Facts and Figures
March 14th - 22nd 2009
Start Mileage - 9726
Lomé - Kpalime
A Short ride today, so we weren’t in much of a rush to get going.
As we were sat at breakfast, Paul, the Irish guy from yesterday had seen the bike parked outside and stopped in on the off chance it was us. He had managed to find a flight to London out of Lomé but was short of the ticket price by a few CFA. He was heading to the market to flog a few items which he was sure would make up the difference but offered us his malaria tabs, unfortunately different to the ones we are using and we have enough to last us so we couldn’t help him out. After swapping emails and websites, Paul got on his way and we finished off packing up.
On the road at 10:00, it was a nice ride along some scenic roads, arriving at Kpalime around 13:30.
Pulling into Kpalime, it looked like a big lively town with a lot of choice of Hotels and Auberge’s. We noticed an Auberge that looked not too bad, but missed the turning. Turning round in the entrance to a new looking Hotel to go back and have another look at the Auberge, we decided to check out their rates. Surprisingly reasonable, rooms from CFA6,500 to 15,000. CFA10,00 got us a double room with en-suite and air-con .. Spoiling ourselves!
Showered and cooled off with the air-con going full chat, we went for a wander into town. Trying to find cigarettes proved difficult, every shop we tried said they didn’t sell them and pointed us down the road, in the end we found one that did but they only had menthol, so the owner took our money and sent one of the boys off in search while the others organised a bench in the shade for us to sit and wait. 10 minutes later he returned, still with our money having failed in his mission, the woman running the stall took the money off him and legged it up the road in the other direction, this time returning with the goods in hand, and all at no more than the cost of the cigarettes, though we gave her extra for the trouble.
We found a couple of friendly bars on the way back and discovered a nice Togolaise beer, WooHooYo a dark lager, tasty and smooth, and strong!! Had a bit of Main Gyro failure after a couple (I blame it on the heat and no lunch!)
After wobbling back to the Hotel for an early dinner, it was still a bit too early so had another beer at the bar across the road, if we had realised how long the food was going to take to appear after ordering we would have ordered when we first got back.
18:30 we ordered, the waitress didn’t seem too happy to be there and shuffled along at a snails pace like it was just too much trouble. 20:00 the food finally arrived, my fish was ok but Lorraine’s pizza definitely not worth the wait. Another beer with dinner and I was snoring before my head hit the pillow.
Start Mileage - 9810
Kpalime - Badou
Slow service again for breakfast, how it can take twenty minutes to cut up a bit of bread and spoon some jam and butter onto a plate I don’t know, at least the coffee was good.
10:30 and on the road for another nice ride through the countryside and villages. Up in the mountains, and probably because of last nights storm, the heat had dropped to a nicer riding level, although the potholes were harder to spot on the wetter roads and some of the muddy sections took a bit more care to negotiate. At one point we were trundling along quite happily when the road turned to hard packed dirt and a few wet and muddy sections, a group of kids were sat under a tree to our right and I hadn’t noticed the bit of rope they were holding that was strung across the road. As we got nearer they pulled the rope and started shouting for a “Cadeaux” (Gift). I could see the outcome, wheels sliding in the mud, then the bike on it’s side against the tree with a kid or two stuck underneath it, how do you like that for a Cadeaux?? Fortunately, they must have seen the same result, as we slithered towards them the rope was dropped and they legged it out of the way. Little gits!
Another rope across the road in the afternoon, only this time it was Police checking I.D. we passed through ok and carried on to Badou.
Arrived at Badou at about 16:30, another quite large town which was lucky as we planned to stay a night or two here to visit some local waterfalls. We pulled into a fuel station to top up before finding a Hotel and stopped for a quick smoke while we answered all the locals questions and got directions to the nearest Hotel. As we got back on the bike to move off, I heard Lorraine through the intercom saying “I don’t F****ing believe it”. Thinking that she had noticed something had been nicked off the bike while we were parked, I asked what was wrong, she said , pointing down the road “just look over there”.
