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.
On this page
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Challenge 2006 website gives a great
deal of interesting information about the Challenge, and there is
Shap Ahoy Team Page on this
website, and an archive of
SMS messages sent during the
Page gives more
information about other teams who took part in the Plymouth-Banjul
Amsterdam-Dakar 2005 Challenges, and the
Saloum Nursery Page
tells more about how Shap Ahoy and Pageant are helping Saloum
Nursery in The Gambia.