Distance wise we have covered halfway to South Africa! Hurray! Three months have flown by, but we have done and seen so many things and people. We are having a blast!
After losing our roof rack in the desert of Mauritania we got stuck in Atar looking for a new one. Luckily the owner of the auberge (camping) had one laying around that could be welded to fit the car. We got that done and off we were. On Facebook we got a message from an old friend that he would be working in the area. It was only 200 km away so we thought we would give him a visit. After a good day of driving on the corrugated (washboard) roads we arrived in the village of Ouadane to find out that there hasn’t been a white person spotted in a long time. I guess there must have been a bit of miscommunication on Facebook. We decided to make the best of it and visited the ancient city of wisdom. A world heritage site over a thousand years old made it quite a visit. There have been a few restauration projects funded by some wealthy countries but most of the locals remove the stones and rocks to build their own new houses.
Heading towards the capitol to apply for our next visa we passed the oasis of Terjit. Even in the dry winter there is a bit of water flowing here making it the best place to escape the desert and take a dip in the nice cool water. Shortly after at a fuel station we meet a photographer on a rally bike. Bryan, still travelling with us on the motorbike, soon started talking to him. You don’t meet many other white people on bikes here. He happened to be a photographer for the Africa Eco Race. Also known as the former Paris Dakar Rally. Alecio, the photographer, invited us to come over to the bivouac to have a look. Moments later we are standing between the rally teams fixing their vehicles almost getting our faces shown on the Eurosport channel. We couldn’t believe it, we were actually in the middle of the old Dakar rally. Helicopters and planes were flying, we met many famous drivers, even Pål Anders who was actually driving first in the motorbike class. We had dinner, stayed the night, breakfast and even a hot shower! It was like being back home again. We just couldn’t believe it.
The next morning we were basically left behind as most teams left before we even had breakfast. We headed out again towards Nouakchott to apply for our visas. We had a few problems with the car as one of our batteries stopped working and the roof rack was letting loose again. The battery was easily replaced but getting the proper brackets welded onto the car was a bit of nightmare as nobody knew how to properly do it. The first welder just gave up after doing half the job. At the second welder I had to show how to exactly do it and guide him bit by bit to get the job done. Might as well do it myself next time.
With the visas in our pockets we headed out towards Mali crossing the border at Selibabi. The road basically turned into multiple donkey paths which slowed things down considerably. It took us all day to do 60 kms! We got lost a few times but the locals were happy to show us the direction every time. The desert turned into savannah and it was getting greener every minute. This started to look like Africa! The border crossing at Meligna was a breeze but the night was falling and the border officials were getting eager to go home. They didn’t feel like dealing with all the paperwork so moved on quickly to camp at the security post outside of the village. This meant we had to do all the paperwork in Kayes, but hea we were in MALI!!!
Bryan decided to head to Senegal so in Kayes we each went our own way. We had an amazing time together and something tells me we will probably meet again in the future as he is headed towards South Africa as well. We stocked up on water and food and started driving to Bamako. A bit further on the route the Michelin map showed a nice shortcut towards Mahina marked with a touristic route. We decided to take it and ended up getting lost many times and almost falling off a railroad bridge. This route was very challenging even though it showed to be a proper road. It took us 1,5 days to do the 70 kms! Might be better to do on a motorcycle as all the locals have only motorcycles here… Next time better stay on the big roads!
Not long after we arrived in Bamako to apply for our next visa to Burkina Faso. Now our other battery decided to die on us as well, so we had to replace it too. The last owner warned us that they were very old, so I guess that was inevitable. Today we received our visa so tomorrow we shall hit the road again!