Guinea to Côte d’Ivoire – Sleeping in the customs post at Gbapleu

I started the day with a misty run through Nzerekore, watching the town wake up at 6.30. Families washing in the street, kids starting the long trek to school, vendors setting up their stalls for the day, young kids starting to make their water selling rounds, goats and chickens wandering around for food and the very persistent drone of the mototaxis taking people to work.  

Kids chasing the truck in Guinea to say hi

While having no internet, running water, electricity, or toilet is fine for me for a week or so, I am reminded every day that this is life for 99% of the people we pass in the truck. In most of these countries, literacy rates for women are less than 30%, genital mutilation of young girls is up to 98% (e.g. in Guinea where FGM he is technically illegal), and life expectancy is about 50. Most people here only eat once a day, and it is rice and oil. If I had been born an ordinary woman in most of the countries I have visited I would never have made it through primary school. It puts into perspective how wonderful and easy my life is, and does stop me moaning (sometimes) about having not enough food. I am grateful every day for the amazing life I have, and that I was born where I was.  

Curious kids staring at the truck as we approach the Guinea Liberia border

We backtracked to Lola and Gogota and found the dirt road to the Ivory Coast border. We passed a few villages were Babus were clearly in short supply as the kids chased the truck waving and smiling as we drove through. We stopped at immigration and we’re surrounded by a ‘plague of children’! Guinean exit was relatively straightforward as Zoe had come up a few days earlier to check we could pass, as there are very few tourists coming this way. 

Kids who emerged from bathing in the river to check out the truck

Kids in Gbapleu

We were aiming to make camp relatively close to the border as the area further into Côte d’Ivoire (Danane and Man) is a bit sketchy and was a rebel stronghold during the wars. We will go through there tomorrow but won’t be hanging about. Once we passed the border and got to the customs post 3k later, we asked the local village if we could camp there. We ended up being welcomed into the customs agents staff quarters and having water heated up on the fire for hot bucket showers with the village chiefs’ blessing, and pitching our tents in the covered living rooms (no glass in the windows and concrete floors) between their bedrooms (putting the tent inners up so we were protected from mozzies). 

Village kids checking us out at the customs post in Gbapleu

 We had an incredibly warm welcome! I can’t imagine sleeping at a customs post anywhere else in the world! This for sure is part of the magic of overlanding! The customs chief was extremely friendly and gave me his address. I did assure him that I was married and not interested. He assured me he was married but had room for more wives. Hmmmmm.

Very curious audience watching the tents go up at the customs post

Gbapleu December 2, 2016

2 thoughts on “Guinea to Côte d’Ivoire – Sleeping in the customs post at Gbapleu”

  1. Sounds fascinating, I’m travelling that way in March, is the border between Ivory Coast and Guinea now open to independent travellers? Any info you can give would be greatful

    1. In theory it is open to independent travellers but in practice it will depend on who you meet when you get there. It was straightforward for us, but Zoe had headed up there the day before on a moto taxi to confirm that we could cross. More tricky will be getting transport from the CdI side of the border as we didn’t see any trucks or bikes for a good 30k from the border. Good luck!!!

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