After passing the Senegal River, we headed north. We took one of the tracks, somebody told us that had to be the way in the direction of Mauritania, though another guy told us nobody took this route and there was another better track or road.
We decided to continue our route and followed the dust cloud of the mitsubishi in front of us. According to the map we had to reach the Mauritanian border somewhere, even when we should bend a bit from the route straight northbound, either to the east or to the west .
The area north of Kayes is a grassy Sahel area, stretching along the southern part of the Sahara desert.
There were no roads, only tracks, which we could not always recognize very clearly, because they were sometimes destroyed during the rainy season.
The first part of the landscape north of Kayes was very scenic, even dramatic with so many impressive baobab trees with their striking silhouets.
In the small village north of Kayes, where we looked for the police post, we saw at the other side of the central place a few foodstalls.
There were couple of small tables with wooden benches. The people showed us they had tins with softdrinks and beckoned us to come closer. I don't know what they had to eat, because we decided to continue our journey to the border, to eat the bread, we bought in Kayes and to drink from our own supply.
At the edge of the village we saw a lot of women, beautifully dressed in their colourful African dresses. They gathered around the waterpump, fetching water for their families and households .
After driving for a long time through the barren and almost empty landscape we were surprised to see suddenly so many people. Maybe they were even more surprised to see us, coming from nowhere and going to nowhere.
At first sight it looked like it would not be easy to find you way in the tangle of alleyways in the village. But we found out, that the incoming track led to the central place of the village.
At this dusty place we made a stop. Lots of people gathered here, approached our car, looked at us and were very curious to know who we were and where we came from. Especially the kids asked us these questions, if speaking French, sometimes translating it for elder people.
Sometimes the tracks passed a compound at a rather short distance, so we reduced speed for not disturbing the rural life too much.
There is not much traffic in this area, so the people were mostly very curious to see us. The kids waved most of the times very enthusiastically, but sometimes they were afraid and run away.
It's hardly to imagine how people, mainly pastoralists, can live and survive in these remote dry and dusty areas under difficult circumstances.
While travelling north of Kayes, the track was sometimes leading into a small village. The houses were all constructed of the local mud, so the colours of the earth and the buildings were the same.
Though it was hot, most of the time there were people around the buildings, sitting in the shade. The kids mostly ran into our direction and started enthusiastically to wave. Maybe we were the only car that crossed their village that day ?
In the area north of Kayes live Fulani, Soninke and Black Moor tribes. These nomadic tribes live in small communities scattered throughout the Sahel, usually many miles from each other.
Not far north of Kayes we saw the first small villages with not more than one or a few compounds, scattered in the landscape far away from any facilities. The compounds had with round huts, constructed with the natural materials of the region.
The walls of the huts are made of mud and the huts have thatched roofs, like in many parts of Africa. These villages and compounds fit perfectly in the surrounding landscape, like they allready do for centuries.
On our way out of the village we reached a river or pond. It was very scenic with lots of water-lillies in it
At the riverbank we saw a concrete draw-well. We were surprised to see suddenly this very lifely place with boys and men fetching water. For the tranportation of the water they used donkey carts with huge blue plastic containers on it.
In the area north of Kayes, heading to the north into the direction of Mauritania, we had to cross a lot of dry riverbeds.
Most of the time we could cross the riverbeds rather easily with our 4WDs, because we visited this area in the dry season. I suppose it will be more difficult or even impossible to drive these tracks during the wet season.
In this village north of Kayes, we saw hardly any name of the villages we crossed, we stopped in the centre and looked for a police post.
We asked our way to the Mauritanian border and Kankossa, the first town or village in south Mauritania with border facilities. Also we had to look for a Malinese place to check out of Mali. We didn't find the place Aourou, halfway Kayes and the border, where they must have border facilities.
Sometimes the track we followed, led into the narrow alleyways of a village. It gave sometimes a strange feeling, that we could enter so easily the intimity of such a village and the local life of its inhabitants.
Luckily the people reacted friendly, allthough we had sometimes the feeling to disturb their daily life by crossing their village with our 4 WDs, being total strangers.
In the same village, where we met the women at the waterpump, we saw beautifully constructed and shaped buildings of red adobe architecture.
In front of the buildings, in the shade of a large tree, we saw a wooden bed. It 's the place where usually the elder men gather, but at the moment we passed there was nobody around.
Most people of the nomadic tribes of the Fulani, Soninke and Black Moor in the area north of Kayes are muslim. In the villages we saw often mosques, even large ones, like this one at the picture.
There are hardly any christians in this part of Mali. Because in the eyes of muslims Jesus is a prophet with a great healing power, I heard the handful of christians north of Kayes goes by the name of 'followers of Jesus' instead of christians.
The man who guided us out of the village showed us the place where we could cross the water before he went back to the village. At the other side of the water we should catch again the right track to Mauritania, he told.
At the place of the rivercrossing we saw a lot of cows with their spectacular wide horns and a lonely camel, standing in the water and drinking.
All the way from Kayes this was the first time we saw water !