First of all, a big big sorry to all our followers for not writing new stories in the past 11!!!months.
We’ve been very, very, very late with this but we finally got some pictures up.
Enjoy some shots from western Africa, from Morocco to Angola.
Just hover over photo’s and pick a country…
Our Angolan loop was done so it was time to continue our trip in Namibia. In Angola we made the decision to keep on going south.
We wanna enjoy southern africa first before we go back to ‘the real africa’
Although we don’t think it will ever get as real as west africa again!!
The first thing on the list was Etosha national park. Bad timing because it’s just after the rainy season and the chance of seeing good wildlife is virtually none.
We were here 7 years ago in ‘the good season’ and didn’t see rhino, leopard, cheetah or elephant so we weren’t expecting much!!
Spotted a few elephants far far away and started to realize that it truly wasn’t the best time to see wildlife.
We had to be at the campsite before sunset so slowly started moving towards Halali. That’s when our luck changed. First some giraffe, then five lions, we even spotted a jackal and mentioned to each other that if we saw a rhino and some elephant the next day we would be pleased with what had seen in Etosha. The word rhino was not even fully pronounced or this huge beast walks right in front of Izzie!!!
We watched it for a while but had to keep moving towards the campsite. Sun was getting pretty low. We drove two minutes and bam two cheetahs, man we are on a roll but again, damn sunsetting!!
Ok,now we really have to get going but not without spotting some (6) elephants on our last stretch to Halali.
The next morning we left early to be able to drive through the park all the way to the newly opened west gate. This is only 70 k’s from Oppi Koppi where we could do some laundry and relax for a few days.
We drove back to Swakopmund to pick up some stuff for Izzie. We had just parked Izzie when we received a mail from Alfred and Astrid, a Swiss couple, traveling the world for the last 30 years or so. They also shipped their car from Tema to Walvis Bay!!
It was good to hear that more experienced travellers than us also got fed up with west africa. Actually, so far we haven’t met anyone that really enjoyed the whole way down.
From Windhoek we went south to sossusvlei and sesriem canyon.
Still one of our favorite places in Namibia. On our way there we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn where we just had to stop for a quick photo
Sesriem canyon was something we missed the last time we were here so we really wanted to see it. It is a small canyon that you explore on foot but it’s very lovely.
Time to hit the dunes!!
The next day we drove towards Luderitz. We camped near Kolmanskop, a ghost town, that we wanted to visit the next morning. It was on that next day that we figured out that wild camping in that area is actually prohibited because you are in the diamond district.
Both Luderitz and Kolmanskop were worth the drive west.Luderitz is situated on a peninsula with a lovely drive. The village itself is an old German bastion with it’s typical architecture.
Driving in and out of Luderiz you cross the desert and the power of nature is clearly visible.
Next and final stop in Namibia: Fish River Canyon second largest canyon in the world and a very windy inspiring place. For the adventures people out there, you can walk the canyon for 80 km over five days.
We are now in southern africa, finally!!
Walking the streets of Walvis bay and Swakopmund is such a relief after West Africa.
No one is hassling you on the streets, no one is begging or should I say demanding food.
When you go to a pub or restaurant, yes they do have those here, the food is nice (and fairly priced) and the service is likewise 🙂
Oke this is not the real africa but for now we are glad we are out of africa for a while!!
In Walvis Bay we got Izzie cleared by John from West to East Coast investments.
A clearing agent we can recommend to everyone shipping to Walvis Bay.
Now it was time to give Izzie a spring clean, which was long overdue, fill up on fuel and stock her up to hit the road again!!
Our first stop was Spitzkoppe!!
We loved it. Beautiful rock formations, arches, the sun setting, a perfect first night camping with Izzie again.
We enjoyed a nice glass of wine while looking at the stars all snuggled up under a blanket.
Could we be more happier??
Our next highlight on the list was Skeleton Coast. Now this is a nice drive north to get into beautiful damaraland but if you’re expecting a lot of shipwrecks it’s kinda disappointing.
Damaraland is together with Kaokaland the most beautiful region of Namibia with still a lot of wildlife in their natural habitat.
It’s also home of twyfelfontein, the organ pipes and other nice ‘rock arts’!!
From here on we drove to Kamanjab to Oppi Koppi campsite, a recommendation from all overlanders we knew that were in Namibia before. So we couldn’t pass Kamanjab without stopping at Oppi Koppi.
We already mentioned this campsite to some other overlanders that were now behind us so it didn’t come as a surprise that when we arrived we found Kai and Jonas at the bar!!!
