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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 17 Apr 2010
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Route Abuja to Yaounde?

Currently in Abuja, leaving for Yaounde Sun or Mon.

But not sure best route, through Nigeria but probably more relevant is the way into Cameroon. Ekok/Mamfe seems the obvious way, but am I right in thinking this is horrendously muddy? Thinking maybe Abong/Nkambe as I'd like to do at least half of the loop north of Bamenda (is it worth it?).

I'm on a 1200 so could do without TOO much deep mud!
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  #2  
Old 17 Apr 2010
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I came through Ikok/Mamfe about a month ago which turned out to be the last dry day before serious rain started (it is rainy season now). I was in a landy, left Ikok at 7am, in Mamfe at 1pm including the border.

It then rained for 8 hours overnight. 3 Spanish tried to come through the next day in a Seat minivan and took 4 days to do 7km before conceding defeat and paying 300,000CFA to get a truck to get them to Mamfe. The truck also got badly stuck. A Lithuwathian on a small Kawasaki got through ok, slowly, slowly with plenty of soft falls (no speed).

So dry is easy, wet presents serious problems.

On a bike you will have to push through the mud and water, there are a few steep hills, but you won't get hopelessly stuck, nor be in Mamfe at 1pm!

Google others experiences and you will get an idea: Chris Bright etc

The first 30km is the worst, it gets easier from there...
ekok mamfe road - Recherche Google

I hope your enjoying the Sheraton anyway ;-)

PS: Within the next two years the road will be sealed by the way - well, according to the Chinese I spoek with in Mamfe anyway. Plans for a highway through to Accra etc. The road to Bamenda from Mamfe is being upgraded/sealed now.
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  #3  
Old 18 Apr 2010
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Thanks Yak.

So I guess I'll have to give the Ikok/Mamfe route a shot - but my bike is NOT a lightweight Kawasaki! But sure I can do better than a mini-van...

But it would be nice to know whether the entry point north of the "ring road" is do-able, not just to avoid Ikok/Mamfe, but because I hear it's nice.

I'm not at the Sheraton actually, camping or otherwise, I'm in a more modest hotel where the President of one of Abuja's bike clubs stays :-) Getting a bit too "at home" though! Probably hit the road early Tuesday.
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Old 18 Apr 2010
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If I remember correctly the ring road crossing isn't really a crossing and involved a boat across the river etc etc. It would be doing it the hard way in the rainy season, maybe not the best combination, but I'm happy to look at the pictures of you struggling to do it ;-p

Google the names as I found a blog of some who went through there.... and I may be talking bollocks on that one ;-)

Say Hi to the bikers club guys - was at the Sheraton when they bought a bike of a Spanish guy a month or so ago.....
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Old 19 Apr 2010
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OK, think I'll settle for Ekok then in that case!

Guess the bike was a white XR600 off a guy who got malaria AND typhoid(?)? It turned up here y'day...
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Old 19 Apr 2010
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"Guess the bike was a white XR600 off a guy who got malaria AND typhoid(?)? It turned up here y'day..."

Yes, that is the chap - the final straw was having malaria and typhoid and then the Nigerian policemen pulling him over with a machine gun pointed at his face (they entered too far south, near lagos etc). Quite rightly he thought I could be smoking dope on the beach in Barcelona instead of this ;-p

His friends have managed to get their Seat Minivan to Ponte Noire the last I heard - 4 days to do 7km on the Ekok/Mamfe road. Ended up paying 500 Euros to get a truck to come and get them out, putting the Seat on the back. Truck got badly stuck coming to get them, turning around and going back. I backed up their video files on my laptop. Reminds me (in a black humour way) of the line in a Faith No More song: "It's always funny until somebody gets hurt, and then it's just hilarious!"

They really suffered on that road, the guy who bailed in Abuja made a good decision ;-p

Enjoy!
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Old 19 Apr 2010
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Thanks Yak, that's made me look forward to the mud a whole lot more ;-) Leaving town in the morning, feels like starting a fresh trip - I'll make sure I've got plenty of Euros to hand for the recovery services! Passed on your "Hi" to Stanley, didn't see the rest of the boys tonight.
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Old 23 Apr 2010
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Hey Yak, I left Ekok at 4:00 and reached Mamnfe at just after 5:30 (inc checkpoints + photos) - they'd recently graded the road, it was a joy to ride :-) In fact started the day at Makurdi. But I could see a lot of slurry in the run-off ditches, I'm sure it can still get slippery. But like you say, not long and there'll be a high-speed road there. To be honsest, I can't believe they haven't managed it before, it is or could be after all a major route - and not just for us guys! But I was told in Mamfe that the road to Bamenda was "excellent" - I think they got their tenses muddled up! But got there for lunch anyhow.

I mentioned at one of the CP's about the Spanish guys in the Seat, and they remembered - asked me how I knew!
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Old 25 Apr 2010
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^ Ian, is the Ekok-Mamfe section ow that good that you can drive it in 1.5 hours??

