As many of you already know, we took the very difficult decision to cancel our 2021-21 season of trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we’re pleased to announce we fully intend on operating a 2021-22 season instead, the dates for which can be seen here:
If you haven’t done so and are interested in booking a trip with us, please send us an Enquiry Form to get the ball rolling!
David and Al recently headed up to the Drago workshop in October to get some work done on Aminah. As the pictures below show we managed to get some big jobs ticked off the list! Though we still have quite a bit to do we have a good head start on the work planned for next year, which includes a full respray to bring Aminah’s paintwork back to life (she is looking a bit faded after all the years in the sun!)
Remember, you can keep in touch with all the latest happenings at Overlanding West Africa via our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Pinterest) by clicking on the icons close to the top right of each page on this website.
We hope to see you on board Aminah in 2021-22 for another adventure through magical West Africa!
David Oades (Hatter), Al Goodridge, Jimmy C and Aminah
Repairing the bent rear bumper
Front springs and hangers
Jerry can racks and lockers
Replacing water tank floor and edge
It’s been some time since we last posted as we waved goodbye to Zoe, Adam and Aminah from the UK last October – so we’re well over due with an update regarding what’s been happening on the road and at OWA!
In summary it has been a challenging season so far but also a very rewarding and successful one. We’re pleased to say that our trips have proved to be as popular as ever, having sold almost every place on every trip (approx 98% capacity). With a decent number of passengers returning to see more of the region after previous trips with us, it suggests we must be doing something right!
On the road things have, at times, been a challenge this season. Zoe (Trip Leader) decided to leave half way through for personal reasons after doing a great job at leading the 3 southbound trips with Adam. Fortunately Jason was available to do another run for us and flew out to Ghana in February to take over the reigns for the 3 return northbound trips.
Unfortunately the security situation in Burkina Faso deteriorated rapidly towards the end of 2018, meaning we took the very difficult to decision to re-route our Accra to Ouagadougou and Accra to Freetown trips to avoid Burkina Faso completely. We of course continue to keep a close eye on the security environment in the country and very much hope the situation improves soon, in the hope that we can include Burkina Faso in our 2020-21 itineraries.
Along with Jason getting 2 bouts of malaria, Adam getting salmonella poisoning and Aminah falling through a bridge in the east of Sierra Leone (see pictures below), there’s been no shortage of dramas this time around! Still, it’s all part and parcel of overland adventure travel and we believe everybody has had a really great time despite these various obstacles. We’ve received some wonderful feedback from the passengers which has been added to our Passenger Testimonials page, and we’ll be adding more in the next few weeks as we receive it.
One blog we’d like to share with you is from passenger Peggy Bright, who travelled with us between Accra and Dakar this year. Peggy has some really wonderful photos and writes about her experiences in a very evocative way. Our favourite post focusses upon Aminah falling through the bridge in eastern Sierra Leone, perfectly summing up the true nature of overland group travel. Everybody chipped in with helping get Aminah upright again, working with the guys in the local village to get the trip on the road again. Do take the time to check this wonderful blog out out you won’t regret it!
So what’s next? Out next season of trips are scheduled to start in November 2020. The dates are now up on our Overview Page and we are aiming to open the bookings around very late September 2019 – so get your requests in for time off work now!
Please note we will be updating all trip documentation and tweaking the itineraries here and there in the next few months to take into account the feedback from our current season – though please note there will only be a few minor changes. Please do bear in mind that we might not be able to include Burkina Faso at all, depending upon how the security situation in the country plays out in the months ahead.
If you are interested in a trip in 2020-21, please send us an Enquiry Form to register your interest and we will add you to our email list to let you know when we’re ready to start taking bookings. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
David (Hatter) Oades, Al Goodridge and Jimmy C
Below are some wonderful pictures taken on our current season of trips, taken by Adam, Annabel, Peggy, Ella and Herman – enjoy!
We hope you’re all well and that you’ve had an enjoyable summer (or winter, depending on which hemisphere you live in!)
David (Hatter) and Al have been super busy in the UK workshop completing the last few jobs on Aminah in preparation for the upcoming season of trips. With a recon engine and a new clutch assembly fitted, new camping stools made, new leisure batteries fitted, a respray of the cab and locker level and a successful MOT pass, we certainly have put in the hours!