We had a lovely time catching up with the boys and got to know Brah and Ronny, two italians on a Aprilla 650, who also came down through West Africa.
Over the next few days we shared some beers, did a braai, had a movie night and enjoyed all the lovely game meat you can have, for a really fair price, at Oppi Koppi.
Vital, the owner, is a Belgian overlander who lets overlanders, with a foreign license plate, camp for free as long as they desire.
For us it was a good place to give Izzie her now much needed maintenance.
After-all we already driven over 20000 km!!!(more than what most people, that drove the whole section down through the Congo’s, have on the odometer!!)
We ended up spending 6 nights at Kamanjab.
We bought a lot of meat in the meat market and food in the supermarket because the plan now was to go to angola where everything is enormously expensive except diesel.
But first things first, we had to get our hands on the visa!!
From Kamanjab we were of to Oshakati to see if we could get the ‘Almighty’ angola visa!! But not without a stop at Ruancana waterfalls where we had a glimps of Angola and got even more determined to go there so off to Oshakati!!
We got to the consulate in the afternoon, filled out a very easy application form, went to the bank to make the deposit, gave in the receipt and found out the visa would be ready the next day!! Could it really be that easy???
No hassle about letter of invitation or multiple photos with white background??? In less than 24 hours we got the visa so yes, life can be good!!
The only thing that we needed to do now was stock up the fridge to it’s maximum capacity, fill up the water tank and we were ‘angola’ ready!!
We always wondered if Angola should be considered West or Southern africa?? Let’s go and find out!!
First thing, the border!! We immediately think we are back in West Africa. Fixers that are helping us even if we don’t ask their services, money changers every where,….. One thing we can say is that our first impression of the Angolan people wasn’t that good. Never before at all our border crossings, 14 so far, we encountered such a rude immigration officer.
It took about 3 hours to cross the border which you can also mark as a second point for West Africa.
So of we were….. in Angola yeah!!
The land of cheap fuel and tar roads!! Point for southern africa!! On the other hand food, drinks and accommodation are almost unaffordable!!!
We drove from Lubango to Namibe via the Serra the Leba pass and via Pipas back to Lubango!!
We soon found out that camping in the wild in Angola was a dream come true after the rest of West Africa, point two being a southern african country!! So our first two nights were wild camping.
The third was spend with one of the friendliest families of Angola we reckon.
We took a dirt road to get to Pipas where we took a rather deep pothole and Sita kinda hurt her back, in a way that she had trouble moving her legs and continuing that day was just impossible!!
Steven saw what he thought was a guesthouse/camping but soon found out it was a private home, John the owner invited us to stay at his place and because Sita was really in a lot of pain, we took him up on that offer!
He invited us for lunch and diner, he even said we could stay in one of the rooms!! This was an awesome night for Steven, he could drink beers, shooting pools and playing darts, while Sita was drugged in bed 😦
The next day we slowly drove to Lubango to pay a visit to Tunda Valla. This was after all the number one thing to see in Angola. And boy it was beautiful.
On our way to Tunda we received a text from ……… Yes you guessed right Gary!! Our surfing friend surfed his way down through the Congo’s and is now also in Angola!!
We had a nice time catching up and having a really overpriced meal together. The only meal and the only night we payed for, the whole time we were in Angola!!
The long loop round Angola took us to places like Binga Falls, Pungo Adongo, Kalandula falls and Miradouro da Luna.
All very beautiful places with nice people and lovely quiet places to camp.
Although it was still the end of the rainy season we only had rain for about 15 minutes so no complains here.
So … is Angola a western or southern african country???
We can now say for sure: southern!!
When you leave DRC, you close the door of West Africa.
When reading blogs from other overlanders it sounds like they all drive the perfect vehicle.
When we bought Izzie we were also high on cloud nine but got thrown off in a few weeks time when we realised the engine was not working. Our faith had to be restored again and never got close to that ‘cloud nine’ again. Even not on the day we left, about 8 months ago.
Everyone, including us, makes the same mistake.
They all focus on how much you need a 4×4, dif loc, ……..
Because honest, you don’t need all that, not with a truck like Izzie.
Overlanding west africa proves that everytime when they drive from Dakar to Accra and back, through jungle/backroads etc.
The times we had to use our 4×4 we can count on one hand and that’s just because we were to lazy to let the air out of the tires.