It was Mark and Allison walking up the road. They were supposed to have been going from Lomé to Lake Togo and crossing into Ghana further down the road. We parked up again for a chat, they had decided not to go to Lake Togo and come further North. They had stopped in Kpalime for two nights, leaving this morning, so we were surprised we hadn’t bumped into each other there. They were also staying at the Hotel we were headed for and said that the rooms were expensive but the manager would negotiate, they had knocked him down to CFA12,000 for an air-con room. We left them to wander and went to check in, The room prices ranged from CFA6,500 to 25,000. We had a look at the CFA16,500 and 25,000 rooms, not much difference between them, the more expensive one had a more modern air-con unit and was a bit plusher. It wasn’t until after I had knocked him down to CFA12,000 for the 16,500 room and feeling pleased with myself about it that Lorraine said that it was the CFA25,000 room that Mark had knocked him down from .. Last time I do the haggling then!
Just as we had got unpacked and showered, the heavens opened.
We decided to stop two nights rather than take the bike loaded to the Akloa Falls tomorrow.
A nice steak and chips for dinner with a couple of WooHoYo’s to wash it down with afterwards and a chat with Mark and Allison, although it was a bit one way as Mark had got an ear infection earlier and with being deaf in one ear already he now couldn’t hear a thing. A trip to the chemist tomorrow for him.
Badou, Akloa Falls
No sign of any more rain after last nights downpour so we are going ahead with the trip out.
After breakfast we go into town with Mark and Allison to find a taxi to take us to the falls. There aren’t as many taxi’s as we’ve seen in other towns but find a minibus who will take us for CFA12,000 return. After knocking him down to 9,000, we decide it is too expensive and carry on looking for a cheaper taxi, being shouted at that there are no taxi’s in Badou. After a while it is starting to look like the minibus driver was right, a definite shortage of taxi’s, when we spot one parked down a side road. This guy starts at CFA8,000 return, but as we walk away, he takes our bid of 6,000 so we jump in. A great 11Km drive to the falls, no suspension, windows only open with a screwdriver and Lorraine, in the middle of the rear seat is moaning her butt is getting beaten up on the hard seat.
Arrive at the village in one piece and now the trouble starts. The taxi has gone so we are stuck there until 13:30 at the earliest. At least we know he will come back as he hasn’t been paid yet.
Lonely planet guide, published in 2008 has the entrance fee as CFA500 per person which goes to the village to upkeep the area, and includes a guide if wanted. We are in a dark, echoe’y shack having a heated discussion. They are trying to charge us CFA1500 each and showing us ticket stubs from somewhere with dates from 2006 on them and a tatty bit of paper that is supposed to have the official price on it. After much arguing, and nearly starting a fight between a couple of the villagers, we decided it was getting a bit to heavy and could turn nasty, so we agreed the price and took a guide who allegedly spoke English but turns out all he could say was yes and no. so after changing the guide for one that had a bit better vocabulary we set off. It is supposed to be a not to strenuous 45 minute walk from the village to the falls. The walk starts off not too bad on the flat, but as soon as we hit the jungle, the humidity closed in and the walk became more of a climb. Lorraine, (the fittest of us!!) started to struggle with all the uphill work, but after a couple of breaks she was ok. The sweat was pouring off all of us by the time we reached the falls, and the ice cold water did a good job cooling us off. We stayed at the pool for a good half hour before setting off back through the jungle and back to the village. The going down was a bit easier. At the edge of the village, the guide started to tap us for payment and wouldn’t have it that the entry fee included him. We never gave in and luckily enough the taxi was waiting when we got back. Lonely Planet will be informed of either the incorrect info in their book or the scam that is going on at Akloa Falls.
Back at the Hotel, showered and changed, we went down for dinner. The menu was the same as last night, but they would do us an omelette and chips instead.
