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Mali: The kind of place your family and your government would prefer you wouldnt visit

Tour Leader Joe reports from our Trans Africa expedition, currently in West Africa:

Oasis Overland truck on the Trans Africa ExpeditionWay back in the middle part of 2014 I took the decision to accept an offer from Oasis Overland HQ to lead the Trans Africa Expedition. It had taken me six weeks to decide. There was a lot to consider. Was I, as a person, up to it? Was I, as a tour leader up to it? How would I cope taking a group of people to places I had never been? What about Ebola? Was it dangerous? Through many conversations with Oasis HQ and our other crew out here I know who had run this very trip I arrived at the decision to accept the Trans Africa. I knew it would be tough and I knew it involved a certain element of risk but that in essence is what this trip and all travel is, at its core, all about. NIKE AIR MAX 2017 PAS CHER Pushing yourself to the limits of your ability and understanding and coming out of it more or less unscathed and all the better for the experience. So, it was with great excitement that I jumped into devouring everything I could find on the places we would visit. I began planning an itinerary in a notebook and quickly realised that there was so much to see and do. I had a vague glance at Mali as part of this but discounted it as our route was to be through Guinea and Sierra Leone. Shaun Dion Hamilton Jersey As time went by it became evident that the Ebola problem was refusing to go away. The number of infections grew, more people died and borders were closed, forcing us to consider another route. Chief among these was going through Mali as the Trans Africa did up until that country’s civil war and resulting coups in 2013. TENNIS CLASSIC ULTRA FLYKNIT I had concerns about our safety. Canotte New York Knicks With stories of travellers being kidnapped, some killed by Islamic extremists. Some research into it suggested that the tourists killed had gone to Timbuktu against the advice of those in the know and made crucial mistakes when the shit hit the fan, if you will excuse the expression. Further research suggested that the situation in Mali had somewhat stabilised and was now confined to the north of the country, unfortunately that meant we would have to keep to the south of the country. sac fjallraven kanken But even the south was against FCO advice with them advising against non essential travel. Denard Robinson College Jerseys For those of you unfamiliar with the term FCO, it stands for Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is the British government department charged with issuing advice to its citizens about where is safe and unsafe to travel. Amongst many other things. In Australia we call it ‘smart traveller’, in New Zealand I believe it is ‘safe traveller’ and in the U.S the State Department issues such advice. Although this advice is to be considered whenever you are planning a trip in my personal opinion it can be a bit vague which often leads to it being misinterpreted and is always very much erring on the side of caution. It should still be taken into consideration whenever a trip is being planned though. Then, in the preparation for the trip I was given a safety briefing. Nike Free 5.0 Homme
We were to limit our time in these places and I was to impose a ban on the use of social media and blogging while there in the interests of our safety as there was evidence to suggest that the bad guys had used these things to target and track the movement of westerners. All very daunting stuff. I was also given a briefing in the procedures we were to follow should the worst happen. I remember thinking I had perhaps bitten off more than I could chew but armed with all the relevant information I was confident that along with the driver Steve we would avoid any problems. All that was left to do was actually go there. Just to put a cherry atop it all a few days before we were due to leave Oasis HQ it was reported in the news that a case of Ebola had been reported in Mali after a two year old girl crossed the border from Guinea… I was beginning to wonder if it was all worth the hassle. Busy Mali town on the Trans Africa ExpeditionSo after crossing Senegal it was time to enter Mali. We were a little more relaxed than we were before entering Mauritania (also against FCO advice) as we kind of expected a similar experience. What we got far exceeded our expectations. Not to mention that the Ebola threat in Mali had now subsided. The day we entered Mali the news reported that there were no cases of Ebola present in Mali and should no more be reported in the next 42 days Mali would be declared Ebola free. The first hint at the experience we would have in Mali came way back in Rabat, at the Malian Embassy. The friendly and relaxed demeanour of the officials who seemed to fall over themselves to help. This was indicative of the Malian hospitality we were to receive. nike free rn flyknit uomo From the moment we arrived at the border it became apparent that the embassy would not be an isolated experience. The chief of the border post was all smiles and very helpful. He was intrigued by our journey and wished us a wonderful time in his nation. Wake Forest Demon Deacons It was infectious. As Steve drove us away from the border we blasted “Danger zone” a song from the top gun soundtrack from the cab stereo. Friendly kids in MaliFirst stop was Kayes. Kayes had been in the headlines recently as it was the destination of the bus from Guinea that ferried the 2 year old Ebola victim into Mali thus dragging Mali into the Ebola mess and world headlines once more for all the wrong reasons. We hit the market for some food where we were greeted with big smiles and many questions. On the road again, we were greeted with smiles and big waves everywhere we went. Then I saw a man standing on the side of the road with a gun, my heart skipped, he reached for his weapon pushed it onto his back, flashed us a huge smile and waved enthusiastically. Crisis averted. Such encounters became normal. Every village cheered and shouted upon our arrival. Tourists clearly are a rare occurrence in these parts. A lunch stop would usually be encountered with a visit from a passing local with a big smile and many questions to greet us. The villages we passed through hinted at Mali’s past as a French colony. Many with stone railway stations with their white washed gabled facades stained by decades of red dust thrown up by passing traffic, cracking and crumbling. Shoots of new life sprouted from cracks in the platforms as mother nature reclaimed these bastions of all things civilised. The Oasis Overland truck on the river ferry in MaliMali at this time of year is hot and dry and therefore quite dusty. Tennis Nike France Getting down and dirty is all part of the fun of the Trans Africa so when we found a stretch of river easily accessible from the roadside it was a welcome opportunity for a rinse and some welcome relief from the heat. After a couple days driving we hit Bamako, the capital. None of us were really sure what to expect. What we got was a city with a lot going for itself. Bustling markets selling anything from veg to lion heads, grand architecture (one example funded by none other than the late Colonel Gadafi of Libya), a surprisingly good nightlife and some great live music. We took a sunset cruise down the Niger River followed by a bar hopping session in which we were transported around in a Sotrama, one of the colourfully decorated 1970’s model Mercedes vans used in Bamako as local transport. The night was topped off by catching a gig at the local racecourse where we took in some typically Malian music that included the Kora, a type of African guitar and the singing drum, a revelation to the ears. As all good things must though, our time in Mali had to come to an end. We left all the better for the experience and we had only scratched the surface of what Mali had to offer.

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  1. george says

    can I be emailed Joe’s adventures or do I have to look it up?

  2. admin says

    Hi George
    If you’d like to send us your email address we’ll let you know when we next get a post from Joe. Drop us a line at info@oasisoverland.co.uk
    Thanks for reading our blog!



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