Steep rocky patches we just crawl up in first gear, loose sand you can let air out of the tires and if you really really get stuck all the extra things as mentioned above will not work and you will need a third party anyways!!
So is Izzie the perfect overland vehicle?? No, she’s not!!!
Would we wanna trade it for another type of vehicle, also no!!
So here are the 10 things we hate:
1) she’s to big for small jungle paths
(Although we went through them)
2) she’s to high for some low
hanging trees or arches
3) she’s an alcoholic 😉
(Although for her size it’s not to
bad, 26 liters per 100 km)
4) she’s to heavy for some ferries
(Although we survived the 6 ton
ferry to djenne)
5) she takes down parking barriers
(Not really our fault/problem)
6) she’s not the type of vehicle you
just put a side the road to take a
7) if you hate that part of the world
you’re in, you just can’t pack up
and leave (but apart from a bike
you can’t do that with any
Can’t think of anything else so maybe it’s not so bad after all 🙂
Maybe I should make a list of 10 things we like about Izzie??
1) it really feels like home
2) when we close the door we feel
save ( I know it’s stupid but it feels
3) arriving somewhere for the night, it
takes only 3 minutes and we are
4) when it’s cold or rainy outside we
can do everything inside
5) leaving in the morning takes us 10
minutes (8 of that is to get
pressure for the brakes)
6) the awesome hot/cold shower we
have with us all the time
7) the toilet!!! Specially at night!! (Or
parked in the middle of a city)
8) 500 liters of fresh water!!
9) in most african countries the rule
is, the one with the biggest vehicle
has right of way, we are good here
10) WE JUST LOVE OUR BABY!!!
If we could make the decision all over, would we choose the same vehicle??
Yes a big truck is the only vehicle we wanna be on the road for a long time.
If we had to choose a different mode of transport what would it be……… ??????? A motorbike for sure!!! It goes through everything!! It’s cheap on gas. You can sell it easily!!
After spending two nights at the parking lot of the kendeja resort in Monrovia it was time to continue.
Our next place on our ittinarary was Kwapatee falls.
It was already pretty late by the time we got there because the road from Monrovia to the north is being rebuild and the detours are not always ‘Izzie friendly’
At the falls we were ‘welcomed’ by a few guys that told us it was 5$ entrance, we agreed and drove onto the eco “campsite”, one can not really say it’s a campsite because it has zero facilities but hey you’re still in africa!!
Than he started talking about the price for staying there the night and gave us the nice number: 125$!!!!!!!!
We just stayed at a five star resort for 20$ the 2 nights before!!
We decided to leave the place and first they didn’t want to open the gate because we still needed to pay the entrance fee!!! We were there for two minutes, didn’t see the falls at all!! So no, we were not going to pay.
This was actually the first time that Steven lost his temper and told the guys that if they didn’t open the gate he would drive straight through it and he ment it!!!
After a few minutes they let us out again, 30 minutes before it was starting to get dark and about an hour and 15 minutes drive to the main road again. So the question was where are we gonna sleep tonight. Didn’t see many spots before on our way there except a UN base, lets see if they can help us.
This base was occupied with soldiers from Bangladesh, very cool guys that couldn’t let us in because of protocol but said we could park accross the street and they will keep an eye on us. We had a lovely night and decided to get up early and drive to Nzerekore, Guinea, to meet up with overlanding west africa, finally!! (For those of you that think Nzerekore rings a bell, yep it’s where the ebola outbreak was)
It was a long drive, a border crossing, a typical bumpy guinea road, a moped taxi driver that hit us in the back but we made it in time to Nzerekore to meet Al and his group. Had a few beers together and shared some info.
It was nice to be with a group of overlanders again like we used to travel before, sometimes we really mis this!
After saying goodbey to the group in the morning we decided to head to the border with Ivory Coast knowing our visa was only valid from the next day.
We knew from Al it was a friendly border were you can camp if necessary so worst case we had to spend the night there.
When Steven went to immigration he soon found out that it wasn’t going to be a problem. At any african border it’s always the same, they write your name and passport details in their book ask your profession and where you going, this guy starts writing Stevens name and puts ‘Nouackchott’??!!? Steven looks again and sees he has the senegalese visa, that was issued in Nouakchott, in front of him and corrects him. Not sure if this guy can read so 24th or 25th probably doesn’t matter to him 🙂
Al told us the road to Danane was pretty bad so we were expecting another Kenema Zimmi road but after all it wasn’t that bad and we even made it to Man that night.
