While traveling south on our way to Cape Town with our electric car, the countries are becoming more lush and green the more south we go. Sierra Leone and Liberia are so green that if we stop the car, it would not even be an option to walk into nature next to the road. The jungle is just too thick and high to do so. How we traveled through these countries charging solely with our solar panels is something we share in this article.
The difference in landscape of Sierra Leone and Liberia
We just loved the nature in both countries. Ancient, thick, and high trees combined with lianas, palm trees, and many different bird species. It is never totally quiet in both countries. We always heard the birds and insects, during the day and at night.
In addition, it is hot and humid as well, often going to a humidity of 100%. Hot is not something new compared to the previous countries, but the humidity makes it feel even warmer. You sweat even when you sit still in the shade. And at night it does not get a lot colder compared to the day. Unfortunately, this made it also the ideal climate for insects. Not many mosquitos were our enemy, but other insects we could not yet identify. One thing we know for sure is they do result in a multi-day itch!
How did this impact our solar charging days?
To begin with, it was a lot harder to find a spot to charge. As beside the road, there is only thick nature, so no space for our panels. Luckily we only need a spot every 250km. In the end, we found charging locations at deserted excavations, at a secured parking lot in the city, and at empty agriculture fields. So, it was doable!
While solar charging, new challenges occurred, as the humidity came combined with a lot of clouds. The maximum yield of the day was in both countries just above 40%, while the sun is a lot stronger here compared to North Africa. The funny thing is that we did set a new record for the highest charging speed at one specific time; 9,8kW (with 10,8kWp of solar panels..)! Before Sierra Leone our maximum speed was 8,5kW (set in Morocco). This was also caused because the sunbeams were reflected by the clouds around it, when there were no clouds in front of the sun.
Last but not least; Liberia was the first in a totally new way: rain! When we were in the mountain range of Mount Nimba, we got a rainstorm while our panels were outside the car. We decided to make use of this opportunity to wash them. The previous countries were so dusty, which is less now. So in the end, the rain resulted in a higher yield in the days after. And we got a free shower ourselves!
How did this impact our driving style?
The roads in Sierra Leone and Liberia are sometimes high-quality tarmac, but also sometimes dirt roads. Because we could charge less in one day, we chose to drive a bit slower compared to the previous countries. This way we could drive more kilometers per kWh generated. Our average speed was before Sierra Leone 45 up to 50km/h. In both Sierra Leone and Liberia we drove 40km/h on average. We did not mind as the views were more than satisfying.
Electricity availability in Sierra Leone and Liberia
In this region of West Africa, it is not unregular that the power goes out at unexpected times. We were therefore very happy we did not rely on the availability of electricity locally. We could generate all the energy we needed to drive and live in and around the car.
After exiting Liberia we have completed 4.500 km solely on solar energy in a row. Will Ivory Coast be the country where we reach the 5.000 km milestone? Or will new challenges occur that force us to use a wall outlet for the first time since 6 December 2022? What do you think? Let us know on our social media channels!