In just 3 weeks time Zoe and Adam will pack up the equipment and drive south for the big journey down to Dakar for the first trip of the season…..not long to go now!
Below you’ll find a selection of pictures of just some of the work that Hatter and Al completed over the past few weeks. Enjoy!
A big thank you to G and Charlie at Dragoman (as always) for allowing us to work on Aminah in their workshop, and to G for putting the new paint on for us! Thanks also to Darren, Pettsy, Nick, Amber and Jordan for helping us for a couple of hours taping Aminah up for the spray job!
We wish you all a great autumn, and remember, if you can join us on either our Accra to Ouagadougou or Dakar to Marrakech trips, please contact us via our Enquiry Form and we’ll send you over all of the relevant booking information.
David (Hatter) Oades, Al Goodridge, Jimmy Corrigan and Aminah
It’s been some time since our last update so here we go with all that’s been happening at OWA over the past few months!
Firstly, we’re pleased to say that we’ve sold nearly all of the places available on our trips in 2018-19, which is of course great news for us – and we hope an indication of the growing interest there is for travel in this less known part of the African continent.
We do still have a few spots available on all of our trips, mostly on our Accra to Ouagadougou and Dakar to Marrakech departures, so if you are interested and able to get the time off work, please get in touch as soon as possible to avoid missing out.
We’re also pleased to say that Zoe will once again be leading the 2018-19 season for us, this time accompanied by Adam Blay, who used to own a similar overland company called ‘South America Overland’. We’re sure they’ll run another great season for us and we’re looking forward to receiving all of their updates from the road starting this November!
In the meantime, David (Hatter) and Jason have been burning the midnight oil in the UK workshop getting Aminah ready for the big journey ahead. We managed to get all of the major work out of the way, including a rub down so that Aminah is ready for her new coat of paint in a couple of months time. As always a huge thank you to George and Charlie at Dragoman Overland HQ for allowing us to rent some space in their workshop and for ordering us all of the parts we needed. Cheers G and Charlie!
Below you’ll find a selection of pictures of just some of the work that Hatter and Jason completed over the past few weeks. Enjoy!
The new front springs arrive – the last 2 sets in all of Europe (apparently…!)
Raising the chassis on an Indian jack to remove the old front springs
The offending rivet which caused issues last time around
Springs removed and ready for a clean up
Adding the old blocks to the new leaves to give Aminah a bit more ground clearance
New springs on and ready for tightening
Removing the old brass bush from the swinging shackle
Inserting a new brass bush into the swinging shackle, drawing it in with a length of threaded rod
Cleaning up the threads on one of the rear U bolts
Jet spraying the old leaves ready to put together spare packs in case they’re needed
Jason by the press as we removed a brass bush
Marking the splines to make sure it goes back in the same position
The new carrier bearing
Removing the front torsion bar bushes and circlips
Replacing the leaking steering box top seal
A crank inspection whilst we replaced the weeping sump gasket
Cleaning up the engine sump in the kerosene bath
New sump gasket ready to be fitted
Colin lends a hand for a cylinder compression test and replaces the valve stem seals
Adjusting the tappets after replacing the valve seals
Removing the front hubs to inspect the bearings
Hatter about to remove the rear hub to inspect the bearings
Rear hub removed to replace a pitted wheel bearing and hub seals
A new rear wheel bearing about to be fitted
Nice fresh bearing grease for the front axle hubs!
Jason tightening the front bearings after reinstallation
Replacing the stereo voltage dropper (again…)
Tidying up the wiring
New voltage dropper fitted
Replacing the charging unit in the passenger area
Painting the roof
Sorting out the headlights for the MOT
Making a new stool locker panel
Removing another damaged panel
A lick of anti rust paint to the frame
The big rub down for the respray begins!
Hatter sanding away the truck body
Aminah’s cab after the rub down
Jason replacing one of the broken seat backs
Hatter and Jason still smiling after many late nights working on Aminah!
