The Spandanglo Meteors on the Plymouth-Banjul Challenge 2005


The Spandanglo Meteors are Emily Horgan, Vivi Mellegard, and Javier Diaz. We are one of 200 teams who took part in the Plymouth-Banjul Challenge 2005, a charity car rally to West Africa (see This audacious event takes place every year in December/January as a rival to the famous Paris-Dakar Rally to prove that it's possible to drive an old rustheap costing no more than $200 all the way to Africa, over 4,000 miles. Truly SPANDANGLOUS!

Over four dizzying weeks, we clunked our way through France and Spain, across the Gibralter Straits to the mystery and magic of Morocco, Atlas mountains, and moonscapes of Western Sahara, through the dust and decay of Mauritania and the Sahara desert, past dastardly Senegalese border guards to arrive finally in the Gambia on a ferry with 20,000 goats. Success was measured by mechanical miracles and large bribes to local officials. See our "Photo" pages for images from the 2005 Challenge.

This was the third Plymouth-Banjul Challenge, which raises funds each year to benefit small charities in the Gambia. Upon arrival, rally vehicles are sold at public auction with all proceeds donated to qualifying Gambian charities and NGOs. This year's Challenge raised over $300,000 - an all-time record. Teams incur their own expenses.

The Spandanglos personally raised funds for SANTA YALLA, an energetic grassroots charity fighting HIV/AIDS in the Gambia. See our "Donate" page for details or email the Spandanglos at to make a contribution.


1.Competing cars must cost less than $200

2.Maximum budget for the vehicle Rally Preparation: $30

3.Once the Rally is underway, teams are ON THEIR OWN. What does this mean?

? NO back-up trucks or mechanics;
? NO special arrangements with any of the countries for entry or exit;
? NO medical assistance in the case of illness, or accident;
? NO repatriation of bodies in the event of death en-route;
? NO assistance in the event that entrants are stranded at any stage of “The Challenge”.

Mere trifles....!!

4.All of vehicles that make the full distance to Banjul must be handed over to the Challenge Control Group to be auctioned under controlled conditions (reported to The Gambian Government) in aid of local Gambian Charities.

5.All vehicles must be LEFT-HAND DRIVE!!


Day 1 - Dec 27: London to Madrid

Day 2 - Dec 28: Madrid, preparing Forfi, our car: 3 spare tires, spare radiator, spark plugs, jump leads, oil, tools galore, tow rope.

Day 3 - Dec 29: Madrid to Malaga (Forfi carrying a big weight)

Day 4 - Dec 30: Malaga to Morocco, to the ancient town of Meknes with its magnificent medina and mosque.

Day 5 - Dec 31: Meknes to Marrakesh for New Year's Eve

Day 6 - Jan 1: Rest Day Marrakesh

Day 7 - Jan 2: Marrakesh to Tisnit, famous for silver Berger jewellery

Day 8 - Jan 3: Tisnit to Layoune, Western Sahara (headlights maladjusted; nearly run over police officer at checkpoint)

Day 9 - Jan 4: Layoune to Dakhla, Western Sahara (gang of kids throw rock at driver's side door screaming "Welcome to Dakhla". Cheers! Install sumpguard to protect oil sump and underside from impending desert.)

Day 10 - Jan 5: Dakhla to Noaudibou, Mauritania (roofrack collapses within 10 mins off road. Forfina, our mascotte, loses upper body, leaving her hips.)

Day 11 - Jan 6: Rest day and repairs in Noaudibou (bomb proof roofrack installed at local scrapyard - cannabalised from iron table)

Day 12 - Jan 7: Sahara Desert Day 1 (exhaust and muffler ripped off by rocks. A bar from roofrack made into bracket to hold Forfi's underside together. Bravo Dan the Icecream Man!)

Day 13 - Jan 8: Sahara Desert Day 2 (mechanical meltdown when engine fan dies and Forfi overheats. Steam and smoke pour from hood as we burn out clutch while hopelessly stuck in giant dune. 4 hours before we're all moving again.

Day 14 - Jan 9: Sahara desert beach drive to Noaukchott, capital of Mauritania (Forfi still overheating; temperature gauge dies too. Erm...)

Day 15 - Jan 10: Noaukchott to St Louis, Senegal (Forfi's radiator boils. Inside temp. of car approx. 200 degrees with heating on full blast to cool engine; held at Senegal border for 6 hours before paying bribe.)

Day 16 - Jan 11: Rest day and repairs St Louis (clean Forfi; repair muffler; fix the fan motor; check oil.)

Day 17 - Jan 12: Rest day St Louis

Day 18 - Jan 13: Rest day St Louis

Day 19 - Jan 14: St Louis to Dakar (massive blowout after hitting crater in road; Forfi's rims ruined.)

Day 20 - Jan 15: Dakar (Forfi gets stuck in sand at side of highway into central Dakar. Traffic chaos.)

Day 21 - Jan 16: Dakar to Gambian border (night in the car at ferry port with thousands of goats en route to Banjul)

Day 22 - Jan 17: Arrive Banjul, Gambia capital (car vibrating as wheels misaligned)

Day 23 - Jan 18: Banjul, relax, and do local radio shows

Day 24 - Jan 19: Victory parade through streets of Banjul to the National Stadium

Day 25 - Jan 20: Met members of Santa Yalla, our HIV/AIDs charity in Banjul

Day 26 - Jan 21: Banjul to London - by plane. A sad goodbye to Forfi :(

Day 27 - Jan 22: Charity Auction - Forfi sells for 30,000 delasi...

Spandanglo's convoy of fellow ralliers - total funds raised:

InDaCar: 2CV 77,000 delasi - collector's item
Fathers 4 Justice: Nissan Patrol 65,000
Creamy Treats: Bedford Icecream van 56,000
Highland Bling: Volvo 48,000
Blacksheep 2: Mercedes sedan 40,000
Spandanglos: Ford Fiesta....30,000 (surely some mistake???)