The Journey

Nguti to Ikom


- a thick red clay track, saturated by torrential rains that soak to the skin in a second, as slippery as a buttered marble;

- a twisty track through thick tropical jungle, teeming with bloodsucking bugs, pythons and razor-sharp thorns;

- huge water-filled holes of impossible depths every 100 metres or so

- a gaggle of 4x4s and motorbikes, all vying for that one imaginary line of least resistance through the chaos.

Yes, we did officially find THE WORST ROAD IN AFRICA!

Made worse by our distrust of Stanruza, we set off early from Nguti, stopping to pick up a “professional driver “ by the name of Elias, to assist us through the 100km or so that lay ahead to the Cameroon/Nigeria border. After our experiences on the muddy track the evening before, we were taking no chances.

We had been warned of the stretch ahead, especially the 65 km from Mamfe to the border, but had no choice in the matter, as we were still expected in Ghana early July, and time was not on our side. Just to add that the other roads in Cameroun had been excellent by African standards, all tarred and with a minimum of potholes. It appeared that money was only spent on infrastructure benefiting the majority Francophone area of Cameroun, whereas the English speaking area north of Limbe was neglected, which led to a lot of resentment on their part. They rightly felt they did as much if not more for the country than other areas, as the area was rich in farming, had a thriving port, and a massive oil refinery, but that the French dominated government was deliberately ignoring their needs.

Starting out Annaliese in the backStan after a few "Heavy" spots

Elias expressed doubt as to whether the journey could be completed that day, and told us it would be “very difficult’. What an understatement. In order to cater for Elias,we had moved the fridge to the back of Stan, and made a temporary seat in its place behind the driver. Elias insisted on driving from the outset, which Stewart almost took affront to, until almost immediately after we set off, an “impassable” stretch of muddy slush of steep decline was negotiated without even a comment by Elias. That was the end of any discussion as to whom was going to drive!

Some of the locals cheering us on and some fellow drivers

Stan literally slid from side to side across whatever straight bits of road presented themselves to us. The preferred way of driving round a bend was to push the car into either the foliage or muddy bank on one side of the track, so as to prevent it from sliding around, and then to drive at an impossible angle until the road straightened. With Stan already top-heavy, this made for some gravity defying moments.

Occasionally the track split around a deep water filled hole , where some or other vehicle had clearly been dug out over many days. Early on we passed an OverLander truck, and the bedraggled inhabitants told us they had taken 10 DAYS to get there from Ekok, the border town.

Any idea which way?Spot the mags

Getting stuck was inevitable. No amount of a mixture of tiptoe driving and Rambo style revving and smoking tires was enough to get out of all the trouble. Vehicles from the opposite direction made things even more complicated, and one vehicle, after charging us R50 to be used as a tow point to winch us out of a hole, promptly drove past and ripped Stan’s wheel cover off!

The winch was proving an invaluable piece of equipment ( than you Liesbeth and others for insisting we get one), but the impossible strains put on the cable, had to take their toll, and on the 5th or 6th time we hauled ourselves out of the glutinous mud, the cable snapped, putting even more pressure on Elias to avoid getting stuck.

This involved much spade digging, pushing and pulling Stan in knee deep mud by ourselves and fellow travelers and locals from the nearby villages. Many locals were amazed to see us, with the children shouting out “white, white” whenever they spotted us. In a mixture of broken English and Pidgin, the locals told us to “go back, is no good”. The camaraderie between fellow strugglers through the mud was amazing, however. At one stage 2 locals had hacked an alternative route around an impassible water-filled pit, and were charging the equivalent of R20 for its use, which we paid gladly.

Not an ounce of vanity left girls! Roadside attraction

The heavy revving and riding of the clutch took its toll on Stan’s weakness, and much to our dismay, the clutch started slipping once more. Elias had no choice but to ignore it as he lurched and heaved Stan ever forwards.

After about 6 hours, Elias stopped for a local meal of fu fu and relish – the relish so hot it was almost unbearable.The meat was of some unknown origin, but we joined him, closed our eyes and ate. He then announced that he believed we would make the border that evening, as we had made such good time , with only 25 km left to the border!

Hot stuff local fufuNo words needed

Well, 3 hours later, and with Stan and ourselves covered in mud from head to toe, we drove up to the border post, much to the amusement of the locals. The usual “go slow” border officials and “on the take” hangers on failed to wipe the grins off our faces of having made the trip in record breaking time - 9 hours!!

WE MADE IT YEEEEaahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We paid to have the worst of the mud washed off Stan, having been told the Nigerians would not allow us through the border without doing so, bade farewell to Elias, the best mud driver in the world, and drove over the bridge and onto a tar road into Nigeria. The border post on the Nigerian side was lengthy but friendly and very welcoming , and we were soon on our way to Ikom, some 25kms away (which took only 30 minutes!!), where we booked into the grandly named Heritage Hotel for the night.

Our ordeal was over, we had made it – into Nigeria!

Ikom to Abuja


Well why the Heritage Hotel was recommended, we do not know. Turns out that it could have been nice about 10 years ago. What we do not get yet, is the African bathroom scenario. Firstly, the shower (if there is one) is never attached to the wall so you wet the whole place whilst you use it and washing your hair is a practice in spraying the toilet (which is usually next to the “shower”) This place however, had a new contraption. A bath……the first we have seen since our visit to Zack in the UK, BUT alas, our joy was soon over as we realized there was no plug. Our enquiries were met with blank stares as the staff  clearly never heard of such a thing and pointed to a small bucket in the bath. That , for goodness sake, is the way to clean yourself!! Next problem is that Nigerians might have a fetish about clean cars, but this certainly does not extend to their bathrooms. Not exactly what we needed as we were covered in mud from head to toe not to mention the cuts and bruises all over from the sharp thorns and blades of grass on the side of the road.

 Some "lovely" decorations in the hotel Some great roads

The evening meal turned into another circus as we ordered chicken and rice steering well clear of the proudly listed “bush meat” on the menu. What we did not know is that all food in the south of Nigeria is covered in a fiery sauce. Your eyes water just looking at it, Stewart struggled through the meal and was eventually blowing smoke out of his ears, mouth nd nose whilst I enjoyed a huge plate of rice. The next morning at breakfast we met 2 Nigerian businessmen who informed us that the problem with the place is that the owner is not there and he left the running of the place in the hands of staff. The first thing we noticed was how well informed these guys were from everything to politics to African affairs etc. What we enjoyed the most though is the Nigerian way of loudly complaining if things do run as smoothly as they should. Add to this the fact that they are always ready to teach a life lesson and you have  theatre in the making.

