We found it, a travelogue Twitter thread that could serve as a guide for tourists planning to embark on a road trip across West African countries.
The information tourists need to be armed with and how to prepare for the trip is well detailed in this thread of tweets.
From Lagos, Nigeria to Cotonou in Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and down to Dakar in Senegal, a Nigerian Travel and lifestyle blogger @AinaTalks gives a breakdown of her tour across these countries and the challenges to expect.
“Carry your complete documents and plenty extra money for bribe. Your English will not save you,“ she advised while narrating how immigration officers at the borders of all the countries she visited with her partners demanded a huge sum of money as bribes despite having the required travel documents.
Except in Ghana where she said the border security operatives were courteous and ready to provide help.
“The immigration police at the borders of Ghana are the best; they never harass you. They even gave us tips on what to do in Ghana. Amazing?”
My friend mentioned touring west Africa by road and I was sold, so I packed my bags some 2 weeks after he left and got on the road with another friend. We had to google everything we needed to know about border procedures and all that but we could hardly find details about all of that. There’s a lot of French going on and we speak only English so communicating our questions to the new people was going to be a Herculean task so this is a thread about how the journey has been so far. The cost breakdown and other tips will be on my blog soon
Nigeria to Cotonou:
We took a sienna from Mile 2 to seme border for 1500. It was pretty comfortable and the journey wasn’t so bad. The journey should be about 2 hours but The roads are horrible though so about 4/5 hours. There are smaller cabs that play that route too.
The walk from the last drop to the border is about 8 minutes and you have to walk through. DO NOT TAKE A BIKE IT IS A SCAM!!! Be armed with your passport and yellow card please. And bribe. The border procedures are usually easy, ask for your documents then stamp. But usually they demand for bribes and if you don’t pay that meins you sleep there. Once you cross over, there’ll be cars in the park waiting to take you to Cotonou and bureau de change to convert the Naira you can no longer spend to CFA.
Benin Republic to Togo:
Small cabs (bush taxis) you’ll find around the park in Dantokpa market will take you to Lomé, Togo. The border procedures are pretty much the same.
Benin – Burkina Faso:
We used TCV travel and tours to travel from Benin to Burkina Faso and I absolutely recommend. The buses are comfortable, AC fitted and they have charging spots. We moved by 12 am and it was my first midnight journey. I slept through half of it; I felt safe.
There are a number of checkpoints on the roads before the border, most of them will demand for bribe, as if having an ECOWAS passport or being Nigerian Issa curse. Booking your hotel online will be the best thing you can do or you’ll sleep in pricey room without a bathroom door
Burkina Faso to Ghana:
We took an OA bus from Ouagadougou station to Tamale, Ghana but they usually go to Kumasi and Accra also. The immigration police at the borders of Ghana are the best; they never harass you. They even gave us tips on what to do in Ghana. Amazing?
We ran out of cash at this point, and had to change money so we had to look for a Nigerian we could transfer go who’d give us CFA in cash. It wasn’t as difficult as you’d imagine, Nigerians are really everywhere. But they scammed us and we lost at least 200 cedis. Shame.
Burkina Faso to Mali:
We took an overnight bus, also OA from the Central Park in Ouagadoudou to Bobo-Dioulasso. Then we got on another bus to Bamako, Mali from the OA station. Entire journey lasted about 24 hours.
The soldiers at the Mali borders ARE NOT PLAYING!!! they asked for 5,000CFa and delayed our bus for at least 45 minutes when we mostly refused to pay. They eventually let us go without paying.
Mali – Senegal:
This leg of the journey has been the most eventful. Nothing could have prepared us for such horrible roads. We took a nour bus everyone but Seyi had recommended and soon enough we regretted that decision
The bus broke down shortly after we took off (2 hours later than the specified time) and it took 3 hours to fix. Once we got on the express, we spent the next 2 hours holding everything solid in sight and Praying to God to keep us safe. If we die in the middle of nowhere my mother doesn’t even know where exactly I am we were convinced the bus was going to tip over but it didn’t. And we made it to the Mali border where the officials asked for 10,000cfa. They didn’t even negotiate a lot, locked up our documents and kicked us out.
Our bus would have left us but for a kind woman who acted mummy and made the driver wait for us at the Senegalese border. We waited for an hour until the bus company called the police officer and begged him to take 5k cfa from us. Lmao. And we still said thank you sir!!! madness
Senegalese border, the first thing they did was to take my friend’s taser the greedy man even followed him to unload all the bags in the bus just so he could collect the taser. Say na haram and no types of weapons are allowed. We also paid 5k cfa by beg before we could stamp
There are like custom checkpoints every 20 minutes and each time they searched inside all the bags. The bus broke down again once we crossed the Senegalese border, inside the bush this time. It took 5 hours to fix, this was 10pm and I was sick of the whole journey.
There was a bonfire everyone danced and clapped around and it was the most beautiful thing. Just watching people from completely different places who can barely communicate have such a good time while we were stuck in a messy situation. Phones were dead painfully so no pictures
The journey finally ended and Sarah, the kind woman we met on the bus took us to her house to shower and eat . She also negotiated with the Air b n b owner and we got an extra room for free. She speaks no English, we speak no French so we mostly communicate via “sign language”.
Still In Dakar, we haven’t clearly mapped the next leg but it should take us through Gambia, Mauritius and Morocco. The most important tips – Always negotiate money before you get into a taxi. If not they will change it for you and you don’t understand French
Carry your complete documents and plenty extra money for bribe. Your English will not save you. Get all your vaccinations and carry along mosquito repellents, antibiotics, antimalarials and most importantly sun screen. Naija sun is early morning sun compared to these ones.
We got tired of eating tchiep, so today @da_diarist went to find a local market and bought stuff to cook. The pepper tastes completely different from ours and the onion had a really strong smell. @seyialbert_ couldn’t eat it at all because of the amount of pepper
Dakar, Senegal makes me forget all the hassles we went through on the road. The most beautiful town I’ve ever been in and now, more than ever, I want to tell you the things you have dreamed of all your life are within reach. Only if you can go through the process.
6 countries later, 2 weeks on the road with @da_diarist, 4 weeks for @seyialbert_ and we’re finally having the time of our lives. Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and touristing like cool kids. The greatest lesson I’ve learnt on this trip so far is love really does conquer all.
See her tweet:
My friend mentioned touring west Africa by road and I was sold, so I packed my bags some 2 weeks after he left and got on the road with another friend. We had to google everything we needed to know about border procedures and all that but we could hardly find details pic.twitter.com/Qkk1JNP3rQ
— Odd Labalábá (@AinaTalks) October 30, 2019