West African Trails Overland

West African Trails Overland

From AUD 3,240.00 + LTP: US$ 1080.00
Trip Length 70 Trip Code AF - AT - 13
Tour Group 10 - 24 Age Range 18 - 55+

West African Trails Overland: Tour Information

West Africa tour from Europe to Ghana, 10 weeks of true West African sounds, smells and experiences and designed for the true African  adventurer in mind who wish to get on Africas unbeaten tracks.

West Africa is the ultimate African destination. From the Moroccan markets of Fez and Marrakech, we pass through the Atlas Mountains into the Western Sahara following the ancient West African trading routes and camel trains into Mali . On through the jungles of Ghana.

We will sand mat and sunbathe, build bridges, track game, eat dust and have the most awesome Africa adventure money can buy!

Week 1 - 4: Europe, Morocco, Mauritania

We start the trip at Malaga in Spain. Crossing the straits of Gibraltar to Morocco, we visit the coastal capital city of Rabat and visit Casablanca.Meknes, on the high plains is of the many ancient walled cities with covered markets and a labyrinth of narrow winding streets. We visit the ancient Roman ruin of Volubilis, followed by Fes, Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. We pass into the Sahara Desert and follow the Atlantic Coast - it is never forgotten; oases with cool water surrounded by palms, stretches of sand as big as a small country, old forts, camel trains following centuries old trading routes, and a night sky undiluted by city lights. We go hundreds of miles off road, sometimes digging the truck out of the soft sands to get through.

Week 5 - 10: Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana

We enter the Sahel; the vast semi arid desert that separates the Sahara from the forests of black Africa and follow the Niger River, visiting the old mud towns of Mopti & Djenne. On the Bandiagara escarpment we trek to the small villages of the Dogon. Burkina Faso is famous for its beautiful lost wax bronze statues. In Ghana we cross the jungle to the beaches of the Gold Coast and visit the slaving forts.

 

West Africa Extended Itinerary: Europe to Accra, Ghana

Week 1 - 4: Europe, Morocco, Mauritania

Our trip begins in Malaga. We board the ferry at Algeciras and crossing to the Spanish duty free port of Ceuta, the perfect opportunity to stock up on supplies in preparation of our 2000km desert crossing.

Our first stop on the African continent is Morocco. A fascinating country with diverse scenery ranging from the sand dunes of the northern Sahara to the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and we visit Rabat, it's capital and Fez, famous for its Fez and Berber carpets.

The old walled Medina in Fez is of most interest to us here. This is the oldest and most intact medieval city of the Arab world. Its bewildering maze of narrow alleyways makes it necessary to use a guide to see the medina properly. Some 200,000 people live within this city and previously it was the centre of trade, culture and religion in Morocco. The medina is complete with Mosque and many workshops where we can watch silversmiths, tinsmiths, weavers, and wool dyers and there's even a tannery to inspect. We shouldn't leave Fez without visiting a hamman, or Turkish bath, and for an extra $1 - a massage (Moroccan style of course!).

Crossing the Atlas Mountains we can relax at Meski Oasis before continuing on to Gorges du Ziz and Todra Gorge. If you are feeling energetic here you can spend the day climbing to the top of the 300 metre high cliffs. In the evening you can try a traditional Moroccan meal of roast goat and cous cous. After a few days we continue south to Marrakech.

