Rao – Tambacounda


N15°55’66” W16°24’21” – N13°45’55” W013°40’27”

Feb 6.

Km today: 515

When I wake up this morning I feel much better. Outside it is getting hot a little after sunrise so I pack pretty slowly and have a nice breakfast before I leave. No need to stop soon as Petrol is pretty full and I have all I need. I leave a little before lunchtime which is late as I want to do pretty exactly 500km to Tambacounda close to the Gambias border. North of Senegal offers savanna for landscape which means dry grass and pretty many trees but far from being what we would call a forest. Coming around a corner (of which there are not many on todays road) I see a swarm of birds on the street. When I come closer I notice they are pretty big and second later there are huge vultures all around me taking some roadkill apart. Nice picture for how I feel here – amongst vultures…

The first real stop I make in a small town with a huge mosque which is being renovated. I stop at a place with a “Café” sign, take a seat and order coffee. When I take out my cigarettes the guy who runs the place comes to tell me smoking is prohibited here because we are within one km of the mosque… Ok, I can do it with a coffee, no problem. Two minutes later I get “(nes)café au lait” without milk… milk is finished. Ok that’s too much for now. Coffee without cigarette and without milk? Where is the joy in that? It would be five minutes focusing on what I don’t have so I stand up and go.

A few km further I find a nice place with an African Mama cooking delicious african food, no coffee but smoking no problem and the price is really reasonable as she even offers second service if I want more. Its really hot here even on the bike I there is not much relief from the heat. The engine sound much better and even has more power with Senegalese petrol and the road is pretty good. I approach the Gambia river basin 200km before Tambacouna and turn left to go to the upper end of the Gambia river. I hope I can find out something about the visa situation for mali there and maybe see the close by national park.

About 100km before Tambacounda I see the first monkey in front of me on the street. Then I discover a small but very good piste right next to the road. Of course I take it hoping to see more animals. I see a lot of amazing birds but no more mammals.

I arrive in Tamba a little after sunset and first search for a restaurant. I am pretty done after 500km on the bike so I need a coffee and some food first. I ask the guys for coffee (Nescafe), food (beefsteak – YEAH! No chicken today!), and if they know a cheap hotel (they know one). After food I ask him to come with me on the bike to show me the place which is no problem. First hotel is far too expensive as I can see when approaching already. Luckily they are full so I try to make clear that I am searching for a budget place again. Second place looks better and offers a very basic room (6 m2, bed and nothing else) for 9000 sefa which is about 15 euro and its not even really clean. I see in the eyes of my friend who took me here that this offer is crazy. I try to negotiate but he offers to take me to another place so they show me another room, bigger but with only a few mattresses lying on the floor – 5000. I take it.

Later at the reception when writing down my passport details (and, new, suddenly they want my home address which is of course Hauptstrasse 45/67 in 1230 Vienna) I see a big signboard telling the prices of the rooms. Both of which had been offered to me cost 4000 per night. When I ask him about this he says “No problem, you white man, you rich!”. I am too tired for this now so I ask him to take of his trousers. He gives me a strange look so I explain I want to see a 30cm penis for the first time in my life. Another strange look so I tell him “Come on man, its no secret that all you black guys have enormous dicks”…. I tell him I will pay tomorrow and he accepts, so if he wants more than what is written on the signboard I will tell him to fucking call the police.

I bring the luggage in the room and go out to buy water and fruits. Hardly 10m out of the Hotel a guy starts talking to me in English “How are you?” I am pissed and I tell him that I am until I remember I had some nice experiences too, like the guy who showed me the hotel for example and a truck driver who stopped for me when he recognized me taking pictures of the vultures on the road so I calm down. While we are talking two prostitutes(?) come down the street and when they see me they can’t help to put there tits nearly into my face and start talking to each other “crossing” our conversation.

The guy offers to show me his house and have tea together, I accept. When arriving at his house 100m down the street he wakes up his wife who his sleeping on the floor with a very ungentle kick. I am shocked. She wakes up shakes my hand and then rubs her index finger against her thumb. Suddenly I have a very bad feeling about the situation. For the first time in my life I have the feeling this guy want to put something in my tea. Without taking a nip I put down the disgusting sticky glass and turn around. The glass in his hand he follows me even into the shop trying to make me drink. I am really pissed now and luckily he doesn’t follow me after leaving the shop.

The remaining 50m to the hotel I escape two more attacks by ignoring. I have free wifi at the hotel, found a bucket for my immersion heater to get a hot shower so I am pretty happy. Later I hear people in the street making music but not really good and anyway I would not go down there now even if Neil Young was playing down there asking me to join… Tomorrow I will just start chanting Mantras loudly when they start annoying me. Sometimes it helps when people think you completely lost your mind.

