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the Degree Confluence Project
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Benin

15.5 km (9.6 miles) WSW of Mamassi, Alibori, Benin
Approx. altitude: 199 m (652 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 12°S 177°W

Accuracy: 6 m (19 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View to the North #3: View to the East #4: View to the South #5: View to the West #6: EPE and Distance on the bottom left and right, respectively #7: Jim standing on the Confluence #8: The park ranger with his shotgun #9: Old clay pot partially buried in the ground #10: Ancient grinding stone #11: Rolling red stone hills, a few kilometers from the Confluence

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  12°N 3°E  

#1: Shot of the Confluence from a few meters back

(visited by Jim Rybarski and Kelly Daly)

08-Apr-2009 -- We paid a park ranger and a taximoto driver to take us into the park on their motorcycles. The park ranger was invited mostly for his gun in case of a lion attack, which turned out to be unnecessary as the only animal we saw the entire time was a single warthog. We did see a bunch of elephant tracks in the dried mud, though, and there were a lot of paths that had been created by them trampling everything in their way. The closest we could get to the Confluence on the road was about 8 km, so we had to ride our motorcycles into the bush, which did not please the drivers. The vegetation alternated between extremely thick forest and empty, burned out patches. I'm still somewhat amazed that we got anywhere. After about an hour we got to within 800 meters of the Confluence when the park ranger's motorcycle got a flat.

We walked the rest of the way and found the Confluence under a tree, surrounded by the remains of what the park ranger claimed to be a prehistoric village. There were thousands of shards of old clay pots half-buried everywhere. We also found an old grinding stone which he told us was what they used before people invented the yam-smashing devices they use today to make pounded yams. The odds of this are pretty unbelievable - for the entirety of the trip we saw absolutely no signs of human civilization.

We took our pictures and returned to where the other guy was with the motorcycles. The ranger claimed he knew a shortcut to a road, where we could then take the one good motorcycle back to Karimama. "It's only 3 km away!" he said. After walking for three kilometers in the unbearable heat (it was well over 100°F/38°C), I asked him to show me on the map exactly where we were going. I put the coordinates in my GPS unit and it calculated that it was 14 kilometers away - six kilometers further than the park entrance we had come in through.

Just after we decided it would be better to cut our losses and hike back to the entrance, the other motorcycle got a flat. Up to that point we had been taking turns riding slowly on it as the others walked. So not only did we no longer have that option, but it slowed us down even more as the taximoto driver wasn't exactly in great shape and he couldn't push his motorcycle nearly as fast as the rest of us could walk.

About two hours later we made it back to the entrance. Our water had run out and we were exhausted. The taximoto guy pumped up his flat tire enough for him to take me and my friend back to Karimama. We left the park ranger at the entrance and the taximoto driver promised to come back to bring him a tire (which he did).


 All pictures
#1: Shot of the Confluence from a few meters back
#2: View to the North
#3: View to the East
#4: View to the South
#5: View to the West
#6: EPE and Distance on the bottom left and right, respectively
#7: Jim standing on the Confluence
#8: The park ranger with his shotgun
#9: Old clay pot partially buried in the ground
#10: Ancient grinding stone
#11: Rolling red stone hills, a few kilometers from the Confluence
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)
  Notes
Within the confines of the very large, trans-national (Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger) "Parc National du W du Niger"