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March 2 - 5, 2004

Preparation ] Europe ] Morocco Page 1 ] Morocco Page 1a ] Morocco Page 1b ] Morocco Page 2 ] Mauritania ] Mauritania Page 2 ] [ Mali ] Mali Page2 ] Niger ] Cameroon ] Gabon ] Gabon Page 2 ] Congo ] Congo Page 2 ] Angola ] Angola Page 2 ] Angola Page 3 ] Angola Page 4 ] Angola Page 5 ] Angola Page 6 ] Namibia ] Namibia Page 2 ] Namibia Page 3 ] Namibia Page 4 ] Namibia Page 5 ] Namibia Page 6 ] Namibia Page 7 ] Namibia Page 8 ] Namibia Page 9 ] Tanzania Page 1 ] Tanzania Page 1a ] Tanzania Page 2 ] Tanzania Page 3 ] South Africa Page 1 ] Botswana Page 1 ] Botswana Page 2 ] Botswana Page 3 ] Botswana Page 4 ] Botswana Page 5 ] Botswana Page 6 ] Botswana Page 7 ] July 22 ] July 25 ] July 29 ] August 03 ] August 09 ] August 16 ] August 24 ] September 5 ] September 11 ] September 12 ] September 21 ] September 25 ] September 29 ] October 03 ] October 09 ] October 15 ] October 19 ] November 04 ] November 13 ] November 20 ] November 29 ] December 9 ]

Country Facts: Mali Scroll Down the Page for updates made on: 03/31/2004
Updated Information Date Camp Site or Accommodations GPS

Distance  Today: 176km


 Chicken tikka masala

Somewhere in the bush, Mali

02 March  2004

Camping Paris-Dakar


Odometer: 8932km

Sunny & hot 98(F) degrees

We woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise. Our tents were facing east, so all we had to do to enjoy it was to zip open the screen and lie in bed watching the sun come up. After breakfast we started down the track. We arrived in Kankosa, the last town in Mauritania before entering Mali, at about noon. Yesterday we had our carnet stamped by customs in Kiffa, today we’ll have our passports stamped by the police in Kankosa. After a bit of wandering around trying to find the correct police official to stamp our passports, Graham and Jen went off to get the passports taken care of, while Witt and Connie stayed to guard the vehicles. As usual, we attracted a crowd of children, mostly wanting a pen or cadeau (gift). Typically the kids all gather around the window looking inside and pointing at stuff asking if they can have it. Our travel guide books, coffee mugs, two-way radios, GPS receiver, anything they can see they want. One kid asked Witt for his car (“Donnez-moi yotre voiture!”), and another asked for a bicycle. We’re starting to feel a bit like Santa Claus (or at least the local kids seem to think any white person is Santa Claus). Witt had some fun with the kids making faces and scaring them away; The side view mirror on the car with it’s convex lens was popular (they asked for it) as well. After completing customs formalities we were on our way once again. During the afternoon we saw a troop of baboons, a beautiful blue and black bird, and even the symbol of Africa itself, the Baobab tree. Graham and Connie were surprised to see them this far north. Witt and Jen don’t know enough about Africa yet to be surprised. We camped under one of these stately giants and were treated to another beautiful sunset.



Updated Information Date Camp Site or Accommodations GPS

Distance  Today: 146km


 Pasta with packet sauce

Near Kayes, Mali

 03 March 2004

Bush Camp


Odometer: 9078km

Sunny & hot 101(F) degrees

We awoke this morning to yet another beautiful African sunrise. Witt and Jen got a good night’s sleep after having been exhausted by a full day on the piste yesterday. We have noticed a marked difference between villages on the Mauritanian side of the border as compared to those on the Mali side, even though there is no physical separation between the two. The Mali villages seem more prosperous and a little cleaner. The women’s dress is more colorful and less modest. Women in Mali carry stuff on their heads more often. We drove the remaining three hours in Kayes, where we stopped to buy motor insurance. This insurance (a “brown card”) is compulsory and cost us thirty euros for 20 days worth. It’s highly doubtful that it would do you any good if you got into an accident, although not having it may well land you in jail. We stopped at a police checkpoint to have our passports stamped, but they couldn’t do it there. A guy volunteered to ride with us to show us to the customs office (to stamp the carnet) and to the main police station (to stamp the passports). We were dubious of our guide, wondering what he would want after helping us, but in the end he directed us to both offices and didn’t ask for anything in return. Graham gave him a small screwdriver (the kind that looks like a pen) in thanks. The police headquarters was located inside one of the old French colonial buildings in town. It was run down and dirty looking, but it was obviously not African in design. These buildings with their European architecture seem like an anachronism from a bygone era, which they are. After the formalities were completed we drove a short distance out of town to see some waterfalls on the Senegal River, a recommendation of Phillip, an American Peace Corps worker whom we met at the bank. After a very late lunch at the falls we drove out of town on the road to Bamako, and camped after about 20 miles. Tonight is the first night it hasn’t really cooled down after sunset. We expect more of this as we continue into the heart of the continent.

