Plymouth to Banjul Challenge

September 15th, 2008 § 0 comments

The Plymouth-Banjul Challenge:

The original Banger Challenge, that has spawned so many others. In December 2002, the first group of hopeful souls left the UK in a motley collection of vehicles, optimistically believing that Julian Nowill knew what he was doing, and had substance and experience behind his words. Despite later finding out to the contrary, this first event was a great success and most of the 42 Teams even made it to Banjul. This Challenge is now in it’s seventh year!

The Banjul Challenge heads South through Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal, arriving in Banjul in The Gambia. The route travels mostly on tarmac roads, but the highlight is the two-day crossing of the Sahara Desert. The journey is approximately 3700 miles, and can comfortably be covered in three weeks (if all goes well). Those in a hurry have completed in under two weeks, but that is missing the point, really. This is NOT a race. There is so much of interest en-route that it makes no sense to rush your travels.

The Challenge really starts in Southern Spain, where hotel accommodation is provided. The Road Book provides the clues as the Participants bond over a beer (or two) in the hotel bar, and form into travelling groups for the journey South. Ahead lies Sand, Sea and… even more sand. Experience the heat of the desert sun, and the challenge of nursing a knackered car all the way to destinations that most people would only consider flying to.

This Challenge is only open to Left-Hand Drive vehicles. The route can be completed by almost any vehicle, and there is no distinct advantage to having 4×4 drive (except when others are stuck in the sand!). It is a condition of entry that All vehicles MUST be donated to the Control Committee in The Gambia. The vehicles are auctioned and the funds raised are distributed to local worthy causes. This is the only legitimate way to ensure that the best price is obtained and that the funds are distributed appropriately. Nasty things do happen to those who might flout this requirement, because it is illegal to sell your vehicle privately.

And I have a couple of friends doing it this year.

Team Gonzo.

The vehicle Team Gonzo have bought is a 23 year old BMW E30. Not just any BMW, but a 324 diesel, which according to my sources wasn’t available in 1985.
Oh, did I mention that it cost £100? There’s been a couple of teething problems with it, but the guys are working their way through them and getting the car sorted ready for departure at the end of December.

Rajan and Ravi are doing this, not just for an adventure, but to raise some money for a couple of charities, in addition to the local organisations that receive the proceed from the auction of the vehicles in Banjul.
The first is Kids For Kids:

KIDS FOR KIDS helps children living in remote villages in Darfur, Sudan, who live lives of inexcusable hardship. It is the only organisation created specially to help children in Darfur. It supports families through long term, self sustainable projects, identified and run by the villagers themselves. KIDS FOR KIDS is different because it enables people to improve their own lives in the way they want – by listening to the families themselves we help them in the most effective way. And by supporting a number of initiatives, some very small, we are making a major difference to over 165,000 people – despite the tragedy of the ongoing conflict.

and the second is Build A School In India:

Who are we?
All our work is dedicated to helping people to be the best version of themselves they can be. What it means to be yourself, to be fully alive, and to put that originality of identity to work, at work.
Click here to find out more.

Every year we nominate a cause in residence.
This year, our cause is St. Mary’s School in India. It’s the biggest project that we’ve tackled so far, and for that we need your help.
St. Mary’s School needs only $300,000 (currently just over £150,000) to give each child the opportunity of two years of further education, enabling them to get to university, and we’ve pledged to help them raise it. Our aim is to extend the school, in building, in capacity, in capability, and reach.

Throw $300,000 at the education system of a developed country and it will barely make a difference. Put it in the little oasis of possibility that’s St. Mary’s School, and you’ll be making infinite use of a finite sum. If we can awaken the children, we can save the world.

So be a sport and sponsor, donate or whatever you want to call it and help Rajan and Ravi raise some money for kids that desperately need it. Just a fiver or tenner will do. They are taking your sponsorship/donations via here (for Kids for Kids) and here (Build a school in India).

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