Friday, 25 January 2008

Dakar to home

24th: Caught the Dakar to Madrid flight at 23.55

25th: Caught the Madrid to London flight at 9am. Back in the UK at 11.00 and home via coach and bus at 3pm.

It's over!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

To Dakar

Sms We have tickets...! Arrived at Dakar after 13hrs in a taxi at 3am, found hotel, up at 7am and found a ticket office (shut). Waited till open at 9am and then booked. Swindon 12-14 on 25th

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

From Stella's to Dakar

Sms Paul, Chuck, Elaine and I are trying to get to Dakar now. This because the Thomas Cook rep at Banjul let us down with flights. Now at Kuntaur via Stellas boat and awaiting Musa Bah - Taxi driver.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Fixing bikes at Stella's

We work very hard on the bikes old bikes with their owners. These bikes were either ridden down 2 year ago on the first trip or sent in a shipping container last year.

The chief nurse is delighted when I fix a low power problem with his bike. Now the maintainance guy is trained up to set tappets by ear (since I did not have any feeler gauges).

New tyres, wheel bearings, oil, chain, sprockets, plug, clean filters (air and fuel). Other adjustments as necessary. Bikes all running very well afterwards!

In the evening we take a tour by boat around the Chimp santuary islands and have a few beers with Michelle Connolly (the Irish vet) and Declan. Michelle is running the place whilst Stella is away in the UK.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Leaving Bansang

We left the Hospital with a great send off on the 21st. Had a rough drive in the 2 cars to Stella's along the very poor south road. Can't imagine what this road must be like in the rainy season. It's almost impossible to drive along it in a 4x4 and so we spend most of the time driving along an unpaved track next to the road.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Fixing bikes at Bansang

Sms Spent yest fixing bikes (with 2 locals). We will have 6 runners from this trip all of which have been allocated by the hospital to staff. Tomorrow looking at bikes from last trip - all of which are being used.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Medical staff at Bansang

Sms 21 SENs, 9 SRNs, 16 Doctors (either Cuban or Nigerian - no Gambian). 200 beds, 250 staff in total, 600,000 people to cover. Supplies from Bansul takes 6-8 hours along very poor south road (carpet bombed)

Friday, 18 January 2008

Arrived at Bansang

Sms After 3 ferry crossings and travelling for 12.5 hours we've arrived today at Bansang Hospl. Countryside very beautiful. On the road for 23 days (inc. 1.5 days R&R)

The North Road

Banjul to Bansang

Sms Up at 6am to catch 1st ferry. Punture! Not enough room on ferry for both vehicles so separated! On the road to Bangsang near GeorgeTown the Shogen just died so swopped batteries with L200.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Down to Banjul

16th Jan M@S 21249

Rhombole to Banjul

First stop of the day was 60s after Speggo said "it's amazing that no one had a puncture after that (we parked next to a thorn bush). Still it was the first front wheel puncture and Paul managed to change the tyre without putting grease all over someone's sheepskin)...

Very interesting ride today, especially from Kaolack to Barra. At the picnic stop Speggo and I fixed a minor fuel leak on my bike (the float bowel had lost a screw). The road was very wide and had tarmac, but there was pot holes everywhere. To the side was another track that had no holes, but was rutted and sandy and Paul struggled abit especially. It was much easier to ride on the tarmac carving big loops to avoid the potholes. This kept our speed to a very comfortable 25mph.

At the border we were processed by the 2 sets of police and customs officials with efficiency we were unaccustomed to during this trip. It only took about 90 minutes, NO bribes and we were into The Gambia! WOW!

The road immediately deterioated yet further. Although the road was wide and graded there was no tarmac at all and so it was very very dusty. Within 10 miles we had been stopped 3 times by various officials, the last of which invited Paul into a dark office for "discussions" - an ominous sign. This time both he and Jo were asked by the immigration official to prove that they were police officers. Of the 6 officials there none of them had a numbered uniform and so we were dubious of their credentials. Still it worked and after 10 minutes we were free to proceed.

The Gambian villagers were giving us the most friendly and genuine reception so far. At last we could say where we were going and the purpose without fear of our supplies being impounded by some over zealous official.

