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  #1  
Old 28 Jul 2010
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Question on Benin-Nigeria Border Crossings

Hi everyone,

We are currently in Lome, Togo after having my bike fixed and are heading to Benin this weekend. After that we will be crossing into Nigeria and were wondering if anyone can tell us what the current state of the roads at either the Ketou or Nikki crossings are specifically for a pair of large motorbikes (BMW F800GS and Honda Transalp) ridden by two average motorcyclists?

Thanks

Adrian & Isabel North
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  #2  
Old 29 Jul 2010
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Hi
In January 2010 I took the following route:

- Crossed into Nigeria some 200 km north of Cotonou at Ketou: Remote, easy, then 130 km to Abeokuta, some serious potholes, 52 checkpoints on 100km, no corruption, most of them were friendly, had to stop many times, no fun,
- Abeokuta to Benin City: many potholes and checkpoints, they ask for money, just don’t pay
- One only finds fuel in big cities, long queues but foreigners are treated preferentially
- Benin City to Ikom: Many potholes, 80 km before Ikom: 30 km of bad piste, corrupt police, hundreds of checkpoints
- Ekok to Mamfe: Horrible piste, it took me 3 hours for 70 km, one of the most difficult pistes of Africa

Have a safe trip
Albert
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  #3  
Old 3 Aug 2010
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The Ketou crossing is fine, tarred all the way. Border officials were OK, no demands for money.

Benin customs is in the town 15k before the border in the house next the (probably unmanned) checkpoint along the main road, immigration is at the border.

I got Niara at the market just before the border, at a pretty good rate, actually.

Nigerian immigration/customs are just behind the border, down a dirt path, just ask around. Make sure to ask for a full month on your Nigerian visa, otherwise they might cut it down to 10 days or something like that.

There are PLENTY of checkpoints along the road to Abeokuta, you might want to simply speed through a few of them.

And BE CAREFUL, Nigerian roads are crazy dangerous.

Julian
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  #4  
Old 3 Aug 2010
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I crossed into Nigeria from Ketou a couple of weeks ago - yes the road is good to Abeokuta but lots of checkpoints - no problems though and most just want to chat or waved me through. Road as far a Ibadan is good.
Ibadan to Mokwa - potholed and very busy with trucks but tarmac'd.
Mokwa to Abuja - tarmac, not so busy, not many potholes.

If crossing into Cameroon, road from Ikom to the border is tarmac and good. From Ekok (border) to Mamfe, the road is bad but certainly passable.
If heading to Cameroon highlands - 10km after Basuo-Akagba the tarmac ends and is dirt road to Batido (35km before Bamenda).... tough going but again passable.

Enjoy Nigeria - I loved it!!
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Old 4 Aug 2010
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The rule for Nigeria is: go north young man!

Head up to the north of Benin, a nice easy drive and do the crossing via Parakou/Nikki etc.

Customs is done on the Benin side before the border (Nikki?) and all the rest done at the border at both sides. When you come out of formalities on the Nigerian side ask to change money at the shops right outside. I changed some CFA that way.

Then down the sealed road for a while and then head left on the bad piste towards New Bussa, and then straight across to Abuja. Hardly any checkpoints, mostly all friendly and helpful.

Of the 12 or so parties who I know have done Nigeria in the last 8 months only those who went south of this HAD SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH THE POLICE (guns pulled etc).

Those who did the route described above, or came in from Niger had a easy time. There really are not many checkpoints as you go north etc. I had minimal hassle.

The Sheraton hotel in Abuja lets you camp for free way out the back by the dog kennels, hot shower in the air conned squash courts, good Chinese bakery outside and up the hill to the left. Money changers also outside.

Good luck, it certainly is a country with a lot boiling under the surface.
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Old 6 Aug 2010
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Quote:
There are PLENTY of checkpoints along the road to Abeokuta, you might want to simply speed through a few of them.
Agreed, but take a little care in doing this.

I have had a nail board or two kicked out in front of my tyres when running these checkpoints. I also know of one instance where officers at one checkpoint called ahead to a later checkpoint to stop a fellow HUBBer who had just run the previous checkpoint.

As RoamingYak sensibly suggested, the north of Nigeria is far more relaxed without the hassle of the southern checkpoints.
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Old 7 Aug 2010
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Agree with Matt on speeding through checkpoints.... I tried on my bike at the first one and half way up the next hill was being pulled over by two cars and shouted at by very angry immigration/police guys. Once I'd gone back and done the formalities they were all very pleasant though. And I was only able to speed through because two wheel (bicycle) fit easily between the verge and the nailboards - a car/4x4 would have to stop unless you wanted shreded tyres!
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Old 19 Aug 2010
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Originally Posted by Matt Roach View Post
Agreed, but take a little care in doing this.

