Tuesday, March 25, 2014


The border-crossing from Senegal to Mali was pretty straightforward. I used the tactic to drive up to the barrier and wait that some guy is shouting at me. He typically points to the building in which I need to go to get the paper work done. We got passavants for the bikes (15000 CFA per bike).

Each time I was finished at one office I received a coupon. Obviously those were required for the guy at the barrier. Since we parked our bikes already on the other side, I got now a few spares ;)

A Baobab tree - tall, thick, magnificent, stunning, majestic.
On this day we took it easy and only rode until Kayes. There were only two hotels besides each other located outside downtown. The one was a four star, looked expensive so we took the other one and even that one exhausted our budget. However dogs were ok and the bikes guarded during the night. Once more there was no mosquito net, but air-conditioning and the guy ensured there are no mosquitoes and they would spray before the night. Breakfast was included and I could exchange coffee and other nonsense for fruits. I only needed to inform what I would like to have. Cool service!

After another sleepless night of fighting with the mosquitos we got up early. Later I checked the breakfast and we wanted to do some web browsing at the same time. Well, with all tricks we were not able to connect any of our devices to the internet. So much for that. Instead of the (seasonal) fruits I ordered, we got 7 green bananas! I was pissed. The waiter topped that by demanding that I should pay for those. I gave all 7 bananas back, said keep it and went away. When passing the reception, I answered a clear "No!" to that standard question "Ça va?".We had our own ripe bananas for breakfast and started packing when the receptionist came, brought the 7 bananas and said it's ok - they are for free.

As usually when we walked with our girls, we were followed by kids, sheep and goats. Back in the hotel one well-dressed local approached me and insisted that I gave him Ulpu. I really needed to raise my voice to shake him off. What a moron!

One of the many villages we passed by.
The road from Kayes to Bofoulabe was in excellent condition. Shortly after Diamou the street crosses Bakoy river and there was a great spot to dip into the river on a hot day. I was suprised when the street ended suddenly at a ferry. Annoingly my Garmin knew that and told me to board the ferry. My large scale map hid that fact nicely. Anyway we took the ferry and since we wanted to find a hotel the ferry guy put us riding off on the way to Mahina. I looked at the map and could not make any sense out of how the ferry goes in regards to bridges and where we wanted to go.

I explained where we wanted to go to the ferry man and put faith into him that he knows what he is doing and put us at the correct shore. The first meters of the road after the ferry were horrible sand streets and my hopes it would get better, vanished rapidly. I asked some locals about the way to Mahina and they pointed us to an even worse looking street. This was not good. Both my GPS and the map indicated to go straight and so we did.

After a sweaty hour we arrived at a small village which was according to the map, the official cross point to Mahina. Once more I asked the locals and they confirmed my worries. That path looked even challenging for a donkey! No other way then to go straight. I went to the village boutique to find food (got one can of tomatoes, no fresh stuff!) and one of the kids refilled some of our water bottles.

Many other kids admired Skippy and the dogs. Skippy saw that many of the girls had holes in their ears. Since the kids were really well behaving (first time for us!), Skippy decided to donate her unused piercings to the girls. I think she made many girls happy and hopefully it was seen as a sign of thank you for them and not just the white woman bringing gifts.
Skippy making girls happy.
It was a serious struggle in first and second gear for the next two hours or even more! The temperature was +38C in shade and we needed to stop often to drink and to give water for girls. The bikes were running hot as well and the breaks helped to prevent overheating. After that the street became much better and our speed went up to 80 km/h. However many of the causeways were not finished yet and some of those diverts were really hard to find and then challenging to ride.

What a ride - do you see the road ;)
It was getting slowly dark, no hotels nearby and now it was certainly time to find a place to camp wild. The river was some few hundreds of meters away from the street and we decided to ride through the bushes towards the river in the hope to get a nice and refreshing evening swim before going to bed. We found an excellent spot, but by the time we had build the tent it was too dark to go for a swim. The river bed looked dangerously steep and we settled for our usual emergency shower, one bottle of water :D We were totally exhausted and went straight to bed without even eating anything. I was really proud of Skippy. She managed all those difficult passages without falling - good girl!