We drove to the cascade hotel and asked to sleep in their parking lot, no problem, we could even fill up our water tank!!
The next day we drove up to Yamoussoukro, famous for it’s basilica. It is an impressive building but the cost to build it was 300 million dollars!!! In a west african ‘poor’ country!! It sure gives a sour taste to it.
The cool thing about Yamkro was that after 4 months in africa it was quiet, wide boulevards with hardly no cars and no people on them!!!
We treated ourself to a nice A/C room with high speed internet to download some tv shows and movies 🙂
Try and spot Sita in the pic below to get a feel on how big this place really is!
After soukro it was time for Abidjan, a big metropole, not like you think a city in africa would look like. Altough the 4 lane highway from Yamkro to there, simular to the ones in europe, gave it away 🙂
In Abidjan we drove straight to a camping we found on the internet a few days earlier and guess who was camped when we entered….., yep Gary!!
Our main reason to be in Abidjan was to try and ship Izzie to southern africa. At this moment we kinda had it with the humidity, bad roads, corrupt police and just west africa in general!!
The thought of continuing through Cameroon in the rainy season and putting Izzie on the infamous Brazza-Kinshasa ferry didn’t make us change our minds, au contraire, we really don’t want to do this so shipping is the best solution.
We wrote tens of mails to diffirent shipping agents and got two mails back!! One was from Anil of DSS. He asked if it was possible to meet him the next day and so we did. But not after saying goodbye to Gary, this time for good. Or at least for a while.
The meeting with Anil was promising. They told us there was a RORO boat leaving Abidjan in one week going to Cape town.
He said he would try and find out what the landside shipping costs were for Abidjan and Cape Town and the shipping itself by monday or tuesday. (This was on a friday afternoon, boat leaving next friday)
We didn’t want to wait in grand bassam the whole weekend and decided to go to Assine.
Just when we were ready to drive east we got a message from a Chloe Grant (friend of Al (owa), the real Izzie, etc) if we wanna meet up for lunch?? Why not 😉
We had lunch with her and Maxi, found out about her NGO CREER and more important got a nice adress in Assouinda.
She rang JB, the owner, to ask if it was ok to camp at his place and we could. For free, even better!!
We stayed for two days.
The first evening just when JB brought out our food three guys walked up to us stating they are parked next to us with their landy and know us from Nouakchott , wow that’s a long time ago!! But yep we met these guys on our last day at menata.
We had two nice days with Jonas, Kai and Will.
After the weekend we had to return to Abidjan to get the show on the road for the shipping and they needed to get going. They only got a transit visa for ghana and weren’t pleased with the idea that they only had two days to cross the country but hey it’s africa.
Anil didn’t have the news that we expected but gave us a schedule for a shipping from Tema to Walvisbay or Durban.
The dates 12th of april to 18th/23rd of april. PERFECT!! We can still go to Mali and Burkina which were high on our list but we were willing to give up if shipping from Abidjan was possible!!
Looking for flights from Accra to Walvisbay learnt us that it was actually cheaper and easier to fly home and surprise our moms than fly ‘direct’ to Namibia.
The next day we went to the malian embassy and got our visas within the hour, supereasy!!
Off to Bamako!!! In Bamako we had to get the Ghana visa, which is becoming a nightmare these days, and the Burkina one.
Burkina supereasy in one day, Ghana not so easy but we got it in three days.
Bamako is hot and dusty but has a few nice restaurants. We enjoyed our lazy days at the sleeping camel and the food, planned the rest of our stay in Mali and left the camel after six nice days.
Next stop, Djenne. We loved the mud mosque, a structure that was on our ‘to visit’ list for a long time, and it was all what we expected!!
After one day in Djenne, let’s be honest there is not much else to do in Djenne, we left to go and explore Dogon country.
At this moment the temps were always around 40-45 degrees and at night it didn’t cool off anymore so we decided to treat ourselves to a nice A/C room in a resort (which was empty because of the current situation in Mali). Afterall it was Sita’s birthday tomorrow and we really wanted to enjoy dogon so we rented a car, with A/C of course, and let us be chauffeured around 🙂
For the first time since we left we were on a schedule, four more weeks till shipping and still a long way to Accra and a lot to explore, so we had to keep on moving.
We crossed the border into Burkina and went to Bobo.
Spent a few days with Diana and Solo, a dutch couple, at foret diasso. Nice relaxed atmosphere. Good and cheap food. We can recommend this place to anyone going there.
From Bobo it’s easy to vist the Karfiguella falls, the domes of Fabedougou and Sindou peaks.
