After a nice continental breakfast (Andre missed his omelettes) team Lipstick took off toward the Mali border on most probably the only main road connecting Senegal and Mali.
This could be seen by the massive amounts of trucks which were loaded to their limits and often some of them could be seen laying on the site of the road with some sorts of breakdown problems.
At first the team thought of hallucinating – but there really was a cow on top of a fully loaded truck driving at 100km in 41 degrees Celsius.
The poor animal was clearly not impressed and team Lipstick was not sure whether this is the truck drivers fresh meal supply or a new form dry ageing good steaks…
The road started to show some serious signs of ill repair and the drive became a sort of an African Slalom negotiating the ever end ever more prominent potholes. The rule up here seems to be to drive on either site of the road as long as there are no potholes or fewer to avoid.
Facing oncoming trucks at first was a big hectic but the rule of the game soon showed that however is driving on the wrong site will have to retreat to their site when oncoming traffic is faced.
Judging by the size of the luggage on this bus- team Lipstick thought that this must be an annual outing of an African female bowling club…
So some 180 km later Lipstick reached the Senegalese border Town of Belle where dozens and dozens of trucks now parked up both sites of the road (but directed towards Mali) so Lipstick had to find its way through the middle of these kings of the road…
Whilst this initially was a strange feeling driving through an alley of 30 tonners it proved to be the hit of the day because team Lipstick totally missed the Senegal Border post, the Senegal Customs department and the Senegalese passport control…
All of a sudden from nowhere a sign appeared “Mali customs Control” and an officer on the road asked team Lipstick to proceed to their customs office some 20m on the right of the road.
Decision time: Does one drive back to find the Senegalese border control and their custom department to have the team stamped out of the country as well as the carnet signed to show that Lipstick left the country of ignore everything and proceed with the Mali formalities?
Team Lipstick decided it was time for revenge with respect to the 4 hour waiting period at customs in Dakar and decided rather to waive back towards the Senegalese site and opt out of maybe lengthy check outs and waits in the queue..
The Mali Custom Control Office on the road to Kayes.
Many cars seem to have been confiscated here
Amongst the confiscated cars is also this one from Heidelberg… should the previous owner want the car back team Lipstick can provide the correct coordinates….
So they followed the Mali officials invitation the proceed to the Mali customs department where rather friendly officials regarded the filling out of the Carnet de passage as one of their highlights of the Day and they completed this process in under 20 minutes where after we were asked to proceed through to border control. In return for their efficiency team Lipstick rewarded them with 2 Golf hats –compliments of Claas tractors
(By the way Andre is continuously looking for potentially new business for Claas… )
It was now time for passport and Visa entry and again 10 minutes later all was stamped and Willy was handed a blue plastic token as the entry card to Mali.
This token had to be given to the man whose job consists of lifting and lowering the rather rusted boom and in doing so allowing cars and truck the entry into Mali
Give me the token and I will lift the boom – simple way of crossing from Senegal to Mali….
The road would take Lipstick via Kayes and Diema to Bamako – the capital of Mali.
The option of driving via Kala and Kita was advised against by a Mali citizen whom the team met at breakfast earlier in the day.
So the chosen road happened to be a toll road (Peage) and at 4 different pay stations along the route a payment of 500 CAF (R 10,–) had to be made. The road had much less potholes then existing on the Senegalese site and took Lipstick through some mountainous areas in northern Mali before turning south towards Bamako. Team Lipstick was surprised by the green stretches of land on both sites of the road which must have been the result of some earlier rainfalls and was in stark contrast to the harsher bushveld on the Senegalese site.
With the Garmin Navigation system and the tracks4africa map loaded it was a pleasure driving through Northern Mali and enjoying the beautiful landscape.
The traffic became heavier and heavier on approach to Bamako…
Bamako is the capital and largest city of Mali, with a population of 1.8 million. In 2006, it was estimated to be the fastest growing city in Africa and sixth fastest in the world (Source Wikipedia)
The growth of Bamako must relate to the population as the growth is not reflected in modern streets and infrastructure driving through Bamako is sheer management by chaos and the Garmin Navi continuously sending wrong turn instructions due to one way streets most probably having been created only recently….
Team Lipstick therefor engaged the service of a motor bike taxi to guide them to their choice of residence and the 2 guys on the bike even stopped traffic for Lipstick so that the one and other turn off could be done with greater ease.
And so Team Lipstick crossed the mighty Niger river before finding a place to rest