After some excellent last minute work by my Dad and his team to set up the back of our car, we were getting closer to the end of prepping Stanley. We had a snorkel put on and strapped the Jerry can holder to the roof, along with some sand ladders. Stanley was really starting to look the part. We moved out of our flat and moved in with my parents for a few short days, which were mostly spent in the back of the car, trying to locate the perfect position for that collapsible washing up bowl (in the pocket on the back door obviously).
Our next hurdle was we still did not have our Nigerian visas despite James spending 3 days in Fleet Street. This was a problem as this is a notoriously difficult visa to get on the road and was key to our route. There really is no other way to get to Cape Town down the West Coast without this visa. On the 22nd December, five days before departure, they refused our visas. James, with all his diplomacy skills, (I knew I was bringing him along for something) managed to persuade them to offer us an interview at least. At 9am. In central London. On the day he was meant to be flying home for Christmas at 10am. So off we went, battling Christmas shoppers left, right and santa...
Our interview occurred after 2 hours of queuing up in the cold when we got called in to speak to the High Commissioner, feeling like school kids being called into the Headmasters office. We explained our route and why we wanted a visa to Nigeria. "What does your mother think? Does she permit this?" We explained at the ages of 38 and 26, our mothers did permit this, although this was definitely a lie on my part. No, we were not married. Yes, we one day might be. No, we did not have children. Yes, we would consider them in the future. He confirmed that he would certainly not permit this if we did have children. Okay, we could have a visa! Handshakes all round! Can't stop for every impala... because we've spent so much time in the Nigerian High Commission.
So tomorrow, we set off! Tyres checked, oiled topped up, water filled up... would could possibly go wrong??
Carnet de Passage
A Carnet de Passage is essentially a passport for your car. It allows you to cross borders without paying customs charges. In Britain RAC hold a monopoly on them and are extremely expensive! We were going to have to spend thousands with them as well lodging several more thousand pending the car being returned to Britain until we found ADAC. This is a German company who are more than happy to issue a carnet to anyone in Europe as long as their own carnet provider give them permission. RAC granted us permission and ADAC charged us 200 Euro with a huge quantity of money being held until we return to Britain.
We will be travelling through 36 countries on this trip and the majority require visas. We are planning to get as many as we can on the way and from our research we plan to get them in the following places.
Morocco -No visa needed
Mauritania - Rabat
Senegal - Nouakchott
Gambia - No visa needed
Guinea-Bissau - Ziguinchor
Guinea - Bissau or Dakar
Mali - Nouakchott
Cote D'Ivoire - Visa Entente got in advance from Benin Embassy in Barcelona
Ghana - Abujha
Burkina Fasso - Visa Entente
Niger - Visa Entente
Togo - Visa Entente
Benin - Visa Entente
Nigeria - Got in advance in London
Cameroon - Calamar
Gabon - Planning on trying in Youande. If unsuccessful, not an essential country and can go straight into ROC.
Republic of Congo -Youande
Democratic Republic of Congo - This is the biggest uncertainty of our trip. We tried to get prior to leaving and unsuccessful as you need to get to the country within 3 months and this would not have been possible. We will try in multiple embassies, but this is likely to be unsuccessful. How we will get past this is yet to be confirmed.
Angola - Accra. If unsuccessful Kinshasa.
Namibia - No Visa
South Africa - No Visa
Liz Jarman & James Nunan
Our trip from Essex to Cape Town & back again
Km travelled : 50818km
Countries visited: 30