Into Mali

Bamako Travel Blog

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The direct route to Bamako turned in to a Bush Slapper(bushes hitting your face), turned and went the main route because it would take days to 500km in that sandy track...

The border crossing into Mali took a while but only because Police, Immigration and Customs were not all around the same place, people point telling you the way but after a while you start to think they are sending you the wrong way (for a laugh).  More often than not they are right and it’s only your own thinking, waving along dirty dusty streets makes you think why on earth put the office all the way out here and not at the border…?

The morning after I decided to make the most of the cooler morning air, getting up as dawn was just starting and packed up my bush camp, on the road for 7.30am for the ride to the capital, Bamako.  You can really feel the temperature increase during the morning and by the peak of the afternoon it’s over 37degrees meaning you lost any cooling of the body temperature (you start to dream of having a ice cube resting in your mouth…), I’ve never drank so much water in my life and the camel pack water turns to hot water later in the day.

Leaving Kays by the main route

The road to Bamako was one of a couple of main transport arteries for import/export of goods with many lorries that would have died back in Europe 20years ago being already too old, so it is no surprise to find lots of them broken down and they use cut branches from the trees along the road to warn you of a breakdown ahead, a simple good system.  Breakdowns looked mostly due to tyres blowing out (a tyre is good until it goes bang, but maybe it can be fixed again!!) and the horrendous overloading that eventually the suspension collapses, I’ve sent trailer beds with their back bone bent and broken, others crabbing up the road at a different angle from the cab pulling.  This road had more than its far share of carnage strewn by the road, cars, vans, buses and lorries abandoned following a large impact or just one breakdown that can’t be repaired.  The vehicles eventually get stripped by others over time leaving metal shells.  The crashes here can be awful judging by what I saw and at times I felt like Mel Gibson my own Mad Max movie riding through the outback.  One accident was a fuel tanker laid on its side just off the road with a 100meter area around scorched, it must have been fully loaded when it went up judging by the fire damage and the direction it was travelling into Mali it must have been taking fuel inland.  

The Bamako mission: I last heard from Tim saying he was saying at a place there not feeling so good but had no idea where it was and I wanted to extend my Mail visa by 10days at the immigration to give me more options as it started on my passport on the 6Dec for 30days.

After the peaceful days out on the open road and quite clam bush camps listening to the sounds on nature around me and star watching Bamako was a 1000volt jolt to the system.  Civilisation Africa style.  Seemed like mass chaos and I felt it was.  I rode into the centre looking for a hotel with secure parking for my bike, had some local help and speed off following a guy on his moped then he pointed the direction where a hotel was but I never found it, people I asked never heard of it (the sweat was running from me), some many people crowded in a small space.  After finding a quite place to stop I had a cold Coke, I needed to stop and think, to cool down.  Further up the way I was going was a place called Mopti and I could sort my visa out in that town according to a conversation I had with Tim I remembered.  I rode on the foot path with the other mopeds crossing one of the large bridges across the river Niger and pointed east riding until it was time to setup camp well clear from population.  My longest day, 636km.    

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The direct route to Bamako turned …
The direct route to Bamako turned…
Leaving Kays by the main route
Leaving Kays by the main route
photo by: johnyb66