I also know of one instance where officers at one checkpoint called ahead to a later checkpoint to stop a fellow HUBBer who had just run the previous checkpoint.
…they used mobile phones to warn them I was coming and I had ran through all the checkpoints, some banged the boards on the ground as I rode pass shouting... There is usually some space to the side for a bike to ride through unless they’re waiting or unless you in a group and don't all get through. After a 20min standoff with these jokers showing various IDs, no weapons involved, while I stayed on the bike and refusing to give them my passport (they can then demand money to get your passport back) but instead showed them it from my hands then I handed over a photocopy and they wrote down my border visa details (There was lots of shouting from them). So maybe take some extra photocopies of your passport with you…?

Be careful with these guys as some would push the board in front of you! Also be careful of the many many lorries on the road and be prepared to exit for some safe offroading! I was pushed off the road a few times in Nigeria, Ibadan direct north was mental about 70-80km of noise to tail lorries (might is right). I never had any problems with the police or security peeps in Nigeria, except the hassle of getting stopped so often and eating into your daily kms, left via Ikom after Abuja...
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Old 24 Aug 2010
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Lightbulb

Just my two cents; I'm in Calabar now, waiting for my visa for Cameroon (CFA 51,000 with no hassle whatsoever, same-day service), having just crossed Nigeria. First of all: loved the country - scenery is spectacular, most people are extremely friendly (and for me, speaking English was quite a relief after francophone Africa). So, here's my story:

- Got my visa in Benin with A LOT of hassle (actually, first I had to go through two days of hassling for my Benin visa-extension, but that's another story). My embassy (Netherlands) wouldn't write me a letter of introduction, so after many phonecalls between embassies and my going to-and-fro on zemidjans the people at the Nigerian embassy got tired of me and asked me to write a letter declaring that I would be the only one responsible for my safety during my transit through Nigeria. So, an hour later I collected my passport with a visa valid for two (!) weeks.

- From Benin to Nigeria I took the Ketou bordercrossing, which turned out to be really relaxed; accidentally didn't stop at neither the Benin, nor the Nigerian side, and the guy at the first checkpoint got on the back of my bike (on my luggage) and directed to the immigration office a few kms down a small dirt road. No problem getting my passport and carnet stamped.

- From the border to Abeokuta got stopped A LOT; no hassle, just small-talk and a lot of "You're welcome!" and "Hello white man!". All these checkpoints do have nailboards and use them on bikes (seen it happen, ouch), so it's propably better to just endure and stop at most of them.

- From Abeokuta to Benin City was a whole different story. Superhighway half of the way, other half supermudway. Aweful riding, not too many checkpoints, most of them even directed me to cut in front of the cue and go on.

- Benin City to Aba is tarmac all the way with just a few rough sections. Like on the road to Benin City, not too many checkpoints; on the bike I got into the habit of passing them alongside a minivan, staying in their blindspot until it was too late to stop me (only got stopped three times, twice by extremely friendly soldiers both warning me for Aba, once by angry policemen requesting me to open all my bags - told them I was already searched in Abeokuta, and when a truck drew their attention I got away)

- Aba to Calabar (same day) must have been the worst chapter of this trip so far; the first checkpoint, right after a horrible watercrossing (sandy ground, water to above my ankles), a policeman cocked his kalashnikov at me - no fun. He stopped me, and started explaining that he would arrest the machine {sic}. He seemed serious, and only after half and hour of bargaining did his collegue come saying something like 'He's just a tourist' and could I ride on. I had to speed up from here to reach Calabar before dark. A lot of checkpoints on the following 20kms, but just a few of them actually stopped me - having no idea what a tourist was ("then, what is your business in Calabar?" "obtaining a visa for cameroon and travelling on" "who's your business associate?" "nobody, I'm just a tourist" "terrorist?" - well, you get the gist). But one friendly checkpoint policeman explained the hassle around this town - a lot of disturbances and kidnaps in the previous weeks; oops. Still, got to Calabar before dark no further problems and 80% tarmac roads up to there.

So, at least to Abeokuta this side of Nigeria poses no problems. The real hassle only starts after Benin City, and only at Aba is it that it starts getting really tedious. $0.02.

Mike
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