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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 6 Jun 2008
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Tarmac from Morroco to The Gambia?

A mate of mine tells me it is possible to travel from Western Sahara to Banjul without leaving tarmac?

Is it now possible to travel down the West Coast of North Africa to Banjul in The Gambia without leaving tarmac? My experience of African roads is that most of the good ones are remnants from British and French colonial days (mostly built by the military). Most are now falling apart which is a great shame. The Africans simply don't seem to have the interest, funds or knowhow to maintain the things once they are constructed. If this is now possible then let's hope the road is properly maintained in the years to come.

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Old 6 Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by kentfallen View Post
A mate of mine tells me it is possible to travel from Western Sahara to Banjul without leaving tarmac?

Is it true. Is it now possible to travel down the West Coast of North Africa to Banjul in The Gambia without leaving tarmac? If so then I'm seriously impressed!...The Africans simply don't seem to have the interest, funds or knowhow to maintain the things once they are constructed...

I can't decide whether I want to argue with your 'tarmac the wilderness and make it more convenient' cowardice or your 'Africans, from Libya to South Africa, are idiots' racism. They're just both so tempting. I'll have a and then decide...
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Old 6 Jun 2008
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I have no idea what an earth you're going on about my friend. I'm merely pointing out a FACT regarding most African roads. I was born in Nigeria in 1963 (to English parents) and until 1982 resided in Banjul. My experience is that the best roads were constructed in Colonial times. These roads are now falling apart. Most large buildings in Africa once built are usually not maintained which results in them falling apart. I regret to say many negative things like this hapen in Africa. How can it be racist to talk about these things? The local Police in many African countries are corupt but in your world we can't discuss it. It makes no sense at all. You need to grow up.

I have travelled extensively all over Africa. In 1995 I rode from South Africa to Angola.

You know nothing about me if you did you would accuse me of being a coward or a racist - In 1993 (new years honours) I was awarded a BEM for work I did during civil conflict in Sierra Leone.

It looks as though you have a very large chip on your shoulder. It was not my intent to upset anyone, all I wanted to know is if it is possible to travel from Morroco to Banjul on tarmac. My mate told me is was now possible... What has that got to do with cowardice? I wasn't suggesting it was a good idea I was only asking if it is possible...

I suggest you have a few s and things will become clearer...
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Old 6 Jun 2008
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It's all sealed apart from 5km or so between the Western Sahara and Mauri border posts. The Mauri road to Noackchott is all new and quite impressive.

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Old 7 Jun 2008
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Cecil Rhodes was born in Africa...

Too easy. You made the decision for me by adding 'not just roads, but buildings too, cannot be maintained by Africans, by anyone from Durban to Dakar, from Alexandria to Abijan'. To state that a race are stupid, less capable than another race - remind me what that means again?

So - celebrating the convenient cowardice of tarmac from Maroc to the Gambia. You said 'I'm seriously impressed - let's hope the road is properly maintained for years to come'. Then edited your post after I'd replied to it. This is a public forum, and I chose to disagree publicly with your celebration. The Atlantic Route to Nouackcott used to be an amazing adventure - now it's a bus-lane. The planet is slightly less interesting than it was. Whoop it up for progress...

Suerte, Dan

PS Tim, don't worry, it won't look like that for long. Africans will break it.
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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Hi kentfallen,

it is true that there is now tarmac all the way to Banjul or Bamako.

Africa is progressing: even in Angola there was much more tarmac, this year, than I expected.

I assume that this is thanks to the Chinese, who are trading infrastructure vs. influence all over the African continent.

For the Africans this is probably a better form of colonialism than the previous versions (European or later "Cold War" colonialism).

For the Adventure traveller, it means less fun - or opting for secondary roads more often.

P.S.: I agree that without any foreign maintenance, technical achievements tend to fall apart quickly in sub-saharan Africa. That part of their culture remains underdeveloped. Just like the discussion culture of Dan23.
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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Dan, If you care so much about the local peoples of West Africa why do you take the line that this new road is a bad thing? Surely this road is to be welcomed as it will allow the locals to trade easily with their neighbours. I simply don't understand your "warped" and bitter mindset. I shall leave you to read your copy of the "Guardian" in peace and serenity... Oh and Cecil Rhodes was instrumental in the abolision of slavery too, I suggest you get your facts from another less biggoted source!

