Day 42. Monday 30th Jan. Nouakchott – Diama Senegal.

Oh! What a day!!!

The alarm on my phone was set to 7am. The idea was to leave by 9am when our other Landy companions wanted to depart too. It was all a bit of musical chairs as four vehicles were packed in like sardines at Auburge Triskell. The German/Russian couple had to move their Toyota van first to let the three Landys out. Didier and Pascal from France in their ’98 TD5 Defender and our two next.

can I have a WOF (MOT) please?…:)

By 9am we were on our way through the chaos of the city heading south to the Senegal border at Diama.

Once off the sealed main road we pass through wetlands (there is a charge, of course) and see a variety of birds and wild pigs. Lots of long horned cattle too.

Farmed cattle in the National Park.
Telephoto shot of Pelicans.
Wild pig. Tusker

It’s a quieter border, Diama, it’s reported. Free of big trucks and more friendly, less avaricious officials, than the main crossing at Rosso. we are told.

En route to the border a London Taxi pulled up beside us. Out popped Robert and his friend both with strong Polish British accents. They are on their way to The Gambia. They also said there were 19 other Pakistani ex Pats in British registered vehicles following.

Robert and his companion in their London taxi.

Mauritania Border with Senegal.

Diama is at the end of a dirt track, which is about 70’ks long, and is impassable when it rains.

We completed all the formalities at the Mauritanian side by about 4.30pm. Bought a new Senegal SIM card for Jen’s phone and headed for the Senegal Customs and Police.

Mauritania side of border.

While I waited in Poki, Jen & Adam seemed to be taking an age with the Police. As the light was starting to fade I wandered over to them, to find that the Police had refused me entry. Despite all the on-line confirmations that Kiwi’s do not need a visa, we, like many other countries, Aus. included, are considered ‘B’ Category countries and DO need a visa. It’s free, but you will have to drive back to the Senegal Embassy in Nouakchott to get it and have it stamped! “I don’t have a stamp”, the Immigration Officer said. I think the No visa requirement is for passengers flying in. They can obtain a visa at the airport. But not land borders.

Jen and Adam did not need a visa. What to do? Only the third country and one we were not expecting any issues with and we are faced with a dilemma.

We decided that Adam should proceed through and wait for us at the Zebrabar in Sengal

We must return to Nouakchott

Nothing else for it. We have to go back and start again. This also meant new visa’s into Mauritania (€110) are required, as we had exited. Also half a dozen other permit’s and authorizations. Each one costing money. Once completed, another 320k’s, about 70 of them on a torturous, holed, rutted, dusty track, are ahead of us, to return to Nouakchott.

Where to stop for the night?

By now we have about 30min of daylight left. Darkness was on us by 7pm and we pulled in 30m off the track behind a couple of shrubby trees to spend the night. We are in a National Park. There is water not far from us. Lots of Flamingo’s and Pelicans and pigs seen on the way to the border. The ground is cracked and dried but it’s hard enough to support us. The chance of being eaten alive by mosquitos meant the netting had to go up. We have got it sorted now and it works a treat. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been past 9.30pm and we were fast asleep. Exhausted and dispirited. I woke with a start at 1am and told Jen to get dressed, we were going to try and avoid the city traffic. “Go back to sleep” she said! I mostly do what I’m told…:)

My guess this is just the start of the charade that caused the other Defender owners I mentioned earlier, to turn around and call it quits? This is Africa!

Jen will take up the story tomorrow.

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