Hi everybody, I'm trying to organize a looooong trip next year for when I graduate from college. Obviously, I'm looking to go on a budget, right now I've saved up about 20k.
Part of my trip, I'd like to go from South Africa to Morocco. I was thinking that I could do it by car, maybe buy a cheap piece of junk in SA and ditch it in Morocco. Is this possible? I figure that driving up from SA to about Mauritania should be relatively easy, can I cross the Sahara in a regular car though? are there reliable roads? I know Morocco is ok and I speak french and arabic so I can make my way around, but Mauritania I'm less sure about.
If not, what are my other alternatives for getting across?
Are there other issues for traveling Africa by car that I'm just neglecting?
How long do you guys think I should budget for the whole trip?
Thanks a lot for all your help
Mauritania is fine for driving. Tarred roads all the way through the country. I was there last summer. Awesome place. The main problems you'll have will be in Congo, Gabon and Cameroon/Nigeria.
I'm hoping to do this trip sometime too, and have looked into it a bit (have been from Paris - Dakar also).
Roads from SA to Angola should be relatively easy. Northern Angola roads will start to disintegrate and from the Democratic Republic of Congo through Cabinda to Gabon it's virtually off road most of the time, or so it seems (here's some surfers who did it last year - http://www.africansurfer.com/?p=38). Northern Gabon and Cameroon seem to be OK, but the Cameroon/Nigerian border seems to be in a bad state. Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco all have good roads with the exception of no-mans land between Mauritania and Western Sahara, where it's just a track for a couple of kms.
Another route would be up from South Africa to Egypt (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt) then you'd have to go to Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco. I looked into it and it seems to be possible. This would be a safer route than the one mentioned above going through more stable countries.
Just remember the land border between Algeria and Morocco is closed so the only way to enter Morocco is either from Mauritania via Western Sahara or from Spain on a ferry.
The route Ed suggests is much more often travelled, but you'd have to loop all the way back from Egypt to West Africa to get into Morocco (or else go Egypt-Libya-Tunisia-Algeria--Morocco, with the added hassle of getting a European permit for your car)
thanks for all the info guys ... how bad is it to cross the "no man's land" between mauritania and Morocco?
It's not bad at all. If you're coming from the South (Mauritania), the road is tarred as far as the Mauritanian border post, where there will probably be a couple of vehicles crossing at the same time. It's a windy, sandy road but pretty clear. If you want you can pay a guide to drive your car across. Once you reach the Moroccan border post it's perfect tar again. You can see it all quite clearly on google maps: http://maps.google.co.uk/?ie=UTF8&ll=21.333273,-16.946926&spn=0.004757,0.009656&t=h&z=17
I'd say you need to worry about the jungle areas of the congos, gabon and cameroon much more than mauritania/western sahara.