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  #1  
Old 27 Jan 2006
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Noudhibou to Timboucto, the options

We are planning our route trough Mauritania, we will be heading for Timboucto (and then further south..). Unfortunatly we will be travelling in August, which seems to be a limiting factor.
Any advises on following routes?

Plan A:

- Noudhibou to Choum/Atar via the train piste. (3days according to Chriss book)
- 1day rest in or round Atar
- Atar to Tidjiki piste (4days)
- We will not be taking the piste to Nema, as it seems to be a bit out of our league. Instead we would like to take the road from Tidjiki to Kifka via the route passing El Ghadiya and Boumbeit. Has anybody travelled this road? Or is it more advisable to take the "main" road back to Sangrafa and then on to Kifka?

Plan B: Take the beach route onto Nouakchott and then take sealed road to Kifka (is it sealed 100% already?).

The first sounds more appealing ofcourse, but I'm in doubt if it is feasible during August.

Another question: Any news on the border past Bassikounou into Mali? Is it safe/hard/... ? How long should we account for the route from Kifka to the Mali border (and then onto Timbouctou)?

Would appreciate some input.

Thanks!

Fred
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  #2  
Old 29 Jan 2006
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We are now in Timbuktu via your first suggested route. If you are in 2WD Atar to Tidjika in particular may be difficult even in January - dont know about August.

The border crossing into Mali via Bassikounou is difficult to find though the driving is OK. No obvious piste in the later stages and vicious trees and bushes will attack you. We had waypoints but they weere not the whole answer. We did not reach the border in one day from Nema. If you do go that way border formalities are done in Lere with no problems. From Lere to Timbuktu the piste is flattish and clear and should not be a problem.
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  #3  
Old 30 Jan 2006
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Hi Fred

If you are travelling in August then its the middle of the rainy season, a lot of pistes in southern RIM and Mali are impassable, mud etc.
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  #4  
Old 1 Feb 2006
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I'll be making the decision on what route to take on the spot(depends on how we can cope with the heat)...

Mali in the mud: yeah... but we have no option, on the major roads it should be do-able I presume.

Still looking for some waypoints for the Bassikounou border though..
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  #5  
Old 3 Feb 2006
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The road from Ayoun to Nioro is sealed, on the road further to Bamako there are 120km which are difficult but passable, the rest is easy. Believe me, any of the other routes are really difficult in the rainy season, I've seen 4X4's with good drivers taking 3 days to so 200km.
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  #6  
Old 10 Feb 2006
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Hi, we just completed your first route in reverse (well, approximately).

2 days (including some leisurely camping) was easily adequate for the train piste. Rough but fast.

We took 3 relaxed days to do Atar to Tidjika. It was challenging and fun, but no digging or recovery was required in a 110. I think Kiffa/Tidjika took 2 days.

If you're travelling in a 2CV (?) some rigid plates/bridgers might be handy for the sand/bigger rocks - otherwise expect to move VERY slowly in some areas. There were some surprisingly big 'sump killers' and obviously a lot of sand. Mostly you can drive between the dunes though.

My guess is an experienced driver would be brave but not at all mad to try it in a good desert 2WD.

The route d'espoir is sealed all the way to Nema. All you have to do is dodge the donkeys.

Nema to Timbouctou - we tried this two different ways, both slow. The Northern 'smugglers' route was slightly easier and faster (and judging from the water channels, better for when the rain comes), but we had the benefit of an Arabic speaker for routefinding.

Rainy season could make things very interesting South of the border, but I can't see water being a problem North of Kiffa.

Hope that helps

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  #7  
Old 10 Feb 2006
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Thanks for the info Richard & Kevin!

Do you have any gps track/waypoints of the route you described? Would be useful!

We're travelling in a Toyo Landcruiser, the 2cv stays at home for this trip ;-)
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  #8  
Old 10 Feb 2006
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Please tell me about the northern smugglers route fron Nema to Timbouctou. Does it go more or less in a straight line to Timbouctou? Do you pass north or south of Lac Faguibine?
Thanks in advance.
Gerbert
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  #9  
Old 10 Feb 2006
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Sorry Fred/Gerbert my GPS and maps are in Spain, along with the waypoints we took enroute. I'll have these back in May if that's any use?

Apart from Tidjika/Atar we simply used maps and asked along the way, which worked out fine. The Russian 200k maps were quite useful for extracting coordinates for villages/towns but not so useful for following pistes.

Googling should find you Tidjika/Atar waypoints - try the French sites - although they may confuse as much as illuminate! Tidjika/Kiffa was straightforward to navigate for the most part, starting from the tar road out of town.

Without maps to hand, my memories of the smuggler's route are vague as we followed another car for this stretch. If I remember right, it 'sort of' follows the most Northern piste marked on the 1M maps. We joined it at Goundam after asking locals. It's reasonably well-used, but it's fair to warn this area has reportedly had some problems (kidnapping?) in recent years, although we found the people to be both friendly and hospitable.

Heading North, entry formalities were carried out in Nema. The piste is worth a look as it's probably the quickest route - at least outside the rains.

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  #10  
Old 11 Feb 2006
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If you have waypoints of the smugglersroute between Nema and Goundam please send them to me. May is fine, as I'm heading to Mauritania this autumn. Thanks a lot.
Gerbert
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  #11  
Old 15 Feb 2006
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I have notes and way pionts for the run to Timbuctou via Nema bassikounou and doing immigration and customs in Tombuctou.
Cheers
Stanley
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  #12  
Old 15 Feb 2006
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hi, id also be very intrested in those waypoints and route descriptions, even in May!

how long did it take from Nema to Timbuktu? Were there really no major stresses with entry visas etc??
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