 Lots of fresh fruit available at roadsideAlll the bible verses everywhere

We set off on the road to Abuja and marveled at the Nigerian way of living. EVERYTHING has a name related to Christianity. “Gods own mechanic” “Good grace garage” “The ‘sacred’ life hairstylist” and many more. Even the trucks are named with “sacred” verse! The best was listening to the local radio station where the DJ announced "as zonk by Maduuna" !!! You work that one out. Besides that , the country is jam packed with people. There is hardly a square meter open and where there are no people, the land has been cultivated everywhere. Another oddity is the way they speak, they swap some of the letters so ASK becomes AKS !  We were in high spirits and not even the police road blocks could get us down as we greeted them in our most jolly way. They do ask every time “What do you have for me” and are satisfied if we say nothing. Stewart tried to be a wise ass once and told the guy that we have a lot of love for him. He quickly asked Stew “How do you eat love? Show me. ”  Except for one incident where a young policeman stopped the car, promptly pointed a gun right in my face and started screaming at Stew to turn the car off and STEP OUT! (thank god he was reprimanded by his superior) we found the police blocks less and easier than in Cameroon. Our next experience was unpleasant, but we soon got over it. We stopped in Makurdi for diesel. The garages here all have different diesel and petrol prices and even though Nigeria is an oil producing country, the diesel is extremely expensive here. Between R10 and R11 per  litre. The attendant proceeded to fill the tank and then with a smile pointed out that he filled our  tank with 106 litres of fuel!! This is in a tank with a capacity of 100 litres and it was still a quarter full! A huge argument followed which ended with Stewart leaving the money for 85 litres which is what we calculated the fuel to be, on the ground and me speeding off in Stan. Phewww


Unfortunately Stan decided to try his best to change our positive attitude and besides the ever slipping gears, the oil light came on. After checking, we saw the oil was full and to prevent any further damage, turned around to the nearest village. Stew phoned Tony of Roverland in Cape Town (thank you Tony) as we had no idea what to do. Turned out it was a loose wire and in true African style we quickly found an electrician (these people always just seem to appear) had it fixed and were on our merry way.

 Abuja Changing money nigerian way

We made Abuja in good time thanks to the relatively good Nigerian roads and were blown away by this city. It was planned from scratch and built during the 70’s as the capital and believe us, they did a stunning job. Abuja truly is the most beautiful African city outside Cape Town. It is well planned, easy on the eye with tree lined boulevards, stunning buildings, wide highways, traffic that flows and no rubbish lying around. There was even a “no smoking in any public places “  law!


 We got lost of course but quickly found a willing taxi to follow to a hotel I found in the Rough Guide (which unfortunately is 5 years old) The taxi guy got a bit lost too, but great was our joy when he happened to stop right in front of an official Landrover dealer on one of his wrong turns. Both of us being African and the eternal optimists, we could not wait for the next morning when we will get back here, ask them to fix Stan once and for all and then continue our journey. 

 The cathedral  and the mosque

Our arrival in Abuja was also unfortunately marred by the very sad news we received as we got there. One or our dear friends, Sandy Germanis sadly passed away in Cape Town. Sandy was truly one of God’s  angels and we treasure all the time we spend with her. Our support and love to Spiros, Alex, George, Jason and Eleni. We are so sad that she will be unable to hold her first grandchild who is due in October.


The hotel, by the name of Retsham Cloistres turned out to be an overpriced second rate “losieshuis” but it had a huge bed with clean sheets, the same kind of bathroom as the night before, except there was a hand held shower over the bath so we gladly settled in.


We rushed to the Landrover dealer the next morning not even waiting for breakfast, only to have our bubbles burst as we arrived. We were told in no uncertain terms that they can only help us in a weeks time, sorry.(Compare this to Toyota dealers, the car of choice for everyone traveling through Africa except these two potato heads and who , we have been told, helped everyone we met IMMEDIATELY.  GO TOYOTA) The one mechanic took pity on us and suggested we get hold of one of their ex mechanics who now apparently works for himself to take a look at Stan. The guy arrived, had a look at Stan and promised to meet us back at the place the next morning at 8, when he will fit another new disk. He promised we can be on the road by 2 and agreed on a price of US$200 as we are supplying the parts.


We were disappointed to once again have no choice but to use a backyard mechanic but at least have the fact that Ghana will be better to look forward to. We then had Stan washed again as the inside was still completely caked with mud, had the wheel balancing and alignment done by an “official” looking place and spend another night in our hotel.





















Abuja to Owo


We arrived at the place bright and early all ready to met the mechanic and follow him to his workshop. Alas, that was not meant to be, 15 minutes became 30 minutes and longer. Eventually Stewart phoned Tony of Roverland again . He gave him instructions to check a certain valve which could cause the problem and also said that we should be fine to drive at least to Ghana where we hope we will be helped MAYBE if we are lucky by Landrover. There was nothing else we could do, so we set off on the way to Ibadan to get as close to the border with Benin as possible.

 It says"PMT a gift from God" the owner is obviously not female!

For some unknown reason we were still in high spirits and were discussing the fact of how great we find Nigeria, laughing about the shit way they are driving and enjoying the energy of the place. The atmosphere of the day unfortunately started changing somewhat when we were stopped by none other that the “Highway rescue” men. We were informed in a very unfriendly way that we are breaking the law as we are driving a right hand drive vehicle! Hey were not interested in hearing anything we had to say and was clearly waiting for a bribe which we refused to give. They then instructed us to follow them to their office where a very obnoxious man was waiting for us. As usual I find it very hard to keep my mouth shut on  occasions like this and I was telling them in no uncertain terms how sad it is that they are now spoiling our positive view of Nigeria. His answer was “Woman do not speak” For sure the worst thing you can say to me!!! Stew continued the argument and thanks to him we were finally on our way without paying a cent despite them trying to convince us that we are committing a serious crime. (So remember guys, if you happen to drive through Nigeria, please have a spare vehicle with left hand drive available, maybe tie it to your roof?)


