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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 11 Nov 2007
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Route to dakar

Posted this up on another forum and was recommened to ask here so heres what i put up:
"Hi guys, have had a quick search of the forums, but had a few specific questions about a trip me and a friend have planned,

THe basic premise is a trip from peterborough, through france, spain, morocco, marutiana and finishing in dakar , Now this may seem like a regularly "overdone" trip but the short answer of that is, we are complete novices!!

We plan to do this for charity and as a challenge (as everyone we know has said we will surely fail seeing as the most adventurous we get is choosing a cocktail over stella in the pub ) but have quite obviously, a load of concerns,

Mainly is the route we are taking, we've only been researching a few days now but have decided it seems the atlantic route is for us, we intend to do this alone and preferably without guides, what we want to know is:
is it possible to get a detailed guide to the atlantic route?
Does it involve a fairly decent amount of sand dune driving etc so we can atleast get some good photos?
Is this route dangerous? we are aware sections of it is mined but we are more concerned with getting robbed!
How long should the journey there and back take?

Theres about a million more things we are worrying about but we have roughly 6 months to plan it, prepare the vehicle, get some training in and prove everyone wrong

SO any help on those subjects is more than appreciated!



Any help is more than appreaciated!

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Old 11 Nov 2007
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Hi Welcome,and have a great trip.

Your worries about getting robbed ,your more likley to get this sort of thing happening between peterborough and Dover

If your keeping to the main route's then you don't have to ride over sand Dune's but you will have part's of the route where you will have to ride through sand,which at first it tricky on a fullyloaded bike.
Take a light bike and not a lot of luggage.

I'm sure there will be lot's of good addvice posted for you soon.

All the best,and have a great time
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Old 11 Nov 2007
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There is an awful lot of info on this site about the Atlantic route and a bit of digging around in the archives will probably answer your questions in more detail than any one person posting an answer can do, but just to give you some sort of overview based on the two trips I've done:

1. Detailed guide. AFAIK there is nothing gathered together (in English anyway) beyond what is here or in Chris Scott's books (Sahara Overland etc). The Atlantic route name is just a convenient shorthand name for the coastal road to West Africa. Have a look at the Michelin 741 map and you'll see that for about 1000 miles through southern Morocco and Western Sahara its the only road.

The tarmac used to end at the Mauri border and you had several hundred miles of piste to get to the next bit but in the last few years a new road has filled in the gap leaving only a mile or two at the WS/Mauri border. You'll see loads of French registered campervans en route and they can now get through to Mauri and Senegal. If they can do it so can you!
2. As mentioned above you can get to Dakar now without ever seeing a dune close up - unless you want to. The old route from Nouhadibou to Nouakchott through the Banc d'Arguin park is still there or you could turn left at the border and follow the railway line to Atar. Even without the dunes though there's plenty of picture ops that'll impress the guys in the pub!

3. Danger. At the moment it's probably the safest way of getting to West Africa but I would suggest you keep your wits about you. You are much more likely to be relieved of your money by guille than gunpoint but culture shock is very likely if you haven't travelled out of Europe / States etc much and your reactions when faced with difficult circumstances may make the situation worse. The only times I have felt in physical danger has been through the standard of driving and I have have seen some extraordinary (by our stds) acts of kindness. The terrain needs to be taken seriously though. Remember you'll be driving across hundreds of miles of desert with no backup beyond what you organise yourself. If you breakdown there's no AA to come and get you. The mine risk is real but only for a short stretch at the WS / Mauri border and not really a problem if you don't stray off the piste. You can follow the route on Google Earth (if you have a wet Sunday afternoon to waste). Have a look at the border section and calibrate the image into your gps.

4. If you've got six months that would suggest you're going next summer. That's going to be hot hot hot! Most people do this route in the winter. The atlantic does keep the coast at a lower temp than the interior but it's still going to be hot. That's going to stress you, your vehicle and a lot of the people you meet. It's also going to be wet (rainy season) once you get near Dakar and that's going to up the mosquito (= malaria) count. Not a good idea imho.

5. There's loads of specific information on visas, carnets, Senegal's 5 yr rule etc here. You could do the trip in about 10 days ew if you were in a hurry but three weeks would be more reasonable if you actually wanted to see something of the area. Re training - The whole of the route is ex French colonial - learn some French if you don't already speak it. Lastly, buy a copy of Sahara Overland. That's got 600 pages of stuff like this. By the time you've finished reading it you'll feel like you've done the trip already.
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Old 19 Nov 2007
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we took this route in 2003/2004 so the information I provide may be out of date. However the GPS track log is available.

have a look at this section of our website 2ridetheworld.com : diary
and then just select the countries you wish to read about.
and there is also a downloadable GPS route (our entire route..almost) on the main page of the site 2ridetheworld.com
at the bottom of the page.

make sure that you have some deep sand riding experience.
link up with some 4x4 just before the main crossing if you can. they can help carry water for you - and its always a good idea to hook-up with others when doing this crossing...I'm assuming you are going on motorbikes.....
its not a good idea to attempt this in summer. the best time is Dec/Jan...its still hot at this time of year. we averaged a temp of 43 C.
you can do this without a guide - as we did. However make sure you have a good GPS route with you.
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