It started like a joke. After a few beers discussing motorcycles and travels, José shares that he wants to go to Senegal by road during his two weeks of Christmas vacations. I'm laughing. Two weeks to ride 12000kms, the idea is crazy! No, it takes at least three, and still, it would be a silly challenge. Ok for three then! Are you coming?
That's how a few days later, we met in front of the Eiffel Tower to take pictures of the start, as in the great era when Paris-Dakar still means Africa.
Of course, with only three weeks, no question of replaying the Auriol - Neveu battle on the Moroccan tracks. France, Spain and Morocco will be crossed in one go, by highways and national roads.
The journey really starts at the Mauritanian border, and its famous no-man's land. I'd like to tell how heroic was our crossing, how we braved difficulties like heroes on steel horses. But no. Except for a small kilometer of sandy track, crossing this no-man's land does not actually present any difficulty. The welcome in Mauritania is incredibly warm. Several people thank us for visiting their country and urge us to convey the image of a welcoming and safe country, which tourists have unfortunately deserted. Victim of our too tight schedule, we have no time to take east towards the Adrar and its thousand-year-old cities, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We enter Senegal by the Diama dam and are immediately greeted by a horde of monkeys crossing the road. The big dunes give way to baobabs and termite mounds, a great background to photograph our bikes. After Dakar and its tumult, we take south-east towards Tambacounda. We arrive in the middle of a fireworks. We have just spent new year on our bikes! We celebrate the event with dignity until the nightclubs close. The next morning, we take the road with difficulty towards Kédougou and the park of Niokolo-Koba, which shelters the last lions of Senegal. We climb the magnificent laterite tracks towards Dindéfelo at night, to dive the next morning in the cold waters fed by the famous waterfalls.
We are looking south, Guinea is less than ten kilometers away. But it is already time to turn back. There is only one topic we discussed during our way home: when are we coming back to continue the journey?
THE ADVENTURE SPEC KIT
I rode the whole trip with the Mongolia Jacket and Pants, and it was perfect for these conditions! It's my second long trip in that suit, and after 25000kms it's still looking almost new!
Mongolia Trail Jacket:
It's the jacket I like the most in the suit. It is really comfortable, the ventilation is awesome, the pockets are practical and ideally placed. The collar is very high when closed, it's perfect when it's cooler. In case of a small rainfall, the jacket dries very quickly. Some criticisms? Interior fabric scratches a little bit the arms if you wear a t-shirt, and the design is a little too offroad for my taste (the Linesman looks more sober).
Trail Waterproof Shell:
It's also very comfortable and allows to really adapt to all weather conditions thanks to the really good ventilation. The pockets are also very practical. The design is quite sober. Only defects, in heavy rain, water seeps through the zippers if the flaps are not perfectly positioned. Also, the Kevlar protected parts are quite long to dry when wet. I have never used the hood.
Mongolia Trail Pant:
With the integrated protections only, I find it a little too wide, especially at the knees and thighs. It's much better with protective shorts, and I wore one the whole trip. It's even better with knee pads, but it's too uncomfortable for a long trip. For the rest, it's very good. Waterproof enough for a small rain shower. Bomb-proof, you can kneel or sit down everywhere without even looking before. The vents are wide and work well, and the pockets are deep.
I really like these panniers! They are big enough to carry everything you need for a long trip, easy to open and close and totally waterproof. The external pockets are very practical for water bottles. The attachment system is good, and they attach quite quickly to a rigid support. After several small falls, hundreds of kilometres in the sand and in the rain, they still look new! I’ll take them for my next trip without any hesitation!