For the past 15 years, I had listened to and
read .. fabulous tales of ancient civilisations, markets full of treasures, the lovely people in some parts, the supposed dangers in others. Marvelling at the fabulous pictures of Guinea Conakry and Mali in such publications as Angela Fisher's superb book Africa Adorned and many others .. it was high time I found out the realities and saw these sights for myself. The way we travelled was not easy, nor the way that I would recommend to anyone of a delicate disposition. We were pretty much exhausted by the end of the 3 weeks .. but it was an experience I would not have missed for the world.
This travelogue is not a definitive guide to travel in West Africa .. but it is an accurate description of the local African way of travelling throughout the region. Locally known as going by 'taxi-bruse' is
not the easiest way by far, but in my opinion, it is the best way to really experience the sights, sounds and tastes .. and to see the peoples and their cultures at firsthand.
I have included many photographs, the journey times we experienced, prices that were current at the time and many instances of the incidents which routinely can .. and did .. occur along the way.
I hope the following tale will both entertain and be of interest to those friends who have requested that I write it .. or even be of possible use as a rough guide for some of you who may suffer from similar
masochistic tendencies .. and want to attempt it for yourselves !
Again, as in the preface to my Kiffa Trip
.. a message for those who might think about immediately starting to pack their bags and heading off for similar 'Fun in the Sun'. .. which is even more important for some of the areas we covered on this trip, although if you read all the way through .. I think you will have a good idea of what this particular 'fun' involves !
I am well used to travelling 'bush-taxi' style, but for those of you who plan their holidays with meticulous attention to detail and timing, need regular baths, clean & comfortable travelling conditions, air-conditioning ( in temperatures often up to 55 degrees C ), regular meals, recognisable food ( as mother used to make ), constant supplies of clean water, electricity and fresh clothing, have no knowledge of the French language or any of the countless local dialects, cannot converse without speaking, are worried about having all the inoculations advisable for protection ... and cannot survive without a tourist rep. on call 24 / 7
Think again !
You may be able to
fly, in 'sumptuous comfort', to some of the larger places mentioned ... but you will most probably not enjoy the same experiences, will see little and will likely miss out on meeting the real local people in their own quality (
not quantity ) environments.
This .. for me .. is the major attraction of my travelling.
For any other masochists determined to risk life and limb on a similar trip ..
I have added a few Factfiles which I hope will prove useful. Good luck, you will surely need it !!