Fiat into the world

September 28, 2006 Off By because

Route: Krakow-Dakar-Krakow. Driving time: 48 days. Distance: 22 118 km. Vehicle: Fiat Cinquecento 900, vintage: 1993, course: more than 300 000 km.

A trip to Africa is usually associated with Land Rovers and Toyota Land Cruisers unpacked to the roof, equipped with off-road tires, winches, roof tents, satellite connectivity and an unlimited supply of spare parts. Cracovians – Jolanta Czupik and Dominik Stokłosa proved that, that the Black Land can also be conquered with the normal… Fiata Cinquecento 900.
From 29 May to 15 July overcame over 22 000 km, visited ten countries (including five African countries: Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali i Senegal), to reach the capital of Senegal, Dakaru, then return home on wheels.

A car with a market value of PLN 1,000!

For a couple of friends from Krakow, this year's trip was not a debut in their travel lives. They began their distant journeys in the year 2003, beating 7000 km on the way to Crimea. A year later, they set their sights on Kazakhstan, which they reached, visiting Ukraine and Russia on the way. The journey took them a month, during which they passed 16 000 km, which many drivers would consider a pretty good mileage… annual. In Cinquecento, which does not have the reputation of failure-free, travelers noted only seven faults. Including offside- a bulb and a broken headlamp lens,- Little Fiacik proved that there is also a globetrotter's soul in it.

Last year, Jolanta and Dominik made the longest journey in their travel career so far – within 58 the days they had traveled close 27 000 km, to get as far as Iran, Pakistan and Kashmir. Cinquecento did not disappoint the trust of its owners this time.Despite the hard and long route, it was only necessary to repair the tachometer and replace the mass and high voltage cables. At the end of the trip (or 2000 km before Krakow) the front tires have also made life.

This year's expedition of the brave Fiat crew has become the Mecca of off-roaders – Dakar, which the best off-road drivers in the world try to reach every year. The first leg of the journey -3500 km on the highways of Europe to the Spanish port of Algeciras, although for many it could already be considered a full holiday, for Cracovians it was only a compulsory warm-up. The long-awaited meeting with Africa took place in the Spanish port of Ceuta, from where the two travelers set off, to discover the rich culture of the famous cities of Fez. Meknesu, Rabat and Casablanca. The visit to Morocco dragged on for an unscheduled week due to difficulties obtaining an entry visa to Mauritania.
Jolanta and Dominik used this time, to traverse the mountains of the Middle and Small Atlas along and across the mountains.

After the forced break, they headed south

Mauritania welcomed the Polish Cinquecento of excellent quality… asphalt road, which led to the village of Nouadhibou, and then as far as Atar. Only later did the gravel road begin, every now and then turning into a not very nice grater, in which the whole car creaked at the seams. Don't cheer yourself up - however, Polish road builders! Most roads like this in Mauritania, and in Morocco, it was characterized by perfect asphalt, in addition, despite the heat, without ruts…

The further our travelers went into the desert land, the greater the poverty that surrounded them. Along the road, they encountered bodies of animals, who died of exhaustion and lack of water. There were also frequent meetings with the local police. However, the inspections took place in a friendly atmosphere – perhaps it was due to the absolute lack of communication. Poles spoke English, the officers used French – so the conversation took place in sign.

It wasn't until Mali that the trouble started

Upon reaching Mali, Krakow travelers regretted their choice of the low-slung Cinquecento as a means of transport for the first time.. Soon after crossing the border, the asphalt road ended, and Jolanta and Dominik started an uneven fight with mud, ruts and boulders. Then there was also the first serious breakdown in their car during this trip – the radiator fan has burned out, which forced Dominik to drive on an uneven road with excessive speed 50-60 km/h, in addition to… the heating is on! Another malfunction was the result of Fiacik's mad gallop – tearing off the right engine mount. On repair in the field (or rather desert) there was no way, fortunately, the car was still able to move on its own.

Before entering the picturesque Djenne, the Poles had to cross the river by ferry, which too little water flowed because of the heat, so that the ferry could run. The only option was to overcome the 25-meter pool on wheels – however, there was enough water, to cover the Cinquecento mask.

The off-road adventures were endless…

To arrive from the capital of Mali, Bamako, do Kayes, the Polish Fiat had to drive a long stretch of muddy road used only by… donkeys with carts (as a result, the left engine mount bracket broke). On the way, behind the village of Mahina, another task was waiting for the car: crossing a 200-meter bridge… railway. Fortunately, the narrow car fits between its edge and one of the rails. The reward for the exhausting journey was a wonderful asphalt road, which of Kayes brought our travelers to the border with Senegal. From here to the destination of the trip – Dakaru – he was just there ,rzut beretem’.

Jolanta's exotic expedition with Dominik was crowned by a visit to the Bandiaga Park, where they organized a two-hour safari. Cinquecento among rhinos living in the wild, giraffes and crocodiles? Who would have guessed..