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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 12 Jul 2007
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Route options - Europe - Mali - Alg???

The bread knife and I are considering our options for Mali and back at the end of the year. The main reason for asking is we'd like to use an alternative home path to the outward bound trip, and would like to hear some knowledgable opinions on the idea. Obviously the atlantic route via morocco will make up one leg, but it doesn't really make too much difference to us whether its the outward or the return leg.
So the question is, what are your thoughts on our options for alternatives to or from europe / mali (i.e. info on current banditry, guide and border situations), and in which direction N/S?

We're reasonably well travelled in africa, but don't want to take any serious risks or blaze a trail. We'll be in our 110 csw, and are currently unaccompanied though would be happy to travel in a group if this is advisable for certain sections and there are other people with similar ideas about. Any other thoughts welcome.

Cheers
James.

Last edited by ManxScamp; 12 Jul 2007 at 22:36. Reason: spelling... doh...
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  #2  
Old 12 Jul 2007
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I would go down via Alg to either Mali or Niger (right now Mali looks less bad) and leave the coming back for Morocco. That way you have the easy bit for the return and if you have the energy/time can string it out in Mori or Maroc without risks.

Ch
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  #3  
Old 13 Jul 2007
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Mauritania - Mali - Algeria

hi - if you understand french or german read this

Wüstenschiff :: Thema anzeigen - Marokko/Mauretanien/Mali/Algerien/Tunesien - Track von 2006

and if not, just look at the pictures and load down the track and waypoints
;-))

Ursula

>>> I would not pass through Nord Niger in these days!!!

Last edited by ursula; 13 Jul 2007 at 10:32.
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  #4  
Old 13 Jul 2007
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That's a great link Ursula. Fabulous pics. Got me wondering if I can extend my next trip to the area
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  #5  
Old 13 Jul 2007
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Smile thanks for the replies guys...

Chris I'm liking your idea of saving the easier leg for the way home...

...Ursula I can fully agree with the other post, very nice pages for your trip last year, a really nice set of photos. My French isn't as good as it should be, but if I understood correctly you were 5 people and a Dog (very very cool by the way, taking the dog! I love it!) in two toyotas, taking 8 weeks. I didn't have time to analyse your waypoints yet, how long did you spent in Algeria?

I'm assuming you had no offical or unofficial trouble at the Mali / Algeria border (and also then also into Tunisia?), and you had a very good guide with you the whole time in Algeria? How did you find him, was it a recommendation or just luck?

We very much liked the look of your route and may try something similar in reverse, although I'm not sure we will be able to stretch to 8 weeks away. Do you think we might be able to trim it down a bit without compromising it too much? We probably wouldn't stop in Morocco as we morocc'd out last year... Also thinking it would be better to get another 4wd along to keep the stress down, maybe a dog too!? I'd better start looking...

Any other info about the situation at the Algerian borders with Mali and Tunisia very much welcome...

Many many thanks again... inspirational stuff...

James.
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  #6  
Old 14 Jul 2007
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I dont believe this was Ursula's trip, she was just giving a link. Nice pics but - barging in with my interpretation of their trip - it would be even nicer not in Aug when it's 45C+ by day and 30 by night, sandstorming in the desert and monsooning further south. You will never see the crisp blue desert skies of Nov but you will see more spiders and snakes and probably get ill..

The longer you spend and the further you roam in Alg the better - ask anyone. We did their Algeria stage from Tam eastwards last December (Tagrera, Tarabine, Tadant, Tiririne, Admer, Djanet). It's a regular tourist trail lots to see around the Tagrera: arches, spires like the cover of Desert Travels (did Tarabine in '88 too), unusual engravings, tombs, dunes - and toilet paper alas. Did part of it again in Feb but we then left the tracks cut across to Erg Killian for the long way to Djanet: wide open trackless mostly easy desert driving. Very nice indeed.

I find Mali comparatively dull, expensive and a bit risky; as you saw they met some tooled-up guys around Kidal-Tin Zawa; normally an area one would have avoided last year but clearly they managed.

IMO there no real need to analyse waypoints, just look at a good map.
The agency I use - Tanezrouft - have good contacts in Mali and could escort you to the Niger river if you feel insecure or are 1 car. Speaking French will greatly improve your travels anywhere here. You could even go from Bordj Moktar direct SW to Timbuktu - there is a regular piste but its not on any maps.

Ask anyone here for Alg guide recoms. Some are clueless city boys (see Lois on the Loose - we used him last Oct; fine on the highway) in which case you are better off getting to grips with nav or routes in my book. Others want to stick to their tramlines like the guys we had in Dec who were freaked out about going anywhere new; and a few know it all and are up for exploration.
In Feb we were lucky enough to have a nice pair (one nomad, one cityboy) who sat back and let me drag our troupe cross-country wherever I wanted or they suggested. They never complained unlike some guides I have known.

