Friday, 25 October 2013

Aminah arrives in Dakar with Al and Nev, ready for more adventures

18 days and 7,500 kms since leaving the UK, we are in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, ready to start our trips on Monday.

Aminah cruised easily down through France on the autoroutes, to visit our friends at CREER (Centre de Reinsertion et d’Education pour les Enfants de la Rue - Centre of Reinsertion and Education for Street Children).

We support their valuable work in Cote D'Ivoire, and stopped by their French base, in the beautiful medieval town of Alet Les Bains, to pick up some supplies that we are taking to Cote D'ivoire for them. Many thanks for the endless cups of tea, and supplies of tasty French food that fuelled our journey south!

Below, Al is on the roof of Aminah loading up the supplies, much to the surprise of local onlookers!

We then sped down through Spain to Malaga, where we waved goodbye to Dave (Hatter) who flew back to the UK to pursue a more settled life. Hatter will continue to work for OWA as the company admin and marketing man. We met Nev Kelly in Malaga, who will driving with Al this season.

As we headed past Gibraltar, we couldn't pass up the opportunity for a quick photo of Aminah in front of the Rock of Gibraltar, before stocking up on supplies in the supermarkets of Algeciras to keep us going on the long drive south.

Nev with Aminah in front of the Rock of Gibraltar

We then put Aminah on the ferry from Algeciras to Ceuta, and waved goodbye to Europe, along with several other overlanders heading south for the winter, including a rowdy bunch of German bikers.

Aminah back in West Africa- just into Morroco, with Nev

Aminah made quick work of Morocco; we had little time to spare to see the sights of Morocco, but we did take a couple of nights in Rabat to give her a little tlc. Then on south across the vast emptiness and soaring temperatures of Western Sahara, with some beautiful coastal scenery.

Aminah in Western Sahara

The border with Mauritania is never speedy, but it was fun to see the 3D scan of Aminah that Moroccan customs took before we left- shame we couldn't get to keep it! The no mans land between Western Sahara / Morocco and Mauritania is an eerie place, bombed out vehicles testament to the many land mines, and it seems to be a dumping ground for a variety of exhausted motor vehicles and electrical equipment.

We received a very warm welcome on the Mauritanian side, and were soon on our way to Nouakchott.
We took a couple of nights in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, to catch our breath and clean up after some long, hot drive days across the desert.

Al with Aminah in Mauritania

The main land border between Mauritania and Senegal, at Rosso, has a fearsome reputation as the most difficult and frustrating border to cross in West Africa, corrupt officials ready to hold you up at every turn, if you believe the reports. As the rainy season has only recently finished, we didn't want to take the difficult muddy road to the quieter border at Diama, so tried our luck at Rosso. After the short ferry crossing of the Senegal river, we actually had a fairly easy time of it at Rosso, and were soon on our way again to St Louis.

We stayed for 3 nights with Martin and Ursula at Zebrabar, just south of St Louis in the Langue de Barbarie National park, where we gave Aminah a thorough spring clean after days of driving through the desert, enjoyed the peaceful setting on the Senegal River, and had a few well deserved cold beers with other overlanders.

Aminah in the Langue de Barbarie National Park 

A short drive day from Zebrabar bought us to Dakar, via several comical encounters with the Senegalese traffic police. A kind interpretation would be that Senegal has some of the most thorough traffic police imaginable, but many overlanders relieved of their small change for the most marginal of offences may beg to differ. Fortunately our wallets were unscathed by our encounters. It always brings a smile to my face when the police in Senegal ask to see either a fly swatter of fly spray in the cab. I would love to see this 'traffic law' in writing! Luckily we've played this game before and were well equipped!

Al and Nev now have a weekend in Dakar to relax, ahead of our Dakar to Freetown trip which starts on Monday. We have 19 passengers booked on to this leg, who we're very much looking forward to meeting over the next few days. We still have a couple of seats remaining on this trip in the other direction next spring, please do get in touch asap if you want to join our adventures.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Let the adventures begin

We left the UK yesterday to start our drive down to Dakar, where our trips will start later this month. We're  looking forward to meeting those of you booked on to our trips in just a few weeks, and to be leaving with Aminah looking so smart following her respray and re-stickering with the flags of the countries we'll be travelling through over the next few months.

We're currently in a service station just north of Orleans, enjoying the French food, and the civilised European roads before we reach Africa. Very pleased a few French truckers have told use what a 'beau camion' we have- we certainly think so!