Timbuctu Challenge

The 3 week Timbuktu Challenge which leaves the UK in Dec 2019, heads South through Morocco, Western Sahara, and Mauritania and after the Sahara Desert crossing the route heads inland to Mali perhaps via Senegal or the more direct route, arriving in Bamako in Mali. The journey to Bamako is approximately 4100 miles, and can be covered in 2WD vehicles in around 3 weeks. We ask you not to drive to Timbuctu as this will destroy one-in-three vehicles (putting their occupants at risk). Instead, maybe end in Djenne or the Dogong, or join any teams that are pushing South to Sierra Leone where there will be a donation point for cars. Good flight links exist to the UK and the donation point for cars in Bamako is a short drive from the airport.

The Challenge really starts in Southern Spain, where all teams meet at the rally hotel. 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 open to either Left-Hand or Right-Hand Drive vehicles. It is a condition of entry that All vehicles MUST be donated to the Rotary Club Control Committee in Mail; these shall fund works for the EDEN MEDICAL CENTRE in DINFARA which is being built entirely from the run’s monies. LHD vehicles are auctioned and the funds raised are distributed to local worthy causes. RHD vehicles are also auctioned but raise a little less as they are less popular. This auction 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.

We offer a car buying service in the UK for people who find it hard to buy a car (such as those who live in the US or Australia). This is on a not for profit basis and includes all paperwork.


As the last 200 miles to Timbuktu are a car killer, this Challenge finishing point is actually Segou, Mali. There are also security concerns in the Timbuctu area (including the death of a tourist) and we strongly urge all not to go here.https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mali/sahel-region. Teams return to the rally hotel in Bamako to drop off their cars before flying home.

There are security concerns in Mali but these have eased since French troops started providing support to the government. We do recommend that you stick to the main cities of Bamako and Segou for most of your stay.   Despite press reports,you will be impressed by the quality of roads,hotels and the organisational skills of our Malian organisor.  Teams should realise that Insurance will not be available from any company for Mauritania & Mali. We have run trouble free rallies to W Africa since 2003 and our trips benefit from much ‘behind the scenes’ support.

The music festivals of Mali are well worth seeing at the end of the 3 week challenge. The Segou festival should be early Feb 2020.

There is also the option of pressing on South for no extra cost to Cote D Ivoire  and Ghana. Teams will be flying out to Bamako to buy cars from the finishing line to do just this.

The fee is £nil, per car. Really! Yes: but with a twist! You pay £399 per car and this is refunded once you get to Bamako. Reason is we want more cars hitting Mali as they need aid more.  Note that Timbuctu teams travel with Banjul teams for 2 weeks before turning left to Bamako.  Applications are now open. The following are confirmed:

Steve Fitch: going further as well……Subaru Forester, just dropped out.

Nick Redmayne & Eugene Costello Nissan Terrano

Dave Chudleigh plus Nick Evans Suzuki Grand Vitara

Matt Lowry,Tom Norton,Julian & Hilary Nowill (From Bamako South)

For your fee,you get

•One Sahara Overland book and one free of charge night  at the B&B run by the rally organisors in Whimple Devon.

•One paperback issue book by a previous participant
•Exclusive PDC ‘road-book’ including guidance notes,
•Official PDC car stickers and entry numbers.
•Point of contact in Bamako for help with any issues.
•Behind the scenes administration to try and smooth passage (no guarantees of success, however!)
•Behind the scenes international liaison with partners and coordinators that allow this event to take place.
•Web site listing and Publicity.
•Inclusion within the formal lists of Participants that are issued to the Officials of some of the countries en route.