Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Friday, 11 April 2008 15:10 UK

The great African surfing safari

By James Copnall
BBC News, Rabat

Surfing in Morocco
The surfers do not want to go back to their day jobs

Three South Africans who have surfed around Africa's west coast are urging others to breast the continent's waves.

They say they have enjoyed hospitality and paid no bribes on a trip that has taken them through conflict zones and countries destroyed by civil war .

The threesome are convinced that such trips can help develop the continent.

"If people get out there to spend their tourist dollars, they can help uplift populations probably more effectively than handouts," surfer Tim Harris says.


Tim and his friends Mike Sternberg and John Fleming packed in their day jobs to go on their adventure.

We had to spend the night in the jungle
Tim Harris

It was supposed to take six months, but they are having so much fun that they are still in Morocco.

"In Africa we tend to focus a lot on Europe and the West and the rest of the world, and not regard our own continent as a destination for travel," Tim says.

"But it's probably the best in the world."

In a continent mired by corruption the three surfers say they have not yet paid a bribe.

But one African stereotype has held true: the continent's famous hospitality has not been lacking.

Tim, Mike and John have made new friends among the surfers in every country they have visited.

"The surf community is very tight-knit, so we ended up hopping from one group of surfers to the next," Mike explains.

The surfers they meet are a mix of foreigners and Africans, with particularly large numbers of African surfers in Ghana and Senegal.

Waves of troubles

But their adventure has not been without its ups and downs.

Mike Sternberg next to a sign for Timbuktu
Not every stop off had great surfing

They travelled through war ravaged Angola and Congo, as well as Ivory Coast and Western Sahara which are still officially regarded as being in a state of conflict.

"The biggest adventure was the 36 hours we spent trying to cross from the Congo to Gabon," Tim says.

"We spent most of the day trying to cut our way through thick jungle, and our average speed was about half a kilometre a day!

"Then we tried to traverse a deep puddle, got stuck, and ran our battery down as we tried to get out," he explains, "so we had to spend the night in the jungle."

That problem was resolved, but political complications affected the route they have taken.

South Africa

"As South Africans we have a slight problem with Equatorial Guinea," says Mike, referring to the South African mercenaries convicted of attempting to topple the government in Malabo.

The group also cut out Liberia and Sierra Leone, because the main roads in those war-destroyed countries do not go along the coast.

But they enjoyed lengthy stays in Ivory Coast and Senegal, among other places.

The all important surfing has been good throughout, and the young South Africans say the waves are so amazing the rest of the surfing world should come to sample them.

Country profile: Morocco
04 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific