Left Niger via Dan Issa and entered Nigeria at Jibiya frontier. Immigration (Passports/Visas) and Customs (Vehicle Documents) could not have been more cheerful and helpful. Having a Ghanaian registered vehicle caused some difficulty for Customs as it is very seldom that a Ghanaian vehicle ever enters Nigeria via this route - they created a special Laissez - Passer (the standard document in all of the Francophone countries) just for Mitzi!
A long drive to Kano, where we stayed in the ECWA (Ecumenical Council of West Africa) Guest House, 4,000 niara (£20) for the room. Basic - but adequate. Very tasty spaghetti and spicy veg sauce for supper - we were ready for it. Kano City was intimidating to us - huge, choked with traffic and heaving with people, all 5 million of them. Roads do not have names so finding anywhere was a nightmare - we just asked; people were great and so helpful.
No police Hassle at all - via this north-south route!
Most impressed with the road infrastructure down to Abuja, really good dual carriage-way for hundreds of kilometres. Nigeria is definitely the most wealthy of the countries so far.
Abuja itself is a class act as far as modern cities go, really well designed roads and many modern buildings, including a spectacular Mosque.However, It is a soulless sort of place as most people live 20 km away outside the city and communt in to work - it is virtually empty at the week-end.
We discovered that the Sheraton Hotel allowed Overlanders free camping and use of their facilities
(including swimming pool) - so we made good use of it whilst seeking onward visas; here we met Pietr from Poland and Julian from Wicklow Ireland, who were cycling down to Capetown - the things people do!
The paradox which hit us everywhere in Nigeria, which has the world's fourth largest oil reserves, is the number of petrol stations that are closed, for lack of fuel - and the number of entrepreneurs selling 'jerry-cans' of fuel by the side of the road. Also there are constant power cuts in Nigeria so most businesses/hotels seem to have their own generators, to minimise disruption. It's pretty hot and sticky so A/C or fans are necessary if you want to have a decent night's sleep.
We met up with Berwyn and Julia in Abuja and based ourselves at the basic but adequate Pridemark Hotel (£30) whilst awaiting our Visas for Angola. Then began the process of adjusting to being a foursome, which we found very easy to do. We hit Wakki's (Indian) and Al Basha (Lebanese) to celebrate.
We called in at the Nigeria VSO office where we were warmly welcomed, arranged to do some photocopying and uploaded our Niger web diary. We found the British Council Library and Cafe was also a very useful information source and good lunch spot.
Mitzi got a bit of TLC with a grease, oil and filters changed and a wash down so we hope she should be Ok until her next check up in Windhoek, Namibia. she's proving a gem so far.
A Journey to Remember - Crossing the border from Nigeria to Cameroun
Crossing into Cameroun had always been a cause of anxiety for us and was the main reason for leaving Ghana a month earlier than originally intended; the roads, rains, rivers and forest were known to make the journey very difficult.
First false start
We first aimed for a crossing at Abong which we had been advised was good (and the map also indicated); it took the best part of a day to reach Baissa, en route to Abong, but we were forced to retrace our steps when local advice confirmed that there was no bridge across the river, no vehicle had ever crossed by that route, and when it was suggested that Mitzi might be transported across the river by canoe - we declined the offfer!
Second False Start
We consulted a whole range of locals who all assured us that it was possible to cross into Cameroun via Bissaula, so off we trekked down an ever narrowing stretch of rough piste road and after 6 hours driving arrived at Bissaula around 2.00pm; "no problem the road is fine - just follow the trail". So off we go with considerable trepidation heading for the border only to be thwarted after a few kilometres by a very large tree blockig the trail, with no way around it; back to Bissaula.
Camping on the School field
Back at the village we explained our dilemma and a tree clearing party (with chain saw) was organised to clear the way whilst we met with the Chief, the Immigration Officer, Pastor, et al to work out where we might pitch our tents. It was either sleep on a damp and dirty class-room floor, pitch our tents in the grounds of the Chief's 'Palace' or pitch up on the school field, for which we opted. Needless to say we had half the village as our audience but we also encountered Etienne, a teacher, with whose family we ate corn-fufu and fish for supper - very much appreciated.
A Truly Epic Journey into Cameroun
Etienne and Babunda kindly offered to escort us to the Border on their motorbike; off we went. They first showed us the route that had been recommended - no vehicle had ever passed that way, so we took an 'alternative route'. The journey took us through dense jungle, across streams and river beds until we arrived at what one can only describe as a virtually impossible 45 degree continuous climb up a mountainside along a boulder strewn, water eroded trail. There was no going back at this point, we either got up this hill or it was at least a three day journey back to another crossing which could prove to be just as difficult.
Crossing the Rubicon
We parked Mitzi and climbed the series of hills to check out obstacles, and mark routes through boulders, gullies and rocky outcrops; the upshot of our 'recce' was that we all knew that this was a serious 'crossing the Rubicon' episode. Getting stuck en route up the hill could even be the end of our journey; reversing down would be even more risky than going up. So the passengers climbed ahead to guide the way and I got myself somewhat apprehensively behind the wheel. So it was four wheel drive, low ratio - no gears left - it was so steep, Slowly Mitzi edged forward and upwards, at times nurtured by the driver and at times she found her own natural way slithering across the rocks and pulling through the deeply eroded gullies. Stage by stage we climbed steadily up to a smooth rock face which seemed determined to thwart us - but after five attempts and some scary backsliding down the hill Mitzi won through and there was one huge sigh of relief and emotion when we topped out to where Jenny (who was too scared to watch) was waiting; and then it was a slug of Glenfiddich Malt Whisky to calm the nerves - wow. We were all very relieved and Mitzi was just incredible - well done Mitsubishi! Never, ever, again - we hope.
We get Quite a number of Europeans Passing this Way
After the nerves had calmed we followed what seemed a very decent trail and stopped at the first village to greet the Chief and take some refreshment.
In conversation with the Chief, Berwyn asked - do you get many 'Whites' passing this way? Yes quite a few replied the Chief, 5 years ago we had two cyclists through....... !
Now for Cameroun
Location - Nigeria