From this point , despite us trying to laugh it off, unfortunately the day turned into a nightmare. The gear-slipping saga raised its ugly head again, we got a  bit lost and stopped at a group of guys fixing a truck (or so we thought) for directions. Whilst I was chatting to the one on the drivers side, another guy went to Stewarts side and pointed out to him that there is oil spurting out of the wheel. We know it sounds strange but with Stans history so far, we were fast losing all our faith in the car so at that stage we could believe anything. He quickly directed us off the road into an area on the side of the road where he offered to take a look at it. However, I had a very bad feeling about the whole situation. Unfortunately we were very far from any city or town, and added to that the fact that neither one of us had enough knowledge of how mechanical stuff work, we had no option but to listen to him.

The scam artists before werealised what stunt they are pulling


These guys are complete EXPERTS in scamming. They had Stew wrapped around their little fingers whilst they took the whole wheel apart in seconds despite my objections. Needless to say, they found a broken part…….surprise surprise. What was more amazing is the speed at which a guy appeared out of nowhere with the exact part that was needed!! By this stage we were truly ^^&%$$ed as a part of the wheel was in pieces, there was no way we could put it all together (this whole dismantling took about all of 5 to 10 minutes) and the guy with the part was demanding 110 000 Naira, the equivalent of R8000. At this point the bottom fell out and we both fell apart completely.


To me, this was the end, Nigeria and Africa has truly beaten me. I fail to get why we have to go through all of this. We are supposed to be following our dream, we have been good to everyone we met, we have stayed positive in the face of many negatives, we kept believing in Stan who proceeded to let us down as much as he could, we have spend thousands of dollars thus far on fixing him, so much so that we are unable to complete out trip and here are these scam artists that are now taking our hard earned money, the amount we had set aside for our volunteer work in Ghana.


Eventually 3 armed highway patrol guys arrived at the scene and were so obviously part of the scam that they were not even listening to our story. They just stood there and watched with their bloody guns. I fell apart when we finally left after payment of R6000 (maybe my cursing was worth R2000) and the gears still slipping.  So, here we are, in Nigeria, trying to get to Ghana in a car that is falling apart, no money and with broken souls.


We have no idea how to continue from here, but will keep you all updated.




Owo to Benin ( a.k.a. getting the #!*# out of Nigeria )

Owo to Benin ( a.k.a. getting the #!*# out of Nigeria )

We had limped into Owo the previous night, feeling that it all was unraveling. Our lack of money after having been cleaned out by the scam artists meant we had to beg for a local hotel to accept dollars in lieu of the local currency. After hearing our story, they helped out, so we booked into the First Molac Hotel, on the other side of Owo. We spent a miserable night sharing a meal of “chicken” (looked more like a rat!) and salad. We had a look at our finances and realized that it will be impossible to still do the volunteer work we planned to do in Ghana as our tight budget will just not allow it. This made us feel even more depressed but we had to let Edward Adeli of The Volunteer Corps know as he has been a pillar of strength through all our troubles with Stan. We phoned him and besides being a great shoulder to cry on, he ensured us that a plan will be made and that he still wants us to do the program.


A new day brings new hope and new beginnings and this is especially true in Africa. So we started the day giving thanks to all the good things in life, to all the angels we met along the way and most of all to all of you out there that are supporting us. What made us finally realize that it is worth carrying on is the unwavering faith that our boys and Chrizel have in us, their unfailing support and love have carried us through many dark times and made us aware of the goodness in life.

 Our biggest inspitration THANK YOU guys and to al of you that care so much xxxxxx

 Stewart wandered off to beg a cup of coffee out of the receptionist, and then transferred the last of the diesel in the jerry cans into Stan’s tank, before chatting to the locals about the problem of Stan’s failing brakes. A local “prince” staying at the hotel offered to send his mechanic, but said as today was “Environmental Day” , no none  was allowed to travel on the roads until 10am,  so we would have to wait until after then.  The prince’s mechanic must be very environmentally conscious, as by 10h30  he had  not arrived. Another hotel patron, whose mechanic was literally dismantling and rebuilding his vehicle’s engine in the car park, offered his services, and the breaks were repaired to a state where they at least worked, even though the sounds emanating from the wheel the scam artists had worked on continued to be a worry. Most amazing thing was that this guy wanted NO money……a first in Nigeria!!!


We had decided to push on as far as we could that day, in the hope we might make it out of Nigeria. We made good time initially, but the sprawling mass of the city of Idaban took almost 2 hours to traverse.  We stopped at Abeokuta to spend the last of  our local currency on some more diesel, and pushed on  towards  the border, having decided to  try and make the border that evening.  Despite several wrong turns, we eventually found the road out of Nigeria.


With 5kms to go, we were again stopped by the local   “constabulary” and given a working over. Realizing we actually indeed had no money to give them, they let us go, and we made the border in the gathering gloom.

 Our final goodbye to appropriate! CONOIL>>>>>CONLAND!!!

The border crossing on the Nigerian side was like watching paint dry, made worse by the constant stream of motorbikes and cars passing through the border  without even stopping, simply slowing down to hand the guy manning the boom a fistful of money!


We eventually made it through, and quickly passed through Immigration for Benin, who was as laid back as can be, did not even check for visas, just stamped our passports and told us;

1.      the Customs office was in the next town , Pobe, just 20kms ahead

2.      there were plenty of hotels to choose from in Pobe


So off we headed to Pobe, in the dark and on a deteriorating road – sound like deja vu?  By the time we made Pobe, we had decided to book into the first hotel we found, and to find Customs in the morning. A helpful local, when asked for directions to the nearest hotel, jumped on his motorbike and led us to probably the ONLY hotel in  Pobe, going by the grand name of Molotov Hotel! Besides a problem with the water (there was none), the night guard playing his music all night long, no curtains (the beach towels came in handy), no bedding (Kikois), we got a few hours’ sleep, happy to be out of the clutches of Nigeria.