We wish you all a great summer and remember, if you can join us on either our Accra to Ouagadougou or Dakar to Marrakech trips, please contact us via our Enquiry Form and we’ll send you over all of the relevant booking information.
David (Hatter) Oades, Al Goodridge, Jimmy Corrigan and Aminah
We hope you’re well wherever you are in the world at the moment, and we hope you had a very happy Christmas holiday and a good start to 2018!
Many of you have been in contact over the past few months asking about our trips in 2018-19. We’re pleased to let you know that we’re now ready to take bookings!
If you’re still interested in booking a trip with us, please send us an Enquiry Form or reply to the initial form you sent, so that we know what trip/s you want to book onto.
Please note that nearly all of our trips have now sold out….there’s literally just a few places left on some of our trips!
Please note we have tweaked the trips ever so slightly to take into account what has and hasn’t worked in the past – so please have another look at the updated itineraries on our website before booking.
One noticeable change is on our Accra to Ouagadougou trip, on which we will no longer spend any time in the east of the country – we will instead drive over to the west to see some of the Banfora region.
Please remember we have a discount structure in place if you book more than one trip with us, and all of the dates, prices and itineraries can be seen on the trips overview page by clicking on the trip maps image below:
Please note we will endeavour to respond to your emails/enquiries within 24-48 hours of you making contact with us, and often much sooner – but please bear in mind we are expecting a lot of bookings in a short space of time so we appreciate your patience in waiting for a response. We have already sold over 30 seats since we opened the bookings 1 week ago!
We really hope you can join us for our next season of trips, and please do share the message on social media and with anybody you know who might be interested in travelling through West Africa with us.
We look forward to hearing from you soon – and wish you all a very happy 2018!
David Oades (Hatter), Al Goodridge, Jimmy C and Aminah
Overlanding West Africa
After leaving the UK in September 2016 for another expedition down to West Africa and back, Aminah is home!
Our last trip of the season arrived into Marrakech at the end of May 2017 after the long journey north through Senegal, Mauritania, Western Sahara and southern Morocco. After a couple of days turnaround in Marrakech, Aminah, Zoe & Jason headed to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, crossing the Mediterranean to Algeciras where they began the long drive back to the UK via Spain and France.
Rainy season is now well underway in West Africa, a time that makes travelling in the region challenging at best, so time for Aminah to have a well deserved break back home in the UK.
We’d like to say a massive thank you to Zoe and Jason who ran the trips for OWA this season, they both did a truly fantastic job! With trips in West Africa it’s so important to have good crew on board, they’re an essential part of any overland expedition, and Zoe and Jason’s hard work and enthusiasm is highlighted by the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received from the passengers that travelled with us. Thanks very much indeed Zoe and Jason!
You can read some of the great comments the passengers from this seasons trips wrote about Zoe, Jason and OWA (as well as previous seasons comments) by clicking on the photo below. Thanks so much to all of those who took the time to write such positive feedback for us. Cheers guys!
Dave the Hat headed up to the Drago workshop a few weeks ago to give Aminah some TLC and a good deep clean, as well as a good mechanical inspection. As you can imagine the road conditions take their toll on Aminah and the mud and dust clings to everything, so it takes some time to get her cleaned up properly. After a few long days and nights Hatter parked her up under cover until our next season of trips begin in late 2018/early 2019.
So what’s next? Well, over the next few months we’ll be jigging things around a little to take into account what has and hasn’t worked well on our trips to date. We’re going to start the 2018-19 season slightly later in the year, with our Dakar to Freetown trip starting in early November rather than mid-October. Hopefully the extra few weeks will give the roads more of a chance to dry out!
You can see all of the dates for our trips in late 2018/early 2019 here:
If you haven’t done so already please send us an Enquiry Form to register your interest in joining our trips in the future.
Remember, you can keep in touch with all the latest happenings at Overlanding West Africa via our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Pinterest and Google +) by clicking on the icons close to the top right hand side of each page on this website.
We look forward to hearing from you and hope to see you on board Aminah in 2018-19 for another adventure through magical West Africa!
