Senegal is the real Africa. We saw a live band last night with homemade instruments”.
Charlie Curtis : 15th March

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Starting from their departure in London on 14th March 2009.
Europe 14th March
Andorra 17th March
Gibraltar 19th March
Morocco 20th March
Western Sahara
25th March
Mauritania
26th March
Senegal
30th March
The Gambia
4th April
Senegal again!
8th April
Guinea Bissau
9th April
Guinea
11th April
Sierra Leone 18th April
Liberia 27th April
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Burkina Faso 8th May
Ghana 22nd May
Togo 16th June
Benin 16th June
Nigeria 20th June
Cameroon 16th July
Gabon 30th July
Congo 6th August




Click the photos to see the gallery of Mauritania






















































Click the photos to see the gallery of Mauritania






















































Click the photos to see the gallery of Mauritania

















































Click the photos to see the gallery of Mauritania










































Click the photos to see the gallery of Mauritania






































Click the photos to see the gallery of Western Sahara












































Click the photos to see the gallery of Morocco





































Click the photos to see the gallery of Morocco



































Click the photos to see the gallery of Morocco









































Click the photos to see the gallery of Morocco
































Click the photos to see the gallery of Europe














































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DIARY : March 2009 Imagery: ©2009 Terrametrics
Map data: ©2009 Europa Technologies

31st March : Now in Saint-Louis


30th March


Senegal is the real Africa. We watched a live band last night performing in the street with homemade instruments, surrounded by a huge gathering dancing to the music.

Heading for Dakar today to sort out visas for next stage.


29th March : Mauritania

From Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott, we set off for Senegal. We had been advised that the border crossing at Rosso was a real hassle and could take up to 5 hours so instead we headed for the smaller, more remote crossing point at Diamma. This involved taking a 50km ‘piste’, (read off road dirt track), through a national park. Unfortunately against all advice we hit this piste at about 10pm and so found ourselves cruising through the darkness. We were given an incredible show as the moon rose and the landscape around us came to life.

Monitor lizards slithered through the undergrowth into the mangroves and bright shining eyes belonging to creatures unknown watched us all the way. We were making fantastic progress until suddenly at about 11pm the car came to a sudden and abrupt halt. Stepping out onto the road I dropped about 2 feet as my foot and most of my leg sank into a thick black mud. Excellent!

It seemed that the piste really was off the beaten track. What followed was the most tiring and painful but yet strangely one of the most enjoyable experiences of the trip so far. Out came the spades and the digging began. Unfortunately as we dug the car sunk deeper until eventually the wheels were almost submerged and it was sitting on its axles. Out came the sand ladders. These fibre glass boards were just aching to be used. Unfortunately by this point the car had sunk so much that we just couldn’t dig deep enough to get them under the wheels. And so out came our trusty hi-life jack. Capable of lifting the car 5 feet in the air we laboriously freed one wheel at a time, placing a sand ladder underneath and letting the car sit back down on this more solid base. With some painfully slow and delicate reversing we were out; Covered in stinking mud, but out.

Just 10 km to get to the border; But 10 minutes later I was jolted by the biggest drop I have ever felt in a car. Wondering why we were pointing skywards we found that our unplanned little manoeuvre had taken us into a 3ft ditch across the road. The front wheels had bounced out, denting a steel rim and blowing a tire in the process, and our rear wheels were now stuck fast in the ditch. At 3 o’clock in the morning with no one within shouting distance we opened the tent and bedded down for the night. Come morning we were unceremoniously dragged from our resting place by a military patrol and limped to the border. We had bent our track rod and so our steering was almost non-existent. Within 5 minutes of reaching the border the car was up on rocks and the rod was hammered out and bent back into shape.







In just an hour, using our limited tools and a lot of force a group locals had done what would have taken a fully stocked garage the better part of a day. Their knowledge and better yet their willingness to help is something that I have never experienced anywhere else in the world. I cannot think of anywhere I would rather have such a breakdown than in Africa.

Oh and I should probably mention at this point in Mauritania we had offered a lift to a young French couple to also save them the hassles at the Rosso border. Finally crossing into Senegal 24 hours after we left; tired and covered in mud, they probably regretted ever having meeting us.

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27th March : Mauritania

Failing to find the entrance to the park we simply veered off the highway into the dunes. Within 20 minutes we were out of sight of anything bar a few scrub bushes, some camels and a lot of sand.

The car drove beautifully. It coasted over the deep sand, drifting left and right as it struggled for traction, and bounced us somewhat painfully over the peaks and troughs of the scrub. Sure we got stuck a few times in deep drifts, but a combination of digging, sand ladders, low gears and most of all sweating in the sweltering sun always saw us through.

After about 5 hours we finally hit the coast in time to watch the sun drop into the sea in the horizon. And so we camped peacefully for the night hundreds of miles from anyone else.




At 10pm that night lights appeared from behind a dune followed by a considerable amount of shouting. The military patrolling the park for bandits (apparently this is a big problem) had spotted our camp fire and demanded to know why we were camped in an unsafe area. Unable to provide a satisfactory answer we were immediately escorted to the nearest military base for what promised to be a long night of questions and trouble. We arrived at the base to find the guards sitting in their barracks in the middle of the desert with AK-47s leant randomly against a wall while they sat and drank tea watching Steven Segal’s classic – Dangerous Ground. We joined them and spent the rest of the night drinking tea and trying to explain the intricacies of the plot to them in our broken French.

Thank god it wasn’t a Stallone film or we would have been in real trouble.



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26th March : Mauritania

Having decided that we both wanted to get some real desert driving under our belts we set off for the Sahara Desert, heading towards the Banc D’Aguine national park on the coast.

We were of course advised by all the locals that we should take a guide as one can easily get lost and stuck in the vast expanse of sand. It just so happened they were all expert guides and ready to offer their services for the very reasonable price of $200 per day.

So we set off alone. We had our Michelin map and our compass and nothing was going to stop us.








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25th March : Western Sahara


Next stop the Dahkla Peninsula in the Western Sahara. Land Rover is using oil. Local mechanics investigate but we decide to move on.







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23rd March : Morocco


Approaching the Western Sahara. We stopped overnight on a really big beach.





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22nd March : Agadir, Morocco


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20th March : Morocco


The real voyage begins ... Jon checks ferry times. It’s now or we wait till tomorrow. It’s a mad dash to catch the Ferry to Morocco.

On board the ferry: We waste no time and get on the road to Rabat.





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19th March : Gibraltar



Arrive in Gibraltar. Finalise paperwork and search for parts located by ‘Quintessentially‘ before crossing to Africa.



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17th March : Andorra



Heading for Gibraltar via
Barcelona and Valencia.
Following the coast all the way.






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15th March : Europe

Visit the palace of Versailles then get on the road to Bordeaux. So far all fine with the car. 500 miles on one tank of petrol. Sleep in tent at a rest stop. Not pretty.





14th March : London

We departed London at 2.00pm for Calais. After an unexpected delay at Chessington – we eventually arrived in Calais to catch the 6.30pm ferry to Dunkirk.





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