Archive for the ‘Gambia’ Category

The Gambia

Posted: December 7, 2010 in Africa Orbital, Gambia

7/12/10 Russell writes:

We arrived into the Gambia on 22nd November after a hefty drugs search at the border, it seems the drugs squad see a white face and fly into action! On the way into the camp site my bike continues its over-heating problems, not helped by the fierce heat at the ferry crossing to Banjul.

Smoke from a rubbish dump

 Also most of my right fork oil is now spread over my trousers collecting as much dust as it can. So our bikes and ourselves are in need of a bit of R & R. Limping towards the camp site I was praying “Lord, lead me to someone greater than I – at bike mechanics!” Arriving at our destination we were met by a great Aussie couple, Billy and Trish, who have been over-landing on their motorbikes for the last 4 years.

Billy the bike whizz

 Billy immediately offered his considerable bike expertise and skill, not to mention enthusiasm! The Lord Provides is living up to his name yet again! So we set about finding out what parts we needed before placing an order over the internet with a BMW parts specialist in the UK. After that we set about looking for service fluids, engine oil, break fluid, coolant and fork suspension oil – this should be easy, it’s the Gambia, an ex-British colony, surely? This is where we discover the phrase ‘the Africa run-a-round’.

A Gambian lady

A ‘kind’ person offers to show you where to get things but doesn’t really know, and wants payment for his ‘kindness’, you go from shop to shop and no-one has what you want, and they all sell similar things anyway. Finally Darren stopped a guy on a bigger motorbike and he gladly took him to get all the fluids we needed, at no charges, at last, a genuine Gambian!

Relaxing at the beach

Phase 2 of our planned stop was to relax, give our ankles, backs and ribs time to recover after the hammering they took in the desert. It was nice to eventually find the beach and time to make a new friend at the camp site, a very kind and generous lady from the Netherlands called Marietta.


 It’s such a blessing to meet kind and generous people who help us fix our bikes saving us many headaches and a week’s extra work, and buy us beef fillet meals at nice restaurants! So a huge thanks to Billy, Trish and Marietta!!!

After a week everyone moved to the other German camp site over the road as it was a bit cheaper and a lot more relaxed! The kitchen actually came with utensils, fridge/freezer and complimentary bread in the mornings. It’s a nice place to put your 55p bottle of beer in the 300C daytime temps! Going out in the evening was a lot more expensive, especially if you went for some of the ‘optional extras’ at most touristy bars! You also get a fair amount of hassle from the locals who are very friendly, but then you discover you’ve bought them a drink, usually the most expensive one! Eating out can be done very cheaply if you find a place where the locals eat, 44p gets you a plate of rice and fish which is actually very nice. The same dish in a touristy place will be £3 more! So whenever we bought something we made sure to ask for the Gambian price not the white man price. Buying an empty rice sack to use for laying tools and parts on started at £2.12 and ended up being 44p. Needless to say we didn’t like what tourism had done to The Gambia and how it had impacted the locals, but when you do find a genuine Gambian, they are very friendly and generous.

Phase 3, the parts have arrived! With the help of Billy we had done all the service work to the bikes and were now ready to fit the parts we needed – cooling fan, gear selector oil seal, gear actuating arm and front fork oil seals. Everything went smoothly and the parts soon fitted, Billy had even taken it upon himself to solve my front break problem – warped pads! What a star! The day we were leaving we managed to lose the GPS which was a bit of a blow and quite disappointing – lost, stolen, fallen out of a pocket, we’re not sure but on we must go. So back on the road again which felt good, the bikes felt happy and we were on our

The Gambian drumming experience

 way to Mali.

Darren Writes 23-nov

Hi guys.. Sorry no pics this time. I haven’t really stopped to take any as we have persisted onto the Gambia to fix Russ’ bike before it explodes… BOOM! Seems like the other fork seal has gone and we’re in the process of diagnosing an over heating problem. Here we can get parts shipped to, and then there’s no stopping us!

The story so far. Weve been riding morning to night with no time to fall off. In the south of Mauritania we stopped in a village where we were put up in a communal building (a bit like a small village hall). We were entertained and supplied with endless tea and finally the best nights sleep for days.

A 60 mile track to a back water immigration post in to Senegal made the crossing a bit easier though fighting not to pay the ‘extra taxes’ still a challenge.. one we overcome most of the time. Border crossing are a pain. Leaving Mauritania we had also to wait whilst they sat around a big bowl and ate. This was the same too entering Senegal though this time we were invited to join in. Good food too. We then stayed in St louis and road to 11pm the next day to the Gambia border. Same usual stuff  and then a ferry into the capital, Banjul. We almost arrived to our camp site when Russ fell on a sandy street on top of his bad ankle. Ouch. My injuries are slowly improving but im realising it will be a while before im better. Thanks for all your prayers. I hope it’s not too cold in the UK. Till next time.