I just returned home from the Budapest-Bamako rally which started in Budapest (Hungary, Europe) and ended in Bissau (Guinea-Bissau, Africa). Here is the route (copied from official website):
2012 Route- DESTINATION BISSAU
The 2012 route is expected to be the most spectacular and most difficult route to date. The adventure and racing categories will have the same end stages, however they dont have to travel on the same route. For those in touring category will have almost 2-3 days to rest and explore in and around Noaukchott, Mauritania. With the exception of of one or possible two stages all sections can be completed by 2 wheel drive cars. For the first time in the history of the rally the finish line is not Bamako, but Bissau in Guinea-Bissau.
START – BUDAPEST 2012. JANUARY 14th, Saturday
We are planning to start the event from Budapest’s famous Hero’s Square.
There will be only one stage in Europe. Teams will have to get to Genova by the middle of Day 2 for 48 hour Mediterranean crossing.
Spectacular mountain roads, rocky paths across the Atlas and the Sarhro will take teams to the Bani mountains and old Dakar pistes. Morocco will be demanding with its long days and complex stages. The Risani-Tata stage will be especially tough. Expect to start at 4:30AM and drive till 10-11 in the evening. Day 8 will take us through to the Mauritanian border.
Instead of the usual 5 days, we’ll spend only 2 and half days in Mauritania, but it will be pure Sahara with golden sand dunes, soft desert paths and fast salt flats. We ll pass through the Banc D’Arguin National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site and party hard at B2 Beach, named after the rally.
For the first time in the rally’s history, the Budapest-Bamako will not visit Mali. Instead teams will explore new and exciting regions of West Africa.
After entering the country teams will have to drive to the Niokolo Koba National Park along dusty village roads among mud huts and millet fields. We’ll spend the night by the banks of the Gambia river among monkeys and warthogs. Lucky ones will see hippos and crocodiles.
Wetlands, jungles and authentic African villages and rich wildlife will await in this small former Portuguese colony. The rally will finish in Bissau where the electricity is still turned off after 8PM every day. A fun place to party and celebrate your arrival. (Yes, they do have generators)
I was filming the whole rally for Travel Channel. This year’s special part of the rally was “Vespa team”. Magnus, Joachim and Adrien did the whole rally on Vespa bikes and I think it’s pretty amazing and very inspiring! You will be able to see more when the show is edited and ready to air. I will let you know!
Otherwise I have to say that the whole route was very exhausting and a lot of times also dangerous (landmines, animals, people, hard terrain…), but it was a great adventure and amazing experience. I still have images of dead animals and poor people in my head, there’s a totally different world out there! Next up on my to do list, is to apply for the visa on arrival Vietnam prorgam and explore some more.
We donated some books and toys to African children but I think it’s far from enough. Something will have to happen in the future otherwise I don’t know what will happen with our World and society…
Let’s leave this for now, here are some photos from the trip. I have a lot of video footage because I was filming most of the time, but I also managed to make some photos.