I think in 6 weeks UK to UK is doable but it wont be much fun. Why not just have 3 quality weeks in Alg with no border stress. Another car for this or the longer route is a good idea; to save guide costs if nothing else.

Any other info about the situation at the Algerian borders with Mali and Tunisia very much welcome...

Borders will be slow but no drama as long as all your paperwork is in order. Go via Algiers - no hustlers like Tunis lately and one less border to deal with.
Sahara Overland ~ the book and online resource
Sahara Overland ~ the book and online resource
Or see recent S-Files: Sahara Overland ~ the book and online resource like Quick one to...


Ch

Last edited by Chris Scott; 14 Jul 2007 at 11:45.
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  #7  
Old 14 Jul 2007
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Thumbs up beautyful South of Algeria

I agree with Chris in all points! Why not stay in Algeria? Look at the pictures from my trip in February/March with an excellant guide, a local from the Ahnet region
Algerien 2007 - a photoset on Flickr

the Mauri-Mali-Alg Link was an expedition of somebody I know. I can ask him about the guide for the border Tin Zaouaten if you like, he was from Tamanrasset thats for sure. But the agency "Tanezrouft" has good guides too, you just have to tell them clearly where you like to go and what you like to see!

Have a good trip -

Ursula
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  #8  
Old 14 Jul 2007
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Great pictures - and all on one simple visa! You won't see anything like that for the same miles in Mali or Mori.

Ch
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  #9  
Old 14 Jul 2007
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The hard part is squaring logistics with desire.

I'm just one guy on a bike. I've got a lot of touring experience over decades and I've done about half a dozen trips around north and west africa so I'm kind of used to the requirements and the privations.
At the moment I can just set off and do maroc / mori / mali then ship back from the gambia without having to consider guides. In my situation the guide requirement for algeria is just about impossible to resolve unless I go in a party and we share the costs.
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  #10  
Old 15 Jul 2007
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Loop in Sahara

Hi ,

We have done a loop in Feb 07 including Algeria,Niger, Mali, Mori,and back ;
Just a few tips about it :
- No problem at border posts even in Taleb Larbi : it's normally long especialy if all papers all well prepared by your guide . It was our case and I recommend too Tanezrouft Voyages .
- It's better now to not try to go in Air but things may change ...
- About Mali , it was the fist time for us and I found it very baeutiful ( but it's not really Sahara): very nice people and nice mood in African villages .
- I agree with Chris about Algeria : there are a lot of loops in this country , especially if it's the 1st time in this country , but I know that travelling in different countries in one trip is very interesting .

Have a nice trip .

RR.
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  #11  
Old 15 Jul 2007
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Wink Whoops...

Sorry, musty have been a bit tired after work on friday and got the wrong end of the stick... should have guessed from the number plates. Anyway, still a great link and nice photos, thanks again Ursula. Thanks to the rest of you as well for your posts, good to hear some different perspectives.

Don't worry Chris, I've had a copy of your book for many years, it has served me well, I'm not afraid of a good map and I wasn't about to go in mid summer That did strike me as a bit hardcore! I just find way points interesting when sat at home, rather than out on the trail (maybe analyse was the wrong word, 'skeet' is more like it). From trips down to Ghana I know roughly how long the Moroc/RIM section would take us, I was just trying to get a feel for Alg as I have no idea about that area.
I agree entirely with what you are saying re. our time scale. Mali is on her shopping list for more than just desert, and I've just got to figure out a way to bend the space time thingy... I'll just have to play the bad old pragmatist for a while and see what happens.
Anyway, thanks again, much to think about, times'a'ticking...

James
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  #12  
Old 1 Aug 2007
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an interesting thread.

I'm toying with the idea of driving to the Festival au Desert (Jan 08). Just a whimsical notion right now, but I could free up a couple of months over Xmas/NY so would probably like to have a go.

I'm not much of a desert traveller but I've done a few short/single-handed ocean trips/races on my boat so I'm comfortable with navigation and preparation (expense!!!). But the more I look into this the more I feel 400 miles out at sea is *far* safer than 400 miles in the desert.

I'd really love the idea of music in the desert but the FauD is really just a catalyst/focus for a trip.

Maroc RIM Mali?
route back?

PS reading "Sahara Overland". Fantastic effort Chris, compulsive reading


D

Last edited by twoFlowers; 1 Aug 2007 at 19:54.
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  #13  
Old 3 Aug 2007
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Algeria end of year.

Hi All,
Just to put the question out there, I'd like to go to Algeria north to south starting from Algiers mid October. Anybody interested to team up? I'm one bloke on a bike, with flexible schedule. See: Travelers seeking travelers for more info.
Cheers,
Cam J.
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