Thursday 26th February ’09 Ouagadougou

Update for those who may wish to purchase the motorbike, the guy’s website has a name close to ‘are we there yet’. Further update for the charity run from Amsterdam to Bobo, the challenge website was and the foundation website is

Hope they are of interest to some of you. I found my notebook, it had slipped inside the compressor area of the fridge. I will rethink this area.

Big news day today, French Marc has made a decision to ship from Ghana. He thinks that in the current climate it is better for the children so they have generally positive experiences from this trip. If something scary happened it could completely ruin what for them has been a wonderful experience this far. This is good for me, I hope, but probably a little better for them in that I could get in a 20’ container but they need the more expensive 40’ high cube container for their vehicle alone. I will probably end up with a slightly cheaper trip but their cost will nearly halve. It also helps in that Marc has friends who know about shipping who can give us some pointers. We will measure up tomorrow to see if we can get both in a 40’ container.

2nd news update. The British Bikers are also intent on shipping. 2 reasons, the first being that they aren’t on a bike suitable for the rough roads and the second being that Lorraine is struggling with the heat and this way they get to South Africa in a cooler season. We aren’t sure but if there is room we may try to triple up.

Other than this not really much to say as I am having a few days just recharging my personal batteries as it is very hot in the middle of the day.

A Dragoman tour truck has just pulled in. 15 happy people get their tents up and cook dinner. We settle down to the treat I bought at the Marina Market. I spotted some sausages and they were labelled Sausices de Toulouse. The French are from Toulouse so I thought it may be fun. It is a good meal but gets very late as there is an issue with the rice that I don’t understand.

Friday 27th February 09

Still here and we have all sent off e-mails for quotes on shipping. I’ll keep you posted. It is still tentative as to whether there will be room for 2 or 3 motors.

Nothing to report today as pure rest. I decide to cater for myself today in order that I get a good early night. It works quite well and I am fed by 7 and able to leave the group earlier than the previous night.

Oh yes, I remember what happened. A 2nd Dragoman truck pulled in and cut me off from the rest of the crowd. A bit disappointing as it is Marc and Clo’s last night here. We measure up tomorrow morning before they depart. This truck appears to have a few more sociable people and some greetings are exchanged. One person who has been here a couple of days and deserves a mention is Rosalind from Ayr. She is in her 60’s and has travelled as a backpacker every year for the last 30 years. Amazing really but perfectly normal to her as she has the experience to carry it off. The last 2 nights I have done a little trombone playing and it has gone down well in spite of having no chops whatsoever. Will put this right in the latter part of my stay in Ghana. All good fun and no doubt confusing for those drivers in the truck stop.

Saturday 28th February ‘09

Departure day for Marc and family as they are trying to get round Togo and Benin before meeting up with us around 23rd March in Accra. We line the vehicles up and get the tape measure out. It looks promising and we put the bike in position. Result, there is enough room. This is a definite bonus for Kevin and Lorraine as they were looking at quite serious costs. I think it will all be very beneficial and I will post the results for any overlanders thinking of doing the same. Clo decides she wants to sit in a RHD driving seat but puts here journal on the dashboard and I don’t spot that she has left it until they are gone ½ an hour. I will keep it safe for her and send an e-mail to that effect.

I try to find out a little about FESPACO the film festival but it is all very French dominated and I have little joy. The one truck left this morning and I chat to the more sociable drivers of the other one ‘Tonka’. They are doing a bit of routine maintenance and I pencil that in for tomorrow.

It is strange seeing our friends gone and I try to set up a Trans-Continent Skyping session. It is the Shropshire Off Road Club Dinner Dance tonight and I have arranged with Mike to try and get on the pub wi-fi so I can Skype in a report. I am worried I may not be heard as the hotel has a big function on but it is finished by 10. Several text messages leaves Mike cursing the pub internet as I am online my end but they cant get connected. It was a good idea.

