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“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment”. Hilarire Belloc said that. Though there is one other reason Matt Sully travels. His adventurous rallies that see him drive across the globe are designed to raise much needed funds and awareness for charities close to his heart. And on his next trip, he’s inviting you to come too. Drive from Europe to Africa. 

After having lost members of his family and friends to terminal illness, Matt now travels for his cause. Supporting the Marie Curie Foundation and Cancer Research UK, his next trip will be a 40 day rally in June 2017 called the Odessy to Dakar. Starting in the UK, drivers will travel from the Arctic Circle to Africa (Dakar is the capital of Senegal), and back again. 1 vehicle, 6 ferries, 25 countries, 15000 miles. The best car rallies in the world. 

He’s done all the planning, he’s mapped the route, costs and logistics of what is needed to complete the trip. And he’s extending an open invite for anyone who wants to find a team of mates and join him. International Car rally.

What do you love the most about travelling?

I love to explore new places, and to travel through lands that I have never been to before, not knowing where I am going to stay. It could be a car, a tent, a hostel or in a hotel. It doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that it’s unknown. I want to drive across Europe and down into Africa. 

My dad didn’t get the opportunity to explore the world. So I have been inspired to travel for him. Best route for driving from the UK to Africa. 

Food in Uzbeck

What is the Odyssey to Dakar? 

The Odyssey to Dakar comes from my love of the Dakar rally of old, The Dakar Rally. This is an annual rally raid organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation, and it is certainly the inspiration for having put together my own.

Even though the Dakar rally is now in South America, I decided to create a version via the Arctic Circle, Romania and the Carpathian Mountains and then down to Dakar and return.  The majority of the time will be spent on road, but the last section through Africa will go through the Sahara Desert and down through Mauritania before we drive on to Dakar.

There is a route to follow, although I expect we will deviate from this a little. We have accommodated a few rest days for teams to catch up with the pack, or if others have breakdown incidents and even for a little bit of sight seeing.

While there is no set time scale, I am aiming to complete the trip in 40 days.

Why is a roadtrip more fulfilling than other methods of travel?

Driving places under your own steam is spectacular way to see a country; you can drive at your own pace, put you tent down and rest overnight.

I much prefer to drive than travel by rail, coach or even flying. There are so many less restrictions when you drive, especially when it comes to where you can go. If something catches your eye, you can stop and investigate. You don’t have anywhere near this amount of freedom or flexibility with other methods of travel. You can discover places which are completely unknown.

Africa by car

Why is discovering places which are completely unknown so rewarding?

There’s a certain buzz about what could be around the next corner, and I am very curious soul. International car rallies I can join. 

It may seem like the world has been mapped and photographed to it’s extent, though not everywhere has been explored yet. And there is something adventurous and exciting about that. Through this rally, I would like to highlight these places, and show people that it is easy to explore destinations that are lesser known. Drive to Dakar. Drive to Dakar from the UK.

I’ve found that people often need a little coaching to get out and about and see some of the world. Life seems too short to not explore, so I’m encouraging everyone to join me on this journey, and we can discover the world as a group.

What kind of people do you meet when travelling through destinations which are off the beaten path and unknown?

People vary from country to country. Though there have been a few wonderful people throughout my travels that come to mind.

In Iran, despite the western press, there are wonderful people who are very generous and kind. We stopped to ask for directions and they invited us to join the picnic they were having. Not to turn down their generous offer, we said yes. They wanted to learn and speak English, and this gave them a perfect opportunity. I don’t think they see English people very often.

A Mongolian garage engineer is another wonderful encounter I remember. He fixed my car with a few spanners in his workshop, after I broke my engine cooling fan after crossing a 1.5 foot deep river.  It cost me a whole £10.

Mongolian garage engineer

How will you be handling safety when travelling so remotely? Ie what happens if the car breaks down somewhere remote? 

Safety is key, and as with a recent rally we completed through Mongolia, each car will be carefully stocked with tools to guarantee safety, ie we will need to have a fire extinguisher on board, and it is recommended that teams will have GPS devices. If the car breaks, then we will fix it. Best roadtrips.

Even when we seemed to be in the remotest part of Mongolia, a person would appear on a motorbike. I am hoping this will be the same travelling throughout Africa. We have found we can usually get a tow with traffic that is passing by.

Safety in numbers is often the biggest key, and from this stand point it helps that we are traveling in teams. Summer roadtrip ideas.

Join the Drive From the Arctic Circle to Africa for Charity

Which destinations are you most looking forward to visiting on the Odyssey to Dakar?

