Freetown to Guinea-Bissau Overland
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Jan 10, 2013 11:27 PM Last Post By: Gaudete
Feb 24, 2011 5:29 PM
I did a search quickly on this question and found some information, but not enough to fully answer my question. I apologize if I have broken some rules.
I am looking for the best route to drive overland from Freetown in Sierra Leone to Bissau in Guinea-Bissau. Driving will be in late October to early November, which I am told is towards the end of the rainy season and could affect the route. The route from Bissau to Boke via Quebo, is only open in the dry season I am told. It is the less traveled route. Please confirm if this is accurate. The most common route, I am told is Koundara to Gabu and on to Bissau.
If this is the best route, to Koundara, which border crossing would one use out of Sierra Leone. Kambia? Kamakwie? Kabala? The shortes route looks to me like Freetown-Kambia-Coyah-Mamou-Labe-Koundara.
Is this the best route? Travel will be done in a Toyota 4runner. I think most people in the area use landcruisers, but I don't know the difference. The route through Boke looks shorter, but maybe the roads are impassable in October-November?
I am have read on here many times, nobody knows how long it takes to go anywhere. May I ask for a guess? Can it be done in less than a month?
I thank you for your time to read and respond to this.
Feb 25, 2011 1:45 AM
1The route via Boke-Quebo is a non-starter as there's no bridge ... so unless you want to leave your vehicle in Kandiafara (small village) and continue the rest solo then that's out. However further north there's a route where you can ford the Kogon river apparently.
The route that is 'easier' is via Gabu from Labe.
Roads in Guinea are rare. Unless you want to damage your vehicle, get stuck etc, I would stick to the 'main' roads. So that means heading out of SL towards Conakry then turning north for Labe, all this is 'tarred' although not the best. From Labe it's track and pretty hard going apparently not sure how it'll be after the rainy season. Once you're in Guinea Bissau it's tarred again
Enjoy, be a great trip!
Feb 25, 2011 5:43 AM
Thank you for your reply. I had thought this was the best route, and you have confirmed it. Much appreciated.
May I ask more?
What is the best way to go from Bissau to Nouakchott in Mauritania.
I see maybe three routes.
1. Bissau-Ziguinchor- ferry at Soma, Gambia- Kaolack, Senegal
2. Go around Gambia, to Tambacounda, then to Kaolack and up to Mauritania
3. Bissau to Tambacounda, then to outer reaches of Senegal Ourossogui and up
Which way do you pick?
I see problems in 1 with an extra entry into Senegal for the passport. Extra visa for Gambia, but if it is shorter, bureaucrats do not scare me too much. Also, maybe the ferry is a problem across the river?
Problem with number 3, I have heard that maybe there are bandit problems in border area of Ourossogui. I don't know how much or if this is rare, but rumors are there. I am not too scared, but I also don't like unnecessary problems.
Number 2 seems to be longest, but it avoids Casamanche area and far east of Senegal. Supposedly too much nervous parts. I do not know if they are worth avoiding for extra time.
Your expertise on west Africa is much appreciated. Sincerely
Feb 25, 2011 7:56 AM
3OK .. will have a stab at this BUT I've only done it in bush taxis etc.
Don't know the age of your vehicle and things may change again, but are you aware that Senegal doesn't allow vehicles in that are over 5yrs old?? You may find a way around this if you ask an Embassy en route ... or they might change the law again! 99% sure the ferry from Zig doesn't take vehicles which wasn't one of your options but ..
The other point is Taharqa would be be better qualified to answer this part of your question as I know the roads have been upgraded in Senegal since I last went through.
Personally I would NOT cross Gambia near the coast & would avoid altogether just due to hassles getting in & out of Gambia & Senegal, just extra stress!
PM Taharqa if you don't get a reply to this thread!
Feb 26, 2011 1:17 AM
4I passed through the area in bushtaxis about a week ago. I kind of knew that Gambian border officials could be a problem and it didn't really come as a surprise for me when they demanded extra payments for transiting the country on the Transgambia highway even though I'm from a country which doesn't need visas for either Senegal or Gambia. The "official" unofficial rate which seemed impossible to negotiate was 5000 CFA at entry and 1000 CFA at exit for a Swedish citizen. No real hassle unless you ask for it though, just pay the money and off you go. I don't know what it will be like if you need a visa and bring your own car.
I never had any problem with Senegalese border officials (or anywhere else in "French" West Africa for that matter). You only pay bribes when your papers aren't in order it seems...
The ferry across the river was no problem, but the road in Gambia and the border areas is just dirt and there are som roadworks with strange re-routes at the moment. The rest of the road between Ziguinchor and Kaolack is Tarmac with just a few potholes.
Bissau to Ziguinchor is good all the way, but there might be some extra police checkpoints on both sides of the border. I got my bag thouroughly searched by the Senegalese police and they seemed a bit dissapointed that they didn't find anything the least bit interesting.
From Tambacounda to Ziguinchor my bushtaxi driver took the main road to Kolda but then chose the north side of the river towards Sedhiou and we joined the Transgambia highway at Bounkiling. It's tarmac all the way but some parts have quite a lot of potholes.
When going north from Kaolack the bushtaxi route is Kaolack-Diourbel-Mbake-Touba-Kebemer-St. Louis. Good road all the way.
I don't really know much about security issues in the Casamance. There were some military presence along the roads, but no extra checkpoints. I avoided travelling after dark and I think you should too, expecially if you are in your own vehicle.
Mar 1, 2011 12:17 PM
Jun 5, 2011 2:07 PM
6Have recently done G.B to Freetown.. Many stories and adventures (and bad roads) Really enjoyed my time there (even the Koundara to Labe road!) haha
Ejoy your trip
Oct 27, 2012 2:12 PM
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