This journey by car from Moscow to Banjul (Gambia) in the style of non-stop. For 3 weeks we managed to drive 15 countries, covering a distance of about 13 thousand kilometers. We visited 20 cities, conquered the highest mountain of West Africa – Toubkal, rode a snowboard along the sands of the Sahara desert and saw many sights.
Preparing for the trip
Preparations for a trip to Africa from Moscow began six months before the start. An approximate travel route was developed: Russia – Latvia – Lithuania – Poland – Czech Republic – Germany – Austria – Italy – France – Spain – Morocco – Western Sahara – Mauritania – Senegal – Gambia. For 3 weeks we visited all countries, mastered the most interesting places, saw the sights, rode snowboards (on the sand of the Sahara and the snows of the Alps), and also felt the atmosphere of real black Africa. Initially, the trip was planned through Mali, but taking into account the civil war could not get a visa there.
Visas and vaccinations
Visas required to cross this route are Schengen visas, visas from Senegal and Mauritania. Visas of Senegal and Mauritania are obtained at the embassy in Moscow. Given that black Africa is a hotbed of many diseases, it is advisable to be vaccinated against yellow fever, ideally also against hepatitis.
From Moscow to Lithuania, we arrived by train, because there we were already waiting for the cars purchased and prepared for the trip.
We covered the whole of Europe in 4 days – 3 days on the road and one day for auto repair. Europe’s high-speed roads with a limit of about 130 km / h, safe and wide. The Alhambra – an architectural and park ensemble – the number one object among UNESCO sights in Spain – is a place on the route that is definitely worth seeing.
Morocco is the first African country on our way. Islam, the hospitable and controversial Arab world. Morocco is a country of contrast because, on the one hand, European traditions coexist in it, and on the other, it is the Islamic world with all its severity. The first city in Morocco is Chefchaouen, an atmospheric city of blue. Fez was not particularly interesting. Monotonous city, consisting of 14 medin (centers). Rabat pleased with its modernity and delicious food. In Marrakech visited a leather farm – a sight not for the faint of heart; there are no official excursions there, but a guide can be found nearby, which for one or two dollars per person will lead you through the entire production and tell you about the long history of leather production, decoration, and dyeing. There is a terrible smell, which is not interrupted even mint leaves. Casablanca (White City) differs from other Moroccan cities in silence and regularity.
In the tight schedule of the trip, we managed to conquer the Toubkal summit (the mountain network of the Lower Atlas), having traveled about 30 kilometers with a height difference of 2500 m – after a sleepless night, this summit became really difficult. Usually, 2 days stand out for this summit, but we spent 19 hours of ascent and descent on it. And on the way to Western Sahara visited one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – Legziru.
On the way, jeeps and trucks, which are equipped for autonomous travel through the Sahara Desert, are becoming increasingly common. The drivers of these cars always have the latest information regarding further routes in Africa.
Mauritania is one of the poorest countries in Africa and was considered by us as a transit country. Even in the major cities of Mauritania is full of garbage and slums. Of particular interest is the border of Western Sahara and Mauritania. The frontier is several kilometers of continuous minefields, through which winding stony pistes (trails) are laid.
Traveling through Senegal was not the most pleasant for us, because after a whole day of a demonstrative boycott before the checkpoint at the border, our cars did not want to let into the country because of their age (cars were more than 6 years old), although in Senegal you meet on the roads broken auto junk. As a result, for a bribe to us in the car, they imprisoned a customs officer who accompanied us to the border with the Gambia. Therefore, the sights could not be seen, and conflicts with the officer were regular and sometimes tough throughout the entire route through Senegal.
Having entered the Gambia, we found ourselves in a real Africa, isolated from the other northern countries of the mainland, due to the fact that it was an English colony, unlike previous countries, which were previously French colonies. The Gambia is perhaps the most exotic and unusual country in our journey. In it, you can find beaches from coal-black to snow-white flowers, pine groves, and real jungles, lonely standing baobabs – a tropical paradise in its classic version. This country is one of the centers of female sex tourism because it is there that you can meet strange couples – elderly Europeans and young Africans.
Here we quickly enough managed to sell cars in the local car markets, having rescued for them an amount approximately twice as large as the purchase price. The first part of our crew ended the trip and flew away to Moscow, while the remaining travelers continued to explore black Africa, venturing into the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.
Necessary equipment on the road per person
Backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, mats, food supplies, car repair kit, burners, clothing, photographic equipment, laptops, navigator, walkie-talkies, maps of the area (paper and electronic), guides to Europe and Africa.
How to buy a car by SMS
When planning a trip, we finally settled on two options. First, we equip a car in Moscow and start off to Africa on it. The second is to buy a car in Europe. The first option was dropped due to the high cost of cars in good condition, capable of driving about 13 thousand kilometers without any breakdowns on roads of varying degrees of complexity – highways, off-road and desert sands. In addition, the car must be seriously prepared, because the route passes through sub-zero temperatures in Europe and the heat of the African continent.
There was a second option – to go to Germany or Lithuania and buy a car there, which we did, finding a friend from Vilnius who agreed to pick up the car. The task is to find an inexpensive, roomy and diesel car that would drive the entire route with minimal breakdowns. A colleague with whom we communicated with SMS, looked at 12 cars, chose the right one, changed all the consumables, took care of himself, made insurance, bought spare wheels and got red transit numbers (their validity is a month). The advantages of transit numbers are obvious – the car is removed from the register, respectively, in many places in Europe, you can not worry about the speed limit, because the speeding penalties will not come to anyone. It is worth noting that for such a trip it is very desirable to glue the car with stickers (by any, better sponsors). The machine becomes immediately in the spotlight. And on the territory of Morocco, we have never been stopped, even taking into account violations of traffic rules. Moreover, in many posts, the local policemen saluted us.