Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Safety in Numbers and a Big Truck

Remember me talking about my next big expedition, from London to Cape Town by West Africa?

I still plan to do it. But not yet. Now is the time to work, to stay employed and continue to focus on regaining the life I walked away from in 2001. My progress was sluggish for months but lately things have really been looking up. Fun, even. I daresay I've cracked it.

But when I do go off to West Africa, I have a few hotspots to sort out. I don't know that I could get a visa for Angola and I do not want to go alone through Nigeria. I'm not sure yet about the Democratic Republic of Congo. I've been thinking about seeking out a ship to go around Nigeria.

Then today, I browsed through Intrepid's "Overland Adventures" brochure. Intrepid—my favorite small group, local transport outfitter—has merged with or bought (or something) my favorite overland company. Dragoman and Intrepid are now one.

And on page 45, there is was.

A commercial overland expedition from Accra to Douala. Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon. Would I really need to do the whole thing? Maybe there is some remote chance of throwing myself at the mercy of someone on the Australian end and asking if I could just go along for the Nigeria bit if I promised to behave and only say nice things about them in the subsequent book.

I'm relieved. It's a great option for getting through a tough, dangerous country.


Anonymous said...

Wow,, I didn't know that Intrepid and Dragoman had merged. I've traveled with (and enjoyed) both companies. Is everything being run out of Oz now?

Why would getting a visa for Angola be a problem? I was under the impression that they are promoting tourism there rather heavily now.

The country that scares me the most in that region is the CAR, but I have to admit to not being up to date with things there.

Marie Javins said...

I just looked at the Angolan embassy's site. Doesn't look hard, does it? The last time I checked, it was tough to get a visa except for business/development/aid purposes but now it appears I can just apply and receive. If that's the case, that's another problem down.

I wouldn't go near CAR and will do whatever it takes to avoid it. My information is old too but it has always seemed way too dangerous for a truck, as well as for l'il ol' me. Nigeria scares me too... a lot. But if Dragoman goes through...and it looks to me like they go out of their way to avoid the cities...so can I.

I don't know much about the Intrepid-Drago merger but it looks like Dragoman is still operating out of the UK and still branded Dragoman for now. The Intrepid reps at the travel show last weekend told me that Intrepid had acquired Dragoman, but a quick look at the Intrepid brochure also brings up questions about Guerba, which appears affiliated too.


Anyway, my plan is still to go by land through West Africa, winding around carefully to avoid hotspots, and now to go with Dragoman (or swipe their route, maybe) through Nigeria, then rent a flat in Namibia and rest up a bit before continuing on to Cape Town and calling it done.

Nancy Matson said...

I, for one, would like to hear more about the cracking. Glad to see your efforts have paid off!

Marie Javins said...

Oh Nancy... it's so tenuous and superficial! It's all about my vanity and having friends who care instead of what I was doing before, spending time with ambivalent men (okay, man) who essentially treated me as he might an irritating piece of hair stuck to a sleeve.

Kind of embarrassing to have put up with such dreadful treatment. More fodder for future writing, I reckon. He probably does too. Ha, don't date a writer.