Happy New Year from Mali!

We wish you all the very best for the upcoming new year of 2013!

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Bamako in Mali, Domi & Zainab

Islamic Republic of Mauritania

In the last days we were driving through the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and also passed its capital, Nouakchott. Afterwards we headed east towards the towns of Aleg, Kiffa and Ayoun El-Atrouss. Endless police men stopped us, checking our passports as well as other documents and asking for bribe.

The condition of the road was getting miserable and gas very rare. We had to buy fuel at the so-called “marché noir” (black market) for a much higher price. Furthermore we’ve never seen so many dead animals on the side of the road. But it was wonderful to see all the camel herds along the way.

Most of the people in Mauritania are very poor. In general, it is important to us to only take pictures of people, when they are okay with it and when we feel it is appropiate. Our main focus while traveling is to discover the beauty of nature and to get to know the different “mentalities” and cultures of people, no matter if rich or poor.

QEK Junior in Mauritania

It was like a “Fata Morgana”, simply unreal! Today we spotted a “QEK Junior” camper, sitting in the Sahara Desert. Apparently an East German traveled to Africa, pulling his little home all the way to Mauritania and eventually just left it behind. This was probably the first “QEK Junior” camper we’ve seen, while traveling since 2009. But unfortunately this one is not on the road anymore. Rest in Peace!

Being Stuck in the Desert

The worst thing that can happen to someone who is traveling through the desert, is to be stuck. As we arrived at the border of Mauritania (coming from Western Sahara), about 35 vehicles were already in front of us, also waiting to cross the frontier. It took us long seven hours for the whole border crossing procedure.

Another nightmare of touring across a desert is to have a car brake down. On our way through the Sahara, a Mauritanian family had a blow-out in the middle of nowhere. Though they were carrying a spare tire, they had no proper tool to lift their car. So, we stopped and helped changing tires by using our jack.

The Great Sahara Desert

Today we entered Western Sahara (also known as Sahara Occidental), a territory occupied by Morocco. As the name implies we’re crossing the Sahara Desert on its western side. The Great Sahara Desert is the world’s hottest desert.

Furthermore the Sahara is almost as large as the entire United States. The road is leading us besides the Atlantic Ocean, passing numerous dune landscapes and gusty sandstorms are our biggest enemy while heading across this deserted region.

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The Atlas Mountains

Since we left Rabat, we’ve driven across the Atlas Mountains of Morocco where Herbie had to climb up to 7,145 feet (2,178 m) while pulling our little camper. On our way we passed countless oasis as well as snow-capped hills, mountain lakes and rivers.

We also had the chance to feed free-living Barbary apes in the woods of the Atlas range. And as we went downhill again, we saw camel herds on the side of the road. Today we left the Atlas and reached Tiznit, right besides the Atlantic Ocean.

herbie the love bug 2

Welcome to Africa!

Another long day ends! But tomorrow we’ll finally hit the road, leaving Rabat and start exploring the African continent. First we’ll be heading towards the Atlas Mountains.

Today we also went to the souk in old downtown, where Domi got his boots repaired. These were probably the first western boots the shoemaker ever had in his career.

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For just two Bucks Domi got new shoe soles. Afterwards we were strolling through the market, buying a bunch of dates and other stuff we’ll need back on the road.

We came to Morocco’s capital in order to get as many visas we can and we eventually got almost all of them. Only the Embassy of Nigeria refused all our applications.

And the Embassies of the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Sudan were asking us to obtain the visas in Brazzaville, Congo, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

It took more than two weeks achieving visas for eight countries we like to visit on our trip across Africa. Visa fees varied between 40 and 130 US-Dollar (30 and 100 Euro).

Although we had to go through all different kinds of consular red tape, we really enjoyed spending time in Rabat. But now we are also very pleased to move on.

For our camper we ultimately got the “new” tires, we ordered the day before yesterday. Morocco seems to be a kind of after market, because the tires are from 2006.

The Love Bug’s Got the Travel Bug and is eager to start exploring continent number six. Welcome aboard and thank you for following our adventure around the globe!

The Time is Running Out!

There are just three visas left, we weren’t able to get so far. Nigeria defeated our application three times and DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) as well as Sudan are waiting for a decision from their headquarters in Kinshasa and Khartoum. Anyway we’ll have to leave Rabat before Christmas in order to meet visa validities of upcoming countries like the following three:


Mali

Burkina Faso


Cameroon

GDR Nostalgia on Wheels!

On our little camper, “QEK Junior”, we still have original “Pneumant” tires made in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Unfortunately tomorrow we’ll change that.

The tire on the passenger side is totally worn out and has deep cracks, so Domi arranged an appointment with a local tire service station where we’ll get two new ones.

Instead of the original 155ers from 1985 we’ll get now 145ers by “Goodyear”. We’re speculating on less friction loss due slimmer tires. Maybe Herbie is a bit faster!

This tire change will be the first financial input on our GDR camper. We are really happy with the “QEK Junior”, because it is a almost maintenance-free vehicle.

