Tuesday 24 February 2009

Saharan Rally 2009 completes successfully!

It is not often that you will find yourself driving a car, being offered a digestive biscuit and hesitatingly ask "Does it have any sand in it?". It was at this point that we realised we were in the depths of a great place.

We launched as expected on Friday 30th January in the very early hours of the morning in order to catch out ferry to France, this allowed us the extra time needed to get to Genoa in Italy for our ferry to Tunisia. Our first night was a cold one, spent sleeping in the car behind a service station in France, where the temperate dropped to -5c and ice formed on the inside of the Land Rover, completely covering all windows.

We made our ferry for Tunisia with plenty of time to spare and from that point a truly memorable adventure was started.

We have uploaded some of our photos from the Saharan Rally 2009 and these are now available from the photographs link on this website. We hope you enjoy the photos and in the near future we'll try and write up a bit more about our adventure and also upload some of our rally video.

We want to thank everyone who has supported us and donated to the Mercy Corps. We've had donations from people we didn't even know were following our adventure. We really appreciate every donation. We have recently reached our fund raising target, but please do not let this put you off donating, as the more that can be raised for the Mercy Corps the better! We also want to thank Integralis, who donated a very generous £500 to the Mercy Corps for our challenge.

Thanks are also due to the Mercy Corps who have been very quick to help us with press releases and fund raising material, it really makes fund raising for the Mercy Corps enjoyable and satisfying.

We have a monumentally huge thank you for Chris, and son Kai, from Pebble Track for all the time and effort they have put into the GPS tracking facility. Without Chris, the map you saw on our website pinpointing our location would not have been possible. Chris provided us with all the equipment and the backend systems required for the tracking. We found the Pebble Track system to be very reliable when we had mobile network coverage and the integration with Google Maps worked a treat on our website.

If you haven't already made a donation to Mercy Corps, we hope now that we have completed the rally you'll feel tempted to make a donation. The rally lasted 24 days, covered 6000 miles, 3000 miles of which through the Sahara desert.

Adam & Alex

Sunday 25 January 2009

Launch details

The car is now ready! Even our rally stickers are on the car, we still have our sponsor stickers to place on the car.

Our ferry crossings are all arranged, we now must leave London at 4.30am on Friday 30th January 2009 in order to make Genoa, Italy by 4pm on Saturday 31st of January to catch our ferry to Tunisia. We expect our first day in Algeria will be the 3rd of February.

Our crossing back from Tunisia is on Saturday 21st of February, getting us into Palermo, Sicily the next morning. We will then take a drive through some Eastern parts of Europe before heading back to London.

Thank you to everyone who has donated or helped us in any way with the rally and we hope to hear from you when we get back or via SMS while on the rally.

Adam & Alex

Wednesday 10 December 2008

The Algerian Visas have arrived!

What have we here...

Our Algerian visas have finally arrived, it took just over 2 weeks in the end and our passports safely arrived today with the very much needed Algerian visa. It wouldn't be much of a Saharan Rally without this visa. The process was relatively straight forward in the end, although lots of documents were needed. Now onto the next big (and one of the last) hurdle, the crossing into Tunisia. More on that soon!



Tuesday 25 November 2008

Algerian visas sent off

After much preparation, all the documentation required for the Algerian visas has been collected and the passports have been sent to the Algerian Consulate. Apart from the standard visas applications that we needed to complete, we had to get our invitation from Algeria arranged and letters of employment.

We now await in anticipation for our passports (and visas please!) to be returned.


Friday 21 November 2008

November update

It has been many months since we last posted an update, so here we go! The main focus over the last few months has been getting an MOT on the Land Rover. Alex (and co.) have been working some crazy hours on the car, it is actually difficult to describe the amount of work that has gone on the Land Rover, but it is safe to say the number of hours spent on it are into the 100s.

All the work did pay off, because on Friday 14th November at 4pm it passed the MOT. It may have been missing a passenger seat at the time, but it passed without a single advisory note! We were quite thrilled really! On the car front, all that remains before it is 'Rally Ready' is for the passenger seat to be fitted and a fan to be wired up. Then it is final touches on the interior!

Apart from the car, the Algerian visas are being sorted out over the course of this week. These are clearly quite important, once we have these, the ferry crossing to Tunisia needs to be resolved and we are pretty much ready to do.

There will still be some other documentation, then there is fund raising and sponsorship that we are trying to sort out.

The main Rusty Rhinos website will also be updated in a few days with a new announcement, so watch this space.


Thursday 31 July 2008

Sahara Routing Conundrum

We’ve been developing our Saharan Rally route in a bit more detail.
When I say more detail, I mean opposed to not actually considering our route beyond just drawing a line on a map that seemed to go through some interesting places.

If you’ve visited our www.saharan-rally.com ‘route’ page recently, you’ll see our proposed route has changed quite a bit. Well the map above will probably explain this Saharan conundrum.

