We kicked off early from Sangha, northern Dogon Country. This cloudy day promised to be pleasantly cold, but it was a day that would end in misery. The first 5 km to Banani - a Dogon village with a picturesque waterfall - are similar to the Bandiagara - Sangha road: broken concrete patches interrupting the largely rocky piste, alternating with deep sand and pebbles. It steeply goes up and down through an amazing landscape that kept our spirits high for a while. But then we hit the plain and we were in no man's land: deep sand, pools of water from recent downpours rendering the road impassable, labyrinthian villages swallowing the piste that kept disintegrating into just an idea of going forward towards what we knew was Burkina Faso. 10 km further we turned right after Dougou and started the climb. Sandy hills kept on claiming our sweat and breath for hours. At over 400 kg load my Tenere felt uncontrollable from time to time (when the front end loses grip) and I rode it at sometimes 5 km/h, losing count of the falls as I was sliding and dancing in the uneven sand. Whenever the sand gave way to a superficial layer of grass I was riding along the road. We had to stop 2 times for about an hour each time, to rest and replenish the minerals lost through excessive sweating under the 40+ heat. I suggest you always carry some rehydrating salts and some calcium that you can drink with water.
The alternate route to Burkina is gravel road from Bandiagara through Bankass. To navigate the sandy piste we took from Sangha, you should carry a GPS. The piste crosses the nomad territory, sometimes even nomad compounds. These elusive people are traditionally herders, men are always away with cattle and sheep, while their tattooed and adorned women are caring for the children. They live in huts made of twigs and dry leaves or in tents and carry all their belongings with when moving base.
The 65 km to Koro, from where the sealed road begins, took us all day. We hit the sealed road by sunset and after a water refill we hastily set camp and fell asleep before 9 pm.