Rendezvous in Kumasi
The time came to drive to Kumasi, the goal of this part of the trip, to visit our daughter Janne who does a internship on a primary school in Kumasi, the biggest city in Ghana.
The road from Elmina to Kumasi was OK but it took almost seven hours to drive 250km because of the many giant speed bumps and countless police checkpoints. They always stop us because also the police never saw a car like this. Today I had to show my drivers licence about 15 times, but no real problems. Sometimes discussions, for instance because they think we got false Ghanaian plates (also yellow).
Then, in the late afternoon we arrived at the New Destin Education Centre. (destineducationcentre.com) It was happy rendezvous. Janne and Nathalie just had finished their lessons and together with a few children they showed us around. We met most teachers and a lot of the almost 400 children!
The next day we joined a few lessons, it were their last lessons in their internship of three months. After the last lesson we went to the market. Next week they will fly back home. We met Eugene, the Dutch-Ghanaian founder of the school, and a part of his family. Fantastic man, fantastic family where the girls found a good and safe place to stay.
After two nights it was already time to leave Kumasi. It was a full day driving to guesthouse Bigmillys, Kokrobite, near Accra. Here we leave the car for about seven weeks before we will continue our trip, driving a CX to Africa. We spend our last two days at the coast again, cleaning, packing en relaxing. The CX got a high pressure cleaning including the interior! That's the way they do it in Africa....
To be continued
The car performed very well just a few small repairs. The CX used 340 liters of petrol in 3750 km, which isn't too bad for an old heavily loaded car designed in the seventies, driving mostly on bad roads with lots of stopping and accelerating.
The 26th of January we will fly back to Accra and hope to drive the CX back to Banjul, maybe via Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Especially in Ghana the people really loved the car. Everywhere we in Ghana people shouted to us: I love your sports car!
Down to the ocean
The next morning we visited the interior of the biggest church in Africa. A friendly guide showed us all the fantastic details like air-conditioning in the benches and elevators in the main pillars. Everything is just huge. Lots of marble everywhere and huge stained glass windows.
From Yamoussoukro we drove the same day to Abidjan on the only real four lane highway we saw so far in West Africa. What a pleasure to drive 100 km/h without potholes. Some parts where a bit dangerous in our opinion because they closed one way and guided all traffic in both directions to two lanes without any warning or signs.
We passed Abidjan and drove to Grand Bassam where we checked in at a nice hotel right at the beach. After about ten days we saw the Atlantic Ocean again!
From Abidjan to Elmina, Ghana
The CX is driving better and better, we think because the better petrol and maybe also something else fixed itself. Or it just likes Africa! We only lost some balance in the front wheels because we hit a few terrible potholes with high-speed. The front rims are a bit square now...
Because of a terrorist attack a few years ago the tourist business almost completely collapsed in Grand Bassam. We had the beach for ourselves and the restaurants and bars were empty. A real pity for all the people who made a living out of this beautiful place.
Grand Bassam is a World Heritage Site because of the many historical buildings from the old days in the 19th century when it was the main harbour and capital of Ivory Coast.
The second evening we had the best food so far in West Africa, in Case Blue during a tropical rainstorm. A nice restaurant in the old part of Grand Bassam. The streets were flooded when we drove back to our hotel but with the CX in high position we managed easily.
After a day relaxing at the beach we drove to Cape Three Points in Ghana where we want to have another two days of relaxing at the beach. The border was not too difficult, it were only again the Ivorian customs who took a very long time to stamp our carnet.
Because of the unusual rains of the past week the small road to Cape Three Points through the jungle was quit a challenge for the Citroen. But it did excellent so now we know it also drives quite well on muddy roads. When we arrived the car really looked as a rally car. Mud everywhere.
We stayed three nights in the Escape 3 Points eco lodge. A little paradise on a deserted beach, a bar/restaurant and a few nice bamboo, natural ventilated, huts.
Two mornings, at sunrise, we saw the release of sea turtles who came out of there buried eggs that night, crawling to the ocean.
