Challenge Diary - Page B - Sidi Ifni to Kiffa
Day 8 Tues 2nd Jan
294,570km - Sidi Ifni to Laayoune
Leave Sidi Ifni [map] at around 10am, changed some money at bank.
Steady driving south again, only interrupted by young Tim and Paula
getting stuck in sand during an 'off road excursion'.
'Tripod' our camel mascot, with blue-tack
The first ones to be
stuck in sand
Into Western Sahara.
Arrived at a camping place (Le
Roi Bedouin) about 37km north of
Laayoune [map]. Options
were to camp, use one of the Bedouin style tents or a simple room
with mattress. As the price difference was minimal and we arrived
before most of the others, we took the room!
Tim took to the repair of the burned out wiper controls.
Unfortunately this resulted in having a part left over for which a
home could not be found. It obviously had something to do with the
hazard flashers, as these would not turn off. A heavy-duty rubber
band around the big red button fixed this, combined with restored
(if occasional) wiper operation without fire, success was declared.
Ray and John went to the beach for a play in their 1984 Land Rover,
until all four wheels got well and truly bogged down in salt marsh.
Ian and others helped out, and after a couple of hours trying every
type of recovery possible, managed to free the old Landy before the
tide came in.
Picnic. Somewhere in
Ate camel & date stew prepared by our hosts, accompanied by our own
wine. Very good.
No entry made in our notebook, so we assume nothing happened.*
Drove 596km to campsite at Dakhla [map] in the south of
Stayed here last year so took a room again (£1 more than camping).
*A message received at the
time says: "They had a gourmet supper of fried onions and peppers
with spaghetti hoops, followed by Christmas cake for dessert." - If
that was their only news, then nothing happened!
The first of many
Day 10 Thurs 4th
Jan 295,618km - Dakhla to
We leave Dakhla at 10am, one day ahead of group who are having a
rest day here. We will have an extra day in Nouakchott.
Drive 390km to Morocco/Mauritania border. Arrive at lunchtime so
have to wait a couple of hours before Moroccan formalities can be
While making our way through no-mans-land between the border posts,
a navigational 'Faux Par' (by Tim) resulted in getting the car stuck
in deep sand. Assistance from locals (who spend their time waiting
for such events) was soon on hand, though at a price. 100 euros was
negotiated down to 30 and progress was once again being made and the
Mauritanian passport, customs and car insurance were stamped, paid
and bought respectively.
Stuck in sand in no-mans-land. Bu**^r !
Partial sandstorm from the east reduced visibility but not so much
as to slow us down. When we did this stretch last year it took 3
days, all off-road including a final half day run down the beach to
Nouakchott. This year we take the new tarmac road.
We top up with petrol at a filling station. This has to be delivered
from the stations jerry cans as opposed to the pumps, which are
sitting on empty tanks, not too unusual in this part of Africa.
A long days driving (827km) gets us to
Nouakchott [map] at 9pm to stay at
Auberge la Dune, relatively expensive for us at 9,000 Ouguiya
(£22) per night for the two of us. Still, I suppose we are in the
Our mobiles not working here though OK last year we seem to
First mission today is to find a cash point and bolster our funds.
We soon discover that there are no longer any machines or banks in
Mauritania which will accept any western plastic whatsoever.
Although we have enough cash to get us to Bamako (Mali), Nick is
very concerned that we will not have any reserve to fall back on
should we get into trouble or 'unforeseen circumstances'. By the end
of the day, Nick's wife manages to express-transfer £300 through to
a branch of Western Union.
What with the no-phone situation and cash issue, Mauritania seems to
have gone backwards; maybe an economic downturn or politics has
affected these things.
Nouakchott. Note Renault 12 taxi on left
'Lucky' the goat >>
(Lucky it didn't get eaten that morning).
Rest of group arrive and are told of the cash situation. Most of
them are OK and brought loads of cash to begin with. The lack of
phone coverage frustrates everyone a bit.
Nick gets to the bank early to collect our cash, no problem.
10am and we're on our way out of the city in a mini convoy, heading
East now towards Nema [map]. The plan is to then use the dirt roads/tracks
to get across the border into Mali and then on to Timbuktu.
Hot and very windy again, with small sandstorms covering the road in
Landscape changing from dunes to hills and mountains, very
attractive outline and colour.
Disaster strikes when one of the cars looses a windscreen, Paula and
young Tim (Mercedes 190D) are fairly shaken but despite this and
losing time, they make it as far as Kiffa [map] where the group camp for
The campsite has a large Bedouin style tent available (with a
mattress each), so 9 of us use this instead of our own tents.
Camping at Kiffa
Bad toilets & showers, due to poor drains we think.
Mosquitoes bothered all those who slept in the communal tent last
night. This was further confirmed by the 35+ bites counted on Tim's
forehead, hands and arms.
It is decided that we will all spend the day here at the
campsite, so that a replacement windscreen can be procured for Paula
and young Tim's Mercedes 190. It's a common car here so hopes are
high. Other vehicles are tinkered with and fettled. Tim checks the
oil and water levels and the size of the hole in the exhaust, no
Ian fixing the UMM
No luck in finding windscreen for Mercedes so scarves and goggles
are found for the occupants and plans made for the next phase of our
journey. Reports received lead us to believe that the northern route
to Timbuktu beyond Nema is extremely difficult, and depending on
whom you speak to (and believe), it is widely claimed that 4-wheel
drive is essential.
It is decided that the group will split into two. Three 4-wheel
drives and two 2-wheel drives will carry on due east via Nema. At
Ayoun el Atrous three cars will head south east to take a possibly
easier, but longer route via Bamako. This decision was made because
young Tim in the screenless Merc 190 needs to fly back home in time
for important university examinations (and Paula was not feeling
well), Richard and Anne-Marie doubted the strength of their aged
Ford Fiesta, Nick and Tim would have taken the northern route but
there was an outside chance that Nick may be 'requested' to return
to work early due to changes in the education system, also it would
be foolhardy for Richard and Anne-Marie to go to Timbuktu alone
without any support, even on decent tracks, Timbuktu is still a very
long way off.
Asleep on the job >>