Ghana, Togo, & Côte d'Ivoire

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Sideoff, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    My buddy Josh and I just returned from a month riding through Ghana, Togo, and Cote D’Ivoire. I'll post some pics here as I sort through them.

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    Josh had to delay his departure by a week for work, so I flew over solo on January 31 to find bikes and explore the Volta region of Ghana on my own. Then I metup with Josh in Accra on Feb 9, and we went east into Togo, north to the Burkina border, west across Ghana into Cote D’Ivoire, south to the coast, and then east back to Ghana. We ended the trip back in Accra on Feb 29, after a 4,750 km loop across the three countries.

    Before leaving we ordered some paper maps online, which arrived just in time. We figured out the route as we went, partly with the paper maps, partly by chatting with locals, and partly with our phones, which had local sim cards. We used paved roads to cover big distances, and then spent as much time as possible on dirt roads & footpaths, visiting small villages and checking out the countryside. This was approximately our route:

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    In terms of bikes: we wanted local bikes, affordable, not fancy, something we could easily find parts for, easily work on, and that local mechanics would know how to service. With google, we could see there were some inexpensive bikes available in Ghana, mostly by Chinese companies we’d never heard of. I took $3,000usd cash to Accra, hoping that’d be enough to buy & license two bikes. Then we'd sell the bikes at the end of the trip and get some money back.

    I put out some feelers with friends & family to see if anyone had a contact in Ghana. Turns out that my sister’s friend Francie in Philadelphia had lived in Ghana for a while. She introduced us to her Ghanaian friend Moses, who in turn introduced us to his friend Charles, who lives in Accra. Facebooking with Charles before the trip, he agreed to help us get situated.
    #1
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  2. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

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    Looking forward to your story and pics :thumb
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  3. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    INtriguing INtro :lol3

    :lurk
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  4. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    Nothing like getting teased.
    So please please, please me please me ....dontchya go on teasn me !!!!! :y0!
    #4
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  5. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    You got me interested. Now let's see the ride!
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  6. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Landed in Accra in the morning, kinda dazed from the long flight. Charles met me at the airport, and we got right into some bike shopping.

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    Got currency & a sim card at the airport. There's pretty good 3G in most populated places in west africa if you have an unlocked phone.

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    This is Charles.

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    It was Sunday, so the new motorcycle dealers were closed, but some of the used dealers were open. I was anxious to get a handle on the kind of bikes that are available and just how easy/hard it was going to be to sort this out. The used dealers have a bunch of older bikes that looked like they migrated into Africa from Europe. I'm guessing most of these have been ridden hard and not regularly serviced.

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    I looked at a few used bikes, and it confirmed my feeling that we wanted new bikes not used. There were a lot of newer Chinese bikes on the street. Seeing the diversity of bikes available, I knew we weren't going to have a problem finding bikes to ride. I was tired from the flight, so Charles and I took bus/taxis out to the beach to drink some beer. Accra has a lively beach scene. Really fun.

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    Day 1 in Ghana was a success. Met-up with Charles, got my phone & money situation sorted, validated the availability of bikes, saw a bunch of Accra, and ended the day on the beach beer in hand. Stoked.
    #6
  7. Roeskar

    Roeskar Adventurer

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    Wherever you go, there you are.
    In! I've been to Ghana twice and truly enjoyed the people, the land and the country's history. Looking forward to seeing this report.
    #7
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  8. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile Supporter

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    I’m in! Looks to be a great trip! Looking forward to more! Thanks for posting..
    #8
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  9. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    I thought your CA scar would be bigger? Is that it on your left?

    Looking forward to this bit of Africa:lurk
    #9
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  10. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    wow good ride report memory!!

    That's the leg, but the scars are on the other side. They did a lot through a small cut. I never even notice them or the hardware still in there anymore. Good as new. Maybe better.
    #10
  11. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Day 2 in Ghana: the idea was to find two bikes and buy them ASAP so I could leave the next day. Charles & I cruised a bunch of dealers. Here's pics of some of the Chinese bikes available in Accra that I did NOT select. Recording this here in detail for the benefit of anyone who might want to travel this way in the future, so you know what to expect.

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    Narrowed it down to three options.

    1) A knock-off of the Yamaha DT/AG by Jialing. I think this was like a 150cc version. This bike feels pretty sturdy and capable but also kind of like a piece of old farm equipment.

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    2) The Apsonic 'Jungle' 200 cc.

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    3) The Royal 'Sport II' 200cc

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    Prices for these three models ranged from $800-$900 USD brand new from the dealership with a 30-day warranty. Plus $50 to license and $50 to register.

    I picked the Royal 200cc because:

    - There were way more Royals on the road than any other brand
    - The dealership was the cleanest and best organized
    - 200+ mile range on the gas tank
    - Adjustable pre-load on the rear suspension

    The price on the Royal was $900+$100 register/insure so $1,000 total per bike.

    I had US Dollars and we needed Cedis so Charles took me down to the street where the money changers hangout. These guys were so badass. And rates significantly better than the banks.

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    Went back to the dealer and bought a couple motorcycles. They got busy prepping the bikes.

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    That took up pretty much the entire day. Back at the hotel I got busy getting the bike setup. I decided to take all the plastics off so we could put them back on at the end of the trip and the bike would look like new making it easier to sell. Also cranked up the rear pre-load and generally just got familiar with it. Charles snapped these pics.

