The End of the Road

And so after nine months of cycling we reached the final destination of our 10,000 km journey, receiving an unexpectedly lovely welcome from our good friend Dougal and a carload of drummers!

So, happily settled in at Meet Me There, we spent a busy month working on a new organic veg and fruit garden. This is designed to showcase the amazing productivity possible when using compost toilet ‘humanure’ to grow food (which is totally safe don’t worry!), and will hopefully one day provide fresh ingredients for the lodge’s kitchen and bar. Big thanks to Atsu and Gershon for sharing their knowledge of farming in the tropics!

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Watermelon seedlings, straight from breakfast fruit!

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(Re)building the HMS Herbs from a broken canoe…

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Tropical Hugelkultur – using layers of sand, dead wood (in this case palm fronds and old coconut husks) along with compost and black soil (‘biochar’) to make nutrient-rich and moisture retaining raised beds.

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Planting some seedlings.

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Life!

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Apparently if you plant the top bit of a Pineapple, it grows another Pineapple!

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And last but not least, brightening up a wall with a new mural, Meet Me There has lots of new neighbours…

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One last time a huge thank you to Dougs and the wonderful staff of Meet Me There!

Don’t forget we are still raising money to build a new compost toilet, we are not far from our target but could still do with a few more pennies – visit our Donations page for more info.

We are taking a rest from the cycling, but will be back one day with more adventures…

A&Z

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Ghana pt. 2

The dry, scorched north gave way to lush tropical forest and cocoa plantations as we approached central Ghana. After a couple of days in hectic Kumasi we breathed a sigh of relief as we descended to beautiful Lake Bosomtwe with its calm, glassy waters and the occasional scary tropical storm. From there we headed to the coast via gold mining country, through humid jungle and along dusty, disintegrating roads, where we met some lovely people staying in villages. Now we have reached the Atlantic ocean once again, and are heading east towards the Volta Region, our final destination!

We are already half way towards our fundraising target to build a compost toilet, if you think you can help us with the rest check out our donations page and read more about how fab compost toilets are here. A big thank you to everyone who has already donated!

Kumasi Market. The largest market in West Africa. Bloody mental!

A small section of Kumasi Market, the largest in West Africa, viewed from an overpass. It was bloody mental!

Avocado tree!

Avocado tree!

Jungly hills to the south of Kumasi as we approach Lake Bosomtwe

Jungly hills to the south of Kumasi as we approached Lake Bosomtwe.

A storm!

A storm!

Lake Bosomtwe, Ghana's only natural lake, in the crater of an ancient meteorite impact!

Lake Bosomtwe, Ghana’s only natural lake, in the crater of an ancient meteorite impact!

Elizabeth the grumpy donkey.

Elizabeth the grumpy donkey.

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Fisherman are only allowed to paddle the lake using small handheld paddles. Here someone is transporting a plantain tree on their wooden plank canoe.

Fisherman are only allowed to paddle the lake using small handheld paddles. Here someone is transporting a plantain tree on their wooden plank canoe.

One stormy night Alice heard a mewling sound coming from the bushes. Two tiny abandoned kittens in a plantain bush!

One stormy night Alice heard a mewling sound coming from the bushes. Two tiny abandoned kittens in a plantain bush!

A gold rush is in full swing in the central region, with the second largest mine in Africa after one in South Africa, a policeman proudly informed us. More evident from the roadside are small scale mines like this one. Not good for deforestation and water pollution.

A gold rush is in full swing in the central region, with the second largest mine in Africa after one in South Africa, a policeman proudly informed us. More evident from the roadside are small scale mines like this one. Not good for deforestation and water pollution.

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Our route unhappily coincided with another stretch of road construction. This time it was raining which kept the dust down but turned the road into a tacky quagmire requiring frequent stops to unblock the mud jamming our wheels. Great fun!

Our route unhappily coincided with another stretch of road construction. This time it was raining which kept the dust down (sometimes) but turned the road into a tacky quagmire requiring frequent stops to unblock the mud jamming our wheels. Great fun!

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And finally we rejoin the Atlantic Ocean!

And finally we rejoin the Atlantic Ocean!

