Bus trip: Accra to Ouagadougou

1 Dec

The bus was leaving at 10am, I had already purchased my ticket 2 days before because I was warned if did not do this the bus, the was no way that I will catch the bus, and that will mean spending to more days in Accra. I left Kokrobite a beach town 30km outside Accra very early in the morning since I had already experienced crazy Accra traffic, but as fate will have it the traffic was rather smooth on the day and by 8am I was at the bus station.

Since I had some time in the before bus departure I took taxi to do last tour of Accra and go check Kwame Nkwarumah museum. When I got the museum, I was told I am but early the museum opens at 10am, I begged the security to take photos from outside, he showed me signs saying its not allowed, I tried to get sentimental with him by telling him that I supported Ghana during the Soccer World Cup even showing some of the photos I took on my BlackBerry that failed also. I went around Independent Square took some pictures and moved back to the bus station.

I “checked” inn registered my name etc and took my backpack for loading, it was gonna be a long trip so I decided to get something to eat, the restaurant next to bus station had nothing interesting i could eat, since I had bad experience with Fufu, I was in no mood to tried it again, I settle on ordering some meat with rice and only ate rice. I bough snacks and bottled water from the outside vendors. I went to the bathroom where I had to pay some Cedi’s to use it despite being dirty loo.

The travel between Accra and Ouagadougou is 772km on a normal road that should take you at worst 12 hours with the slowest bus, I was informed by fellow passengers that we will be traveling for 24 hours, having traveled with buses across the continent I was not bothered by this my only concern is traveling safe.

While waiting for the bus I was joined by Sarah, American lady I met earlier at backpackers i stayed at called Big Millys in Kokrobite, she was going the same route with me. Departure time passed and there was no movement we were waiting as other people going Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger where boarding their busses. It’s only around 12pm that there was movement from our side, I had planned to share a seat with Sarah, as we boarded we choose what looked like a perfect seat for the trip, within minutes we where humbly requested to move to our seat as indicated in the ticket, I never thought that will be the arrangement, we requested bus hostess to make arrangement that we seat together, finally we settled on seating on the same row but not the same seat.

I shared my seat with Ghanaian guy traveling to Senegal, yep that’s far away that’s like 5 days trip in the bus, its like passing 3 countries. Around 13:30 the bus departed, as I was introducing myself to to this guy, the first thing he told me was that the road between Accra and Kumasi is called death road something I preferred not to be told, as we drove along it was clear why it has the famous name, it’s complete chaos, people are driving on road that’s being built a complete chaos, fortunately s it was daylight when we drove.

Me and my travel mate to Ouagadougou

2 hours after departure we stopped for food, this time I could get some interesting stuff to eat as murphy’s law will have it I did not have enough Cedi’s to get my haute meal. I settled for drum stick and carry rice, it was delicious. With full stomach I could take my kindle and my iPod to enjoy the journey.

The Bus trip was all good until the bus driver started making arbitrary stops along the road and he will request that we all climb off the bus while he disappears with it for few minutes, no explanation was given the worst of this stops is when we got to Kumasi it was raining, dark and cold we were asked to get out again with the bus driver disappearing. I simply assumed that he has girlfriends all over the place and he checks them at our expenses, we stopped again in the early hours of the morning in the most busy market I have seen at night, people were cooking and selling food, toilets as usual were paid toilets.

As the trip went along I realized that there are two guys carrying AK47 in the bus, they carried them so openly as they went on the bus passage this machines will rub off against you crazy experience if you ask me. I only got a chance to ask these guys what are they carrying guns for when we got to early morning market, they said they are bus marshals and they carry them to prevent armed robberies on busses. Tjo!

We finally reached Bolgatanga the border town with a Burkina Faso, it was around 6am and cold, once again we were told to get off the bus with the bus left for unknown reasons, we could not hide for the cold in the “waiting room” we were told to use. The bus was back around 7am and we left to cross the border, which opened at 7am anyway. Borders in this parts of the world look like no borders at all, immigration services is conducted under a tree and some open structure in corrugated iron roof. These people pretend as if they take their job serious maybe they do.

We finally got into Burkina Faso stopped at immigration, suddenly vagrants attacked our luggage, with the help of soldiers or immigration officer, no question asked just a voilent removal of our bags from the bus to the checking point, since they spoke french, I could not ask them what they were doing we followed where they were taking the bags and immigration officer requested that each passengers stand next to their bags and he instructed us to open luggage as he checked it, there was no serious checking just quick browse and he moved to another bag, once you close the bag vagrants are forcefully taking you bag to the bus, no amount of screaming will stop them once they packed your bag they demand to be paid, I gave them money I had and moved on.

When we finished doing all that, we were instructed to walk outside immigration gate the bus will get us that side it was not a long stretch but something i find very unnecessary, the bus was supposed to come just after, we waited for 5 hours in hot day without shade, hassled by street vendors selling all crazy stuff, we we asked what’s happening with the bus no one could explain the long wait some travelers claimed the bus was broken and they were busy fixing, we did not get the real reason we waiting so long in the middle of nowhere. I only assumed that they wanted us to by from the vendors. Whilst waiting there I had a needed to go to the toilet, which I did it was a dirty Muslim toilet that I had to pay for to get a backet of water and toilet paper. I had never used these toilets before and it was not in good condition and what followed cannot written in words it was a mess.

Sarah and other travelers waiting for the bus

The bus arrived and as usual no apology given, we were about 100km from Ouagadougou after 30 minutes driving the bus stopped again for an hour we were ordered to get off while our bags were checked again, I told Sarah I am gonna start hitch hiking this is unacceptable nonsense, the was no luck hitch hiking. We started moving again and were stopped again for by armed police/soldiers from Ghana and Burkina Faso they got into the bus with AK47 called some dude’s name he did not respond, they went straight to him and arrested him for drug possession they read his rights hand cuffed him and took him outside the bus, they sincerely apologized for the delay and wished us the safe travel.

We got to a Ouagadougou around 17:00 tired, dirty and thirsty with Sarah’s help we got a taxi that took us straight to our backpackers Le Pavillion Vert. I had a wonderful stay there with free Internet and good food.

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One Response to “Bus trip: Accra to Ouagadougou”

  1. Didi December 4, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    Thanks for the post, I’m also thinking of doing Accra to Ouaga by bus instead of plane. Just to save a couple of bucks but again, is it worth it? How much was it and if you were to do it again, would you still chose to do it by road? Hope you had a great time after tho.

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