yet.

Regards
Bernd

Ps: Did you find any recent reports / information about travelling through the Ivory Coast at the moment?
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Old 26 May 2011
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Bernd, We have been told that we can still get the Ghana visa in Bamako if we become resident of Mali (a one day procedure). But we are going to save the hassle and get the visa in London before we leave. We will probably get the Cote Divoire visa before we travel also.

Eljulian, thanks for the information on the road. We have very good clearance on our truck as we have swapped the axles and suspension to raise her up she now sits very high. But it all depends on how bad the bridges are.....do you have any photos of the road?

Thanks so much guys I sure appreciate the information.
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Old 26 May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave The Hat View Post
But it all depends on how bad the bridges are.....do you have any photos of the road?
Nope, sorry. No photos.

The bridges weren't too big though. If I remember correctly it was all only little streams, the bridges weren't longer than 1 meter or so, just very rickety.

Julian
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Last edited by eljulian; 26 May 2011 at 17:46. Reason: typo :)
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Old 27 May 2011
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Thnaks Eljulian, sounds promising. I had another email from another biker and he said he took an alternative road that was in better condition. So insha'Allah all will be ok! Worst comes to worst we should be able to drive through the rivers if the bridges are only 1 meter long (well, providing the drop is not too much)!
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Old 17 Jun 2011
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In March/April I went from Banjul by Ziguinchor to Bissau. Then further on to
Gabu, Kandika and Labe. All the way by bush taxi. I spent 3 nights in Ziguinchor and that was too long. The city is not that exciting and I recommend you to combine it with Cap Skiring or an alternative. (And the visa for G.Bissau was done in 30 minutes.)

I saw many chinese on my way from Banjul to Ouagadougou but not alongside the road from Gabu to Labe. No sign of road work 10 weeks ago. Unfortunately. 9 meter long truck.. Definetely possible but it will be a hard journey. The road is not good, expecially between Kandika (border) and Koundara. Our bush taxi left Gabu at 15:00 and arrived Labe at 10:00 the next day. Then we spent 2-3 hours waiting where another car blocked the road in the middle of a creek as well as 3-4 hours in Kounsitel - for the driver to rest. And now the rainy season has started up...

Let me also mention that the road from Bissau to Gabu is perfect. High speed all the way.

Apropos Fouta Djalon, I recommend you to make a stop in Dalaba. A beautiful city on the top of some hills. More relaxed than Labe.
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