All three were absolutely gorgeous!!
From Bobo we went to Ouagadougou.
We heard wonderfull stories about Ouaga’s restaurants and bars and were really looking forward to it!! After three days there we left but not after taking down half a tree at the catholic mission were we parked the last couples of days and paying a fine (read bribe) to a cop for speeding.
It was time to get to Ghana!! Two weeks before shipping and still 1000 k’s through Ghana and a lot of beautiful beaches to visit.
We drove from Ouaga to Tamale, Kumasi and Accra in three long days. Every day we could feel that the hot but dry air was being replaced with slightly colder temps but high humidity again. One off the reasons that we are shipping!!
Our first stop was the most famous overland spot Big millies. A nice campsite with cold beers and cheap food but for us a little bit to noisy in the weekends!!
After big millies we went to Ezile bay a very beautiful and quiet bay 200k’s west of Accra. We relaxed for a few days and start to return slowly to the capital.
Next stop: stumble inn or as we call it little paradise!! Very, very, very nice and relaxed place with friendly staff.
Walking distance from Elmina castle. It takes about 45 minutes along the beach. The first 30 minutes are really nice. The last 15 not so. In this area the people still shit on the beach and you have to find your way through the public toilet zone which is really not that nice.
The castle was worth a visit though!!
After surviving a mini cyclone at the Stumble inn it was time to pack up and head for Accra again. After all we still needed to ship Izzie.
So we paid a visit to the shipping agent to finalize the details. He told us to bring Izzie on friday; it was monday, and they would do the rest. Sweet!
This meant an extra couple of days in Accra so back to Big Millies to get Izzie organized for shipping.
By friday we drove to the port and in good old african tradition the schedule had been changed, Izzie needed to go to a different place and when we got her there about three hours later we needed to get her to yet another place inside the port. Finally at about five in the evening everything was done and we handed over the keys and said our goodbyes.
It was now time to get ready to fly home for the surprise visit to our family and friends.
Guinea Bissau was a beautiful quiet country to drive through, the only downside, every police check they wanted to look in the truck!!! We always say ok but before Steven goes on the ladder he takes his flip flops off and say no shoes in the house, no combat boot wearing soldier, policeman or whatever will take his shoes of 🙂
Sorry it took us a while to write a new story but you all know how hard, tough, stressful our life is at the moment as full time travellers 🙂
To pick up where we left the last time. From 7 palava, we still miss that place, we went to dakar just before christmas to get our carnet stamped!!
No problem that’s if you don’t count the extra 10000 CFA we had to pay to get it done.
While Steven was inside the douane office and Sita was waiting in the truck, Gary drove by. (Bugsonmyboard) an american overlander on his bike with his surfboard attached to it!!!! And you thought we were crazy 😉
We ended up staying at the same place as him for a week or so and spend christmas eve together!!
Gary left for the gambia just before new years and we kinda loved dakar so much we didn’t return to palava but stayed there until all the hustle and bustle of the new years festivities were over.
We than had the brilliant idea to go the the touristy part of senegal, la petite cote!!
It was beautiful and really nice until that evening were we got ‘robbed’!! (Twice actually but that’s another story)
The worst thing is that before you leave on a trip like this you do a lot of research. Which routes to take, which border crossing, which insurance to take!!!!!
We took the wrong one apparently!!!
They’re not reimbursing anything because it happened at night!!! Why take an insurance right!!!
Any way we can talk about it forever or move on. We choose the second.
Another day trip we did was going to lac rose; finish of the famous dakar rally back in the days.
When you are there at right time the lake actually is pink because of something in the water that reacts with the sun.
There is a lovely stretch of dunes we went through and that was a lot of fun.
Sita’s mom came to visit us for a week and brought a new GPS and new sim card for Stevens phone while Stevens mom donated her old camera so we are good to go again.
Sita’s mom got the choice between two options. 1 relax at a fancy hotel or 2 the africa experience.
She choose option 2 and boy did she get it!!
We took her from dakar to banjul which means you need to take a ferry in the gambia. The barra ferry is one option, we tried that but failed.
We almost got arrested for drug possession as we had a medecin on us which was on ‘the druglist’
Of course by saying you have to spend a night in jail they expect you to say how much and pay a fine to let you go but Sita just said the magic words ‘I work for the government to’ and ‘my mom needs to fly out of banjul’
After that he realized he had to give me a letter to present why she had missed her flight so he changed his story to ‘this time I will forgive you’
Yeah right, we forgive you!!!
