Sierra Leone – which way to Liberia?


I was up at 6 on not enough sleep as we were leaving early for the two day trip on dirt roads (‘the main highway’). I battled the cockroaches off and wrestled the tent into the bag, and made myself an extremely large cup of bad coffee (I am already dreaming of a flat white). We headed off just after 8 to find the road to Liberia. Be under no illusion that google maps will help you here, as the rainy season washes away the roads every year, and then the trucks just find a new way through – expanding the small roads between villages into this year’s highway. There are no street signs, and the best way to figure out which is the right road is to look for truck tracks. Then you have to ask where the road goes. Never make the mistake of asking ‘is this the road to X?’, as most locals will say yes regardless.  

It is going to be a long bumpy few days with the same view of a dirt red road until we get over the border, interspersed with a few mud hut villages every now and then. The further we go the more of an oddity we are for the locals. Many of the kids try to jump on the back for a free ride, so Zoe and Jason spend a fair amount of time shoo-ing them off. It is probably only a 150 km but the roads are muddy swamps. No doubt it will feel even longer, as given the heat, some of my fellow passengers are becoming pretty fragrant. Fortunately the truck is actually more comfortable than I had imagined, so while it is hot, it isn’t too cramped and my butt isn’t taking too much of a bashing 

Lunch break

We made pretty good time, probably about 100km, but didn’t quite meet our goal of getting past Zimmi. About 3k before the town we encountered a wonderful west African spectacle of a crowd of men trying to extract a minibus from the bog. While we could pass most of the road there was one section that would have been tricky and was blocked by the minibus. There was also a truck there that had been stranded for four days. 

 The enterprising locals were hard at work with chainsaws felling trees to throw into the deepest hole, and we were assured there was no way we were going to pass today. We backed up about two km to where we could pull off the road and we have pitched tents on a flattish clearing.

The main highway to Liberia with Zoe checking for depth

I was on cook group, and the thunder and lightening rolled in as we were prepping. The truck has a tarp which kept us mostly dry, and then Jason stripped off to have a shower under the tarp edges which had amazing water pressure. Most of the rest of us were inspired by his sensible use of natures resources. I grabbed some soap and had the best shower so far in west Africa, I even washed my hair and my shirt.
Dinner was pretty good, lentils and flatbread. And most of us retired early to bed to stay dry and enjoy the booming orchestra of the storm. 

Sunday November 20

2 thoughts on “Sierra Leone – which way to Liberia?”

  1. Really enjoying all your travel reports, Mel! And your photographs are just stunning. You are the embodiment of ‘carpe diem’.
    Greetz from Maureen (We met briefly at Kiruna airport, sharing a cab and waiting for the plane.)

    1. Hi Maureen. Lovely to hear from you!!!! I have been thinking of you as am contemplating attempting the west highland way soon, and we talked about that. Hope you and the girls are very well! warmies, mel

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