Pobe to Ouidah


The night watchman’s acid house Benin style music finally drove us out of bed at daybreak, and after repacking the car, we set off in search of Customs. Pobe is a typical border village, full of trucks parked overnight, restaurants and bars to cater to the passing trade, and not much else. Stopping to ask for directions every 100 metres or so, we debated whether 630 am on a Sunday morning was the best time to try and get through Customs.  We really had no alternative, however, and so followed the locals’ directions down a  twisty sandy track, seemingly heading nowhere. When we were just about to turn around we saw an official board and a closed gate. The locals gleefully banged on the gate to wake up the Customs official, who despite the early hour, quickly and efficiently filled in the Carnet for the car, and cheerfully sent us on our way.

 Benin traffic and the road to the Customs

We had worked out that we only had about 150 km or so to go to the tiny seaside town of Ouidah, but we had to pass through 2 cities, Porto Novo and Cotonou, to get there. As we were low on diesel, and by this time had no local money, we needed to find somewhere to change money and to fill up with diesel.

 Taxis Benin style

We drove south, and at Porto Novo managed to exchange the last of our Nigerian money to a few local CFA’s, ( pronounced ceefas). Although  the same name and worth the same as the CFAs used in Cameroon, Gabon and Congo, these were West African CFAs, and  were not interchangeable with Central African CFAs.  We then drove on towards Cotonou, the biggest city in Benin, where once again we encountered the fickleness of Africa.


Approaching Cotonou on a double lane highway, we encountered an MTN branded toll gate. Although there were no signs, there were height and weight restrictions , with vehicles over 3 tonnes or over 2.5 metres in height paying 10 times more than lighter and smaller cars. As we passed under the height restriction bar, a flap of the canvass covering the contents of the roofrack touched the bar. Immediately we were surrounded by guards ordering us to pay the higher fee. Stewart climbed out the car to show them that the height was indeed (just) under 2,5 metres, but they were not interested, and insisted on the higher fee being paid. We then refused, and an argument, complicated by the French/English language divide, ensued. As we in any event did not have enough money for the higher toll, we had to win the argument, and eventually the guards let us through. After the events in Nigeria, our confidence levels were still low, so this incident shook us up more than it probably should have.


Cotonou’s road system soon degenerated, and we found ourselves driving through the city with no idea where to go. We desperately needed to change some money, and eventually stopped at a smart looking hotel, and asked the receptionist if he could assist. He said he could, but that we would have to hand over the dollars to him first, and he would then  return with the CFAs.  Having no choice but to trust him ,we did so, and settled down to a very welcome cup of coffee in the lobby to await his return. And return he did, with  a bundle of CFAs  and directions as to how to get out of the city.


We were assured there were many petrol/diesel stations on the way out of town, and so there were. We stopped at the first one, but they had no diesel. Not thinking it would be a problem, we stopped again at the next one, and the next, and the next … all telling us they had no diesel! By now we had about 40 km to go to Ouidah, and about 70km of diesel left.  We kept stopping at every filling station on the way out of the city, until eventually we found one that had a supply of diesel – but selling it  at 20% above the official price. Beggars can’t be choosers, so we bought as much as they would give us (80 litres), hoping that this would  last us.

 Ouidah and the resort A Voodoo symbol

We then drove onwards to Ouidah,  a small town famous for its beaches, being a voodoo stronghold, and the monuments built to commemorate the 100s of thousands of slaves that left here for the Americas. We found our way to Le Jardin Bresilien, about 4km out of town, a beachfront complex of chalets, restaurant, Olympic size swimming pool, and checked in. What an amazing place this is. We just love the laid back attitude of the locals, and this truly is a place to sooth the soul. Every other traveler we meet just rushes through Benin, but we have now discovered a little piece of paradise and in our minds a compulsory stop after having experienced the WILD WEST Nigerian style if you are coming from the South or to relax and build up strength for the bad roads and people ahead if you come from the north. A true tropical paradise with palm trees, blue skies, white sand beaches and friendly locals.

 A monument celebrating the end to SlaveryThe gate of no return. The slaves entered the boats here and were sent into slavery to USA and Brazil.

The complex was overrun by an MTN promotion, and Stewart joined in the swimming races and volleyball tournament, whilst Annaliese acted as unofficial photographer. We met Hussain, who took a great interest in Stanruza, being the local Landrover dealer!! Of all people.When we told him of our woes, he offered to assist, but advised us all he could  do was “take a look” , as if anything needed repairing, he would have to order parts….  Here we go again!!  We also met Hugo, from the Netherlands but working in Benin, who had traveled to many of the places west and north of Benin we were  going to. He gave us much useful information for the future.

The star starting his race!!!!!And the volleyball game

It was great to relax around the pool for the rest of the day. Later on we took a drive into town, and found a “cyber” ( internet) café to catch up on emails and update the website. Thanks to everyone for their emails and news, it was great to get  them.


(Lester, and others, if you are reading this, please send us your emails  to,  so we can get back to you. If you send us an email from our website, we do not get your address, so cannot reply.).





Stats and Helpful Info



The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:


(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)


Country :  Gabon


Dates:16-18 June


Exchange rate:R1 to 50 CFAs


Number of Nights:  three


Distance traveled:  1 250km


Average distance per day:  565km


Cost of Diesel:   R9.40 per litre


Average fuel consumption:   7.23 km per litre


Diesel used:  173 litres


Worst Road/s:  Lope to Njoli


Best Road/s:    north of Njoli (past the bridge) to Oyem


Favourite new destination:  Lope


Average cost of accommodation:   R600 per night


Number of Bushcamps:  one


Cheapest Acommodation:   Oyem (Hotel M’Vet Palace  - R400 per night)


Most enjoyable:  Hotel Lope




Stats and Helpful Info

The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:


(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)


Country :  Cameroon (Anglophone) or Cameroun (Francophone)


Dates:            18 June to 24 June  


Exchange rate:       R1.00 to 50 CFA


Number of Nights:    six


Distance traveled: 1191 km


Average distance per day:  170 km


Cost of Diesel: R10.90 per litre


Average fuel consumption:  7.59km per litre


Diesel used:  157litres


Worst Road/s:  … in Africa! -  Nguti to Ekok


Best Road/s:  all the other roads (excluding Douala)


Favourite new destination:  Limbe


Average cost of accommodation:  R266.67 per night


Number of Bushcamps:   nil


Cheapest Acommodation:  Limbe Botanical Gardens Guesthouse


Most enjoyable:  Park Hotel Miramar (great pool and DSTV)

Stats and Helpful Info


The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:


(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)


Country :  Nigeria


Dates:            24 June to 28 June 2008    


Exchange rate:       R1.00 equals 15 Niarra (pronounced “Nira”)


Number of Nights:  four


Distance traveled:  1 567 km


Average distance per day: 442km


Cost of Diesel:  between R9.30 and R10.00, depending on which con artist you get served by – and watch that the meter is zero before they start filling!


