Reviews Of West Africa Overland Tours
Thanks to all the passengers who have written reviews about our overland trips in West Africa. Come visit the countries of West Africa with us and experience the magic for yourself!
Phil Salter, Australia
“After 3 years on the road travelling, I formed an opinion that all Overland and indeed point A to B tour companies are basically the same. I was wrong! OWA is refreshingly different & stands out as the best in the Overlanding community.
From the start the advantages of traveling with OWA were obvious: very helpful visa advice, clear trip notes, and all my questions (and I had plenty) answered promptly, courteously & efficiently. The trip itself was absolutely amazing, less rushed than most others, with more time to see the best sights such as the Fouta Djalon in Guinea, the rivers of Gambia & Casamance, and the beautiful beaches of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire & Ghana.
All in all a fantastic trip and the experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. All the countries were special in their own different way and the highlights were plentiful. If I had to pick one out it would be the people themselves. Throughout the region they are just beautiful, always laughing, singing, and dancing.
OWA has put together a great trip with fantastic leaders and I would have no hesitation in recommending OWA to all my friends around the world”
Ian Grieve, United Kingdom
“OWA are the only way to travel through West Africa, with these guys and Aminah you are in the safest hands possible whilst still having a fantastic time. Through the ideology of spending time in places and actually experiencing the culture you will meet, laugh, smile, dance and sing with the wonderful people from Africa.
The challenges associated with traveling through this part of the road were tackled with the utmost care and skill, whether this was inventing a new route due to the entertaining road surfaces, researching where to go and what to do and then being able to find these fantastic things. The effort put into finding the Vine bridges, for example, is tantamount to the desire and drive Dave and Jimmy have to the cause.
If you’re still not sure who to go with then ask yourself whether you want to experience the country or whether you want to say you’ve been to the country. If its the former then OWA is the only option. If it’s the latter then please go back to work”
Anne Watkinson, South Africa
“Now that I’m back in the land of frost and mist I would like to say a huge thank you for making such an amazing trip possible! It exceeded all my expectations – and they were high before I even set foot in West Africa. All the pre trip information was incredibly helpful, especially all the visa help, and it wasn’t just generic stuff, but personalised to my specific needs.
On the road both Jason and Zoe were fantastic in every way, and despite some long and stressful days, not once did they appear anything but cheerful and positive. They are a huge credit to OWA!
The trip was a huge adventure, and not always for the fainthearted….I can honestly say that I have never been on an overland trip (and I have done many) where their was such a harmonious group who pulled together especially during the more challenging times!
Because of the organisation and pace of the trip, there was plenty of time to spend with local people and see under the skin of those remarkable countries. Every time we got stuck, we were overwhelmed with local help, and it was equally good to be able to help the locals when they got stuck – even when we knew that was the only way we could get moving again!”
Anthony and Narelle Hobbs, New Zealand
“Having had a life-long dream to travel to West Africa, I was thrilled when I found the OWA website and saw the countries OWA travelled to. We were impressed by the slow pace of the trips, giving you enough time to immerse yourself in the countries rather than just ticking them off. Wanting to be part of this exciting adventure, my husband Ant and I booked ourselves on the 2013 Dakar to Freetown and Freetown to Accra trips – and we couldn’t be happier with our decision for choosing OWA!
There are too many highlights to list them all, but if I can share but a few that are still vivid in my mind – being immersed in the busy and vibrant markets, bartering for food and fabrics alike; lying in our tents listening to the sound of beating drums in the distance; having whole villages of children and adults come out to wave, fascinated at the site of a big blue truck passing by on the dusty red roads; experiencing the hospitality of the locals whilst staying in villages, and watching in awe of amazing and mystical African dances; sampling the amazing food; and of course Aminah, in Aminah we love!
Overlanding isn’t for the faint hearted – you can go days without showering (washing in streams doesn’t count), be covered from head to toe with fine red dust (some people back home thought it was my tan), and have long drive days and some hot sticky nights; but the experience and the people you meet along the way far outweigh anything else.
The trip could not have been possible without our esteemed leader Al, with his passion for the region and love of West African music. Al was fantastic at finding local attractions and building relationships, ensuring we had every opportunity to immerse ourselves into the culture of these amazing countries; and his awesome side-kick Nev, with a passion for travelling, his level-headedness to all situations, his amazing driving skills on some crazy roads and his friendship. Both Al and Nev made the trip for us!
