West Africa trip

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<p>I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has taken the West Africa trip with Adventures Abroad. (senegal, mali, burkina faso, togo, ghana &amp; benin ) or a simular trip. Goods &amp; bads &amp; any suggestions that you may offer. Regards &amp; Thanks </p>

Hi cincoc - If you enter my screen name (velevele) into the "Search the Forum" box at upper right, you will find a long review I wrote of this trip. If you have any specific questions, just post here or PM me, and I'll be happy to try to answer them. It's a great trip!

Velevele: thanks you so much for the West Africa info. Perfect, just what I was looking for! Appreciate you time & effort. Regards: Cincoc

I did Adventures Abroads WA3 itinerary in October 2009 -- it was well-paced, well-balanced itinerary. Velevele’s posings were very helpful to me when planning for this trip.
Claude Morency designed this itinerary and has guided every departure for Adventures Abroad. He is excellent, well-organized and extremely helpful to all participants. We had 24 in our group ( a full group). You will find that this itinerary attracts experienced travelers.
These are the main suggestions I have -- I have more extensive notes and would be happy to answer any questions:
• it is best to take Euros with you to exchange for CFA (West African franc). Get the CFA you will need for the whole trip in Dakar as it is the easiest place to change money. Banks will take USD, but the exchange rate is very poor. ATM's often run out of money. If you arrive ahead of time and have a day guide, ask him to take you to the "white market" - the money changers are a hoot! They wear safari-vests with euros in one pocket, CFA in another, dollars in another,etc. They also give the best rates.
• you need five visas for this trip and each visa is approx. $100. plus service fees ( if you use a visa service) of approx. $50. for each visa.
• you move just about each day, so it is a good idea to travel light. Your clothes should be lightweight and easy to wash. In October, the temperature and humidity was still high
• In Mali and Burkina Faso, we were in Landcruisers - 4 to a car, with a driver. This is the only issue I have. I would rather pay extra and have just 3 people in a car so each person can sit comfortably and have a window seat. Ask Adventures Abroad if this option is now available -- several of us made note of this in our evaluation.
• bring snacks to supplement the “French breakfasts” which usually consist of coffee, bread, butter, jam and (if you are lucky) a hard-boiled egg. I brought individual packets of peanut butter, and hi-protein nutrition bars and was happy I did. The dinners (included) were always good and substantial, some at our hotels and many out in popular restaurants. The menus ran from local foods to continental to wood-fired pizza in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Indian Food in Kumasi, Ghana. When you are in the Niger River area, be sure to try the Capitaine fish - it is excellent.
* the trip begins in Senegal and it is worth flying in early and visit some of the country - it is beautiful! I did a 8 day pre trip with a car/driver and a guide and enjoyed it very much. The itinerary ends in Cotonou, Benin, and I returned to Accra, Ghana on our bus (the agency doing the local arrangements is based in Accra and the bus goes back empty) and did another 6 days in Ghana. This is probably my only visit to West Africa and I wanted to make sure to see the most possible.
One book I particularly enjoyed reading while on the trip was The Gates of Africa: Death, Discovery, and the Search for Timbuktu by Anthony Sattin. This is the history of the Africa Associations’ (predecessor of the Royal Geographical Society) work in sending explorers to find the source of the Niger River and to map out sections of the African interior and travel to Timbuktu.
Its a great trip, an outstanding leader and an amazing itinerary.

Hi: thanks so much for your reply. I was wondering how to handle the $$$$ situation. Thanks for you insight on that one. You both make the trip sound exciting. Thanks again & regards: Cinco

I just returned from the WA1 part of the trip. All of thr above comments are MOST relevant . Claude designed this trip and has led it since its inception. I personally would not go on this trip with anyone else as the leader. Claude solved many problems which arose and without him the trip would have been a bust. The first part of the trip (Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso) is the crux of the trip and the most difficult. Ive taken 6 trups with Adventures Abroad and this one was the best and most adventurous. I will respond to specific querries if necessary.