Only three days later we saw that there was 30€ missing from my moms wallet (second mugging)
It probably happened with the full drug search 😦
But hey we’re in africa so Hakuna mutata!!
After dropping my mom of at the airport we spend one more night at sukuta campsite and left the next morning for Ziguinchor, a town where you can easily get a bissau visa. Finding the consulate takes more time than actually getting the visa itself. No questions asked, no papers to fill in, I wish they could all be like that!!
From Ziguinchor we went to Cap Skirring, a stretch of beach in the far south of senegal. A beautiful place that’s forgotten by mass tourism because of the so called “unsafe” region. We saw nothing but smiling faces.
We spend the night right on the beach.
After that, off we were to guinea bissau to get the Nigerian visa; post dated, because it’s still a long way to go. But they are very easy in issuing visas there.
Talk to you soon…
We got stuck for four days in Rabat and not for the reasons most of you might think; visa trouble.
Getting the Mauritanian visa was a breeze. Apply in the morning pick up in the afternoon.
The reason we got stuck in Rabat was this: at camping zebra Paul, the owner spotted that we lost a bolt from the rear wheel. I fastened the rest of the bolts at zebra thinking that was it.
Upon arrival in Rabat the damage to the rim was beyond repair and we needed to replace the wheel with the spare.
What happened was that the rear wheel bolts had come lose and the rim had begun to shake out of balance thus ruining the holes where the centre rings need to go. Long story short: we needed to get new centre rings and get the brake drum evened out.
With the help of Aziz; a very friendly Moroccan guy who lives in Spain, everything got sorted and we where on our way again. Casablanca here we come.
Casablanca is a nice city along the coast and has some fantastic beaches, big shopping malls and is home to one of the biggest mosques of Morocco.
That night we parked and slept on the boulevard along the beach which was great except that the restaurant we parked across from turned into a discotheque at midnight. Didn’t get much sleep that night.
Going further south the cosy beach towns where lined up one after another. In El Jadida we visited an old Portuguese fort with an underground water storage called a cistern.
We stopped in Oualidia for the night. This place is situated along a series of lagoons which are perfect for surfing and kite surfing.
Another fine beach town was Essaouira with its very nice medina and again Portuguese fortress.
Down to Agadir we went and there was not much else for us to do but go groceries shopping and leave again. This city just didn’t do it for us.
Leaving Agadir we decided to head back for the mountains and we drove a very nice and scenic route to Tafraoute over the Anti Atlas.
Tafraoute is home to some of the most stunning rock formations of Morocco and you can also visit a place called painted rocks.
Some dude thought it would be nice to just paint the rocks in every colour he could find.
Leaving Tafraoute we turned south once more to start making our way down to Western Sahara.
In sidi ifni we decided to go to a campsite because we needed freshwater, dump our dirty water and saw on our camping app that camping barka had all of the above.
They also had warm showers or should I say hot showers!!
Man that felt so good!!! We both stayed in the shower forever!!!
The next morning we wanted to drive to fort boujariff, turned out it was a little to narrow for Izzie!! There was a swiss couples who chased us to warn us that it was just doable by car so we decided to turn around….. Easier said than done!! In ten times we had Izzie back in the direction of where we came from but than we needed to get down again!! At least 20-25 %, with a 13,5 tons vehicle, OMG we both shit our pants for the first time!!
Steven thought it was time to test that ‘crawl gear’ we have on Izzie. And oh yes, that thing is awesome!!
We went down that steep slope without even having to use our brakes!!!
13500 kg stopped just by the gear itself, unbelievable!!!!
Our old lady keeps on surprising us on a daily basis!
From here on it was western sahara all the way. Not to bad. But wouldn’t wanna be doing it several times. One time is more than enough.
We past the tropic of cancer and for Izzie this means a lot; she’s been to the arctic circle with her previous owners.
In dakhla we saw the vespa boys for the first time!! Two greek guys on a vespa across the world!!
Dakhla is a very nice place but it was kinda rainy when we were there so didn’t stay there any longer.
So after our last warm but beautiful night in western sahara we left for the border round 8.30 in de morning.
We arrived at the Moroccan side around 9.20 AM.
Went to the police to get our stamps, got back in line, after two hours it was finally our turn when one of the officials told us there was a dispute in no men’s land, there is a 3 km I would say road but I would be lying in between the two borders, and they blocked it!!
