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Old 06-26-2013, 03:50 PM   #1
jestragon OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Jan 2013
Location: Until recently W-Africa, temp. Leipzig Germany
Oddometer: 224
Talking Little trip to Niokolo-Koba National Park, Senegal

A quick ride report of a trip I made at the end of Febraury, from my place in Guinea-Bissau to Niokolo-Koba National Park, in south-eastern Senegal, to participate in a lion and African wild dog conversation workshop. I went with a local colleague of mine, Bucari, who was on his project Suzuki TF125, while I was on my Tuareg 600 (my own project Suuz had shot wheel bearings).

As the crow flies, the distance from my house to the destination (Dalaba guard and training centre, in the south-western corner of the park) was only about 120km, but due to an unfordable river, and the border with Guinea-Conakry, we actually had to ride about 500km one-way. 50% unpaved, 25% terribly paved, 25% brand new smooth tarmac, more or less.

Now first off, I’d spent the previous month dealing with a seriously infected hand:

Picture0001 by jestragon, on Flickr

The hand had barely healed upon departure, but I taped it up, tugged on my glove and ignored it in order to make the trip, couldn’t actually close my left little and ring fingers more than about 50%.

We had to take the usual ferry to just get out of our region, and –as is its wont- it broke down. I joked that if they put the ferry ramp up, I’d jump to the riverbank ramp.

. by jestragon, on Flickr

As we were in a bit of a rush to make it there on time, I took few pictures on the way up.
Waiting at the military post/national park office in Tambakounda before departure to the park:
-the park is named after the Roan antelope (Koba in Wollof and Fula), it’s one of the oldest parks in W-Africa, suffering tremendously from poaching, encroachment of cattle herders, fires, etc. It still has a full complement of large predators (leopard, lion, wild dog, hyena).

. by jestragon, on Flickr
-Found this kwakka hiding, nice fixer-upper:

. by jestragon, on Flickr

CIMG0393 by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr
Quite like the look of those little yamahas.

We were supposed to get a ride to the guard centre, but the cars were full, so we hopped on the bikes again. At least we could dump some of our stuff in the back of a pickup.. where it was immediately soaked in leaking diesel.
Some purchases before departure. The park’s big and there’s nothing inside it except for animals and bush…

. by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr
Couple of praying guys got pretty angry at me for taking a pic of the truck, Allah knows why…

After about 80km of smooth tarmac you turn off and hit the entrance to the park.
We were travelling in convoy, 5 cars, 4 with researchers and guards, one with a camera crew. Unfortunately I had to stick behind a car for about 80km to the centre as I didn’t know the route. Fckn dust.

. by jestragon, on Flickr

As I dubbed it, ankle-snapper bridge:

. by jestragon, on Flickr

Bucari and myself upon arrival, beaten and bruised by branches:

CIMG0412 by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr
(I’m usually a fairly ATGATT kinda guy, but I haven’t managed to haul my jacket here yet from Holland)

IMG_3935 by jestragon, on Flickr

CIMG0394 by jestragon, on Flickr
The training centre, non-functional cell tower in the background:

IMG_3936 by jestragon, on Flickr

CIMG0468 by jestragon, on Flickr

The workshop was interesting, with a couple of the biggest names in african large predator conservation. And a few rather attractive female researchers too! Added bonus: amazing food, far better than anything I’ve ever received in my village.

. by jestragon, on Flickr

Trip back, I left early:

. by jestragon, on Flickr
You can’t hear the baboons that were calling out to me as I took the picture.

. by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr

Monument for a park guard killed by poachers:

. by jestragon, on Flickr

Something abandoned:

. by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr

Outside of the park. On the ride in I’d spotted this; an abandoned training/vocational centre, only one little carpenter was still making chairs, the rest was left over to livestock.

. by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr

Back in Tambakounda, tried to get my hands on some parts, bearings for our suzukis and at this little boneyard, with all the luck in the world, the caps on the USD forks of this Gilera, which were a perfect replacement for mine, which had been ruined by cretinous local mechanics right after I bought my bike. Also picked up a TF125 luggage rack, to be adapted, as my Tuareg’s is tiny.

. by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr
Lots of DTs, truly the bike to buy, if you’ve got any sense.

Continued trip home:

. by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr

. by jestragon, on Flickr
My favourite roads are those flanked by African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis).

. by jestragon, on Flickr
Bridge on the way back home, they just fixed it up a few weeks ago:

. by jestragon, on Flickr

Almost home:

. by jestragon, on Flickr
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:35 AM   #2
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Raleigh, NC
Oddometer: 159
Thanks for posting this. I found a spanish gentleman online who does tours and rents dirt oriented bikes in Senegal. I just hope he stays in business until I can get there.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:25 PM   #3
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Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Dakar, Senegal
Oddometer: 20
I was down in Tamba, Kedougou and Niokolo-Koba this February. Talk about a pretty part of the country. The terrain around here in Dakar is quite dull but I love those hills down south.
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