Average fuel consumption:  7.8 km per litre


Diesel used:  201 litres


Worst Road/s:  watch the potholes  north of Owo!!


Best Road/s:  the road system in Abuja


Favourite new destination:  the border post – leaving!!


Average cost of accommodation:  R438.75


Number of Bushcamps:  nil


Cheapest Acommodation:  Heritage Hotel, Ikom, R315 per night


Most enjoyable:  leaving it behind.



From Ouidah to Grand Popo


We have fallen in love with the tiny Republic of Benin, our 12th country on the trip and 28th one overall. And what is there not to love if the people are laid back, the beaches have golden sand, the sea is blue and the food is good. Added to that the fact that wine is available (no matter that I have tasted better in my student days in the Dros) the accommodation right on the beach and viola! All happy. Never mind the fact that every now and then the water disappears out of the taps and you get caught with soap all over!!!

 No WATER HELP!!The beach and the "Chateau"

As you can see, laid back Benin was the perfect antidote to stressful Nigeria. This is in fact the first country since Namibia that has started a sprinkling of tourism. Here was the first time we saw local trinkets being sold and even guided tours offered. How refreshing and innovative and we do hope that it will pay off as they deserve their place in the sun. We most certainly will promote is as much as we can.

 Local boy.."SSAnd local granny!!

We decided to spend an extra night in beautiful Grand Popo and unfortunately due to this, we will be unable to stay a night in Togo. We have come to realize that we do not cope well with cities and as there is enough stresses to deal with on a daily basis, so sorry Togo, we will just have to get to know you from the inside of Stanruza, who by the way is still moving, not brilliantly but we will at least get to the long awaited Ghana and Mr Adeli!

 Thomas our guide and in themangrove swamps

We got to know the history of Benin a bit better today on a guided walking tour with Thomas, a local from the fishing village next door. The lack of French on our side is still a problem, but with his “small small” English and our “petite petite” French we got at least some information. We went for a walk through 2 villages, one mainly a fishing village and the other the local Voodoo stronghold. We saw some of the temples and sacrifices of this fascinating belief system. The best part was a leisurely “mokoro like trip on the local Mono river. We got to interact with the locals a bit, saw how they grind the coconuts into a flour with a machine that must be at least a 100 years old and got to taste their version of “palm wine” Stew thought it tasted a bit like Grappa just a bit stronger, I just loved it……obviously getting acclimatized!

 Coconut machinePalm wine.                                                                                                Look who made it to Benin! And finally one of the Voodoo sacrifice statues

As we are leaving a the crack of dawn tomorrow for Togo and Ghana, we will miss the last ‘Les petit dejeuners and bought some baguette from one of the local girls. That for sure in one thing that we will miss …. The overall availability of the fresh baguettes.

To all of you out there that keep us entertained and in tears of joy and thankfulness with your e mails, thank you so much. You guys have no idea how special you all are. And always know, that we will come home if we truly cannot continue or if we feel in our souls that this is not the right thing. At the moment, it seems that Africa has a habit of redeeming herself all the time and no matter how bad it gets, there is always goodness and sunshine.We miss our friends and family so much, but it is good to know we carry you close to us in our hearts all the time.


Togo Drive through


Having left Grand Popo in the dark at 6am, we drove westwards to the Benin Togo border, arriving as it got light. Although the border was relatively organized, it was still difficult to determine where to go first, and why, as there is no apparent pattern to the officialdom. We muddled through, having to pay Immigration a “fine” for Stewart not having a Visa. This visa was supposed to be purchased on entry, and the official wanted to send us back to Cotonou to obtain one. After some pleading he relented, however, and accepted the money himself, issuing a handwritten receipt to keep his conscience clear.


On the Togo side the officials were   slightly more organized, although seemingly half asleep. We discovered that there is an hours’ difference in the time between Benin and Togo, and it was in fact only 6.30am, not 7.30 am in Togo, when we left the border.


As we drove along the coastline of Togo, we noticed the beaches were full of people strolling, running and exercising on the beaches. Many of the beaches had been turned into football pitches, most of which even at this early hour had a game on the go. A tiny country in size and population, Togo were justly proud of having qualified for the 2002 World Cup Football, and if their dedication to the game is anything to go by, it probably will not be the last time the world hears of them.

 First view of TogoBeach Exercise

Togo is indeed tiny, and before we knew it, we were driving through the outskirts of the capital city, Lome, and after only 45 minutes, we were at the border post between Togo and Ghana. A familiar chaotic scene of moneychangers, semi-officials looking to “assist” us, and sleepy disinterested officials, was negotiated with relative ease, and we passed under the obligatory border boom into Ghana.

 Farming with proper irrigation Amazing and roadside nurseries

We feel sorry that we could not have spent some time in Togo, but felt that as we had been expected in Ghana on the 1st of July, we could not dawdle any longer.

From border to Accra


The Ghanian border had a lot more infrastructure than Togo, the first sign of a higher standard of development.  However, this did not stretch to any more organization, and we again had to rely on loiterers to point us in the right direction. Speaking English again instead of our 20 word vocabulary of French certainly helped, especially when the boom guard insisted we pay the equivalent of R500 instead of the usual R100 to exit, claiming that we were “carrying goods” on our roofrack.

Stewart refused to pay the thinly veiled “bribe’, invited him to investigate what was under the covers. After a 2nd official intervened, only the R100 was paid, the border official actually made a joke of his attempt to charge more (an African border official with a sense of humour, what a change!), and  we were into Ghana. We stopped to buy a local cell phone number – MTN has a large presence here, as well as most of West Africa, and then drove westwards

One thing never seems to change in Africa, and that is the weird fact that often the roads are at their worst closest to the borders. Ghana proved no exception, and we made slow time for the first hour or so, dodging potholes, kamikaze taxi drivers and locals. Another thing immediately noticeable is the never ending stream of faith slogans EVERYWHERE, this unfortunately was a reminder of the “Christian/Holy” Nigeria we left behind, so admittedly there was a bit of unease.