I am looking forward to Scandinavia, and some of the roads in Norway, as I have never been there at all.   The Atlantic Road, Norway,  Lysevegen Road, 2 day trek up to Trolltunga, Norway should be a highlight.

We missed Romania on our Mongolian Rally, so are looking forward to spending time in Transfăgărășan and Transalpina. Driving on the F1 track in Monte Carlo, Monaco-Ville, Monaco will also be an exciting day. I know the track now winds it’s way through the streets, but it will be amazing to be there.

We plan on hitting Dadès Valley and camping at Bivouac La Palmeraie Ouarzazate in Morocco, and experiencing the ghost ships and the Eye of the Sahara in Nouadhibou, Mauritania. Best road trips in the world.

How does a travel rally work? Do you give people a suggested route, are there any specific rules they must abide by?

A travel rally is one where you have a start and end destination. It is not a race at all, as it is not a competition. There are no prizes for coming first. You get there under your own steam. I have a suggested route with rest days built into it. All information is on the website. Fun road trip ideas.

The rally can be done as one 40+ day long trek, or has been split into 4 other stages if 40 days is too long for each individual can take off of work. You can view the suggested route for stage 1, stage 2, stage 3 and stage 4 on our website. Best road trips Europe.

Our rules require that upon registering, each team must supply a team name, and information about their drivers, nationality, photo of the vehicle which will be used, and charities supported. The vehicle is required to roadworthy and have a valid MOT, and all drivers must have an international driving licence. Each team will be responsible for getting their own Visas.

The rules also require displaying our rally logo on the 2 front doors and the bonnet. We believe this will invoke a little bit of unity amongst team members. It has been suggested that teams can also purchase a T shirt if they choose to. And we expect people to help each other if they break down.

Odyssey to Dakar-Logo-FinalPNG

What kind of vehicles can be used?

Any and all vehicles are allowed. From small cars such as a Fiat Punto, Nissan Micra, Citreon Saxo, to a small motorbike or even something unusual like a Mini Moke or a Morris Oxford. Awesome roadtrip ideas. 

What kind of estimated cost will be involved?

Based on a car that does a full tank, we have calculated that 400 miles will cost £35 or 48 Euros.  It will take around 30 days to reach Dakar, and an extra 10 days to return to the UK. The total costs on that much mileage is an estimate of £1834 which includes fuel and 6 ferries for a Team of 2 persons. This does not include £105 for a Mauritania Visa for those who need one.

On top of this you need to add on costs for accommodation and food.

All wheel Drive

For this rally you will be supporting two charities which are close to your heart. Tell us about the great work of the Marie Curie Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

Marie Curie helps people living with any terminal illness, and their families. They offer expert care, guidance and support to help them get the most from the time they have left. How to take an epic road trip.

Cancer Research UK, fund scientists, doctors and nurses to help beat cancer sooner. They also provide cancer information to the public, through the website & leaflets. How to plan a really good road trip.

If you are interested in joining us on our rally to Dakar and looking for a charity to support, these two are fantastic, and great ones to be involved with. I have lost very close members of family and friends, and consider cancer to be one of those diseases that we can combat. I am splitting money 50/50 between charities for this rally. The best car trips in the world.

If you can’t join us on the actual rally but would like to donate, you can pledge a donation here. The best European car trips in the world.

How do people register a team to join you?

Registering a team is simple: You can look it up on the website or you can email (dakarodyssey@gmail.comwith the following information:

Team Name, Drivers, Nationality, Photo of Vehicle, Charities Supported

Look forward to seeing you on the Odessy to Dakar!

Register/More InfoDonate


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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credit: Trollunga, Norway by Håvard. Pinerest image of car in Arctic by Mike Beauregard.


  1. What an incredible trip to take on. While we’ve never driven anything that challenging we would definitely agree that a road trip can be the ideal way to travel. We love the flexibility it gives you to switch up your itinerary for exploring new places you find along the way and dealing with the everyday events that get in the way of the best laid plans especially in new and unknown places.

    • Would definitely be a trip to remember! I’ve never driven that kind of distance either, though we really loved our roadtrip from the bottom to the top of the US last year. Really does give you so much more freedom of movement and flexibility with plans when you drive as opposed to other methods of travel.

      Looking forward to following Matt on his journey in 2017 :)

  2. This is an incredible trip. I have never tried a road trip before and would definitely want to try one soon. I enjoy the flexibility to stop by during the road trip and meet random people.

    • Well, if you find yourself with 40 days free around June 2017 you should definitely consider registering to join the rally! Would be a pretty epic first roadtrip :D!

