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Old 08-23-2011, 03:55 PM   #31
TwilightZone
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Keep on going !
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Old 08-23-2011, 09:32 PM   #32
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enjoying your great pics and story.
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:40 PM   #33
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amazing journey, thank you for sharing.
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Old 08-24-2011, 02:02 PM   #34
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Bravo

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Old 08-31-2011, 03:04 AM   #35
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Sangha to Ouahoughyia - My Golgota



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.













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Old 09-01-2011, 09:58 AM   #36
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Burkina Faso



Crossing the border to this new country we knew so little about was a joy: first there is the police control, friendly and curious. A few km south, on the left, we checked in at the customs, where a Laissez Passer was issued against 5000 CFA by a Burkinabe version of Chris Rock.


Officer Fidel signed us in and gave us his number to call in case we got into trouble or needed a party animator

The visa for Burkina Faso has recently become one of the most expensive in Africa: 47000 CFA at the embassy in Bamako (2 photos, 1 xerox of the passport, lots of cash, hours: 7-11 am for applying, ready to be picked up 3-5 pm the same day) or 94000 CFA at the border, valid for one entry and 90 days. The main roads are tarred and most of the city streets are sealed, in the countryside they're not. Gas is widely available at roughly the same price as in Mali: 640-690 CFA/l. Burkina uses the same currency as Mali, Togo, Benin, and 1 Euro is about 655 CFA. ATMs are easy to find even in small provincial towns. There is no speeding control, but there are several Postes de Peage where a road toll for cars must be payed; passage for motorbikes and scooters is free. Beware though of the concrete speedbumps present even in the most remote villages.


Just meters outside the custom control hundred of vultures were gliding about an open-air abattoir


We learned here the meaning of the "atmospheric front". The sky turned black and we simply saw the white wall of water moving toward us at mind boggling speed. We quickly streamlined ourselves and faced the storm head on: it hit us like a cold wave, chocking and slapping and pushing us to ride as fast as we could. Left and right there were black trees and the space between them white with rainwater. Soaking wet within minutes, we kept on going and half an hour later we were out of the storm and in the blowing wind, that helped drying our gear a bit. The road to Ouaga is hard gravel, a ride that after the Dogon pistes felt a child's play.


In Romania we say "its in Ouagadougou" about something that is in an unknown place, far far away


There is no camping in Ouaga, but you can pitch a tent in the parking of OK-INN Hotel, if you keep a low profile and "contribute" at the restaurant. This grants use to the grubby showers and toilets by the pool and a quiet sleep in a mosquito infested field that is guarded 24 hrs. There is free and rather good wifi in the reception area, but the restaurant serves generic european food at very european prices.




Arguably the best brochettes in Ouaga: goat and mutton offal or meat, spot on seasoning, served with cucumber and onion salad in a baguette


Behind the brochette stall, a typical Burkinabe burette, serving Lipton tea with lime and fresh mint for 100 CFA. Also available: softdrinks, beer, coffee, yoghurt, omelets, rice and sandwiches.


The Dege Nazi: a lady we couldn't brace ourselves to photograph sells on Toe Street the best of the best version of this regional delight: millet couscous with sweetened yoghurt on ice, the perfect desert, breakfast or treat. Only available until 4pm daily, from 150 CFA/serving.


A village buvette on the road to Bobo Dioulasso






Brother and sister work together in the buvette


Bobo is the commercial capital of Burkina; the train station here, built in the 30s in neo-moor style, used to be the terminus of the Abidjan-Niger route. Now is is a reminder of the colonists' megalomania and a beautiful headliner in the city skyline.




The beautiful mosque in Bobo is famously considered one of the best example of banco building in the world


In laid-back Bobo we ended up staying for a week. Above, the least glamourous aspects of overlanding.


Slow roasted goat with rice, cucumber salad and fried plantain


An attempt at a Romanian summer favorite: roasted aubergine salad

Bobo was a good base for visiting Banfora, which has a great Sunday market, and Karfiguela Falls (access 1000 CFA/pers, plus 200 CFA parking fee). The piste to the falls passes through the gorgeous green landscape that is so south-west Burkina.


Irrigation system for sugar cane plantations.








