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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

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Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  #1  
Old 28 Apr 2016
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Get from Freetown in Sierra Leone to Accra in Ghana - HELP!

Hello all

Friends of ours are currently ridding through West Africa and hit a bit of a snag and need some help.
They've been denied entry to Liberia (still trying to figure out why; comms SMS via satellite phone are limited).

I am trying to find them an alternative way to get bikes (and themselves (4 people) from Freetown in Sierra Leone to Accra in Ghana.

Research thus far lead me nowhere. Any assistance is very much appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 28 Apr 2016
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If you can't get from Sierra Leone into Liberia, and you don't want to fly from Freetown to Accra, you have one option:

Sierra Leone - Guinea - Mali - Burkina or Iv Coast - Ghana

Reason being - the Guinea/Ivory Coast border is closed.

I'm curious to know why you were denied entry into Liberia? Our groups have crossed without too much hassle in the past.

David.
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  #3  
Old 29 Apr 2016
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Thanks David, much appreciated.

Flying could be an option if we can find them transport that will take bikes.
So far no luck.

Have not heard the reason for the
They were well prepared, had all info and visa ahead of time. Very curious myself.

They are riding back to Freetown now - will take them about 8 hours and then figure out plan B.
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  #4  
Old 29 Apr 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tropics_974 View Post
Flying could be an option if we can find them transport that will take bikes.
I don't think you will have any luck finding an air carrier operating between Lungi airport (Freetown) and anywhere else in west Africa who uses widebody (twin-aisle) aircraft, and you need widebody aircraft to transport motorcycles unless you are willing to carry out serious dis-assembly and crating of the motorcycles.

I spent a year based in Monrovia, flying between Freetown, Monrovia, and Abidjan, and never saw a widebody operating on any regional (Africa to Africa) routes, reason being that there's just not enough traffic density.

We in the air transport sector used to joke that the fastest way to get from one capital city in Africa to another capital city in Africa was to change planes in Paris - I'm afraid that rather grim joke is still true.

Michael
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  #5  
Old 29 Apr 2016
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Thanks Michael.
Any experience, thoughts or recommendation on travelling by boat or ferry?

I am trying to find stories online and on this forum, but not having much luck.
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Old 29 Apr 2016
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No, I am sorry I have no knowledge of marine sector transportation along the Gulf of Guinea.

There are 'coasters' that operate between major adjacent ports, for example, Freetown and Monrovia, but I think they are just "A to B and then back to A again" operations, in other words, I don't think they ply between more than just two ports, this due to issues arising from cabotage restrictions imposed by the various countries.

You might be able to find sea freight service between Sierra Leone and a port further east such as somewhere in Nigeria, but if you do, I think it is unlikely that the ship will offer passenger service, and I would be very reluctant to to ship a valuable object (i.e. a motorcycle) on such a service... my worry is that I would never see it again, and have no recourse when it didn't turn up at the other end.

I hate to say it, but I am afraid you are screwed. If trying to get the 'denied entry into Liberia' problem solved doesn't pan out, might be simpler, cheaper, and safer to return to Europe from Freetown, then try and ship the bikes (and the people) to somewhere downroute from a point of origin in Europe.

Michael
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  #7  
Old 29 Apr 2016
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I'm really keen to know the reason for rejection also! Am heading down there in a couple of weeks and don't want to waste my time/money on a visa if it's going to be rejected. Thanks
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  #8  
Old 29 Apr 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tropics_974 View Post
Thanks Michael.
Any experience, thoughts or recommendation on travelling by boat or ferry?

I am trying to find stories online and on this forum, but not having much luck.
To the best of my knowledge, there are no ferries (never have been), extremely limited transit by private boat, and no reliable freight services. There's a lot of piracy, which might explain some of this, but mainly there's little need for goods or people covering such distances. Locals have generally traveled by bus or shared taxis, and they commonly slip through borders via paths and dugouts across rivers. You're limited to actual roads, and you are seriously vulnerable if you try anything illegal.