"Garden eggs" and a bitter tasting aubergine thing that gets better when cooked.

“Garden eggs” and a bitter tasting aubergine thing that gets better when cooked.

A house sized soundsystem damaging the ears of some children.

A house sized soundsystem damaging the ears of some children.

Cape Three Points, Ghana's southernmost tip, where we spent a lovely long weekend with...

Cape Three Points, Ghana’s southernmost tip, where we spent a lovely long weekend with…

... Dougal Croudace!

… Dougal Croudace!

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Spot the squash.

Spot the squash.

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We stayed in a bamboo house on stilts with a compost toilet underneath.

We stayed in a bamboo house on stilts with a compost toilet underneath.

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Cocktails on the beach for Alice’s Birthday.

Burkina pt. 2 and into Ghana!

After 7 months of cycling, some 9000km or so traversing mountains, desert and mangrove in nine countries, we have now arrived in Ghana! We are having a great time and enjoying being able to speak to people in English instead of broken French. A small reminder that we are trying to raise £600 to build a compost toilet in the Volta Region, our final destination on the trip, donations page here and further info on our Donate for Toilets page. A big thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

Here are some of our adventures from Burkina and into Ghana!

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We reached the south-western town of Banfora, where you can enjoy a calabash of ‘chapalo’, millet beer homebrewed by women, under the mango trees.

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Right along from the chapalo is the palm wine lady, so we stocked up for later…

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After a few days in Banfora we headed north to laid-back Bobo Dioulasso (‘home of the Bobo and the Dioula’). The only cathedral we’ve visited with a tin roof.

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We visited the museum and saw some cool masks. This one is shaped like a fish!

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and a life size model of a Bobo house you can clamber around on! Grains are dried on the rood, and wandering goats kept at bay by branch ladders.

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The ‘Museum of Music of Yesterday and Today’ where Alice got to play a one string fiddle…

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Rotisserie chickens are big in Bobo, as are ‘chicken-in-a-bag’s cooked over an open fire. The Burkinabe call rotisseries ‘poulet televise’, as apparently watching them rotate is like TV!

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Moving on to Ouagadougou, we spent a relaxing few days with a warmshowers host (thank you Wies!) and her gaggle of very friendly chickens…

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Little friendly chickens!

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Ouaga’s big public park has its very own population of crocodiles, who can be spotted nosing around the lilypads. Most of them were relatively wee ones like this guy.

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But then, just as we were leaving to escape the midday sun we spotted this…

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GIANT ONE!

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Continuing on from Ouaga we headed south to the Ghanaian border, stopping off in Tiebele, historical seat of the Kassena royalty, where people traditionally decorate their houses in cool geometric patterns!

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Houses have their own chicken holes for the hens to hide in

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Grandparents and grandchildren live in figure of 8 shaped houses, young bachelors in round ones, and newlywed couples in rectangular ones.

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We have reached GHANA! Here we are cycling along one of the many dams.

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The standard of driving here seems pretty dreadful. A passing motorbike crashed into Zak's back pannier, ripping it off the bike. Luckily everyone was okay, and we attached it back on with cable ties.

The standard of driving here seems pretty dreadful. A passing motorbike crashed into Zak’s back pannier, ripping it off the bike. Luckily everyone was okay, and we’ve attached it back onto the rack with cable ties.

Mali pt. 2 // Burkina Faso!

The road from Bamako to the border with Burkina Faso was long, undulating and probably the hottest yet – often requiring having a little afternoon sleep in roadside restaurant shacks. Our days were long and repetitious: morning, hot, rice, staring kids, sleep, hot, cooler, tent, bed. We were excited to reach Burkina Faso and the surprisingly tropical feel to the forested south-west was a welcome break from the scorched brush of the highway.

We’re very grateful to have received a few donations for the compost toilet already! Please visit this page for more information about how you can help with a sanitation project in southern Ghana.

The usual crowd of inquisitive children

The usual crowd of inquisitive children

A nice camping spot under a tree

A nice camping spot under a tree

... with a scorpion under Mike's tent!

… with a scorpion under Mike’s tent!