2 km down the road we arrived at the very long queue of cars, buses, motorhomes (even) and lorries + hundreds of people. Somehow word had got out of our imminent arrival at the ferry to an official at Bansang Hospital and we were fasttracked to near the front of the queue as if we were VIPs.

Just a few years ago one ferry here capsized and all 320 people drowned. The 3 remaining ferries are hopelessly undersized and too slow for the demands to cross the 1 mile river.

It was just as well we were fasttracked as we arrived at 5pm, but did not get across to the other side until 9.30pm. We were tires, dirty, in the dark, with no hotel booked and no hotel name/number and not even sure where the hotel (used last time) was located. We eventually arrived at Sarge's hotel at 10.30pm at which time the Shogun refused to start. Luckily the hotel had room. We wanted this one because Anita has negotiated a special Bansang Hospital rate which we will use. Sarge's hotel is very comfortable and offers comfort we've not seen since Europe. However it reminds us Butlins at Skegness and has piped music (AAGH!!!) with lots of large people adorning the pool.

No Mobile Internet in The Gambia!

Sms No GPRS in Gambia so it is back to sms updates again.

We're at Sarge's hotel (Skegness meets Africa + piped music AAGH!) for 2 nights now. Jaq and Ian flying in later. Since we arrived so late last night we're catching up on washing, etc and will stay here two nights.

So off tomorrow morning on the ferry to the north side of the river again. This is because the road on the south side is very bad indeed...

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

At the Gambian Border

Sms At the Gambia border now and we will be taking the ferry (long queues) to Banjul after. 2night hoteling (hurrah) and 2morrow will buy tickets home for 25th. Bansang in eve.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Zebrabar day 2

Sun 13th cont.
After a 4 hour delay we set set off from the Senegalise border. This time though Jo's bike would not start - a new plug fixed that. By now it was getting dark and we had over 1 hour to go to Zebrabar. After 5 minutes there was yet another stoppage.... The trailer had had a blowout shredding the tyre. More delays...

And yet more.... We were stopped twice by the police at road stops and asked for documentation (and 20E). Paul did his "I am a Police Inspector in the Metropolitan Police force" bit yet again and we were on our way. The Zebrabar is 16 km out of town down - impossible to find in the dark, without Dennis, his GPS and chuck's bike. At this stage Denis' bike dis not have enough juice to power the headlight and the GPS unit. Animals all over the place - obviously unlit.

Mon 14th Jan
R&R @Zebrabar, maintenance on bikes. Water supply broken so showers, toilets, etc not working!! Lots of other travellers to talk to: mainly German & British plus NL, Swiss + 1 (solo) French-Canadian cyclist (Delphine) on her first trip to Africa. Delphine ran out of money in Mauritania, only to be offered a lift on the back of Mika's bike to a Bank in Senegal. Both she and Mika (Yamaha Tenere) tell me of their experiences when they caught Malaria. The Plymouth-Banjul guys are doing everything they can to keep their cars running (2 x BMWs, VW Golf, Fiesta, VW Polo, Renault 5).

Unfortunately Dennis has had to return home today due to a family bereavement. This is a great shame since Dennis has been absolutely integral to this trip. He has done a marvellous job of leading the was using his GPS each day. Also he did a great job is getting the bikes through the difficult days in the desert. Least of all we'll all miss his moaning first thing in the morning that we're too slow to pack-up. We all know he's right really....

Tue 15th Jan M@S 21105

ZebraBar to Rhombole

You can see Jo's blog here:

PaulS bike won't start at all and so it's consigned to the trailer. Still - we've Dennis' bike spare now and so that's used instead.

[Gnocchi - one of Paul's secret ingredients.]

Sunday, 13 January 2008


Sms Long live the Zebrabar...

We have earn't it!

Journal Agadir to Senegal Border

8th Jan. Mileage at start: 19906

TanTan Plage down to Laayonne

Had 2 good fish with chips at a cafe at Tarfaya for lunch. Met another BMW rider there who is travelling from the port there to the Canaries. [You can travel from the CIs back to the UK - another option for other Adventurers.

