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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA



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  #1  
Old 24 Apr 2023
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Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route

The plan is to ride from Northampton, UK to South Africa following the West Coast route. The East Coast route is currently a non starter due to war in Sudan and problems in Ethiopia. The journey started in March 2023. I'll try and post as much information on border formalities, visas and other paperwork issues as possible.
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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This is my second attempt at riding Africa, North to South. Started in Northampton, UK on 20 March 2023. Last year I rode solo down to Dakar and back (October 2022) so for me the first part of the journey is something I've already done. This year I've joined up with my fellow traveller Richard and the whole route is new to him. We're hoping to make it to South Africa. Learning from last year, there are a few things we are doing differently this year. First up is visas. The Ghana and Nigeria visas are very difficult to get so we set ourselves the target of getting them before leaving the UK. It's not easy and required lots of form filling, online applications, hundreds of pounds in fees and personal visits to consulate offices in London. Anyway, we managed to get the Ghana and Nigerian visas and then the trip was on. Richard decided to do a tour of Morocco which I wasn't interested in as I'd done it last year so we agreed to meet in Agadir before starting our ride South together.
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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The ride to Agadir is straight forward, through France and Spain. Ferry from Algeciras to Tanger Port. Moroccan border procedures are easy. Just turn up. Immigration is done on the ferry. Customs on exiting the port. Customs just need the registration document and issue a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) which takes the form of a credit card sized piece of paper. On exiting the port there are cash machines and an insurance office. Just buy your Moroccan insurance and you're good to go. From memory it was about 65 Euro for 10 days insurance. The roads in Morocco are fine, there are plenty of hotels and frequent fuel stations, just like riding in Europe. I stopped in Rabat and next day continued down to Agadir to meet Richard
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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Next day we rode down to Laayoune. Laayoune is a real gem. Nice city centre hotel surrounded by clean streets, banks, shops etc. Even a McDonald's. Laayoune is in Western Sahara. It's politically sensitive but suffice to say the Moroccans control it and for all intents and purposes you're in Morocco so no border formalities. Next day we rode down to Dakhla which is a well known Kite surfing hangout. It's a fantastic ride, the roads are good with desert and ocean views. Next day we went to Bir Gandouz. There is nothing there but a fairly run down hotel which didn't have flushing toilets or AC. The staff are friendly and let us park the bikes inside the courtyard for the night. It's a good staging post for entering Mauritania. The plan was to avoid going to Nouadhibou. I went there last year and found it's a place best avoided. Instead we planned to cross the border and go straight to Nouakchott.
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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The border crossing is ok, you just clear out of Morocco then ride across No Mans land to Mauritania. There you need to see Immigration, police, customs, money changers and insurance people. If you don't speak French or Arabic it may be worth using a fixer. The ride from the border to Nouakchott is fine. The road has had significant improvement work done since last year and most of it is fine. Nouakchott itself is a revelation and quite chaotic. Africa effectively starts in Mauritania! We arrived late in the evening and the hotel we planned on staying at was full. It took a while to find another and we were worn out by the time we checked in.

A lesson from last year, don't book a hotel based on the online photos and don't pre pay as some of the advertised hotels are derelict and the hotel booking sites won't refund even though the booking is fraudulent. After check in we went to fill up with fuel and get the bikes ready for an early start the next day.
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Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-20230329_123639.jpg  