 Roadside coffins!!Larry the roadside philosopher

Once the road had improved, we made good time to Accra, and marveled at the array of goods for sale on the side of the road. The most noticeable were the ornate coffins that were for sale everywhere. It seems the Ghanaians take their dead seriously and ensure that they are encased in everything ornate from dried flower inlays to pillars and gold. We had phone Edward Adeli, our contact at the Volunteer Corps, to advise him of when to expect us, but still managed to arrive an hour earlier than expected at the designated meeting point, just outside Accra. We were sure that he sighed a huge sigh of relief due to us finally arriving after all the drama.


From what we could see, Accra was relatively developed, the drive in to Accra reminding us of the area between Johannesburg and Pretoria. They even have a double lane motorway as you approach the city, and we spotted a shopping centre sporting familiar names such as Shoprite, Game, and even Woolworths! Annaliese nearly fainted and to her dismay we still have not been there.


Whilst waiting on the side of the road for Edward to arrive,   one of the locals introduced himself to us, and we proceed to have a wide ranging discussion about politics, marriage, economics and the meaning of life! Quite a step up in the education levels, Larry was a trained nurse, having studied for 5 years to qualify. Knowledgeable, articulate and humorous, it was refreshing to chat to him. He was adamant that marriage is like a journey and you have to be very well prepared before you start, so it takes a long time to finally get there. When Stewart suggested it is maybe time to start the journey as he might be tired of all the preparations, he threw his hands up in the air and commented to Annaliese “he is very funny, isn’t he!” We immediately decided that we just love their amazing sense of humour as well as their inquisitive nature. Every few minutes someone will walk up to you to find out who you actually are, what you are doing there and there will always be a joke at the end or at least a chuckle.


Edward and a friend eventually arrived, and we were immediately surprised at how young he looked. Only 27, Edward later told us how he and a group of friends had formed the Volunteer Corps to assist less privileged countrymen in Ghana. For guys still in their 20s, we found this to be incredible, as their attitude is that they are so fortunate to live in a city, to have jobs and to have amenities, that it is their duty and pleasure to give to the less fortunate. We were so happy to realize that they were exactly as we hoped they would be and nothing like the huge NGO’s /International volunteer org that have become such a joke in Africa. Here are a group of young guys that took the initiative, got organized and started working. They need all the support they can get and we will make sure that all the details are on our website for all to see and support.


 Brown and his sister preparing Fu Fu

Edward took us to meet “Brown”, a fellow director of the Volunteer Corps, and our host for the few days we would be in Accra before we left for the village where we would be doing volunteer work for the next 3 weeks. Brown put us up in his house just outside Accra, making us feel at home. That night we went out with Edward and his friends, who have given themselves the nickname “The Star Boys”, we assume named after the local beer, “Star”. We had an enjoyable night   debating many topics, including the merits of various international Football stars, world politics, the aims and achievements of the Volunteer Corps, and the merits and demerits of chicken versus guinea fowl as a meal!! We were informed that they even have white guinea fowl and rejected Annaliese’s comment that they might be albino! We were treated to all types of meat whilst the beer flowed one more peppery and spiced with chilli than the next……..A will have a difficult 3 weeks food wise, that is for sure.


Edward advised us we would only be leaving Accra on Monday, and that he had arranged a mechanic to see to Stan only once we returned to Accra . So we decided use the time and see if we could get our Burkina Faso visas, which we managed with surprising ease, and then to head to the beach for the weekend. Acting on the advices of many travelers, we headed for a beach resort called Krokobite (pronounced “Croco beeter)  just 30km west of Accra.





We left Accra obviously at the wrong time as we got stuck in the Friday afternoon traffic. The only option is to sit back, relax (and as Kathy would say pause and breathe) and enjoy the highway culture in Ghana, which can be like a movie. As in most African countries, you can do your monthly shopping on the side of the road but the difference here is the jovial attitude of the drivers, pedestrians and hawkers alike. We marveled at the special English being spoken here and struggled to get that “ho majo wa?” in fact means “how many do you want?’ and when asking for directions, “ small far” means not so far , but actually quite far.

When we finally found the road to Krokobite, we were sure we were wrong as it was one of the typical bad roads seemingly leading to nowhere. We finally reached some village with a tiny sign printing out the way to “Milly’s Backyard” where we were on our way to. Once we got the local goats out of the way, we arrived at the Rasta stronghold. If any of you have stayed at the backpackers at Coffee bay, Transkei, you’ll know the atmosphere.

 Krokobite crazy beach and Milly's Backyard

The only problem was that at this stage of the evening the “manager” was already as high as a kite and struggled to comprehend that we in fact needed a place to stay. Once, after about 10 minutes it dawned on him, he started moving forward in a drug induced stagger only to be frequently interrupted by full stops as he struggled to regain his balance and direction. He showed us a little hole of a room, with a single bed and when asked if we can camp, as that is what the Rough Guide says, he said “no way, no camping” despite the fact  we were standing next to a Landy similar to ours with the rooftop tent clearly in use. Well, we decided to give this up as a bad job and luckily found a stunning little chalet at “The Italian Place” next door. Thank goodness for that as we would have had a repeat of our Luanda experience if we stayed at Milly’s. Saturday night is party night and they have live reggae music till 3.

Our cottage at "The italian place and the dining room

Krokobite is one of the best known hang out spots for all overlanders and volunteer workers in Ghana, as well as a weekend hangout for the local Rastafarian community. You can just imagine that this is obviously a jolly place! We befriended Oliver from the UK who is doing volunteer teaching in Accra, as well as Andrew from the States who has been traveling Senegal, Morocco and Ghana for a few months. Whilst we were entertaining them with tales of our travels, we were joined by the owners of the Landy, Milan and Louise from Switzerland, who are doing the reverse of our trip (Well Milan is actually from New Zeeland and Louise from Sweden but they now live in Switzerland.) Check them out at  Stewart even got out his rugby ball and rounded up enough people for a game of touch rugby on the beach.

