Where: London to Cameroon
When: The inaugural Africa Rally started on July 18th 2008. Dates for the 2009 event haven’t been announced yet.
Deepest, Darkest Africa
First The Adventurists brought you The Mongol Rally, an epic journey traversing a 10,000 mile gauntlet of deserts, mountains and bandits in Central Asia. Next was The Rickshaw Run wherein an international cast of adventure starved lunatics forced three wheeled clown cars across the Indian sub-continent.
In their third offering, the good people at The Adventurists set a course for deepest, darkest Africa.
The philosophy behind all the Adventurist’s events is that, to experience Adventure you must leave your safe, normal life behind, smash your comfort zones to smithereens. Get out there into the world, get lost, stuck and in trouble.
With the Africa Rally they may have outdone themselves. This is not so much a race as it is a framework for guaranteed adventure.
As with all Adventurist events, the Africa Rally begins with a massive party. The 2008 “CzechOut Party” was held at a castle in the Czech Republic and was apparently quite a bash.
But from there on the route is totally up to the driver’s discretion; you are totally free to seek out the most ludicrous and dangerous route you possibly can; head south through Morocco and traverse the mighty Saharan desert, or if you’re not into sand, cruise on over to Italy and enter through Tunisia.
For the next 10,000 miles there are no check points, no support crews and no race officials to get you out a Mali jail cell if need be – basically, you just need to get to Cameroon before all your friends forget you exist.
The Un-Vehicles – The 1 litre Rule:
In an attempt to help you wring every drop of adventure possible from the African continent, the Adventurists have imposed their hilarious 1 litre rule on the Rally.
The 1 litre rule basically states that you can only use a car with an engine of 1 litre or less that is generally considered to be crap. No Toyota Landcruisers allowed – that would make things a bit too easy.
There is a full exemption of the 1 litre rule for vehicles that demonstrate “significant comedy value” Good examples would be a cherry picker or an electric milk float. If you want to go on a motorbike they are limited to under 125cc.
What’s it gonna cost me?
The Africa Rally was conceived as a low-cost alternative to The Dakar, which could cost you upwards of half a million US dollars to run. By comparison the Africa Rally is a bargain. Since the rally has such an open format it’s hard to estimate the exact cost for participation, but I’ll give it a try anyway:
THE CAR: $2,750. So many variables here. In a quick search of used sub 1 litre vehicles I found:
High End – 1996 Nissan Micra Group A Rally car $11,976.30
Low End – 1988 Yugo GV $2,750 (I’m sure you could find a cheaper one with a bit more research)
If you’re a non-UK resident, you’ll probably want to buy your car in England as opposed to shipping it from your home country. The Adventurists could probably help you with this, if you asked real nice.
Many teams leave their cars in Cameroon once they’ve completed the Rally. The battered vehicles are sold at auction and the proceeds donated to charity. This saves you the trouble of having to cart your vehicle back home.
One rather important point to note for next year’s Rally is that all the cars will have to be left hand-drive. Right-hand drive cars become illegal in the Cameroon as of October 31, 2008, hence this new rule.
Entry Fee: $550 per team. You can squeeze five people in your car to make it cheaper if you like. For more information about the entry fee and what you get for your dough, Click here .
CHARITY: $1,700. One of the main goals of the Adventurists Africa Rally is to give something back to the world, so each team has to raise a minimum of $1700 for charity. This year (2008) 42 teams participated in the event, raising around $80,000 for some truly worthy charities.
Visas: $1000 per team. That’s an extremely rough estimate. It depend on which countries you choose to tackle. The Adventurists run a visa service for ralliers who are residents of the UK. If you’re a US citizen, like me, you may want to try a Visa service like VisaHQ.com.
Gas: $750: 10,000 miles at 40mpg = 250 gallons of gas @ $3.00 per gallon = $750. Sub 1 litre cars are pretty damn economical, and gas in Africa is cheap.
Accommidations: $200 – I know it sounds low but keep in mind you’ll be driving through an area where the Average yearly income is $380. And you’ll probably sleep in your car alot.
Food: $200 – Generally pretty cheap if you eat where the locals eat.
Repairs: $500 – This will depend on your mechanical know-how and how many spares you can strap to the roof of your tiny little car.
Bribes: $100 – It is very unlikely that you will get to the end without being asked to oil the palms of the odd Policemen.
GRAND TOTAL: $7,750 (per team) Not bad for a month long Adventure of a lifetime!
Many of the teams get sponsors to pay for a good portion of these costs – think how cool that “Sal’s Bailbonds” logo will look on the hood of your 1989 Yugo. If you’re a slick enough fund raiser you may even be able to run the Africa Rally without paying a dime out of your own pocket.
How Do I join in 2009…
The 2008 Africa Rally just ended so details of the 2009 event haven’t been released yet (it will probably be in November). If you’re interested in joining the madness in 2009 make sure to sign up for the Adventurists Africa Rally mailing list. Adventurist events always sell out, so unless you want to be watching from the sidelines, act fast when the sign-ups open.
Before you jump onboard just be warned – The Adventurists Africa Rally is quite probably the Most Dangerous Rally in the World… The following warning appears on The Official Africa Rally Website:
If you have any questions drop the Adventurists a line via their get in touch page.