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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 21 Jul 2006
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Wanting contact/information on crossing the Sahara Dessert

I wish to ride a motorcycle across the Sahara Dessert with my daughter.
My daughter is 23 and we plan to use two brand new well equipped machines, probably BMW 650 GS Dakers. Our early considerations are to start at Nouakchott in Mauritania and route via Atar, Chingetti, Guelb er Richat, Elmreti, Trazha, Taoudenni, Timbouctou OR via Atar, Tidjikja, Nema, Timbouctou. We want to do this in November and if possible within a 2-3 week duration. Am I considering something that is not feasible? Does anybody have any experience, views or advise? Is anybody interested in doing the same thing?
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Old 22 Jul 2006
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Africa 2007

I have just registered with Horizons Unlimited after I saw what you were planning to do. I have similar plans for 2007 to cross the Sahara late October early november time and then travel Africa, my original plan was to go this year but as I am selling my house I decided that it was just too much to prepear for this year.
I have an 82 BMW R80 gs which I'm going to rebuild over the winter.
I have read that in parts of the Sahara you have to plan to carry enough fuel for around 600 miles as well as probably 20L of water per person, this at the moment is my main concern ! Got any ideas where to put it all ?
It would be good to here more about your plans,

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Old 24 Jul 2006
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How much preperation have you already done?

Read Chris Scotts book 'Sahara Overland'? That would be a good starting point...
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 24 Jul 2006
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Thanks Frank, cheque in the post to the usual address.

>>> and route via Atar, Chingetti, Guelb er Richat, Elmreti, Trazha, Taoudenni, Timbouctou ... Am I considering something that is not feasible?

On that route beyond Guelb unsupported and the first time in the Sahara - absolutely. The army will stop you at El Mreti/Lemgetti if you get that far - this base was all but wiped out in a raid a year ago. (see: http://www.sahara-overland.com/news 'May 25')
I am heading this way and beyond myself later this year, am spending a fortune of 'security' and will need two 55 gal drums to get across. That's a lot of fuel, even in a car and it's something that will be pushing the limits of my 25 odd years of desert travel.

>>> OR via Atar, Tidjikja, Nema, Timbouctou.
Do-able by the experienced with car support; this is the route that Karim Hussein got lost on and nearly died a few years back. Having done it years ago on a Tenere with car support and a guide, i can't imagine doing it - 400 + 800km, no? - unsupported and having to track the route. It's mostly sand and the bikes would be dangerously unridable (as we found on Desert Riders). A broken collarbone can alsmost be guaranteed.

Overambitious planning is normal of course - I should know! If you plan to start from NKT, a far more enjoyable two-wheel intro to the Sahara would be road up to Atar, a scoot east to Ching and maybe Ouadane - and Guelb if you can dump the bags (Guelb is an anticlimax IMHO). Back the other way to Ching and then back to Atar via the Amogjar and then piste or even cross country to Choum and from there alongside the rails to NBD and into Mk where the boredom sets in until the Atlas. Even that will give you more than enough to think about and a few classic Saharan days.

But, if you dont even have the bikes yet, doing it by November is over-ambitious.

Hard to know what you mean by "2-3 week duration" - from where to where? You could do my suggested route NKT to UK in 4 easy weeks but I dont know how to get bikes to NKT reliably.

Chris S
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Old 24 Jul 2006
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>>>I have read that in parts of the Sahara you have to plan to carry enough fuel for around 600 miles as well as probably 20L of water per person,

I hope it wasnt in one of my books! 400km + 15L is much more normal and easily achievable on a BM. I dont think there is a bike that could carry 600 miles worth - 13 gallons - and still be rideable in the desert.

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Old 31 Jul 2006
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Chris Willets, Frank Warner, Chris Scott

Thank you to everyone for your input. I am not surprised by your comments. After trying for some time I have at last got some feedback.

For some background information, I and my twin brother run our own business restoring Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motorcars of all ages and occasionally the odd Merlin Aircraft engine. The business has grown from nothing to become official Rolls-Royce and Bentley Dealers, completing more work on Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars than any other organisation in the world. I spent my life working and now at the age of 60 want to do a few things I never thought I would be able to do. One is to ride a motorcycle across the Sahara Dessert. An added bonus, but also a big concern, is that my daughter would like to come. A few years ago I drove a 1914 Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce from Jordan to England in just under one week with my son, he was 21 and it is the best thing I have ever done. Officials, Insurance Companies, the AA and the RAC all told me I should not do this because Syria and Turkey were dangerous. If I had been put off by this I would have really missed out. I am therefore concerned to know the real situations in the Sahara. I for some reason want to feel we have gone across it and I would like to go to Timbuktu.

As is always the case with me I have not got much time. Therefore I was thinking of shipping the bikes to Nouakchott then riding the bikes to Timbuktu. This way you only have to have one border to cross. According to Chris Scott’s books it sounds as though border crossing can be very time consuming. Yes I think I have read all of Chris Scott’s books. I have been thinking about it and planning from the beginning of the year, however so far have not progressed very well. I have a deal brewing that hopefully will supply the bikes, brand new, at a very reduced cost, however it is taking time and as a last resort I will go out and buy them. I am fortunate in that my own workshops can carry out work and modifications quickly. We have considerable experience preparing vintage cars for rallies, Peking to Paris etc and therefore should not find this too much of a problem. I was thinking of carrying 40 litres of fuel. I am concerned about what spares and equipment we should be taking as I feel lightweight is important as opposed to taking too many spares.

We need to do some training and obviously there is a great deal to do but the way I am I do not believe that this is impossible. Things will be prepared down to the last detail. My main concern is safety, particularly with my daughter. We are both determined people but I do not wish to be too determined for safety. This is why I need to know more. Do you really need a support vehicle and how do you get a reliable guide? Is anybody else interested who could be in a position to be ready to go in November in order to make it worthwhile arranging a support vehicle? As stated earlier I only have 2-3 weeks to be able to do this, however the bikes will be shipped to Nouakchott, we will fly in and they will be there waiting ready to go. Someone tells me it would be better to ship the bikes to Timbuktu and then to ship them back from Nouakchott. If arrangements were made to this effect it would be essential to travel from Timbuktu to Nouakchott in that period of time.

Any comments or direct contact would be appreciated. I am prepared to pay for time and trouble to professionals for help and advise. Telephone Andrew Wood 01371-870848.

Last edited by Andrew Wood; 31 Jul 2006 at 16:15.
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Old 1 Aug 2006
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Andrew, have sent you a PM.
Pictures, Mauritania 2011
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