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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 22 Jan 2006
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To and from Timbuktu

I am looking for any additional info on the pistes Douentza - Timbuktu via ferry at Korioume (Chris Scott's B3) and Timbuktu - Konna via ferries at Niafounke and Sarafere. Anything on the current general conditions of the pistes, on the suggested and minimum duration to do them, and on the ferries themselves is greatly appreciated.

I am also looking for any current info on the security situation on the piste Gao - Timbuktu (Chris Scott's B2).

BRgds,
Jorge Serpa
Ndjamena, Chad
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  #2  
Old 23 Jan 2006
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Jorge,

The track between Konna and Nianfounke is only possible during dry season. I once got severely stuck there in mud in may. The track between Douentza and Kouriome is easy, also in 2WD. Ferry almost every hour. Gao-Timbouctou I do not know. Quite sandy I've heard.

Gerbert
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  #3  
Old 27 Jan 2006
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Hi!

We have made Douentza-Timbouctou and opposite recently. The road is improved, hard, distance is about 200km and takes ~4 hours. Ferry boat costs (LR) 7.ooo CFA one-way. From ferry to Timbouctou road is asphalt(!) Ferry operates from dawn to dusk (rather 8.00-18.00) gathering first as much vehicles and passangers as possible.

Danek
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  #4  
Old 27 Jan 2006
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one thing more ...

originally we planned to head Sarafere & Niafounke from Mopti to Timbouctou. In Konna, after turn towards Korientze we were convinced by locals not to take this road as it is not passable due to high water levels. We passed Douentza-Timbouctou route instead on 15/12/2005.

Danek
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  #5  
Old 28 Jan 2006
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I managed the route from Niafunke to Konna on 24th Dec (just over a month ago). It is a gem but difficult to follow; just narrow winding cart tracks between lakes and small villages.

I was lucky after crossing by ferry from Niafunke to eventually meet up with a local man on a motorbike who was going in the direction on Konna. He was able to guide me across the first half of the route and find me a guide for the second. The route included four short ferry crossings undertaken of barks (ferries large enough for a couple of cars propelled by punting).

The tracks between the lakes are ill defined, getting washed over in the wet season. There were hardly any signs that vehicles use the route and I saw none, apart from two motor bikes, between Niafunke and Konna. At the time I travelled the tracks between the lakes were dry except in one spot where it was necessary to ford standing water. This was knee deep and about 50 meters across with a fairly soft bottom. My guide did not know this water was there until we reached it and he had asked around to check on conditions before we set off. He described this standing water as 'new water'. I get the impression that the route varies depending on water levels and, maybe, irrigation patterns.

I would not have set off on this route had I known about the need to drive across a shallow lake but the experience was exciting; front, rear and central diffs engaged, a good run up, and accelerator to the floor, great plumes of water spouting over the car and even managed to get a fair amount of splashing on the under side of the bonnet. It was touch and go. Getting stuck at this point would have been easy and because there were no other vehicles around recovery would have been a hassle.

When starting this route from the Niafunke end it is easy to go wrong as soon as the ferry is left. There is a great big new piste being made which heads south after the ferry crossing. I was told not to take this by the ferry driver but couldn't resist it or find the tiny little track I should have been on. Currently this piste comes to an abrupt stop after about 20 Km at a village next to an impassable lake. I had to backtrack and then ask around for the directions. The track needed was pointed out to me; indistinct and difficult to believe it went anywhere.

I try as much as I can not to use guides but this route is difficult without as it winds about all over the place and changes depending on how much water is around.

I have the way point for the turn off from tarmac to Konna for anyone thinking of doing the route in south/north direction.

If you have plenty of time, are going in the dry season and can find a guide I would recommend this route because it is picturesque.

Regards Tony


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  #6  
Old 29 Jan 2006
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Woww !

It sounds impressive! Congratulations !

Danek
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  #7  
Old 29 Jan 2006
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Thx to you all. Most helpful. Tonyabc, it sounds like you had a great passage! Now I just wonder if there is any current info on the security situation on the Gao / Timbuktu strech.

Jorge Serpa
Ndjamena, Chad
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  #8  
Old 16 Feb 2006
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Danek.... re: Ferry boat costs (LR) 7.ooo CFA one-way

you got 'done'! (I regret to say!)
3000 CFA RETURN !!! 4 weeks ago
Security: use common sense and be aware of your surroundings- keep a low profile and camp well out of sight. If worried - take turns sleeping-

[This message has been edited by bert333 (edited 16 February 2006).]
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  #9  
Old 17 Feb 2006
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Did Douentza - Timbuktu piste 2 weeks ago.
The piste is very easy to follow, altough very corrugated. There are tracks on the left and the right side al the way , but they may be sandy, and/or the ruts are so deep that you get bellied out if your not fast enough. It's a choice between to evils.
The ferry price was 12000 CFA (devided among the vehicles), but on the way back we had to pay 20000 CFA.
Overall, IMHO, neither the piste or the town of Timbuktu did impress me.
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  #10  
Old 1 Mar 2006
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hallo
two weecks ago i meet some french in toumbouctou they came from gao and said its safe and not to difficult ( brand new toyotas)
i come from mauretanien via Nara-Nampala-Lere-Niafounke-Goundam to Toumbouctou ist safe and very easy. you can even go from Lere- Nampala to Segou
greetings immanuel
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  #11  
Old 2 Mar 2006
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Thanx very much to all of you for your postings on this.

Jorge
Ndjamena, Chad
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  #12  
Old 2 Mar 2006
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Hi,
"I come from mauretanien via Nara-Nampala-Lere-Niafounke-Goundam to Toumbouctou ist safe and very easy."
Can you tell me how much time for this trip ?
Thanks
RR.
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  #13  
Old 19 Mar 2006
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hello,
i made the piste douentza - tombouctu, and opposite recently, it was 3 weeks ago;
i made it with the group of 4 people in the small 2wd car - ford fiesta;
it's around 200 km, and it takes 10 hours one way;
price of the ferry - 7000 CFA - when there's only one car to take,
5000 CFA - two cars;
3000 CFA - three cars;
2500 CFA - four cars;
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  #14  
Old 24 Mar 2006
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Ref Timboctou - Gao. I did this route a few years back and the security situation has changed little. There is a risk of banditry but it is remote.

If you leave at dawn 6:00am you will make Gao by nightfall therefore avoiding having to spend the night in "bandit territory". Sahara Passion used to have a lodge in both towns so you could ask them to look out for you.

Its a hard days drive and the piste is exhausting for the last third into Gao - soft rutted and deep sandy tracks.

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  #15  
Old 24 Mar 2006
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CTC and others, thanks so much for the info.

Jorge Serpa
Ndjamena, Chad
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