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Old 13 Mar 2002
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train bamako to dakar with m/bike

Has anyone out there taken the Bamako-Dakar train with a motorbike? If you have, I would really appreciate any information on costs, hassles, customs formalities etc. of taking a bike on the train! My bike and myself have both had enough of shite roads in africa and would rather avoid more hassles by taking the train and avoiding the crap road!
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Old 16 Mar 2002
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I took the train a couple of times from Kayes to Bamako, but not with a bike. The last time I was on the same platform as a Swiss guy on a new Varadero or whateverthey are called. He had the idea of laying the bike flat onto four old tyres and strapping them down, it worked fine, no damage. I think he paid CFA28,000 but I can´t really remember. A car costs CFA70,000. This is from Kayes to Bamako.
In Bamako I suppose you´ll get hassle from various `Grand Chefs` and `Grand Experts`, one particular bastard to watch out for is a guy about 40 with a beard and a Marlboro cowboy hat. He tends to call the shots and try to pull cash off you. The bike will probably have to be lifted onto the platform, so I guess this will cost 5,000 or so. How they tie it down in Bamako I don´t know but the train is a very shaky ride so keep that in mind.
The road to Bafoulabe/Mahina is actually quite good and from the border to Dakar it is tarred all the way, most of it new. As far as I know the goods train in Mali goes about five times a week but the international one to Dakar once a week or so.
Personally I would think of driving to Mahina via Manantalis, putting it on the train there and taking it off in Kayes. The road to the border is about 85km and OK with as motorbike.
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Old 17 Mar 2002
hed hed is offline
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Hi there Frank,

I live about 70 k's south of Kayes and agree entirely with Kevin. His info is good and as much info as you are going to get. I agree with him though and would drive teh road, as it is quite beautiful. The road from Bamako to Kita is not so bad anymore as a large south african contingent is now at Manantali running teh dam over there. From theer you have 100 odd kilometres of very good road, almost liek tarred quality and then from Mahina you go to Bafoulabe (5 k's or so) there you take the ferry and cross the river (don't drive along teh river, that road is very difficult and very damaged right now) and teh you go up to Selinkegni or so. The route is scenic but just a sandy track (not difficult to ride at all). From theer you then drive back down towards Diamou, cross terh river again by briden, then 50 od kilos of shit but scenic road along the river to Kayes and tehn a very grand tarred road all teh way to Dakar, even from Kayes, I believe now.

Hope that helps.

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Old 18 Mar 2002
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I've done Kayes - Bamako 2 times (1996, 1999). The first time i was exhausted by the time i arraived in Kayes and the bike's suspension was down to 2 centimeters. So I descided to take the train to Bamako. It did take some hassle to get everything arranged and some more hassle to really get on the train (after 4 days waiting). As far as i remember it wasn't that expensive. All the bikes were a little damaged during the ride, but that happens on the road too.
Two years later I rode down from Kayes to Bafoulabe over a very bad, sometimes steep, rocky track with some difficult dry riverbed crossing. But taking it slow it wasn't that hard with a XT500 and it was one of the most scenic routes I ever rode in Africa. It toke us one day. In Bafoulabe we discovered the route descibed above (and is not on the michelin map) which got us in Bamako in another day.
If I had to choose I would rather take the hassle of riding it than going through all the trouble of getting on the train which is probably more hassle in Bamako than in Kayes.
The trainride itself on the other hand is some totally new Africa experience when used to riding a bike yourself.

Good Luck

Peter Kik
Zaandam, Holland
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Old 21 Mar 2002
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We drive Kayes - Diamou - Bafoulabé - Mahina - Manantalis - Kita - Bamako direct at the Bakoye river with four 4x4 cars. Beatiful and with a little experience no problems in the sec season.

Pictures you can see here:

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Old 22 Mar 2002
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I tried to take the train once (1986?) too but gave up with the arseache in Bamako.
I did the road and do not regret it - a classic african ride:

Chris S
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Old 31 Mar 2002
GWJ GWJ is offline
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Nothing to do with the origional thread, but Juerg sollbergers photo album of this route has a picture of a defender with chequerplate slide out tray in the back.
Does anyone know who makes these or where they're available from, as my trawling of the net has brought up zilch...


Cheers, Baldrick.
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Old 10 Apr 2002
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www.arc4x4.co.za do some amazing packing systems for landies. They don't have a UK ditributor but if you email Donald at the CT branch I am sure you can get a quote to ship it over here. The South African rand is a mess at the moment so the exchange rate of 16 rand to the pound makes everything seem cheap even with the shipping.

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