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Old 14 Sep 2007
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Travel advice needed for front wheel drive.

From the UK to Mali - Essakane Festival of the desert - in a front wheel drive.

An ambitious project in any vehicle I suspect, but if an experienced 4WD desert traveller had to do it in a front wheel drive, how would they go about it - prep, route (preferably 'roads', even if the long way round), equipment, etc? I've done some research already, but for a trans Russia trip next year. I'd originally planned a short practice run/holiday to Morrocco for a couple of weeks this autumn, but Essakane came to my notice and, being a music lover, just wondered if it could be done. It's a serious question on my part and may be above many of you, but I'd like the benifit of your advice and experience. If the answer is no, you wouldn't attempt it, please say why you don't think it's possible. It could be harder than you think!

For the record, I have a Lada Samara 1300 with a genuine 20,000 miles on the clock. The car is in excellent order, it's as solid as a rock, very easy to work on and has the suspension of a pram. It's one of the early ones with higher ground clearance. These cars have a proven reputation of reliability on long distant travel - which is why I've chosen it, as have many others on charity rallies to The Gambia and Mongolia.

I've a feeling I'm not in Kansas anymore.
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Old 14 Sep 2007
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Perhaps I should add that this isn't a charity rally - I'm doing this under my own steam. I'm also travelling alone. Thanks.
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Old 14 Sep 2007
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It can be done but...........

When I went to the Festival 4 or 5 years ago I met two guys who got as far as Tombouctou (sorry can't spell it in English) in a Renault Extra van-i.e. a Renault 5 but they had broken the gearbox on the piste somewhere near Nioro. Even more intrepid were some guys from the Citroen Club of Slovenia who made it all the way in a Citroen Dyanne. So it can be done. The piste from Douentza up to the Niger ferry can be a trial especially near the 'top' as there is a section that is flooded but only to a depth of 50-60 cm but I guess it depends on how good/bad the rains have been. The last 100K to the site will be hard work as there's no piste as such merely tracks in the soft sand. You'll have to drop the pressures and work hard with the steering to keep going especially on the first section out of Tombouctou. Mind you they'll be a lot of traffic about so no doubt someone will give you a push/tow if needed.

Can't tell you whether to go for it as only you can make that decision but if you're worried, why not go to the Festival in Segou a month later? Lovely place, easy to get to and I suspect you'll find the music is better too.

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Old 14 Sep 2007
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Thanks. I suspect Tombouctou was the real goal and for all the wrong reasons. I do like the idea of getting somewhere AND returning with the car and myself intact, so it's probably for the best I consider Segou. I've heard good things about it.

Among other things, I'm also looking for people's advice on tyres. I don't have a lot of choice really. Colway rally tyres http://www.demon-tweeks.co.uk/produc...de=COL15513RMS look good to me and would fit my 13" wheels, but are retreads. They do seem to have a good reputation though - accepted by the UK's Motorsport Association and all that - but I'm wondering if heat would be a problem.

Thanks again.
I've a feeling I'm not in Kansas anymore.
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