In 2002 the Donnavventura expedition went back to Africa with a special motorcade made of off-road vehicles and bikes.
The team took a ship in Genoa and sailed to Tangier where they met with the Overland expedition team: both parties spent some travelling time together all the way to Tetouan. Later on the Donnavventura team moved on on their own reaching Fès, the city of Ifrane and its famous university. Endeless treacherous trails on the sand welcomed the passage of our intrepid off-road drivers, going past hamlets and remote settlements, thriving with local traditions and most unknown cultural heritage and local history. Briefly stopping at the only, old-fashioned gas station in Imilchil, the Donnavventura reporters enjoyed a local folklore event featuring young women seeking a husband by means of an enthralling ceremony with music and dancing.
On the following day, our brave reporters challenged the highly treacherous route along the rocky mountain ridge stretching from Morocco to Algeria and Tunisia. Luckily nobody in the team was scared of heights!
Driving past Dadès, Erfoud and Chebbi, the caravan arrived at Merzouga – a place where gigantic dunes can be seen throughout the year – where they unexpectedly came across Italian actor Enrico Brignano busy on the set of his latest film production.
Another demanding leg of the official itinerary pushed the caravan further inland, to Kamlia, a small settlement inhabited by the Gnaua local tribe originating from Ciad. Music and dancing played a major role in the warm welcome offered to our excited travel reporters.
Later on the expedition vehicles had to be serviced at a local facility in Erfoud, right before setting off to Ouarzazate and its many Hollywood film sets like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The sheltering sky”.
Eventually the team arrived in Agadir, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Some interesting pictures where taken in Tan Tan and at the UN building in Layoune. The caravan drove South to Dakhla, near the border with the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, where the sand turned blinding white and the sea looked like a huge emerald plain – a true mirage!
Land mines and tons of red tape had to be challenged and dealt with on the way to the national park of Banque D’Arguin, reaching out to Nouakchott, the capital city of Mauritania. This World Heritage Site is a major breeding site for migratory birds, including flamingos, broad-billed sandpipers, pelicans and terns. The surrounding waters are some of the richest fishing waters in western Africa and serve as nesting grounds for the entire western region.
The Donnavventura reporters then arrived in Cap Barbas, a fishermen village – some 700 people – extremely busy for six months a year, when fish is more abudant than in the northermost regions of Mauritania. Fresh water has to be brought from outside, in order to support the populace. An incredibly warm and quite moving welcome ceremony was offered to our intrepid explorers, who were even invited to a fishing expedition.
After reaching the suothernmost past of the official itinerary, the Donnavventura team headed back North, travelling to Smara. Bivouacs amongst the dunes and wondrous starry nights soon became a daily routine, as well as some highly demanding off-road driving across the sand dunes.
Eventually the team reach Tan Tan, Tiznit and fascinating Essauira – home of a World Heritage acknowledged Medina. Its name means “the little rampart”, a reference to the fortress walls that still enclose part of the city.
A brief visit was paid to the city of Tangarò and the remains of the very house were Jimi Hendrix lived in the late sixties. The local women of the Argan tribe welcomed our reporters, introducing them to the century-old thriving export market for argan oil as a high-value local product.
Right before ending this long journey, the Donnavventura caravan visited also Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier.
The members of expedition team were: Azzurra, Ilaria, Laura, Leila, Simona, Irene, Barbara, Antonella, Laura, Ornella, Federica and Margherita.