Tan lines are so last season! Sand lines are the hot new trend :D
Next morning we got up early and ate our last bananas. Obviously the breakfast was not big enough for Skippy and she fell (see the travelogue for this classic maneuver!). I came back and helped to lift the bike back up. After that it did not start anymore. What was broken now? It sounded like the fuel pump did not do anything and in the display it said "check". Obviously the breakfast wasn't big enough for me either. It took me almost one hour to get it going again. First I started to take the plastic parts off, lift the fuel tank, checked fuses and in the end consulted the manual. RTFM!
It was the kill switch! It moved to the OFF position during lifting the bike. Skippy seems not to have an eye for those issues yet and since it is not my bike I am not used to the optics and positions of switches.

Anyway, all parts back together and we went on. When we passed Toukoto I was stopped by the local police on his "Super K" and was told to report at the local police station. The chief came and dug out the 2014 book for foreign travelers. We were the first visitors for this year :) No wonder we were the attraction to many people!

The road continued to Kita in the same manner. Once we arrived there, all our stuff was covered by red sand dust. We went to the hotel and got a room with a fan and a mosquito net for a decent price.
We finally got some sleep that night. The street from Kita to Kati was again asphalt in some moderate condition, with a few more potholes to watch for. From Kati to Bamako it was in lousy condition, all worn out by trucks.

I must dream! Could it be??? A Bitburger in Kita?
No Bit - Flag is also ok when it's cold.
The trashy park opposite of our hotel. This would be such a beautiful place otherwise.

Papayas for breakfast.

When we looked for a place in Bamako, we found in the internet an auberge which was run by a Finnish African couple. Of course I thought of a Finnish lady who had found a guy here maybe during her travel... I hoped for clean place where things are working. Skippy on the other hand thought that no Finnish female with any brains would live in such a junk yard, so it would be a Finnish male with a big bar and cheap booze. Pretty stereotype thinking of us. Skippy was right :D

We arrived in the Auberge Imi quite early. It was good that we had announced ourselves as the hotel was fully booked that night. The next day we tried to get our visa to Ghana, but no luck. The guy (ambassador) was extremely bitchy and showed no signs of cooperation! He only repeated that we should have gotten our visas at our country of residence.

Well we went then to get our visa for Burkina Faso as it is supposedly cheaper at Bamako compared to getting them at the border. I went on the afternoon to the embassy to pick up our visas as well as finding some engine oil for the Suzi. The oil change was significantly overdue. The city traffic was really badly congested and it was close to +40 C in shade. My bike ran so hot that oil-steam came out of the right cylinder (I mean what else should steam at my bike?). I needed to pull over to cool down the engine before I could continue the remaining 6 km to the hotel.

The situation of trash and pollution continued all the way to Bamako and we had enough of it! A major change in our route must happen if we wanted to enjoy this road life!

We got a - what I call - "oven room" on the roof terrace. Heated up during the entire day and no isolation. The room got cooler again at 04 in the morning shortly after which the sun rose and the oven started again to heat up. The good thing was we had windows open on both sides and got a decent natural draft. The water stopped running at least once a day for some hours. Electricity cuts were also normal and at least here they had a generator for to recover from major outages.
Girls are bored and dead tired from the heat of our "oven"
Making laundry was also an experience. We had quite a bunch of stuff including girls beds. I asked the Finnish man where can I do laundry like a whole machine at once. He did not know and asked his guard. Obviously it was a strange request and so we got the answer by the next day's afternoon. The guard was very kind and showed me the place and I went there later with my laundry. First they seemed to understand. Only wash, no pressing.

The fact that I want to dry the clothes myself was already beyond comprehension. The lady started to count piece by piece and I already knew then that communication had failed. She started to calculate and somewhere in the middle, the bill was already now by 30 EUR, I stopped her. Another attempt to explain the whole thing was a waste of my time and so I packed my stuff, complained in French as good as I could and left.

The next shop was the same procedure and finally at the third one I got lucky. The guy spoke a few words English and that helped. The price was still pretty high, but therefore they also dried the clothes as I was still unable to make my self understood. I am not sure what poisons they used, but my T-shirts were as clean as new. Next day I brought another load.

Bamako city traffic is cumbersome and it took us quite some time to get out of there until we were at the big road towards Bougouni. For reasons I could not understand the Suzi lost the two M8 screws from the engine protection plate. On one side there was even the nut gone which was welted on the plate holder. Very strange indeed. Lucky for us I just happened to have the two suitable M8 screws extra in my topcase and thus the repair took only 5 minutes.

