Cape to cape and further

Richard is on the road for his major trip.

Destination: all the way..........


2 Weeks Senegal / Guinea-Bissau and Guinea.

Week 01 - 02, monday 30 December 2013 - sunday 12 January  2014.

I look forward to visit three new countries in West-Africa, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea. I spend boxing-day riding from the ‘Coolcamp’ in Manatali to Kenieba, here I found myself an auberg and lots of nice people. One of them bought me beer all night and therefor I slept like a baby that night. The next morning I wake up early to have the entire day for the border crossing. When I arrived at the border it takes me only 10 minute to get an exit stamp from the police. After more then three weeks in Mali I’m in a new country, Senegal. Many people had told me that there are many corrupt officers at the Senegal borders and I had prepared myself to pay some bribes. Therefor I’m surprised to meet a very friendly police officer who just ask me a few questions and stamp my passport without any hesitations. On my question of I have to do anything else he answer “ no, bon voyage’. I quickly get on my bike before he may change his mind. I look forward to experience Senegal myself. In the last couple weeks I have heard so many different stories, but especially stories that people are bagging like crazy. I drive my bike north towards Tabacounda and come through many small places and have to say that not one single person comes to me asking for money. During my ride north I cross NP Niokolo Koba and see many monkeys running around. Every time I’m just to late to take a photo, because when I stop my bike they all disappear in the woods. It’s a nice ride with only a couple of gravel pitches and at 15.00 I see a campsite near the end of the park. I decide that is has been a long day and pitch up my tent here. I walk a bit around and have some nice chats with the locals. The owner of the campsite is an older women with some kids and invite me to join for dinner and so I see them preparing a simple rice meal with peanut-sauce without any electricity. It’s great to see that it is still possible preparing a meal without all the kitchen machinery we are using in Europe. This night I sleep really well and feel completely reloaded when I wake up the next morning. I take another bucket shower, since there is no running water. Within the hour I’m back on the road and cover the last 40km North to Tabacounda. Here I take a sharp turn to the left what brings me down to the southern part of Senegal. Down from Tabacounda the road become worse and there are many potholes in the road. They are small but big enough not to be able to have a nice ride down. My average speed goes down from 80km/h to about 40km/h. All the way down to Kolda I ride carefully and lost my way only once. In the late afternoon I arrive in Kolda and want to pitch up my tent somewhere. First being directed to an expensive hotel I got another man bringing me to a much cheaper place. Here I’m able to sleep in my tent for 5000 CFA a night, not really cheap but better than the 22.500CFA I had to pay at the other place. I buy my self an ice-cold beer from the bar to get ride of the dust in my throat. With a book and the beer I spend some time reading and when it becomes dark I head to my tent. I fall asleep quickly and have a dreamless sleep.

Fresh and awaken I get myself ready for another day of riding. I would like to reach Zigunchour, where I can get an visa for Guinea-Bissau. I find a nice looking campsite in Zigunchour managed by a French-Senegals family. I’m finally able to access the internet again and wish my friends and family already a great New Years Eve. When I’m on the internet I see than Steven, a German biker I met before in Nouakchott, stay just passed the border with Guinea-Bissau. We agree to meet each-other there in the new year. This night I go out for dinner and buy myself a 4000CFA steak with a mushroom-sauce, vegetables and potatoes. The next day the owners of the campsite asking me if I would like to join them for New Years Eve dinner and to celebrate it afterwards. I agree with it and so we go with two more guests some friends to a restaurant and have a great time over there with good food and lots of alcohol. At exactly at 24.00 we climb up the roof and we watch the fireworks. It isn’t as much as in Europe but we have a good time. Back at the bar downstairs we continue with drinking and dancing till I feel tired. At 03.30 I’m back in my bed and sleep till 09.00 in the morning and diced to continue tomorrow morning to Guinea-Bissau. Leaving Senegal after seven nights is done in 10 minutes and the entering into Guinea-Bissau is even faster, the entire border-crossing cost me 15 minutes. I continue to San Domingo, where I will meet up with Steven. San Domingo is the nearest town to the border with Senegal. I meet Steven at ‘My Boys’, a little restaurant at the only street crossing in town. We drink a beer and here I meet Niels. Niels is a German who moved to San Domingo where he have buildup himself a life. He is also trainer of two football teams in San Domingo. The locals had asked him if he would like to become there coach. German football coaches are often asked in western Africa, this because of the efficiency they tend to have. Niels invite me to stay at his place as long as I want. After a second beer we ride to his house in the middle of the woods of San Domingo. For people who are traveling in Guinea-Bissau you are more than welcome to stay at his place, there is place enough to pitch up your own tent. It’s a simple house, but it’s clean and with two more housemates he has himself a nice place to live. I stay for 4 nights at Niels place, partly because it’s weekend and the embassy for Guinea is closed during the weekend, partly because it’s such a nice place. In the mornings we have a breakfast together and for lunch we go into town. We drink a couple of beers and heading back to the house. Later the day we heading to town again to have dinner and drink some more beer. In the evenings we make a campfire outside and have many nice chats about traveling around. Niels have been traveling a lot and have some nice stories to tell. On Saturday and Sunday he is coaching the football teams and I go over to have a look. It’s is amazing and respectable that he is doing this for the guy’s. The problem here in Africa is that the general african man is very lazy, doesn’t listen and there only way of communicating is shouting. He tells me that the beginning was very difficult and that there is already a hug improvement. Since there was no football team yet in San Domingo they have find themself a great name ‘Africa United’. Hopefully in a couple of years when I watch TV I see ‘Africa United’ playing the the Africa cup.

