08-Jan-2005 -- Continued from 19N 13E.
Bilma, it is 8 a.m. and the 5th January 2005. The Hamatan (desert wind) was howling the whole night and everybody was ready to leave this windy place. Outside Bilma we went to the famous salt mines but cut our visit short because of the terrible wind and proceeded in direction of the Oasis Fachi, which we hoped to reach in the afternoon.
So far we travelled a bit over 2000 km and we were so to speak on the way back to Abuja. The sand storm came right from reverse direction of our route and the cooling systems did not work efficient enough anymore on our vehicles and we had to stop several times to let the engines cool down. At one of these stops I received a call via satellite telephone that there were some problems at Abuja and I subsequently should get into the next plane and fly there. It might be a good idea for someone who sits in a nice air-conditioned office to try to solve a problem this way. But if you are in the middle of a sandstorm and in the centre of the desert Ténéré and hoping to be out of this predicament within three days if everything works to plan, you definitely have a different approach and priorities on this matter. In the afternoon we reached Fachi, we had a good look around at the settlement at the oasis. We got reprimanded to see the local Gendarmerie post, which took longer than anticipated. We were ordered to take a guide with us and have to report the next morning and collect the guide at 7 a.m. The next day we wanted to collect the guide and continue. Due to some differences of opinion of our chief negotiator in getting an official receipt for paying some small fees, we got further delayed and at the end we paid much, much more - diplomatic errors in the middle of the desert. Eventually we managed to leave around 11 a.m.
We made some good progress in travelling to Agadez and reached Agadez very exhausted after nightfall at 9 p.m. The following day we stayed at Agadez and we got entangled with the local tourist office regarding travelling without a guide most of our journey, which cost us a lot of nerves and money before it was solved. The next morning we left Agadez and followed the road to Zinder. At Tanout we decided to turn off and visit the confluence 15N 9E, which was approximately 26 km away. Most of the way we drove cross-country and reached the Confluence at 3:45 p.m. We did not stay long at the Confluence, it was late in the afternoon and we still wanted to get to Zinder.
Around 10 km before Zinder we were as close as 3 km from the confluence 14N 9E, but it was too late for a visit and we continued to Zinder where we spent the night. The next day we continued our journey and crossed the border into Nigeria, which proved to be a time and nerve consuming task. After nightfall we reached Kano. The next morning after a good breakfast we started the last stretch of this fantastic trip and reached Abuja in the afternoon.