We passed into the Western Sahara just north of Laayonne. Whilst looking for a wild camp spot just south of Laayonne I hit a pot hole and had a blow-out. Not going too fast so no problem to stop. Dennis changed the tube in 10 mins only to find the tyre was split and the rim bent. A hammer fixed the rim, but we decided to change the wheel with Steve's spares bike. Another more serious problem with my bike was also found - a broken exhaust manifold. The same problem was also found on Chuck and Steve's bike - the same as happened on Paul's bike earlier in the week.

So now we need to get 4 exhausts fixed tomorrow somewhere.

Paul needed "IM" today and could not fart at all. He was in trouble for most of the day infact.

Finally I bashed my finger with a rock. Ian soon sorted me out with a plaster.

9th Jan
Mileage at start: 20114 No GSM

First of the daily Malerone

100 miles with no exhaust - no problem.... The bike dealer at Boujdour dropped everything to fix-up all the broken exhausts. He was ably assisted by a 12 year old who was totally combortable yeilding spanners. The mechanic had my exhaust off in 5 minutes and dissapeared round the corner to the brazer who joined the 2 seperate pieces with great skill. The beaming 12 year old duly refitted said exhaust and my bike was done. All within 30 mins! A similar process was repeated for the other 3 broken exhausts. Not bad eh?

Whilst waiting - it's best to be on hand to chivy the tradesmen on - a smartly dressed man befriended Ian, Dennis and I. Mouhammed lives above the garage and he invited us up for tea. Well - it turned out to be a lot more than that. First off he offered a hot shower which we declined so he then went through an elaborate hand washing ritual before offering sweet cakes, bread, honey and an oil. Then there was the tea and coffee, then then photos in all his best garments and then the offer of couscous as an evening meal. Meanwhile the bikes were still being fixed outside.

Rough camp ln on windy cliffs. foxes close to the camp

10th Jan M@S 20262 No GSM

Western Sahara to the deadly campsite

During the day the exhausts blew on my bike and then Chucks bike.

We both rode the last 50 miles with no exhaust at all!

Rough camped 95 miles north of the border. Someone told us we were camping in a place not allowed so we ended up pitching in the dusk on an old quarry. Very hard ground underneath.

11th Jan M@S 20516 No GSM

Western Sahara to Mauritania

Dennis spent the first hour fixing the exhausts on my bike and Steve's bike. He tryed to epoxy weld the manifold, but actually it only lasted 1 mile, but a well positioned jubilee clip held fast the silencer and thus meant some attenuation was afforded.

Ian had a spill when running into the back of Jo's bike and bruised if big left toe. later on the bruising was quite spectacular.

Rode down to the border. Very hot and dry indeed. Arrived at the border at 2pm. 4 of the group were processed by the customs straightaway, but the other 4 were left waiting for 90 minutes for no reason. The we had to be processed by 3 other authorities before finally leaving Marocco after a 3 hour stint.

Crossed the 3km minefield successfully!
During the process we ditched exceess beer and spirits which was immediately picked-up by someone living in the no man's land. He was very pleased with the 3 slabs we left there.

20616 miles at Mauritania border - friendly reception. Lots of spirits in the customs office.

We left the border at 6.30pm so ended up looking for a campsite in the dark. Luckily
Sahara campsite - pre-pitched teepees with pillows and candles. 2 mile oil train.

Used the mosquito net for first time - just as a practise.

Sat 12 Jan M@S 20634 No gsm

Mauritania to south of Nouakchott

Very pleasant stop yesterday at the Sahara campsite.

Rode from 9am till 8.30pm and then we. rough camped 60 miles south of Nouakchott (the capital). In total about 310 miles virtually all of which was desert. Lots of wind and sand in the eyes. Chuck had a blow out under the blazing sun. All in all a very hard days riding. Nouakchott is an absolute tip and anything goes as far as driving is concerned. On leaving we encountered out first "official" request for money from 2 policemen. They asked for 60Euros for car tax and were adament that we paid. Paul used his get out of jail card and said the Met would require an official receipt. This caused the to stop and rethink.

Mauritania is a desperately poor country and it's difficult to see how people survive in the desert especially.

