Tim Lovatt. of Shap Ahoy fame, went off on
another winter adventure to Africa. He and three friends
acquired two Toyota Landcruisers, and drove them to
Timbuktu in Mali, so the adventure was known as the Four Ts. This
not a fundraising event, but as with the
in 2007, both cars were sold at the end of the trip and the
proceeds given to Pageant. We hosted this page in return and to
say another thank you for Shap Ahoy raising £4572 for
2006 Plymouth-Banjul Challenge.
Ian and Tim with the two cars
They planned to get to Timbuktu again, but this time taking some time to
explore the southern side of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and more
of Mali, possibly including some of 'Dogon Country'. The theory
being that progress would be quicker as a small group.
They left the UK on the 26th December sailing
from Portsmouth direct to Bilbao
in Spain. This was followed by a drive to Tarifa on
Spain's south coast and then the next
morning (29 December) over the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier in Morocco.
From there on their itinerary was very flexible. depending on the
usual factors of checkpoints & borders, fuel supply, weather,
breakdowns & punctures. The one fixed point was their flight home
from Mali on 21 January.
As the name implies, these are two
- the old short wheelbase type. Both were acquired off EBay! They
are LJ70 models, each sporting a 2.4 litre turbo Diesel engine.
The team consists of Tim Lovatt (half of team 'Shap Ahoy'),
Nolan Pretty, Ian Hunt (Half of team 'Bodge it &
Scarper') and Geoff Todd. Ian was on the T4 Challenge last year with his 14 year old
Geoff is a friend of Ian.
Nolan (from the south east) is a very late and welcome addition to
the group, since one of the original members had to give up his
place. Nolan spotted their advert on the 'Thorn
Tree' web site, part of Lonely
Planet. There was interest from many people, including some from
Kenya, USA, Denmark and Finland.
Tim, Ian and Geoff
Nolan with Tim
21 November - Preparations are very much under way.
An initial planning meeting was held at Ian's business headquarters,
Hunt4Kitchens in Darwen.
Nolan is organising his Mali visa.
Geoff is getting his inoculations sorted.
Camping gear has been sourced and distributed
- mostly cast-offs,
courtesy of Tim's campsite
on Lake Windermere.
The cars are currently being bodged, modified, and serviced.
The latest rumour is that Ian is fitting an adjustable seat so that Geoff can
see over the dashboard.
9 December - Preparations are still
All camping gear has been checked, food
bought, first aid packed, additional spares packed, tools polished.
Final servicing and modifications are being
carried out to the Toyotas.
Amongst our supplies we have several tins of
Stag Chilli, chicken & beef curries, casseroles, pasta, meatloaf and
48 pot noodles. Fortunately our medical kit contains items to
correct any stomach disorders.
This weekend Nolan travelled 'up North' to
introduce himself to the rest of the team and discuss our planned
from the Journey The full
itinerary is shown on
Tim left Windermere at 10.30am on Wed 26th,
and rendezvoused with Ian and Geoff near Darwen. They met up with
Nolan at Heathrow as planned, and arrived at Portsmouth at approx
1800. The crossing to Spain was relatively calm, and they arrived at
Bilbao at 7am on Friday 28th.
Friday was spent driving through Spain, and
at 18.00 they had about 2 hours to go to Tarifa [map], where they will
catch the ferry. All well so far and on schedule.
Saturday 29 December -
to Fez in Morocco
Tim reported that the group arrived in Fez [map]
at 6pm. They stayed at the 'Hotel Splendid' (no word as to
whether it lives up to its name!) [see
review], and have eaten a
traditional Moroccan meal. The day was warm and sunny, but the
evening was cool.
a view of Fez
tanneries at Fez
Monday 31 December - a
day in Fez and on to Er Rachida
Sunday 30 December was spent exploring the
tanneries, souks and forts of Fez, before heading off early on
Monday 31 December to Er-Rachida [map], via Midelt. They arrived at Er
Rachida at 4pm after a drive through spectacular mountain scenery,
similar to Arizona, and found lodgings at an auberge, complete with
pool (too cold to use it though!) New year was celebrated with a
sing song and fireworks (and a few drinks). Unfortunately, though
the fireworks were OKd by the hotel staff to be let off from the
roof, one was rather loud and upset the local police Fortunately,
the hotel staff took the blame!
Tuesday 1 January 2008
from Er Rachida to the Todra and Dades Gorges
On 1st January 2008, they visited the Todra [map]
and Dades gorges, with more fantastic scenery. They spent the
night at a small hotel up the Dades gorge. All was well, but the
suspension on Tim's car was causing concern.
the Todra Gorge
top of page >>
Wednesday 2 January -
They travelled through the Anti Atlas
mountains, through Quarzazate and then the fantastic Kasbah at
Benhaddou. There were lots of armed police and military around as
the King of Morocco was there. They reached Tata [map] in the
evening and stayed in the best hotel in town at £15 per head for
dinner bed and breakfast - and it was clean too! The weather was
Kasbah and camels
at Benhaddou Morocco >>
Thursday 3 January -
They drove out of the Atlas Mountains
towards the coast and the road south. They actually had some rain.
Ian's car engine was losing compression, and had to be tow-started in
the morning. They crossed into Western Sahara in the early evening,
and camped near Laayoune [map]
for the night.
Minefield - Western Sahara >>
Friday 4 January - to
The guys arrived at Dakhla [map]
at 4pm. Tim, Geoff and Nolan rented a room, but Ian braved the tent.
They dined on a gourmet feast of tinned curry, mince pies and a
chocolate Father Christmas. On closer inspection of the cars, they
decided not to do anything about the suspension problem - a
short term solution is just to drive a bit more carefully! Ian's car
ideally needed new glow plugs, but again this was not essential so
they decided to carry on as before.