David Oades (Hatter), Al Goodridge, Jimmy C and Aminah
Below is a wonderful selection of photos that our passengers took over the course of the season. If these don’t tempt you to visit the region with us then we don’t know what will! Many thanks to Mahesh Patel, Zinzi Speear, Kath Donaldson, Knut Ovrebo, John Stenson, Melanie Smith and Jim Stolk – your photos really do show off what a magical region West Africa is to visit!
If you’ve still got some annual leave to use up, or if you’ve had enough of work and fancy taking off for a bit, then come and join us in West Africa for one of our trips this season!
We still have 2 seats available on our Accra to Ouagadougou trip starting next month, visiting many of the highlights in Ghana, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso. This trip runs over the Christmas and New Year period (19 December – 16 January) meaning it should be easier to convince your employer to let you take 4 weeks off work!
We also have a few seats available on our Accra to Freetown trip starting on 06 February 2017. This 42-day trip is full of cultural highlights as we travel through Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea (Forest Region), Liberia and Sierra Leone. Please note you will need to obtain at least 3 visas in advance so it’s worth booking as soon as possible in order for us to send you the relevant paperwork for your visa applications in good time.
Further ahead in April 2017 our Dakar to Marrakech trip also has a few seats available. This trip is a real contrast to our other trips in that it crosses from West Africa into North Africa via Senegal and Mauritania, before visiting numerous places in Western Sahara and the far south of Morocco. Crossing the Sahara desert truly is one of lives epic overland journeys, and one we guarantee will stay with you forever!
Remember, discounts apply if you book multiple trips. If you’re interested please send us an Enquiry Form and we can send you all of the relevant information.
On The Road Again!
We’re pleased to say our first trip of the 2016-17 season from Dakar to Freetown is now well underway. Aminah, Zoe and Jason left the UK in late September and arrived in Senegal a few weeks later after a long drive south through France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania.
After meeting Lisa, Jeremy, Robert, Vicki, Stefanie, Brian, Zinzi, Andy, Knut, Eva, Candace and Kent in Dakar they headed south towards Gambia and the Casamance region of Senegal.
One of the highlights of the trip (so far!) was a stay at Simon and Khady’s campement, a wonderful place where our group gets to witness a traditional koumpo dance amongst other festivities.
Check out these fantastic photos from Simon Fenton at The Little Baobab, our co driver Jason Parry and passenger Lisa Vitaris!
West Africa Tourism Organisation at World Travel Market
If you’re keen to learn more and/or play a role in helping promote the countries of West Africa as a travel destination, then why not visit World Travel Market in London next week?
West Africa Tourism Organisation, headed by Ola Wright, is hosting a press conference at the Novotel as well as a dinner at the Crowne Plaza (see the flyer on the left for more details).
The aim of the press conference and networking dinner is to introduce the new ECOWAS regional tourism policy. This is aimed at promoting the countries of West Africa to operators and travellers alike, as well as identifying and addressing the issues the tourism industry in the region is up against.
Ministers of tourism will be in attendance as well as Ambassadors and journalists. Dave the Hat is a member of the organisation and will be at the dinner representing OWA and playing a role in the proceedings. Come and lend your support!
David Oades (Dave the Hat), Al Goodridge, Jimmy C and Aminah
Overlanding West Africa
It’s been quite some time since our last post – and as you can imagine a lot has been going on at Overlanding West Africa since then.
Curious to know more? Then read on to find out all the latest:
2015-16: Another Successful Season!
We’re incredibly proud to have operated another successful season between October 2015 and May 2016 throughout the West Africa region.
As you may know, we were the first overland operator to return to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since the Ebola outbreak came to an end. Al and some of our passengers even made an appearance on the BBC News as our Dakar to Freetown group were filmed on the golden-sand beaches of Freetown on the day Sierra Leone was officially declared ‘Ebola Free’!
Over the 7 trips we operated we were joined by 56 passengers from Canada, Norway, Germany, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands – all of whom experienced the warmth, hospitality and friendly welcome from the people of the 14 countries (and 1 disputed territory) we travelled through.
Aminah, Al and Jason arrived back in the UK at the end of May and took some time out for a very well earned rest and a chance to catch up with life. You can see a small selection of photos from the trips at the bottom of this page which gives you a good idea of some of the amazing places our passengers got to visit.
