The Timbuk Two’s Bamako Road Challenge

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Nick Redmayne and Eugene Costello, who have dubbed themselves the Timbuk Two, set out on their Bamako Road Challenge in December 2018. The two travel journalists are driving more than 4,000 miles to Bamako, in Mali, in a Nissan 4×4 that was once the property of the British Transport Police.

While many blokes in Britain are thinking about heading to the pub on New Year’s Eve, or have no plans at all, Nick and Eugene will be making their way to Africa. After starting their journey on 27 December, the men will be travelling together for up to four weeks.

Disclosure: Some of the links below — marked with (£) — are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Nick will set off alone from his home in Rothbury, Northumberland, and meet Eugene in London. Prior to travelling together on this venture, the men have not actually met in person. They have exchanged messages online and communicated via various writers’ forums.

“Nick and I have spoken by email on numerous occasions prior to this and of course, there is instant messenger. She sounds absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to meet her. I hope she will be as attractive as she sounds,” jokes Eugene.

Bruce 'The Manic Mechanic' Henderson under the hood of teh Nissan 4x4 ahead of the Bamako Road Challenge. Photo by Nick Redmayne.
Bruce ‘The Manic Mechanic’ Henderson under the hood of the Nissan 4×4 ahead of the Bamako Road Challenge. Photo by Nick Redmayne.

The Timbuk Two’s road trip

“I’ve wanted to do this drive, or one very similar, for years,” explains Nick.

“We had already been mooting this idea when I came as close to checking out as is possible, which gave the focus of making this a fundraiser,” adds Eugene, who suffered a heart attack, followed by a stroke, in September.

“We were simply going to write, blog, record, photograph and video the journey in order to at least cover costs… Now we’re raising funds for the British Heart Foundation, two journalists’ welfare charities, and by virtue of donating our vehicle, directly supporting a primary health care clinic in Mali,” says Nick.

A 4x4 vehicle during sunset in the desert.
A 4×4 vehicle during sunset in the desert.

The road to Bamako

The men will head through France and Spain then cross into Morocco. They will drive through the Western Sahara southwards through Mauritania and into Mali.

“In Morocco, we’re favouring the Atlantic Coast route rather than Marrakesh, which will give us the chance to dawdle at Casablanca, Rabat, Essaouira and, much later, Nouakchott before heading inland via Kiffa and the Baoul National Park,” elaborates Eugene.

“There are others racing to do it and fly home two weeks later but we’re a little more peripatetic than that. Modern-day flâneurs, if you like,” he adds.

Nick has form when it comes to long-distance road trips. “I drove my old estate car from North Shields, through Syria and Lebanon, to Jordan at the end of 2011. I think it’ll be a while before that route is possible again. West Africa will be different, but some of the challenges will be familiar. The chaos of a land border and the Byzantine process of temporarily importing a vehicle will be one,” he explains (£):

Music for a road trip

But what about the music for their forthcoming trip? What’s likely to be on the playlist?

“Everything, but it’ll have to be loud; it’s noisy in the truck,” says Nick.

“I can do most genres but I cannot do grime. I don’t mean oily repairs, although now I think of it, I’m not great at that,” jokes Eugene.

“This is a proper adventure, spanning numerous countries and cultures. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us and it means we can put something back after my recent experiences,” he adds earnestly.

Nick says he is looking forward to observing changes in the landscape, people, food and climate during their journey. “Overland travel is quite different from the elevator of air travel,” he adds.

The pair have received support from several sources. ‘Thanks to our generous sponsors, Undiscovered DestinationsBradt Travel Guides, The Narrow Nick pub in Rothbury, Spotty Dog Signs and Print in Northumberland, Kamageo African destination marketing, Land Rover Explore: Outdoor Phone, DFDS Seaways and all our private donors, including my good friend Bruce ‘The Manic Mechanic’ Henderson who has helped check over the vehicle, source some bits, add some lights and generally reassure us that nothing too important will drop off before we hit Bamako,” says Nick who will be posting images from the journey on his Instagram feed (£):

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A section of desert at sunset.
Sandy desert at sunset.

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