This 17-day rally starts and finishes at Portsmouth in the UK, although for teams wishing to join us from other countries or take a more leisurely drive south, you can meet us in Seville (2 hours north of Gibraltar)…
Thu 13 Oct – Meet at Portsmouth ferry port for the 19:30 ferry to Bilbao, Spain.
Fri 14 Oct – (Day 1) At sea
Sat 15 Oct – (Day 2) Bilbao (arrive 08:00) to Seville
Sun 16 Oct – (Day 3) Seville to Tarifa (sightseeing day in Gibraltar)
Mon 17 Oct – (Day 4) Tarifa to Fes, Morocco
Tue 18 Oct – (Day 5) Fes to Midelt
Wed 19 Oct – (Day 6) Midelt to Merzouga
Thu 20 Oct – (Day 7) Merzouga to Lac Maider
Fri 21 Oct – (Day 8) Lac Maider to Zagora
Sat 22 Oct – (Day 9) Zagora – rest day / vehicle maintenance
Sun 23 Oct – (Day 10) Zagora to Lac Iriki
Mon 24 Oct – (Day 11) Lac Iriki to Foum Zguid
Tue 25 Oct – (Day 12) Foum Zguid to Marrakesh
Wed 26 Oct – (Day 13) Marrakesh to Moulay Bousselham
Thu 27 Oct – (Day 14) Moulay Bousselham to La Linea (evening in Gibraltar)
Fri 28 Oct – (Day 15) La Linea to Salamanca
Sat 29 Oct – (Day 16) Salamanca to Bilbao for the 15:00 ferry to Portsmouth
Sun 30 Oct – (Day 17) Arrive Portsmouth, UK at 18:30 hrs
THE ENTRY FEE…
The entry fee for this incredible adventure is from as little as £895 per person, which includes…
Professional support crew – Expedition Leader, Morocco Guide, Expedition Doctor & Mechanics
Expedition prepared 4×4 support vehicles (one 4×4 per 6 vehicles taking part)
Expedition medical, mechanical, recovery & communication equipment (incl. satellite phones)
Return ferry from Spain to Morocco
2 hotel nights accommodation in Spain
2 nights campsite accommodation in Spain
10 nights campsite accommodation in Morocco (with the option to upgrade)
UHF radio hire – full vehicle kit
Branded desert clothing
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT – UNTIL 31ST JAN 2022
4 per car – £895 per person
3 per car – £1,145 per person
2 per car – £1,395 per person
STANDARD ENTRY FEE – 1ST FEB to 31ST AUG 2022
4 per car – £995 per person
3 per car – £1,245 per person
2 per car – £1,495 per person
HM FORCES ENTRY FEE (Serving or Retired / Regular or Reserve) – UNTIL 31ST AUG 2022
4 per car – £895 per person
3 per car – £1,145 per person
2 per car – £1,395 per person
THE OTHER COSTS…
Additional costs per car are…
Ferry – £820 / £970 (UK to Spain return – Car / 4×4 )
Fuel – £250 (1,370 miles in Spain, assuming 40mpg)
Fuel – £380 (2,175 miles in Morocco, assuming 30mpg)
Tolls – £20 (Spain & Morocco)
Car Insurance – £90 (Morocco)
Teams wishing to take a more leisurely drive down to southern Spain, or are on a budget, can opt to take a cheaper ferry crossing from Dover to Calais and then use the toll-free roads through France, meeting up with the support crew in Seville (2 hours north of Gibraltar). Contact us for more information on this route.
The same applies for those teams that are not in a rush to return to the UK from Gibraltar, being able to drive back at a more leisurely pace.
Additional costs per person are…
Food – £170 to £340 (£10 to £20 per person per day)
As for vehicle choice, there are plenty of options…
Being a former French colony, Morocco still has close ties with the country and predominantly uses French cars, Citroen, Peugeot and Renault. Tending to be more reliable, Peugeots are the preferred choice of the three. For teams of 3 people, Citroen Berlingo / Peugeot Partners work very well, being comfortable, good off road and very reliable with their 1.9 non-turbo diesel engines.
Peugeot – 206, 306, 406 (or better still a 205, 309, 405), Partner
Citroen – Saxo, Berlingo, Xsara, Xsara Picasso
Renault – Kangoo, Clio
Probably best to avoid any attempts the French have made at building a 4×4 (particularly the Scenic Rx4)
The most reliable cars in the world are Japanese, with Honda consistently taking the No.1 spot. The little Nissan Micra K11 being a firm favourite on banger rallies. Suzuki also do some really good cars such as the Swift, but we particularly like the look of the Ignis as it already comes with 180mm ground clearance, so the suspension probably won’t need any modifications there.
Any small Honda, Nissan Micra K11, any Suzuki, any Toyota.