Marrakech means 'fortified' in the Berber language and the foundations of this city are dated back to 1062, with the original walls of the city being erected in 1126. It was, in past times, a meeting point for the Southern tribesman and Berber villages to trade. We will have a couple of days to explore this wonderful city. The centre of Marrakech is Place Djemaa el-Fna, a lively square, in the old city. This has two disputed meanings - assembly of dead, which refers to it being a place of execution last century or the mosque of nothing as grand plans were made to build a mosque here, which never eventuated. Step back to a time of fantasy for a moment as the square is full of jugglers, snake charmers, boxers, acrobats and storytellers with tales of magic from bygone days when sultans ruled. Many an enterprising businessman can be found in the square from herbalists, to dentists and barbers - if you are game to try them. In the evening, many food stalls are set up selling everything from freshly squeezed orange juice and peeled cactus flowers to goat kebabs, chicken, fish and even snails. If this all sounds a bit busy for you, relax in the overlooking veranda bar and view the carnival of entertainers below. Onwards to the Atlantic and the coastal fishing village of Essaouira, another town surrounded by fortifications. This town was made famous in the 60's with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens spending time here, making it a magnet for all would be hippies. It's a good place to sample some of the local seafood; fresh from the nets, cooked for you on the spot, at small fisherman stands down around the port area. This is the beginning of our 1500km trek south to Dakhla through a barren and wind swept coast, blemished only with numerous shipwrecks. Dakhla is a welcome sight as it is a place to rest, wash off the dry dust in a hamman and to stock up on supplies for our voyage south across the trackless desert of the southern Sahara. From here we travel in convoy to the Mauritania border and, after formalities, are escorted to the border town of Nouadhibou. Mauritania, until recently, has been closed to the outside world and it boasts one of the best coastal reserves and virtually untouched fishing grounds in the world. Inquisitive but welcoming nomadic people put you in touch with a barren land that time forgot. Leaving Nouadhibou we travel around countless sediment pans of the coastal area then move inland to negotiate the forever changing landscape of shifting sand. Heading back to the coast the journey continues, tide permitting - along the ocean edge with towering sand dunes scraping our tyres on the left. A climb to the top of the dunes gives you a magnificent view of them stretching as far as the eye can see and the sunsets and stars are breathtaking. We stop briefly in Nouakchott, Mauritania's capital, to wash the salt off the truck and restock with fresh supplies. This city is increasing rapidly and has seen the population rise over 10 times in less than ten years, as more and more people come in from the desert, often to end up living in the shanty towns made entirely from cardboard boxes and sacks.

Week 5 - 10: Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana

Mali awaits and it is here where we generally encounter the first black Africans with numerous herds of cattle feeding off the sparse vegetation. The land changes before our eyes as we move south to Mali's capital, Bamako. Heading towards the Bandiagara escarpment we pass through two of the most colourful market towns in West Africa, Segou and Djenne. Djenne was one of the ancient Trans-Sahara trading towns and is the oldest of the river ports with the classic mud-built buildings and the largest mud-mosque in the world, dating from the early 1900's! The Bandiagara escarpment, with its breathtaking views, is 150 km long and in places 600 metres high. Here, with the help of local guides, we find the Dogon. These people are one of the most ancient tribes in Africa, who have changed little over the centuries, still dwelling in curious shaped dome huts perched on cliff edges. These are the homes of the animists who have monkey skulls and bones embedded into the mud walls, a fascinating culture, which practices its own religion and customs even down to a five day week - four days to work in the fields below and one day of rest to party. If we are lucky we may chance on one of their festivals where the beating of drums, dancing and drinking of millet beer carries on long into the night. Burkina Faso, originally known as the Upper Volta, is one of the smaller countries that we travel through briefly. We stop in the capital city of Ouagadougou for a few days. The huge colourful markets and local cafes and music provide endless variety and entertainment. We then head south into Ghana and towards the beautiful West African coastline. The hospitality of the English speaking Ghanaians makes it a memorable journey. We travel through lush rain forest and stop at local craft markets to practice our trading skills. The Gold Coast was infamous for its slave trade in the 18th century and today there are a number of Portuguese forts still standing along some of the most stunning beaches, anywhere in the world. Kakum National Park, only 30kms from the Coast, is a tropical rainforest with a most unusual way of viewing it. Forty metre high rope walkways are strung through the forest canopy. Ghana is proud of its culture and boasts some excellent museums, as well as schools concentrating in the study of local arts, crafts and music. We may have the opportunity to hear some of the music the students create.

Tour Note:All tours are flexible. Expeditions can sometimes be effected by local climatic conditions, politics or anything else unexpected so please treat this information as a guideline only. 'Africa Wins Again' is a phrase which comes in handy. Your tour leader will devise the best possible route for the particular season, conditions. Please note that while we pace the tour with plenty of active days Africa is not a small continent and there will occasionally be long drive days to get to the next point of interest.

LOCAL TOUR PAYMENT (LTP), is paid direct to your crew on day 1 of tour.

Local Tour Payments (LTP) or a Kitty payment, if stated is paid direct to your tour leader / crew on day 1.

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