A Travellerspoint blog

Road to a new Liberia, via Gambia-Bissau-Guinea-SierraLeone

We bought a used car in Banjul and drove in ca. 50 hrs to Monrovia To attend Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's Inauguration

-

The beautiful Coco Ocean Resort south of Banjul ...

The beautiful Coco Ocean Resort south of Banjul ...

... the most luxurious hotel in sub-saharan West Africa .

... the most luxurious hotel in sub-saharan West Africa .

Gambia was the only mainstream holiday destination on this trip, the rest is rather considered a "dangerous place".

Gambia was the only mainstream holiday destination on this trip, the rest is rather considered a "dangerous place".

Entering the immensely scenic Casamance / Senegal in the early morning

Entering the immensely scenic Casamance / Senegal in the early morning

At the Saltinho Waterfalls in Guinea-Bissau

At the Saltinho Waterfalls in Guinea-Bissau

Getting ready for a full night drive after the border between Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry. Had to "pay" the border guards to be allowed to drive on, despite their "security concerns at night".

Getting ready for a full night drive after the border between Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry. Had to "pay" the border guards to be allowed to drive on, despite their "security concerns at night".

Drove all night... Early morning road scene in Northern Guinea with our car in background

Drove all night... Early morning road scene in Northern Guinea with our car in background

Biting red dust. An air-condition would have been a good idea...

Biting red dust. An air-condition would have been a good idea...

Outside the capital cities, fuel is only available on the black market, by the bottle. We had one breakdown because of a dirty diesel filter.

Outside the capital cities, fuel is only available on the black market, by the bottle. We had one breakdown because of a dirty diesel filter.

-

-
After 36 hours non-stop driving like devils, we finally reach hell: the über-chaotic "Blood Diamond" capital Freetown.

6 hours of sleep in Freetown's strange Family Kingdom Resort

6 hours of sleep in Freetown's strange Family Kingdom Resort

Sunrise driving eastward in Sierra Leone, on perfect tarmac til Kenema

Sunrise driving eastward in Sierra Leone, on perfect tarmac til Kenema

Before the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia

Before the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia

Finally arrived. Our address, as all better hotels were fully booked: Hotel Atlantis Beach, United Nations Drive, Mamba Point, Monrovia

Finally arrived. Our address, as all better hotels were fully booked: Hotel Atlantis Beach, United Nations Drive, Mamba Point, Monrovia

The RLJ Kendeja (pictured) is the best hotel on the outskirts of Monrovia.

The RLJ Kendeja (pictured) is the best hotel on the outskirts of Monrovia.

The Mamba Point has the best food and atmosphere downtown. Hotel foto.

The Mamba Point has the best food and atmosphere downtown. Hotel foto.

Oil prospects: one of the reasons for Liberia's brighter future (and a US$ 100 mio new American embassy in town).

Oil prospects: one of the reasons for Liberia's brighter future (and a US$ 100 mio new American embassy in town).

The reason for our speed drive: the inauguration gala of President and Peace Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (January 2012).

The reason for our speed drive: the inauguration gala of President and Peace Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (January 2012).

Harald at the dinner table

Harald at the dinner table

Meeting the President

Meeting the President

President Sirleaf with Vice-President Boakai

President Sirleaf with Vice-President Boakai

"This is our time" - The President's favourite singer Miatta Fahnbulleh - CD distributed to guests

"This is our time" - The President's favourite singer Miatta Fahnbulleh - CD distributed to guests

Miatta Fahnbulleh (click for youtube)

Book "This Child Will Be Great" by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Source: Amazon)

Book "This Child Will Be Great" by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Source: Amazon)

-

Hotels:

Best hotel in Banjul: Coco Ocean *****

Best hotel in Ziguinchor: Le Perroquet ****

Best hotel in Bissau: Azalai 14 Noviembro ***/*

Best hotel in Conakry: Camayenne ***

Best hotel in Freetown: Country Lodge ****

Best hotel in Monrovia: Mamba Point ****

West Africa is definitely the most neglected (or abandoned) market for upscale hotels. All better places are now operated by diaspora Lebanese families which means good food, most of the time. The few "upscale" hotels are usually fully booked, which means very high prices, all of the time.

-

Overland driver tips:

It is relatively easy to buy a car in Banjul, however expect to pay about € 1.200 more than in Central Europe (= import tax).

The German Overlander's meeting point Sukuta Camping & Lodge has the most unfriendly and unhelpful German owners one can imagine. They also sell cars. Caveat emptor!

There are plenty of used car shops on the road from Serrekunda to Banjul.

The car insurance valid for all countries in the region ("carte brune") costs ca. € 30 for one month. You will also need to get a laisser-passer document at the first border crossing which will be used at every subsequent border. Don't lose this document (as we did), as it will create problems at every border and police post, of which there are plenty. The police in Guinea-Conakry are particularly obnoxious and try to find reasons for bribes.

Border crossings usually open and close at 7.

The South-Western borders between Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry were still flooded and unpassable in mid-January, so we had to drive to the North-Western border post between Pitche and Foulamory. The roads between Gabu and Boke via Koumbia (300km / 12hrs incl. 1 tow-ferry) are extremely bad, as well as between Kenema and the Fairo/Mamba borderpost (150km / 5hrs).

The rest of the 2.000km distance was good asphalt.

-

Posted by LuxuryRogue 22:26 Archived in Guinea Bissau Tagged overland adventure luxury danger speed

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUponRedditDel.icio.usIloho

Table of contents