On Monday morning Steven and I are heading to Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau to apply for the Guinea visa. We arrive in Bissau and drive strait to the Guinea embassy. Here we are just in time to apply for the visa. After filling in the form we are heading to the port for some food. At 14.00 the visa’s are ready and we diced to leave the city immediately. We had informed for the prices of a hotel room, but they turnout to be real expensive. We leave the capital and head towards the north from where we would like to enter Guinea. When the sun goes down we find a nice place to do bush-camping. I go to bed early and sleep a nice sleep. At 07.00 sharp I wake up and start to pack my tent. At 08.15 we are ready to leaf and we ride the last 50 kilometer to the border crossing. Just before the gravel starts we take a break to eat and drink something in one of those small tiny villages. The last kilometers are hard gravel and we arrive completely covered in dust the border crossing.

We check out without any problems and as soon as we want to enter Guinea the Custom officer tells me that I need a ‘Carnet de Passage’. I show him the ‘passavant’ we got from the embassy in Bissau and after some arguments it is enough to enter the country. During the formalities we meet a Dutch couple that is riding around Africa in a big 4x4 truck. We have a short chat and exchange some experiences. We don’t have long because we want to find a decent spot to do some bush-camping again. It turns out that the first 100KM of the national road are the worst road I’ve ever ridden. Potholes as big as big trucks and lose stones and sandy patches. It takes us the entire afternoon to ride the 100 kilometers. When we finally reach a decent road again, I see a camper with a Dutch license plate. We stop and have a little chat. I tell him how bad the road is we just took, but the driver is not impressed and I wish him luck on his ride. A short while later we find a nice hidden spot to pitch up the tent.

The people we have meat today where very friendly and did ask us where we are from and where we were heading. An interesting thing I notice is that nobody is asking for money or gifts. I’m really surprised because while it looks that the people are very poor they have not this aggressive attitude towards foreigners I experienced in Morocco, Mauritania and Bamako.

After the bad road we drove yesterday we have a bit better road today, but not for long because we decide to go more inlands. The little roads on the maps turn out to be great hard pistes and easy to ride. We drive through many small places where we stop for a coffee, a piece of bread a just a chat. Sometimes we have to ask for directions since the GPS don’t have all those small roads. It is such a great experience that we decide to do more bush-camping the night. When we stop in one of the many village’s to fill up our water-bags, kids are giving us lots of oranges. We are really really surprised because if we want to pay for it they don’t want to have any money. For the first time since I’m in West-Africa kids are giving me something for free. After less than five kilometers we find a nice spot to camp and call it a day. I take a nice bush-shower and still impressed by the kindness of the local kids we make our self a simple dinner of bread and tinned tuna with oranges as dessert. It’s almost full moon and it’s great to be outside during the evening. I wake up when the sun start to rise and with my daily cup of coffee I start another day. Today we are heading to Mamou where we want to stay at a hotel and do some internet. We find a decent hotel for 120.000 Guinea frank a night and at the bar we are able to drink an ice-cold beer. For dinner we go into town but unfortunately we are not able to find a internet place. Well we do find one place but the internet is down, something with the cable at Conakry. We decide to stay the next day in town as well to see if the internet is fixed and I also want to have a haircut. The next morning there is still no internet but I find myself a hairdresser. Her I got the worst haircut ever since I’m on the road. Whatever nobody knows me here anyway. I don’t sleep well that night since there is a hug generator making lots of noise at the hotel. By taking a cold shower in the morning I wake up and we are heading further north. After 80 kilometers Steven and I are going both our own way. Steven will do more off-road riding and I’m heading towards Mali again. In a few days a Dutch guy is coming over and I want to ask him to bring some stuff for me. I’m not exactly sure when he arrives and I don’t want to miss the chance to get the stuff. I Do one more night of bush-camping near the border and the next morning I cross into Mali without paying a cent of any problem at all. The road from the border to Bamako is a perfect tarmac road and I take up the speed till 100km/h. At 14.00 I arrive at the camping ‘ sleeping camel’.

It is not the first time here at the ‘sleeping camel’ and to know how it goes this time, your are more than welcome to read my next update in which I will try to get my Ghana, Benin and Nigeria visas.

A break during the ride through Niokolo Koba NP.
Leftover from the road constructions.
My 4000CFA dinner in Zigunchor.
Campfire at Niels place in San Domingo.

Getting water from the well on the way.

Lots of hard piste in Guinea.
Crappy bridges in the inlands of Guinea.
And the ferries were even more crappier.
Bush-camping spot during the ride through Guinea.
The local barber in Mamou.
Handmade clothes in Mamou.
Guinea mushroom.
One of the villages where we stopped to eat something.

Countries I have visited: