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Shap Ahoy Challenge Diary - Senegal

This is an account of Nick Capron and Tim Lovatt's journey from Cumbria to the Gambia during the 2006 Plymouth-Banjul Challenge. It is based on notes taken along the way, their photos and their memories. This page covers their journey through Senegal to Banjul in The Gambia. Use the links at the top of the page to see other parts of their story, or to return to the Shap Ahoy Summary Page.

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Wed 4 Jan A lazy day in Zebrabar campsite
Thu 5 Jan Boat trip to to St Louis
Fri 6 Jan Zebrabar to the Safari Gardens Hotel in Banjul (Gambia)

Day 19 - Wed 4th Jan (101,299km)

Up late-ish. Many (including us both) make our way to top of water tower for orientation, fine view and to get reception on mobiles.


Lazy day around camp, which has a stunning location in estuary with fine beaches. Tim does some clothes washing, Nick does some more clothes ditching. Fresh water supply intermittent due to pump fault.
Paddy, Paul & Tim (taxi) reunite their vehicle with exhaust system thanks to repair kit from Shap Ahoy (donated by Brian at Park Cliffe). Repair kit is also utilised by driver of the 1954 Morris Minor.

Day 20 - Thurs 5th Jan

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Bunch of us get boat to St Louis. It's a long and narrow fishing boat, which is not designed for large numbers of people. This is confirmed by how low it sits in the water when we all get on board. The crew (a young boy) spends most of the 90-minute voyage bailing out the boat with a plastic scoop. We all try and ignore the holes, and our close proximity to the sea-bed, by talking about the previous few days' experiences. Spot goats on boats. Claire and Richard donate coats to ships' crew.

St Louis is an old French Colonial city, very faded but very much alive.

Ashore at St Louis we have a light lunch at a restored hotel, then tour the city, on foot at first, then catch a lift with Richard, Claire, Steve & Pat who have hired a carriage with guide - very sensible. Lots of goats everywhere and the stench of rotting and/or drying fish in the market area.


Only four of us on the return boat journey, everyone else seems to think taxis are better. Ships' crew now proudly wearing coats to keep the water out.

Evening meal, drinks & sing-song around fire with most of our convoy.

Day 21 - Fri 6th Jan

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Most of the morning spent waiting for customs escorts before finally setting off south again. A 2-hour stop while we all fuel up, then soon after starting again the huge convoy inevitably breaks up into fragments, spread out over tens of miles. We get to a major town and have to decide which one of 2 routes to take. It transpires we take the opposite one to which the main convoy takes (how suprising as Nick was map reading).

We pass through many towns and villages, all furnished with an alarming number of goats. Although police checkpoints are frequent, no trouble in passing through. The tried & tested enthusiastic wave and smiles from Shap Ahoy work well.

By evening we arrive at the Senegal/Gambia border with no sign of others, after text messages to & from our group mentor (Sad Steve), turns out we are the first to arrive. The customs want to see documentation for importation & export of our car (this was one of the duties of the customs escort), Nick pleads ignorance and waffles his way through with the aid of an MOT certificate, which the official seemed to like due to the fact that it looked impressive, was embossed and has a large number printed on it! The official busies himself writing down the big number, Nick leaps into car and says, "Quick, just drive on slowly, in case they decide to follow us and don't stop, see what happens". What happened was that we ended up a few yards down the track at the Gambian passport & customs where we simply went through the formalities.
A horrendous potholed road takes us to the Barra/Banjul ferry. We make it just in time to catch the last sailing at 11pm, with goats.

Out of the port the appalling driving of the locals horrifies us, even by African standards, with horns blaring, lights flashing and cars swerving violently. This was soon understood to be due to the fact that a while back, Tim turned left onto the wrong carriageway of a dual carriageway!

Once this navigational faux-pas was corrected, we made it to the Safari Gardens Hotel, got sorted with a room (number 2) for a few nights, had a few beers and congratulate ourselves on GETTING TO THE GAMBIA! (We're also a bit smug that we got here first).

More Team Shap Ahoy Information

Plymouth-Banjul Challenge 2006 website gives a great deal of interesting information about the Challenge, and there is a Shap Ahoy Team Page on this website, and an archive of SMS messages sent during the Challenge.

The 2005/6 Challenge Page gives more information about other teams who took part in the Plymouth-Banjul 2006 and Amsterdam-Dakar 2005 Challenges, and the Saloum Nursery Page tells more about how Shap Ahoy and Pageant are helping Saloum Nursery in The Gambia.

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