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Old 03-19-2014, 11:02 AM   #151
Merlin III
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Your description of West Africa is pretty much what I would have expected. The good thing is that future places can only get better, right?
"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure about anything." Richard Feynman, Cal Tech Scientist
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:43 AM   #152
kuhjunge OP
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Wicked Mali

The border-crossing from Senegal to Mali was pretty straightforward. I used the tactic to drive up to the barrier and wait that some guy is shouting at me. He typically points to the building in which I need to go to get the paper work done. We got passavants for the bikes (15000 CFA per bike).

Each time I was finished at one office I received a coupon. Obviously those were required for the guy at the barrier. Since we parked our bikes already on the other side, I got now a few spares ;)

A Baobab tree - tall, thick, magnificent, stunning, majestic.
On this day we took it easy and only rode until Kayes. There were only two hotels besides each other located outside downtown. The one was a four star, looked expensive so we took the other one and even that one exhausted our budget. However dogs were ok and the bikes guarded during the night. Once more there was no mosquito net, but air-conditioning and the guy ensured there are no mosquitoes and they would spray before the night. Breakfast was included and I could exchange coffee and other nonsense for fruits. I only needed to inform what I would like to have. Cool service!

After another sleepless night of fighting with the mosquitos we got up early. Later I checked the breakfast and we wanted to do some web browsing at the same time. Well, with all tricks we were not able to connect any of our devices to the internet. So much for that. Instead of the (seasonal) fruits I ordered, we got 7 green bananas! I was pissed. The waiter topped that by demanding that I should pay for those. I gave all 7 bananas back, said keep it and went away. When passing the reception, I answered a clear "No!" to that standard question "Ça va?".We had our own ripe bananas for breakfast and started packing when the receptionist came, brought the 7 bananas and said it's ok - they are for free.

As usually when we walked with our girls, we were followed by kids, sheep and goats. Back in the hotel one well-dressed local approached me and insisted that I gave him Ulpu. I really needed to raise my voice to shake him off. What a moron!

One of the many villages we passed by.
The road from Kayes to Bofoulabe was in excellent condition. Shortly after Diamou the street crosses Bakoy river and there was a great spot to dip into the river on a hot day. I was suprised when the street ended suddenly at a ferry. Annoingly my Garmin knew that and told me to board the ferry. My large scale map hid that fact nicely. Anyway we took the ferry and since we wanted to find a hotel the ferry guy put us riding off on the way to Mahina. I looked at the map and could not make any sense out of how the ferry goes in regards to bridges and where we wanted to go.

I explained where we wanted to go to the ferry man and put faith into him that he knows what he is doing and put us at the correct shore. The first meters of the road after the ferry were horrible sand streets and my hopes it would get better, vanished rapidly. I asked some locals about the way to Mahina and they pointed us to an even worse looking street. This was not good. Both my GPS and the map indicated to go straight and so we did.

After a sweaty hour we arrived at a small village which was according to the map, the official cross point to Mahina. Once more I asked the locals and they confirmed my worries. That path looked even challenging for a donkey! No other way then to go straight. I went to the village boutique to find food (got one can of tomatoes, no fresh stuff!) and one of the kids refilled some of our water bottles.

Many other kids admired Skippy and the dogs. Skippy saw that many of the girls had holes in their ears. Since the kids were really well behaving (first time for us!), Skippy decided to donate her unused piercings to the girls. I think she made many girls happy and hopefully it was seen as a sign of thank you for them and not just the white woman bringing gifts.

Skippy making girls happy.
It was a serious struggle in first and second gear for the next two hours or even more! The temperature was +38C in shade and we needed to stop often to drink and to give water for girls. The bikes were running hot as well and the breaks helped to prevent overheating. After that the street became much better and our speed went up to 80 km/h. However many of the causeways were not finished yet and some of those diverts were really hard to find and then challenging to ride.

What a ride - do you see the road ;)
It was getting slowly dark, no hotels nearby and now it was certainly time to find a place to camp wild. The river was some few hundreds of meters away from the street and we decided to ride through the bushes towards the river in the hope to get a nice and refreshing evening swim before going to bed. We found an excellent spot, but by the time we had build the tent it was too dark to go for a swim. The river bed looked dangerously steep and we settled for our usual emergency shower, one bottle of water We were totally exhausted and went straight to bed without even eating anything. I was really proud of Skippy. She managed all those difficult passages without falling - good girl!

Tan lines are so last season! Sand lines are the hot new trend
Next morning we got up early and ate our last bananas. Obviously the breakfast was not big enough for Skippy and she fell (see the travelogue for this classic maneuver!). I came back and helped to lift the bike back up. After that it did not start anymore. What was broken now? It sounded like the fuel pump did not do anything and in the display it said "check". Obviously the breakfast wasn't big enough for me either. It took me almost one hour to get it going again. First I started to take the plastic parts off, lift the fuel tank, checked fuses and in the end consulted the manual. RTFM!
It was the kill switch! It moved to the OFF position during lifting the bike. Skippy seems not to have an eye for those issues yet and since it is not my bike I am not used to the optics and positions of switches.

