Replies: 9 - Last Post: Nov 8, 2012 1:48 AM Last Post By: GrantJ
Oct 30, 2012 9:59 AM
Cycling AfricaI will be starting a cycle tour on 12th November from here in the UK, with the aim of heading down through France,Spain and Portugal to Africa.
My proposed route through Africa is as follows and I'd like any advice or comments as to whether it is OK to go through these countries and in particular what is the situation regarding visa's. I know this is a big ask, and don't expect anyone to answer it all - but any help with any of the countries will be invaluable and hopefully I'll end up with a clear idea of what is possible.
Morocco - Mauritania - Senegal - Guinea Bissau - Guinea - Mali - Burkina Faso - Ghana - Togo - Benin - Nigeria - Cameroon - Gabon - Congo - DR of the Congo - Zambia - Botswana - Namibia - South Africa - Mozambique - Malawi - Tanzania - Kenya - Ethiopia - Eritrea - Sudan - Egypt.
Oct 30, 2012 10:09 AM
1The stand out ones for me are that you need to get an Ethiopian visa in your home country; they are not available at land borders (and are not issued in Nairobi) and that all Eritrean borders are closed for land access. The Sudan-Eritrea border is open but only for nationals of those two countries.
Oct 30, 2012 10:46 AM
2Ghana, get it at home & make sure you give them a ROUGH date of your intended arrival. Nigeria might give you one on the border, it's not clear as to whether their VOA work on land borders - might be worth checking at their Embassy in the UK (in person!)
DRC to Zambia??? Good luck with that! Ethiopian to Eritrea is a non-starter!
Oct 30, 2012 11:05 AM
Oct 30, 2012 8:01 PM
4How many years do you have available for your trip?
Seems somewhat odd to be asking this question just two weeks before you say you're leaving home--a lot of stuff needs taking care of before departure.
The DRC to Zambia piece suggests more research is in order (unless you happen to be extraordinarily tough and resourceful). Same with Eritrea: the Ethiopia border has been closed for over a decade. Angola visas have been highly problematic recently, as have DRC, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana....each with its own rules, exceptions, and workarounds, each changing without warning from time to time. You also appear to have missed a country (The Gambia), although it's true that it's not a particularly notable one.
Same considerations apply to the political situations: southern Mali sounds ok at the moment, but will it still be so by the time you plan to arrive? None of us knows. Nigeria looks to be getting increasingly awkward for overland travel too. Guinea has gone through a few convulsions recently (although one of my personal favorites); the idea is that you need to pay close attention as you're traveling and be prepared to adjust accordingly.
Then there are practical considerations like the children in certain countries who like to stone bicyclists when craving entertainment (Morocco and Ethiopia). So: mostly perfectly "possible," for the right person with the right smarts and attitude. Hard for any of us to tell whether that's you. Have you considered posting on the bicycling branch? On any of the overlanding sites, like horizonsunlimited.com?
Hope that's helpful.
Oct 30, 2012 10:57 PM
5Check out the Big Africa Cycle www.petergostelow.com/thebigafricacycle/
he just finished you same itinerary and he's a Brit
Oct 30, 2012 10:57 PM
Oct 31, 2012 2:31 AM
I know it's a very unusual situation, but the circumstances are unusual too and the short timescale was not of my doing. Basically I want to do it before my illness makes it impossible and how long I have got depends on that - could be 1 year, could be 5. I do fully intend on traveling the world and have no definite plans which way I will do that - maybe that is not such a bad thing given the circumstances? It will certainly be a challenge! As for being hardy, well that's a given.
@Bilvenus, thanks for the link, I've been reading Peter's blog for some time now - what an amazing and inspirational story.
My route is just an outline, I'll take ALL the advice I can get and modify it. I have already got at least one other Lonely Planet member joining me for a portion of it and I hope to find more.
Oct 31, 2012 9:53 AM
8Skip Eritrea as it doesn't have land borders opened to foreigners.
You should research in depth the DRC part of your route (both from a safety and visa point of view). The DRC is (seems to be) requiring to get the visa in your home country and there are many reports of people that was denied entry because got it in other embassies. Most of those reports are of border posts in the East of the country but I also recall a report of someone who was refused entry at Kinshasa airport. I don't know about recent reports of people who took the ferry from Brazzaville to Kinshasa.
And as markharf pointed out in #4 be updated once on the road as visa rules and safety situation can change at any moment and without prior notice. You should be flexible with your plans in order to change them if circumstances require it.
Nov 8, 2012 1:48 AM
9From a Guinea perspective be prepared for military blocks but on the whole they are OK.
Parliament elections are in December they might go down well, but here in Guinea it blows over quickly unless they impose curfew. Roads are getting better and the people are welcoming. Poor infrastructure and hotels are 1 star until you reach Conakry. Carry your Visa and ID everywhere unless you have small Guinea Franc...donations or gifts go a long way in emergencies. If you want any more info I can exchange details I live here.
I travel regularly by car for work and holidays through regional West Africa. I can give you tips on Senegal, Morocco (talk with TimCullis - on the Morocco forum excellent knowledge), Guinea, Ghana, Togo, Gambia and Gabon, stay tuned I travel through Sierra Leone and Liberia next week.
Visa will be a nightmare but I guess thats everywhere - Do your homework first. Most neighbouring countries have embassies or High Commisions for the country next door but waits can be up to weeks. I hope you most of your visas covered in the UK as all the embassies are there.
Mali is OK and Burkina too however it gets so hot in the dry season.
I am currently in in Guinea near the borders of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire. But it seems you will take the middle route through Guinea to Mali. I know the roads very well.
(3 star Hotel)
From US$222.88 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$243.97 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$201.99 per night