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Old 4 Jan 2009
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Kiffa to Kayes Bamako

Hello everybody!
Been reading this great forum for some time now and have got help from here in the past.
Now all the searches have come out empty.

We are 2 fully loaded heavy bikes (1200 GS) taking part of Budapest Bamako 2009.
Can anybody give some information if Kiffa to Kayes and Manantali is doable
with these.
We have some experience in off road riding, but thats mostly on rocks, dirt and some mud.

Also GPS waypoints or tracks would be greatly helpful

Thanks in advance

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Old 4 Jan 2009
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Hi Janek,
We wanted to go that way (ish) this time last year, but group dynamics and a dying gearbox denied us. What i do know.....it is possible (just) to drive Kifa - Kayes - Kita in a 2wd ford transit or a scoda felicia estate!! Not easy, but proven as possible!!
Once we got our gearbox sorted, we had a bit of a look at the route from Kita to Bafoulabe....pics here:

Flickr Photo Download: IMG_2 (568)

Flickr Photo Download: IMG_2 (560)

Flickr Photo Download: IMG_2 (563)

And a video here:

YouTube - Niva Say Never.....off road in Mali

The lighter you travel, the better. I doubt it would be a walk in the park, but it should be very doable on a bike

All the best
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Old 6 Jan 2009
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I did the first 50km or so of the route south from Kiffa in january last year. I was solo on a Tenere and turned back after falling off several times. Being on my own I was worried about damaging myself or the bike and not knowing the state of the road further south I swallowed my pride (and some sand) and returned to Kiffa and thence Ayoun, Nioro etc. In the 3 hours or so I didn't see another vehicle although there were plenty of tracks. The first 50kms is gravel but with stretches of rutted sand. I had only passed my test 2 months previously and had never ridden on sand before so I'm sure(if the road doesn't deteriorate as it goes south) that you will be fine.It's a very pretty route and if I pass that way again I will certainly have another go.
Have a good time,
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Old 6 Jan 2009
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Thanks for answers.
Then we'll take it. Gravel and stretches of sand is not awful. I was afraid that if it's deep soft sand for 100-200 km then its a problem.

Thanks Janek
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Old 11 Jan 2009
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Hi Zopi,
I did that track about one year ago and it is do-able, solo with a KLR 650. However, it took me 4 days. The first 50kms (as mentioned) is a nice, fun dirt road and I found myself having to back off the speed as there are always surprises, like washed out bridge & animals on the track, around the next corner. This is the easy part & great fun.
Slowly the road deteriorates into a sandy single track then into multiple tracks leading in different directions. You are deep inside farmland by this time. At one point I was crossing fields on a compass bearing, remember that Kayes is more or less due south of Kiffa. Beware of fencing wire and covered logs and holes covered by the long grass. Take your time if you have to do this.
I never got out of first gear for several hours. The sandy track will not be fun on your big bikes. You will fall, as I did, many times as you must keep some speed to keep upright on the sand but you are following a sometimes twisty-turning track. As you get close to Kayes there is a formed track on good soil, so your speed picks up and it becomes enjoyable again.
Camp anywhere out of sight. Larger villages have proper wells, but use a filter or whatever purification system you have. As there is no real road, there is no traffic so make sure your bike is in good condition as there are no workshops or anything. There are donkey carts trotting up and down from time to time.
I found my way by staying on a southern heading and regularily asking directions at villages along the way. The people I met along the way were absolutely marvelous. Beautiful and unspoilt & very likely this was the best route I've done by bike.
Don't forget to do your border formalities at Kiffa & then again in Kayes. There is no border post.
But maybe you'll find another easier way to do it...
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Old 12 Jan 2009
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Kiffa to Kayes

Did the piste about a month ago, we did it in dry season and there was a guy on a bike just in front of us, no problems. During wet season I think the Mali part will be a problem though. I forgot the name of the first town in Mali but you can do immigration there but customs have to be done in Kayes.
Jean Visser

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Old 7 Nov 2009
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great piste

Tere Janek!

I would highly recommend that track - we rode it couple of days ago on two 650 bikes and it was entirely amazing display of desert converting into sahel, authentic village life, fantastic people, etc.

Take your time, bring a compass and it is an absolute joy on a bike with slightly lower tyre pressures. Might be some work on bigger bikes but should be doable. The first 50km is a bit rough track and some village passes are very sandy, the best part is the very lightly used 100km in the middle.

It took us two and a half days with two punctures, heavy duty tubes are recommended for the thorny vegetation. We used up 20l petrol per bike.
London to Bamako, Oct-Nov 2009, KTM 640 Adventure + DR650SE
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Old 24 Nov 2009
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Kayes area

I came the other direction, from Bamako in July. Here's my route and the notes from my michelin map: Bamako, Kita, Toukoto, Ouallia, Bafoulabe, Diamou, Kayes, Dag Dag, Aourou, west to Baediam (Mauritania), Selibabi

I know this is the opposite direction as you are planning, but it might help anyway. I also need to get it all written down before I forget it. I didn't go through Manantali as you are planning, but the route I took along the train tracks was a highlight of west africa for me.

Bamako to Kita: very good asphalt
Kita to Toukoto: very good dirt
in Toukoto, the good dirt turns north; to continue towards Kayes, find the dirt track that goes west.
Toukoto to Bafoulabe: dirt track that roughly follows the train tracks, sometimes difficult to follow, wash outs, would be difficult in heavy rainy season. I got lost many times and locals showed the way. Sorry, no GPS points.
just before Bafoulabe (going west), you can stay on the north side of the tracks and reach a car ferry or cross to the south side, follow the tracks, then ride the tracks across the river on the train bridge that goes into Mahina.
Bafoulabe to Kayes: dirt road, some rough spots, some construction.
Kayes to Dag Dag: the bridge north out of Kayes was under construction, so everyone was crossing by sailboats big enough for your big BMW. Finding the road north to Dag Dag was a challenge, roads were muddy and would be very difficult after heavy rains. A few stream crossings.
Dag Dag to Aourou: dirt road improves (less muddy).
Aourou to Baediam: can get your passport stamped out of Mali here, but the customs office is at the border town with Mauritania (can't remember the name). Asking directions from every person I passed was the only way I could find Baediam (and the customs shack, which was in a small border town). Two river crossings (50-80 feet wide, 2-2.5 feet deep at deepest point). Lots of roadwork on the Mauritanian side. Police (they let me camp behind the police office) and customs in Selibabi.

Enjoy the planning and good luck with your trip-
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