Anyway, all parts back together and we went on. When we passed Toukoto I was stopped by the local police on his "Super K" and was told to report at the local police station. The chief came and dug out the 2014 book for foreign travelers. We were the first visitors for this year :) No wonder we were the attraction to many people!

The road continued to Kita in the same manner. Once we arrived there, all our stuff was covered by red sand dust. We went to the hotel and got a room with a fan and a mosquito net for a decent price.
We finally got some sleep that night. The street from Kita to Kati was again asphalt in some moderate condition, with a few more potholes to watch for. From Kati to Bamako it was in lousy condition, all worn out by trucks.

I must dream! Could it be??? A Bitburger in Kita?

No Bit - Flag is also ok when it's cold.

The trashy park opposite of our hotel. This would be such a beautiful place otherwise.

Papayas for breakfast.

When we looked for a place in Bamako, we found in the internet an auberge which was run by a Finnish African couple. Of course I thought of a Finnish lady who had found a guy here maybe during her travel... I hoped for clean place where things are working. Skippy on the other hand thought that no Finnish female with any brains would live in such a junk yard, so it would be a Finnish male with a big bar and cheap booze. Pretty stereotype thinking of us. Skippy was right

We arrived in the Auberge Imi quite early. It was good that we had announced ourselves as the hotel was fully booked that night. The next day we tried to get our visa to Ghana, but no luck. The guy (ambassador) was extremely bitchy and showed no signs of cooperation! He only repeated that we should have gotten our visas at our country of residence.

Well we went then to get our visa for Burkina Faso as it is supposedly cheaper at Bamako compared to getting them at the border. I went on the afternoon to the embassy to pick up our visas as well as finding some engine oil for the Suzi. The oil change was significantly overdue. The city traffic was really badly congested and it was close to +40 C in shade. My bike ran so hot that oil-steam came out of the right cylinder (I mean what else should steam at my bike?). I needed to pull over to cool down the engine before I could continue the remaining 6 km to the hotel.

The situation of trash and pollution continued all the way to Bamako and we had enough of it! A major change in our route must happen if we wanted to enjoy this road life!

We got a - what I call - "oven room" on the roof terrace. Heated up during the entire day and no isolation. The room got cooler again at 04 in the morning shortly after which the sun rose and the oven started again to heat up. The good thing was we had windows open on both sides and got a decent natural draft. The water stopped running at least once a day for some hours. Electricity cuts were also normal and at least here they had a generator for to recover from major outages.

Girls are bored and dead tired from the heat of our "oven"
Making laundry was also an experience. We had quite a bunch of stuff including girls beds. I asked the Finnish man where can I do laundry like a whole machine at once. He did not know and asked his guard. Obviously it was a strange request and so we got the answer by the next day's afternoon. The guard was very kind and showed me the place and I went there later with my laundry. First they seemed to understand. Only wash, no pressing.

The fact that I want to dry the clothes myself was already beyond comprehension. The lady started to count piece by piece and I already knew then that communication had failed. She started to calculate and somewhere in the middle, the bill was already now by 30 EUR, I stopped her. Another attempt to explain the whole thing was a waste of my time and so I packed my stuff, complained in French as good as I could and left.

The next shop was the same procedure and finally at the third one I got lucky. The guy spoke a few words English and that helped. The price was still pretty high, but therefore they also dried the clothes as I was still unable to make my self understood. I am not sure what poisons they used, but my T-shirts were as clean as new. Next day I brought another load.

Bamako city traffic is cumbersome and it took us quite some time to get out of there until we were at the big road towards Bougouni. For reasons I could not understand the Suzi lost the two M8 screws from the engine protection plate. On one side there was even the nut gone which was welted on the plate holder. Very strange indeed. Lucky for us I just happened to have the two suitable M8 screws extra in my topcase and thus the repair took only 5 minutes.

Once more - the Suzi has some screws missing :)
After arrival in Bougouni, we needed to ask locals for a hotel as there were no signs from the major road indicating that there are some. We found a decent hotel with great internet connection and stayed for two nights, because Skippy wanted to see the Oscars - a yearly tradition of her's. At least a small cheer-up :)

Mango trees and more mango trees and an almost clean walk-way.

A nosy fellow.
The only problem in this village was to find fresh fruits. On our second day we literally circled around the village and found one(!) stand selling mangoes and another one(!) with a few papayas. Veggies were easy to find and I also found some vinegar for cleaning them. Good for us that we had some canned food with us from Bamako and Skippy could fabricate a good salad.

Finally, we heard good news from our international driving licenses! They returned from Aourir, Morocco back to Finland. At least they were not lost. Let's see how we will get them. For now we try to manage with a copy of them ;)

What a name
Next stop was Sikasso. The first three hotels did not allow dogs and the fourth had no running water and no internet. Why should I pay for that? So we rode to the waterfalls of Farako and built our tent there for me and girls, and Skippy could enjoy her hammock again. Now we had at least "running water"

The road from Sikasso to the waterfalls was brand new asphalt. What a delight to ride! This was - maybe besides the one gravel road in Atlas mountains - the best and most enjoyable place we have been so far in Western Africa.

