30-Jan-2003 -- While on a marathon 4000-kilometre trip through northern Nigeria I of course was on the lookout for possible confluence points. There were several within 10 kilometres of the basemap roads, but the terrain even in northern Nigeria is rougher and more covered than where I live in Niger, rendering most of them impractical due to my trip schedule. However, nearing the plateau city of Jos on the eighth day of the journey, I began tracking 10N 9E and found that I came within 5 kilometres of it on the main road from Bauchi, about 20 kilometres or less from Jos. The point looked to be in a valley just northwest of the Shere Hills, which rise to a height of 1781 metres (5842 feet), so I for once had a chance at a scenic Confluence among so many flat ones in West Africa.
We drove on into Jos and I began to plan for my expedition. I went by the government's mapping agency to look for a large-scale map of the area, but they were on strike! No one I knew or met had such a map either. Finally towards the end of the first day in town I met a young man who lived just off the Bauchi road east of the town of Tilden Fulani and not far from the point in question. He assured me he knew of a road leading south from the highway that would take me nearer the Confluence and seemed not to think I was crazy for wanting to go there. So we set up a rendezvous for the next morning early, at Ibrahim's house.
The morning of the hunt dawned cold (by West African standards, 11° C, 52° F) and slightly dusty. I headed out of Jos to the north in light traffic with my headlights on and followed the highway as it turned northeast towards Bauchi and began to descend from Jos' 1200-meter (4000-foot) elevation. Ibrahim was waiting as scheduled at a filling station near his house. I met his wife and children at the house and without much further ado we set out back towards the west, tracking the point. Within a short distance we were in Tilden Fulani and Ibrahim indicated I should turn south on a hardly noticeable road which looked to dead-end in a market. Following his directions we skirted the market and headed south on a terrible track over which we could make no more than 20 km/h. Fortunately it was dry season. We crossed a dry stream bed and then forded a stream that had been reduced to a trickle, and stopped to ask for a track leading west of some fellows on bicycles. We were at this point due east of the Confluence at a distance of 1.9 kilometres.
The men told us to keep going a short distance until we reached a primary school, where we would see a track leading to the right. We did this but the track continued in a basic southerly direction and led us no closer to our objective, and it petered out within a few hundred metres. Consequently we turned back and headed for a small track I had noticed in the vicinity of where we had accosted the men. It was practicable by car only a short distance and we got out and prepared to trek with the GPS reading 1.64 kilometres to go. As is usual in these parts, there were trails everywhere and we began to feel our way forward, following the indications of the GPS as closely as possible. We came soon upon a man washing clothes near an open well in the midst of some gardens, and he pointed us in the general direction of where we desired to head after skirting his fields.
We crossed a deep ravine which was dry and continued steadily east, with the path becoming less and less travelled as we went. The scenery was quite dramatic, with mountains all around, although we never climbed over 1000 metres (3300 feet) in the valley. We came upon a courtyard set about in the Plateau State manner with prickly pear and baobab trees. The people, of the Jarawa tribe, were cooking breakfast in the open and kindly invited us to eat with them but we declined, explaining we were trying to reach an objective. They graciously showed us a path leading towards the Confluence. Finally we came to a riverbed with a lot of sand and gravel in it, and a stream that was still a couple of meters wide in the narrow spots. Ibrahim jumped it but I hesitated, not being nearly as young and not wanting to get my shoes wet for the hike back. So we climbed back out onto the banks and moved through the bush trying to find a narrower place in the stream. We did eventually and were less than 300 metres away when we climbed the southern bank.
Cutting through some yam fields we neared a large tree and marked the spot with my confluence flag, taking a picture of the zeros on the GPS held by Ibrahim. True to my expectations the place was quite scenic although the sun's angle was not too good for picture-taking and I found later I had a smudge on my lens. We headed back by a shorter route and crossed the stream easily this time. We made it back to Ibrahim's house in under an hour and after exchanging addresses took our leave of each other. I was back in Jos by 10:30 AM with what I believe to be the first successful land-based confluence in Nigeria.
Continued at 11N 8E.