The heat is on as the great Budapest – Bamako rally is coming to an end. Sizzling 45 degrees celsius in southern Senegal today, a sweaty sms from Magnus informed me.
“The jungle is on fire, and we are driving on red dust roads, miles and miles of them”, he continued.
Only one more day of driving remains before our three vespateers arrive at their final destination inn Guinea Bissau. Good luck, guys!!
(Posted on behalf of Joachim:)
We decided to ride like our lives depended on securing ourselves some TLC. For once we beat the pack and secured ourselves a much needed hotel room, and in the finest hotel on our route so far. But Murphy, bestowed by Lucifer himself, decided to give us a real African treat.
Checking out the area arround the hotel, Magnus’s rear shock absorber snapped. As if that was not enough, Murphy decided that every nut and bolt ought to be completely seized up for the occasion. Now we are stuck in the parking lot trying to get things sorted while all the hotel’s luxuries mocks us right in our face, like a field of thorn bushes buried deep into our eye apples.
Murphy and Lucifer can showe it, our spirits are unbreakable. We will dip our filthy bodies into the pool even if it will take us all night and the freshly added pool chemicals will strip the skin off our bodies.
Vespas in the sunset on B2 Beach
Today´s driving – appearantly – was a hot-hot-hot experience! 40 degrees celcius from Mbacké to Tambacounda, Senegal.
According to Magnus, Senegal is a great country: “Everybody smiles and and happy and agreeable. Positive engery here!” Mbacké was filled with donkeys, dust and rittle rattle buses eveywhere, he continued.
Sounds fun and excotic! Will post more pics as they come in. /Kristina
Switching the clutch
Today´s vespa adventures on the coast of Senegal got a bit more adventurous than our vespateers had hoped for:
“Front tyre blowout at high speed. Adrien kissed the tarmac sliding down the road dodging cars for 50 metres. Kevlar did its job well and Adrien has only minor injuries. Scoot is ok and we are on our way!”
Magnus called me immediately after he posted this sms and told me not to worry. The guys are ok, with only minor injuries to Adrien´s arm. They cleaned the wound, patched up and drove on, heading inland as the traffic is slower there than on the coast.
The vespateers have now left the main heat of the rally. Today, the other teams drove into a natural reserve where wild animals live. Not the best encounter for three small vespas, so our guys took the coastal route instead. They plan to team up with the rest somewhere in southern Senegal. Drive safe!
Photo: Wikipedia/John O´Neill
“I think we´ll reach as far as St Louis, Senegal today,” Magnus said optimistically earlier today, around 3 p.m. At that point, the three vespateers had just reached the Mauritanian-Senegalese border at Rosso. 5 hours later, the guys are still stuck at the border… At least now, they have crossed the river successfully. “Worst bordercrossing ever,” was the conclusion.
The road from Nouakchott to the border was in really bad condition. “Just as many holes as Vogts gate, Torshov,” said Magnus (for those familiar with Oslo streets ). And then there were the camels. Adrien had to brake really hard to avoid hitting one. “At first, the camels were really excotic. Now, we just think they are in the way,” said the globetrotters.
Tomorrow, the adventure continues along the Senegalese coast – hopefully!
Photo: Alexandra Pugachevsky/Wikipedia
Today, the guys arrived in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott. “A hole”, said a tired Magnus on the phone upon arrival. They had had a really weary day, driving along the coast through wet sand as the high tide came in. When they finally reached the hotel, there was no room for them – again! So there was the tent – again…
Nouakchott is the last place before Tambacounda, Senegal where the teams can buy decent food and gear. The roadbook says to stock up on supplies: “From here on things will be “bushy”.”
Tomorrow, the road will take them to the border town Richard Toll in Senegal. They have to cross the Senegal river to get there. Again, the road book tells tales of a scary border crossing:
“Rosso is one of West Africa’s most notorious border crossings. Try to get here as early as you can. The crossing will be difficult, time consuming, nerve wrecking and somewhat shocking. Consider the Morocco-Mauritania border a walk in the park compared to this one. Small hordes of “helpers” will attack you on both sides of the border.”