Chutes de Farako - Waterfalls of Farako

Huge holes in the ground

AND deep as well!

All girls got a wash.

The next morning we woke up with the sun and packed our stuff when it was still cool. The excellent road continued for a few kilometers until it turned back into a good gravel road (new road is under construction). Soon we arrived at the border post towards Burkina Faso.

Bright red balls of a tree.

Bizarre and big flower.

Creature which looks like a wooden stick.

Fun game - sheep eat the sun-drying cashews.
Again plenty of video material put in our Travelogue number 11.

~ Wolfi

p.s. Flemm (weibl., Saarländischer Dialekt) - Unlust, Depression, genug haben, Trägheit, die Nase voll haben, traurig/niedergeschlagen sein (Wikipedia),
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Old 03-29-2014, 01:05 PM   #153
Merlin III
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Another excellent segment of the trip.
"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure about anything." Richard Feynman, Cal Tech Scientist
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:34 AM   #154
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good internet connection

Thanks for the flowers - it is always a good sign for us that there are people out there who read our story

and since we have good internet connection, the next post comes right now...
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:36 AM   #155
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Eek Burkina Faso

The road was full of diverts on the last kilometers before the border to Burkina Faso and the last one was at the border crossing itself. The different offices appeared to be somewhat scattered around. Plenty of friendly people were pointing where to go next. Getting all the stamps was no problem. The police guy at the BF side spoke even English and maybe that's why he asked for 4000CFA for his efforts. I made no attempt to pay this and I guess it was more of a joke.

Cashew apple - the nut (actually a seed!) is the little thing below the fruit. Raw cashew nuts are poisonous for humans!

Delightful flowers.

Bizarre looking plants and fruits.

... another one.

Shortly after Orodara we turned towards Banfora. The asphalt turned into decent gravel and it was in quite good condition. At least the road was better then many of the asphalt roads we rode earlier thus I had great fun when riding those. We wanted to stay for a few days in Banfora to visit some of the local attractions nearby. Unfortunately our timing was more than bad. The city celebrated “International Women's Day” and a big 3-day festival was starting. I asked from five different hotels and they were all fully booked. We tried to find a camping place and ended up in the Campement Baobab.

Bike parking besides our hut at Campement Baobab.
They had besides camping also some huts for almost the same price and we went for the hut. It was a nice place and they offered excellent food. Unfortunately without running water, no electricity and thus no internet either. That made planning the next days and taking care of our affairs quite difficult. We stayed only one night, skipped also the cascades (they wanted some entrance fee for it and the water levels were low). The drinking water was coming from a French-sponsored well nearby. The water was tasting good and we filled all our canisters. Then we took off to go to FINLANDE!

For a microsecond we felt home :)
Maybe it was that good feeling as somehow I totally forgot to visit the famous mosque in Bobo-D. Skippy had no interest in visiting there so this was fully up to me to remember. None can do. The street offered its usual variety of potholes, donkey carriages, scooters, kids etc.

We were looking for a rest place with good shade and I thought I found one on a trail and indicated Skippy to go there. I rode on a few meters to find a turning spot, found another entry to the trail, went to the spot and when I arrived there I saw Skippy rushing off on the main street. She was gone. I hurried after her and maybe 20 kilometers later she turned, came back and we were together again (obviously not so bad to be with me after all) ;)

We continued until På where we found a luxury and (in-the-end) bloody expensive hotel. My mistake or the owner's sales trick – I am not sure. Instead of paying 6000 CFA (so I understood when we arrived) for a room, he demanded 15000 CFA the next morning – a normal price for an air-conditioned room with TV (stuff which I did not ask for!). The surrounding presented itself with just some minor trash here and there and a little forest with goats, sheep, pigs and many birds. It would have been nice to stay there a little longer, but this money stuff made us decide to leave and ride towards Ouagadougou.

We went to Pension Sarah and the lady at the reception hesitated for quite a while before she was ok with the dogs. During our first night we were entertained by the neighbor disco until 02 in the morning. Followed by the wake-up call of other guests and house personal around 0600 which meant we were both dead tired the next morning. I found a park in northern Ouaga as well as a hotel nearby that park and we went for a ride to explore that area. The Women's Day was an ever bigger celebration in this city! The traffic was enormously more stuck than usually, the park was hulled in a cloud of dusk from all the people moving in there. We turned back without finding the hotel and somewhat disappointed that the park was such a dusty place. To add up to this neither did we find the one and only vegan restaurant in the city, where we could get an address from.

Looking for the right tools...

Bikes were parked safely besides the potatoes, which were exported to Togo after two days in sun! Delicious

Electrical connection - BF style.

BF mangoes - they were great and cheap!

Ulpu is totally exhausted!

Scary spikes...

all around the tree.

Street sales guy - obviously enough for the day.

