Bamako, the city

Trip Start Sep 27, 2011
Trip End Sep 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
sleeping camel

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Friday, November 18, 2011

A week in Bamako so well rested.  A big sprawling city, the only high rise buildings being the Central Bank of West Africa and a few hotels.  It sprawls for miles to accommodate 1.8 million people.  Luckily though I am staying close to the center so able to walk there and the museum and markets etc.

Walking is not without pitfalls however.  Mainly dirt footpaths or broken concrete and they are filled with street vendors so you often need to walk on the road and then dodge the cars and small motorbikes.  And try and avoid being overcome by the fumes, and in 40 degree heat.  But all fun; even dealing with all the people that want to be your guide or to sell you something.

The Niger river flows through the city and the Sleeping Camel is on the south-side of the river. A bridge close by takes you directly to the city center.  Crossing the bridge you can see the fishermen at work below.  Not sure I would want to eat what they catch though as the water is pretty murky. Huge river, prob half a km or more wide.

Museum was well worth a visit as was the museum park.  A photography exhibition was the highlight of the museum.  Some great photos dealing with issues of Africa.

The guy on our trip that had the seizure is out of hospital and is off the trip.  They wont take him any further.  So what's he doing?  Flying to Nairobi, Kenya and travelling solo to South Africa. Believe it or not but I think he will make it.  He is game anyway and having done a fair bit of solo travel knows how to do it independently and what his capabilities are.

Have spent the week on and off getting visas.  First Burkino Faso, then Togo, then Nigeria.  I had to get a new Nigerian visa as its now likely that we wont enter Nigeria before the entry date on my first visa expires.  And was it a hassle getting a Nigerian visa here?  No.  A 24 hour turnaround and 80 dollars.  All that initial hassle I had to get one before I left NZ was in vain.  But I did get to see Hannah so not complaining.(too much - the money hurt)  The only visa that has proved impossible to get here was Benin.  The ambassador is on holiday for 2 weeks so no visas are being issued. We are now going to try and pick a Benin visa up in Ghana. 

Not eating much street food.  The backpacker has OK meals and there is a nice western restaurant around the corner.  I need it after the truck food although in the main it hasn't been too bad ( depending on who is cooking).  Last night we ( the hostel ) cooked a pig on a spit so that was dinner with a salad.  Was excellent, and all for 1000CFA ( about 2 dollars)

Its hot here every day - 40+ degrees and it's not even the very hot season.  There are just 3 seasons - hot, very hot and rainy.  But coping and not too many mossies yet so no malaria although have met a few people who have had it.

People friendly in the main and no issues.  You know you are in Africa though.

Tomorrow its off to Timbuktu and then Dogan Country.  A river boat to Timbuktu for 3 days after a few days on the truck to the start point at Mopti.  A couple of nights in Timbuktu and then a 4x4 back to Mopti and a 3 day trek to Dogan Country.  But more on that when I next get internet.
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Bruce on

I hear that by eating copious amounts of vegemite every day keeps the mossies at bay!

Sounds like you are now on the trip you were hoping for. We are learning a lot about the geography of Africa so keep the blog coming. We know how time consuming they can be.

Sheryl on

Hi Alister,
I feel hot and dirty just reading this. You certainly are the intrepid
traveller but at least you are experiencing the real thing and ticking
a box on your want list.
Fascinating reading - you write a great blog.

jimandpaula on

Thank God you didn't each the fish! We are wondering if you are losing any weight with it being so hot and the need for "careful" selection of food? Glad to hear your travel mate made it through, no doubt due to your TLC, nurse Bland! Ta ta from the lovely Alexandra. Jim and Paula

Gael Bland on

Hi everyone. I'm writing a brief update on behalf of Alister.

Yesterday morning I turned my mobile on (never again will I ever leave it off overnight) to hear a voice message from Alister asking me to ring him as there had been an "incident". He wanted me to know that he was safe and that he had managed to contact Hannah and would I let Courtney know he was okay. His news was reported on the BBC news yesterday. I thought it may have been on our news as there was a Kiwi involved - but it seems that the elections were more important.

Whilst Alister was out to lunch elsewhere, the hotel where he was staying in Mali, Timbuktu, was raided by armed gunmen, and four westerners were taken hostage - one from his travel group (a German) whom Alister had been sharing a tent with, refused to get into the truck they were being herded into and was consequently shot dead on the spot. The other three - two Dutchmen and one South African (said to be living in the UK) have not been heard of since.

All the tourists stayed the night at the police station (with no one being allowed to leave - for obvious reasons) and were escorted by police security onto a flight leaving first thing in the morning to a place called Mopti which is 400 km south of Timbuktu. They are being escorted further south to Ghana (where they should be safe) and staying there for about 5 days.

At this stage it is unknown who will continue on the trip - but one person is that I know of - and after me begging and pleading for him to come home - he's determined to continue.

The wife of one of the missing Dutchmen has joined Alister's group and he is impressed how strong she is. She and her husband had been travelling around by landrover and she's having it sent on to meet up with the group (I'm not sure where) and then she will decide what she wants to do!!???????

I have spoken to him three times since the "incident" and Alister sounds well, determined and philosophical. He said that if anyone wants to text him, please text online via - ordinary texts direct to his mobile do not work, so if anyone has been texting him and not received a reply

this is why - he is not receiving them!! For those that don't know his number it is 37257513554 - he said not to use the 00 in front of it!

For anyone who may like to call - then by all means use the 00 at the beginning.

Cheers, Gael

Margy on

I was just about to comment on your recent info blog and read Gael's piece.
Good grief. Your guardian angel must have been looking after you; you lucky adventurer. I am still in awe of this and feeling for those 'still missing'? and their remaining partners. (John has now read your email).
This is perfect material for your future tell-all non-fictional "Travel Exciting South Africa" - go to print!
Very Best of wishes for the days ahead. Luv Margy

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