04-Jan-2005 -- Time was after 2 p.m. and this was on 28 December 2004. Our convoy was leaving confluence 14N 13E and proceeding north towards Nguigmi. At Nguigmi, after we registered at the police station, we got all punctured tyres repaired and fuelled up. At dusk we left the town for the desert and travelled approximately 10 km out of the town, turned off the track and set up the camp for the night.
The next morning we continued in the direction of Ngourti. After travelling almost an hour, we had divergent opinions on the route to follow and this lead our convoy to split up again in different directions to Ngourti. After we had reached Ngourti, we waited outside the village for more than an hour till the rest of the convoy was complete again. At this point we travelled another 17 km and ended up at a newly built oil rig in the middle of nowhere, and we all knew that was the wrong way and we also found out very fast that we were not welcome at all. We were asked to stop the engines of the vehicles, but we rather turned around and went back the same way we came and turned off cross-country some few kilometres, and followed the direction the GPS guided us for an hour before we found a beautiful place where we set up the camp for the night.
The next morning we continued to travel cross-country and eventually found the track leading to Fort Agadem. We travelled from one waterhole to the next always guided by the GPS and eventually reached the oasis Fort Agadem. Excited by this fact, nobody took attention that we travelled the last minutes to the old Fort on a salt pan and there it happened that the truck with all of its 16 tons of weight sank in and got stuck. It took us exactly 24 hours of hard work not mentioning the frustration to get the truck out again. I never knew that it can be such a pleasure to see a truck on solid ground again.
We travelled a few kilometres and set up the camp outside Fort Agadem next to the dunes. It was actually the last day of the year and after we had taken our evening meals, the majority of us went to sleep. The hard work to get the truck out had taken its toll. However, Herwig and I managed to stay awake till midnight drinking a few glasses of red wine. The next morning we made good progress and reached before noon the oasis of Dibella. Now there was a good possibility that we might reach the oasis of Zoou Baba before nightfall. In the late afternoon the GPS revealed that we were only 6 km from Zoou Baba. However, we tried very hard but did not find a suitable passage to get through the dunes this afternoon and tempers rose. We had no choice but to set up the camp alongside the dunes. The next morning after breakfast we had no problems to find the passages through the dunes and we were at Zoou Baba well before noon. Zoou Baba is a very isolated place with about one hundred inhabitants only. From Zoou Baba we went through the Tengatenga Plateau and reached Bilma just before dark. We set up our camp a few kilometres outside the town.
The next day in the afternoon some of us decided to travel to Dirkou and tried to visit confluence 19N 13E. Outside Dirkou we found the way up the mountain ridge and travelled cross-country up to the Confluence without any problems. After celebrating the successful visit with a couple of cold beers, we all returned to Bilma to our camp.
Continued at 15N 9E.