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Thread: Thunder's Road - Calum's Road 2010

  1. #65
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    31-1-10

    Sambel Kunda - The Gambia



    Another day packing and heading down a road, but this was a significant one as we hoped to get to Sambel Kunda where the Horse and Donkey Trust were based and Calum's Road in The Gambia began.

    We intended to cross in to Gambia at Farafenni a busy market town then ride down the North Road to catch ferries at Janjanbureh on to the South Road which would take us to our destination. It meant looping back on ourselves but given the reputation of the South Road and it's numerous pot holes was the route that was recommended.

    We stopped before the border crossing to check paperwork, stretch legs and take pictures. The roads were getting worse and the landscape was distinctly orange, Dave was delighted!











    We were cleared quickly through the Senegalese border and then began the usual long entry procedures even though the officials knew we were coming and why we were there. This was Africa time we kept telling ourselves.







    We also got our first experience of Gambian officials, they did not ask for a fine or a donation to the Chief of Police's beer fund, but if you had something they admired they just asked for it, not in a threatening way and there was no animosity when you politely refused but we soon learned to keep shiny things out of site when dealing with officials.

    The Gambians had a very relaxed attitude to entering the country, once the customs paperwork was sorted we were told to call in at the police station some 2 kms down the road " just stop under the big tree when your passing" We did, took a sneaky picture of it, and the latest in Gambian police motorcycle technology while Mike was sorting the paperwork before heading down for the first ferry.



    We were officially in The Gambia!!

    We passed close to our destination while riding down the North Road, we couldn't see it of course but we knew it was there, we had to take a long loop and catch 2 ferries, the first was waiting to leave as we arrived, quite small, ride on and push off as it had only one ramp but a quick crossing.





























    It was hot work so our first stop was for drinks



    then the short run to the next ferry, a ride on ride off one this time, larger than the first but with no engine it was pulled across with cables strung between the river banks, and soon to be replaced by a bridge which was under construction. It was also busy so we joined the queue!













    talked to the locals



    topped up tans



    and lay around waiting



    it was a long wait, the ferry crossing while short was slow and eventually some of our intrepid adventures ended up on board helping to pull it across in an attempt to speed things up.



    Eventually it was our turn, well mine there was just enough room for a single bike hanging over the back on the loading ramp , I stayed on the bike,





    chatted with one of the locals,



    before reaching the other side, parking up and waving at the others.





    who arrived eventually













    It had been a long delay but we were on the final leg!!!!!

    TBC

  2. #66
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    Sambel Kunda (continued)

    Our delay at the ferry had us considering the options for accommodation over night. We were not due to arrive at the Horse and Donkey Trust compound until the following day and as it was getting late and we were aware from Mike that the "road" to the compound was little more than a 15km track we discussed the possibility of camping in the school grounds in Kudang.

    What we didn't know was that Mike had been keeping in touch with Heather Armstrong of the trust and people were aware we would soon be arriving.

    About 15 kms from Kudang we turned a corner and came upon a white pick up truck and a group of locals, Heather and Anna from the trust with a group of local representatives were waiting for us. We were totally taken by suprise (except for Mike that is) so much so I've not even got a picture of the event.

    We did the greeting thing and were told to get on our way, it appeared people had heard we were arriving and had been waiting for up to 6 hours for us.

    For the next 15 kms the every village we rode through had people lining the road waving, beating drums, shouting welcome, we were totally gob smacked!

    Then we reached Kudang. The road was blocked with locals as far as the eye could see welcoming us, men woman children and even a local "magician"! We couldn't take it all in!

























    Gert got 2 shots of Dave which I believe just about sum up the moment





    Just totally amazing!

    As it started to get dark we made our apologies and headed off to the compound, we still had 15 kms to go and as before the track was lined with locals at bends and villages all waving, smiling and shouting.

    Soon it was pitch black and we found the track was not just covered in sand, for most of the way it was sand and soft sand at that!

    Between the sand, roving livestock and excited villagers running across our path it was perhaps the worst riding we had had so far and bikes went down all over the place.

    We were becoming exhausted and with 2 kms to go the bikes were showing serious signs of overheating as were some of the riders so we pulled over and stripped our gear off while water was brought out from the compound and the bikes cooled down.

    After about 20 minutes we were on our way again, as we rode through Sambel Kunda the villagers ran along beside us and joined others already waiting there to greet us.

    As we parked the bikes and threw our gear off cold beers appeared and the party started!!!













    It was too dark for the video camera but I videoed anyway just to record the noise, it was deafening



    Some of us joined in with the dancing





    some just sat and tried to take it all in



    No one expected our arrival would be like this.

    We had another late night before falling into our beds, tomorrow we would finally ride Calum's Road in The Gambia. We could'nt wait!

    TBC

  3. #67
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    Totally brilliant

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  4. #68
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    Fantastic!!!!!!!!!