A green-marked park in the middle of Ouaga - as expected full of trash!

The place was full of lizards.

Interesting birds visiting us.

The turtles at the pension feasted on our bio left-overs, but other vice their life looked very sad :(

Market place just besides the pension.

I got some extension to my gloves - no more sunburned wrists :)

I visited the Grand Marche ...

... and saw this little girl playing with the plastic pots.
We looked back on our journey so far through West-Africa and what was ahead of us. We did expect that we will be an attraction, the traffic will be bad and it will be hot. What came as a shock to us was this huge amount of trash everywhere and that was the “last straw that broke the camel's back” (der letzte Tropfen der das Faß zum überlaufen brachte). In addition we met many friendly people and several extremely rude ones. The enjoyment to travel together with our dogs, the delicious fruits and the experience as such were on the positive side and those were the things which kept us going.

We got serious doubts on whether this trip to Africa was worth it. We also thought the RTW journey was still our plan and the question remained where to go next? Should we go instantly to US and Canada? Should we go even to South America or skip that? Should we give South Africa a chance? Let's not even start discussing anything beyond the next step yet. As it happened neither did Skippy have her “usual” compensative activities like Karate or running, which would increase her mood.

After reading the latest news and once more some selected ride reports, we decided that we would go to Ghana and from there to either Namibia or South Africa, depending on what is possible, feasible and affordable. We would skip Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Gabon, Cameroon, both of the Congos and Angola. Whether we would visit other countries in Africa needed to be seen.

Anyway, Ghana would be next and we went on the following morning to the embassy and applied for our visa to Ghana. This was an important step in our journey if we wanted to get the bikes shipped from Ghana. Especially Skippy was looking forward to visit Ghana as there were plenty of vegan/vegetarian places supposed to be in the area of Accra. Always good to have something to look forward to.

The next days went by with Skippy making travelogues, I was doing some stuff on the bikes, fighting with internet connectivity, waiting for electricity to come back and waiting that water is running again. Luckily the kitchen made a good couscous with some tomato-veggie sauce for 1000 CFA (about 1.50 EUR/portion).

Vultures feasting on a roadkill.

Skippy liked those mango flowers.

A few minutes after we stopped. Yes, we are white people...

... we are fine and just having a break. Believe it or not! If we could turn that staring into revenue, we could fully sponsor our trip!

Magnificent and huge termite hill.

Break in the middle of nowhere away from the street and in shade.
We got our visa to Ghana without any problems and next day we left Ouagadougou towards the border. Ghana, here we come!


Then I wanted to share some other issues which do not really fit to any specific country and yet it seemed time to write about those.

Who am I?
People asked from where we are. Well, with Skippy that is clear and what about me? Am I a German or a Finn? After living in Finland for about 20 years and considering that I chose to live there, I consider myself more a Finn than a German (or at best 50/50). So my typical answer is I am a Finn. However that does not work very well when I need to show my passport – my German passport

Who consumes more – the bikes or us?
I have been seriously worried about the distances I can ride with the sidecar before filling again. I have “only” the 30l tank and thus I added 2 x 10l jerry cans for spare. On the other hand, besides my 1.5l SIGG water bottle I strapped one 10l proper water canister somewhere and we had a 5l plastic canister on a designated place. Our experiences were that petrol has up to now never been an issue! The shortest distance I rode with one tank was 370 km (that were 390 BMW-km, with the 17” front wheel and BMW error adjust that by 0.95 and you get real km). On the other hand, in the heat faced in Mali and BF we consumed about 5l water/person/day plus the water required for cooking and personal hygiene. On a typical hot road day and wild camping, we consume up to 20l/day (with the dogs). Our water consumption is higher then the petrol consumption of the bikes and water is right now the limiting factor!

The thousand and one control points.
What did we do on those uncountable police, customs and whatsoever stop points. My tactic had been to approach those points with slightly lower speed. Only if there was a person present on the street and clearly indicating to stop and pull-over I did that. If officials were hanging lazily in their hammocks and waving somehow towards us (that were the usual situations), I occasionally waved back and continued without stopping. Also mild waving when standing besides the street was typically ignored by me. Whenever we stopped the officials were only interested in a small talk, to watch the sidecar and to take pictures of it. WTF – not my problem and thus I seriously lost my interest in stopping! Only a firm wink to stop or pull-over by an officer on the street were registered by me and made me stop. I saw maybe once or twice that an official did not agree with my decision (tough luck) and then the person came jumping and waving on the street.

A short time out for a reflection - Don't we have a great adventure?
I would say that some things are guaranteed when you travel through Africa. You will have an adventure, experience plenty of things and you will collect stories to tell. So far Africa did not disappoint in having an adventure and collecting stories to tell. Why are we then overall not so happy about Africa. Isn't this what we wanted - an adventure? The answer to this is yes and no. Since we left home behind - and maybe differently then many other world travelers - we did not plan to return to Finland or Europe, instead looking for a new home somewhere else. In this way West-Africa has been on the other end of our scale of "future home", mostly due to the trash and the way things are overall in those countries which we visited. I think these facts have also significantly influenced what we wrote so far, maybe even without being clear to ourselves all the time. Besides this, Skippy had (or has) her own ideas, definition and degree of adventure, expectations, hopes and dreams and I have mine. Mostly they are aligned, often enough they do not fully match or sometimes not at all. Those are then extra difficult times to find joy in this riding. Maybe that is one reason that many globetrotters do travel alone?