The route up and around through Mali is simple enough, if somewhat longer.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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  #9  
Old 30 Apr 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
...there are no ferries (never have been)...
Hi Mark:

You are correct when you state that there never have been any 'ferries', in the sense of a ferry being a regularly scheduled boat that advertises carriage of passengers and (sometimes) vehicles.

There always has been a coastal trade from port to port in adjacent Gulf of Guinea countries by vessels that ply on a 'not formally scheduled, but pretty darn regular' basis, and carry just about anything that will fit aboard - people, vehicles, bulk cargo, etc. It's an example of the very informal and not at all regulated economy along the coast of West Africa.

Having said that, it's not a form of transport I would utilize, nor would I recommend it to anyone.

Michael
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  #10  
Old 1 May 2016
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Thank you all for your input; much appreciated.
I still have not received a straight answer from the guys as to why they were denied entry.
They seem to still be in Freetown but the comms are sporadic at best.

Will keep you posted in case their info helps anybody else planning a trip in this corner of Africa.
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  #11  
Old 1 May 2016
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Michael's correct that there are small, ramshackle freight boats along the coast, but I was trying to address the OP's need for bike and personal transport from Sierra Leone, skipping Liberia entirely to end up in C.I. I haven't heard of any practical way to do this by boat.

As usual, I sure don't know everything, even about my own hometown. It'll be interesting to hear more about how OP's friends work things out.

Mark
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  #12  
Old 2 May 2016
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Hi All,
Having ridden Freetown, Monrovia, CDI, Accra in 2014 I'm wondering why they were refused entry. There were border closures during the Ebola crisis but both countries have been declared Ebola free a couple of times now. There is the option of trucking across the border but that won't help you if the reason why they couldn't enter was due to visa problems.

Also slightly off topic, there are major shipping companies who use Freetown Container Terminal which is now managed by Bolloré Logistics. I used to work at the port and can confirm that at least one roll on roll off ship arrives every couple of weeks delivering second hand cars all along the West African coast. Not recommended for the OP unless in a container.

Kenya Airways flys from Freetown to Nairobi via Accra. They may take a bike, but as PanEuropean says it depends on the equipment they use.

This is the first time I have heard of this happening and I lived in SL for 4 years. Unfortunately I left in December of last year so I can't offer more than my opinion at the moment. Please update us when you receive more info and I might be able to recommend something. There is a small bike community there in SL, but most people are expat workers like me and we tend to get contracts in other countries and disappear.

By the way, the easiest place to get a Nigerian visa is Abidjan (if you are a non resident) so I recommend to get across the border somehow rather than fly over CDI. If your buddies have not secured a Nigerian visa yet they may have mega-problems east of CDI. In my experience each embassy told me to get it in the next country which resulted in a dead-end. YMMV.
Cam.

Last edited by Cam Johnson; 2 May 2016 at 03:35. Reason: Additional info:
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  #13  
Old 2 May 2016
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The CI border with Liberia & Guinea is closed & will remain so for a while ...

Cam has beaten me to it with the KQ option, they usually operate it with a 738 so they could have room in the hold although I think they carry some cargo on sectors of this route out of NBO.

Personally I'd go the long way round, stunning route via Guinea, Mali & CI
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  #14  
Old 2 May 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cam Johnson View Post
Kenya Airways flies from Freetown to Nairobi via Accra. They may take a bike, but as PanEuropean says it depends on the equipment they use.
Not only dependant on what equipment (aircraft) they use, it is also very dependant on whether KQ has fifth freedom rights on the Freetown to Accra sector. My guess is that they probably don't.

Michael
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  #15  
Old 2 May 2016
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Michael

They do! Airline routes work in mysterious ways across Africa, if the Yamoussoukro Decision actually started working we'd see a lot more flights across the continent with the liberalisation of the skies ...

Hoping to hear back from the OP about their status!!
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