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    Here's a pic with everything loaded up. That's a Mosko Moto Reckless 80 on the back and my DaKine Nomad mountain biking hydration pack rigged as a tank bag.

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    That night Charles & I started talking about where I should go. Josh was arriving in about a week, so I was either going to loop back through Accra to meet him, or he'd come meetup with me somewhere on the road. We stored the red bike at Charles' friend's house until Josh arrived.

    I heard the "Lake Volta" region in Ghana was cool and I could see on the map it was laced with little dirt roads, so I decided to head that way and see what happened.


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    Again, stoked. Bikes acquired, chores completed, beer in hand. Excited to get on the bike tomorrow.
    #11
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  12. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Money Changers in Accra



    Overview of the bike



    My favorite feature

    #12
  13. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    Great setup reports and nice bike setup.
    I'm looking forward to getting this show on the road.

    Good luck and ride safe
    #13
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  14. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Getting out of Accra was hectic. As expected.

    I was headed for this hilly area called the 'Mampong Scarp" on the SW corner of lake Volta. Connecting Kofuridua, to Nkurakan, to Begoro, to Mpraeso, to Adowso, where the road dead-ends at Lake Volta. Figured I could find a boat across there. You can see the highlighted route in the pic below. Except when I got to the big red road right by the 'S' in Scarp, I turned right and headed toward the lake. That's Adowso. The area on the other side of the lake crossing there with hardly any roads is called the Afram Plains. That's the area I wanted to explore.

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    When I got to the escarpment, I found some curvy little mountain roads and small villages. Really nice riding. First beer stop I met this guy, Nana, who was in town for a funeral. His sister owned the bar. He offered to hook me up with her. Thanks dude :)

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    These guys really wanted me to take a picture of their taxi ha! People are so friendly. It's cool to be out in the countryside in Africa and be able to communicate in english. That's something really unique about Ghana.

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    At Adowso I got a boat to take me across the lake.

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    Then I was in the Afram Plains. Not much motorized traffic in this area.

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    There's only one town with a guest house in the Afram Plains, the town is called Donkorkrom, and it was getting late, so I decided to stop for the night. No power or water, but they did have some water buckets so I could wash and do some bucket laundry.

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    #14
  15. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    Getting better with every installment.
    This is an awesome RR !!!
    Me likey :clap:clap
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  16. Saso

    Saso Happily sporting the DRD4 gene Supporter

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    :clap

    :lurk
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  17. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    This looks very different and interesting. I'm in.
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  18. kengray

    kengray Been here awhile

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    This is a great report. Thanks for sharing
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  19. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Next day I woke up and went down to the local market to see about some breakfast.

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    I had this plan to get through some parts of the map that did not show any roads, but where I could see a town called Kubekrom sort of in the middle of nowhere. I figured the town had to have some kind of access from the south, so maybe I could do the 'point and ask' thing and navigate my way to it. First this required crossing the lake yet again. This is the crossing that goes to Ntoboama. My original plan was to see if I could get a boat upriver toward a town called Surukom, but after much discussion, they decided it was not possible with the weight of the bike and the small motor they had access to, plus the long distance. They said I should cross the lake and connect small roads and paths from Ntobama to Kubekrom, which would be faster than the boat anyways.

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    Check it out... he's rowing with his FEET ha!

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    Lots of big anthills

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    This is a very poor area. Lots of small settlements like this one.

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    Long story short, I got myself way TF 'out there,' the roads turned into paths, which then weaved and braided into a gnarly navigation mess. I was several hours deep, thoroughly exhausted, with no sign of settlements, or anything else. I started to question whether I'd make it. Then I had a sketchy interaction with some guys - the first people I'd seen in a while - and had to high-tail it out of there, getting more lost in the process. I didn't want to give up on Kubekrom, but between being lost and having that sketchy interaction, things were turning a bit negative. I could feel tunnel-vision setting in, which never turns out well, so I stepped back and decided the smart move was to backtrack. Which wasn't going to be easy, since the trails had braided so much, plus the sketchy dudes were between me and the exit.

    Backtracking, at each intersection, I took the one that looked more traveled, and marked the track I'd just come from with a stick or rock. Eventually the paths became doubletrack, and the doubletrack became road. Never saw the sketchy guys again.


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    On the way out I ran into this guy Isaac broken down a long ways from nowhere. He was on a well-used Apsonic with an ancient spark plug that was done-for. I had a spare, hooked him up, bike started right up, and he led me back to his village. Cool guy.

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    From the village I wanted to get a boat back across the lake, and get back to the main road, which dead-ended at the lake again at a place called Amakwakrom, where I could get a boat across the lake (yeah, again ha!) to Kpandu, which is on the East side of Lake Volta, a more populated area.

    At this point it's turning into a pretty friggin' long day. I'm exhausted, but stoked to be back around people.

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    So I got a boat back across the lake and stopped at the first beer spot I saw just to chill for a bit and collect my thoughts.

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    Then I motored down the main road until it dead ended at the lake.

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    The people at the lake said no more boats tonight, wait until morning. There was an abandoned structure on the lake shore so I camped out there for the night. I found a place to sell me a few bottles of beer, and the really nice family next door was nice enough to cook me some eggs.

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    Washed in the lake, ate eggs, drank beer, passed out. Big day.

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    #19
  20. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    This is one helluva magnificent journey.
    I'm glued to this one.
    #20
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