We had not planned visiting Lagos but it was worth the effort. Flying in we saw the largest African city from the air. The city is huge.
Jon Beswick : 21st June

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Starting from their departure in London on 14th March 2009.
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25th March
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30th March
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8th April
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9th April
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Sierra Leone 18th April
Liberia 27th April
Côte d’Ivoire 4th May
Burkina Faso 8th May
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Togo 16th June
Benin 16th June
Nigeria 20th June
Cameroon 16th July
Gabon 30th July
Congo 6th August

Click the photos to see the gallery of Nigeria

DIARY : Nigeria Imagery: ©2009 Terrametrics
Map data: ©2009 Europa Technologies

20th June : Nigeria
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Crossing into Nigeria, we had serious concerns about safety in the country. We had received the most warnings about Nigeria. Aside from the obvious concerns about the Delta region and kidnappings, we had also been warned about the numerous roadside checkpoints, both official and unofficial.

So it was both a disappointment and a relief that our entry into the country was uneventful and the only thing that changed hands with the border police were a few biscuits. We had in fact decided to cross the border further inland in the north rather than the main (and more troublesome) route along the coast. Still we soon found excitement, coming across our first checkpoint; manned by a group with seemingly nothing more official than a plank with nails – no doubt a Nigerian version of the ‘Stinger’. When they failed to produce ID we decided that handing over our passports would be foolish and opted for a discrete dash through the checkpoint since they had removed their ‘stinger’ to allow another car to pass. Feeling rather pleased that we had outwitted these ‘conmen’, our hearts sank, when having passed a second checkpoint unchallenged, our progress was blocked by a third. This time there was a rock barrier. These guys were clearly a more professional outfit and appeared pretty angry with us. It soon became clear why when two cars screeched to a halt behind us, blocking us in, both filled with men from the first checkpoint. Apparently they were not so enthused with our cunning getaway. When they produced their Nigerian immigration ID cards we understood why. After much debate and peace offerings (those biscuits were a great buy) they had made their point and let us on our way. The guys at the third checkpoint found the whole episode hilarious and invited us to join them for lunch. While these checkpoints can be very intimidating, many of the people are actually very friendly. Although one particular soldier with a grenade launcher under his arm and exceptionally blood shot eyes appeared too friendly as he wildly gesticulated his excitement at our visit to his country. Nigeria was proving far more welcoming than expected.

20th June

We overnight at the 18th green of a golf club.

21st June
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We reach the capital, Abuja where having driven around for an hour we reached the apartment and were welcomed by my uncle, Rudy and his friends. Our stay in Nigeria was essentially to secure visas for the rest of the trip. We obtained visas for Cameroon, Angola, Gabon and Congo without too much effort, unfortunately, Equatorial Guinea and DRC proved more difficult. We travelled to Lagos in our attempts and even secured the help of high ranking officials and a General from Equatorial Guinea but to no avail. We will try again in Cameroon.

We had not planned visiting Lagos but it was worth the effort. Flying in we saw the largest African city from the air. The city is huge. Within minutes of landing we were on the road and stuck in traffic. Lagos traffic is infamous for a reason. A two mile journey can take up to four hours.

We met numerous people who had to leave their homes at 5.00am to miss the traffic. Still we made the most of our time there.

Following an introduction to Rudy’s friends Eddie and Nazih, we soon found ourselves much sought after in Lagos. We were invited to radio interviews for three stations, as well as a television interview broadcast across Africa. This was a great opportunity to raise awareness for One2One, their work and of course our journey. Back in Abuja, and after a stopover of almost 3 weeks in Nigeria we prepared for the next major leg of the journey.

We have to say a particular thank you to Mirko for the fun nights out, especially the 4th July party, and the many fascinating conversations; also to Papa for lavishing us with more outstanding food than we could eat in a lifetime, and finally to Michel for spending all of his time fixing our problems, such as the car! But a big thanks to my uncle, who took his surrogate role to an extreme in looking after us.

12th July
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Leaving Abuja we stopped off at Nigeria’s very own Ayers Rock – much smaller but with a lot of folklore attached.

13th July : Yankari
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Heading for the Cameroon, we travelled through Jos stopping at the Yankari National park, exploring the game reserve and Wikki spring one of four geothermal springs in the park.

In the 24 hours we were there we fought several battles over food with the local baboons, were woken up by Elephants tearing branches next to our car and eventually surrounded by a 40 strong herd out in the bush.

Sitting within a few metres, watching these huge creatures showed how imposing they really are. With trepidation we approached the largest male on foot and got within 3 metres when he turned, raised his ears and trunk and trumpeted.

We thought a charge was imminent and ran like schoolboys back to the Land rover. On reaching the car we realised it was an idle threat. Our guide was laughing. He knew this elephant and assured us he would never charge – not sure we were wholly confident in his theory.

16th July
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The scenery in Nigeria began to change as we drove east and up into the impressive plateaus.

This continued into Cameroon were we found ourselves camping on the edge of a plateau looking down a lush valley.

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