Thursday, 12 April 2012

9th - Crossing the Mali border

We arrived at the border crossing only to be challenged by confusing processes and hidden customs offices positioned in the depths of the local village.

Thr real challenge came at the Mali border where over 600 huge trucks queued up to pass into the country. Desperate to try and bypass them I walked over 1 km in high winds and dense dust with temperatures approaching 50 deg C. to find a way through. It transpired that we could drive off piste to the Mali customs and police. By way of brief explanation, there was more bureaucracy with the cars than with us because of the active illegal trade in importing cars for sale and bypassing taxes.

2 & 1/2 hours later we were through, much quicker than we had planned. The rest of the day was taken up driving through arid land with flat light - vegetation was sparce and almost dead. The other significant challenge was the appauling conditions of the roads. The frequency and size of potholes made us appreciate the inadvertent preparation we received driving in the Sahara.

We arrived in Kayes, alleged to be the hottest town in Africa, partly owing to the fact that it is inland and surrounded by iron ore in the surrounding hills. The air temperature had not dropped much below 50 deg C even by sunset.

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