If you like the look of what you see in the photos then please send us an Enquiry Form to book yourself onto a true overland adventure trip with us in late 2016/early 2017!
Our Revamped & Responsive Website
Those of you who’ve visited our website before will notice there have been a few changes! Noting that Googles preference is for ‘mobile friendly’ and ‘responsive’ websites, Dave the Hat has spent countless hours over the past few months transferring the website content over to a new custom-made and fully responsive theme that our web hosting company devised for us.
As you can see, much of the website is exactly the same as before, except now all of the content should be ‘fully responsive’ for mobiles and tablets and make life easier for those viewing our website ‘on the go’!
We hope you like the new look and that each page loads faster than before. If you spot any errors or issues with the functionality of our website then please do send us an email to let us know – despite all the hours Hatter has put in I’m sure there are still some glitches that will need attention!
UK Turnaround For Aminah
For a couple of weeks in August 2016, Dave the Hat went up to the Drago workshop to get Aminah turned around for the upcoming 2016/17 season in West Africa. George and Charlie were, as always, incredibly generous to rent some space at their UK workshop to OWA for the work on Aminah to be completed.
To do a number of the heavier jobs on Aminah, Hatter was helped at various stages by Nick Fulford and Dave Pettsy, as well as Adam, Jemima and Sara (the 3 trainees) – all of whom played a role in helping get Aminah turned around for next season.
We want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to G and Charlie for lending Hatter some of their staff for a few days, as some of the jobs really do require 2 people so we truly are grateful – cheers guys!
Here are a few pictures of just some of the work that was done to Aminah over the course of the fortnight – and to such a good standard Aminah passed her MOT again first time with only 1 advisory – hoorah! (An MOT is the UK-based annual vehicle test for those that don’t know). As you can imagine, the roads in some of the countries in West Africa do take their toll on the old girl, especially on the axles and suspension, so though a painful and tiring amount of work it’s good to get Aminah ship-shape and in good condition again for the upcoming season ahead.
Replacing a rear wheel bearing and hub seal after the rear springs were taken off and rebushed
A new diaphragm for the rear brake pack – which alas still leaked so an entire new pack was purchased and installed!
Re-setting the valves/tappets to ensure the valve clearances were correct
Front wheel bearings re-greased after new front springs fitted – with new brake linings too!
Replacing the belt tensioner and swapping the pulley over
While the wheel bearings were off Hatter fitted brand new brake linings on both axles
2 new sets of front springs ready to go on and bearings ready for fresh grease!
Inflating the new tyres after the rims have been given a fresh coat of paint
Dave the Hat inserting a new bush into the rear spring swinging shackle
Freshly painted wheel rims with new tyres on ready to go back on the axles
The front torsion bar after being repaired and rekitted – no more play!
Rear brake pack repair attempt round 2!
Hatter will return to Drago in a few weeks time to finish off the interior jobs in Aminah and to ‘tart’ her up outside, whilst Al will bring the equipment and remaining tents that he has been busy cleaning whilst away.
Not long to go now before Aminah sets off for the long journey south to Senegal and the start of our first trip of the season from Dakar to Freetown!
Bookings For Trips In 2016-2017
We’re incredibly pleased that our trips are selling so well again. Each of our trips currently has an average of 12-15 passengers booked on, and fresh enquiries have been flooding in over the past 10 days so we are hopeful that most of our trips will sell out very soon.
If you want to join us then please send us an Enquiry Form and we can forward you all of the relevant booking information. Remember, we offer discounts if booking multiple trips, and it’s important to book sooner rather than later to ensure you can get all of the necessary visas in time before flying out to West Africa for the start of your trip/s with us.
Need convincing? Then check out the selection of photos below from our overland trips last season. Many thanks to passengers Alexi O’Brien, Alice Lowry, Alice Richardson and Alice Goodridge for letting us share some of their photos.
In addition, you can check out Al’s excellent OWA Travel Blog which highlights exactly why an overland adventure trip through West Africa with us is something you will never forget!
We hope you can join us for the adventure!
Dave The Hat, Al Goodridge, Jimmy C and Aminah
Overlanding West Africa