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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 8 Dec 2010
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Is this achievable? London Mali bomako 3weeks

hello all

I am planning a trip for July/august2011. The aim is not really a sightseeing one but an adventure travel and an experience. The plan is to leave London head through to morocco, into western sahara Mauritania and finish in Mali sell the cars and head home on the plane

I'm finding it hard to get an idea of a realistic itinerary. Is this route possible in 3 weeks, anyone with some experience who can help me out here? I don't really want the trip to be longer than 3 weeks but can do if people think this is not a possibility.

Thanks in advance!!

Dan
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  #2  
Old 8 Dec 2010
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it's a bit warm that time of year. I did bamako to barcelona in 6 days, and then (once fixing the fecking bike) barcelona to london in 2 days. so, yeah, 3 weeks is tourist pace...

but, frankly, what's the point ? to say you've done it ? it'll be expensive and frustrating (border/police hold ups), and if you don't plan on touristing ?
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Old 9 Dec 2010
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Well the point, as with most desert crossings is for the experience. I had initially planned on visiting a few locations on route but was worried the pace might not allow for it, from what your saying it wont be a problem to reach that destination and take in some sights which means i can do some great sightseeing, and camp up in the sahara for awhile.

I realise time of year is going to be pretty horrendous but again its part of the experience i wanted. I'll be kitting out the car with some modifications to better cope with the weather out there and the route largely sticks to the coastal road where it is marginally cooler
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Old 9 Dec 2010
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Desert travel?

It is certainly achievable, but you won't see and experience much other than the road.

As for desert crossing - unless you plan to go take some detours e.g. Atar following the railway track route (R ? see Chris Scott's book) you will only see tarmac.

If you do plan off roading to get some desert travel you will have to spend long hours on the tarmac to give yourself the time.

If you are going to stick to the main roads I wouldn't bother doing any mods on the vehicle - you could do it in a mini

Cheers

John
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  #5  
Old 9 Dec 2010
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Thanks for that comment

A couple of Key places id like to visit are Fez Marrakesh in morroco, Naukchutt in Mauritania, Atar Via the rail road that you mentioned and then high tail it to Mali via the atlantic route and across the north of Senegal (without corssing into senegal) to Bomako in Mali. But im still trying to piece together a realistic itinery based on the feedback i get here.

How long does the route along the railroad to atar usually take? Im hoping with 3 weeks it should be possible to visit these key places.

Thanks again!
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  #6  
Old 9 Dec 2010
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I'm in Bamako now and I think 3 weeks will be very hard.
Through Morocco and Mauri no problem. But at the border of Senegal, they are going to send you to Dakar for a stamp or if it's an old car charge you for an escort. Then Mali, we just drove to Bamako in 3 days, but there is a lot of piste, which will shake your car to bits. From Kita to Bamako is asfalt.
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Old 9 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RexPearson View Post

How long does the route along the railroad to atar usually take? Im hoping with 3 weeks it should be possible to visit these key places.
When I was on the train it took about 14hrs of actual travelling from Nouhadibou to Choum - about 250 miles according to my gps at the time. It then took another day to ride to Atar (I'm useless off road!).

Arranging to get on the train in the first place also took a couple of days.

I have read recently that the train option is no more - since the new road opened. Certainly if you just wanted to visit Atar rather than go along the train route for its own sake the quickest way would be to drive to Nouakchott on the new road and Atar is about 6hrs from there.
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Old 9 Dec 2010
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I agree Titbird

I don't think Senegal is a good route to go. Miserable border crossings and the road to the Mali border is appalling in places (unless they have improved it in the last 18 months).

Better to stay within Mauri and head to Nioro for the border crossing (security allowing).

An earlier point - that of the temp. The route to Atar could be awfully hot that time of year. Your car will have to be able to work hard in the sand without overheating - and if you do get stuck water could be an issue.

Last time I did that route was Dec 2008. It took us (there were 4 vehicles) 2 long days. I would caution you against travelling alone. 4WD is highly desirable for that route I think, though I have no doubt the locals travel it in ordinary cars.

The road back from Atar to Nouakchott is tarmac, but you will of course be retracing your route a bit.

Hope this helps

Cheers

John
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  #9  
Old 9 Dec 2010
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Smile

Thanks for such great feedback guys, it's really helping get my head doing this trip.

I should probably mention my mode of transport as I I'll be doing this trip with a friend in 2 4x4 probably Mitsubishi shoguns or similar. And intend to camp pretty much all the way to Mali from London

Are there any rules about camping in the desert I should know about. I am assuming it's pretty safe to drive a mile off the main road and set up camp for the night. But as my experience is a bit limited any help on this would be great!
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  #10  
Old 10 Dec 2010
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Btw it is a great journey to go down by car to Bamako

I have done it 5 time or so
3 weeks is enough and all worth the experience
Photography and Journey: Toulouse to Morocco to Mali, Bamako end 2008.
I'll be going again shortly ;-)
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www.thisfabtrek.com
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  #11  
Old 12 Dec 2010
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Easy in 3 weeks. I have done it 3 times in less time over the last 18 months.
Good prices for 4x4 in Bamako.
Stay in Mauritania to Nioro and forget Senegal. Great route and easy camping. I'll be doing the same route again next month.
Have fun.
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  #12  
Old 14 Feb 2011
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hi lads

im heading that way on a motorbike around the same time, just as inexperienced and on my own would love to meet up 4 a bit as im planning a trip to capetown in 2012
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  #13  
Old 15 Feb 2011
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Did Tanger to Banjul last month.

Nights 1 & 2 Rabat (36 hrs to get the Mauritania visa).
Night 3 Mirleft.
Night 4 Campsite just north of Laayoune.
Night 5 border.
Night 6 Nouakchott.
Nights 7 & 8 St Louis, Senegal.
Night 9 Farafenni, Gambia.
Night 10 Banjul.

You could probably do it quicker, but I wouldn't want to personally.

Roger
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