The ideal place to enter North Africa is Morocco, drive down to Spain and ferry over. The ferry crossings are relatively cheap. It would be nice to drive through parts of Morocco then to casually drive into Algeria, (orange route on map) except there is a slight issue with the Moroccan/Algerian border which has been closed for almost 15 years (1). While there have been the odd talks earlier this year about re-opening parts of the Moroccan/Algerian border (2), it is showing no signs of a grand re-opening anytime soon (3).

Then alternative, drive into Mauritania (black route on map), which although is perhaps not the safest country in the region, it should be safe enough to make a crossing if you are cautious. Well that would be fine, except the border between Mauritania and Algeria is usually closed or very restricted (4).

No problem, we’ll go through Mali, I always wanted to visit Timbuktu. Well there are some serious security concerns if we go through Mali (5).
I usually take the advice of Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel service in consultation with other sources, as there is a tendency to err on the side of caution. If I followed the FCO advice to the letter, I wouldn’t travel anywhere, almost every country the FCO advises on is, and I quote: “There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign and travellers.”

I must add however, that the FCO website and the travel advice is really useful and should be taken seriously. Following on from the FCO advice on Mali, a couple of Google searches on Mali and you’ll soon realise that you are risking a bit more than just your petty cash if you drive through Mali. (6) (7)

Having decided that the idea of having our car taken from us by armed bandits, or even worse, getting shot at by a group of ex-military rebels heavily armed with AK47s who are probably suffering from some sort of power trip charisma, we decided to ditch the idea of going to the Sahara via Morocco.

The next option is to either enter North Africa via Algeria or Tunisia (red route on map). The ferry crossing to Algeria is very expensive, however the crossing to Tunisia is a bit more reasonable. We thought we were onto a winner with this route, we would drive through Libya, then Egypt, crossing briefly into Israel, then pass Jordon and enter Syria. Enter Syria? No chance, once you have been through Israel, the Syrian authorities deny you entry, if you’ve been to Israel, ever, you are not welcome in Syria! (8)

The alternative to exiting Egypt at Israel and then onto Syria, is to try and ferry out of Egypt to Turkey or Greece. It sounds like an expensive idea, but worth investigating. It doesn’t take long to figure out that there are no active ferry routes out of Egypt on the Mediterranean side, there haven’t been for 15 years according to the RAC travel advice service when we called them. However doing some Google searches shows limited and very unreliable ferry services out of Egypt, upon further investigation we discovered that during the last Olympics, there were some ferry services between Egypt and Greece, but they were discontinued soon after. We did consider the possibility of trying to get our car onto a cargo ship out of Egypt, but the risk of being stuck in Egypt for weeks while we get that arranged are too high.

Our last option is to return to Libya from Egypt, then ferry out of North Africa from Tunisia. The problem with this route is that no multiple entry visa for Libya exists. Actually, upon further investigation and speaking to a few Libyan travel agents, we found out it is possible to get a multiple entry visa for Libya, but only if you’ve been to Libya in the past on a single entry visa. Since we have never been to Libya, this option is out of the question. It is possible to get a new visa for Libya in Egypt, but there is a good chance you’ll be waiting a few weeks to get it issued!

So after spending many hours researching our route options, we came up with the Tunisia – Algeria route (blue route on map). A multiple entry visa for Tunisia is possible, the entry from Tunisia to Algeria, although not easy, is again possible. Ferry crossings to Tunisia are relatively inexpensive and while there are a few danger spots, most can be avoided. Algiers and the surrounding region in the north is not particularly safe, with a few bombs going off every year (9). The area to the north west, bordering with Morocco is also considered unsafe, but we’ll be avoiding all those regions.

Our final Saharan route sees us spending just over 3000 miles in the Sahara desert, looping around in Algeria before returning to Tunisia to ferry back to Italy. Algeria, being the largest country in North Africa, has a varied Saharan terrain on offer and we’re getting very excited about taking on the Sahara there.



(1) http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2005/10/10/feature-02

(2) http://en.afrik.com/article12900.html

(3) http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL22609272

(4) http://wikitravel.org/en/Algeria#Get_in

(5) http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/mali

(6) http://wow.gm/africa/mali/bamako/article/2008/6/12/mali-gun-running-worsening

(7) http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2007-09/2007-09-03-voa30.cfm?CFID=19693633&CFTOKEN=26005060

(8) http://www.wordtravels.com/Travelguide/Countries/Syria/Visa

(9) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7139627.stm

Saturday 19 July 2008

Website updated

After designing our Saharan Rally 2009 website, we decided that we didn't really like it, so what did we do? We took the Mongol Rally 2007 website and used it as the base for our Saharan Rally site. So they now look identical!

We've updated the site under 'the vehicle' page with the latest car build. Alex has spent so many hours on the car and we think you'll be able to appreciate the amount of work that has gone into the car from this page.