Once more - the Suzi has some screws missing :)
After arrival in Bougouni, we needed to ask locals for a hotel as there were no signs from the major road indicating that there are some. We found a decent hotel with great internet connection and stayed for two nights, because Skippy wanted to see the Oscars - a yearly tradition of her's. At least a small cheer-up :)
Mango trees and more mango trees and an almost clean walk-way.
A nosy fellow.
The only problem in this village was to find fresh fruits. On our second day we literally circled around the village and found one(!) stand selling mangoes and another one(!) with a few papayas. Veggies were easy to find and I also found some vinegar for cleaning them. Good for us that we had some canned food with us from Bamako and Skippy could fabricate a good salad.

Finally, we heard good news from our international driving licenses! They returned from Aourir, Morocco back to Finland. At least they were not lost. Let's see how we will get them. For now we try to manage with a copy of them ;)

What a name :D
Next stop was Sikasso. The first three hotels did not allow dogs and the fourth had no running water and no internet. Why should I pay for that? So we rode to the waterfalls of Farako and built our tent there for me and girls, and Skippy could enjoy her hammock again. Now we had at least "running water" :D

The road from Sikasso to the waterfalls was brand new asphalt. What a delight to ride! This was - maybe besides the one gravel road in Atlas mountains - the best and most enjoyable place we have been so far in Western Africa.

Chutes de Farako - Waterfalls of Farako
Huge holes in the ground
AND deep as well!
All girls got a wash.
The next morning we woke up with the sun and packed our stuff when it was still cool. The excellent road continued for a few kilometers until it turned back into a good gravel road (new road is under construction). Soon we arrived at the border post towards Burkina Faso.

Bright red balls of a tree.
Bizarre and big flower.
Creature which looks like a wooden stick.
Fun game - sheep eat the sun-drying cashews.
Again plenty of video material put in our Travelogue number 11.

~ Wolfi

p.s. Flemm (weibl., Saarländischer Dialekt) - Unlust, Depression, genug haben, Trägheit, die Nase voll haben, traurig/niedergeschlagen sein (Wikipedia),

Monday, March 17, 2014


The border-crossing to Senegal was easy. Border police, normal police and customs. Everybody was holding their hands open and asking for an administration fee. They were pretty sharp with that thus not asking for a gift, but seriously demanding the payment without receipt. First I was very unwilling to pay and then I demanded a receipt. No luck. Then it was time to get our carnets stamped and I went to customs office. 

The guy in the jogging outfit wanted to have a small-talk and too bad that I was too tired and in no mood for small-talk as it turned out that this guy was the boss, not the guy in the uniform! Inside the office the boss had “no competence” to stamp our carnets. Instead we got "passavants" and needed to be within five days in Dakar to get our carnets stamped. Damn! The whole crossing costed us 35 EUR/bike and we bought a 6 month insurance (brown card) for 90 EUR/bike (would have been cheaper in St. Louis).

We entered Senegal and smooth asphalt road was waiting for us. What a delight! Shortly after the border we had a small break. There was a lake! There were trees with green leaves. It looked first like a paradise and we took a deep breath. The joyful moment did not last too long. A closer look at the place revealed trash everywhere and we became really doubtful about what all was there in the water.

Goats came to feast on our banana left-overs and Skippy had to made them clear they needed to wait until we were gone :)

We went to 7palava camping place near St. Louis. The place is rather isolated and a good place if you seek some solitude. Lucky for us we were the only guests besides one other German guy – Alexander who planned to ride his bicycle to South Africa.

My flu entered the next stage and I got really sick. During the day the temperature rose to +38C in shade and the meter in the sun was +55C at its maximum. In this heat I could not do much of anything. Going shopping was consuming all my energy. We needed to find a solution on what to do with the carnets.

The ocean conquered the land, one other camping place and the rest what was there.
Cool birds.
Skippy - relaxing with a view :)
Wildlife at the camping place.
Skippy loves birds!
First things first. On Sunday I was feeling better and I used my energy to check the needle bearings of the rear swing and the axle drive. When I changed the rear shock in Mauritania, I realized they had some tolerance. Sven (the owner of the camping place) gave me a hand and borrowed his hot air pistol (as it would have not been hot enough already) and I got those bearings adjusted. One issue less to worry about.

