Having done Car trip across West Africa – from Morocco to Ghana I want to share some top tips from the experience.
For entering Ghana, the only compulsory vaccination is Yellow Fever vaccination. This has to be done at least 10 days before entering the region. The medical cabinets of-course recommend the whole list of injections but if you are not too keen in needles and want to go only by the compulsory one – stick with yellow fever. I would also recommend vaccination against C and B hepatitis. Especially when you plan to eat street food. They often cook just next to gatter on fire, with cook-pots open. Seen it happening and passing by dog tasting out the sauce. Also it would be quite good idea to carry some medicines against diarrhea with you.
Common disease in Africa and Asia. There is no vaccination against it. But there is cure and also preventive cure. Lot of doctors would recommend you take preventive anti- malaria pills while traveling to such areas. I would not. The side effects are quite harsh. Why would you want to suffer hallutinations, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain etc to just preventing you would desease that you could treat with only 3 days with correct cure. By the way – taking preventive malaria medicine does not give you 100% guarantee that you will not get Malaria. And if you STILL get it then disgnosing it will be more dificult if you have taken the preventive cure.
Yes I understand – weather to take Malaria preventive medicines is sencitive topic and point of argue. I would not recommend but the final decision is yours.
What I would recommend is to carry with you set of Malaria treatment when you come back from your exotic trip and when you happen to get high fever up to 6 months after returning from Malaria areas – just don´t waste time wondering what could it be and just start the treatment. Malaria can be in system for 6 months. You might get bitten in Africa but get the disease while you are back home and long forgotten about your tropical trip. Yet doctors back home (if not being informed about your travel) would not get the diagnose right and waste time treating smth that´s common in your country. Oh this all deserves all separate blog post…
Before crossing with Ferry to Tanger from Tarifa we did some shopping. We bought soups, crackers, porridge material, fast food and water… lots of lots of water. Way too much water. Ad that water was heavy and took lot of space in our luggage. We bought enough water to drive week through the desert without any need to top up on the stock. But actually there is enough filling stations and shops in cities where you can easily buy more water. Yes you cant find all those European goodies from those shops, but you get water. No need to overstock!
No idea if I am writing it correct. But from the first Police check point we got stopped in Morocco till we reached Ghana )and few times also in Ghana) we have been asked for Fische. Well apparently this is a passenger list. I say apparently cos with those Police people we had huge language barrier and they could not explain us what they want. We just knew we don´t have it. But in Ghana meat people who spoke English and were able to explain us. Its a passenger list. You just type on paper names and nationalities of the people in you car and you destination point and that´s it!
When you don´t have that Fische thingy on you, then have gifts. Like pens, magazines, T-shirts – cheap grap but makes police and custom workers happy in Africa.
Fix some lights
We were advised to completely pimp up our car for the desert. To lift it up, to use some bottom protectors and stuff. Well we really did not have money for it. Or my ex-boyfriend did not have money for it, as I was not even planning to joining the trip. But even if it had been my plan for long then also I would have not had any money for pimping up the ride. And good we did not. Cos there was no need for it. The roads in Sahara are just fine – but dark. My ex knew he was going to drive lot at night – so he fixed some extra lights on the car. That came handy! Its damn dark there and the animals, and the vehicles – well, so called vehicles that move on the roads there are also not very well light! So if you plan to stick on the road – get normal 4X4 car and forget about extra pimp up. Its just light you will need!
Cross Borders with full tank but empty spare gallons
I mentioned before that the police workers on the check-points love gifts. Well the immigration and custom workers at the order also love gifts, but they love bigger ones. Our Spanish friends had to make as a “gift” full canister of petrol. They lost the petrol and they lost the canister. So in the last petrol station before crossing border – don´t top up your gas. Just pour whatever you have into trunk and cross the border with full trunk but empty petrol canister. Keep some items you don´t care much about visible in trunk and when the time comes, give smth away making face that you really would not like to give up on “that valuable thing”. You will make the custom procedures faster and less painful. You empty petrol canisters you can fill up in the first station AFTER the border.
Fix visas in the Embassies
It is possible to make all those visas on borders but its never guaranteed you will get some. And now thinking of the distance between border and the closest option to make visa in case something gets messed up in the border… trust me, you would not drive that distance again. For instance. When you get rejected on the border of Mauritania, you would need to drive back to Rabat to make the visa. That would be 2000 Km. Want to drive it? And then back to border? No? Then make the visa in embassy!