West Africa tour on whopping great bus

It is true to say that some of the roads in West Africa are not actually in peak freeway condition. In other words, some are very ordinary, so in order to carry travellers in relatively good comfort (relative because it’s not air conditioned) you need a special kind of purpose-built bus.

There is a website portal called West Africa Discovery which highlights West Africa tour operators who offer responsible tourism, and they highlight such a bus. For the technically minded it is a 4×2 Mercedes-Benz 1617 NG, OM366a straight-6 turbo-charged engine, with a 7 speed gearbox and rear reduction axle with differential lock. There are 22 comfortable coach seats with plenty of leg room, most are forward facing with some grouped around tables towards the rear.

Actually, they call it a truck, not a bus, but this model of Mercedes Benz is particularly popular in West Africa because of its proven strength, reliability, and ease of repair – which is quite important if you break down somewhere in deepest, darkest Africa.

This massive machine is used on a two week tour of West Africa which visits the countries of Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Some of the highlights of the tour include camping on the banks of the Gambia River; boat trips into Baobolong Wetlands and The Kiang West National Park; visiting the beautiful Cassamance region of Senegal; exploring the old colonial port city of Bissau; trekking or cycling Guinea’s Fouta Djalon to take in the stunning scenery, forested ravines, pristine waterfalls and craggy mountainsides; relaxing on some great beaches.

The aim of the website is to put interested people in direct contact with the company who organise the various holidays and who guarantee that part of the holiday fee will go to local community development in the chosen destination. All tours are selected because they respect the local cultural, social, historical and natural heritages.

Many of the countries of West Africa get much bad press due to their corrupt governments and human rights and environmental malpractices. One of the best ways to ensure that these countries adopt honest, civil and humane ways is to open them up to foreigners and to increase tourism so that local people may benefit from the income that is generated from tourist activities.

The fact that West Africa Discovery only promotes those businesses which engage in responsible tourism, and which directly include local people in paid work, is a worthwhile way of endeavouring to improve the lives of the people of West Africa.

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