Obviously some people before us had the same problem with the carnets and they applied for some extension in St. Louis and got it. We could only do that on Monday with the risk that they denied the extension and then we would be in a hurry to ride to Dakar. Since I felt a bit better on Sunday evening, we decided to move on. I found a hotel at Lac Rose some 35 km outside of Dakar. Hotels in Dakar were too expensive and as I told earlier camping and leaving dogs alone in the tent during those hot days was not an option!

The road was quite ok. Plenty of small villages with even more speed bumps. We arrived at the hotel, checked-in and I continued instantly to the customs office in Dakar. I found it easily and started my next round of paper hassling.

Hotel Tool Bi and somewhere here is the Finish line of the old Paris-Dakar rally.
Some sweet girl came to me and asked me for my papers so she can take care of it. Of course another agent and there will be a fee attached to it. I thought how much can it be and I started mentally to prepare for bargaining already. I followed her on each step she did there and we ran from one office to the next until one hour later I had the carnets stamped.

I told her thank you very much, have a nice day and went to my bike. I was just about to put my helmet on when she came and said that this service costs ;) I played innocent and shared my impression that this service was for free to help the poor officers in the customs and not have to deal with the tourists ;) Ok, it did not work. We settled for 8 EUR – half of what she asked originally. She was happy and me too.

For all who need their carnet stamped in Dakar, here is a hint. Enter the customs building, go to the second corridor on the same level (15m), turn right and after some 20m right again. There you will find some kind of inner yard/waiting area. There I got our carnets stamped. Everything before this is just checking and checking the checking the checking and so on ... you get the picture (with another fiche i.e., paper called “Fiche de circulation”). Good luck!

After that experience I returned to the hotel and fell dead tired to bed. Later on I learned that just in front of our hotel was the Finish-line of the famous rally Paris-Dakar. Yeah we made it !!! :D That explained also why there were soooo many hotels in that area and why almost all of them looked like ghost hotels.

From Wikipedia: “Lake Retba or Lac Rose (meaning Pink lake) lies north of the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal, north east of Dakar., in northwest Africa.

It is so named for its pink waters, caused by Dunaliella salina algae in the water that produce a red pigment that uses sunlight to create more energy, turning the waters pink. The color is particularly visible during the dry season. The lake is also known for its high salt content, which, like that of the Dead Sea, allows people to float easily. The lake also has a small salt collecting industry and was often the finishing point of the Dakar Rally, before it moved to South America in 2009.

The horror with the trash continued for us. It was everywhere in the surroundings and it was not possible to ignore the trash. What kept us somewhat going was the fact that we got fresh and delicious fruits. I was still pretty sick and we extended our stay for a few days until I felt ok again. Those rides to Dakar downtown in this heat, dust and smog were certainly not helping the healing process. We were wondering how the locals can live in this environment. Apparently it does not bother them a bit. How beautiful those countries would be with some waste management in place!

On one of those rides to the city I saw suddenly bright lights behind me and was wondering who local can afford such bright lights? Well, it was a guy from the UK on his way back to the hotel. I waved hello and continued. I was dead tired, could barely breath and swallow after all that smog. The next day he came to our hotel searching for us (he was faster then me ;) ), we had a good chat and I agreed to visit the gang the following afternoon. Those guys (2 Brits and 2 Italians) had a funny story of finding each other on the way to South Africa. Have a good ride and safe travel. Maybe we meet again on the way down.
Rode and found each other.
Two Italians on one bike on their way to South Africa.
One of the other amazing thing in Senegal were plenty of beautiful ladies in even more stunning outfits. For us western people, those dresses would clearly belong to the either party or special occasion category.

And then I decided to have a walk with the camera in the neighborhood.
Just outside the hotel, the first sales girl Aua(?) approached me...
followed by Aisha.

Vultures at Lac Rose.
Strange foam - natural or pollution?
Kids are having fun.
Spooky hawks and we were worried about our little girls.
Skippy and me discussed where to go next. Originally (very very first plans) we wanted to go to Mali and Burkina Faso but changed that plan due to the civil war activities in Mali. Instead we wanted to go through Guinea and Ivory Coast. Now when it was time to get the visa and we had a closer look at the map, we realized that long passages of the major roads would be gravel roads (meaning we would share the dust with all those trucks) and the no-mans-land between Guinea and Ivory Coast was to our knowledge some 20 km long (Morocco-Mauritania was still fresh in our memories). The level of corruption was supposed to be higher in Guinea compared to Senegal and even higher in Ivory Coast.

