Chasser, The latest info I have is now more than a year old. In December 2001, I travelled by 4WD 'taxi' from Timbuctu to most of the way to Gao. The vehicle left from the market near the Cafe du Nord in Timbuctu. The guy drove like a maniac through the night, but I survived. I abandoned the vehicle when we stopped for 6 hours to 'help' a pal of the driver who had broken down. It became very difficult to estimate when we would get going again, so did the last 70km by a pirogue with a small outboard engine, -and that was much more relaxing than the 4WD.
It was not indicated to me that the route was dangerous if I travelled in the taxi, but I may not have been as comfortable about the trip if I had been in my own 4WD, as I know at the time bandits had atacked and robbed vehicles at the time. (In particluar a 4WD driver was killed shortly after leaving the ferry when leaving Timbuktu-Mopti in Novemver 2001)
After a side trip to Hombori and back, I travelled by truck (Dec.2001) over the border into Niger. I think the truck leaves only once a week (perhaps twice), from the bus station. I was offered the opportunity to pay extra for a seat in the cab, -and it was money well spent. The people in the back had to stand up all the way(or sit on their luggage), while I could at least sit and enjoy the view from the front. We stopped in a town for meal break, slept in a village on the floor of the bar (I think) for a few hours in the middle of the night, and than crossed the border in the early dawn. I had a Niger visa with me (organised in Europe) so had no problems there. We transferred from the truck, in a town in Niger (I haven't got the name with me now), to a Toyota van for the last 200km to Niamey. (Five of us to a row of seats!). Another memorable sector in my West African travels. Accomodation in Niamey was a small problem, as the Catholic Mission was full and unhelpful, and eventually stayed in the Village Chinois. (near the big Sports Stadium approx. 4km from the centre -all the taxi drivers know it) I heard from others that it was not a particularly safe place but had no problems myself over the total of 7-8 nights that I was there.
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