Follow the bike tracks
Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
15Trip End Feb 26, 2011
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A long drive awaited us this morning as we would push toward the border and the draw of the Atlantic pulling us. At the suggestion of nearly everyone we took the south road westward, since it would be more interesting than the northern option. We were not really impressed as we drove along. To be fair, the surroundings were green and hilly and provided more diversity than the flats of the dry north. Reaching Manatoli a river came along and its striking blue color lifted our spirits and the road followed its way towards our destionation.
The pedestrian driving came to an abrupt end at Bafoulabe. Just before reaching the city a man waived us in. He was very insistant in giving us instructions before letting us move on. It didn't take us long before understanding what he meant by "one in the middle, one to the left"
Coming out of the city we found ourselves on something that was best described as a cattle trail. Asking people at every opportunity, they just pointed us along the trail. Rounding low trees and bumping across rocky fields we enjoyed it at first. Soon though, we grew worried. To Kayes from this point was 90 km. Bumping along a road like this would take a full day. Soon in front us we met 2 French riding bikes in the opposite direction. They where yet another of the people travelling Africa. They explained that they were on a trip that made ours look like a walk in the park. The goal was to get to Madagascar by bike from France. Looking at the roads that had just troubled us, we were in disbelief of their plans. They told us about a waterfall they had started from that morning, which drew our attention. With the sun already on its way down and us hardly making any headway, we decided that it sounded like an excellent stop for the night, being some 40 km away.
The roads grew increasingly difficult and we crossed dry riverbeds and climbed rock strewn hills
More or less driving into a field we suddenly came to a screething stop. The ground opened up in front of us, cutting off our path. Turning back we started looking around for another track matching the directions but we soon found ourselves in the middle of the field, entirely surrounded by growing crops. Some confusion ensued and only ended when we saw flashlights light up some way away from us. Seconds later a person appeared in front of our head lights. He came around to the driver window and described a path more or less connecting the flashlights ahead of us. Walking by us as we drove forward through the field. Arriving at the first light we realized a man was standing on a track with a flashlight in his hand. From there we continued following their directions and found ourselves just in front of their village and completely surrounded by children. They all waved in the same direction and called out something we understood as instructions. Following their pointing we kept driving and to our surprise they ran along the car pointing us onwards
We kept driving along and soon came next to the river. After some driving we started getting discouraged again. We should have arrived according to all directions and getting out, we couldn't hear the falls. After long discussions we decided to try for a little while longer, after all, we were moving toward Kayes, which was our destination, so it wouldn't be a complete loss. It was getting very late and very soon we gave up. Finding a suitable camp site we stopped and got out. The stop didn't last long. We heard thundering water just by us and jumped back in the car. Just a few hundred meters forward we saw a bright lantern ahead of us. Arriving by the lantern, we found a few families having made camp on the field just next to the waterfall.
They offered us some dinner and to the sound of water falling through the Chutes de Gouina, we enjoyed a full barbacue dinner.