The 3 week Banjul Challenge The worlds first ever 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 the longest running banger challenge anywhere and leaves the UK in December 2012.
Sept 10th is the launch party in Devon where we provide food and music and you bring a tent and Pot Noodle.
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.
There are security concerns in Mauritania and we pass through an area which the Foreign Office advises against all travel,their highest threat level and on par with Iraq or Afghanistan. We aim to provide help through Mauritania however teams should realise that Insurance will not be available from any company for this element and you should be prepared to turn round and travel around Morocco should circumstances dictate. We called off the run in Dec 2009 as there was insufficient time to organise support, however the Dec 2010 event ran successfully and no tourists have been kidnapped in Mauritania in the winter 2010 season which augurs well for a years time.