Getting Around Africa

  • Caleche rank, Bab Doukalla
    Caleche rank, Bab Doukalla
    by Bennytheball
  • Transportation
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    The rivers don't always have bridges
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Most Viewed Transportation in Africa

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    Local buses

    by SirRichard Written May 24, 2004

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    Travelling by local buses in subsaharian Africa is nearly a mystical experience. If you wanna taste the "real Africa", this will be your baptism.
    As a rule, buses in Africa are old, full and stop in every group of huts on the way.

    There is nothing assumed when you travel in these buses, only that you won't know neither when you leave nor when you arrive... Buses leave when full. You may arrive in a bus station, find the right bus (listen to the drivers shouting the destinations) and think "I was lucky" as you hear the motor roaring. But is just a trick! They do that so people go into the bus, but they won't leave till every (and I mean EVERY) seat is full, with persons, boxes or animals.

    Sleeping on those buses is a nightmare, not only for the bumps and frequent stops, but mainly because of the music, sometimes tape, sometimes video clips of african music. Compared to this videoclips, indian movies are Bergman movies!!!

    But what I liked the most is the kitsch decoration, all the bus is frequently filled inside with plastic flowers, colourful stickers ("Jesus loves you", "No woman no cry"...), dark red velvet, pics of the driver's family...

    When you arrive at your destination you swear you won't take another one again, but next day you will probably taking the next, as at the end is the best way to travel around here...

    A stop on the road
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    Nile River Boats

    by SirRichard Written May 25, 2004

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    These touristic boats are not exactly a transport way, but a way to see all the archeological sites along the river.

    Normally you will board in Aswan and go northwards till Luxor. So U go into the boat, and it starts going up the river, stopping at the main sites. You sleep on board, visit the monuments in the early moment (when the heat is not unbearable) and spend the rest of the day resting on the sundeck and refreshing in the swimming pool.

    The sunset is one of the best moments, with those amazing red skies with the desert background. And the silence, that incredible silence of the desert beyond the inhabited shores...

    Sunset on the Nile
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
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    Shared Taxis

    by SirRichard Written May 26, 2004

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    Shared taxis are a common way of interurban transport in all Africa. These are private taxis that serve as alternative transport between places not served by buses or sometimes when buses are not frequent enough...

    It works this way: they depart from the local bus stations, though there is no ticket office or fixed quays. You just look around, look where those Peugeots are and ask the drivers about your destination.
    When you find the one you need, FIRST look inside to find out how full is it. If is empty, look for another one: they depart only when full (and I mean FULL), so if is empty, it will still wait 2-3 hours.
    Once you found an almost full one, bargain the price with the driver. A good trick is to ask before to any local about prices, as the drivers use to double prices for foreigners...
    Local passengers usually prefer the back seats, so U might think, "I'm lucky, will go all alone in the fron seat", but they prefer the back seats because of the accidents... front seat is more risky!

    On the way there, expect to stop often for food/drink, go to distant huts to leave a passenger and you will be lucky if the taxi doesn't stop once to replace a tyre or an engine breakdown.

    Waiting for a taxi
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    Trains

    by SirRichard Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Railways are not specially developed in African countries, in some simply there isn't !!
    Most of the railways come from the colonial times, when french and british built them to keep their business going. So expect them to be old, not very well maintained and, of course, delayed.

    I have used very little the trains in Africa, except from travelling in Morocco or South Africa where the net is extense and the trains are unusually good. Apart from that, I took the train from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), which is a nice old colonial train, as well as the Lunatic train from Mombassa to Nairobi (Kenya).

    Other famous trains in Africa are:
    - The Blue train in South Africa
    - The Iron train in Mauritania (longest train on earth!!)
    - The Mali Express from Dakar to Bamako

    In Victoria Falls
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    Trucks

    by SirRichard Written May 27, 2004

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    This big 4x4 trucks are often used in Africa for overland tours, just for tourists groups. They are quite convenient in countries where the roads network is poor (most of them).

    I used one in a tour group to visit Namibia, ending in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe). When visiting Namibia on my own, trucks are a good choice, as there are just 2-3 asphalted roads, the rest is just sandy tracks. Another option is to rent a 4x4 vehicle on your own, but that's expensive if you travel alone.