Sun 13th M@S 20940

South of Nouakchott to ZebraBar

Rode 80 miles to Rosso and filled up there. Dennis gave a copy of the book he wrote of the first trip to one girl there - a girl who's photo is actually in the book. She was quite dumbstruck and is was a very nice moment indeed.

From there we rode the 70 offroad trail (through mosquito alley) to the senegal border near the coast. this was completed around 15.30

A Park official near the end tried to charge us 10 Euros each (park tax). After some of Paul's negotiation theis was reduced to 8000 oobijoobises.

Then at the Mauritanian border there was the Police (10 down to 5), then the customs 20E per car 10E per bike and then the community tax (500 oobijoobises per person). All just to get out of Mauritania. Mileage @ exit of Mauritania 21071

Crossed the bridge to Senegal and the gateman wanted 80E just to open the barrier. We only managed to get him down to 50E, but that was too much for Paul [who later said that was the worst "deal" of the trip].

Sengal Police 10 Euros per person
Sengal Customs. 440 Euros - negotiated down to 360 Euros
Sengal Insurance (we'd prearranged this)

I now have GSM/GPRS coverage again after 5 days. The last time I had coverage was 150 miles south of Agadir. (My home network is Vodafone. Elaine has had much better coverage - though not complete and her home network is O2).

This evening (and tomorrow) we are staying at the Zebra bar. It was set-up by by 2 Swiss people 10 years ago. It will hopefully allow us to have showers, a shave for me and wash ALL our clothes - the first time since we were at Marrakesh - about 6 days ago. Its got a cult status and all the Plymouth Banjul people are heading there also. We are not sure who will get there first though since they have an Australian with them and the Senegalise police are refusing to let him in.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Exhaust Manifolds

Sms Problems with exhaust manifolds on 4 bikes so far mean we have to stop at a welder. Punture on my bike yesterday and Steves engine failure mean more delays.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Security in Mauritania

Sms All well here. Please speak to Jonathan/Alyson for an update over the next few days.

[Posted later: This is because of our security concerns about Mauritania and the French tourists who were shot before Christmas]

The Blind Blog

If anyone is wondering about the strange appearance of the blog well here' the reason... This whole blog is being written using only a mobile phone - with built in GPS. I can't edit the blog or even view it whilst travelling so in essence you are seeing it before me!

Mileage at start 19618

Today we are off to Adadir to meet-up with Speggo and Elaine and then we're off to Tiznit. We are approx 5 days from Senegal.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Tizi N Test pass

We are now rough camping with a fire and stars for company. Tizi N Test pass in the Atlas mountains was wonderful - 70 miles of mountain hairpin bends - single track a lot of the way with a little snow ice at the top.

Lots of red mud villages on route. All villagers smiled and waved. Managed to video some of them since I was driving the L200 + trailer today.

At the top of the pass there were 3 Ambulance vans - from Bath Fire brigade on the Plymouth Banjul run.

Camped at the foot of the pass 200 m away from the road. Very quickly joined by 3 young locals on a donkey, their dad and about 60 goats.

Atlas Mountains

Sms 19507 Over Atlas Mountains today. No rain yday and for the nx 5 days. Ironic that all our tents were wet INSIDE last eveng due to the water in t air. A pain

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Route to Marrakech


Dennis had a punture today. Afternoon spent cleaning/preping. Evening at the souk


Sms M@S19412 @Hotel BelAir (no sink plug) last night. Paul said some1 was sawing wood all night in his room - I did forwarn. VG Cafe Chicken. Marrakech 2day

Friday, 4 January 2008

Mauritanian Visas...

We collected the Mauritanian visas today at Rabat. I was told, in passing, by a Frenchman that the Paris (Lisbon) Dakar has been cancelled by the French government. We need to see what impact this has upon us.

SO - we need time to think. It seems that the problem relates to the Algerian border - the other end of the country to our route.

Meanwhile it rained again today - for the third consecutive day. Steve is unwell and went off to the doctors. He's not driving/riding for 4 days.

We continued south past Casablanca and towards Marakesh. Now in a cheap (300 dirham) hotel for the night.

