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Route Taken – Tour of Pays Dogon (Villages – Djiguibombo, Kani-Kombole, Teli, Ende, Yawa, Dourou) Bandiagara, Sevare – 110 miles

We woke up to clear blue skies, and it stayed that way. Thank god no rain after yesterday’s mission to get to Bandiagari in a downpour. We had sorted out a guide after we arrived yesterday and arranged to meet him early on Sunday for a day trip to Dogon country, an animist group living in the Bandiagari escarpment, a 150km stretch of sandstone cliff found in Mali’s central plateau.

Al had seen it before, in the dry season, but it was looking absolutely stunning in the green of the wet season with waterfalls falling from the cliffs in places. We went to Teli where there are mud huts built into the cliff face. No longer inhabited, the village is now on the ground. They were originally built into the cliffs for defence against wild animals that used to be in the area.

When we arrived at the turn off to Teli a man who was there said that the road had been badly damaged by the rain and we would not be able to go any further,  but we decided to take a look.

Al and the guide got out and decided on a route through, where the track was badly eroded by the rain. It involved us driving along the edge of one side and then swapping to the other, across a crevice in the middle. Al edged forward but when we hit the soft sand in the middle the wheels span. I knew what this could mean so screamed “stop stop!” and then “try to reverse.” The wheels span again and I thought oh s*** we are stuck again & out here there is no one to help. Then we realized that the wheels were not straight so we put that right and the Landcruiser reversed out easily.

Al then edged forward again at less of an angle and this time we got through easily. When the guide climbed back in he said “your car is very strong, very strong”

Having seen the strength of the car he then decided that we could go on up the valley after seeing Teli. The previous day he had said this was not possible.

We spent a while exploring Teli, then headed to Yawa, A cliff top village an hours drive around the plateau to avoid the worst of the track.

When we made it to the top of the cliff in Yawa, all the ladies were together pounding millet. When they saw Al they got very excited and took a real shine to him. They were asking the guide if we were married. Is he really from London? Can’t he stay? Al enjoyed this! I pointed out that he was free to stay here and have 3 wives! Miles from anywhere, with no modern amenities – or a Liberty’s!

We would be hard pushed to find a more idyllic location amongst the villages of Dogon country. A Fantastic place. we could see the plateau extend to where we had come from over the last few weeks. A green valley and on the opposite side a huge long red dune covered in grass nearby. Beyond that, a view as far as the eye could see. Flat green plains and red sandy tracks all the way to Burkina Faso & Benin were out there on the horizon.

Hoping to hit the Monday market at Djenne tomorrow –

And where we came from today –

And, more news from Mauritania’s clean-up of the desert regions near Timbuktu and beyond. All happening over the weekend.

September 2010