Thank you for clarifying the matter (Tim and Travelbug).

Well it looks like my mate was indeed right, there is tarmac right down the West coast of Africa!

I too am seriously impressed with this considerable achievement. Well done to ALL concerned with it's construction. As you say Travelbug, I imagine the road was planned, financed and built by Chinese or European bankers. I wonder if the UN also had a hand in it's inception?

For hard nosed offroad adventurers like "Travelbug" I guess this is dissappointing news but for the local peoples of West Africa this is to be welcomed. It will enable them to trade easily with other countries in the region. I just hope that the road will be properly maintained and repaired in years to come? I guess thats the BIG question...

It will certainly open the road up to cowards like me too...
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Last edited by kentfallen; 7 Jun 2008 at 11:37.
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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It seems nowadays that any comment whatsoever aimed at Africa and Africans is deemed to be racist.
Too many words in this day and age have been devalued and misinterpreted. For example, the word tragedy. It's a tragedy what is happening in Zimbabwe because of Mugabe and his policies. It is not a tragedy that a certain football team lost.

To say that the new roads wont be maintained isn't racism, it's just a fact.
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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Mark,

Indeed your words are the words of true wisdom...
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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so how far on tarmac?

Quite interesting tread, but I dont really want to get involved in all this tit for tat sniping at each other.

A related question:

How far can you go on tarmac along the west coast route down to south africa? If you can get to Bamako then does this mean that Angola is the only part left where there you are forced off tarmac?

James
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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so how far on tarmac?

Interesting question, which I cannot answer in total, as I have only done two thirds of Transafrica (Western Route, missing Lagos to Luanda) and some of it voluntarily on bad secondary roads.

Coming from Morocco, it looks to me like you can continue on relatively good tarmac via Bamako through Burkina onwards to Cotonou and then through Nigeria.

From all my preparations for the remainder of my trip, it seems like there is tough roads when entering Cameroon and then again in both Congos and Northern Angola. Please correct me, if I am wrong.

Pretty soon, there will be entirely tarmac from Luanda to Capetown. Currently it's still tough parts between Benguela and Lubango. And potholed till the Santa Clara Border to Namibia.
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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If you'd said 'New tarmac in Mauritania, but I can't see those corrupt, callous bastards who run that broken country spending money or time on maintenance', I'd have agreed. But you didn't - you painted clumsy broad-strokes, meaningless generalisations, and I responded.

I'm done here. Have the last word if you like. When I'm attracting cheap insults from a copper and a car-driver with a really expensive watch, I know I'm doing something right.

Suerte, Dan
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"a copper and a car-driver with a really expensive watch"
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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Africa is not a country nor a region...its the Western name of a continent...any attempt to generalize beyond that may be futile...

Also since when is a road, a sign of progress? Who gets to make the judgment call and define the criteria for that one?!?!?

Considering the breadth of experience of folks within this travel forum, its a good place to have a discussion about our travel experiences...but lets not get too presumptuous or judgmental

PS TO the OP, the recent road between NDB to Noakchott is smooth and perfect...but be wary of sand creeping on the road if you're on 2 wheels...BUT be careful of no-man's land between Morocco and Mauri...Land mines are around the unpaved piste...
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Old 7 Jun 2008
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Smile re: how far on tarmac

travelbug, I'm in the same boat as you, I have driven the west coast route, but did lots of voluntary off roading (the congo fiasco wasnt voluntary tho!) along the way, so dont really know how much could be done on just tarmac.

The Nigeria/Cameroun border was a bit unavoidable, but I dont know what it is like crossing further north. Congo Brazzaville and DRC can both be done tarmac only I think.

maybe the answer is to get a bike that forces you not to go off road (ducati 1098r anyone? ) and see where that takes you.

I did meet a french couple in Ouaga trying to do the west coast route in a coach, with a TLC troopy on a trailer. I dont know how they got on, but surely they were not going to stray too far from the gudron.

Has anyone tried this route tarmac only? Does this somehow go against the HU spirit?
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