Last edited by Posttree; 24 Apr 2023 at 14:33.
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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Next day we were up early, hoping to get out of town before it got too busy and hot. We didn't really succeed on either of those but eventually we were on the open road. The ride to the border was tough, just because of the heat. It got up to 43'c and there was just no escape from the sun beating down. We chose the Diama border based on the reports of corruption and scams at Rosso. I went through Diama last year and it's a mess but manageable. Last year the dirt road to Diama was in a bad state and progress was slow. This year I was surprised to find the road has been repaired. It is still dirt but at times were managing 60mph with no problems. On the way you enter a national park where a guard collects 200 ouguiya. This is legitimate and he issues a receipt. The border is not far away. At the border you go into the Mauritanian offices and clear out of Mauritania then ride across the bridge over the river. First thing you have to do is pay the bridge fee in CFA so you need a money changer. You don't need to find one, they will find you! The exchange rate isn't the best but they are at the border and offer a great service making life easier for travellers so I have no problem with that. They are a friendly bunch and quite helpful too. Once the bridge fee is paid you go on to immigration for passport stamp then customs and insurance. You can get Brown Card insurance which covers lots of West African countries. Can't remember how much it should be. I'm pretty sure we were done by a fixer but that's the life of an overlander I suppose. Once all that is done you're on your way into Senegal. Of course all of this has been done in the baking heat and slow working due to Ramadan. Photo of the road to Diama and approaching the Diama border crossing on the Mauritanian side.
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Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-mauritania-98-no-date.jpg  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-mauritania-100-no-date.jpg  

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Old 24 Apr 2023
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Following a suggestion, I have restarted this as a new thread with a bit more info and will add some photos along the way. Apologies to the reader who made the suggestion, I lost your name when I deleted the previous thread. Send a PM to get in touch. To anybody else reading this, suggestions are welcome and I'll do my best to post updates as we go.

Last edited by Posttree; 24 Apr 2023 at 14:43.
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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From Diama we headed off towards St Louis which is not far away. We found the accommodation on one of the booking sites. Looked OK and was on the outskirts of town. Problem was that it wasn't easy to find. Seemed to be cleverly hidden away down various roads covered in thick soft sand. Not the easiest stuff to ride slowly in. Anyway we found it and checked in. St Louis waterfront has a French colonial feel about it and a restaurant just off the end of the main bridge. Have to smile at the craziness of it all. Small capacity bikes everywhere. A guy came past, facing back talking to his pillion passenger while smoking a cigar out of the corner of his mouth. Just not scene I had expected. Returning to the accommodation later the staff let us park our bikes inside which was reassuring. The plan was to go to Dakar the next morning.
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Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-20221022_180506.jpg  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-20221022_180857.jpg  

