Hi there, just been to and come back from Ghana via Mauritania,Mali, B Faso with a Land Rover, the best route with a van is Nara through to Nema, We went south Ayoun to Nioro, the road is still a way from being finished and the piste parts are rough and slow. We came back Kayes to Kiffa and there is alot of soft sand piste between Kankossa and where you meet up with the main graded piste on the way north near Kouroudjel, which would give you some problems, though if you use a local guide (pick one up in Kankossa) you could do it with sand ladders! and there is some lovely scenery along the ouadi. There is a new Graded(corrogated)piste from Bamako to Kayes now which goes through Manantalis. Dont try and follow the Senegal River/railway/power line route up to Kayes from Bamako as its too rough for normal 2wd. Take it easy, Gipper.