Start Mileage - 9915
Badou - Hohoe (Ghana)
Border day today, heading into Ghana, country number 11. Our plan was to head south, somewhere near to Akasombo, Mark and Allison were heading to Hohoe. As both bikes were heading in the same direction, we thought it would be nice to ride together and take action shots of the bikes on the road. We left around 09:30 with a crowd at the hotel to wave us off, cameras at the ready. So that’s what all the bike washing by the staff yesterday was about. It is rare for them to see a bike that size, never mind two together, so they obviously wanted them nice and shiny for their photos.
The road surface to the border was not brilliant, hard packed with loose gravel, not Lorraine’s favourite! Ghana has several border crossings and this one was nice and quiet, however, it still took us a couple of hours to get through. They were pleasant though, no hassle. Mark and Allison planned to get their bike back to the UK from Ghana and we plan to ship it South, maybe that complicated things. Once through, we asked where we could change our money, as the currency is different in Ghana. They pointed us back to the village in Togo that we had just left. They were going to let us back through the border, but we thought we would find somewhere further into Ghana to change the money. We reached Hohoe, Mark and Allison’s destination, and stopped first at a Barclay’s Bank. They would not change our CFA’s but told us to go to a little shack across the road and try. He was offering a fair rate, so the dodgy dealings were done. We decided that Hohoe looked quite nice and would stay there as long as Mark and Allison could put up with us another night.
We found accommodation, unloaded and headed into the town. As Ghana is English speaking, I felt confident enough to tell a barber how I wanted my hair cut. It was getting to the point I had so much hair, my helmet would not fit on! We found a barber and sat in the queue. I asked the others if he was any good, and they replied - one of the best 5 in town! I asked how many there were in town and they said - 4!! It wasn’t till I sat in the chair that I realised he only had one eye - too late to chicken out now. However, he did a grand job and all for only 50p.
We met up with Mark and Allison for dinner. Macaroni and cheese was on the menu which Mark ordered and Lorraine nearly ordered too. She was very glad she didn’t when Mark’s arrived - a plate of pasta with Laughing Cow on top!! You tend to think that because they speak English and more recognisable food is on the menu, that you are just in ’England in the sun’ - wrong!
Start Mileage - 9956
Hohoe - Akasombo
Breakfast this morning was scrambled egg & toast, beats bread and jam any day! We sat on the veranda of the room for some time, enjoying the cool start to the day.
There is a strange smell in the room and we can’t pin it down until I walk by the riding gear hanging on the wardrobe door. I think it needs a visit to a launderette as it is starting to remind us of some of the less pleasant toilet facilities we’ve had the misfortune to have had to use. Someone is going to suffer in South Africa!!
By the time we packed up and left, the sun was hot. We really ought to travel early in the day to miss the height of the heat. We were only heading to Akasombo today, so again not too many miles. We left Mark and Allison there. They had given us the name of a very nice lodge in Akasombo and they would catch us up the next day. The roads were good, but there were several Police and Customs check points on the way, and we were stopped by them all. Eventually reached the lodge about 13:30. Camping was 5 icky clebbies each or a room was 30 which included breakfast. Camp grounds are not what you would hope in Africa, and the tent is too hot for Lorraine. So we opted for the room and thought about our sausage, beans, fried egg and toast for the rest of the day. We walked in to town. Not much to it, so we walked back again and had a drink on the pontoon on the River Volta before dinner. We forgot to get cigarettes in town, so headed back in to town, just as a storm was brewing. We made it to shelter just before the heavens opened and we did not move for at least an hour as the rain was bouncing off the road. It eventually eased off, and we headed back for dinner. The food was lovely.
The full English breakfast was not as we were hoping, but it was close and much better than the usual bread and jam. We caught up with emails in the morning and headed for Barclays bank in Samanya in the afternoon. It is just a small village but had a couple of banks with ATMs - civilisation at last!! The toilet bag we left home with did not last the pace, so we needed a new one. Lorraine found one at a small stall for 2 Cedis (£1). Not quite the colour she wanted, but it will do the job.