But the landscape is really great and I enjoy every minute on the bike. Finding a nice place to rest a day or two would be amazing too but when reviewing my pictures at night I forget about the people here. Africa can be really amazingly beautiful, but not incredible like india and for sure not hospitable like Pakistan, Balochistan or Persia.

Mauritania – Senegal


Rosso – Rao

N16°30’32” W015°47’53” – N15°55’66” W16°24’21” (google maps doesnt know Diamma border which is west of the crossing it shows – this map a least gives a rough idea of where I went)

Km today: 154

Feb 5.

A warning straight ahead – if you like Senegal don’t read this, Senegal is the most impolite and inhospitable country I’ve ever been to. If you plan to come here better you just send all your money (which seems all 99% of the people here want from you) and stay at home.

Ok now here comes the story: I leave the hotel in Rosso rather early changing some more money, getting petrol and the Senegalese bike insurance. The road to Diamma is the flood protection “dam” of Senegal river which is in fact a pile of mud compressed by the traffic, and actually that is the nicest part of todays journey as I cross a Biosphere reserve seeing some Marabous, African wild boar and even a crocodile right next to the pile of mud I am riding on. The view and the landscape are really nice again but…

About 40km after Rosso a young guy stops me at his hut. He has a problem with his bike and asks for tools. To be honest I don’t really feel like helping him, maybe because I am a little pissed with the people in this area, maybe because my 6th sense is telling me already he is an asshole. However we are in the middle of the desert, he needs help and his bike is a KTM scooter. I get my tools out and ask for some water as I have forgotten to take some in the morning (after getting money and insurance I jumped on the bike to pull the throttle to get away from the idiots in Rosso). It is afternoon already and 60 more km on the mud pile to Diamma border to go so I am happy when his bike is running again and pack the tools. (No they are not a present I have to make clear first.)

When I do so the guy whom I helped out asks me to pay for the water I had. In his hut he has a small shop so I ask him for the price even though I feel a little pissed about the fact I helped him out and he didn’t even offer something to drink even though we are at his home (somewhere in the desert, with the sun burning down and temperature being about 30°C). 500 ugia he says which is pretty exactly what I paid yesterday for my dinner including the water I had with it. I am glad he understands no word of what I am saying now. I throw the bottle down, jump on the bike, tell him to f*&% off and drive a few meters before I stop again to turn on the music and the camera. He comes running after me bringing the bottle now asking for 200 ugia for it. I tell him to F*&% off again (pretty sure he understood that) and turn on the engine. He puts the water on the bike leaving me no chance but to put it in the bag. The music is already on so I don’t hear what he is saying when I ride away with the water taken for free.

When I come to the border the officials there know only two words which are “10 euro”. The first one being the customs officer of Mauretania, I ask him for a receipt, I get one, so I am stupid enough to hand him the money. Next one is a guy who wants 2,5 euro for putting the road block aside. I tell him I have no money and I don’t need him leaving the bike before the road block entering the police office. I put on my best smile and when the police officer asks me for my guitar I do my stupid “Which guitar? I don’t have on, I am Taliban terourist this is Kalashnikow” joke. He laughs so I sing a few lines of “Mama Africa for him. When I am finished he is holding my passport in his hand asking for ten Euro. I give him a “come on, we had fun together” look and he waves his hand telling me to get out. The guy at the roadblock now wants 500 ugia (half of before) and I tell him to piss of, on the bike I can go around the block and the police officer inside is just having tea and likes me so he wouldn’t mind. He makes a last attempt asking me to give some money to keep “the road in shape”. Ok, I haven’t seen any road the past 100km but whatever you want to call it it should be kept in shape. I give him 50 cent and hit the 500m of road (now it is) to the bridge over the Senegal river.

On the other side road block again and I have to pay 3 euro for the bridge getting a receipt. Next I go to the police to stamp my passport. 10 euro, no receipt and the guy has no humor at all, a stupid bald idiot who is not even able to divide 6500 by two without using paper and pen – probably he cant even count to ten without using his fingers. So this is my first Senegalese experience, nice! Customs is better, the chief there is a funny guy and my worrys about having no carnet the passage for the motorbike proved to have been useless. He wants to give me a Passavant (customs paper for the bike) for 3 days charging 10 euros (no receipt). Again I play the musician card, play a few chords of Mama Africa again and get the 5 days for 5 euro bribe only. At least the road becomes amazing after crossing the border so I pull the handle again and swallow my anger.

