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Old 29 Jan 2008
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Thank you. Sounds as a nice trip. How is camping Dassine? And what about gite Saharien?
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Old 29 Jan 2008
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Camping Dassine has defintely seen better days. Everyone who stayed there eneded up in the bangalos close to the gate. All the overlanders I saw in Algeria (only 3 cars) were staying there. The guys werea bit lazy to make hot water for the showers, but if you go round the back of the shower block you can find the room with the switches for the electrical water heater.

We wanted to stay at the Gitte and emailed Claudia about it before we left. Its a lovely place and is looking even nicer now. She said we could only stay there if we used her services for guides and invites. Since we had already made a plan for that we couldn't revert to her. But when we got to Tam we did call in at the Gitte to see if she could change her mind - there was no one there apart from the gard at the gate. We tried phoning their number (in Tam I think) but there was no answer. So we went back to Dassine.
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Old 30 Jan 2008
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Our Algerian guide recommended we did Bordj Mokhta to Tessalit with a guide, the recommended guide was asking for EUR 500 for 2 days, which we thought was way too much, so we did it without a guide. used our map, GPS for orientation (unfortunately we had no way-points), and asked the very few people we meet along the way if we were on the right piste.

31/12/07 arrived Bordj Mokhta (N21°20.070’ E000°57.265’) from Tam, paper work is very slow but hassle free, were able to fill up our tanks (petrol) and only 20L each in jerry cans without a letter from the Mayor’s office. With permission from the Army officer, we camped on the football field/car park in front of the Army barracks.

01/01/08 left Bordj Mokhta at 8am, the Army, Gendarmerie, and Customs all told us it was save and that there is a main piste which should be easy to see, but it was not that obvious for first timers like us, we did get lost a few times in the beginning. There is actually a sign post on the main piste at co-ordinate (N21° 57. 725’ E001° 15. 502’), straight on goes to Timiaouine (a village in Algeria) and to the right to Tessalit / Gao (Mali), I can not say exactly how many km the sign post is from Bordj Mokhta since we got lost in the beginning, but it should be around 35Km, from there on we never got lost again.

We got to Tessalit (N20°12.186’ E001°00.543’) around 2pm, Customs to the right and Police on the hill top to the left, the customs requested no bride, just had to pay CFA 10,000 per car for the laissez-passer. The police requested for a bribe of CFA 30,000. we ended up given them CFA 6,000 and a bottle of perfum, the atmosphere was generally very friendly, even eat with the Police. Before all our paper work was completed it was almost 5pm, since this region is meant to be within the Tuareg triangle, and was not sure what lay ahead in terms of a safe camping spot. We had made good friends with the Customs and Police, both allowed us to park and camp in front of their building, we ended up sleeping inside an empty room in the customs building, after spending all night drinking tea, playing guitar, and chatting with the Customs officers. The customs officer had even refused some local travellers (traders) in their pickup jeep to continue their journey to Gao in the night, so they too joined us in drinking tea.

02/01/08 The next morning after turning down several offers for a guide to Gao, we hit the road at 8am and got to Gao at about 10:00pm, In Gao we camped at hotel Tizi Mizi (N16°15.782’ E000°01.920’). The Police in Tessalit had told us we’ll need to register ourselves with the Police in Gao, the Police officer in Gao turned out to be an a** hole, demanding CFA 2,000 per person and CFA 3,000 per car before stamping and returning our passports, I never knew we had to pay for the cars as well. Later on in the day, after collecting all that bribe, he even had the audacity to try and force a petrol attendant to fill up his motorcycle tank at my expense, I told him off politely.

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Old 30 Jan 2008
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Interesting special feature on Kidal on the BBC News (Africa) web page:

BBC NEWS | Africa | Malian town under shadow of rebellion

There's something about drugs being transported across the Sahara (5 or 6 paragraphs from the end) which caught my eye. Used to be cigs north and fuel south. But 750 kg of cocaine ups the stakes a bit.....

Last edited by Richard Washington; 30 Jan 2008 at 15:44.
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Old 30 Jan 2008
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The coke route north

I was told by someone I met in Western Sahara (who seemed extremely well informed on this subject) that the main supply route to Europe from South America was via Guinea Bissau. Certainly the Moroccan's were showing considerable interest on the Mauri border when we crossed with trained dogs put in all trucks and a lot of the poor sods being made to unload every last box etc off their trucks. So I guess it's hardly suprising that the smugglers are taking advantage of the unrest combined with the porous borders to ship via this route. The same source told me that the Senegal Mauri route had been effectively closed down. Another reason to be very careful travelling in this area.

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