After 4 long, hot days slogging from Bamako to  Sikasso, the last big town we'd visit in Mali, we were exhausted and filthy. After a long stressful search through busy, polluted streets we couldn't find anywhere cheap to stay. A last thought - "lets try at that Catholic Mission!" Turns out one of the Fathers there, Jean-Baptiste, had met us at one of the breakfast stalls on the way. We flopped on large comfortable sofas  while Jean poured us glasses of ice cold water from a jug. "Your room is being prepared" he said. We sat, knackered and dazed, surveying the wonderfully kitsch Christian ornaments and posters that post -colonial Catholic missions do so well.  Another smiling priest arrived, opened a bottle of wine and poured us two large glasses.

After four long, hot days slogging from Bamako to Sikasso, the last big town we’d visit in Mali, we were exhausted and filthy. After a stressful search through busy, polluted streets we couldn’t find anywhere cheap to stay. A last thought – “let’s try at that Catholic Mission!”
Turns out one of the Fathers there, Jean-Baptiste, had met us at one of the breakfast stalls on the way. We flopped on large comfortable sofas while Jean poured us glasses of ice cold water from a jug. “Your room is being prepared” he said. We sat, knackered and dazed, surveying the wonderful ornaments, holographic posters and other paraphernalia. Another smiling priest arrived, opened a bottle of wine and poured us two large glasses with ice cubes. Our room was great, after a cold shower and a change into cleanish clothes we descended to eat dinner with the priests. Rice, green stuff, “To” (like polenta), and a whole chicken with chips. It really was like on a film where a weary traveller ends up at a strange house to find they are expected and a fantastic feast is waiting. We gorged, and then gorged on mangos before going to bed for a long, excellent sleep. 

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The Chutes de Farako. Running a bit low now as it’s the end of the dry season. 

It seems that most occasions, but particularly marriages, are accompanied with crazy processions of honking mopeds wheeling around the town.

It seems that most occasions, but particularly marriages, are accompanied with crazy processions of honking mopeds wheeling around the town.

Ladies panning for gold and doing laundry

Ladies panning for gold and doing laundry

We have reached Burkina Faso! Here we turned off the tarmac highway to head through the tropical forested southwest.

We have reached Burkina Faso! Here we turned off the tarmac highway to head through the tropical forested southwest.

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This is actually fairly small on the spider scale

This is actually fairly small on the spider scale

GIANT MILLIPEDE!

GIANT MILLIPEDE!

We visited Sindou Pics, an incredible formation of eroded sandstone.

We visited Sindou Pics, an incredible formation of eroded sandstone.

Zak has bought a traditional vest thing.

Zak has bought a traditional vest thing.

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We went on a boat ride to see some hippos on Lac Tengrela. Sadly our camera died just as we got up to them - hippos are enormous!  Some nearby kids were splashing around in the water, but the hippos didn't seem to mind. On our return to shore the boat man surreptitiously crafted this necklace from a water-lily for Alice, she has since become his boat wife and Zak will now continue the journey alone.

We went on a boat ride to see some hippos on Lac Tengrela. Sadly our camera died just as we got up to them – hippos are enormous! Some nearby kids were splashing around in the water, but the hippos didn’t seem to mind. On our return to shore the boat man surreptitiously crafted this necklace from a water-lily for Alice, she has since become his boat wife and Zak will now continue the journey alone.

Mali pt. 1: The Manding highlands and Bamako

We entered the southeast corner of Mali, finding ourselves in the Manding highlands which was a welcome change after the scorched flats of southwest Senegal. Mango season has begun here, so we stuff our faces daily on cheap (or sometimes free!) mangos. After an eventful few days we found ourselves in Bamako, a dirty, hot and hectic city which we have come to really like. Either way we have no choice but to stop here for a few days while we await some slow African visa business.

We have also started raising funds to build compost toilets in Ghana, in support the fantastic work of UK charity Dream Big Ghana. This will go a small but significant way towards helping communities with no alternative to going to the toilet in the bush.

Please visit our donations page for more.

