The word’s largest amateur rally, The “Budapest-Bamako Freetown Challenge” will end in Sierra Leone’s capital next year
April 30th, 2021- Organizers of the Budapest-Bamako Rally announced the finish line host city and the detailed route of the 2022 event. The world’s largest amateur rally will once again start in the Hungarian capital, Budapest and finish in Freetown, Sierra Leone next year. “We are thrilled to host the ‘Budapest-Bamako Freetown Challenge’ in our nation’s capital”, said Dr. Memunatu B. Pratt, Minister Of Tourism in Sierra Leone.
For the first time in its 15 year history, there will be two editions of the rally. The first edition will start on January 29th, 2022 while the second group called, Budapest-Bamako Adventure Extra will depart on March 18th. “The first edition sold out in a matter of weeks. We had no choice, but to add a second group and a second date.”, said Andrew G. Szabo, founder of the Budapest-Bamako. Both groups will follow the same route across Europe, the Sahara and then in West Africa. Only the first group will feature competition category teams.
The distance will be slightly over 9400 kilometers (5875 miles) across two continents and 10 countries. This will be the second time the rally is expected to finish in Freetown. “The reception last time was fantastic, the energy of Freetown is powerful and the stunning beaches provide memorable leisure time after an exhausting two weeks on the road”, told Mr. Szabo about how Sierra Leone was chosen.
After setting out from Hungary cars, trucks and motorcycle have three days to drive across Europe to the Moroccan port city of Tangier. From here the route takes them across the Atlas mountains, the rocky dirt paths of the Draa Valley and deep into the heart of the Sahara. After crossing the Mauritanian border, classic sand dune driving and difficult desert tracks await before arriving in the dry Sahel belt in Senegal. During the final days teams will have to test their skills and vehicles along the red clay roads of the Fouta Djalon highlands of Guinea and through the lush jungle roads of Sierra Leone.
A rest day will be held in a secret location in the Mauritanian Sahara just south of the border. The rally will also feature a rest stop in the Guinean town of Labe, which was declared off-limits by the authorities during the 2020 rally due to political unrest. In addition to long and difficult off-road driving, the Budapest-Bamako will present two small music festivals in Senegal featuring local artists and a spectacular beach party in Sierra Leone hosting local musicans and local sea food chefs. “Because of Covid-19, many people missed the 2021-2022 festival seasons. We’re trying to bring festival vibes to our camp sites in Senegal and Sierra Leone”, added Mr. Szabo.
The 19 day ff-road rally is not a speed race, but a navigational and endurance challenge where points are given for completing daily navigational tasks. Majority of the teams participate in the non-competitive adventure category.
The Budapest-Bamako is also Africa’s largest charity rally with sustainable development objectives in the region. This year the rally is planning to plant enough trees in Sierra Leone to offset the carbon-dioxide emissions of all vehicles of the rally, furnish a school and provide renewable electricity options to schools and villages in West Africa.
The 2022 Budapest-Bamako is also committed to stopping the spread of Covid-19 in Africa. Teams are requested to carry vaccination certificates and each participant will be tested before each border crossing for the presence of Covid-19. “This of course will be the major logistical challenge of 2022, but our initiative for having a mobile testing clinic has been widely supported by the host governments.”, said the organizer.
Tbe Budapest-Bamako has been held since 2005 and is the brainchild of Hungarian internet and real estate entrepreneur, Andrew G. Szabo. This year over 1000 participants are expected from 35 different countries.