Moroccan police couldn’t get there, mauretanian police had no jurisdiction. So al we could do was wait.
After another two hours they let us through the scanner, which was followed by an inspection from a few people from the gendarmerie, police and douane. After they all been inside Izzie they apologized for making a mess with their dirty boots.
So we where ready for mauretania but the dispute was still going on grr.
Round 2.45 PM we could finally get into no men’s land.
Another 2 hours waiting to get into mauretania followed by the first inspection, the one for booze. The guy told us to be honest and so we were. 2 bottles of wine, one small bottle of wine, one duvel, three beers,…..
He said it was fine, as long as we didn’t sell it!! Ok. Deal!!
Next stop, the car. They wouldn’t accept our carnet, surprise surprise!!
So we got a 21 days permit for 10€, not bad as they usually only issue 10 day permits.
Next stop: police-douane to get your pasports stamped. Sita’s first encounter with the mauretanian man ( they all wanted to marry her!!) the fact that steven,HER HUSBAND, was standing next to her didn’t bother them.
This was the last hurdle we thought but no our first bribe was there. 1000 oum for a coffee and we were finally in mauretanie (5PM)
Now all we needed was insurance.
Very tired we arrived in Nouadhibou round 8PM.
We agreed to stay here for a few days to rest but once we realised what a dickhead the camp owner was, we left the next day.
We were told the piste next to the railroad is suppose to be very nice but we couldn’t really find it and both didn’t feel much for doing 450 km on a piste, getting stuck every 20 k’s with temps around 36 degrees. So we decided to go to nouakchott and drive from there to atar and chinguetti.
We did that, didn’t like it!!
Mauretania just didn’t do it for us.
Most of the people we met, loved mauretania, we didn’t. That’s it.
We don’t want to put off any other future over landers 😉
We were so done with mauretania, so the only thing that was on our mind was getting to senegal rather sooner than later.
On route we had the pleasure of meeting Mohammed Ali!! Pretty sure it wasn’t his real name 🙂
He tried to sell us the ecowas insurance for 200€. We only knew the price for cars (100€), and untill this day we haven’t found a soul that believed us when we said izzie is not a truck but a (camping) CAR!! So we have to pay for a truck.
Now, we got it down to a 160€ for a six months ecowas insurance. According to the couple who run 7palava campsite, not bad at all!!
After an hour or so we were back on the road towards Diama (border senegal)
We can only recommend this border crossing!! It was so smooth. Ok every guy you talk to, wether it’s douane or police you have to give 10€ for the car, but it’s so much more relax than rosso!!
The last hurdle was the carnet!!
Of course the guy at the senegalese border didn’t wanna stamp our carnet. He said he was only authorized to give us a passavent for 3 days, so we could get to dakar port!!
We were planning a weeks rest south of saint louis!!! So damn!!!
Well it is what it is so ……..
You can only imagine what happened at the first police check point!! “Sorry sir this truck is older than 10 years and needs a carnet…..” Yeah we know!! Tell that to the guy at the diama border!!
Standing there for 20 minutes, pretending we don’t speak french, said we wanted to go to the police office to get it on paper that we were on route to dakar, they didn’t think it was a problem any more….. In other words no money to make 🙂
So of we went again.
By the time we got to 7palava it was allready close to 9pm but all the border/carnet stress was gone by 9.15 because of the fine welcoming by Christine and Sven, a german couple that opened this little paradise in february.
We can highly recommend this place!! Over our welcome beer, which is fantastic after being in muslim countries for the last 6 weeks, we discovered that the guy from the douane didn’t put the 72hrs on our pas avent. This means we don’t know how long we have to get to dakar. It used to be 10 days so….. We are staying here as long as we want and then get to dakar!!
We ended up staying for seven days and we loved it!! Christine is a very good chef, she makes a gourgeous meal every evening, especially for a couple like us (not good cooks), this is perfect!!
In a few days we are driving towards dakar to get the carnet stamped.
We might even return as we have to be in senegal untill the 15th of jan. Sita’s mom is coming over :).
Some more pictures from the route…
After getting of the ferry; which was a smooth ride, we’re on the African continent!!! Technically still in Spain but who cares…
Arriving at the actual Spain/Moroccan border it’s chaos as usual, not knowing where to go or what to do. People fighting to get past the Spanish border guards. And then there’s Izzie…they need to open the full gate to let us into no mans land and there’s about a thousand people wanting to get into Spain. Al hands on deck, batons flying everywhere.