Take care, and good luck!
Today all the Bamako-teams, including our three brave vespateers, are cruising under the sorching sun in Mauritania, a former French colony. Mauritania has one of the lowest GDP rates in Africa, despite being rich in natural resources. The country is comparable in size to Egypt.
The guys will be driving 250 kilometres today, a long and sandy day, the roadbook promises. Some of the drive is on the beach, and the drivers have to watch so they are not caught by high tide. Appearantly, this has happened in previous years!
Tonight´s camp is right on the beach, and the teams are encouraged to bring fresh seafood from the nearby fishing villages to the grill. Yum… Enjoy yourselves!
Here is a pic from yesterday´s adventures in Western Sahara. A lot of sand on the engine compromised the mechanics of the vespas, but eventually, the guys made it into a small hotel in the middle of nowhere. There, they enjoyed a shower, a camel burger and coffee. After sereval days on bread and water, this was a real treat!
Today, the actual driving is not the challenging part. The challenge is crossing the Morrocan-Mauritanian border. The road book says:
“The border crossing will be somewhat annoying and nerve wrecking. Be cool! Be patient and accept your fate.”
Between Morrocco and Mauritania lies a 4 km strip of sand which is a “No man´s land”. Sure sounds like a scary place: “Since no country has control over the place it is full of smugglers, illegal money changers, blown up vehicles, land mines, cars left here from various insurance scams and piles of trash. ATTENTION! There are no police or military here. There’s no law. However, there are plenty of mines. Always stick to the dirt track.”
Hm… Hopefully the guys will make it thorugh and end up safely at the campsite in the desert. What awaits them now is four days of tenting, so there might not be so many pictures from here on. But we´ll keep you posted!
UPDATED: I just received an sms from Magnus:
“The border is difficult. Got stuck in the sand in no man´s land. Had to swich a burnt clutch. Now, we walk up the route on foot before we drive. It is warm and tiresome! But we will get through.”
“Argh, I am tired of sleeping in a tent,” Magnus said on the phone this morning. Last night, the guys were planning on relaxing and sleeping proper beds in a hotel in Bojdour, Western Sahara. But when they finally reached the hotel – hours after everyone else, I might add – all the rooms were taken… With no room in the inn, the vespateers had to settle for the tent – again.
Today, the stunning coastline of Western Sahara awaits them. It is lined with shipwrecks. Check out this webpage for pics: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/7091916 Today´s drive is 470 kilometers long.
The guys will end up at the border to Mauritania some time this evening. “We could not have found a more bizarre place for an overnight camp,” the roadbook says:
“There’s a strange little restaurant full of action movie characters on the border. Smugglers, car dealers, adventurers, black market Coca Cola traders wrapped in blue and white sheets give this spot the feeling of a real Moss Iseley. Welcome To The Sahara.”
Today´s roadbook for the Budapest-Bamako rally contains this piece of reassuring advice:
“IMPORTANT: There are landmines in Western Sahara. DO NOT GET OFF THE PAVED ROAD OR THE DIRT ROAD. Always drive in tire tracks. Don’t deviate from the dirt roads! Always log your track so you can go back to the road that you came from in case you get lost. Landmines are deadly! Please always keep it mind.”
As you understand, our three brave vespateers have entered Western Sahara today. An interesting adventure, for sure. This is a politically very sensitive area, and it is called the Southern Provinces by Morocco. The local Saharawi population has been fighting for independence ever since Spain gave up this colony in 1975. The Saharawis and sympathizers with their cause consider this the last African colony. “This is a war zone,” the report says.
Kind of nerve wracking, eh!!! We will just have to wait for news from the guys, I guess. The tracker shows that they are steadily moving forward. That´s gotta be good…