From Cape Three Points we had an easy three hour drive to Elmina. We checked in at the Stumble Inn. Elmina is the oldest and one of the biggest formal gold, ivory and slave trading posts in Africa. The Dutch had an important role in that terrible history. Elmina has been a Dutch trading post for many years in the 17th and 18th century after we captured it from the Portuguese. That is why still so many cultural habits and even the language in Suriname resemble to the culture.
We did a tour in the impressive castle and visited the rooms of the governor and the dungeons where the slaves were kept before they were deported through ‘The door of no return'. Unfortunately the guide was not so good.
The people in Ghana all love our 'sports car'. They just never saw a car like this. (Look at the rim)
From Bamako we drove in two long days to Yamoussoukro in Ivory Coast. The scenery changed from dry savannah to lush green forests. The roads in Mali were most of the time fine but Ivory coast was almost the whole day a battle with terrible deep potholes. For the CX not a real problem compared to the overloaded trucks and buses. We saw many of them wrecked on or beside the road. Flat tyres, broken axles, etc.
the border wasn't too hard but of course it takes a long time and they tried to get some money out of our pockets. But as always we refused to pay anything and in the end they let us through. That's really the only drawback of travelling West Africa. Lots of checkpoints and annoying policemen and soldiers. But keep smiling and with a bit of small talk and a joke they will let you pass.
i was glad I repaired the wiper because just before Yamoussoukro we had our first tropical rainstorm. In a few minutes the road converted in a awfull smelling river. The rainy season is still not completely finished. The one and only wiper of the CX could hardly get the water from the screen...
Here two other small videos we made in Mali. What a nice country!
After one week travelling we arrived in Bamako,the capital of Mali and the original finish place of the Budapest to Bamako rally. Because we are the only participants reaching Banmako I think we wob the rally Everything really fine so far. We enjoy travelling with the Citroen CX. It’s comfortable, fast and very silent compared tot he Mercedes 1113 truck with which we normally travel.
We arrived in Banjul a week ago and found the car in good condition at the place of our friend who lives near the airport. Only dust everywhere but no animals, insects or whatsoever. It even started quit easy after nine months waiting We cleaned the car a bit and did some repairs on the car the next day. Changed a front wheel bearing and the starter, cleaned the spark plugs and fixed a few other issues. The rest we will try to do on our trip. The screen wiper is competely stucked and not working anymore. Maybe a problem because sometimes it rains a little bit…
After two nights we thought the car should be ready to go so we said goodbye to our super kind hosts and drove to Banjul to do some shopping's. The car was not driving really smooth but wit a few adjustments on the carburettor and the timing we made it. We decided to have a lazy Sunday afternoon at Pocoloco, a popular tourist beach bar.
The next day we drove to Janjanbureh, Georgetown in the old days. Lots and lots of police and military checkpoints but never a real hassle. The CX seems to like fresh petrol because it’s running like never before.
From Janjanbureh we drove in one day to Mako in the southeast in Senegal. Mostly the roads and pistes were OK but sometimes it was hell because of roadworks and loads of trucks producing clouds of red dust. In Mako we stayed at the Keur Annick at the Gambia River were we even lucky with a glimpse of a hippo in the river at sunset.
After few Gazelle beers and and a good rest we drove the next day almost 450km to Manantaly. A very long day indeed including a border crossing which is always time consuming in Africa. Mali is landlocked so all goods have to come by truck either from Dakar or Abidjan. So the borders a quite a chaos. The first thing we discovered in Mali how unbelievable friendly most people are. Quite a difference. No annoying police checks here but giant speed humps in every village. That ment we had to turn the CX in every village in high position, something surprises the locals every time. They never saw a car like this before!
The last 100km were on a beautiful piste through small villages. The last hour we had to drive in the darkness. Something we normally never do but we wanted to reach Cool Camp Mali (http://www.coolcampmali.com) where our travel friend Casper has a campsite at the Bafing river near the hydopower dam. With the help of our four big Cibie rally lighttbeams we drove safely to Casper.