    So I joined an international group in Windhoek and we visited Namib-Naukluft, Swakopmund, Skeleton Coast, Etosha, Chobe Park (Bostwana) and Vic Falls. The agency supplied the tents and the camping material (forks, food, guides...) and you had to bring your own sleeping bag. All meals were made around the bus, cooked by our own cooker, we had charming barbeques and firecamps on the bush at nights, and we saw places we couldn't have reached with a normal vehicle.
    It was a nice experience, 1 week, though the seats were a bit uncomfortable for the long driving periods.

    For overland tours from Capetown to all the area around (Namibia, Vic Falls, South Africa...) visit the link below...

    Lunch by the truck
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    4x4

    by SirRichard Written May 27, 2004

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    When we were in Morocco 2 years ago, we hired a 4x4 car in Marrakesh to visit the pre-desert crossing the Atlas mountains towards Ouarzazate and Zagora.

    The roads are not in bad condition, so U could do the same in public transport, but there are some lost medinas and hidden valleys that you can't reach by bus/taxi.

    Just be careful with the gasoline, as there are not many petrol stations in that southern part of Morocco. When arriving in a town, we used to park the car at the Hotel and see the place on foot, we had a wonderful journey

    Refilling gas
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    Train

    by Wafro Updated Sep 3, 2005

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    Travelling by train is quit an experience.
    In most of the countries you can travel in three different categories.
    1st.-2nd. or 3rd. Class, I obtain for the first class, you’ll pay a little bit more and you can enjoy some luxury.
    TV
    Air-conditioning
    Sometimes sleeping couches

    PS:Departure times are mostly reliable, but the time of arrival can sometimes be delayed with two days.
    I once took the train(Cameroon) Ngouandere-Yaoundé, with Bertoua as my final destination.
    Half way, in the middle of nowhere the train broke down.
    It was impossible to reach us by car, we had to wait till all the spare pieces were arrived and everything was fixed

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    bus

    by Wafro Updated Sep 4, 2005

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    The big bus is one of the most reliable transport possibilities you can find.
    Departure times are fixed, drivers are safe and the vehicles are in relatively good conditions.
    For departure times, always check the bus-station before buying your ticket.

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    Rent a car

    by Wafro Updated Sep 4, 2005

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    In most of the capitals or big cities you can find car rental agencies.
    You can arrange everything on the spot, but it’s also possible to book your vehicle before departure at a branch at home.
    The pieces are fixed, as they follow European standards.
    ALWAYS CHECK YOUR CAR BEFORE SIGNIG ANYTHING!!!

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    Moto

    by Wafro Updated Sep 4, 2005

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    When you’re travelling alone and you have an adventurous mind, you should try a motorcycle.
    In remote places you can often wait quit a long time for your bus or car to arrive, or to leave.
    A moto is the perfect solution, you don’t have to wait till the vehicle is full and you can take shortcuts and small bush roads.
    At the end of your journey, your bottom can hurt.

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    Bush Taxi

    by Wafro Written Sep 4, 2005

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    Everywhere in Africa you can find Bush Taxi Stations.
    Most of the time this is the fastest way to travel, but also the most unsafe way.
    Cars are in very bad conditions, overloaded and the drivers often think they’re F1 Pilots.
    Prices are fixed, but you’ll always have to bargain for the fares of your backpack or suitcase.

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    Camel ride

    by Wafro Written Jan 21, 2006

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    I think many of the hotels in Egypt or North Africa have their own camel to take you out for a ride.
    When you say the camel is too big or too high, they will find you a donkey and even when these are too high for you....
    They'll find you a dog or a chicken to ride on!
    There is no business like tourist business.
    You'll pay a few E.L.(Egyptian Pounds) for a ride, but always negotiate for a reasonable price

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    Walking

    by Wafro Updated Jan 21, 2006

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    Walking is one of the most reliable ways of transportation on the African continent.
    When you're well trained and you trust your legs, you can cover large distances by walking.
    In some places walking is the only way to go from point A to point B.

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    Dug-out canoe

    by Wafro Written Mar 11, 2008

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    An easy and relatively fast way to transport you on the water is a dugout canoe or pirogue.
    It is cheap when they don’t have an outboard motor and when you are in the rainforests of Africa you can cover large distances with a pirogue and observe the wildlife without scaring them away. But you can also find the on the shores of lakes where fishermen can bring you to your destination.

    Related to:
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    • Eco-Tourism

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    Flat tyres

    by Wafro Updated Nov 19, 2011

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    Each time I visit Africa I conker a lot of car problems, flat tyres are the most common. Is it because of me?? Probably the bad roads, so when you rent a vehicle check the spare tyre or when you take public transport, be patient.

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