So have they filled in all the major holes ready to lay foundations for a sealed road? Chinese project?

Would love to see some photos. Ive done that road twice and can say it was one of the best memories I have of West Africa.
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Old 25 Apr 2010
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Dave, I think the grader goes up and down every so often, but it only takes a few rains and large trucks for the holes to start again.

But yes, Chinese all over the place up there. The Mamfe/Bamenda road is currently being 'destroyed to save it' - my Chinese wasn't good enough to figure out if they were making it a good graded piste or asphalt, but I suspect asphalt.

Then Mamfe/Ikok is planned.

Shame (for us traveller types) when Europe to South Africa is all sealed - mass tourism always seems to make places worse to visit. Though I guess the reputation of a few of the countries will put off many.

The Seat passed out in Angola and is now scrap. One guy was on a motorbike, so the couple in the van bought a 500 Euro Chinese motorbike and were in Windhoek the last I heard. Well done guys!! They deserve a Charlie and Ewan reception if they make it to Cape Town ;-)
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Old 25 Apr 2010
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It seems that the new road is going a less meandering route. There were large swathes of trees felled, ready for the road - but looked like they'd been felled awhile. This picture sort of shows the existing and new route off to the right, but not as well as I'd hoped:



The worst bit was only this:



Left Ekok at 4:00 on the dot, arrived in Mamfe at 5:37 - I looked! Wasn't racing, but I was "enjoying myself"!

Tonight in Yaounde, visa shopping in the morning for Gabon & DRC.

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Old 25 Apr 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roamingyak.org View Post
Shame (for us traveller types) when Europe to South Africa is all sealed - mass tourism always seems to make places worse to visit. Though I guess the reputation of a few of the countries will put off many.
Agreed.

Though I have to admit I didnt always enjoy the road at the time, you do look back and remember the journey fondly. I guess if it improves trade oppurtunites for the Cameroonians then I cant argue with that. There will always be other fun roads out there. I think Liberia/Guinea/Sierra Leone will have similar roads to tackle when I get there.

Thanks for the photos Ian, really appreciate it.
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Old 26 Apr 2010
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Ian,
Ekok Mamfe in your picture is like the a freeway compared to the last time I passed there .

Dave,
Don't worry, they could always start a war and stop developing the roads so 'travelers' will have a challenge to ride. You better do Guinea fast though, we passed through some really horrible sections coming in from Senegal to Labe then leaving Guinea (Nzerekore) to CI (Danane) last week, but work has already started at the Tambacounda to Koundara section.

Oh, Chinese again.
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  #14  
Old 26 Apr 2010
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Inyang,

Could you tell me if the road between Nzerekore and Danane is possible to drive in a truck?

I hope to travel from Conakry to Nzerekore following Mamou, Faranah, Kissidougou, Macenta, Nzerekore (I understand this road is mostly tarmac).

But from Nzerekore to Danane (Cote Divoire).....is the road very bad? I imagine if the rains are very heavy the road could be a problem? Also, do the border guards on the Cote Divoire side present big problems? Are they particularly corrupt?

Thanks Inyang, there is little up-to-date information on this route, so I really appreciate your advice.
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Old 30 Apr 2010
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Route
Nzerekore to Lola is a modern highway, Lola to Nzoo ( the Guinea/CI border) doable in a truck, after the border, the 52km to Danane may be a challenge. Lots of bridges have collapse along that route, some are ok to drive past but a couple have logs that we barely were able to ride over and on a truck??

We did not see any car/truck/four wheel plus vehicle over the entire 52km and we spent more than 4 hours including immigration processing along it.

Officials:
On the Guinea side, a couple of checkpoints, should not be a problem, the Gendarme captain at the Guinea side did a long speech after stamping our passports, bottom line was give a donation if you want, you do not have.

CI side, soldiers manning checkpoints till Danane and onto Man, and they are supposed to be the rebel soldiers! Even the plain-clothe guys around were off duty soldiers.

Anyway, we were taxed 30,000CFA per person but bargained down to 50,000CFA for four people, we paid an aditional 30,000CFA for a soldier and bike to escort us to Danane to get our passports stamped and lassier passer issued. The 30,000 CFA was worth it considering the route condition and the checkpoints that would have delayed us further. Each checkpoint commander actually called back to the border to confirm we passed through there (they confirmed no. of persons and mode of transport), then called the commander at Danane to confirm he approved our coming before letting us go, and this with the soldier escort!

From Danane to Man, three more checkpoints, all army again, only the one at Man held us for some time, checked back with Danane again, then called some commander, we were escorted to a hotel by 2 soldiers. Left next morning no problems. Close to Yamoussokro the checkpoints were now manned by regular Gendarme so we figured we out of rebel territory.

After Danane, the checkpoint asked for our vehicle papers plus passport but it only took 5 mins average per stop.

From the Guinea border to Man, almost all the soldiers (including their officers) were youngish, I will guess below 30 and maybe one person will be able to speak some English.
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