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  #9  
Old 24 Apr 2023
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There are a couple of routes from St Louis to Dakar. The coast road is very slow but shorter. The main route runs further inland and although longer in distance is quicker. I did both last year but this year Richard agreed the quicker route would be best. Quicker is a relative term here as it's still a slow road with towns, markets, stalls, speed bumps and most notably corrupt cops. We were duly pulled over. Cop wanted my licence. All our paperwork was 100% in order so I was surprised when he said it wasn't a licence. He's holding it and it clearly is! I then gave him the international one which has bigger pictures on it. Then he said it wasn't a bike licence, then he said it wasn't the correct size bike licence even though there are photos of the categories and it is valid. He then refused to return the documents unless I gave him money and wanted me to go to the police station with him to pay. At this point I let him know that I would have to call the authorities to let them know what was happening and I started dialling. At that point he gave the documents back and we were on our way but it's unpleasant dealing with blatant corruption like that and I was a bit shaken up by it. The rest of the ride to Dakar was slow and I was continually on the look out for corrupt cops. Dakar itself is a crazy place, very busy, poor quality roads and quite chaotic but oddly enough it works. We had booked an apartment on one of the well known online sites. We rode to the location but couldn't find the apartment so we stopped at a supermarket to get some cold drinks. Some very helpful people assisted in making contact with the host. She said she would come and meet us and take us to the apartment. We waited over an hour and she didn't turn up. With local help we contacted her again. She then sent a driver and we were to follow him to the apartment. Fact is the apartment we had booked online didn't exist. We were shown two others in a different part of town, neither of which matched what we had booked so after 4 hours wasted we wrote it off as a complete loss but were now without accommodation. It was also baking hot and humid. We rode around Dakar looking for a few places I could remember from last year before finally stumbling on a very nice beach hotel. A bit more than we intended to spend but at that time of night we just needed a shower and AC. It had been a long day in the heat, traffic and humidity and were were done. We'd regroup in the morning.
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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At the border you get a TIP for 5 days but have to go to customs in Dakar to get the Carnet stamped, they won't do it at the border. We also needed a Guinea visa and the embassy is closed at weekends so we had to wait until Monday. On Monday we hired a car and driver and set off for the customs house. Various officials were unable to help and after some time an official told our driver to go to the other office. Same story there and the driver was told the Customs office for Carnet stamps had recently moved. We drove around some more and came across a different building. That seemed to be the one, unfortunately the officer who stamps Carnets hadn't turned up that day. There were a couple of French guys there when we arrived. Waiting outside next to a sewer in an area infested by flies wasn't fun. The experience was later also shared by some German bikers who turned up so by now there was a queue. Eventually the Carnet guy turned up and opened the office. Well, apparently they can't stamp a Carnet without needing copies of the bike registration and riders passport first so it was off to find a copy centre. That all done the Carnet was stamped into Senegal and we were good to go. Next up was a trip to the Guinea embassy to get the visa. Various form filling, handing over cash etc. and we had a piece of paper which is a permit to enter Guinea. It's not the visa as such, they said we would need to go to Conakry to get the actual visa put in the passport. That proved to be a huge and very costly problem but more of that later.
Next we went to the Cote d'Ivoire embassy for a visa. The request was denied, the visa woman just said no visas are issued for overland travel, we have to fly. That was worrying as there is no other viable route and if she was correct then the trip would fail. We weren't convinced by her information so decided to try again at the embassy in Conakry. We did get Cote d'Ivoire visas in Conakry. Anyway, two out of three ain't bad as Meatloaf said and we had the Carnet stamped and the Guinea visa. Time to return to the very nice seafront hotel for much deserved hops based liquid refreshment.

Last edited by Posttree; 24 Apr 2023 at 20:53.
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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Dakar to Tambacounda

Leaving Dakar was a big day for me. It was new territory that I hadn't ridden before. We set off early heading for Tambacounda. The road out of Dakar is a peage so in pretty good condition. It's slow as there are lots of toll booths. Each only needs a small payment but on a bike it still means getting cash from the side of the tank bag and putting the change away etc. Nothing special to note about this ride except that Tambacounda is not a place covered in hotels. We found the best we could, again the staff were helpful and let us park our bikes in the courtyard. The AC didn't work in my room, there was no ventilation and it was baking hot so not much chance of a good nights sleep. On the street, it was difficult to move as there were always beggars, street hustlers and groups of kids surrounding the bikes. Still it was only for a night and we'd be off early the next day. It was nice to be breaking new ground.
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Posttree View Post
Following a suggestion, I have restarted this as a new thread with a bit more info and will add some photos along the way. Apologies to the reader who made the suggestion, I lost your name when I deleted the previous thread. Send a PM to get in touch. To anybody else reading this, suggestions are welcome and I'll do my best to post updates as we go.

Brilliant - thank you - following along
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Old 24 Apr 2023
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Thanks tjmouse.
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  #14  
Old 25 Apr 2023
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Originally Posted by Posttree View Post
At the border you get a TIP for 5 days but have to go to customs in Dakar to get the Carnet stamped,

I'm confused. One need s a TIP and a carnet when crossing into a country? I thought it was one or the other.

I'm heading down in a little over a month to travel a similar route with a motorcycle as well. I'm still on the fence about getting a carnet. Clearly you think it worth it.

I do appreciate the write-up as I'm hoping to benefit from the experiences of others here.
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Old 25 Apr 2023
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Thanks

I agree. This write-up will be invaluable to me and to others who hope to follow your route in the near future. It is so difficult to find reliable up-to-date information about border crossings from other sources. This is high-quality intel from someone actually doing the trip right now. Thanks very much indeed for sharing your experiences, and stay safe.
Chris.
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