Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Moroccan Rally 2012 in preparation stage

This is a short post to all who are following this blog, we are in the preparation stages of our 4th adventure, the Moroccan Rally 2012.

Check out our dedicated Moroccan Rally 2012 blog at and our Moroccan Rally 2012 website at

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Moroccan Road Trip 2010 a success!

We were at the top of one of the many Atlas mountain ranges when we found ourselves speechless. Even in Morocco, where tourism plays a big part in the economy we were able to find ourselves in awe of the seemingly infinite space around us. The Moroccan Road Trip 2010 was another truly breathtaking adventure. It exceeded our expectations of adventure, just as we entered Morocco thinking our trip would be somewhat tamer than previous adventures we found ourselves opening the door to a series of crazy events we could never have imagined. Almost every day there was some sort of incident which added to the adventure. From getting stuck on a beach with the tide coming in, becoming buried by a lake full of flamingo poo to getting lost at the top of the High Atlas and navigating sand dunes in the dark with a snapped car chassis. These are just some of the major events we had on our rally.

So we are back now, having finished the Moroccan Road Trip 2010 on Saturday 10th July. We arrived a day earlier than expected after completing a drive through Europe that can only be described as a mad European rally run. Driving almost nonstop from Wednesday at 6am through to the Saturday afternoon.

The photos from our rally have now been uploaded and are available on the photos page of our main website at The video is in the process of being prepared and there will be some additional updates to the site in the near future.

We have so many people to thank for their generosity and help. We are very very grateful to all of you who have donated to the Mercy Corps, we were genuinely surprised by the generosity of those around us and by the enthusiasm people had for our trip. We also had some pretty difficult moments in Morocco where we were in need of help and the Moroccan people we met were nothing but genuine, hospitable and kind. We were really touched by the actions of some of the Moroccan people we had the pleasure of meeting. Many people in England also helped us with advice and tips for our trip, both in Morocco and through Europe. We hope you enjoyed some of the SMS blog commentary we posted while on the trip.

Thanks to Chris and Kai at PebbleTrack who once again provided us with an excellent solution which enabled everyone to follow our progress on our website via the GPS tracking capability that they added to our vehicle. We have a vast amount of GPS data that is stored at PebbleTrack that will enable us to rebuild our exact route on the rally. We plan to post up the detailed route with some further information in the near future.

If you haven't yet had an opportunity to make a donation to the Mercy Corps, we hope our completed adventure will encourage you to do so. We drove over 5,200 miles on the rally in 17 days and visited almost all corners of Morocco in the process. We're very close to reaching 100% of our fund raising target but hope we will continue to exceed this as we believe the Mercy Corps is one of those charities that can make a difference in many countries around the world.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Moroccan Road Trip 2010 launches...

The Moroccan Road Trip 2010 launch day is almost upon us, we're only 6 hours away from heading to the Western Sahara. This blog will not be updated whilst we are on the road. Please visit our website, this will be kept up to date while we are on the road via our SMS blog.

We expect to update the site 2 or 3 times a day when there is mobile phone reception.

Thanks to all of you who have supported us and we hope the donations will continue to come in for the Mercy Corps while we are on the road.

We're all packed and ready!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Getting our priorities right

While we're on the subject of technology, we thought we'd share the importance of a particular technology on our rally. Probably the most important gadget that we carry with us is the MP3 player. We had the MP3 player set-up with the right collection of music long before we even considered a satellite phone!

People have said that it is impossible to listen to music in a 60s Land Rover and normally they would be right. The engine noise makes it near impossible to hear anything, the stiff ride (especially with military grade suspension) makes even the best anti-skip CD player fail miserably.

We decided to take on this challenge and Alex came up with the ingenious idea of mounting the speakers directly behind our heads. It sounds like it isn't such a good idea for our ears, but it isn't actually as bad as it sounds. This set-up is something we did in 2008 prior to our Saharan Rally 2009. Alex bought 2 speakers and mounted one behind the driver and passenger seat on the cage between the rear of the car and the front seats. Sound quality? Superb, we have a good sound with just the right level of bass. It keeps us going on the long nights and days of driving.