Misty cliffs in the Manding highlands as we entered southeast Mali

Misty cliffs in the Manding highlands as we entered southeast Mali

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Alice was struck down one night by a sudden bought of horrible sickness. The next morning, too weak to cycle. We jumped on a bus to Kita, and sat at the back where evidently no one else wanted to sit. A flap in the floor was loose, rising up in gusts of hot air revealing rushing tarmac and spinning drive-shaft. I wondered what would happen if the loose floor fell through the hole and got snarled in the axle as heat from the engine wafted up my trouser leg.

Alice was struck down one night by a sudden bout of horrible sickness, the next morning too weak to cycle. We jumped on a bus to Kita, and sat at the back where evidently no one else wanted to sit. A flap in the floor was loose, rising up in gusts of hot air revealing rushing tarmac and spinning drive-shaft. I wondered what would happen if the loose floor fell through the hole and got snarled in the axle as heat from the engine wafted up my trouser leg.

A happy traveller

A happy traveller

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Rock art in some caves in Mount Kita

Rock art in some caves in Mount Kita

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We found where those Christmas shoe box things end up!

We found where those Christmas shoe box things end up!

After two attempts we have established that the men with clippers in shacks labelled something like "Big Boyz Cutz" who call themselves barbers, are not not necessarily very good at cutting hair.

After two attempts we have established that the men with clippers in shacks labelled something like “Big Boyz Cutz” who call themselves barbers, are not necessarily very good at cutting hair.

This concrete giraffe was just one of the animal menagerie on show at this bizarre guesthouse in Kita.

This concrete giraffe was just one of the animal menagerie on show at this bizarre guesthouse in Kita.

THIS is where cashew nuts come from. The top bit is a cashew apple, with a sweet tangy juice and a strange rubbery texture.

THIS is where cashew nuts come from. The top bit is a cashew apple, with a sweet tangy juice and a strange rubbery texture. The nut sits in the grey blob underneath.

Sneaky camping amongst someone's cashew trees.

Sneaky camping amongst someone’s cashew trees.

A train!

A train on the Dakar-Bamako line!

The all important afternoon lie down.

The all important afternoon lie down.

We reached Bamako.  Not sure what this train was about but we liked it.

We reached Bamako. Not sure what this train was about but we liked it.

Koras

Koras

A horrifying array of decomposing animal parts in the 'fetish' section of Bamako market - including Eagles, Turtles, Monkeys, and pretty much everything else.

A horrifying array of decomposing animal parts in the ‘fetish’ section of Bamako market – including Eagles, Turtles, Monkeys, and pretty much everything else.

We lodged at the eccentric but lovely Catholic mission opposite the cathedral, with balconies overlooking the bustling street, a lady selling palm wine, and the continual sound of hymns with djembe accompaniment.

We lodged at the eccentric but lovely Catholic mission opposite the cathedral, with balconies overlooking the bustling street, a lady selling palm wine, and the continual sound of hymns with djembe accompaniment.

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The Niger

The Niger flowing through Bamako

Gettin’ dusty in south-east Senegal / bicycle disaster!

Heading eastward from the tropical coast of Casamance, the temperature rose sharply and we found ourselves completely filthy at the end of each day – mainly thanks to the huge road construction project ongoing all along our route. Luckily we found that local villagers are more than happy to provide bucket showers from their wells, for which we could never express enough thanks (or communicate in general). We have rendezvoused with a fellow British cyclist, Mike, and cycled together for this leg of the journey.

Our route eastward from Casamance was almost entirely like this.

Our route eastward from Casamance was almost entirely like this.

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Most of the bikes here have what must be over 100 spokes on the back wheel, presumably because people carry ridiculous amounts of stuff on them. (For non bike nerdz our bikes have 36 spokes...)

Most of the bikes here have what must be over 100 spokes on the back wheel, presumably because people carry ridiculous amounts of stuff on them. (For non bike nerdz our bikes have 36 spokes…)

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A large papaya.

A large papaya.

Termite mounds are everywhere.

Termite mounds are everywhere.

Crazy African flower!

Crazy African flower!

Hippos in the river Gambie!

Hippos in the river Gambie!

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We crossed the monkey filled Nikolo Koba national park. Didn't take any pictures as we were too busy frantically slapping at hoards of biting horseflies. We left the park into the foothills of the BLAH in south-eastern Senegal, our first hills since Morocco.