To say it was the trip of a lifetime is an understatement. Anyone who has the opportunity to travel with OWA should jump on board and be part of their ongoing adventure. There are talks among some of us of an OWA reunion in April 2016 on the Dakar to Marrakech leg!”
Ingaborg Schedlbauer, Germany
“Just arrived back home after 10 weeks in West Africa travelling from Dakar to Accra with Dave the Hat and Jimmy. At the moment I keep going on the nerves of all my friends with stories about the area and all the people that I met on this trip: people I met for a couple of minutes in the markets, or on the road, people I met for a couple of hours (visiting their villages or showing us around) and also the people I have travelled with for 10 weeks and some even longer. That’s one of the main reasons why I did this trip: the people and I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Wherever we arrived we were welcomed and helped in a way that you almost never see in the Western world anymore. Whenever there was a problem they found a solution. I know that I was fortunate to have all these experiences and that it was mainly up to Dave and Jimmy that we had them. With their itinerary we went to the most stunning places (landscapewise) and met all these incredible people and because we didn’t rush through all these countries we had time to spend time with them as well. With their way of talking to the locals authorities we got the possibilities to make all these experiences.
The highlight of the trip? It’s really hard to answer, because there was this unbelievable cathedral in Cote d’Ivoire, these magnificent waterfalls in the Fouta Djalon, the vine bridge in the Forest Region and so much more … but my personal highlight was a visit in an animist village near Korhogo where we were welcomed in such a great way and to see the joy of one of the elders there when he had a look at his photo that he allowed us to take of him”
Robert Kuhlmann, United States
“I instantly liked Dave Hatter as our leader on our trip, I could see right away he was the type of guy who one could easily get along with, easily approached, and improvise when he needed to.
One of our first problems was that the roads on our route were all washed out and Dave had to quickly think up a new route, and when traveling in West Africa that’s not always an easy thing to do!
But he accomplished it, and along the way were some great spots for game viewing, national parks etc, he took us completely in the opposite direction through an area of the country I don’t think any other leaders for the company had been through before, it still wasn’t easy going some times, West Africa can be known for moon crater size holes that swallow trucks, but Dave navigated us around them like he did it every day!
And when it came to the truck, I NEVER worried about break downs because of driving on rough roads, or for whatever reason. I say that because I saw the way he took care of that baby! Even on his ‘free’ time, which leaders never really have, he made sure all the instruments were doing what they were supposed to be doing and all the lines were feeding whatever they were supposed to be feeding. I truly believe he could have taken that truck apart in front of us and put it back together again, blindfolded!
It’s a good feeling when traveling through five countries to know you’ve got a capable guy, having confidence in your leader is a must on these kind of overlanding trips. When crossing borders, having to deal with the lazy bureaucracy, it pays to have patience with the local customs people and I never thought twice about what was happening, we bided our time and always got through with the least fuss thanks to Dave.
Dave was an easy going guy and always helped people on a one to one if necessary, not everyone had overlanded before, and so Dave always gave his time to help out the new guy, or even the veteran. As I’ve said before, I’d go anywhere with Dave The Hat!”
Jane De La Vega, Australia
“Earlier this year I went on the the Accra to Freetown trip with OWA. It was a most wonderful trip and, as I sit down to write this feedback, I can only think of positives.
The slow and peaceful pace gave us time to soak in the amazing landscapes and cultures we were passing through: I sketch, so a slow pace suits me. The crew had a thorough, extremely well organised and professional approach. This had been obvious from the beginning, from their comprehensive website, and prompt, clear responses to initial questions.
It became even more apparent once we all arrived in Accra where, on meeting Al, our leader, any tiny worries one may have had in relation to safety were put to rest. Al’s experience and understanding of West Africa, its trials and tribulations, as well as its wonders and wobbles, and his quiet passion for it all was impressive. Impressive also was his calm, cool persona, which I liked. I felt very confident. He was the perfect leader. His offsider, Neville, was also perfect.
Looking at the photographs on OWA’s website says everything that needs to be said. I am sure that anyone considering travel in West Africa is doing so because they already know it is a diverse, complicated, different and sometimes difficult part of the continent, and they know that a trip there will be fascinating, intrepid and adventurous. A one-off – not tame. That was why I chose the trip, and it came up to all my expectations. Perhaps even better than I had anticipated.