Of course the MP3 player is key to this set-up as it won't skip as we're storming through even the rockiest of terrains. Our player of choice is the Samsung YP-K5 as it has some fairly decent (for the size) stereo speakers built into it which gives us the ability to listen to our music when in the tent or away from the car. The battery life is superb (Apple users get jealous now), with over 30 hours non-stop on headphones and 6 hours when listening to the integrated speakers.

Back to the 90s

It is here, it arrived today. Our satellite phone of course. This is the latest version of the Iridium satellite phone, it is a basic phone that supports SMS and email. It even has a USB port on it and yet it looks like something from the early 90s. In fact, this satellite phone makes my first ever mobile phone look modern and lightweight! It is supposed to be very reliable, with over a 99% connection success rate and works anywhere where you can see the sky.

We were never actually planning on getting a satellite phone, but a person who I don't think will mind being named and shamed (Milan!!!) reminded me incessantly of the benefits of a satellite phone. I'm sure he should be an insurance salesman, the last email from him was titled 'There is still time...'. Well many people are very grateful that he persuaded us into getting this.

It is of course a no brainer to take one of these along on the rally as we are completely without any support vehicles and are heading into the unknown. We've tried out the phone today and it works, we can make and receive calls. We're not planning on keeping the phone on very often when on the rally, but we will occasionally power it on when we are covering large distances without mobile phone coverage.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Stickers and can opener

We no longer need any can openers donated to us, as we now have one. We're quite pleased with it, it is basic as per anything else to do with our rally and it will certainly make our life a bit easier when we are hungry.

We've now got our Moroccan Road Trip 2010 stickers on the car. They are quite big! We've left our Saharan Rally 2009 poster on the doors from the previous rally.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Food shopping

In addition to the work on the car this weekend, we've been shopping. We often get asked what do we take on the rally. Well if we've learnt anything from any of our trips it is to take a can opener! Sounds like a basic item but somehow we got all the way to Mongolia in 2007 without one. It did mean that each time we had a can to open we'd have to gently hacksaw the top off without spilling the contents. A frustrating, but somewhat comical, experience when you are very hungry and it is 35c in the baking sun.

Anyway, I don't actually think Alex or I have bought a can opener yet, so we need to add that to our list of things to get before the 24th! Although feel to donate one to us ;)

What did we buy this weekend? Junk food of course. Junk food keeps us awake at night and keeps us energised between (the few) meals during the day. So we have nuts, carbonated drinks, energy drinks, custard, biscuits, sweets, crisps, popcorn, canned fruit, cakes and the list goes on. NO CHOCOLATE, we love it, but it melts and things get messy. Even in February in the Sahara our bag of chocolate truffles turned into pure hot drinking chocolate.

It isn't all junk food of course, for our main meals we do try to grab a bite on the road, we've developed a real taste for cheap roadside food. It is usually incredibly tasty and authentic and to date we've probably only had a couple of bowel related problems from it, not bad going really. But when we cook our own meals, we have a selection of things from pasta and various jars or cans of pasta sauces, instant rice, instant noodles (super noodles only please, pot noodle need not apply) and mixed beans, tofu and other can based meals. It is quite incredible how these instant foods which normally don't rank highly on the flavour scale at home taste quite amazing when you are out on the road.

We've captured a couple of snapshots of our latest purchases. You'll notice 2 key items that we can't go on any rally without. Granola bars and Lucazade. Granola bars are breakfast, basically the days when we need to hit the road running, a Granola bar (or two) keeps us going for ages. They are also great to give to people we bump into. As for Lucazade, that is usually used during the day but we'll often have more before starting a long night drive, although that will invariably be accompanied with a large bottle of coke and crisps. The rest of the time we try to keep it healthy.