West Africa is often unnecessarily branded as a dangerous region to travel. That said, there are certain precautions that need to be followed in order to assure a safe trip. Anyone planning on traveling with us needs to pay close attention to the health and safety guidelines below.
Everyone traveling with us needs to have appropriate travel insurance that will cover them on the trip. Feel free to pick your own provider, but make sure to read the fine print. You will be riding a 110 cc motorbike, and you need to be covered for that.
For our part, we recommend World Nomads travel insurance. They have a “sports and activities” section which allows you to add motorbike coverage to your insurance policy. World Nomads comes through on claims, and they have excellent customer service. In addition, their policies are easy to purchase and manage on their website.
As a general rule, you should have all of the routine immunizations for an adult. See this page for a full list of these immunizations. In addition, there are several recommended vaccinations specific to West Africa:
- Yellow Fever – this vaccination is required for entry in most countries of West Africa. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get this vaccination at a public clinic. Otherwise, you will need to go to a travel health clinic. In any case, make sure that you receive an international vaccination certificate (typically a small yellow booklet) as you will need this document at border crossings. The good news is that the WHO announced in 2016 that this vaccination is now valid for life, so you only need to get it once.
- Typhoid – typhoid vaccination is not required for entry in any countries in West Africa, but it is a good idea to have it just in case.
- Meningitis – you may already have this as part of your routine adult immunizations.
- Hepatitis A – again, you may already have this as part of your routine adult immunizations.
Malaria is endemic throughout West Africa. While our trips occur in the dry season when the malaria parasite is somewhat less prolific, we still recommend that you take a malaria prophylactic while traveling with us.
There are several malaria prophylactics available. Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil) is widely considered to be the most effective prophylactic, and it is not known for side effects. However, you should talk with your doctor or a doctor at a travel health clinic before traveling to get a professional recommendation and prescription. It’s also a good idea to pack a topical insect repellant.
We will be traveling in a cooler time of year, but all things are relative, and in Africa “cooler” may have a different meaning than what you are accustomed to. Average day time highs will be around 30-32 degrees celsius (upper 80’s in fahrenheit). It’s a dry heat at this time of year, and it is actually quite pleasant most days, but the sun in this part of the world is no joke. Plan to pack sunscreen and a hat.
Food and Water
We will take steps to make sure that all the water you drink is treated or bottled. We will also make dining recommendations based on our experience with certain vendors and restaurants. We will be making our own food on several occasions, and in those cases we will provide everything needed in order to prepare the meal in a hygienic manner.
Some of the food we will eat on the trip may be quite different than what you are used to, and if you have a particularly sensitive stomach, bring along some Imodium or Pepto-Bismol.
Road safety is obviously one of our biggest concerns. We were very deliberate in choosing a route that provides plenty of adventure without being overly dangerous. We will be traveling on roads that are not heavily trafficked, and due to the nature of the bikes we are riding, we will not be going particularly fast (for more on this, please read the About You section). Also, we will not be riding at night.
You do need to bring your own helmet, and it needs to be a DOT or ECE 22.05 certified helmet. Also, while we will have plenty of time to wear flip flops and sandals, you need to have closed toe shoes to wear while we are on the bikes.
As we stated on the about you page, our trip should not be your first time on a motorbike. At the beginning of the trip, we will have an orientation with the scooters. Whether you have rented a scooter in Croatia or Thailand while on holiday or you have been riding motorcycles your whole life, adjusting to these 110 cc bikes should be straightforward. Of course, if at any point during the trip, you feel unable to ride – for any reason – let us know and we will arrange transport for you.