Why is there seldom litter and trash in people's holiday pictures?
We found the answer in The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Nature Photography by Jim Miotke p. 1733
“...before you shoot, scan the scene for the following distracting elements and eliminate them:
  • Telephone or power lines
  • Buildings
  • Street signs
  • Natural "litter " (such as dead leaves or twigs)”

And here is another travelogue “Made by Skippy”.

Here are the links related to the travelogue.

Toilet paper (wc-paperi asiaa):
(^ good article about toilet paper, I just don't agree with the food stuff in this blog!)

Menstrual cup (kuukuppi asiaa):

~ Wolfi
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:46 AM   #156
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For some reason I can't view the Vimeo video on either on of my computers. I was able to view the prior ones.

Once again, great pictures. Could you sum up exactly what the differences in expectation are between the two of you regarding what you want to get out of riding Africa? I have never been to Africa, but what you have described so far pretty much mirrors my expectations.

Edit: hmmm........the video worked today.
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Merlin III screwed with this post 04-03-2014 at 02:21 PM
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Old 04-05-2014, 06:35 AM   #157
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Wink tough question

First of all, I think ADVrider forum rocks!
Both of us really enjoy these dialogues and it seems they happen easier here compared to e.g. on our blog.

Good that vimeo works. Vimeo offers this service free -of-charge and maybe quality of service suffers once in a while.

You bring up a challenging question because honestly I think we never thought about it too much ourselves ;) and there are several different angles to the answer. So no worries if I try to bring some light in those and write a bit more. It might be clarifying my mind as well as answering you

Skippy was expecting plenty of "cool" scenery as one can see when watching David Attenborough's documentaries. Due to the size of Africa (even West-Africa is already huge) she expected some "unspoiled" nature. We only saw a little bit of that in the Atlas mountains. I also expected fantastic and breath-taking nature. I expected bad roads, getting stuck, riding through causeways and crossing rivers. I got some of this fulfilled but had to realize that it stretches my capabilities to the limits. After I learned that I decided not to push our luck by entering the deeper Sahara.

We experienced three categories of roads:
Skippy has it easier in bad asphalt roads as for the sidecar those potholes are really nerve wrecking. Going major roads with the sidecar is not as boring as with a solo bike. Maybe that's an age thing or - as I noticed earlier when I also still had a solo bike - I am riding a sidecar more peacefully. My experience from Finland: sidecar + jet helmet = max speed 80km/h (and with the feeling "Let the good times roll")

On hard gravel roads Skippy is having great fun and so do I. Slight drifting even with the heavy loaded sidecar is possible and I like it. These kind of streets (like in northern Finland, Estonia, Latvia) we were hoping to find more here. We both like them. However those are the streets we have rarely seen so far and that is a pity.

On bad spots (like rain/river wash-outs) or trail-kind-of-roads Skippy's bike is too heavy or her riding skills for this heavy bike are not adequate or a little bit of both. With the sidecar it is then again more difficult to find the optimum lane however with enough speed it will go and I have not yet gotten stuck except for very loose sand (-> Mauritania). Proper riding skills on my side and more off-road riding training would certainly help here. Based on the road reports I have read, loose sand is tricky and cumbersome for any bike, solo or sidecar. For the really bad passages the sidecar is seriously missing a much better back tyre or even a 2WD and the hack is also too heavy.

I am very much into the adventure with the sidecar. I prepared it with a winch, a spade and other tools to handle bad spots as well as I changed all air/oil inlets/holes to at least 80cm height from the ground in order to manage water passages. Even though I do not like those spots I am prepared to master them and I feel victory every time I managed those without getting stuck. Typically those spots are a nightmare for Skippy and those are the ones where we got most damage to her bike and herself. Those were not really expectations but maybe more differences in how we handle difficult riding spots. I expected more adventure riding, but in regards to Skippy & Suzi, our dogs and the hack's weight, I needed to adjust those. (On a side note, I really wanted to ride the summer ROB with that hack. Right now, Skippy does not want to go to Russia at all... but let's come back to that topic in a few years from now.)

And then about some other related items.

We got our expectations fulfilled when it comes to delicious fresh fruits as well as bad roads, poor service, electricity and water supply problems.

Both of us were shocked about the amount of trash almost everywhere as soon as there are people - we really did not expect West-Africa to be such a shithole (cannot highlight that enough). Also the amount of people staring at us on a real close distance, in fact so close that some touch us and the fact that people came and grab us e.g. by our arms. Those are the facts and the question is more how can you deal with those? How can zoo animals deal with their destiny? I think this is were the differences between us show the most and obviously I can handle it a bit better compared to Skippy, maybe due to my business travels around the world in earlier times.

