Quick foray into guinea then into Liberia
Cote d'ivorie has treated us well, it does however give us some awful roads as we get closer to the guinea border, making the drive feel a lot longer than what it probably was, several times we had to jump out of the truck and assess whether it would fit through a gap or make it through water filled pot holes without getting stuck, we are also treated to a pretty awesome storm making the locals trying to get quickly home on their motorbikes a bit cranky when we block the whole tiny road with our truck, the border we cross into guinea has only recent,y been opened which probably explains the state of the road but now it's open the roads are getting worse as more people cross this way. Our last stop in Cote d'ivorie is the immigration point for the truck with the immigration head honcho putting us up for the night, basically letting us pitch our tents at immigration and letting us use his bucket shower and hole in the ground.
We always seem to be an endless source of entertainment, this time it's exiting out of Ivory Coast, the border post only has us there which is quite unusual every border I've been through in Africa is always chaotic with trucks, motorbikes, pedestrians and tro-tros as well as all the people selling their wares off their head, so needless to say the guys are bored, one jumps into the truck to take selfies with a few of us as well as the truck - at least it gets us a smooth exit out and into guinea which is as easy and as quiet.
It's only a short foray into the south-eastern part of Guinea, we return again later in the trip. The roads from Cote d'ivorie into Guinea remain terrible slowing us down considerably but putting that aside it's a pretty nice drive through the forest region and we drive through a bamboo forest, the bamboo curves over the top of the road with the light shining through creating a pretty spectacular bamboo canopy, definitely a bit of a highlight for me. It seems the more we drive north through west Africa the poorer it feels, we are also getting a more tropical vibe with plenty of palm trees around and a return of the humidity.
Our first stop in Guinea is Nzerekore, guinea's second largest city, we are really here as a good place to base ourselves to investigate the vine bridges. The vine bridges as they sound are these bridges made entirely out of vines, it is said only the elders and who they trust know how to build them and they not only provide practical means for crossing the river but supposedly hold spiritual meaning as well, it's all pretty secretive and pretty hard to get any information on them, our guide was only interested in getting as there and back as quickly as possible without saying a word only blasting local music out on his phone running what would have been a really peaceful trek through the forest. I will say though the craftsmanship is really good, the bridges had no problem holding a couple of us hefty gringos at a time.
Nzerekore is also our base to stock up on at least a weeks worth of food (noting we have minimal refrigeration) and enough petrol to get us through Liberia where we may or may not be able to get either of these things, or if we do, we'll have to sell all our arms and legs and then some! Food Nzerekore does have if you are prepared to subject yourself to the sauna that is their market, we spent quite a bit of time navigating our way through the closely positioned stalls in a filthy market that stretches over many, many blocks with many, many more people in stifling humidity and heat, to finally find some veggies that already look past their use by dates with a few random tins of tuna, tomato paste and chick peas - gonna be a lot of pasta and rice over the next week I think.....or we should stop being so fussy and grab some of the cat that we saw being grilled on the side of the road.
Petrol turns out to be more of a challenge, Nzerekore is considered one of the more reliable places to get petrol with obtaining a 1000 litres being no problem, at 1030am we are told 'diesel is coming in half hour', couple of hours pass, still no sign of this diesel, we head back to the hotel we were camping at with its 'no stress' discotheque and casino to wait, our crew go back at 130pm, at 6pm theynreturn having managed to acquire 27 of the 700 litres we require, so we get to spend an extra night in Nzerekore, crew start the hunt again at 8am and by 130pm the following day we have enough we think to get us through Liberia.
Before we head to Liberia we have one last stop in this leg of Guinea in Bossou camping at the headquarters where they organise chimp trekking. What an awesome way to end this quick dip into Guinea, trekking through dense forest in the morning, after 40 or so minutes we are rewarded with our first chimp just hanging about in front of us with a couple of others behind him, he soon realises we are here and starts letting us know he isn't too happy, throwing sticks down at us, doing his warning screeching and eventually appearing to pee on, pretty entertaining in our eyes. We are lucky to get so close and watching how lightning fast they move through the trees was pretty amazing, as we walk further on we see a mumma and her baby, the mumma just keeping a close eye on the baby which is busy playing around in the trees. It really was one of those times where you just put the camera down and watch these incredible creatures so close up.
(apologies for the bad photo)
Time to jump back on to the awful dirt roads and see what Liberia offers us.