Bus 370+ km to Niamey was best bus ride yet...comfortable, reg. bus bus, on time(left at 6am arr. at 530pm), easy border crossing even w/ 1+hr wait. Countryside gradually getting dryer...Thun(Anthony-Dutch fellow retired UN) remembers jungle(big trees & animals) in NE Burkina Faso some 30 yrs ago now all clear cut just scrub brush and no trees over 20 ft. tall. He says the laterite soil is very thin & easy to wash out get played out. Most subsistance farmers used to cultivate crop and then let lie fallow 2-3 yrs. At border I bought a bag of gum from acacia trees(really only ones growing other than a few baobob which tend to have all their branches stubbed back(firewood)on border crossing into Niger, a resin looks like amber.
We took a taxi to a place close to Marta & Enricos where Marta picked us up. They are the Italian couple who we met on bus from Bamaco to Segou...wonderful folks, super hospitable, great conversations/stories! Beautiful home here with EU mission to help establish dept of justice and democratic institutions.
Dec 6 Went to Natl Museum, nice skeletons of giant croc, dinosaurs...sad zoo tho! Reminds me too much of what little is left in W Africa.
Dec 7 To see giraffes(not in zoo!)...drove off road in 4wd with guide(required) for almost an hour and about to give up when lo and behold 8 of them eating off tops of acacia trees! See pics. After watching(Bon & Mari chasing them to get pics) we continued back toward the highway and suddenly the guide had the driver pull off into brush and drive a ways and there were 9 more incl 3 young ones!!Visit Niger Wild Giraffes