If you would prefer a 4×4, then the Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, Suzuki Jimny, Nissan Terrano and Nissan X-Trail are all good choices.
German cars tend to be well screwed together, especially those from the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG), which also includes cars from Skoda and Seat. We particularly like those models that are based on the Mk4 Golf platform, especially when fitted with their almost indestructible 1.9 turbo diesel engines. These include the new shape VW Beetle and Mk4 Jetta / Bora, Mk1 Audi A3’s and TT’s, Seat Leon Mk1 and Toledo Mk2, as well as the Skoda Octavia Mk1.
Front wheel drive tends to work better than rear wheel drive when off road, as the front wheels can power themselves out of sand etc, so you’ll find that BMW’s are less popular. That said though, the little BMW 1 Series might be worth a shot!
Although now quite rare and expensive, if you can get hold of a Mercedes W124 then you’l be in good company with most of the taxi drivers in North Africa, although you will need to raise the suspension! When they decided to mass produce cars in order to compete with BMW and the VAG group, Mercedes build quality and reliability went downhill and it’s only in recent years that it has returned to levels once afforded by this luxury marque.
VW Golf Mk 3, 4 & Beetle, Audi A3, Skoda Fabia, Seat Leon, especially those with the 1.9 diesel engine
Large and heavy saloons from VAG, BMW or Mercedes (apart from the W124)
We have loads of Fords here in the UK, with the Focus, Fiesta and Ka being very common. We like the look of the Ka, but they might be considered a little small for some. Fords as whole tend to be reliable and many have found their way onto rally stages at club level, so there are plenty of parts available to prepare such vehicles for the Sahara – suspension lift kits and engine sump guards etc. The big Mondeo’s and Scorpios are likely to cause you problems in the desert with their long overhangs at the rear and heavy weight, so best to be avoided.
Vauxhall / Opel:
Although not as reliable or with the same dynamic handling as an equivalent Ford, there are some models from the Vauxhall / Opel group that should prove quite capable in the desert. The nimble little Corsa has quite a good reputation, as does the Astra which is used by many Police Forces around the UK. Again, as with the French, it’s probably best to avoid any attempts they made at building a 4×4, the Frontera having shocking reliability issues.
Hatchback, Saloon or Estate?
Hatchbacks will work better in the desert with less overhang than equivalent saloons and estates, whilst shorter cars can ride over sand dunes easier than long ones. All models though will require a suspension lift kit to be fitted and ideally taller tyres.
If you can find a cheap 4×4 or SUV, then this would, be the best vehicle to take. They tend to have a higher ground clearance which is good for negotiating rocky sections and soft sand, four-wheel drive helps you in slippery conditions and their bodies and components tend to be made of stronger stuff than their saloon or hatchback equivalents.
Good examples are…
Honda CRV Mk1; Suzuki Jimny & Vitara; Nissan X Trail & Terrano; Toyota RAV4 Mk1 & 2; Mitsubishi Shogun, Shogun Sport or Shogun Pinin; Kia Sportage
Vauxhall Frontera; any 4×4 built by the French.
Unfortunately, Land Rover’s problems with reliability is renowned throughout the world, which is a shame as they are such incredibly capable vehicles. Finding a cheap version that won’t cause you problems is going to be tough, but if you want to go down the Land Rover route, then look for a Discovery 1 with the 200 or 300 Tdi engines, or possibly a base model Discovery 2. You will though need to swap out the rear air suspension for coil springs. If you want a Freelander then only buy one with the BMW made Td4 diesel engine.
Manual or Automatic?
Manual or automatic doesn’t really matter. Autos give you more control in slow speed sections where there isn’t a clutch to burn out, but manuals give you greater fuel range, are simpler, have a better chance of being fixed in the field and can be bump started if your battery dies.
Petrol or Diesel?
As for petrol or diesel, it doesn’t really matter, but diesel is always preferred on serious expedition vehicles due to the following reasons…
Fuel range tends to be better with a diesel engine
Low down torque helps you negotiate slow-speed sections without the need for slipping the clutch
Diesel fuel is safer to carry in Jerry cans
Depending on the car you choose, the following modifications may need to be done…
Suspension – raised suspension will help when negotiating soft sand and rocky sections
Taller tyres – to maximise underbody clearance
Roof Rack – somewhere to carry a second spare wheel & fuel Jerry can
Sump Guard – protection for the engine, probably the most important modification that needs to be done
Dog guard – to protect the occupants in case equipment in the back is thrown forward
You will be provided with a comprehensive kit list of all the clothing and equipment that you will need on the rally, which even goes into the finest detail of how many passport photos and pairs of socks that you should bring with you! The list is divided up into Essential, Advisable and Optional items, depending on how much free space you have in your vehicle. To ensure that you manage to get through the sand dune sections though and limit the chance of mechanical failure, it’s always best to keep the vehicle as light as possible.