Together we shared a really wonderful experience in West Africa, and we couldn’t have done it without OWA. Thank you very much, OWA, you do a really excellent job. And to anyone else… YES, DO IT!
Sascha Heeney, United Kingdom
“I recently travelled with OWA (in the safe hands of Al, Nev and Aminah) from Senegal through to Ghana… and what a truly fantastic journey it was!
Al and Nev’s professionalism, passion for overlanding and exemplary knowledge of West Africa makes this trip a must for anyone who is considering exploring these remarkable and beautiful countries.
OWA don’t rush through countries like other overlanding operators but rather give these wonderful places the time they deserve to be explored properly.
I was also very impressed by OWA’s advocacy in promoting responsible tourism in a West Africa, making sure they contribute as much as possible back into the local communities and projects during their trips. This is particularly important in countries like these whose recent hardships make it difficult to sustain tourism.
This really was one of the best trips I have ever been on and I could not recommend it anymore. In fact, testament to how much I enjoyed travelling with OWA, I have already booked myself on a trip next year!
The scenery, the people, the culture, the music, the food …everything… is what makes West Africa so amazing and infectious. Thank you OWA for helping travellers like myself experience this unique part of the world. So many good times and great memories”
Jody Hall, Canada
“This fall I tried my first overlanding trip and I picked a great one. Dave (Hatter) and Jimmy had done their homework and knew what to expect in a part of the world that doesn’t cater to tourists.
I’m generally an independent traveler but my research showed me that it would be very difficult and expensive to explore this part of the world on my own so I opted for a trip that got me to many interesting places, then gave me the freedom to explore.
The trip was paced so that we often arrived by lunch time and stayed 2 nights in the same place giving us plenty of time to go off on adventures or just enjoy the local ambience. Did we run into bad roads, obstructive border guards and red tape? Of course. But ‘the boys’ calm demeanor and endless patience got us through it all. Were there times when I would rather have stayed longer or less time in some places? Of course. But I was one in a group of 16 and overall the trip was well planned and our destinations well chosen and I could not have done it on my own.
This does not tell much about the trip itself or any of the amazing things we saw. That is all on the website. This is just my opinion that this is a terrific way to see West Africa”
Steve Tremlett, United Kingdom
“I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would recommend Overlanding West Africa to anyone. West Africa is a fascinating part of the world and the OWA crew’s extensive knowledge of the culture, history and politics of the area added greatly to the experience.
The pace of the trip was just right, with two night stays in many locations allowing plenty of time to relax and enjoy places rather than relentless driving days. The adventurous nature of the trip also seemed to attract interesting, very well-travelled fellow passengers, which also added to the experience. I’d love to do another one of your trips in the future!”
Anthony Marcon, Australia
“I personally would not hesitate recommending a trip with Overlanding West Africa. Davey is a well researched driver/leader on the region of West Africa. It was 3 years ago I travelled 28 weeks from Finland to Turkey viaChina with him. Rest assured you are travelling with an excellent mechanic too along with the assistance of Jimmy.
I know of other companies who skirt through the region, but when you take into account the poor roads and complicated visa procedures, it is impossible to do justice to this region with only 4 or 5 days in each country (most of the other companies literally rush through that quickly).
Expect delays, detours, heat and humidity, but be enriched by the culture and people, particularly in Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
OWA’s trip is about the culture of the people. The road less travelled. The endless smiles of the kids and the warm welcomes of the people.
On a trip with OWA you have the opportunity to open your mind to people who live in the 21st century with out electricity in many rural areas. There are no computers in many of the schools. Mud brick thatched roof homes with clothes hanging out on posts. You will be delighted at the dress of the women and their braided hair styles, and admire them balancing upwards of 20 kg of produce on their heads!
So if you are looking for a well paced, culturally enriching trip, including unique and wonderful highlights like the Fouta Djalon in Guinea, stilt dancers in Ivory coast, wild chimpanzee trekking in Guinea, Baobolong wetland reserve in Gambia, outdoor smoke houses in the Casamance region of Senegal, then this is for you. Raw rich West Africa. The window of opportunity is now!”
Paula Lancaster, Gambia/UK
“Just returned from travelling with OWA on their Freetown to Dakar trip. I’ve tried hard to put into words my experience and one phrase keeps coming to mind: BLOODY MARVELOUS!
I ought to elaborate! I have never travelled overland or camped before so I was slightly nervous of what lay ahead. I need not have worried! Camping was a blast with options at many places to upgrade (for the five star amongst us).
