The GlobeBusters / Motorcycle Outreach research expedition was yesterday successfully completed when Craig Carey-Clinch and Barbara Alam arrived in the Senegalese capital of Dakar on their BMW R1200GS.
The husband and wife team rode the final stages from Cap Skirring in the Casamance to Dakar in three days going via Banjul in The Gambia and Kaolack in Senegal. They will now fly home to London, arriving in the morning of the 17th.
During their four week trip, the couple have travelled 4116 miles (6585 km) from Malaga and have ridden through eight countries. Their Touratech equipped R1200GS has proved to be an excellent choice of bike, with both machine and equipment performing well during the entire journey.
Craig Carey-Clinch said; “The expedition has achieved all of its aims, we have visited some amazing countries of immense variety and met some of the nicest people on the planet. We are confident that December’s GlobeBusters expedition will offer participants among the best motorcycling and most inspirational experiences that are on offer anywhere.
“We are both grateful to our sponsors, in particular BMW Motorrad and Touratech. The journey would not have been possible without their support.
Well, we’ve made it to Dakar and are both delighted that all has gone so well. PR speak aside, the West Africa overland route is one of the landmark journeys that anyone can make and there really is loads to see, most of it is simply amazing.
Leaving Cap Skirring five days ago, we were surprised to find ourselves dealing with a morning of rain that was at times quite heavy. The tropical environment was steaming as we rode and the air was full of a delicious smell of damp vegetation and wood. We encountered no problems on the quiet roads back to The Gambia, though we saw many troops either training or on manoeuvres. As usual, they mostly waved at us. Casamance is a simply lovely place.
Entering The Gambia, we travelled up four miles of potholes to the main road where the police at the checkpoint there welcomed us back with some enthusiasm and sorted out coffee for us. We spent some time with them watching the comings and goings through their busy checkpoint on the Trans Gambia Highway.
An evening in Banjul and we headed north again, crossing the surprisingly efficient Banjul/Barra ferry. The ferry this time has been a complete contrast to our first visit in 2005. Travel times are a bit quicker and the ferries themselves seem to have been serviced, even the most battered one has clean running smoke free engines now. They are still quite overcrowded though.
The trip to Kaolack was uneventful, though we did discover a pothole of bike swallowing proportions which someone had been good enough to stick a tree branch into. This road starts well and deteriorates some miles outside Kaolack. Survey crews are working along it at the moment, in advance of a new road being built. We also discovered in Kaolack that the challenging Tambacounda to Kaolack road is also being rebuilt.
Riding into Dakar is not for the faint hearted. The road into town has been improved since our last visit, but for a good 30 miles we battled gridlocked traffic and air pollution in the growing heat. It took two hours to get into the city centre through sprawling and filthy suburbs, only to find that due to several UN and World Bank conferences, just about every hotel, cheap or expensive, was booked solid.
We eventually found a place near the sea front which is OK and after dropping the bike off at the shipping agency yesterday, have a final day to sort a few things out before flying home tonight.
Dakar is a city of contrasts. Known for its persistent hustlers, heavy traffic and chaotic pace of life, it still manages to offer some gems of interest. There are many fine colonial buildings in the well planned city centre, including the wonderfully decorated old railway station, whose imposing facade hides the fact that only one passenger train a week now runs from Dakar.
The area around the seaward side of the peninsular is simply lovely and of course the Ile De Goree is one of Senegal’s must sees. We’re hoping to go over to this historic and beautiful island this afternoon in fact.
Tonight we fly home, arriving at 8am tomorrow. I think we’re both looking forward to getting back to London, though as always, leaving Africa will be a wrench. This continent may have many problems, but if you get under the news headlines and actually see the place for yourself, a country of amazing places and people is there to be discovered.
Best wishes to you all.
Craig and Barbara
On a plane (almost)