The main items required are your passport, driving licence and vehicle registration document, but we’ll provide you with a comprehensive list of all that is needed. For most countries, including the UK, a visa is not required, neither is a Carnet de Passage for your vehicle.
You won’t have to dress like a Victorian explorer or member of the SAS to undertake the rally, any lightweight clothing will do, which you’ll probably already have at home. The only item that you may not have is a pair of ski goggles in case we get hit by a sand storm.
Although popularised by Land Rover and 4×4 enthusiasts, roof tents are definitely not needed, a cheap offering from Vango or Millets being much lighter, safer and more versatile than something strapped to the roof of your car.
Self-inflating sleeping mats certainly offer more comfort than those made of closed cell foam, but either will do. It can get quite cool at night, plus temperatures might drop on the run across Europe, so a 3 season sleeping bag is advisable.
Medical & Hygiene:
You’ll be required to carry a basic First Aid kit, as well as any personal medication. Most of the time we’ll be staying at campsites that have shower blocks with warm water, so it’s just the basics of soap, toothbrush and towel.
Food & Water:
Each vehicle will be required to carry 20 litres of water in a non-translucent container, the black plastic military Jerry cans being the best for this. Bottled drinking water can be purchased en route and we find that this is the safest way to ensure no upset stomachs.
Although there will be many opportunities to eat locally, each team must carry a minimum of 3 days food with them and able to cook for themselves. A portable gas stove, mess tins, cutlery and tinned food from your local Supermarket will be more than adequate. Dehydrated rations may save weight, but you have to carry extra water, they are expensive and never taste that good anyway. Tescos’ tins of stew, new potatoes and assorted veg makes for a hearty and simple to prepare meal.
Your mobile phone will work throughout most of Morocco apart from when we are in the Sahara itself. To keep costs down you can always bring an old unlocked mobile phone with you and buy a SIM card at the border on entering Morocco. Don’t forget to let your family know the number though.
As part of your entry fee though, each car will be issued with a UHF radio kit to allow car to car communication. These have a range of several miles and will help keep everyone together.
In addition to the above, all support vehicles will be fitted with a satellite phone in case of any emergencies.
Vehicle Tools & Spares:
You’ll be provided with a comprehensive list of tools, but most of the items you should have already such as screwdrivers, spanners and pliers, The only item that you may not be in possession of is a 12 volt air compressor, which will be needed to inflate and deflate tyres as we move between tarmac, rock and sand sections.
As long as your vehicle has been suitably prepared and carries the minimum of weight, it should be fine, but there will be some items that you must carry with you such as oils, lubricants, filters and belts. In addition to this, some ‘Bush Mechanics’ items will need to be carried including glues, sealants and tapes.
A second spare tyre will also be needed, but this doesn’t need to be fitted to a rim, although having it as a ‘ready to go’ complete wheel will save time in the desert.
Can I use someone else’s car on the rally?
Yes you can. As long as you have a copy of the original Vehicle Registration document, we can make up a ‘Letter of Authority to Drive’ which you can show to Customs officials and Police Officers when overseas.
Why can we only take a maximum of 4 drivers in each car?
Keeping the weight of your vehicle down is key to successfully negotiating the Sahara Desert. Adding an additional driver not only adds their personal weight, but that of their clothing & equipment, plus extra water, food and tents. Not only this, but the room inside all but the largest 4×4 vehicles is quite limited and it just wouldn’t be a comfortable experience for them.
We would recommend the following team numbers…
Small car (Nissan Micra etc) – no more than 2 drivers
Medium car (For Focus etc) – no more than 3 drivers
Large car (Land Rover Discovery etc) – no more than 4 drivers
Can I undertake the rally alone?
Unfortunately not. If we have problems, there may be some long days on the road and we have found it is too much driving for just one person. It is much better to have at least one other person to share time behind the wheel to ensure your own safety and that of the team and other road users. We’ve found that a medium or large sized car with 3 drivers is the best combination and this is what we had when we beat the record for the fastest drive from London to Cape Town.
Where will we be sleeping?
Accommodation will primarily be at campsites, but in many overnight stops there will be the option to upgrade to a hostel (auberge) or hotel room. This will be on a first come first serve basis, but to avoid having uncomfortable nights sleep, it is best to bring a good quality sleeping bag and mat.
Our first 2 nights on the rally will be spent onboard the ferry, so time to unwind and relax from your normal day to day life, as well as the chance to meet and get to know your fellow team mates.
Once we hit mainland Europe, after a drive across Spain we’ll spend a night in a hotel just outside Seville. For those that arrive early enough there will be the chance to head off and explore this historical city.