On the other hand other travelers went to Mali and the corruption level should be lower compared to Senegal. Other travelers reported that Burkina Faso would be one of the hidden jewels in Africa. We changed our plans and we took a visa to Mali and if that would work out fine, we would continue to BF.

We left Lac Rose and for some reason the traffic during the first kilometers felt really bad and costed us a lot of nerves. We had barely moved and I was already done to call it a day. Somewhat later the street opened up and we rode the N3 (missed the turn to the N1 due to this traffic) to Kaolack to find an accommodation. The first one was fully booked, the second did not take dogs and finally we ended up in the Maison des Œuvres – a missionary station. Well, it did the job, the bikes were parked safely and we got some rest.

The next morning was again attraction day. After we bought some fruit we went to the filling station and became the attraction. It was one of the “worst” human crowds I had experienced so far! All five of us were so happy to get out of there. This was most likely the closest encounter to how zoo animals must feel like!

Nightmare for us - we could hardly breath not even thinking of moving!
The road to Tambacounda was full of potholes and this mandatory slaloming brought a little bit of distraction of the otherwise monotonous road. Well either that or tiny tiny gravel trails. After some search we found an auberge for a decent price. Good enough for one night. The Niakolo National Park was on our explorer list. We rode the 70 km asphalt & pothole road to the only hotel my GPS could identify. Well, the hotel was there, it looked nice and peaceful but the price was ridiculously high. Either we took a double room or camping with mandatory dinner, so either way the costs would have been nearly the same! We turned back, rode via Tambacounda and Bala to Kidira at the Senegal-Mali border.
Baobab tree and bus stop.
When one stops at a bus stop people will come and look at you.
Break with privacy - that's the way we prefer it.
Stunning baobab trees.
The road was a disaster and required regularly full breaks to avoid potholes. The city announced itself by the endless queue of trucks on both sides of the street sometimes only leaving one driving left lane to squeeze through. The city was shitty as hell and it took us some time to find the only hotel in town.

Shitty ways at Kidira market.
Just outside the hotel.
TV and electronics disposal - the Senegal way.
Many houses in the state of "building in progress and forgotten"
We were really exhausted and stayed there for two nights to get some rest and recharge our batteries. The first night was again without mosquito net and thus we did not get much sleep. Skippy suffered a lot from this. Fresh and different blood is always better then the old known one ;) After we finally got a net for the following night we got some sleep between the moments when the disco music stopped and the muezzin was calling in the morning. And then off to Mali.

Skippy made this time two travelogues. Enjoy number nine and ten.

~ Wolfi

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mauritania (with another travelogue)

Hell broke loose the moment we left Morocco and entered no-mans-land. Demolished, burned, rusty and disassembled car wrecks and parts were on both sides – it looked like in war movies. There were no street only trails and even that is a compliment. There are still many land-mines in this area and according to some locals, officials cleaned some 5 km north and south of that trail collection (I heard later that some years back it was already suicidal to leave the marked trail by even a few meters).

Some of those trails have deep soft sand and of course we took one of those. First Skippy tossed over with the bike. Luckily nothing bad happened. Then we decided to swap bikes. Promptly I drove the Suzi into deep soft sand. With a little bit of anger, we got the Suzi easily out by ourselves. Then it was time for the sidecar and we swapped again for this spot. OMG – I buried the back-wheel hopelessly into the sand.

It was getting dark and the human vultures came to sneak up on us, in other words a great opportunity for local workers to "help". The sidecar was really stuck and since I did not have rods with me the winch was of no help. I started to dig out the shovel when a crowd of vultures surrounded us. The choice was either digging and me sweating or paying?

We settled from 100 EUR down to 40EUR and they worked hard for that money! Good so ;) The sidecar got stuck another time and the guys needed again to push and pull. Finally we were on some hard ground. At that moment I wished I had a light hack with 2WD or 3WD and off-road tyres.

