Date: 22nd and 23rd Feb 08
Location: Bush camp, near the border between Senegal and Mali
Weather: Hazy blue skies and sunshine, 35 - 41°c
Status: Ben – tired legs, Luke – tired of bugs and the Colonel tired of the dust!
We’ve left the comfort of the tarmac roads for the next few days as we’ve taken the advice of our old German friend Charlie, and have headed from the national park east towards the Mali border on a road which passes through the bush and, according to our map, does not exist! SUPERB!!
The road started off ok and was a mixture of graded sand and gravel, but as the day and the kms wore on more rocks appeared and the surface became little more than a track just wide enough to get the Colonel down.
We passed through a few villages and were always greeted by hoards of kids wanting to say bonjour and surprisingly very few asked for presents, pens or footballs; it happens the further you go from the tourist route as they’re not used to people giving them the whole time!
Managed to get an hours run in too in the middle of the day so finally finding some routine to the training although the heat really punishes you.
As we wound our way down the tracks we passed east across the border and into Mali, the division between the two countries being the river which we had to cross. After watching a motorcyclist weave his way through I set off and made it to the other side no problems…will get the video onto the site when I get a chance.
Made camp just off the track and had omelette and chips before turning in for the night.
Our second day was relatively the same as the first except the road got gradually worse but the scenery more stunning with outcrops of vertical rock rising from the featureless landscape which in places was burning as the heat of the day ignited the dry grass all around, made it fun to drive in!
Arrived at the first village in Mali and made our way to the police station to have our passports stamped signalling our arrival in the fifth African country of the trip, hurrah! As we left the building it was interesting to see the notice board with photos of drug smugglers, a run-over corpse, a burnt out village and a skeleton….oh how welcoming!
Decided after 20mins of driving our intended route out of the village that the average speed of 8kmh just wasn’t acceptable and coupled with the fact that the OTHER suspension bush on the Colonel had now broken, we’d better to take the easier but longer road north towards the ferry over the river and the new tarmac road towards the capital, Banjul. Disappointing not to be using the road which Charlie had recommended but for ours and the vehicles safety, the only option!
End of day location: 20kms short of Bafoulabe, Mali
Distance covered: 130kms & 120kms