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
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!
After many weeks of planning, writing, and HTML, we’re pleased to announce our new itineraries for late 2015-early 2016 are ready to go and now live on the website! All of our trips can be viewed here or you can navigate to the trip that interests you by hovering over THE TRIPS tab at the top of each page. This will bring up a sub menu to take you to any of the trips we operate.
All of our existing trips are still there, but with some minor changes:
Dakar to Freetown – stays the same
Freetown to Accra – much the same as last year, except we will visit the south of Ivory Coast instead of the north, and not visit Burkina Faso
Accra to Ouagadougou – very similar to our Ouagadougou to Accra trip, but visiting more of Togo and the east of Burkina Faso
Accra to Freetown – stays the same, but includes a visit to the Gurunsi homes of the Kassena people in Tiebele, Burkina Faso
Freetown to Dakar – stays the same
Dakar to Marrakech – Brand new trip, taking in northern Senegal, some of Mauritania, Western Sahara, and southern Morocco
Marrakech to Tangier – Brand new trip in Morocco, visiting many of the key highlights in the Sahara desert, Atlas mountains, and Rif mountains
Our Trips And The Situation In West Africa
The ebola outbreak continues to affect many lives and communities in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. From watching the mainstream media news channels, the situation seems as bleak as ever.
However, all this doom and gloom is not a fair representation of the facts and decidedly unbalanced. There has been a huge improvement in all 3 of the affected countries:
- The rate of new cases being reported throughout Liberia has drastically reduced in recent weeks, things really are looking alot better there now
- The east of Sierra Leone around Kaliahun and Kenema (where the outbreak first surfaced in Sierra Leone) has improved dramatically, with virtually 0 cases being reported over the past month. In and around Freetown and the west of the country, the number of new cases being reported has declined by a huge amount
- The outbreak continues to rumble on around Guinea, though at a much lower level than before, with the number of new cases reported being significantly lower than in Liberia and Sierra Leone
A lot more is being done by the governments and the international community to help improve the situation, though there is of course a lot more work to do. It does appear slowly but surely the outbreak is being brought under control, and we are very hopeful that the region will return to some sense of normality very soon.
We want to reiterate that we cancelled our trips in late 2014-early 2015 due to the closure of a number of key borders throughout the region. That was the only reason we cancelled – the logistics of operating multi-country trips became impossible.
All sensible advice from health professionals continues to be the same – the risk of travellers contracting the virus is considered very low, you need to come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody showing symptoms of the virus to become infected.
Launch Of The Unite 4 West Africa Initiative
Since October 2014 we have played a key role in setting up and promoting the Unite 4 West Africa initiative, along with West Africa Discovery, Barefoot Liberia, and Another World Adventures. The aim of this collective effort is simple – to challenge the mainstream media portrayal of the affected countries in West Africa, and to raise funds for organisations working on the ground to combat the outbreak.
The Unite 4 West Africa initiative was launched to the media at World Travel Market in October 2014. We’re pleased to say it was a huge success, the room was heaving with journalists interested in hearing what we had to say!
On the panel were the Ministers of Tourism for Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as Ben Keene from Tribewanted Sierra Leone, Dr Ron Behrens from the London School of Tropical Medicine, and David Oades (Dave The Hat) from Overlanding West Africa. Everybody gave a 10 minute presentation about the situation in the region.
In addition to helping put the outbreak into perspective, Unite 4 West Africa is raising funds for organisations who are working hard in the region to help combat the spread of the virus:
- 50% of the money raised will go to Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF – Doctors Without Borders), who have worked tirelessly from the moment the outbreak was confirmed as ebola back in March 2014
- 40% of the money will go to 3 grass roots organisations in each of the affected countries, being TINKISSO in Guinea, KRITERION MONROVIA in Liberia, and WELT HUNGER HILFE in Sierra Leone
- 10% will be distributed to other grass roots organisations who are doing great work who might approach us for funding – if not, this 10% will instead go to the 3 organisations receiving 40% of the funds raised
All money raised will go directly to the organisations listed above. All of the time we have spent setting up and promoting Unite 4 West Africa is entirely voluntary.
We’re pleased to say we have secured the support of a large number of other travel operators and organisations who run trips and have an interest in the countries of West Africa, including Exodus Travels, G Adventures, Explore, and Intrepid Travel. We’re proud to say we’ve raised over £4,000 since November 2014, and hope to raise much more. We want to take this opportunity to thank all the organisations who have donated to the initiative so far, and all the individuals who have made a personal donation – thanks so much to everybody!
Please visit the Unite 4 West Africa website to learn more about the initiative, and help promote a more positive image of the countries in West Africa. There is also a Unite 4 West Africa Facebook Page and a Twitter Page where you can keep up to date with all the latest news. Please use the hashtag #Unite4WestAfrica when posting about the initiative.
With so much negative media coverage coming from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia in recent months, there is a real danger that these countries will be associated and stigmatised with this image for years to come. We all need to work together to help promote a more positive image of the affected countries and the West Africa region in general.
Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia were just starting to develop a tourist industry, something we want to see flourish once again as soon as possible.
Remember: A huge number of people throughout dozens of countries all over Africa rely upon tourism for their livelihoods, and many are now starting to struggle due to a decline in tourism. Nearly every major tour operator is saying bookings for trips all over Africa are down. Lets put this in perspective – only 3 countries have been significantly affected by the ebola outbreak to date, just 3!
Africa is a continent, NOT a country, help us put the situation into perspective!
Cheers guys, we hope you are all well, and we hope to see you on Aminah in late 2015-early 2016 for another adventure through the countries of West Africa!
Dave The Hat, Al Goodridge, and Jimmy C