Arriving in no mans land there’s the expected fixer who wants to take us everywhere. In short he did deliver what we needed and didn’t ask for money although we did give him some change.
No major problems crossing into Morocco. On to Fes!!!
On route to Fes we camped in the wild for the first time and liked it very much. Tucked under some trees away from the road it was a peaceful night.
After a good days drive we arrived in Fes and went to a campsite…it was sh#t. We wished we were back in the wild. Overpriced, rundown and very, very unfriendly. We promptly decided to fill up our water tank to get our money’s worth. We had the tap running for about an hour and a half and filled up more than half a tank.
Fes itself is very beautiful. Although we only did old town Fes, the medina, we did get a good vibe from the city.
After getting lost for a couple of hours we had enough, went back to the campsite and left Fes for Sefrou. A small village just outside Fes where no tourist go and the medina is just as much fun.
Not being able to fit the campsite in Sefrou we pushed on and it was well after dark before we found a spot to camp. Nothing special, although we where held hostage the next morning by a pack of stray dogs circling Izzie and fighting amongst each other. It took about 30 mins for them to leave so we could jump out and get in the cabin.
Driving further south to Er Rachidia we hit the first of many astounding nature features Morocco has to offer: the gorge of the river Ziz. Spectacular scenery around every turn.
Having a stop and a picnic in this area is a must and so we did. After packing up and driving of Izzie started making an awful lot of noise: we lost a part of the exhaust. And worse: the muffler was starting to crack straight down the middle!!
After some roadside patchwork we made it to Er Rachidia where we looked for and found a welder. Not being able to help us that day because of the night setting in he asked us to come the next morning…at 8am…on his day off…on a Friday, the holiest of days in a Muslim country.
As agreed we went over there the next morning and he was already waiting for us. This man knew how to weld, 15 minutes in and the crack was gone. Now only fore some reenforcement and a new bracket and it was as good as new. After a two hour job he didn’t even want any money but we payed him anyway of course.
On to the dunes!!!
Merzouga here we come. This time it felt like driving on the moon! Never have we seen so many dramatic scenery changes as in Morocco and we have driven a large part of the world already.
Our camp spot around merzouga was a real gem. We just strayed of the road and drove to a lonesome tree in the distance and enjoyed a stunning sunset over the High Atlas Mountains shining onto the dunes. An out of this world experience.
The next morning we set of to explore the Todra gorge. A very very beautiful narrow gorge with palm tree gardens surrounding the river that formed the gorge. We stayed at a small campsite next to the river that was almost completely full after we parked Izzie.
Not being able to go the full loop to the Dades gorge due to off-road terrain not suitable for Izzie we drove back out the Todra gorge and took the main road to Dades. This was a bit disappointing as it’s a rather boring 30km in and 30km back out. Getting at the Dades gorge itself is very exiting. A very very steep road with hairpin turns rises from the bottom of the canyon straight to the top. A hair raising experience in a 13,5t, 2,5m wide vehicle with blind corners left and right.
At this point Izzie proved her selves to be a real mountain goat; not a glitch going up or down, no hesitation at all.
Marrakech didn’t do anything for us. After spending al our time up in the mountains in small villages and communities it was a big disappointment to arrive in a dirty rundown stinking overcrowded tourist trap that Marrakech is.
We came, we ate, we left the next morning.
We had been contemplating where to go next when Sita remembered something she had come across while doing resource for the trip: there was a Dutch couple who had been overlanding Africa for four years that opened a campsite in Morocco. Let’s see where they are located. Turns out they’re right in the town where the ouzoud falls are; the largest falls of Western Africa and a true spectacle.
The drive up to Ouzoud is one of many choices. You can take numerous roads up there so we decided to stay as long as possible on the main road and drive up the mountains at the last turn off. This proved to be the best decision we could have made. Another stunning one lane mountain road crawling and spiring up and over the top with a couple of dodgy bridges along the way.
The campsite they run is a true gem. Just outside Ouzoud at walking distance of the falls you’ll find a peace of heaven on earth. Paul and Renate have gone out of there way to make a campsite where you’ll feel just at home; rooms, a kashba and camp spots with breathtaking views of the valley. Also the food is to die for. Certainly the best we’ve had so far.
We left zebra after two days and headed for Meknes on route to Rabat. Sadly by this time the weather has changed and we feel like we’re in Belgium again; cold, grey and rainy. We don’t really care for this kind of weather.
We’re now in Rabat where we’ll do some embassy hopping for visas.
We’ll keep you posted on how that went.