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

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  #1  
Old 22 Jan 2008
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Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal blog

I'm currently on the road in Senegal and am updating my blog as I go. I hope it is of use to many of you who are considering such a trip, especially the many scams and outright corruption. And NO, the Mauri border is not closed...

There and Back Again

Also extremely useful is Dan and Linz blog on the same areas, plus further south which is at Going Somewhere

Tim
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 23 Jan 2008 at 12:57.
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Old 22 Jan 2008
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Tim, thanks very much for that. Planning to go down 4/5 weeks time. Enjoy the remainder of the trip.

Mike
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Old 23 Jan 2008
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Hi Tim. Makes a good read...and brings back some memories! Martin (he with the sick Forward Control Land Rover) and I travelled into Senegal together together with two Dutch people Jaap and Inga at the end of November. In the space of about 30 mins on the way in and out of St Louis each of us in turn got pulled by 3 separate cops. In the first pull J & Inga got done for no fire extinguisher or warning triangle, Martin for not wearing a seat belt and me for not indicating when he pulled me over. I recognise the bas***d! Ironic that these items were the subject of a pull considering no 'petit taxi' in which I subsequently travelled had any of them. No window winders, instruments, interior trim, proper brakes, etc, etc either........

However it's only on the way and out of SL that any of us ever had any problems. All the other stops I had in the 6 weeks we were in Senegal were entirely straight and proper with no hint of a demand for Cadeau.

As a result of our experiences Martin and I with assistance from others drew up the following 'rules' for Saint Louis pulls:
a) when pulled over (indicate!) but don't pull fully off the road. Easier if, like me, you're in a truck but it is important to partially block the carriageway. People behind soon start hooting.
b) Don't hand your driving license or passport over. It is a very good idea to get a load of laminated colour photocopies of your license. The French word for the process is 'plastication' and loads of photocopy shops in NKT and SL (bit late then!) can do it for not much dosh.
c) if an original driving license is demanded, hand over an international drivers license before your 'proper' license. Senegal incidentally is one of the few countries that require an International DL though I was never actually asked for it.
d) The usual scam is a demand that you produce your papers at the Gendarmerie in SL for some alleged misdemeanour; the prospect of which is so ghastly that you are softened up for the 'but 20€ will sort it out now' way out. DON'T fall for this. Any solution which involves any money in Euros is a scam. If money is involved, pay in CFAs
e) Even if you speak it fluently, pretend not to speak French. We met some Italians who were fluent but who insisted that every word spoken they looked up in their dictionary. Result: Police soon got very pissed off and let them go.
f) If the above still doesn't work, explain (by now your French has suddenly improved) that you're hoping to meet up later that very day with Commissaire Yagué and no doubt he'll be most interested to hear of you're experiences. Commissaire Yagué is the head policeman for the whole western region of Senegal from Dakar right up to SL and a VERY important man so far as your average (corrupt) SL cop goes. I even have his mobile number but I'm saving that for when I need it!! Don't ask how I got hold of it....

Seriously, it is only in SL that anyone will have problems with the cops. In the rest of Senegal they were pleasant, friendly and totally honest. But if you follow the above you should reach Zedrabar with your Euros intact ready for a nice cold Gazelle.

Q
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Old 24 Jan 2008
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Martin told me about the seatbelt pull. I've since done that roadblock again coming from the south and they tried very hard to find something at fault... but failed. I like the idea of the dictionary translation and I now have a mobile phone entry for the Commissaire, even though the number is belongs to a musician I met!

Tim
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Old 24 Jan 2008
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Hi Tim,

Thank you for your contribution for the West Africa travellers. I've been to Morocco on three occasions and a trip further south is always boiling in my head...

My question: is all the way down to Dakar is doable on a road bike? I've read a lot about no mans land between Western Sahara and Mauritania, but I would like you to clarify if I can ride the Diama pista in my '99 CBR600?

Thank you and all the best to your trip.

Luís CaBRita
Portugal
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Old 24 Jan 2008
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I know that people have done the no mans land on all sorts of bikes. t's mainly rocky with a few sandy spots.

The Diama piste is sandy in some places and if you don't have at least a little experience it will take you longer than us (which was about 3 hours). The worst section is right at the start, once you get through that it becomes easier. There's a place you could stay (Keur Massene Lodge) about half way.

Tim
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Old 25 Jan 2008
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Hi Tim

I discover your blog right now, I going to spend time reading it.
I saw quickly you spent a night in Dar Raha guesthouse in Zagora like us.

Good luck

Eric
Two 400XR in Morocco
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Old 25 Jan 2008
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Hi Tim

I discover your blog right now, I going to spend time reading it.
I saw quickly you spent a night in Dar Raha guesthouse in Zagora like us.

Good luck

Eric
Two 400XR in Morocco
Hi Eric,
I booked the Dar Raha for Tim and myself. I got the idea from your Blog and then forgot where found it, so thanks for the recommendation. The original plan was to stay there for 2 nights as the Dakar rally bivouac was supposed to be in the area. As it turned out we used it for a 2 night stay and went exploring. Parking was a bit tight but otherwise a top place.

Steve
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Old 26 Jan 2008
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We spend also 2 nights, but the second was due to a clutch break down. We had our first s and red wine after 4 days in Morocco, it was time.
The first night we park the bikes in the lobby and the second in the workshop.

Tim thanks for your blog, when and how do you go back home ??

Eric
Two 400XR in Morocco
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Old 26 Jan 2008
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My wife flew to Dakar to join me and we are having a couple of weeks sun. She flies back on 2 Feb and I then start the long journey back again. I will take my time in Morocco of course and then visit friends in France, so it could be towards the end of Feb before I am home.

Tim
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Old 26 Jan 2008
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price of air ticket

Hi Tim, You know something about the price of flights from Dakar or Bamako back in Europe? What company have the low price?
Thx
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Old 10 Jun 2009
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I will be there in 2months! Thank you for sharing
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