Connie made up alternate lyrics to “We Three Kings” while driving. We hope you enjoy our entertainment, although you’ll have to sing it for yourself:

We two Land Rovers camped in Atar

Then in the desert under the stars

Grasshoppers leaping

All of us freaking

Who knew they’d be out this far



We don’t want a camel ride

And we don’t need a guide

No cadeau

No stylo

Go away, our nerves are fried


After the desert, to Nouakchott

There our Mali visas we got

Traffic jams

Money change scams

Our favorite place this was not



We don’t want a camel ride

And we don’t need a guide

No cadeau

No Stylo

Go away, our nerves are fried


A French colonial building at the Medina outside Kayes

Updated Information Date Camp Site or Accommodations GPS

Distance  Today: 399km


 Mexican concoction

Near Doubabougou, Mali

 04 March 2004

Bush Camp


Odometer: 9477km

Windy, dusty, cool 80(F) degrees

We awoke this morning having arranged our tents to face east hoping for another great sunrise, but the wind had picked up overnight, and all we got was dust. The scene looked exactly like fog, and the sun had been up for an hour before we could even see it. We packed up and hit the road by 815. The first few hours were fast on good tarmac until the town of Diéma. There we stopped and bought some deep fried dough with sugar (yes, just like doughnuts. Mmmm doughnuts.) on it from a woman cooking under a tree. We wanted to fill our water containers, but there was a line of about seven donkey carts waiting to fill barrels, so we drove on. The road after this point was horrible. It was well made, and if they would grade it once in awhile, you could actually drive on it. As it is, only trucks and busses (not really busses, rather trucks with a passenger compartment) use the actual road. Cars use the tracks that wind along the side of the road. These are pretty good, allowing about 30-40 mph although the driving is stressful because of the frequent irregularities in the road. We saw numerous wrecked vehicles along the road, many of which seem to result from trucks alternating between the road and track trying to find the best surface. One of Graham’s front shocks blew out (the result of a poor installation, he believes) and we took a long lunch to replace it with one of the spares. We drove this road all afternoon until about 5pm, only (we hope) about 10km from pavement. We should be in Bamako by tomorrow.


Doughnut shop, Mali style

Updated Information Date Camp Site or Accommodations GPS

Distance  Today: 215km


 Meat sandwich with fries at the hotel

Bamako, Mali

 05 March 2004

Hotel in Bamako


Odometer: 9692km

Windy, & dusty 85(F) degrees

When we woke this morning it was still very dusty. We had breakfast of bread and coffee, then hit the road eager to leave the horribly corrugated road behind. After about an hour we did, and were in Bamako by noon. Bamako is a very large city, and driving there was very similar to other large cities we’ve been to. Our motivation for going into the city was to buy food (packaged stuff we couldn’t get in the markets in smaller villages), check our email, and use Mali’s only international ATM machine. At some point on the corrugated road from Kayes, Jen and Witt’s car had developed a severe judder in the steering which needs to be fixed before continuing on. We found a place to park in the center of town and walked to the ATM machine that unfortunately was not functioning. Central Bamako is a beehive of activity with people selling all manner of goods on the sidewalks. There is very little room to walk amongst all the people and wares for sale, and you are left with a choice between the sidewalk where you must constantly stop to wait for people or dodge stacks of flip flops for sale, or the street with it’s constant traffic of cars and motorbikes. At some point we picked up a “friend” who was showing us where to change money, etc. We tried to change some cash, at a bureau de change, but the rate offered for 20 dollar bills was lower than that offered for hundreds, so we decided to walk back to the bank with the ATM machine, our friend following us wherever we went. We noticed a couple of tourists leaving the machine, so we decided to try again, and sure enough it worked! We each took out a large amount of cash, knowing that we wouldn’t find ATM machines often until we get to Cameroon. Fortunately, all of the countries on our route through Gabon use the Central African Franc (CFA), so we won’t have to adjust to a new currency for awhile. By this point our “friend” had turned into a “guide” and wanted money. He followed us all the back to our cars, arguing the whole time. Eventually we gave him a cigarette to get him to go away. We felt bad about rewarding his behavior, but at least he left feeling we owed him more. At this point we were eager to just get out of the city, so we abandoned our plans to use the internet and headed out of town. Soon we noticed a yellow Camel Trophy Land Rover Discovery tailing us, and pulled over to have a chat. Mary and Walter are also traveling to South Africa and showed us to the hotel they were staying at. It was expensive but nice, and we enjoyed the hot showers. Graham located and fixed a loose panhard rod on Witt’s car which was the likely culprit of the shuddering while Jen and Connie did laundry. Afterward we had a “meat sandwich” at the hotel restaurant (which was surprisingly good) and exchanged some information with Mary and Walter. We also listened to some Malian music being performed at the hotel for the benefit of a Canadian documentary film maker.

The preferred way to transport goods

Mali, page 2

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