One guy once leaned on Skippy's bike (locals love to lean on cars and things) that she almost fell. That made me furious and I start to shout and wave people away. I must admit that I would categorize a few situations so harsh that some form of self-defense could have been applied in order to get some distance between the crowd and me (or us). Maybe in full biker clothes I might be so scary to chase them totally away ;) On the other hand I do not think that people would agree with my (western) definition of self defense and thus only trouble would come out of that...

So, I expected staring and differences in mentality. Having said that, all that reading of other people's reports will - IMHO - NOT prepare you for what will come. Furthermore all those issues will come together (heat, exhaustion, bad road, grabbing people) on some parts of the journey and as this would not be enough the person besides you is not any stranger but the person you love, care for and want to protect, the dogs are like your babies and not any stray dogs you got to know 5 minutes ago.
The question is how will you feel and experience this situation and what do you do?

I hope I make any sense here

We also have a major change in our plan and more about this later...
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Old 04-05-2014, 07:05 AM   #158
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Great post!

Thanks for the honest description of what you guys are thinking and feeling.
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Old 04-05-2014, 07:33 AM   #159
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Originally Posted by enduro0125 View Post
great post!

Thanks for the honest description of what you guys are thinking and feeling.
"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure about anything." Richard Feynman, Cal Tech Scientist
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Old 04-07-2014, 05:08 AM   #160
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Still following you and enjoying your posts and pictures. I have travelled some (not by bike) in "under-developed/Third World" countries and have had similar reactions to the trash, poverty, begging, lack of infrastructure (elect., water, waste), difficulties at borders, being an "attraction", etc., yet still feel I have grown and benefitted greatly from visiting these places. I continue to desire to visit tham. However, I too would not chose to live in most of them. That said, even here in the USA there is plenty of poverty and other issues similar to the above (excluding lack of infrastructure and being an attraction) if you want to find it.

What I have done to ease my time when traveling in "difficult" places becomes too stressful, is to "take a break" from whatever is oppressing me and briefly go somewhere peaceful and/or beautiful (eg., a beach or mountain area, a nice hotel for a night, etc). I find that even a day away revitalizes my will to engage in more adventurous traveling. I do know you cannot do this easily on bikes, with dogs, etc!!

My earlier offer of a place to stay (dog and vegan friendly) in the USA is still available when you get here.

I salute your spirit of adventure and continue to wish you both well on your journey.
"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company". Mark Twain
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:02 AM   #161
kuhjunge OP
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Howdy flei,

great to hear you enjoy our writings. Honestly, Ghana is rather "overpopulated" in such a way that we had troubles to find solitude even for a day.

and you have a PM.
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Old 04-07-2014, 01:45 PM   #162
what blackflies?
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Very entertaining ride report. Riding with your dogs through some of the world's most primitive areas is probably a challenge that no other RTW rider has encountered.

When you get to North America you should take advantage of the "tent space" offerings in order to reduce your costs and to meet interesting people.

Hyva matka.
Rick, Chapleau, ON
Triumph Scrambler 900
Honda Trail CT90

Flying with Rick float plane video:

nofate screwed with this post 04-07-2014 at 06:41 PM Reason: spelling
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:39 PM   #163
kuhjunge OP
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Wink Ghana - part one

Entering Ghana was another easy border-crossings or maybe I got used to the procedures already? For the first time we were asked to show our yellow-fever cards to a nurse at the health check. A “friendly” helper approached and showed me which building to go next (well that was clear even without him). Anyway he advised to go straight to the big boss. He pointed at the person and stayed suddenly clearly back like he would be in the room with me by accident. Big boss is always a good advise, so I went to the boss and the boss started to fill out the carnets. When I told him that we also have dogs he instantly asked whether I import a gun. WTF? Well it took me a moment to think and realize that other people might have come here with guns and hunting dogs.

Suddenly my new friend appeared again and he was so eager to call the Vet! Yes, for the first time on our travels a Vet was called to see the dogs and read their papers. Ok – West African style. I took out one dog at the time from the sidecar and presented her to the Vet. He looked at each girl with a respectful distance of about 1 meter, nodded and was obviously happy to see our dogs. After that we went inside his office on the opposite side of the street from the customs building and he looked at the three passports. Some minutes later he said “thank you” and I could go on with the customs issues. I think he was a muslim due to the praying carpet on the floor. I really would like to know what went through his head that moment. Customs was done, carnets stamped and my friend was hoping that I change some money – sorry my friend, I had already done that and I started my bike.

We stayed in the first bigger village after the border-crossing. We found a nice looking and cheap lodge – only 20 GHS (about 6 EUR). It was quite comfortable and lucky us the electricity came back when it got dark. Water was from the big barrel in the room and drinking water from another dwell some 50m away from the hotel. The owner was nice and we had a small talk until he asked that we give him one dog. “F*** OFF GUY” I thought! There were at least 3 stray dogs around the house. Take on of them and provide that dog with love and care. After that I simply ignored him and his blablabla...