It was a nice rendez vous with Casper who we had seen the last time in 2010 in Ethiopia when he was still travelling himself. Now he built a nice relaxing place at the river with lots of nice trees, gardens, a banana plantation, animals, etc. We joined Casper the next day for a visit to a nearby village to do some talking and tru to fit glasses to the older people which was very funny. When we arrived back in Cool camp a lamb was just born. We had another nice evening with Casper and slept another night in our little tent.
From Manantali it was another long day driving to Bamako, the capital of Mali. First the same beautiful but rough piste of 100km and then a good tar road. Just before sunset we crossed the mighty Niger river in Bamako and checked in at the Sleeping Camel guesthouse/bar/restaurant next tot he German Embassy. I think our car looked a bit like a Mad Max Jihad terrorist car because we were stopped in the road with a policeman with a machine gun. They just had never seen a car like this before. After explaining what we were doing there they let us through. The only signs of a little tense situation in this part of Mali. There stilll are a lot of foreign soldiers in Mali to protect the people, but not in the southern part of Mali.
We spoiled ourselves with a big airconditioned room, a few big Castel beers and pizza’s and cheeseburgers. We will stay another night here, fix some issues on the car, talk to fellow travellers and other interesting people here. Tomorrow, sunday we will head to Ivory coast
This friday we hope to see our CX back in Banjul, Gambia to continue our epic trip through Africa. Same driver, different copilot, this time my wife Bien will join me. See the TEAM page.
The plan is to visit our daughter who is doing a trainee ship as a teacher in Kumasi, Ghana.
In three weeks we will drive about 3500 km from Gambia via Senegal, Mali, Ivory coast to Ghana. From the Sahel to the tropical rain forests. The rainy season is ending, let's see how the CX will manage....
We will try to fill this blog regularly for the next weeks
Driving on the market in Banjul
Finally found some time to make a video of our trip from Budapest to Banjul.
Enjoy the video
The CX Rally team is back home. After a warm welcome on the finishline by our three beautiful ladies we spent a week relaxing on the beach in Banjul and visiting friends in the Gambia and the Casamance.
Again we wish to thank all our donors and sponsors, see also the the sponsor page. We collected 1718 euros for the two projects we support. Thanks again everybody!
.Garage Hydraulique supported us with fresh spareparts to make our return to Europe possible.
For the CX we found a safe, inshallah, place for the next half year or more before we will drive it back home. Or maybe further into Africa. Mali? Ghana? We will see. To be continued.
In two days we drove on tar roads from Georgetown to the finish line in Banjul. Roads were fine but really too much checkpoints. In this part of Gambia there is a military, customs or police checkpoint every other 5 minutes. The last night before Banjul we spent in Tendaba on the shore of the river Gambia. Last night in our tents! The finish in Serekunda was a great happening when all teams went through the finishline. All people really like the CX very much! We made it! I was even interviewed by Japanese TV.
Yesterday we arrived in the Gambia, the final destination of the rally. The border crossing was smooth except the Gambian customs. For some of the crews it took over three hours. We followed the northern bank route over horrible gravelroads for the first part but slowly the road became better and better. The CX runs really well on these kinds of roads. Most of the time we put it in high driving position which gives the car about 4 cm more ground clearance This route involved two ferrycrossings, always a nice happening in Africa. For entering the ferry we had to put the CX in the highest position which gives an extra 6 cm clearance. The night we spent on a deserted birdwatching camp. Beautiful spot but no cold beers;-(. Happily we still had a cold South African white wine in the fridge ;-) This morning was the official opening of the waterwell, one of the charity projects of the rally for which we also collected money and donated 1200 US dollar.
Today an easy day and a short stage if only about 250km. We drove from the Baobab camp to Wassadou camp, a beatiful spot at a river. The CX is running like never before. She starts to like Africa I think. In Tambacounda we ended up in a few roadblocks of protesters against the plan of the government to implement taxes on motorbikes and scooters. Burning tyres and lots of stones on the road. A tense situation but the police looked in control. This was one of the very few days we arrived with daylight at the camp and were able to have a proper shower before our sundowner. Ice cold beer from Holland...
I will upload more pictures when we have proper internet.
Kees and Bien
A limousine, a grand lady but also a tough winning rally car in the 1977 -1979 editions of the Rally du Senegal and winning