  5. #69
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  7. #71
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    Excellent report - I've enjoyed reading this so much and getting my daily fix of it was as exciting as watching you guys on the GPS site as it happened - a brilliant trip and a brilliant write up. I think those 2 pics of Bhud will be on his office wall now

    Well done again everyone involved
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  8. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyT View Post
    Excellent report - I've enjoyed reading this so much and getting my daily fix of it was as exciting as watching you guys on the GPS site as it happened - a brilliant trip and a brilliant write up. I think those 2 pics of Bhud will be on his office wall now

    Well done again everyone involved
    It's not over yet, we have another week to go so keep watching

  9. #73
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    1-2-10

    Horse and Donkey Trust - Sambel Kunda

    Today we would actually be riding on the Gambian Calum's Road and meeting some of the local dignitaries, and officials who would be joining us, but first we had time to explore the Trust's compound and the village of Sambel Kunda.

















    Dave's bike was of interest to some of the locals





    We crossed over to the stables, learned something of what the trust did, how it was much more than horses and donkeys and some of the background on how it came to be.



















    About thirty years ago horses and donkeys were introduced into The Gambia for use as working farm animals and their numbers have increased considerably in the last ten years or so. Many of the 27,500 horses and 40,000 donkeys are suffering appalling treatment and conditions simply through their 'carers' lack of knowledge.

    Inadequate food supply is also a major problem and these factors lead to the distressing sights we can see in the pictures.
    Our main concern is malnutrition which aggravates problems with parasites, infection, lameness and disease.

    Ill fitting or inappropriate harness and little or no knowledge of farriery often compounds the suffering.

    • The Trust aims to alleviate these problems by:
    • Educating the farming community.
    • Training Extension workers.
    • Liasing with appropriate agricultural agencies.
    • Providing hospital and mobile treatment facilities.
    • Employing a Gambian veterinary surgeon and his team of assistants.
    • Making full use of locally available medicinal plants e.g. Aloe Vera.
    • Making use of voluntary expertise from abroad to provide specialist training e.g. farriery and harness making.


    It was hard to take in some of the things we heard particularly the fact that The Gambia only has seven vets in the whole country.

    The trust employs 17 local people who are all actively involved in it's work and in addition has strong connections with local schools and community groups. We soon learned it was about much more than just horses and donkeys.

    Moving on we explored the village,







    the local school,





    with it's strong Scottish links,











    and recently opened playground which was popular with the children.







    Dave gave a hand at the well





    on our way to visit the headman of the village









    and see the health clinic









    before returning to the compound to get ready for our ride on Calum's Road.

    TBC

  10. #74
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    Roger you are a real credit to the team, your report is really capturing our Adventure.

    old enough to know better, young enough not to care!

  11. #75
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    Erm




  12. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by H.R.H. OONYACK View Post
    Erm



    Aye, we dealt with it appropriately
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Gert

  13. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by H.R.H. OONYACK View Post
    Erm


    Ehmmmmmm ?????????????

    Oh Great and Wise Deity, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    Courage to change the things I can! And the wisdom to know the difference!

  14. #78
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    glad there's still a week to go, you oughta make a book out of it Roger

  15. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by cunning fox View Post
    glad there's still a week to go, you oughta make a book out of it Roger















    .

    Should do the Scoots one went down well

  16. #80
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    1-2-10

    On the Road

    Back at the compound we met with more local officials before grabbing our gear and getting the bikes ready to see the site of the new Calum's Road.

    I had the video camera running so if you have 20 minutes free check out the streams below, for an idea of what riding it is like.



    Like the previous evening people were waiting for us on our route.









    As we reached the section of the road which floods the pick up with the officials had to pull over, this section could not be crossed easily by even 4 wheel drive vehicles, the bed of the road was underwater even in the dry season and the land surrounding it was waterlogged making crossing it impractical if not impossible in any vehicle, hover crafts not included of course

    We parked the bikes and joined them.















    The girl in the blue dress is Joanna, she's spending 2 years in the area as a member of the US Peace Corp.



    Horse and donkey carts are the main method of moving things on the "road"





    Even in the dry season we saw an example of the problems the flooded area causes, one of the horses stumbled and fell in the mud and had to be unhitched from the cart and pulled free.





    The elders and people from the village at the end of the far end of the road were waiting to meet us, it had been a day of speeches and the temperature was rising but most of us chose to walk with our hosts to meet them, it was an experience!!!!













    We met the other villagers and there were more speeches, singing and dancing, luckily for them we were too tired and sober to join in

    You can get some idea of the whole afternoon from this video, unfortunately I was rabbiting on at times, it seemed the thing to do at the time



    On the way back to the bikes we stopped for a couple of pictures returning to the compound for a shower and some cold beers





    Now all we had to do was chill out, get to Banjul and sort the bikes out for the flight home. Easy? Yeah right!

    TBC

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