03-Feb-2008 -- I have eyed this confluence for a number of years now as I go back and forth to eastern Niger, but have never had the opportunity to try it.
On February 3, 2008 I was on a solo trip west in a four-wheel drive vehicle and had gotten an early start from Birnin Konni, where I spent the night in a Tuareg courtyard batting mosquitoes, and where I was awakened at 4:30 by loud prayer calls from the neighboring mosques, so I decided to try to find 13N 3E. I had once tried to find it on Google Earth and remembered that although the resolution was not high, what looked like the easiest route passed through an area of buttes or flat-topped hills, so I reckoned that coming in from the east might be easier.
I found a track heading south from the main paved road just after the village of Tombo Keyna. For about a kilometer I was doing well; then I found that the track led only to a sandy powerline road. I looked for a bit for another track heading south and found a donkey-cart track heading in a southwesterly direction. This I took until it passed through a thicket that was too dense for my vehicle. I searched for a way around it and finally came out on the other side. February is dry season in Niger and all the bushes and shrubs carry a thick coating of grey dust, so the car was soon covered. I followed the cart track and its deep, sandy ruts until I was abreast of the Confluence at about 5 kilometers distance and was getting no closer.
The track seemed to head in the general direction of the village of Karra, which I had entered into my GPS from a map some years before. I then turned south once again and crossed a hard pan with a well-defined track which led me to a point just over 3 km from the Confluence. I could no longer make headway with the vehicle, so decided to leave it and hike the rest of the way. There were a few problems with this, however; my GPS battery is four years old and long dead, and normally doesn't last more than a few minutes away from its power supply. I was not sure if I had enough power to make it to the Confluence and back to the car, which was parked in some thick shrubs and not visible from a distance. In addition, I was not wearing appropriate footwear and I knew my thin-soled deck shoes would probably blister me on the hot ground. Neither did I have a hat with me, and my water supply was limited as well. But after considering for a bit I decided to go for it.
I set off at a fast pace through the bush. I would turn the GPS on periodically to get a fix on a taller tree or shrub and then turn it off again. The temperature was 32°C (which is really rather nice for Niger), but it was noon and the sun was quite strong. Abnormally for this area of the world, I saw no villages, and met only one person, a Fulani herdsman with his cows at about 300 metres distant. There were very few cultivated fields. I flushed a covey of partridges from a clump of bushes, which gave me a start. Finally I arrived at the Confluence and got a shot of the zeroes before photographing the area.
Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Helmut Resch had visited the Confluence just four days earlier, as I found when I got home and logged on, but I did not detect or notice any evidence of his presence. This was disappointing to me after all my effort, but I note that he has also visited at least one of my Confluences (17N 8E) subsequent to my visit.
I hiked back to the vehicle with blisters developing on the balls of my feet and was able to find the car without the aid of the GPS, as its chromed mirrors glinted through the bush. I drove back out to the sandy cart track and rather than retracing my steps I turned west and headed to the village of Karra, as the Garmin basemap has a road from there leading to the large town of Birnin Gaouré, on the main paved road. On the way I made a steep descent off one of the flat hills I had spotted in Google Earth, but the track was not bad. I was expecting an improved laterite road leading from Karra to the pavement, but it was little better than the cart track I had been on, although more traveled by motorized vehicles. Nine kilometers later I was in Birnin Gaouré and came out in the middle of the market to the main road, whereupon I turned northwest and headed in to Niamey (where I was to find that my visit was not the first one). Congratulations to Mr. Helmut Resch on his 57th confluence! I look forward to reading the account of how he reached the place.