Sunday 1st March 09

Still here but planning my departure. I do a few bits of routine servicing and get rearranged once more. The other truck is due to leave and I do a bit of exchange for Ghana cedis with one of the drivers. I have enjoyed some of this lot being around. Rosalind also leaves and we are down to 3 vehicles. My filtered water has slowed down tremendously and now appears to be struggling. I take out the filter cartridge and it is pretty dirty. I change it and the water is back to full flow. Only 2 months on this cartridge and I have been using good supplies of water. I am quite disappointed at this as the cartridges are around £40! I invite Kev and Lorraine to join me for dinner and we use up my remaining Pataks curry sauce. A good night had by all. Mid evening Olivia comes past and says that there are lots of English films on in the festival just round the corner. I plan to check it out tomorrow. I get a reasonably early night.

Ouch…… what a row, Manfred has returned and I didn’t notice his vehicle but am woken by the extensive cleaning operation that is involved so they can go to bed with the amount of dust that has leaked in their door. Maybe the rooftent is a good way to go. (Or a Toyota as they have door seals that work?! Just kidding.)

Monday 2nd March 09 Ouagadougou to Mole via Tamale.

Based on Olivia’s talk last night I set off early to try and suss things out. No joy except I find a garage that will do my greasing for little money.

I get back to the site and talk to Manfred who has had an eventful few days mechanically. He is also up for a film. When Olivia rises she has no solid info for me and appears to find the guide to the festival quite vague.

I decide to set off for Ghana.

This proves to be a good and bad move. I have information about a Game Reserve on the way but don’t spot it. I don’t think it is really in existence any more. The border isn’t that far away but you experience the usual deteriation of the roads as you get to the border and no one seems responsible for them.

Exit formalities are quite straightforward except for the fact that the customs say I should have a laissez passer instead of my carnet. Apparently Burkina isn’t signed up for the carnet but they stamp it anyway and I then go to the police. No Problem here except that they want lots of my documents at a table outside and I go inside with my passport. The exit stamp is quite quick and then I wait while the man at the table finishes writing my details from my other documents in his book.

Next it is Ghana police which is helpful but very spread out in procedure. You have to get the passport done and register the vehicle with the police. Then Customs. Again a 2 part process. Forms and details are filled in then I am sent to another building to get my carnet stamped. All done I head on my way. There are crocodile pens to be seen at the border but these are too like a zoo for my taste and I head on for Tamale noting that by the border the Christian church has made inroads but further along the road the investment is from Iran and includes a nice shiny mosque in comparison to the shabby building with a cross on top. I think a religion with state funding is often going to impress local people who wish for outside money. This makes things difficult for one side.

Carrying on I see evidence of a slightly higher standard of living and also kick myself for filling up earlier as the fuel is around .90C$ which is around 60 pence a litre.

On arrival in Tamale I search for accommodation. I go to a lodge and ask for the price to camp in the courtyard but he isn’t interested. I head to another place more like a hotel and the manager tells me they have a strict policy against this. I decide to head off to Mole and one of the guys from this posh place escorts me to the correct road via a shortcut and they also give me a few accurate directions to help. The young man refuses my offer of money for his fuel saying he has travelled and people helped him. If all the people here are of the same mind it will be great. Even though English is the official language here I soon realise that I have to use reduced vocabulary (small words). They have peage here as well and the rates are around 10cents or peswaris (something like that). The sun goes down and I am getting very hot. Ambient in the vehicle is over 50?C and I am struggling to drink enough water. I get on the road to Mole and find it heavily corrugated. (I hear later they had a grader but sold it!!!). I finally arrive around 9pm having been on the road since 11am. I am pooped. Tent up and to sleep. Camping price has risen and it is more expensive than a dorm bed as the dorm includes buffet breakfast and camping doesn’t. It has gone up to 5 cedis from 1 according to other sources but from 3.5 according to the guy at the desk. Next update from Ghana proper.