A typical boutique - just like that - in the village.
It was Saturday we were in Tamale and the clock showed it was 1300. We rode only about 200km but we were ready to escape from the heat. We headed towards a lodge with free Wifi which advertisement signs we had seen at the main street. The room had air-conditioning and costed already 20 EUR, but seemed like a fair price for one night to cool down. Once more when we asked about the dogs, they said no problem, they can sleep inside the yard. We answered “No, they come with us inside the room”. He was not very pleased but accepted us anyway. When I took girls out for their evening business, he sat there and here are the highlights of our following dialogue:

Manager: Now you take them out for shit?
Me: Yes.
Manager: And now they will not poo or pee in the room until morning.
Me: No, they won't.
Manager: Aaaaahhh ... and they have eaten?
Me: Yes, they have.

Discussion went on about Ulpu's age and where is her mother and so on, then I had enough and said friendly goodnight. I could not say for sure, but it appeared that none of the locals had their dogs inside the house and the plain idea of letting dogs inside sounded like an alien idea. They also seemed to be astonished that we took our dogs for a walk several times a day. This is of course also the case in many homes in Europe, dogs are only kept outside, never inside and kept as guardian dogs. Even then dog owners walk their dogs at least once in a while.

The road to Kintampo was boring as the days before and with the usual potholes. I noticed that up to now, we had trouble to find “what-I-call-nice” streets. The majority of the roads we rode in Africa so far were either major roads (red in “Reise-know-how” map) with the corresponding traffic in sometimes good and sometimes bad conditions or the roads are more like trials (white or dashed grey) and by far not enjoyable for us at all. Those trial roads are maybe fun with a lightweight solo bike (like the Chinese Super-K or so) but not for my rather heavy sidecar and Skippy with her Suzi. The “golden middle” has been missing (yellow roads) most of the time.

We stayed two nights in St. Michael's hotel. It was a sweet set-up of rooms, our room had air-conditioning and things were working most of the time. Since I had enough of those internet problems, I finally bought me a USB modem. Yeah – internet, here we come back
What an enjoyment to browse internet when I want and with speed!

Parking in front of the room.

Chicken everywhere!

The place also had its own plantain tree...

as well as cocoa tree.

Where there are chicken there are roosters.

A typical truck with a lot of pollution. The downside of using very old vehicles and no inspections.

Please charge my battery too :)

Shopping street with boutiques for oils and car parts,


and grills.
Between Kintampo and Kumasi was the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary. I felt like seeing some monkeys and we decided to visit this place on our way to Kumasi. The road towards the sanctuary was rather ok (white road) with one really bad spot. I made it, Skippy fell. The mirror came off from the gas-handle (not where it should come off!), the helmet-camera holder was breaking the plastic cover on its fixing point and such. Skippy was pissed because it was my fault since I wanted to go to the sanctuary – I rest my case.

The sanctuary was ok-ish. First they were very keen on getting our money. The guided tour takes 45+ minutes and takes you through some very nice pieces of forest and most likely the village. The guide picked me up from the registration office and he told me the story as we walked along. They had two kinds of monkeys there. They were both very cute and the one kind was coming closer to us whereas the other stayed away in the trees. We were lucky to see the latter one at all as it might be that they hide very well from the tourists. The guide dragged me to a souvenir shop in the village – sorry no souvenirs for me. It was nice to see those little fellows bouncing around without cages around them. According to the story, the monkeys come every day in the morning and evening to the village to feast and you better hide your food or it will be gone ;)

Cute little monkey - not shy at all.

White man in the forest.

Amazing ficus - it surrounds the host tree until...

the host tree is dead, and once it rotted away it looks like this.

Those were the shy monkeys with a super-long tail.
After the sanctuary we rode to the northern suburbs of Kumasi and found a decent hotel. On the next day Kumasi city became a ride of hell. My GPS guided me straight through the central city and whether it was a special or a normal market day, the traffic in this street did not move anywhere. It took us almost two hours to move a few hundreds meters forward. It was +38C in shade my bike was running hot and so did Skippy's. The Suzi has developed this feature that when the engine runs hot it stalls due to low battery. For some unknown-to-me reason the Lithium battery in the Suzi does not like heat and seems to loose its capacity. Or the generator does not charge enough when riding stop-and-go traffic compared to the consumption of the bike with lights on, fan running etc.

In the middle of this crowd and surrounded by dozens of nosy people, we jumpstarted Skippy's bike and were able to move 10 meters. Finally one of the major trouble spots was passed and then I saw in the mirror that Skippy's bike was off again. I left the sidecar where it was now in addition to the peoples cars surrounded the bike honking wildly. On my way to Skippy three policemen showed up and told me I could not park my bike there. I told them that I did not park there, but stop in order to help my wife.

I just left them thinking about whatever they wanted to think about and walked away (I really could not care less at that moment). Now the stalling bikes, the heat and ALL those people around us staring, talking, yelling “hey white man”, poking, leaning and annoying Hertta. I do not like Zoo-life and especially when I am “inside the cage”. My nerves started to surface as my stress tolerance level reached its critical point. We pushed Skippy's bike forward and needed to let my bike a bit down the hill so we could jumpstart Skippy's bike again.