The pace of the tour and the itinerary gave us a great opportunity to experience a fascinating region of the world with the confidence of a professional and knowledgeable team in support. Al’s knowledge and obvious love of Africa was insurpassable and his dancing skills…well! Also Nev Kelly – a legend!
I will carry the memories of this trip and the friends I made along the way for a long time and would not fail to recommend them to any traveller!”
Kelly Jackson, United Kingdom
“Thanks OWA, you made all the trip prep and visa organising so easy, it made me confident of how well organised the trip was going to be, much appreciated! Thanks for an awesome experience, the random bush camping, dancing in villages in rainstorms and epic club nights – the best memories…..I just have to save up for the next one now!
Di Forgan, Australia
“I first met Dave on a trip through Asia in 2009 where he impressed me with his attention to the truck – it was not only well maintained but he kept it cleaner than any of us deserved. I then watched online while he and Jimmy built Aminah their very own overland truck. When the first trips were advertised I knew that I would have to join.
I wasn’t disappointed….the route was through areas I never dreamed of travelling with some amazing people – overlanding always seems to attract the best of people. The truck was comfortable and very clean and our hosts David and Jimmy were well prepared, efficient and fun.
I have now travelled on three overland trips and my biggest complaint was always that the trip was too fast and we never got to really experience the places we visited – this trip however was at a pace that allowed us to really see the country and to spend time in the towns and villages or to go for a hike or just chill out.
Everyone looks for something a little different from their travels this trip fulfilled my expectations. My only complaint was that I had to leave the trip before the end and had to read about their continuing adventures instead of living them. I hope to one day complete the part of the trip I missed”
Martin Wright, United Kingdom
“Thank you for an awesome trip, Accra to Freetown, the best I have done, well planned, slow pace, plenty of time to enjoy the great sights of West Africa. Al and Nev were a great team, always available, knowledgeable, and fun. They and Aminah made the experience a real immersion into West African culture”
Sally Crace, United Kingdom
“I chose Overland West Africa as I knew how passionate Dave the Hat and Jimmy were about West Africa and the countries we were going to visit – their enthusiasm was infectious! Their sheer dedication to months and months of research in advance of the trip left me in no doubt that we would be getting the most that we could out of the journey.
The trips were perfectly paced and gave us plenty of time to have a real in depth experience and feel like we were really getting to know the countries rather than just ticking off sights on the way through.
We had enough time to really be able to interact with the local communities we came into contact with and my best memories of the trip are of the people we had the opportunity to spend time with along the way. We had the time to be flexible when road conditions impacted our itinerary and Dave & Jimmy always gave us the chance to be a part of decisions on route and itinerary changes. They went out of their way to ensure that we got to see what was important to us, like searching for elusive vine bridges in Guinea.
Dave & Jimmy’s patience and skill got us smoothly through any red tape at embassies, road checks and borders even to the point of being able to camp at the border when we arrived to late to move on. I felt like I was in safe hands throughout the trip and the dedication to keeping our truck Aminah in perfect health was very reassuring.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Overlanding West Africa if you want to really see and experience the real West Africa”
Lady Beverley Annaly, United Kingdom
“Last year I went on a voyage from Dakar to Accra with Dave the Hat and Jimmy and Overlanding West Africa, and retrospectively I feel a warm glow of great affection for the people, the countries, fellow travelers and the ‘star’ of the show our simply splendid blue truck ‘Aminah’ – with the national flags of the proposed route prominently displayed on her sides. Through whatever country we were traveling everyone was looking for their flag. And so we were always surrounded by happy faces.
We had challenging drives to barely accessible distant beaches, islands and villages, let alone occasional, all but, impassable ‘roads’, which more than once required improvised road building. We didn’t rush our way through West Africa and half the fun was not always knowing where we were going to rest our head each night.
The real pleasure of going back to how overland travel used to be, not traveling hundreds of miles every day, we could stop ‘to smell the roses’ or, in our case, try to find the vine bridges again and again and eventually succeeding!
Having to improvise: spending time camping in a kindly profered back garden when nothing else available, camping in border compounds, or in a village with stilt dancers who haven’t seen a tourist for years, in the grounds of Catholic or Protestant Missions, in hotel grounds where rooms are booked by the hour and bush camping on a disused concorde airstrip, I could continue but this is how overlanding should be.
