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One thing africans know or should know is how crazy their transport is. And i’m not talking about the daily transport, the kekes, the okadas (motorbikes) and taxis. No. I am talking about the travel ones. The ones you use to get out of the city or even the country. THAT, is a challenge. And here is my third african travel tip explaining why.

Maybe i am just too much of an ‘oyinbo’ (foreigner) and i am used to a different type of transport, it sure makes a difference but i am still getting used to it.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH AFRICAN TRANSPORT?

  1. NUMBER ONE PROBLEM

The biggest problem in my opinion is TIME. You, as an organized traveller, plan every little detail of your trip but you to arrive at the car park, get your ticket and wait for 4 hours before you leave.

conakry ticket
My ticket from Conakry to Freetown, 12h in a bus

Why does this happen? Because there is no time of departure. Even if your ticket shows one, they won’t leave until the bus/car is full so your plan is useless. You will probably be late anyway.

They also stop many times to pick up and drop off passengers, which makes everything slower and messier.

Never rush, the bus/car leaves when it is full and the driver feels like it.

Even if you have a departure time, it is just an idea, not the real departure time.

Even if you wake up early thinking you will leave early. Nope. Car has to be full so go have breakfast and chill after you get your ticket.

But don’t chill too much or too far from the car or they will leave without you.

2. NUMBER TWO PROBLEM.

The second problem i noticed was SPACE.

Cars/buses will be tight. You will hardly ever have a seat just for you. It is 2 cracks per seat, so i hope you’re thin and you fit. It will be tight and sweaty inside. They do this because they want to make as much money as they can.

Eating and drinking will be a nightmare. And peeing is also a problem.

Another space problem has to do with luggage. People will bring their whole life with them when they travel so the bus or car will be packed, more than packed. I am actually surprised they actually keep everything in place, nothing falls and the vehicle is stable.

Conakry trip
Car next to us in Conakry

3. NUMBER THREE PROBLEM.

Third problem are checkpoints and stops in general. Really annoying.

You will have many stops during the trip because of checkpoints or car issues or to drop off/pick up someone else.

It will take a long time to get to your destination, it is never as fast as Google Maps says. Add a couple more hours, be flexible.

If someone is going to wait for you, ask the driver where they stop or if they can drop you off somewhere that person knows.

Don’t bring too much luggage, and if you do, make sure it is the last one they keep (if your destination is close) or the first one they keep (if your destination is the last).

         4. NUMBER FOUR PROBLEM.

Animals.

Animals are allowed on cars and buses. Get used to chilling with chickens, goats, etc. You might want to use cellotape on the goat’s mouth but you will not be allowed. Remember that.

Sleeping will be harder with them but if you are really tired, you will do your best. I did my best when i was in a bus more than 24h in Ivory Coast with a goat right behind me.

5. NUMBER FIVE PROBLEM.

Roads.

OH MY GOD. Roads must be one of the worse things of the list, almost as bad as time. If it wasn’t because of the roads, we would arrive faster, safer and easier. 

Some roads are not only full of potholes, some are so full of water some kids use them as swimming pools. I wonder how these drivers manage to cross them, when i see a big one coming, i think to myself: ”who told me to go by land? Look at you, Nofi, drowning in a pond. Shame.”

african pond
On our way to hell

After all these problems, i still prefer this type of travel because it is waaaay cheaper than flying and more interesting.

TIPS

  • If you want to pee, tell the driver, he will stop for you. They usually stop every couple hours so make sure you pee before they start driving.
  • Get hand sanitizer, washing your hands will not be possible unless you carry a bar soap and water with you at all times. I do it, and i prefer it. Hand sanitizer does not make me feel clean.
  • Bring money for the checkpoints, you will thank me later.
  • If they give you a ticket, keep it with you till you leave the bus/car.
  • Watch your bag.
  • Bring some extra clothing/underwear and toiletries just in case you have to sleep at the border and cross the next day.

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