Sunday, 3 January 2016

Senegal - Mali border

The road leading to Kedougou was less than desirable as we dodged some seriously large potholes. Some of the road was good and then a massive pothole would creep up on you and you would be swerving all over the road. Then the tar would end and you'd be doing some serious off-roading alongside trucks and top heavy buses. But the boys did amazingly as they drove on this roads with pizzaz, making our heavy vehicles dodge around these potholes as if they were dancers on ice!

In the morning, we headed off from Relais de Kedougou (one of the only campements in town to let us camp in the car park) at 7am in hope to get through the border by midday so we could make our way to a decent campsite in Mali. We all have our wits about us since news about the terrorist hostage event in late November in a hotel in Bamako(where we need to be for more visas). We are aware that they have hightened security until March around the city, which I suppose is a good thing and probably one of the safest times, in reality, to visit Mali. But I suppose we will have to wait and see what Bamako brings when we get there.

We arrived at the Moussala border at 9am. The police check point was in a building to the right and we were greeted by 2 very friendly officers that stamped our passports out of Senegal. They wrote all our details into their notepad, no electronics here. But what a  calm and relaxing experience with no corruption. Just smiles and handshakes all round. (No money asked for!)
Then we drove to the next building (customs) which was only about 100metres down the road on the left. It was a cream building and here they too were friendly, all interested in our travels. Here they stamped our carnet out of Senegal (Again no money asked for).That all took about half an hour! No hassles, no fuss!
We then went over the bridge and now for the Mali side.

The buildings are on the left and the officers would direct us to where we needed to go. The first building was where they stamped our passports into Mali. Once again very friendly and happy! Then we were told to go to the next building (customs) where they told us the Carnet is not necessary for Mali, but we needed the Laissez Passer Touristique (entry permit for the vehicle). This cost 15000CFA (£17) for a 1month entry. Then back to the first building for a police stamp on the vehicle entry permit. No corruption, no bribes. 
Then at the barrier to enter Mali there was a building to the left where they made a note of the vehicle registration and name of the driver. We were done by 10:45! 

At that we decided to enjoy a very delicious Mali coffee (coffee with condensed milk) and buy some meat rolls (bones and all much to Robs dismay) at this border in one of the street stalls for our lunch later. Normally after a border crossing we are all on edge and feeling like we have been shafted. Meaning we would normally not stick around and would be out of there as quickly as we had got in. This was relaxed as we got to know all the border officials and were having a great time! Easiest border so far and highly recommended!

Last we had to pay a toll road fee of 500CFA (£0.55) and we were in Mali! 

We headed towards Cool Camp where we would spend our first night in Mali. The road to get there is a very uneven dirt track, as you try make your way slowly over the bashed up piste. It was a hard day's drive and very tiring! Beautiful scenery, and the people are amazing! When you drive past the little villages they wave and some of the kids even blew kisses back when you send them one. Such a happy feeling, no chance of frowns in this country! We had heard it was dangerous, but there was no signs of anything negative so far!

We were just glad we got the the border early so we could make it to camp on the same day. We were all saying how driving in one of the most dangerous countries at night wasn't the most ideal thing in the world, but we finally arrived just past 7:30 and were greeted by an extremely friendly man who spoke English! It's the small things that make your day! He was so welcoming and made us feel at home! It's worth a visit just for him! 

We finally have arrived in Bamako and at The Sleeping Camel, even with Charles' clutch fluid leaking and therefore meaning no clutch! This place is amazing and even has A HOT SHOWER (haven't had one since Zebra Bar! We will enjoy Mali by the looks of it so far! We are enjoying a cold beer and chatting with some awesome people here! 
VISA run tomorrow! 😁


  1. Do you subscribe to any other websites about this? I'm struggling to find other reputable sources like yourself

    Off Roading Leicester

  2. I used to live in Kedougou and Kenieba. That drive to Bamako is a killer. It took us 12 hours on average, and one time our headlights went out, so we drove the rest of the way hanging out the window with maglights.

  3. Thanks for the info here! Was super-useful.

    Just wanted to report that I did the same drive from Goudiri in Senegal to Cool Camp in Manantaly just a few days ago. AND - excitingly - the road has been newly paved the whole way from Kayes to Manantaly. It was the best road we've been on since Morocco, and meant that we got to Manantaly by around 4pm (we also got out of the border around 10:45am), even after some fucking around in Kayes trying to work out just how bad the road was. You do need to take the ferry across to Bafoulabe (it runs in daylight hours), then drive a few km to Mahina and drive across a rail bridge (which the locals say is normal), but other than that it's just great road the whole way. (The ferry and bridge mean that Google Maps hasn't yet caught up, so won't give you these directions, but that's the route we took.)

    The first 100km on the way from Manantaly towards Bamako is still not paved, but it wasn't awful, so overall it seems that Cool Camp is much more accessible now than it was at the beginning of last year!