One bandit gave the other one the hand and some guy in a 4x4 told us with heavy gestures that he will take us to the Mauritania border and take care of things there for us. Of course I knew there was a fee attached. We arrived at the Mauritania side around 19 o'clock, it was dark and the guy pushed us in a fast forward mode through the different control stations. I had to be present once in a while and I saw that he gave some money to the officer.

Later I read (again) that the white A4 paper costed anyway 10 EUR and the guy at the police station expected potentially a gift. In the end the fixer wanted 2x40 EUR and I was able to deal him down to 50 EUR. Since I really believe that the border was already halfways closed and we had this great speed, the price was maybe ok-ish in the end and yet it was a rip-off. The last barrier opened and it was pitch black when we entered Mauritania.

We did then what everybody said DO NOT DO! Riding in total darkness in Mauritania. We already passed through a police control and as easy as this goes in the day-time, the more spooky it was now. It was windy and sand flying all around. Occasionally the street was half-ways covered with small dunes and so we shared the remaining space with the other vehicles on the road. Passing was a huge risk and therefore we stayed mostly behind trucks.

We had a choice to go to Nouadhibou where we certainly find a hotel or we ride towards Nouakchott with the risk that there will not be a hotel on the way. We decided against riding 45+ km to Nouadhibou and back the next morning, instead we took our chances. The next "city" was Bou Lanouar some 40 km away and I felt extremely uncomfortable. 

No hotel neither a filling station marked on my map and the city presented itself in pretty much complete darkness. I only saw a shimmer of houses in the moonlight and stars. Then in the near distance I saw many lights along the street and besides me was a sign warning of land mines. I hoped this would be a hotel but the lights came only from the various boutiques. Anyway, I asked if there is a hotel in the city and to our relief the guy said yes.

He even offered to drive ahead with his car to show us the way. I already got horribly suspicious about another guy asking for some fee, but then he was a nice person who really wanted to help. If you ever read this: Thank you!!! There were no lights and no signs at the street. Most likely we would have passed the hotel and continued to wander around.

Our first hotel in Mauritania - no way to find this in darkness.
Extension cable - Mauritania style
Getting ready to leave. Ulpu escaping and we got a new friend.
The view from the hotel towards south
and towards north.
The owner had a room for us and dogs were ok. That sounded promising even though the price was pretty high. We were both dead tired and were happy to find a safe shelter for the night. The owner asked us to move the bikes into the inner yard so the night guard could watch them. There was no road and only very dim light. The owner only seemed to know that his pick-up could drive anywhere and so it happened as it must happen... I got the sidecar stuck in the deep loose sand again! I was pissed and yet too exhausted to express my emotions.

We already knew the drill. Skippy rode the sidecar and I was pulling. As we learned that earlier in no-mans-land, pulling the sidecar is much more effective then pushing. Due to its asymmetry one cannot steer when pushing whereas when I pull I can give it also direction. Forget the front steering – absolute useless in deep sand. With a smelling clutch and almost getting the bikes stuck again in deep sand a little later I managed to park both bikes in the back-yard.

Next morning – sunshine and man, we were in the middle of nowhere! Did not miss a thing during our night ride. At least now I could see where the hard surface was and so I had little trouble to get the bikes going and off we went for another day on straight roads.
Another break and we noticed...
that the ground appears to be old sea bottom .
Remains of a goat/sheep with stomach full of plastic! :(
A few hours later we arrived in Nouakchott at Auberge Sahara and got us a nice and spacious room. We did not get much sleep as some Hungarian folks riding on the rally Budapest-Bamako entered the building and made hell of a noise. On our last day, this group had grown even more and basically occupied the entire outer space. The auberge was a good place to meet other overlanders and winter-refugees and getting some useful hints and tips.

We got our visa for Senegal without any trouble within the same day. The embassy was closed on Fridays and Saturdays, but then open on Sundays. Who will understand this! Anyway this meant for us we had one free day :) since we got our visa on Sunday.
Emergency dinner at our first night in Noukachott - fries & salad. Also Skippy's birthday, that's why she doesn't look too happy...
Skippy relaxing in the shade.
Typical "truck" - donkey with carriage.
Goats in the streets - they often followed us, seem to like our girls :)
A very typical picture.
Evening walk to the sushi restaurant, where Skippy finally had her "birthday dinner" :)
Wolfi used the free day to get a holder made for the helmet camera's main unit.
More goats on the way to downtown

Trucks waiting to bring cargo to customers.
One of the many "grand taxis" - this is only good for day rides ;)
Entire streets were converted into junk yards - what a filth!
We left Nouakchott on another hot day. I tried to get the brown insurance card for the bikes but had no luck. So we tried one hint I found from the Hubb – Tammin. When I went there, they told me that they do not do that any longer. So much for that.