We crossed the monkey filled Nikolo Koba national park. Didn’t take any pictures as we were too busy frantically slapping at hoards of biting horseflies. We left the park into the foothills of the Fouta Djalon in south-eastern Senegal, our first hills since Morocco.

Disaster struck as we left the national park. Alice's rear derailleur got snagged in her back wheel - perhaps it got knocked on one our many recent boat voyages. We took it off and shortened the chain to crawl single speed to the next town. The derailleur looked terrible, and the frame was badly bent. Convinced it was a write-off , we set to work straightening bits of metal with hammers of various sizes, and thanks to the efforts of two Senegalese mechanics the derrailleur was forced back onto the frame. It looks awfully wonky, but somehow it works! (Sadly we didn't take any pictures of this endeavour, but it was quite a sight)

Disaster struck as we left the national park. Alice’s rear derailleur got snagged in her back wheel – perhaps it got knocked on one our many recent boat voyages. We took it off and shortened the chain to crawl single speed to the next town to assess the damage. The derailleur looked terrible, and the frame was badly bent. Convinced it was a write-off, we set to work straightening bits of metal with hammers of various sizes, and thanks to the efforts of two Senegalese mechanics with pliers, a length of wire, and of course more hammers, the derrailleur was forced back onto the frame. It looks awfully wonky, but somehow it works! (Sadly we didn’t take any pictures of this endeavour, but it was quite a sight)

A few posts back we gave you double banana...  now behold, bum tomato!

A few posts back we gave you double banana…
                                      now behold, bum tomato!

Purple glossy starlings.

Purple glossy starlings.

We have joined with another cycle adventurer, Mike.

The bodged derailleur repair thankfully seems to be holding as we take a detour up to some waterfalls in the hills close to Senegal’s mountainous border with Guinea .

A lovely cold swim at the Dendefelo waterfalls.

A lovely cold swim at the Dindefelo waterfalls.

Our detour to the falls took us close to the mountainous border with Guinea.

Khar... what used to be a tiny village has ballooned to a shanty town of over 50,000 people attracted by a gold rush in full swing on the Senegal-Mali border. One health shack,  one water source and lots of shops selling spades.

Kharkhena. What used to be a tiny village has ballooned to a shanty town of over 50,000 people attracted by a gold rush in full swing on the Senegal-Mali border. One health shack, one water source and lots of shops selling spades.

Dust covered miners on their way home.

Dust covered miners on their way home.

Basse Casamance: trapped in a tropical paradise

The tiny dug out canoe from The Gambia dropped us on a small beach amongst some mangroves. Heading for the small town of Abene, we heaved the bikes down hot sandy paths under the blazing afternoon sun. This became a running theme of our time in the beautiful Basse Casamance region of Senegal.

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Palm wine tapping.  The sap ferments into a delicious, milky white drink. Sweet and fizzy in the morning and becoming stronger as the day goes on. Even the kids drink it.

Palm wine tapping. The sap ferments into a delicious, milky white drink. Sweet and fizzy in the morning and becoming stronger as the day goes on. Even the kids drink it.

Pirogues with colourful net flags in Abene

Pirogues with colourful net flags in Abene

The lovely compound of Khady and Simon, we spent a happy few days relaxing in a treehouse with hammocks

The lovely compound of Khady and Simon at Abene, we spent a happy few days relaxing in a treehouse with hammocks

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Big tree! Actually its many trees growing into one big mass of tree.

Big tree! Actually its many trees growing into one big mass of tree.

Antie the parrot.

Antie the parrot.

A great bridge on the way to the beach, made of out bits of old mangroves. Male passersby often like to insist on escorting my bike over obstacles for me.

A great bridge on the way to the beach, made of out bits of old mangroves. Male passersby often like to insist on escorting my bike over obstacles for me.

Tasty breakfast

Tasty breakfast

These tiny pine cones really hurt with bare feet.

These tiny pine cones really hurt with bare feet.

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Beach cows

Beach cows

Seed pod owl... one way of passing the time in the middle of the day when its too hot to cycle (or move)

Seed pod owl… one way of passing the time in the middle of the day when its too hot to cycle (or move)

Camping in a family compound in the tiny and (according to our map) non-existent village of Saloulou, somewhere on an island in Casamance.