The Visa Countdown

Good news! We got already visas for seven countries since we are in Morocco’s capital. So, there are just four more left we are eager to get: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Sudan. Here are some examples we obtained so far:


Angola


Congo


Benin


Gabon

The Kasbah of the Udayas

Yesterday we did a little sight-seeing tour visiting the old castle as well as the so-called “Kasbah of the Udayas” (Rabat’s ancient city walls) and its Andalusian Gardens. Later on we enjoyed time overlooking the city center while the sun slowly set.

Crash Testing Herbie

Today we just escaped again a horrible car accident on our way out of the city center. And this was already number three today. A big truck just passed out to the side.

One of the major risks while traveling by car is to be involved in a crash. Almost every single day of traveling we’ve watched serious car accidents just in front of us. We are very grateful that we’ve never been involved. Herbie’s crash test rating fails!

No single Drop!

Herbie’s engine lost or burnt not a single drop of oil on our ongoing trip to Africa, although we’ve already driven more than 1,400 miles (2,200 kilometers) so far.

Domi did a great job when he rebuilt this motor on his own back in Austria. We are convinced that the small 1,200 cc engines (34 hp) are the longest lasting ones.

Another Week in Morocco’s Capital

This cute little cat comes to visit us every day on our parking spot. Unfortunately it is hard to make her understand that we are vegetarians and we have nothing to offer.

Also other animals can be seen on a daily basis. Next to the shopping mall, where we usually park our Love Bug set-up, you can see cow herds passing by.

Finally Domi fixed the leaking window rubber seals of our camper “QEK Junior”. He used just simple transparent silicone he bought at the supermarket nearby.

We are so glad that we left Europe at the best time possible. There it was getting freezing cold and now in Morocco we can get very nice warm temperatures.

We’re spending now the second week in Morocco’s capital, Rabat. So far we got the visas for five countries, but we’re still applying for six more countries in Africa.

Austria, النمسا, Autriche

Morocco has always been (because of the Strait of Gibraltar) the major gate for Austrian expeditions to Africa. We also started our kind of “expedition” here.

After touring more than 96,000 miles (155,000 km) through countless countries around the world, we are now about to travel all across our last missing continent.

Thanks to the Austrian Embassy

Yesterday we met Claudia Schneeweiss from the Austrian Embassy. The consul, Mr. Gottfried Haffner, and she were a great help in clearing some red tape visa hurdles.

It felt really haimish to us visiting the domicile of the Austrian diplomatic representation. Thank you, Miss Schneeweiss, for your hospitality and kind support!

Austrian Expedition Trucks

Yesterday we met young travelers from Upper Austria. They also came to Rabat because of getting some “visa work” done. So, they parked their huge expedition trucks in the street of the Mauritanian embassy and had to wake up at three o’clock in the morning today in order to wait in line for almost five hours until the embassy opened.

Domi helped them with filling out the French written visa application form.

The fellow Austrian travelers are on their way to travel all over West Africa.

However we are still in Rabat trying to get as many visas we can.

Blogging Anniversary

Exactly twelve months ago we started this blog named “Herbie’s World Tour”. Since then we posted far more than 200 articles and welcomed ump-thousand visitors.

At this point we want to say thank you for following the adventures of our so-called Love Bug who obviously has got the travel bug, pulling the camper all around the world!

Visa Update

We came to Rabat in order to get visas for the following countries: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and Sudan. Meanwhile we obtained the first three of the mentioned eleven countries and we’ve already applied for Nigeria.

So far, the embassies of Benin, Cameroon, Gabon and Angola didn’t want to issue visas for us, because we are not Moroccan residents. They told us to speak to our diplomatic representation in Rabat, so that the Austrian Ambassador could intervene by writing a letter to the respective Embassies.

As the weekend is just around the corner we’ll have to wait until Monday to get things done. We’ve already been in contact with the Embassy of Austria via email. Now we hope that they will help us getting all the visas we need.

Meeting Emma Vånemo

While we were waiting in line at an embassy in Rabat, we met an extraordinary person. Her name is Emma Vånemo, she is 26 years old and from Sweden. We talked about Herbie’s World Tour and she seemed to be very interested in what we’re doing. We asked about her plans and it turned out that she is also on the way down south. But here it comes – she’s cycling all the way to South Africa!

On her travel blog “The Skipping Kangaroo” you can follow her adventurous journey, which she’s doing by riding her bicycle from Sweden to the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Hopefully our paths will cross again sometime, somewhere, somehow!

In the Streets of Rabat

Yesterday we arrived in Rabat – from Tangier it was a 200 miles (about 300 km) trip. Our goal for here is to get as many visas for potential upcoming countries as possible.

Souissi is the district where most of the embassies and consulates are. We already got to know fellow campers from the UK and Germany, who are also “doing visas” here.

Today we were finally able to apply for a visa for Mauritania. We woke up at 4:30 a.m. Luckily we got the numbers 16 and 17 in and endless line of about 100 people.

Today in the afternoon we’ll try to pick up our visas. That would be visa number two, after Mali, we already did yesterday. Tomorrow we’ll hopefully get Burkina Faso.

On the Ship to Morocco

We really enjoyed being on a ship for two days crossing the Mediterranean Sea. On our trip we had a short stop in Barcelona, Spain, before we passed the British overseas territory, Gibraltar, and arrived in Tangier, yesterday. Meanwhile we are already in Rabat, Morocco’s capital, in order to get some “visa work” done.