It took us quite some time to get out of Nouakchott and our first attempt to get fuel did not work out. No essence here only gasoil. Ok, next filling station then. After some 100km the road became worse and we had to circle around many potholes. At the same time we got really happy since we started to see trees (after some 2000+ km of desert a tree is admirable)! I though I managed to escape one pothole in particular when I heard a loud bang and my sitting position was strangely different. Greetings from my rear shock. This time, the pre-loader had said goodbye.

Lucky for us, we had now trees besides the street and I rode under one to start changing shocks... again. Many locals passed by honking their horns to warn me that they are coming. Suddenly a big bike went bike – a KTM, stopped and came back :) Another overlander from Austria – bonne route my friend! I was finished and we were good to go when a local truck driver stopped and asked if we needed some help. At last – not all hope was gone.

We lost quite some time and it seemed that we are not able to reach Diama in time. At this last kilometers in Mauritania, one police man asked for a 10 EUR gift. I denied, he said ok and we continued. At another stop the police man gave a name and a number - “call this guy, he will help you to get over the border”. Sure and thank you.

Well, the guy was waiting for us at the exit towards the road to Diama. Some other rally truck was there as well waiting and the two of us were supposed to follow him to stay overnight at his place since the border would be closing any minute now. Sounded ok on the first hand. Some 12 km later the rally guys pulled over. Their friend told them the border was open until 22 and they wanted to push their luck. It was getting slowly dark and after  some minutes of thinking we decided to go with them as much as we can and camp somewhere along the way (as we originally planned).

Then this guy came again. He saw business running off and asked whether we have insurance. The rally guys did have and we did not have. He said, that you cannot buy an insurance on the border of Diama. Nice try! A guy who drives a car without a license plate and gets his customers from a police man. The rally guys called their friend again and they took off. We followed them and it felt the right thing to do. When looking back, I need to say and admit that I need to listen much more to my gut feelings. In hindsight, those were good choices when I followed and “learnings” when I did not follow it ;)

The paving of the street was brand-new and we could ride with 100km/h – no potholes! It was getting now seriously dark and we wanted to find a place to sleep. We used the rest of the day light to find a decent spot. It was ok except for those nasty little stingy balls and thorns everywhere on the ground. They would pinch a hundred holes into our tent floor! Time for the hammocks and the first official duty of my winch was to hold Skippy's hammock :D
First night in the hammocks. Wolfi sleeping with Lyra and Ulpu.
The night was really cold, I was not able to sleep at all even though when I took Lyra and Ulpu with me into the hammock. Well, at least girls were warm. The next morning was again a bright day and we headed towards Diama. Bad for us, the excellent asphalt road ended pretty soon and for the next 80 km it was a terrible sand road for me and rather ok for Skippy. We swapped bikes once more in the beginning of this street (because of the soft sand) for a short time until Skippy felt ok with the street. However... my poor sidecar – I really got worried things would fall apart! It was really hot and the motor temperature was almost in the red area.

The landscape changed and we saw lakes(!), haven't seen those for a long time. Besides the cows and wild hogs that crossed our way, we also saw many kinds of birds. We paid the entrance fee to the national park and a few kilometers later we finally arrived at the border station at Diama.

A few thoughts in hindsight:

On a positive note, there were not much plastic bags polluting the environment. As we heard later, the government forbid those brown bags some time ago. Therefore the amount of empty plastic water bottles were huge - beyond imagination!

As soon as we stopped somewhere kids came and started begging for gifts and money as well as old people begged for money. Yes, we read about this, however it was another thing to experience this. At some point it became annoying and I needed to remind myself to stay calm.

People asked us several times whether we have our dogs with us for eating. First I thought this was a joke or a misunderstanding due to my poor French language skills. Obviously when one has more then one dog, the dogs are considered as livestock and then it fits their own pattern - to carry their livestock for eating during a long journey. Who really knows..?

Skippy made another travelogue. Enjoy number eight (Since we still have limited internet it might take some time before we can upload the HD version).

~ Wolfi