Camping in a family compound in the tiny and according to our map non-existent village of Saloulou, somewhere on an island in Casamance. We had a brilliant idea of island hopping down the coast, by the time we had realised this was a very sandy mistake it was too late, we had to go on.

The bikes take a boat trip through the mangroves.

The bikes take a boat trip through the mangroves.

New island, unchanged amounts of sand. This particular path took us nearly 5 hours to traverse, dragging the velos all the way.

New island, unchanged amounts of sand. This particular path took us nearly 5 hours to traverse, dragging the velos all the way.

It just got sandier and sandier... we eventually ended up at a remote farm where everyone was very surprised to see us . The next morning they walked us to the nearby(ish) village of Hitou to find a boat across the main river. Hitou is a sleepy place, with no electricity or shops and a long-closed bar. We spent a lot of time eating coconuts.

It just got sandier and sandier… we eventually ended up at a remote farm where everyone was very surprised to see us. The next morning they walked us to the nearby(ish) village of Hitou to find a boat across the main river. Hitou is a sleepy place, with no electricity or shops and a long-closed bar. We spent a lot of time eating coconuts.

We hung out with a great gang of kids in Hitou who enjoyed commandeering the camera and taking pictures of bits of people's faces.

We hung out with a great gang of kids in Hitou who enjoyed commandeering the camera and taking pictures of bits of people’s faces.

They also liked trying to plait my hair... which was very painful.

They also liked trying to plait my hair… which was very painful.

Hitou's landing stage, where we kept a weather eye open for boats for 4 days.

Hitou’s landing stage, where we kept a weather eye open for boats for 4 days.

The gang assemble for a goodbye portrait.

The gang assemble for a goodbye portrait as at last a boat arrived

We eventually managed to find a ride away with some palm wine traders. The boat was full of people and barrels, and they distracted us from its heavy lurching by insisting we hold out our cups for refills every 5 minutes.

We eventually managed to find a ride away with some palm wine traders. The boat was full of people, barrels, and a bewildered goat. The crew distracted us from the heavy lurching by insisting we hold out our cups for refills every 5 minutes with the cry “Drrrinkingg!”

Deposited on the south bank of the river, told we were somewhere near the village of Nikine.

And so we were deposited on the south bank of the river, completely skint, with no water or food, and hammered on palm wine at 11am. Told we were somewhere near the village of Nikine and that we should “ask the population” for instructions on how to find the path.

Resting in  Cap Skirring. Puppy in a box!

Resting in Cap Skirring, in civilisation once again. Puppy in a box!

Chilling in Ziguinchor.

Chilling in Ziguinchor.

A peaceful night's camping by the river Casamance.

A peaceful night’s camping by the river Casamance.

Injured in The Gambia

We emerged from our ridiculous boat journey unscathed if a little soggy into Banjul, the dusty ex-British colonial capital where no one wants to live. While attempting to buy oranges at a market stall, Alice took a concrete block to the foot and was rushed back to the YMCA in a taxi with a bag of frozen spinach. After a few days healing we headed on down the coast to Senegal, via a couple of sweltering days in beautiful Gunjur with Lamin and Bunja.

Strange mango graphics  looming over our bed in a Serrekunda guesthouse...

Strange mango graphics looming over our bed in a Serrekunda guesthouse…

How strange it is to leave francophone Senegal and arrive in English speaking Gambia. Banjul and Serrekunda have a bizarrely London style, old men greet us with "Alright boss, howzit goin?" in genuine Cockneyish accents. Lancaster Place, Gloucester Drive. The 'pie' is a popular street food, though it's pasty shaped, deep fried, and a bit spicy.

How odd it is to leave francophone Senegal and arrive in English speaking Gambia. Banjul and Serrekunda have a bizarrely London style, old men greet us with “Alright boss, howzit goin?” in genuine Cockneyish accents. Lancaster Place, Gloucester Drive. The ‘pie’ is a popular street food, though it’s pasty shaped, deep fried, and a bit spicy.