Saturday 5 January -
They left Dakhla at 7.30am on the way to the
Mauritanian border. At the camp site, they met up with a few cars doing the Bamako/Timbukto
challenge which Tim and Ian did last year. The
border crossing took 5 hours but they were in and on their way. They
spent the night at Nouadhibou. [map]
Game of golf in possibly the world's biggest bunker
the Sahara -
Sunday 6 January - on
top of page >>
The following day (Sun) brought 90 degree
temperatures, and so the campsite at Nouakchott [map],
on the beach, was very welcome.
Monday 7 January - Phone problems
Only one phone had a signal.
Mobiles don't work very well through Mauritania, so the updates over
the next few days were brief and sporadic. However, all was
well, and it was hot and sunny.
Tuesday 8 January - on
way to Nema
On Tuesday they journeyed through Timbedgha [map]
on the way to Nema, reaching the Mali desert by nightfall. Daytime
temperatures reached 100 degrees.
Wednesday 9 January -
Wednesday saw them reaching about a third of
the way to Timbuktu, camping overnight again. No further details as
phone reception was very patchy, but they had probably crossed into Mali.
Note - Timbuktu spelling varies -
Thursday 10 January -
from Lere en-route for Timbuktu
They left Lere [map]
en route for Timbuktu, hoping to get there by the evening. Tim reported
that he had had two punctures in two days! Another update said they
for the night at Niafunke [map],
after 135 miles of desert driving. Timbuktu tomorrow! Other news was
that Ian had broken the 'desert dumper' two days ago. This is their porta-loo
(a camping chair with a hole cut out of the base, and a toilet seat
attached) - it is now held together with gaffer tape, and so might
see them through . There are probably lots of jokes about this.....
Friday 11 January -
They reached Timbuktu [map] at 11am, after
travelling 4,500 miles! They toasted their success with a drop of
Ian's malt whiskey and a cold beer. They bumped into a guy called
Jimmy, who bought Tim's Escort last year, (see
details) and he fixed them up
with tickets for the Festival of the Desert. There were already a few
people wanting to buy the cars.
beer on reaching
They set off early to the festival site, in
the dunes a few hours north, They described it as 'bizarre'. They
passed many 4 x 4s getting stuck in the sand, but enjoyed a good day
at the festival, though apparently they missed the best day, which
was Friday! Ah well!
Sunday 13 January - back to Timbuktu
They drove back to Timbuktu, where they
spent the night.
Monday 14 January -
After much negotiation, both cars were sold
in Timbuktu, having made a payment to customs so it was all above
board. This raised £500, which was donated to Pageant. They then hired a Landcruiser and driver for the remainder of
the trip. At 1pm they caught the ferry to cross the Niger, heading
to Dogon country (more
information) via Douentza [map].
Tuesday 15 January -
Dogon country - Mopti
They spent the day touring through Dogon
country, which has beautiful scenery. They visited pigmy dwellings
cut into the rocks and cliffs. They spent the night at Mopti [map],
treating themselves to a night in a decent hotel.
Wednesday 16 January -
The night of high living has taken its toll -
Tim suffered from the dreaded 'Bamako Bum' ! He blamed the fish
soup, or perhaps the heat, but then again maybe a dirty glass! They travelled
on to Djenne [map],
where they spent the night.
Thursday 17 January -
They spent a lazy morning in Djenne, and then
travelled to Segou. They stayed at the hotel Independance, where
they also stayed last year. The hotel pool was very welcome.
Bozo fisherman on Niger river near Segou, Mali >>
Friday 18 January -
Boat trip on the Niger
They went on a pinnase boat trip on the Niger
in the morning, They all enjoyed the chance to relax after the
long driving days.
Before leaving the UK Tim had bought a
'cheapie' guitar (bright pink!) for a bit of fun and amusement
on the way. They decided to try and sell it before flying home
and give the money to Pageant. A buyer was found, a drummer in
Bamako by the name of Oumar, but when he came to collect and
pay, it turned out he didn't have enough cash for the agreed
price. He offered his large drum as an exchange which after much
deliberation Tim accepted. Tim plans to auction or sell the drum
at one of the fun events this year at
Cliffe camp site which he
helps to run. (It actually raised £70 for Pageant - far more
than the guitar was worth.)
Tim & Oumar,
guitar & drum swap >>
Sunday 20 January -
They spent the day relaxing and doing
touristy things in Bamako before catching the plane late in the
flew Bamako-Casablanca, Casablanca- Heathrow, where they
said goodbye to Nolan, and then the shuttle to Manchester. The end of
another adventure........Where will they go next year?
They all arrived back safely, albeit slightly
delayed, on Monday 21 January. As you may expect, there are a few
stories to tell. Both Ian and Tim kept diaries and they intend to
write up an account of the adventure, which will appear on this page
with many more pictures.
The team would like to thank the following for their valued help:
Chris Hewgill, thanks for all the gear Chris (a customer of Tim's)
A1 4x4 auto breakers in Rossendale, for various parts from a dead Landcruiser at reasonable cost.
Milner off Road at Matlock, discounted service parts & spares.
Park Cliffe, for the 12 cans of 'all day breakfasts' &
other miscellaneous goodies.
Shap Ahoy - Plymouth-Banjul
Challenge 2006 - Team Shap Ahoy, Nick Capron
and Tim Lovatt drove a 1996 Toyota Starlet from Cumbria to the
Shap Ahoy - T4 Challenge 2007
- The T4 Challenge was a preliminary expedition to reconnoitre the
route for the first Bamako Run.
Images and sights of Mali -
Melissa Enderle wrote this fascinating description of
Mali, with lots of photos and a wealth of background information.
Plymouth-Banjul Challenge 2008 -
the official website.
Teams - Information about teams
helping Pageant in the above.