Day 16 - The Peugeot has gone
Relaxing morning on the beach waiting for tide to drop. Then whiz the 100 or so kilometres along the beach and dodging through the sea and around rocky sections. Excellent! Some more high rev sand driving to get off the beach and we’re back on tarmac at last!
Into Nouakchott. Find the rest of the group but quite reasonably they are not keen to risk 4x4s to go back for the Peugeot. she will have to stay back in the dunes very sadly. We talk with guide he sorts our export paperwork so we can get out of the country without the car and he gets the keys for it in return. If it’s still there. So we are going to go with the main group back to Bamako direct. Too much to get all five in the Audi to Dakar on our own. Another team “Boxy But Good” kindly offer to take one of us plus lots of bags. Yet another twist, a new route and three cars now lost unbelievably. Good but expensive french dinner, this is almost as pricey as London and some welcome cold beer.
Day 17 - All the cars start to feel the pressure
Run around to see if any beach to give away surfboards, no joy. Leave with Boxy But Good at 10 with Tom in the Volvo. Volvo conks out. Eventually a passing truck mechanic generously sorts it out. Lovely guy we give him a football, bracelet and shirt! We lose a few hours, get going again. Next up we find the Wheelchair Warriors broken down. Several more hours to remove the differential so we can tow it into a town. Only traveled 150kms today, not good. 1500kms to Bamako. Push on with Boxy team. Make better time, dodging donkeys, cattle and camels which are now always straying into the road. Get as far as a dusty outpost called Aleg by nightfall. Find an auberge to eat and sleep.
Day 18 - The long drive East to Mali
Up early to hit road. Much ground to make up from yesterday if we want to make the Mali border today.
Its disappointing not to be surfing Dakar and giving the boards away in Senegal but needs must if we are to make it to Bamako, the finish point, to donate at least one car (every finger crossed given our luck!). The scenery is stunning, dry grass scrub, sand dunes, red-brown rocky escarpments and loads of camels and donkeys. Long long drive, some shocking road sections although generally ok. We think border closes at 6pm, last dash down final stretch, just make it and in fact drive straight past only to be chased and brought back by man in a red van. Atmosphere eased by giving footballs out to kids swarming around and we are off to Mali! Border post at first tiny village… dusk and very friendly and feels very African hot and atmospheric and all smiles. Three more posts and we are in a dusty dark car park in first town Nioro 60km in Mali at 9pm trying to sort various car taxes, insurance and who knows what money extractors from random people. Get driven round the bumpy dusty town, to various possible abode. Not a great choice but eventually find a very very laid back dude with food, beer and habitable rooms.
Welcome to the plateau. It's where we gather to watch Yago Dora soar above our heads.
These are the fortunate few. Many epic sessions have fallen by the wayside, victims to our ruthless monthly culls, but the results are wondrous to behold.
Patagonia is a challenging lover, said the English novelist, Bruce Chatwin. It haunts you, it bewitches you, it wraps you in its arms and does not let you go.
Welcome to the winners' podium. The cream of February lies before you in four spectacular Atlantic sessions, big barrels being the theme.
The symbiosis of surfer and winter. The Astray Collective and Finisterre bring you a short narrated by Matt Smith and produced by Mickey Smith