Predator I






Riding back to Banfora


Burkina Faso in the country with the most amazing skies


In Bobo we met the lovely Liana and Denis who are overloading through northern Africa with their dog


And back to Ouaga to apply for the visa de l'Entente that will allow us to enter Togo and Benin


On the side of the road you might find a poisoned arrow
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:08 PM   #37
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beautiful country, amazing. thank you for the new computer wallpaper.
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TAT-2013: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=913898
SoCal_NoDak-2012: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=829203
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:12 PM   #38
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wow.....fantastic photography capturing the local inhabitants and culture. amazing,and inspiring.

more please.

ride safe and have fun.
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:01 AM   #39
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Nice to see someone on the less well travelled side of Africa. Have a great trip and thanks for the updates. Hope you are coming South!
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Old 09-02-2011, 02:35 PM   #40
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Subscribed...still.....monumental...and superb pictures...Can' wait for more...

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Old 09-02-2011, 10:23 PM   #41
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Nice photos! Keep going!
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Old 09-03-2011, 01:51 AM   #42
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your photos rock!!!

its amazing that you went for the tough....
keep then coming...the RR are few from that side of Africa....
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Old 09-03-2011, 04:56 AM   #43
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Tiebele and the Gourounsi Country

Thanks for the positive thoughts that definitely keep us going. (although we're a little bit stuck in Lome without Nigerian visa... refused once, end of Ramadam vacation... we're trying to figure the best way for us starting on monday)



Soon after our visas were ready we were off to Po, through arguably the wettest region of Burkina. As this is the wet season and august is the wettest month of the year, the combo yielded some endless downpours that soaked us for days. Pitching a tent under the rain is a bit of a hassle, but it was nice to be cold for a change. As depressing as grey skies might normally be, they are still breathtaking beautiful in Burkina.




Breakfast in Po: omelet, tea, mutton soup.


The commune of Tiebele is reached via an offtrack piste. Over 100000 people live here in 67 villages. The area is famous for its mud architecture, that remains to be admired only within the small "royal" compound.


The compound is home to 300 people, the 54 families forming the extended "royal" family. The Kasena people who are part of the Gourounsi, have created some of the most beautiful examples of vernacular architecture. Their traditional houses are built in bank (mud mixed with cow poo) and have smooth shiny facaded decorated with unique frescoes. The married women use nere oil as a veneer to polish the outside walls, then apply different designs using all natural colors: laterite for red, basalt for black and kaolin for white. Unfortunately the traditional ways are still alive only within the compound, outside it s wall only a handful of homes bare the intricate frescoes that are modernized with black bitumen brought in from Ghana.


The entrance is the also the divination area, where the elders congregate and where animals are sacrificed for the benefit of the entire community. After this sacred area there is small field where the animists are buried in 15 people vertical graves. The closed graves are leveled and marked with a stone, the small … are still "in use" with the pot serving as symbolic door.








There are two types of houses: rectangular (for unmarried young men) and figure 8-shaped (with an entrance salon, a room for the woman and a winter kitchen). There are no windows, only indirect lighting. The entrance door is so low that you must bend to get in and it is followed by a 60cm wall that would cause any intruder to stumble and be easily killed. The darkness inside and the nere veneered walls also support the defensive nature of the Gourounsi homes, which have karite wood roofing and terraces for drying the spices and grains.










Baobab flower






The buildings with straw roofing are granaries.




Huge clay pots handmade by women in the neighboring village of Boudou are used for cooking or storing


A display of typical Gourounsi symbols. From right to left: the fishing net; tribal signs (traditionally used as identity cards, now used as beauty marks by some women); macrame for the calabash pots.




Calabas pots


Handmade mill for millet (white stone) and for peanut paste






This Kasena woman is 82

From Tiebele we continued east on the 18km piste, then turned left and rode 20km more to Zabre, where the massive downpours and the river had made the road impassable. We took again a left turn and 25km later we were in Dondeou, still far from the sealed road, and too tired and too wet to continue riding through slippery mud and puddles.




We set camp under a karite tree that offered us a tasty snack in the morning. The rain kept on going through the night, stopping miraculously for a brief while, allowing us to pack everything and hit the road again. This area of Burkina is beautiful and hardly travelled, filling our hearts with nostalgia about a very improbable future return.

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Old 09-04-2011, 03:23 PM   #44
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Truly spectacular. Amazing exploration. Your control of photographic composition, lighting and DOF is supurb. Thank you for the time and effor tthat you put into sharing these experiences with us.

That rear tire is kinda scary looking.
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Old 09-04-2011, 04:25 PM   #45
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Good ride.
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