Day 56: Djenne

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Thu 30 Dec 2010 17:28
Day 56: Thursday 30 December 2010.  Encampement Houbair, Djenne Mali.  N13 44.449 W004 33.356. Distance driven 350 km. Total distance 9,982 km
Last night we walked into Segou, overshot the waterfront and took a pirogue ride at dusk about a mile upstream to a riverside restaurant, L'Esplanade where we had cold beer and indifferent pizzas - very Malian! The riverside scene at dusk was fascinating - all the village women doing their laundry in the river as well as washing themselves and their small children.
After  a leisurely breakfast we took off on the road towards Mopti.  It was mostly a good surface but went through countless villages all with multiple speed bumps all of which were unmarked and mostly difficult to see in the strong sunshine.  We hit a few rather too hard but no damage done.  There were frequent police check points but, for those where the policeman was actually evident, we received a lazy wave on.  The villages were much tidier than those nearer Bamako and it was fascinating to drive very slowly through them looking at all the local wares and changes of building type.
After about 300 km we turned off the Mopti road for Djenne and drove along a raised causeway across  the Niger delta waters with paddy fields at each side.  This eventually brought bus to a small ferry across to Djenne where we were besieged by would-be guides all touting for business.  We fought most of them off by claiming not to understand French.  Ours was the only vehicle on the ferry, together with a few motorcycles, three horse drawn carts and their horses travelling separately. Once across we drove another 10 km into the town of Djenne, a World Heritage site, and gained sanctuary from the would-be guides and touts in the Encampement.  Unfortunately, their camping area is not at all private so we have opted for a simple room again.
We have now engaged the services of an Official Guide for a tour of historic Djenne tomorrow.