Guiness is huge in West Africa

Guiness is huge in West Africa

Batik workshop

Batik workshop

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Gunjur beach

Gunjur beach

Camping at a Gunjur beach bar, with puppies and drums.

Camping at a Gunjur beach bar, with puppies and drums.

Good catch!

Good catch!

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Heading towards the border with Senegal along the sand, we passed a gigantic mosque still under construction.

Heading towards the border with Senegal along the sand, we passed a gigantic mosque still under construction.

Gringo safari.

Gringo safari.

The bikes take their second boat trip, this time in a dugout, crossing the river that acts as a border with Senegal.

The bikes take their second boat trip, this time in a dugout, crossing the river that acts as a border with Senegal.

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Dakar to Banjul via a scary sea voyage

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Sandy piste on our way to Dakar. The only thing that improves dragging a loaded bike through sand is being chased by hordes of screaming children.

We took a small detour to the tourist spot Lake Rebta or Lac Rose, a super salty pink lake, where we had a good time floating around (impossible to sink!) while people tried to sell us things.

We took a small detour to the tourist spot Lake Rebta or Lac Rose, a super salty pink lake, where we had a good time floating around (impossible to sink!) while people tried to sell us things.

We reached Dakar, where this tiny bar became our haunt. For Edinburgh people, this  place is the equivalent of Burlington Berties!

We reached Dakar, where this tiny bar became our haunt. For Edinburgh people, this place is the equivalent of Burlington Berties!

Cycled out to see the statue of the African Renaissance, controversially expensive and strangely communist-style.

The statue of the African Renaissance, controversially expensive and strangely communist-style.

Black kites circling over downtown Dakar in the early evening.

Black kites circling over downtown Dakar in the early evening.

Senegalese public transport!

Senegalese public transport!

The village of Toubab Dialaw where we had a nice swim after a particularly hot and sweaty day.

The village of Toubab Dialaw where we had a nice swim after a particularly hot and sweaty day.

Flower strewn steps to Pomeguine beach.

Flower strewn steps to Pomeguine beach.

Baobabs at dusk!

Baobabs at dusk!

We cycled through a strange landscape of baobabs and very tall coconut palms like lampposts.

We cycled through a strange landscape of baobabs and very tall coconut palms like lampposts.

The largest baobab in Senegal! It wasn't particularly tall, but is as thick as a small house at 32m in circumference. It's apparently 850 years old. An enthusiastic man beckoned us round the side to an improbably small hole and helped Zak climb inside. Dark and cool, with the shrill squeaking of agitated bats clustered in a furry mass on the ceiling and flitting about my head. The floor was thick with bat shit, crawling and heaving with unidentified creepy crawlies.

The largest baobab in Senegal! Not particularly tall, but as thick as a small house at 32m in circumference. It’s apparently 850 years old. An enthusiastic man beckoned us round the side to an improbably small hole and helped Zak climb inside. Dark and cool, with the shrill squeaking of agitated bats clustered in a furry mass on the ceiling and flitting about my head. The floor was thick with bat shit, crawling and heaving with unidentified creepy crawlies.

The road to Palmarin.

The road to Palmarin.

Bike under blossoms...

A baobab fruit

A baobab fruit

The inside of a baobab fruit. The seeds are encased in chalky white stuff which tastes a bit lemony.

The inside of a baobab fruit. The seeds are encased in chalky white stuff which tastes a bit lemony.

Nice camp spot near the village of Palmarin.

Nice camp spot near the village of Palmarin.

We're in mangrove country.

We’re in mangrove country.

We decided to get a boat across the Saloum delta to Banjul, The Gambia - but first we had to find a boat in the small, bustling fishing village of Djiffer. We bumbled around confusedly for a bit, attracting hoards of snotty faced kids who attached themselves to our legs. Eventualy we found a guy, who in broken Franglish told us that we could, maybe, get a boat to a village across the water and then go direct to Banjul tomorrow. We bought some supplies and hurried to the shore to await our vessel.

We decided to get a boat across the Saloum delta to Banjul, The Gambia – but first we had to find a boat in the small, bustling fishing village of Djiffer. We bumbled around confusedly for a bit, attracting hoards of snotty faced kids who attached themselves to our legs. Eventualy we found a guy, who in broken Franglish told us that we could, maybe, get a boat to a village across the water and then go direct to Banjul tomorrow. We bought some supplies and hurried to the shore to await our vessel.

