Budapest-Bamako Rally – An Adventure Across Borders
It is expected that between 100 and 120 teams will take on the challenge of the 3rd Budapest-Bamako Rally in January 2008. Unlike other rallies - such as the Paris to Dakar rally, which mainly attracts well-financed professional racers - the Budapest-Bamako rally has been created to give “amateur” adventurers the thrill of experiencing a Europe to Africa rally at a reasonable cost. Participants are advised that motorbikes and 4x4 vehicles are most suited to rally conditions, but there are few official restrictions and virtually anything on wheels can join in this road trip of a lifetime.
There are three categories that participants can enter under. The first is “Touring Extra” which allows teams to leave a day later than the official start and to skip one stage. The second category is “Touring” in which there are no rules, no scoring and no timing and teams are allowed to choose whether to take an alternative, less difficult route. “Competition” is the third category, where teams must complete daily stages within a stipulated time period and have the additional challenge of solving a series of geo-challenges, making skill and endurance (plus a bit of luck) the deciding factors, rather than just speed.
As in the previous two Budapest-Bamako rallies, charity work features strongly in the 2008 event. With the objective of supporting “Adopt-a-Village” or “Help-a-School”, each team will be assigned an African village that they will take supplies to, including medicine, school supplies, toys, and children’s clothing. After meeting the village headman or elders, the team members will have the opportunity to distribute their gifts. Much needed school and education supplies will be taken to one of the schools in Bamako.
Starting on 12 January 2008 from Budapest or London, drivers will follow a route that takes teams through Hungary, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Mali. All types of roads and varied weather conditions must be expected. Participants are not obliged to start the rally from Hungary or London and may join the group at any point in Europe.
The first few days feature long stretches of highway with day three from Meyreuil in France to Murcia in Italy being the longest stretch (1102 Km). This is where the London-starters will join the teams from Budapest. Teams will cross the Mediterranean Ocean from the Spanish port of Tarifa. Once in Africa, the teams will be welcomed by representatives of the Western Sahara government with a traditional meal at a traditional desert campsite – a fitting beginning to the African part of the rally.
The serious desert rally driving begins just past the border between Morocco and Mauritania. After two days of intensive driving over challenging terrain, teams will reach Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. At this point the route turns away from the Atlantic coastline heading for the inland country of Mali. After driving on dusty bumpy roads past ancient African villages, teams will reach the busy city of Bamako, the capital of Mali and the finishing point of the rally.
The 2007 Budapest-Bamako rally was a resounding success. Everyone had a great time and everyone had an exciting story (or two or three) to tell, as well as new friendships being forged. There is no doubt that the 2008 Budapest-Bamako rally will be filled with fun and adventure.