We found ourselves in the middle of election fever, being caroused on our way back from bird watching by drummers in our dug out canoe at sun set, being completely washed out and sleeping in cardboard boxes in an Oxfam compound.
I could write many pages in praise of this magical experience and If asked would I undertake such a journey again, absolutely”
Graeme and Christine Triffitt, Australia
“Christine and I have travelled extensively with other overland and expedition travel companies, but this trip seemed to have right balance of travelling time, sightseeing and free time.
Dave the Hat and Jimmy were always on the lookout for new and interesting things for us to see and experience and as it was an exploratory trip the itinerary was flexible. Any changes from the original itinerary were always discussed with the group and opinions from group members were always welcomed.
We never felt rushed and provided road conditions permitted, it was never a problem to request a photo stop or to simply stop and look at interesting things or talk to people.
At times it was difficult to find attractions, like the vine bridges, the stilt dance village (Ivory Coast) and Tiwai Island (Sierra Leone), but Dave was prepared to take the time to enquire from local people until we located these things.
A trip to West Africa would be nothing without seeing the scenery of the Cassamance (Senegal) and Fouta Djalon (Guinea), not spending time in such cities as Bissau city (Guinea Bissau), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Conakry (Guinea), seeing chimpanzees in sanctuaries (Sierra Leone) and in the wild (Guinea) and also the huge basilica in Yamoussoukro (Ivory Coast), not to mention the Presidential hotel and golf course.
During our expedition we were able to see all these things and more, as well as meeting and camping amongst many of the local people of this region.
Overall it was a well balanced trip and we would recommend it to other experienced travellers. We would be happy to accompany Dave and Jimmy on any future trips they may organise to other parts of the world”
Rosy White, United Kingdom
“Travelling through West Africa cannot be rushed – the roads make this impossible anyway but much more importantly life here happens slowly and gently and to appreciate this it is best to go at this pace and savour quirky moments as they happen.
This might be topping up water supplies from a village pump, playing football with the children, perusing the street food, bird watching, standing in the midst of a flurry of butterflies and also reflecting on the very difficult times people have had over recent years and how they are getting back to a more peaceful way of life.
The landscape is special and quite different form other parts of Africa. The stars are the people. The more time spent meeting and them and getting a sense of village life, and the occasional hectic town, the better”.
Bryanna Borg, Australia
“Four years on and I’m sure Dave the Hatter is still famous in Australia – at least amongst my friends. Whenever I mention my journey to West Africa, David is always in the story. There were many great experiences on that trip. Many of them due to David. At times, it can be quite a rocky road in the West but with David at the helm, I always felt safe and secure. He has a lovely way with people, which I greatly admire. Negotiation skills feature highly on David’s skill set. Always with good humour but assertive when necessary.
Perhaps the greatest genuine compliment I could communicate is that I hope one day to be the traveller that David is.”
Andy Rae, United Kingdom
“Having had the pleasure of being one of Hat’s first ever overland passengers from Santiago to Rio in 2006, I can safely say he is an awesome person to travel with – even if he does have to be smuggled across the border at times!
Hatter’s adoration for people, cultures, and getting off the beaten track is infectious, and his immense love of West Africa has truly inspired me to go there.
In setting up Overlanding West Africa, Hatter has set out to give a much deeper and enriching experience of each place you go, and can truly say he is a trailblazer in one of the last unexplored regions this planet has to offer. I myself cannot wait to join one of OWA’s trips, and know that one of the best experiences possible will be waiting for me.”
Alison Cole, United Kingdom
“Hatter is the best overland crew you can get. I spent six months overlanding with him in 2009 from Helsinki to Istanbul (via Beijing!). He was professional, informative, great fun and looked after the truck with a passion. I would thoroughly recommend his trips. I know he has spent a lot of time preparing and researching the itinerary for West Africa and taken great care building a purpose built truck. It can’t fail to be the trip of a lifetime!”
Nick Braley, United Kingdom
“Jimmy crewed on my Nairobi to Cape Town overland trip back in 2009. He was always efficient, organised and got us going with a smile. He’s professional in his outlook and genuinely personable too, a rare quality in my experience. I also met Dave The Hat in Malawi and we shared our experiences on travelling and living in West Africa. Dave has a genuine affection for the region and a real desire to get under the skin of the place, something many overlanders fail miserably to do in my opinion. Would recommend a trip with these guys without hesitation and look forward to hopefully joining one myself. Good luck guys”