A DOUBLE BANANA! Noone else seemed very impressed though

A DOUBLE BANANA! Noone else seemed very impressed though

Dawn as we left the pretty fishing village of Dioneware for our terrifying voyage Banjul. After a 6am start with the first call to prayer we packed up hurriedly and followed our host through the dark streets. The tide was out. We waited and watched lights in the distance, made a coffee on the stove, and vaguely worried about what was going on. At last it was apparently time and we set off, pushing our loaded bikes into the river mouth bed, still in the dark. Sand turned to mud, mud to deeper mud, until the bikes dug deeply and pushing barefoot in the slippery quagmire was exhausting. Finally we reached firmer sand, and a few other people with luggage and children awaiting the voyage - a relief! Our pirogue lay on its side in the water ahead of us, with the crew bailing water out while the boat slowly righted itself. Sunrise was beautiful as we navigated the shallows. A man back on shore waved, and we waited as he waded across the  bay and clambered in with a huge gas canister. We taxied out of the estuary and the crew hoisted a large, battered sail. Initial enthusiasm wavered as we hit increasingly hairy seas, our low boat tossed about by huge waves thrown up by the meeting of river and sea.

Dawn as we left the pretty fishing village of Dioneware for our terrifying voyage to Banjul.
After a 6am start with the first call to prayer we packed up hurriedly and followed our host through the dark streets. The tide was out. We waited and watched lights in the distance, made a coffee on the stove, and vaguely worried about what was going on. At last it was apparently time and we set off, pushing our loaded bikes into the river mouth bed, still in the dark. Sand turned to mud, mud to deeper mud, until the bikes dug deeply and pushing barefoot in the slippery quagmire was exhausting. Finally we reached firmer sand, and a few other people with luggage and children awaiting the voyage – a relief! Our pirogue lay on its side in the water ahead of us, with the crew bailing water out while the boat slowly righted itself. Sunrise was beautiful as we navigated the shallows. A man back on shore waved, and we waited as he waded across the bay and clambered in with an enormous gas canister. We taxied out of the estuary and the crew hoisted a large, battered sail. Initial enthusiasm wavered as we hit increasingly hairy seas, our low boat tossed about by huge waves thrown up by the meeting of river and sea.

The bikes safely stowed for our voyage.

The bikes safely stowed for our voyage.

Finally the sail was furled as we approached Banjul and The Gambia.

Finally the sail was furled as we approached Banjul and The Gambia.

Senegal!

We finally left the desert and found ourselves in West Africa. A couple of days wandering St Louis du Senegal provided a welcome conclusion to sandy cycling, with crumbling French buildings covered by cascades of flowers, and refreshingly cold and cheap beers! We then kept up a new found trend of cycling a relaxing 20km a day instead of 100+ and spent a few days camping near the Langue de Barbarie national park.

The fishing fleet at Guet Ndar, St Louis du Senegal.

The fishing fleet at Guet Ndar, St Louis du Senegal.

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The view of the old town from the Faidherbe bridge, which was designed by Gustav Eiffel and somehow shipped to St Louis during French colonial times.

The view of the old town from the Faidherbe bridge, which was designed by Gustav Eiffel and somehow shipped to St Louis during French colonial times.

If you ever wondered where discarded charity shop clothes end up... It was difficult to leave this cavernous shed of wonders without an entire new wardrobe.

If you ever wondered where discarded charity shop clothes end up… It was difficult to leave this cavernous shed of wonders without an entire new wardrobe.

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Back in the land of beer!

Back in the land of beer!

The other side of the bridge

The other side of the bridge

Cat in a bowl!

Cat in a bowl!

Crazy toucan thing! (Yet to find out what this is...)

Red billed hornbill

Nice camping spot.

Nice camping spot.

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Canoeing around the Langue de Barbarie natural park.

Canoeing around the Langue de Barbarie natural park.

A European roller.

A European roller.

This monkey honestly stole one of our bananas.

This monkey honestly stole one of our bananas.