 Milan, Louise, Andrew, Stew

                                                                                                                                                                          Buying a "Cora" from the locals

Once again we just loved to meet fellow travelers, as you realize that you are not the only crazy people around. Louise and Milan have been waiting for weeks to get first hand news about the rest of their trip down south. As the traveler bush telegraph already warned them about all the people getting stuck in Brazzaville, they were now seriously thinking of shipping the car to Cape Town to skip the Angolan visa struggle. It was great to swap stories and tips and we are happy to report that they will continue their trip overland just with a few little detours and hopefully a Zambian visa just to get into DRC. What these bloody officials make you do just to be able to do what we are here for in the first place….TO TRAVEL. I (Annaliese) am having a similar problem with my Moroccan visa as it seems impossible for a South African to get one if you are not applying in your country of residence!! So we will have to find a way to get the passport back to SA and then sent back to Accra as there is no way around Morocco!! Seems so silly as most other countries do not even need a visa to go to Morocco.

We had a stunning time in Krokobite and hope to come back here once we finished our stint in the bush. We loved the crazy beach and laid back atmosphere even if a bit touristy. At least we got pizzas here!

Accra with Petra and Franco


Imagine Sunday lunch on a lazy summer day in Cape Town, good company, good wine, brilliant food, balmy weather and a long table shared with family and friends……Sounds good and at this point in our lives, stuff that dreams are made of! Most amazing though ,is that we got all of that and more right here in Accra!!!


Petra, Franco, their daughters Bianca and Olivia and Petra’s mom together with Vicky, Dirk and family pulled out all the stops and provided a Sunday lunch that will keep our stomachs as well as souls fed for a long time. Thank you so much guys, it was one of those days that we will carry in our hearts forever.

 Olivia, Franco, Petra and Bianca.   Vicky and familysorry Dirk no pic of you

It was so good to hear Afrikaans, to talk about folks back home, to laugh about West Africa, to compare notes about experiences and just to feel the normality of  family life again. We realized how small this world is in that shared friends were discovered, I have only met Petra in Cape Town once and it turned out that her mother knows all my mothers family and that we are both fellow Namibians. The weirdest thing is that Mark told us about Vicky and Dirk and we decided to contact them when we came back from the bush and here they were, at Petra and Franco’s house. Thank you also to Vicky who offered to sort out my Moroccan visa. You guys will all be blessed in a big way.


So for the next 3 weeks we will be in the bush with no amenities, but we are sure the ointment for the soul provided by working with the orphans will more than make up for that.


Zack, you will be happy to know that your mom is no longer a bad version of Pamela Anderson, we did my hair AGAIN and it is now a bit tamer!!! 

Timber- Nkwanta


No one will know where Timber-Nkwanta is, other than those who live or work there. But it could be anywhere in Africa, a small village, most of the people still subsistence farmers, with the village well being the only real concession to a more modern life.

We had signed up with The Volunteer Corps to assist with teaching and football coaching in an area of their choice, and on Monday we headed north from Accra to the village of Timber-Nkwanta. The Volunteer Corps have visited there before, and have started building a primary school to replace the open-air facilities currently used. The Volunteer Corps is a  NGO set up by  Edward Adeli and a  group of friends  living and working in Accra, none of them older than 30 or so, who have decided to give back to the wider community  of Ghana with their skills and time, as well as raising money for worthy projects. Many of them are students, and are certainly by no means well off by Western standards, but are happy to spend a considerable amount of time and effort in this work.

 The volunteers with Edward Adeli next to Stew and ifo the local Headman


We had decided to take Stan with us, to provide us with a home whilst we were there, and after we arrived we set up camp next to the basic four-walled unit being used as the Volunteer base. Besides the two of us, there were Edward, Ishmail,  Terry, Eric , Ebo,  Daniel and Tina from Accra who were there to continue building the school.

 Creating a soccer field!Bath time& Coach Stew
As the first of hopefully many international volunteers  The Volunteer Corps has brought to Ghana, the local Headman and the Elders had arranged a special ceremony to welcome us and the returning local volunteers to the village, and we were made to feel very welcome by everyone we came into contact with. The Headman was very grateful  to have them back again for the 3rd time, pointing out that many half-finished projects were testimony to other NGO’s that had not lasted long enough to finish their  initial projects.

"Home!"Homework time

Goats, chickens, a duck and her brood of ducklings, dogs, cats, and 1 000 000’s of bugs in all shapes and sizes were our immediate and constant companions throughout our stay here, joined by the village kids, any movement by us turned into a public spectacle.

We also had the eyes of the village on us, intrigued not only by us, but also Stan and all his gadgets and modcons that we take so for granted. Annaliese, who also helped out in the Kindergarten for those children too young for formal school, soon had her permanent hangers-on of children tailing behind her everywhere she went.

Seesta, A's shadow!Tina cooking supper, at least no spices on this!!

With only the well for “fresh” water, no running water or electricity, no amenities and constant unbearable heat , life is very basic here. Despite this, Tina managed to keep a constant supply of cooked food going. Unfortunately, most of the stews and sauces were typically spicy, and we struggled to get used to them, not to mention bush rat meat(apparently a delicacy), dried fish for breakfast and cow skin in the soup! As we wanted to try and fit in, we tried many of the local types of food, such as Banku (similar to putu-pap/sadza), Fufu, and of course the local speciality in the drink department, distilled palm wine! Loudly applauded by the volunteers, we had to join them in the celebrations every evening.

We taught English to classes 4-6 every morning, and then Annaliese helped out in the Kindergarten, whilst Stewart coached football every afternoon. Some of the young talent from the 40 or so youngsters that turned out there was clearly evident. Some of them immediately attracted nicknames for the style of their play, such as Samuel “Ronaldo” for his silky play down the left flank, Kwame “Essien” after Ghana’s local hero, and tough tackling Fred “Gartusso”. Ranging from ages 7 to 16, the enthusiasm was clearly evident, although Stewart’s rugby-style fitness training was a bit of a shock to their systems!

 How to choose a team out of so many hopefulls!!   

It is sad to see that malnutrition is mostly the cause for no stamina or strength which makes any endurance game difficult. Despite this, the soccer practices were hugely successful and it was a difficult task to choose only 2 teams. The final match between these two teams was the highlight of the week.

