dinsdag 7 maart 2017

Entry into Senegal, or not...

We did some research,  and it might be a problem to enter Senegal without a carnet de passage. One German got quoted 300 euro for a 2 day passavant. We agreed that Fred would go through,  and then phone me from the Senegalese side with the latest info.
To get to Diama,  you cross the beautiful national park of Diawling.

We were hoping to see crocodiles, but had to be content with waterbirds and warthogs.

Fred went through Mauritanian customs and when I was camping on a beautiful spot under a baobab tree,  he phoned me to tell me it was indeed going to cost me to pass. A minimum of 250 euro they wanted for older cars without a carnet. So I told him I  would rather return to Morocco than to be part of this corruption.

It seemed for me this was the end of the line, I still had 2 months and would not  get to the Gambia. It felt a bit stupid,  having made cards advertising tony-gambia.blogspot.be but I was going to make the most of Mauritania while I was here. After a short stop in Nouakchott it was straight to the mountains of Atar.

A long time dream was to drive the Choum - Nouadhiboo piste following the railroad. Being 400 km long and real desert  driving,  many times without even tracks visible, it's a true desert experience. Doing it alone made me a bit nervous,  but by now I had enough expertise and trust in the car.

It truly was what people think of when you say,  I'm off driving in the desert, although the railroad acts as a lifeline,  and you really can't get lost, there is a lot of navigating the sandy dunes with the help of gps and satellite images.

When the train passed,  I tried to drive the tracks but that was way too uncomfortable.

I slept in the desert at 200 km from any civilization and returned to the tarmac the next day.

During this time, I kind of remembered that there is another way into Senegal, involving a detour via the Kiffa to Kayes piste into Mali,  then just 90 km to Senegal.
Seeing that I had so much time on my hands the decision was made. I  would make a dash back to the capital, get an easy to obtain Mali visa and get to the finish line, being the Gambia.

My main problem was now the temperature, on the way to Kiffa the meter went up to 40 celcius and the next days topped that with ease. Never before have I've been so hot in Africa, seeing that this was only late februari.

Checking out of Mauritania wasn't easy, never found any customs on the route so just went to the police, where they made me write a complete statement in french,  in which I declared to do this route on my own responsibility.
Although sandy and technical,  the piste posed no problems for my capable landy, the heat being the only enemy. I tried camping but had to give up because of the searing heat,  and check into an air-conditioned room in Kayes.
Next day I went to customs in Kayes, where they couldn't give me a passavant, but where  I was so lucky to meet the grand chef du brigade,  who just returned from a visit to Belgium. He quickly came up with the solution, he would phone the border customs, tell them I was on my way without any passavant, and to let me through. At the border, I drove up to the barrier,  said to the cross faced officer 'you better make a call to your boss'. It was so funny to see the look on his face change during the phone conversation. Before the phone was down, the barrier was opened, and I was crossing the bridge to Senegal.
Once there I easily obtained the passavant for Senegal for the correct price of 4 euro. Succes!

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