03-Sep-2005 -- This is the first visit to a Confluence on our 3-week bicycle tour in West Africa from Dakar (Senegal) to Conakry (Guinea). The CP is located in Southern Senegal – more precisely in the isolated province "Casamance". The reason for its isolation from the rest of Senegal is the small, but long country Gambia, which almost splits Senegal into two parts. As a result of the isolation, there have been claims for independence by the people living in the Casamance. The civil war in this region is over now, but once in a while there are still some incidents recorded.
After a week's cycling from Dakar via Gambia, we reached the town Bignona in the Casamance, which is located 30 km south-west from the confluence point. We decided to make a little excursion and visit the point. The distance from the sealed main road N4 between Bignona and Bounkiling is only 5 km and our map indicated an unsealed road passing right through the degree confluence.
Indeed, just 100 m next to the bridge crossing a side river of the big stream Soungrougrou (an inflow to the Casamance River), we spotted such an unsealed road. With just 5 km to cycle, it seemed to be no problem. The track was sandy, sporadically muddy (at least in the rainy season) but nevertheless bikeable.
Suddenly a motor-bike with two men riding it approached and stopped us. One of the men looked like he was 'important' or at least it seemed he was not one of the local farmers living in that area. He asked where we wanted to go. We pointed to our Confluence direction and explained to him that we have to go another 4 km in that direction. To our surprise, he warned us under no means to continue this way. The area would be under control of the rebels and would be dangerous. We rather should follow the track along the river.
With an insecure feeling we followed his recommendation: we went back to the main road and followed another track along the river. We asked ourselves why this way should be more secure than the other one, if both tracks are only 2 km apart from each other. And anyway, we would somehow have to go to the spot 13N 16W. With these thoughts in mind, another cyclist passed us. When we asked him about the security of the way ahead, he clearly recommended going only 1 km further to the next village. Beyond that village there would be a no-go area (forming his arm into a gun).
Ok, this was enough! We immediately turned around and continued our trip on the main highway to Ziguinchor, a city also called 'the heart of the Casamance'.
CP visit details:
- Time at nearest approach: 15:30 p.m.
- Duration: 4 hours (until we were back to Bignona)
- Nearest distance to the CP: 4.5 km
- Given Name: The Rebels' Confluence
Story continues at 12N 15W.