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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 26 Jan 2009
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What are the best months to travel from Moroco to Ghana in a 4x4??

Hi everyone!!
I am preparing my trip from Morocco to Ghana in a 4x4.
In the beginning I was thinking to start the trip in April or May 2009, but after reading some of the messages of the forum I stayed with the idea that it may not be the best period…..can you help with this doubt and tell me what are the best periods to do this trip please?!!
Thank you for your help,
Formiga
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  #2  
Old 26 Jan 2009
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Depends which way you are going???? The 'normal' route via Mali etc or via the coast?

Personally I'd go in December gently, by the time you hit Mali/Burkina you should get the cool breeze of the harmattan ... and as you go south it should follow you!

You might hit the rains come May or so ...

Kira
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  #3  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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Is it advisable to start before December??

Hi Kira!!

I was thinking to do Moroco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Brukina and Ghana............after May the best month to start the trip is December or is it possible to start before??

Thank you for your help!!

Formiga
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  #4  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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Hi Formiga,

earlier is possible but depends on how sensible you are to heat. We did Mauritania, Mali, Gambia two times in October / November. It is extremely hot and further South you may still experience the last rains and depending on the route muddy roads. If already dried up the dirt roads are probably still not graded but nothing will really stop you. You also have the option to reach Ghana basically on tarmac even this is probably not very adventures.

We will continue from Gambia further South in October which is considering the rainy season also to early.

Enjoy your trip we may see us on the road.

Regards
Bernd
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  #5  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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I'm with Bernd, setting off in October would be good, still enjoy sunshine & warm-ish nights in Morocco and if you take it slow then you might arrive as the rains stop - HOWEVER, the rains kept going this year, I was suprised how hot & humid Cote d'Ivoire was this December, same in Ghana apparently! The harmattan was late in coming (arrived last week - just as I left!)

As for muddy roads etc, if you stick to the main route, it's all tarred ... but I would think that you'll probably want to go off-piste in places ... so as Bernd says you'll encounter some interesting tracks!

Leaving in May, you'll cook for one thing especially in S.Morocco/W.Sahara & Mauri!

Kira
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  #6  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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April or later?

Hello Formiga,

I agree with Bernd and Kira and yes, late March/April is hottest time on Ghana coast (I notice that harmattan has ended in Accra a couple of days ago, winds have returned to SW).

However rains come to the coast in May, though a few weeks later in north (BF, Mali etc) so, if you can take the heat I say go for it in April or even early May.

Good Luck,

Peter
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  #7  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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Harmattan has ended in Ghana??? It only arrived in Abidjan last Wednesday - it's 'cold' apparently - over a phone call last night ...

Kira
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  #8  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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It can be done

We did a very similar route last year at that very time and really had no problems, it doesn,t rain every day even in the rainy season,
Its tarmac most of the way and we were on 2 XT600 yams,
If you do it don,t miss the Fouta Djalon mountains in Guinea in the rainy season, quite spectacular mate and nobody there it was great
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  #9  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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Definite thumbs up for Guinea in general, the countryside is astounding all over ... keep an eye on the press with the future of my acquaintance; Moussa Camara as president!!!

If you go to Guinea, then you should really see Cote d'Ivoire, also gorgeous & very varied!

Kira
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  #10  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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Harmattan winds (and haze and chill) vary yearly, weekly and geographically. I'm no expert, but I've seen fine conditions in December, then gone back the following year and been hardly able to breath or see. Last month I was a few hundred kilometers from Kira and while she had torrential rain but otherwise good visibility (correct me if I'm wrong, Kira), we had harmattan haze right from the outset (Dec. 14th when I arrived) and through to my departure (Jan 6th). I took no worthwhile photos of the mountains in eastern Ghana and Togo, and mainly dim, moody, atmospheric shots elsewhere. If I'd been more enchanted with the idea of myself as a photographer, I'd have been deeply distressed.

Previously, I once had trouble leaving Accra in early January: the visibility was so bad that VFR rules prevented flights. In the end, the international airlines cancelled flights, but little Bellaire flew regardless.

The motto of the story: don't get too hung up on specific goals and expectations, and if you don't like what you encounter just move on. Over-planning can ruin a trip as easily as being under-prepared.

In response to the original question, all else being equal I'd try to get through Morocco and the desert as early as I thought I could tolerate the heat, in order to enjoy West Africa before the intensifying humidity and heat of March, April, May. Of course, mileages vary.

Hope that helps.

Mark
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  #11  
Old 27 Jan 2009
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Mark

I'm shocked, we were sweating it out in CI for weeks, the whole 5 weeks I was there & I 'presumed' that Ghana was receiving similar weather! Sam arrived from Dakar as you know leaving behind 21 degrees in mid-late December and was suffering with the heat in CI ... I spoke to a lot of people who were all moaning about the heat and all agreed that it had been much kinder the year before!

Incredible that along the same coast that the weather changes so much; currently in Bassam & Abidjan they are feeling the 'cold' which obviously left Accra a fortnight ago and moved its way westwards to hit CI last week!

Seriously astonished!

Kira
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  #12  
Old 28 Jan 2009
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Whoops, sorry Kira: guess I wasn't clear. We had haze, bad visibility, breathing difficulties.....but it was still hotter than usual. While you were having rain, we just had heat and the *threat* of rain. Then, just before I left, the skies finally opened up a time or two. People said this was weird, too--way too early.

We may be using the term "harmattan" differently. In Ghana, some people said it had arrived early this year, while others insisted "This is not the harmattan; that doesn't happen until next month or March." In my limited experience, it doesn't get "cold" along the southern gulf; it just gets hotter and more humid, with accompanying bad visibility, into April and May and the beginning of the rains. But maybe this is more of a local and/or unpredictable phenomenon, too.

Having confused the issue further, I'm off to find some Mexican pesos. Tomorrow I'm headed south again.

enjoy,

Mark
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