Ouagadougou – Limbe


21st January 2009
Dropping off the passports to the Chadian embassy the first thing in the morning. 
Just after leaving the hotel we decide to check the car underneath. It turns out that the front right wheel is broken on the inside.

We found a garage run by two Libyan guys who manage to weld the wheel. Janusz is not too pleased with the job and takes over for 1 hour grinding the wheel to perfection.
After arguing the given price 7500CFA with the owners they tell us not to pay at all if we are not happy with the job. We make a final fair offer but after the second NO we do not insist.

Around 2pm with the visas stamped and wheel fixed we leave town and drive until 150km before the Niger border. It’s already midnight and we are told to wait till 6am for a convoy to escort us further. Camping with other cars on the roadside.

22nd January 2009

6am already behind the others who left 5.30am. In the end we get to the border, cross it smoothly and we’re on our way to Niamey.

Quick pit-stop in the capitol to grab sandwiches and coffee. Before leaving I accidentally reverse into a cart with water containers. Big fuss about the broken wheel but after 30 minutes and 2000CFA we are free to leave for Agades in Air Mountains.

250kms before Agades around 11pm we get stopped by the police and are asked to wait till 4pm the following day for a convoy. There is no much we can do as our documents are held but the police.

23rd January 2009

We sleep till 8.30am. Przemek already started preparing the breakfast. It was cold at night so we can only imagine that Przemek was uncomfortable on the roof of the car under the bare sky. The convoy is 4pm so we set a temporary camp (table and 3 chairs) near gendarmerie. Playing cards, reading books and being watched by onlookers who brought their chairs and sat near by.

The convoy has two army cars at the front and one at the back. Soldiers with heavy machine guns and grenade dispenser.
We are the third car behind them out of around 20 in total. After 4 hours we get to Agades just after dusk around 8pm.
Our passports are taken by gendarmerie and we are supposed to pick them up in the morning from the police.
The guy who we met while waiting for the convoy is waiting for us. He takes us to a hotel and after negotiating the price €45 for the night.

As sceptical as we are we drive off to the city to check other options. It seems quite tense atmosphere and there is many army guys around.
It feels as if we are the only tourists in town. After checking Oberge d’Azel for 22500CFA per person we are back to the original €45 option.
We are the only people in the hotel.

24th January 2009

After a nice night in the abandoned hotel while packing I bump into the owner who is walking by the swimming pool.
He lets us go without taking any money. Arabs and Tuaregs – they either rip you off or you pay nothing.
We went to the police station to pick up our passports. The Police Chief doesn’t hide his unhappiness about us being in town.
He says that we can’t go to Air Mountains as it is too dangerous even for locals and the army.
Omelettes for breakfast in a nice restaurant run by an Algerian guy. We ask him if we can stay overnight but he is reluctant as you need a license in Agades to run a hotel and he does not need any troubles with the Police.

We decide to stay till the morning and go back with the convoy towards Niamey.
It’s not the ideal way but convoys to Zinder go only on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays so we’ve just missed one.

We visit the mosque which is the oldest one in North Africa. 15000CFA for three of us but worth every penny. Very narrow passage to the top where there is a beautiful view of the whole town.

We book into hotel just opposite the mosque, do some shopping and goods exchange with locals.

For dinner we go back to the Algerian guy. We are the only clients dinning on the balcony. Just below us there is a motorbike accident with one fatality.
We’ve seen many road accidents in Africa so far. We still have in mind the minibus crash in Senegal.

25th January 2009

As early as 6.30am we join the convoy. I’m driving and on the track part of the road it feels like being in Mad Max movie. Dust in the air and the cars chasing each other.
After 4 hours drive and we are done and dusted – literally.
400km more and we camp in savannah.

26th January 2009

Hard driving these days as we want to make up for the lost days in north Niger.
Another 600km to the Chad border. We bargain hard for 20l of petrol with a Muslim priest in a small village.
The road to the Chad border around Chad lake reminds us of a dirty track and the desert driving.
We get to the Nguigui by midnight and set up the camp near gendarmerie.


27th January 2009

Short on water and good on diesel we visit customs and police. We take a guide (€30euro and $15) to show us the road through the lake to the Niger/Chad border.

Both borders on the lake are friendly. We stop to have some food near the first Chadian village which we come across. Very tribal 🙂 and we are as exotic to them as they are to us. Driving further is a massive challenge – using just compass around the lake as there is no real road just tracks in the deep sand.
100km to N’Djamena we have enough and camped again.

28th January 2009

Loud noise of people and tracks making the road wakes us up early. Quick coffee and we drive on a very wide and sandy road towards the Chad capital.
We get there at 11am and go straight to Cameroonian Embassy to apply for transit visas. Time for late breakfast in a nice but expensive place surrounded by UN officials.
We find a hotel – not cheap but sufficient for our basic needs.

29th January 2009

The Le Gagal hotel turns out to be decent. Hotel guys give our Landy a proper clean. At the Embassy we are told that we won’t get transit visas (which are free) but we are asked to come back at 2pm. We end up paying 50.000CFA each for tourist visas.

The border with Cameroon is a small bridge with one way traffic. Just after dusk we are in Cameroon.
Petrol fill up from the locals and we get to Maroua around 10pm. Nowhere to eat at this time but we manage to get beers and omelettes thanks to two French girls working in oil company in Gabon but on holidays in Cameroon. We sleep in the parking opposite the hotel / restaurant.

30th January 2009

It is hard to get coffee and breakfast in north Cameroon.
We turn right from the main road to Elephants where we find an abandoned camp/hotel. Deserted place on by the lake and the only dwellers are monkeys. We play with them for a while and share our fruit supply. Przemek and Janusz set off for the bush with a machete. I want to follow but they are back in 5 minutes.
The cut on Przemek’s neck is just a scratch so we do not need to get our first aid box out.

We drive for the rest of the day and through the night. We are told by the locals that it is safer to drive through mountains over night as the “bandits” don’t see who’s in the car and they take no risk lest it is army or Police.

31th January 2009

We camp briefly near Tibati 4 hours and back on the road to Douala and Limbe where we get by midnight.

Przemek finds a camp/hotel in Lonely Planet guide and it turns out to be a perfect place by the ocean to finish our first month on the road.
We celebrate with a bottle of wine in the swimming pool.



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