I really want to see one National Park in Senegal which is pretty close to the border of the Gambia. Gambia is supposed to make no problem with the bike and they speak anglish there! Well by now I speak a little French again but still I am happy to be able to talk English in a few days with people who can understand me. About 50km after the border, a little after Saint Luise I take a nice, but expensive room. 15000 (25 euro) including wifi and hot shower… I am able to push the price to 10000 and find out later that the offered wifi does not exist but they would lend me there 3G modem if I pay for the recharge…. I really hope Gambia and Mali (if I can get in there) are different. In the evening when I get food at the hotel the guy there steps on a huge bug in the garden smiling at me having fun doing so. I am shocked and when I ask him why he does so pointing at the suffering bug he doesn’t even seem to understand my question.

People here could really learn so much from Indian people – here they seem to have no respect for nothing, and Indian people cheat foreigners in a much more pleasant way too… (Asking to learn from Pakistani or Persian people would definitely be too much hospitality at once)

Nouakchott – Rosso


N18°13’08” W016°02’10” – N16°30’32” W015°47’53”

Feb 4.

Km today: 250

Yesterday at night another rally from Budapest arrived. Paris Dakar seems to be more like a highway than an adventure…  I think about joining them to cross the border easier in a bulk but I still have to change money and get a second vaccination. So better to have all I need right than go early morning with the guys…

Today I wake up around nine. I want to go to Nouakchott for vaccination and changing money before packing my stuff as I am not sure if the vaccination will be ok. I have to give them my vaccination card to stamp it today and 1 euro seems to be cheap for yellow fever AND meningitis. However all works out fine and I am back at les sultanes camping at 11 already. I pack my stuff and ask Nicolas for the bill. Everything seems to take ages. I had a lot of fun with Nico and the guys so I am curious about the bill and I get a really nice friendship price! A little more than 60 euros for 6 nights and a lot of food and drinks!

Thank you Nicolas, I really enjoyed that amazing tent at the beach in this beautiful surrounding!

The coordinates of the camping are the ones where I start today, you can easily find this place by turning right at the first police checkpoint about 12km before Nouakchott when coming from the north.

Again I have to cross Nouakchott and a little later I am in the desert again. But wait… there are huts nearly all along the street and 50km after Nouakchott there are solitary trees every now and then. Trees get more and more as I go on but still there are dunes all around. It’s a really amazing landscape and I take a rest under a tree every now and then. I really feel happy about them as I haven’t had the shadow of a tree since I left Essaouira! I want to cross the border to Senegal at Diamma but today its too late already so I head for the big border crossing at Rosso which is well known for its hazzles.

A little before the turn to Diamma I see two motorbikes park in the shadow of a tree and a guy fixing one of them. I stop and ask if I can help but they are fine. As I find out they are from finland on their way around the planet. I wish them good luck and go on. I arrive at Rosso a little before sunset, the choice of hotels is extremely small so I am forced to take a pretty expensive one… At least I can negotiate and pay 16 euro instead of 30 and I have a shower with very hot water in the room. The bike has a real clean place just outside the room so its ok. Tomorrow morning I will take 100km of piste to Diamma right through a National Park where I hope to see some animals and then cross to Senegal at lunch time.

Nouakchott II


The days on the beach are windy… cold nights and hot days. Hospitality here is just amazing! Of course some people see the money when they see white skin but mostly people just want to help and make friends. Most of them would rather be insulted when offering money or even inviting them for food two times in a row. My tent on the beach is a little away from the restaurant. Yesterday one of the guys from the restaurant sat with me in front of my tent until late at night. It was simply amazing – behind us nothing but desert in front of us nothing but water and above us only stars! In between us, the fire and the music we made – like we were the only people on the planet. Just amazing!

Today I got the prove for the yellow fever vaccination in Nouakchott so tomorrow I only have to get the vaccination and another visa for Mauretania for my way back. Will be much cheaper to get it here than in Dakar. My helmet headphones from a well known touring equipments company of which the cable broke several times I got repaired too – so after more than a thousand kilometers in silence I will have music when riding again! When Moltar and I were at the shop to buy cable, plug  and a Capo, (that’s why we actually went there because I lost mine) I met a young guy who was just buying recording stuff. He saw my guitar and invited me to show me his recording studio – which is amazing! Unfortunaley I have not enough time now for recording but I promise to be back at night to make some music together.

So tomorrow I will have to go to Nouakchott for the last time to get visa and vaccination and day after tomorrow I will continue direction kiffa to see the Mauritanian desert crocodiles before heading to Senegal.