Some 20 meters later, finally I saw an opportunity to make a U-turn over the lane divider. We did that and got the hell out of there!

Zoo time again ...
We arrived at Lake Bosumtwi– the only natural lake in Ghana, which was formed by a meteor some millions of years ago. We almost found paradise when we settled at the Lake Point Guest house for a decent price of 15 EUR/night. Plenty of green grass as well as mango, palm and other trees providing plenty of shade. The room was big, clean and had own WC and shower. The only negative issue was that the tap water was feeling slimy and instead of a fresh feeling after shower, we both got a slimy and sticky feeling. Drinking water was not available in near distance and the lake water was really hot and looked rather dirty. Yet, we all enjoyed our short stay there and girls could play a little bit before the heat calmed them down :)

Parking at the reception.

Beautiful garden

Skippy is thinking, searching and not happy at all.

Ant in a flower.
If that water would have been drinkable (when we left I saw that there was a pump for water where the gravel roads starts – tough luck), I guess we would have stayed for longer at that place. Lately we started to wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning and be on the road latest by 8. At least the first two hours provided some kind of only-warm air instead of the hot-air fan blowing into our faces after midday. It was a longer riding day and we made it all the way to Accra. We headed towards Kokrobite and started our search for an accommodation.

Water, electricity and petrol.
Ever since we set foot onto African soil we realized that supply on water and electricity was often interrupted. Ghana had been the worst of all the countries we had been so far. Electricity cut-offs of up to 12 hours, day after a day were normal. Typically water was pumped from the supply tanks into our room and the electricity cut also meant no water. If there came water from the city, this service also had heavy interruptions. Then we heard people complaining about significant price increases in order to build up service quality.

Electricity and water tariffs went up 79 and 52 percent by Oct 1st 2013 (source at Now that is heavy for people and businesses!

I asked myself why am I complaining so much about that, where I claim I feel like being a Finn? I remembered some summer-cottage 4 weeks holiday period where there was no running water and no electricity at all. We had lake water in buckets to wash and needed to carry drinking water from the mainland. Well it's quite ok for some time and it's even fun to escape the modern world. It's just not fun to be in a hotel that isn't prepared with bucket water! So when there is no electricity there is also no water at all! You have to remember yourself to fill all possible water bottles in case of emergency. Maintaining girls' cleanlinesses is also much more difficult.

Getting things like flights, shipping, visa and dog papers organized in the modern world without the tools of a modern world is on the other hand cumbersome and not fun anymore!

The filling stations indicated whatever prices from 1.79 to 2.55 GHS and wherever we went the price was the same 2.55GHS (0.72EUR/l). When riding this post, the price has risen again now to 2.73GHS and the signs are still the same. I guess the filling station owners gave up to maintain a correct price level at the street sign as the prices seems to go up so frequently.

I also saw many people in Ghana cooking on wooden-coal stoves (see picture above). We need a stove mostly to make food for girls since we eat mostly fruits and salads. For our next cooker we will try this one BioLite campstove and then we avoid the trouble of gas or petrol!

Enjoy another travelogue “Made by Skippy” :)

~ Wolfi
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Old 04-09-2014, 05:55 AM   #164
kuhjunge OP
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Originally Posted by nofate View Post
Very entertaining ride report. Riding with your dogs through some of the world's most primitive areas is probably a challenge that no other RTW rider has encountered.

When you get to North America you should take advantage of the "tent space" offerings in order to reduce your costs and to meet interesting people.

Hyva matka.
Thank you for the hint with "tent space" offerings. I guess that NA will be a challenge on our budget nevertheless we want to explore it and not just ride through.

It seems that people in West-Africa (exclude Morocco - its too western there) have not seen such kind of dogs and are extra curious
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:55 AM   #165
Wow, that broke easy
Joined: Jun 2008
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Just a note to brighten your spirits.

Remember this post from Senegal 3/17:

Originally Posted by kuhjunge View Post
Skippy and me discussed where to go next. Originally (very very first plans) we wanted to go to Mali and Burkina Faso but changed that plan due to the civil war activities in Mali. Instead we wanted to go through Guinea and Ivory Coast. Now when it was time to get the visa and we had a closer look at the map, we realized that long passages of the major roads would be gravel roads (meaning we would share the dust with all those trucks) and the no-mans-land between Guinea and Ivory Coast was to our knowledge some 20 km long (Morocco-Mauritania was still fresh in our memories). The level of corruption was supposed to be higher in Guinea compared to Senegal and even higher in Ivory Coast.
Someone, somewhere, was watching out for you guys.
Guinea is struggling with an Ebola outbreak, the first cases of which were reported around March 19th (right around the time you would have entered).
If you went through Guinea rather than Mali -> Burkina Faso then you would be in deep trouble because you could have difficulty traveling with that stamp (in that date range) on your passport.
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