We then headed for Akasombo Dam, which is supposed to be quite an attraction with trips round it. We rode passed, saw nothing exciting, and carried on. As we were heading back, we saw Mark & Allison on the road. They had arrived at Aylos Bay and were turned away as it was fully booked - oops! We were feeling guilty that they recommended it to us, we got in, and they had to find somewhere else. Other hotels in the area were very expensive. They managed to find a cheap dive, but were afraid to eat there. We met at Aylos Bay for dinner, and we mentioned once or twice how nice it is. Fortunately they laughed and we are still speaking. However, they will not let us know of any other nice places on the route.
One of the emails this morning was from Ian’s girlfriend back in the UK. Ian has also been having internet access trouble lately. She gave us his phone number (thanks Stephanie) and we sent a text as we are all meeting tomorrow to finalise the shipping arrangements.
Start Mileage - 10076
Akasombo - Prampram
The Shipping Team were meeting in Tema, only 71km from where we were, but as we were all on the move, the location was still to be decided. We left about 11:00, and arrived at a bar in Tema at midday. We camped out there, (had to remove the boots as they are humming by now) and awaited news from the others on the meeting point. We received details around 13:30 - the other side of Tema! So we found it about 15:00. Mark and Ian were just driving out as we pulled in. They were not too happy with the site and were going to look for another. They would be camping and as it was all very beachy around this area, it would be best for us to find accommodation on tarmac, as we still have not located off-road tyres. Mark and Ian were not back by 16:30, so we left before it got dark to find a Hotel and would contact them later. We found a Hotel, The Sea Lane, with a large car park, and the owners said it would be OK for the Land Rovers to park there and use the facilities. Rooms were ok but no running water, back to bucket showers, which we can put up with, and they have a pool.
So we sent a text. Mark and Ian arrived shortly after, they had found no better site, so decided to move into the car park after going back to pick up Mark’s van and the rest of the family.
All seven of us were dining in the restaurant tonight as it was getting late and we had no supplies. There was a huge menu and we all took some time deciding what to have. As we began to order, they told us each choice was not available. We got the message about the fourth refusal and asked what was available - Jollof rice & Chicken - so much for the huge menu!!
We should have news from the shipping company on Monday, so we are here for the weekend.
Music woke us early at about 06:15, not very happy.
Not much movement by anyone today, except in the pool, we are all just playing the waiting game.
We caught up on everyone’s travel stories since we had all last met. Not much to the village here, essentials only. Internet access is available at the hotel for a cost, but not too bad.
Music playing around the pool all day, Rap and Country & Western, the same cd’s round and round going on until around 22:30.
Lorraine and I dined at the hotel again and guess what option was available from the menu!!
Again the music came on early, and not at a quiet level, I went to use the phone in the room to complain but like a lot of other things in this Hotel, Staff included, it didn’t work.
Ian lent Lorraine a book he had “borrowed” from another lodge, so that eased her waiting game.
Ian suggested we head into the village and find some fish for dinner. As both Land Rover crews had fed us previously, and we could not face Jollof Rice & Chicken again, Lorraine came with the purse and I volunteered to cook. We had left it a bit late in the day for a nice piece of fish from the morning catch, what was left did not seem too appealing. There was a frozen fish packing factory in the village and we thought it was worth asking if they sold fish. They did but only in 20kg packages, a bit much for dinner for seven of us! However, the manager invited us in, and asked us to sit and wait. He had a small pack of tuna that he would like to give us and he was trying to find a bag to put it in. A bag was found and he handed it over to us free of charge, all 5kg of very nice frozen tuna. Still a bit much to feed us tonight, but never refuse a gift. Enough was cut off for tonight, fridges and freezers were cleared in the Land Rovers, and Tupperware boxes were provided for the remainder.
Whilst sitting in the car park enjoying our tuna, another Land Rover drove past the entrance, reversed and came in to talk Land Rover talk with Mark and Ian. The logo on his Land Rover was from a shipping company, so we grilled him to see if he could assist in our transport to South Africa. His name was Michael, and he told us where their office is and to pop in for a quote tomorrow.