Upon returning to Europe we will spend a hotel night in La Linea, just outside Gibraltar. For those that are driving back to the UK, we will also be staying at a campsite in Salamanca en route to the ferry port at Bilbao.
Are there any rest days on the rally?
During the 17 day event, there will be 2 days in which you can rest.
Day 1 – On the ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao
Day 9 – Zagora, where you’ll get your vehicles checked over and stock up with supplies
In addition to this, Day 3 will only involve a 2 hour drive to Gibraltar in the morning where you can spend the day touring the ‘Rock’. Later that afternoon we’ll then have a 1 hour drive to our overnight accommodation in Tarifa, the most southerly point of Europe.
Where is the best place to find a used car?
In order of preference, we would suggest the following online resources to find a suitable car in terms of the numbers available to choose from and the most reasonable prices…
Don’t forget your local papers and used car dealerships as well.
How many teams will be on the rally?
For this event, we are capping the number of entries at 18 teams. This equates to 40 people as some teams have 3 per car.
How many support crew will be on the rally?
There will be 2 support crew in one 4×4 for every 12 people / 6 cars that take part in the rally. This would equate to 6 crew in three 4×4’s, but for this rally, we will have 8 support crew in four 4×4’s which will be made up of…
Expedition Leader – 25 years experience of operating vehicles in extreme conditions (-60C to +50C)
Moroccan Guide – over 20 years experience guiding 4×4 vehicles throughout Morocco
Expedition Doctor – experienced GP and A&E doctor specialising in remote wilderness medicine
Chief Mechanic – serving British Army vehicle mechanic, skilled in ‘Battle Damage Repairs’
2nd Mechanic – ex British Army vehicle mechanic
Producer / Director – Freelance filmmaker
2nd Camera – Freelance cameraman
Photographer – Vehicle engineer and semi-professional photographer
What is the ratio of support crew to teams taking part?
For every 6 teams taking part in the rally, there will be at least 1 support vehicle and 2 crew, at least 1 of them being a mechanic.
Do we drive in a convoy or travel independently?
Each team will be provided with a copy of the route that they can use to navigate from on their smartphone. In order to do this it simply involves downloading a free App onto your phone called Maps.me. Each day’s route is then shared using bluetooth between devices. As modern smartphones are GPS enabled, this means you won’t be using up any of your mobile data and will provide accurate route and location information even when you are far from a mobile phone signal.
On the tarmac sections, this will allow teams to travel independently, with the support crew following up the rear to recover anyone who has broken down. If teams wish to stay close to the support vehicles though, that will be fine.
For the desert sections though, we’ll need to stay pretty tight as getting regular hatchbacks and saloon cars along the original Dakar Rally route will not be easy and it will be a team effort to get through!
Why are the ferries to and from the UK not included in the entry fee?
We considered including them in the entry fee, but there were 3 main reasons why this wouldn’t work:
- The cost of the ferries is based on the size of the vehicles and the number of passengers inside them. If we included it in the entry fee, to cover our costs, we would have to assume that every team was driving a large 4×4 with roof rack fitted and consisted of 4 team members. This would unfairly penalise the small cars with just 2 drivers.
- For those teams on a budget, there is the option of taking a cheaper ferry crossing from Dover to Calais and then using the toll free roads through France to get to Spain.
- Teams joining us on the rally may live on the continent and so the ferries are not needed by them.
- Some teams with time in hand may wish to take a more leisurely drive down to southern Spain and back.
If we wanted to save money and drive through France on the toll free roads, which way would we go?
The following website lists the best way to get through France toll free and without adding too much time compared to using the toll motorways:
What is the saving by taking the cheaper ferry and toll free roads through France?
This is based on taking the ferry or Eurotunnel from the UK to France and then using the toll free roads through France, compared to taking the Portsmouth to Bilbao ferry. This does though include a night in a hotel on the way down which is approximately £80 for 2 people sharing a twin room.
How long is the first day’s drive from Bilbao to Seville?
540 miles – approximately 8:30 hours driving.
Allowing for stops, most teams should be able to achieve this journey in 10 hours, whilst others will be able to do it a lot quicker. It sounds quite painful, but you’ll be well rested on the ferry, the roads are pretty empty and the scenery pleasant. It’s not like driving the same distance in the UK!.
How much time do we have to get from Gibraltar to Bilbao for the ferry back to Portsmouth?
1 1/2 days.
The distance of 650 miles is estimated to take 10 hours, primarily on fast motorways and dual carriageways. Unlike the UK with its heavily congested roads, those in Spain are largely devoid of traffic and actually enjoyable to drive. The plan would be as follows:
- Gibraltar to Salamanca – 408 miles / 6:30 hours
- Salamanca to Bilbao – 247 miles / 4:00 hours