Day 62: From here to Timbuctoo

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Wed 5 Jan 2011 16:21
Day 62: Wednesday 5 January 2011. Tenere encampement, near Tomboctu, Mali. N16 24.092 W002 53.952 Distance driven 480 km (including 60 km back-tracking)
It was a cold night in our tent and we regretted shipping our duvet with the Oasis truck (we had a sort out of all our warm weather clothes a couple of weeks ago and packed them off to Namibia with Oasis to give us more room in the Land Rover).  Up at 0545 and off on the road at 0700, firstly to Sevare to replenish funds from the ATM and then eastwards to Douentza.  That was about 230 km on pretty good tar roads.  In Douentza we shopped for a few items and filled up with diesel before setting off northwards to Tomboctu, about 210 km way on a dirt road (piste) which got steadily worse.  At first we easily made 70-80 kph but the rented Toyota Land Cruisers were faster than us although to overtake they had to plough through our dust stream.
Whilst Jenny was driving she suddenly lost the brakes and we found that one of the rear brake pipes had fractured, no doubt though the excessive vibration driving over the corrugated piste.  I managed to blank off the joint at the failed pipe so that we had 3 working brakes but the system is full of air so the braking action is very poor and spongy. Nevertheless, the car will stop eventually! Hopefully we can get it fixed in Tomboctu tomorrow. 
There is a 3 day music festival in the desert starting tomorrow so there is a lot of traffic over this normally very quiet road.  We ploughed on until we reached the ferry but then got a message that our friends form the Sleeping Camel had camped 30 km back so we drove back to join them.  This was a lucky move as they had arranged a "meshwi" - a feast of roast whole lamb stuffed with couscous and lots of salad dishes, followed by a musical evening around the camp fire with the local villagers.  We had a wonderful evening of entertainment.