    • Bernard, this would be a fantastic first road trip for you to begin with, the routes we take will be on tarmac where possible and if we enjoy a location we shall stay there and check out that the culture and scenery…. The good thing about it is that it is free. You just have to add fuel.

  3. Doing something you love is great, but when you can do it for a greater good, that is amazing. I hope the trip goes well for everyone and that it brings more awareness to the Marie Curie Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

    • Absolutely Vicky – rallies such as these are such a brilliant way to combine a passion for travel with fundraising for a great cause.

      Wishing Matt all the best in his trip :)

  4. Great great trip!Ths must be freedom, I think! I wish I can make something similar as soon as possible! This experience rock, truly!

    • You should consider getting a team of friends together for June 2017 and joining them! These kind of road trips are freedom at it’s best :)

    • Freedom yes for sure Sabrina, The good thing is we are doing it charity as well. Great causes as well and enjoying exploring new destinations. I love to travel, by car is my decided steed! The Fiat Punto has survived the Maroc Challenge, so now getting it ready for the Odyssey… ;)

  5. I’ve never heard of the this rally but it sounds incredible. Some friends of mine did the Mongol Rally and called it the adventure of a lifetime. I love that this one is also pushes you to explore off the beaten path locations. Is so true that traveling by car provides less restrictions, allowing you to investigate new territory that catches your eye. I also love that they found such friendly people on their journey through Iran. The media can be so misleading, and it’s horrible that there are so many misconceptions. Matt’s story is really inspiring!

    • So glad you found Matt’s story inspiring Andrea! We’re glad we could introduce you to this rally. I’ve spoken to a few people who have completed the Mongol rally and they’ve all had amazing things to say about it too.

      Yes, very sad how far we are mislead by the western media. It’s heartening now though that with the ease of communication and technology travelers who have actually been to these kind of off the beaten path destinations can share their first hand experiences far and wide and dispell society’s many myths.

    • Thanks Andrea, yes I did find so many of the people in Iran inspiring, compared to myself in the UK they don’t seem to have much, but you know what they seem very happy and welcoming. In fact I have just come back from Morocco and they are the same very willing to give and extremely humble.

      This Odyssey should be awesome, meeting new persons along the way. So if you wish to join us even for some of the distance then please feel free. :)

  6. I love road trips too. I agree you can just go see something that looks cool while driving. I have certainly done that before.I have heard of the rally. I want to try the Rickshaw Run.

    • I’ve heard of the Rickshaw Run – that’s throughout India right? Some of my friends were trying to put together a team earlier in the year though the timing didn’t work out for me. Maybe next year!

  7. Very interesting interview! This is such a noble and incredible journey to take! Road tripping for such a long distance sounds a bit intimidating, but also exciting! You never know who you will meet along the way or what you might encounter. I especially like what Matt said about having the freedom to get off the beaten path in a car. it’s true that you can’t do that as easily with bus, air and train travel.

    • Thanks Jen! So glad you enjoyed the interview. Matt is incredibly inspiring in his dedication to combine his passion for extreme travel and raising money for worthwhile causes on his way.

      We took a roadtrip last year from San Diego to Alaska over 90 days and absolutely loved it – the idea of road tripping for such a long distance can definitely seem intimidating at the start, though as soon as you hit the road everything falls into place and becomes really natural. Really is the most flexible way to travel so we love that freedom of movement too :)

  8. Another great interview Megan. I discovered the Mongol Rally a couple of years ago and thought it would be a grand adventure to have with my son (although he needs to be a little older to really enjoy it)
    What Matt has organised sounds just as good and just as fun. I wish him the best and look forward to reading about the trip!
    One thing we have decided is that we will drive more going forward, I think we will go back to a few countries that we have seen over the last 2 years and drive to experience more of the culture

    • Thanks Rob! Yes, the Mongol Rally really does sound like it would be an epic adventure. A father/son duo sounds like amazing fun … you sound like an awesome dad! Memories to last a lifetime, that’s for sure :)

      So glad to hear your family enjoys driving too … exploring more of the countries you’ve briefly visited in the past is a great idea.

      Happy travels! Wishing you all a wonderful Easter weekend ahead :)

  9. Inspirational! I’ve been mooting a trip “from the Sahara to the Arctic Circle” for some years, and it remains on my bucket-list. Although summer 2017 isn’t an option for me to participate, sadly, I wish this venture well, and will watch with interest, and support…

    • Hi Lee – very cool that you hope to do the same someday! Maybe their trip in 2017 can give you inspiration and ideas for when the time comes to take your own :) Happy travels!

    • Thanks Lee Very much, lots of planning required, recruitment is the next. We will sure have a blast, safety, fun, scenery, mountains and beaches all the way.

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