A bit of background of the schooling system will help explain the problems being faced in rural areas. We were impressed by the standard of education of the locals we met in Accra. It now turns out that all the guys in the Volunteer Corps actually attended private schools, hence their high level of education. The teachers in Ghana have to do a public service year in rural areas after qualification. Needless to say, they find the living conditions just as difficult as we did, add to that a small income and you have a recipe for disaster and non-attendance.


Due to the lack of proper teaching, most of the kids could not speak a word of English not to mention do or understand any other subjects. Unfortunately the teachers saw us being there as a golden opportunity to do even less and promptly decided it is best not to show up at all! What blew our minds however, was the fact that these kids turned up for school day after day and sat in the makeshift classrooms with no teacher present. The one class that Stewart taught had no teacher for 2 weeks!  The other thing is the willingness of these kids to learn. One of the little girls in the kindergarten could not draw a triangle and was immediately ridiculed by the rest. I (Annaliese) took her aside, sat her down and we did the exercise together over and over till she got it right. From that day, she did the same with all her work and persisted, sometimes throughout breaktime and after school till she got it right…..all this at the age of 5.

 One of the local stars we do hope he will be assisted and a little star!!!

As to be expected, it is only natural to fall in love with these amazing kids. One little girl, Angela (4), better known as “Siiiiesta” , arrived at our tent the first afternoon with her homework, made herself at home and never left our sides since. It was hilarious to be mimicked all the time, even down to paging through a magazine (kindly donated by Petra) brushing your teeth or getting dressed.

The villagers truly have nothing, but we were showered with gifts of local fruit, avo’s, some unknown local dishes and friendly smiles and “good morning’s”











Final few days & farewell at Boti Falls


As mentioned before, we applied for a number of positions all over the world to assist our dwindling finances due to the Ninja and Nigerian experiences! Before we left civilization, Stew arranged for his second telephonic interview for the German position to take place early Saturday morning. We were told that there was cell phone reception at the village, and as Ghana is 2 hours behind Germany time wise, we thought all will be fine as most villagers will still be busy in their huts so early in the morning.

What we did not know however, is that EVERYONE in the village are 7th Day Adventists AND their church day is Saturday!! To get reception, we had to walk up a little hill to where the makeshift school is and unfortunately this is also where the church service is held. We realized this pretty soon, for  as soon as we were settled into the one classroom with phone. Laptop and books, we were joined by half the population carrying brooms. Well, it is Saturday and the sandy, dusty “floor” had to be swept for church…  could we  not know this, on Saturday mornings people sweep gravel floors before the church service!!!

So, picture the scene (I do think that one day we will have to show these pics to the German employers), the only place we could then find, was a structure built up to about the height of Stew’s shoulders and covered with palm leaves that serve as a roof, infested with all kinds of bugs who were promptly joined by the goats and chickens who could now run free as the owners were sweeping the floor in our previous abode. This circus was intermittently joined by a few inquisitive locals who found our behaviour a bit strange as we were surrounded by books, a laptop and 2 cell phones!! What was the cherry on top, however, was the fact that we were literally bitten to pieces by some species of insect, we are talking 1000’s of bites appearing non stop over every exposed part of your body. As it was impossible for Stewart to stand up straight due to the low “roof” he cut a weird picture crawling around on the floor trying to get away from the insects whilst discussing German foreign policy and world economics on the phone!! Despite the comical surroundings which just got worse and worse as the animal noises were joined by church singing, Stewart did brilliantly and were told that the interview went well.

 Interview time.....believe it this is where it was done!!!

This meant that we needed to be back in Accra as we needed internet connectivity as well as better cell phone reception. Furthermore, we needed to have Stan fixed properly once and for all, get visas for onward travel as if Stewart is successful, he have to  start in Kassel on the 1st September.

 The guys were very understanding as they followed our trials and tribulations on our website and were aware that our dwindling finances prevented us from doing the trip the way we originally planned. They decided to give us a farewell and 17 of us left in a typical African taxi for the day, packed to the roof with food, drink, pots and pans as well as drums and some typical Ghanian musical instruments. We were heading for Boti Falls, a local tourist attraction and weekend picnic area.

 Stunning Boti fallsSwimming despite "DANGER you can die" signs!

After many stops along the way, for ice and more food and drink, we arrived at the picnic site, which was dotted with cars, taxis and busses, each having a “Strand-style” picnic, complete with cooler boxes, blaring music and large volumes of alcohol. After a few drinks to quench the thirst – and believe me these local boys can get thirsty! -  we walked down the 250 steps or so down to the waterfall and pool below it. The river plunges in 2 steams 30 metres down into a plunge pool about 50 metres wide. Despite the warning signs about it being dangerous to swim, Stewart took the opportunity for a swim up to the waterfall, being cheered on by the rest of the group.

 Party time!! Chilli!!!!!!!!!!!Wow

After we returned from the waterfall, the serious part of the entertainment began. As many as 5 bottles of brandy, whiskey and vodka  were quickly consumed, as Tina again proving her culinary skills and cooking a meal of Banku and “soup” (the local word for a  spicy sauce). We were astonished by the amount of fresh chilies that were used in the soup, literally a plastic bag full!They call it peppers here and killed themselves laughing when we told them that we use maybe one for a meal of 8 people.

Before we left, we decided another swim was called for, and so we made our way down to the base of the waterfall, where other visitors joined Stewart in a swim out to the waterfall.  Eric had brought his ever-present drum down with him, and an impromptu music and dance session followed. Many of the other visitors, local and international, joined in. The naturalness, ease and warm hospitality of the Ghanians being ever present and making all feel at home and welcome to join in.

All the Vol corp'sFriends for life!!!

With the dancing and singing over, and the drink supply extinguished, we returned  to Timber-Nkwanta, many of the most boisterous  members of the party now strangely  quiet! We spent that evening chatting and relaxing, in preparation for departing in the morning. We learnt a lot about Ghana from our young friends who were all very well informed about local events. The one thing they all share is a tremendous sense of humour and enjoy laughing at the Ghanain way and at themselves. As they say, Ghanians are masters in conversation and can have discussions about everything for hours on end, only problem is that they never act. Well, maybe that is the “African way”

 Party and final farewell      Lunch !!

The next morning it took us about 2 hours to take down the camp and repack Stan, and after a tearful farewell, we drove back to Accra, realizing that the similarities between the people and problems of our beloved South Africa and those of Ghana are not so far apart.