Here's todays route:


Sms M@S19312 Many deafening squalls during night. - had FIVE extra guy ropes and they were needed + v large pegs. Dry periods in morn4packing. Visa and the off to Casablanca

Thursday, 3 January 2008


Yesterday was supposed to be an easy day - only 100 miles down to Rabat. Jo rode her bike for the first ever time having never riden a C90 before. Within 5 miles Paul's bike had a broken exhaust so he continued on the Reverand's bike. Jo's bike then had problems for 20 miles and Dennis fixed this by cleaning the fuel filter. It still had tick-over, battery and electrical problems. Seems the "free" service by a Honda dealer was not too good then. All the other bike are going faultlessly.

We arrived at Rabat around 2pm. We stopped here in order to try and get a 30 transit visa for Mauritania rather than the 3 day visa from the border. This is because part of the group require more than 3 days for their desert route there....

However we had some problems finding the place and tempers were challenged. Eventually Dennis and I were led to the right place only to be told by a tall and very dark man behind a tiny window that we needed to go back there between 9 and 11 the following day.

So that was it for the day's travelling except getting to the campsite - in the rain and across a very busy Rabat.

Once ensconced the Police Inspector then, again exceeded expectations by cooking a Carbonara - sheltered only by a flapping tarp.

The rain subsided and we enjoyed the grub, through it was too wet'n'windy for a camp fire.

In bed at 8.20pm - bliss since it had been a much harder day than expected.

Thursday 3rd

Steve and I set off to sort out the visas (whilst the others had a lie-in. We were first in the queue there and were joined by lots of Marocans and other adventure traveller (for the Lisbon-Dakar).

Turns out the forms we had spent a lot of time preparing were out of date and so Steve and I had to complete by proxy the new forms. We only had 2 hours to do this, including getting the forms corrected if necessary. All the wording was in French and Arabic and so we had to work hard to get all 8 forms done. Then we has to requeue along woth everyone else. One Marocan did not appreciate that we had 8 forms to siubmit and gave us a bit of agro, but we sorted the out and thankfuly all 8 formas were accepted, together with the 20 Euros, Passport, Photocopy of passport and 2 passport photos. Phew. Steve and I left there at 5 to 11 so just in time. Now we have to go back again to collect out passports - at midday on Friday. So even if this goes OK it will have cost us 2 days!

It was still raining when we left. It is still raining now and possibly tomorrow also. Quite an experience really. Only 1 tent has been lost (not mine). I'm v glad I brought 4 desert tent pegs which are fully employed right now.

Paul is cooking chicken tonight. We're using the shower block for this... It's dry and warm afterall!!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


The Police Inspectors bike blew its exhaust so we got Jos bike out tho that had problems also. Superb Carbonarta cooked by Paul despite the rain.


Sms Monday\'s route here:


Sms M@start 19192. Off 2 Rabat today to get Visas for Mauritania. Will probably take tomorrow too. Yesterday visited Volubilis and Cafe Arina. VG roads 10C @07pm

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


Todays route:

We are camping (for the 1st time) and it is great. Logfire, Chilli-CC and lots of stars. All good


Sms We are hearing down to Voublis via the Rif Mountains today after spending a night at the Ibis Hotel, Moussafir. It is getting hot. Mileage at start: 19020

New Year's Eve

Dennis fell off his bike before we even left the hotel car park this morning! He broke his GPS bracket on the handlebar and damaged his camera. He was fine himself though and it was really quite funny. Even better is that its all on video - though Dennis does not know that yet....

Then later on at a petrol station Paul forgot his bike was in gear and revved the engine. When you do that on these bike the clutch releases automatically. Anyway the bike flipped over completely - absolutely hilarious and again no one was hurt.

After a 3 hour ride on the bikes we took the ferry to Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Northern Morocco (look it up on the map). Once there we looked for a hotel because it was be quite late. However there was a major running race that was just about to start when we arrived. There were onlly 3 hotels and none of them had secure parking as we required. Also a Morrocan gentleman opened his cardoor on me. It was fine since he didn't hit me, but he did take my pannier off! Still this was no problem for us and I just off loaded both panniers into Jo's car.

We then spent the next 1.5 hrs trying to regroup and we eventually did this at the border.

Speggo and Paul then spent 3 hours tnegotiating with every Morocco custom official you can imagine to get the 2 cars and 7 bikes through.