11-Aug-2007 -- The story starts from 11N 1W.
Just a short summary on the events that happened in between these two confluence visits: In Ghana we cycled southwards via Bolgatanga to Tamale. From Tamale we turned eastwards trying to approach this Confluence from the Ghana side via Bassar. But unfortunately we couldn't get across the border at Tatali due to a missing Togo visa. In order to get to the Togolese town Sokodé we had to make a huge deviation: first, we had to go 200 km back to Tamale while hitting into corrupt policemen who wanted to see the bills of our bicycles or otherwise confiscate our bikes. Despite of getting sick and weak, we then took a flight to Ghana's capital Accra, crossed the border into Togo at the Atlantic coast into Togo's capital Lomé. After getting robbed there we took a cramped 6-hour journey by bus to Sokodé, which is 15 km beeline from the Confluence.
In order to visit this remote Confluence in the Malfakassa mountains, I calculated a whole day for covering the remaining 2 x 15.3 km beeline from Sokodé to the Confluence and back. We hit the road with our bicycles in the early morning, but even before we could leave the Sokodé Township, a sudden thunderstorm forced us to find shelter. After three hours of continuous heavy showers, we finally could get started. At this point Elionora decided to return back to the hotel and relax. She figured that the paths must be extremely muddy and additional constraints as a result of the view hours of remaining daylight time would give that trip a hectic component.
I continued cycling further west on a dirt track, thereby several times asking for directions. According to the map, there was a village called Kourvon fairly close to the Confluence. But communication and understanding with locals was limited. Togolese just laugh, when I ask how far it is to Kourvon – "how do I know?" The outcome of the estimation of distances usually has two categories: far or not far. A typical route description reads: "follow that path until you see a mosque. There you ask again." However, it works that way.
At the beginning the track was busy with pedestrians. The further I went into the bush, the less people I met and the smaller the track became. At a beeline distance of 3.5 km the path divided into three smaller paths. I tried out all three and each time returned back, because they ended or went the wrong direction. At the end I choose the northernmost path and followed it to its end (picture #6), where I left my bike behind and started hiking. For a while I made slow progress while hiking cross-country. My speed was too slow to make it in time and I began to feel hopeless, when I suddenly hit a foot-path leading in the correct direction. Following it I could reduce the distance to the CP from 3 km down to 800 m in no time. From there, I had to find my way through the bushland again.
At a distance of 400 m the most difficult obstacle appeared in front of me: a deep canyon with dense vegetation. Time was running and progress was extremely slow again. I had to be very cautious not to fall down or get hurt. This area is already unpopulated and I was alone. Nobody would find me here – well, Elionora would exactly know at what coordinates I could be found.
However, I made it through the valley, crossed a little river at the bottom and climbed it up on the other side again. At 14:00 hrs I finally reached the Confluence in a sweaty, thirsty, and mosquito bitten stage. I quickly carried out the documentation of the CP, because the mosquitoes were using me as their blood-tank while I was not moving.
The way back was much quicker, since I knew the route and most of the way was downhill. At 17 hrs I was back in Sokodé. One last confluence point in Togo remains unvisited – but it should be easier to be reached than this one.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 14:10 p.m.
- biking time: 2 hours (from Sokodé)
- hiking distance: 3.5 km (beeline), 2 hours
- Distance to a road: 14 km
- Distance to houses: 3.5 km
- Topography: mountainous, steep canyons.
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 4 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 8 m
- GPS height: 400 m
- Vegetation: Small trees of different types. On the ground a thick grass cover.
- Weather: cloudy, 28° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In the remote Malfakassa mountains in the central part of Togo. Unpopulated area with deep canyons and forests. On a steep grade.
- Given Name: The Tough Togo Confluence
Story continues at 11N 1E.