Harvesting Manager drives from Plymouth to Gambia

COMMUNITY: Tilhill Forestry Harvesting Manager in South West England David Chudleigh embarked on a journey of a lifetime recently and in the process raised £3270.91 (£2520.91 + £750 Tilhill donation) for the charity TREE AID.

Tree Aid works with local communities to help them protect and grow trees, for themselves and for future generations. The funds from David’s epic adventure will go towards local tree planting programmes.

David journeyed from his home in Devon through to The Gambia in a Suzuki Grand Vitaria, His journey consisted of major highs and lows from car breakdowns and lack of communications to incredible driving experiences.

The Suzuki Grand Vitara has now been auctioned for charity raising £950 with all proceeds being donated to local Gambia charities. All of the items in the car such as fuel cans, food, school supplies etc was donated to the people in Mauritania.

You can see the route that David and his team took thanks to Trackplot an advanced web-based mapping technology and GPS device which is normally used in the forest to locate and manage staff effectively.



Originally the trip was due to end in Mali, however, the plan was scuppered when no other cars were able to accompany them. There were meant to be 3 cars travelling across together but there was only David and Nick left therefore they were not prepared to head across alone.

Sally Airey from TREE AID, commented:

“We are absolutely delighted with David and Nick’s fantastic fundraising efforts – they have raised £2,500 to support our work which will be life-changing for a community in West Africa. Whilst we don’t encourage our supporters to undertake a trip like this due to the safety issues of travelling through an insecure environment, we are of course thrilled they have raised such a fantastic amount of money and are back in the UK safe and sound. David and Nick’s incredible contribution will help us plant more trees and support more communities in the drylands of Africa.”

David said:

“The Suzuki. She started the trip in ill health with a broken intercooler and a turbo issue. However, she improved with every mile we drove and was in full health by the time we arrived in Gambia – except for the hole in the radiator that we fixed previously. It was like a disaster in reverse.

It was an incredible trip, harder than I expected, but very worthwhile. I am now thinking about what to do next! Perhaps I will fly to Banjul, buy one of the cars at auction, and then head to Lagos, Nigeria. It’s only a thought, but a pretty good one!”


Take a look at David’s day to day diary:


12/12/18         Car goes wrong                  

13/12/18         Need new Intercooler         

14/12/18         Intercooler goes for rebuild

15/12/18         Stress                                    

16/12/18         Stress                                    

17/12/18         Stress                                    

18/12/18         Stress                                    

19/12/18         Stress                                    

20/12/18         Get intercooler back and fit into car on last day of year for garage

21/12/18         Car goes wrong                  

22/12/18         Buy a Universal OBD scanner to read and clear fault codes

23/12/18         Stress and pack                  

24/12/18         Stress and pack                  

25/12/18         Stress and pack                  

26/12/18         Depart night ferry from Plymouth at 2100. Meet the Americans and their Honda Jazz

27/12/18         Arrive France and drive all day to Irun in Spain. Car has countless faults which are cleared with the fault gadget. 12 hours driving

28/12/18         Drive through Spain for 13 hours. Clear codes for most of the day. Arrive at hotel between Algericas and Tarifa. Most cars arrive similar time. Probably about 15 vehicles in total, including fire engine

29/12/18         Day of rest. Message received that all ferries cancelled next morning from Tarifa. Most people depart.

30/12/18         Depart from Agericas by ferry to Tangier Med. Very rough crossing where the ship lists so much that everyone is told to sit down. People throwing up everywhere, lots of people praying. Head to Chefchaouen, the famous Blue City. Car has healed itself and no more problems

31/12/18         Depart to Marrakesh, drive for 8 hours or so. Stay in brilliant apartment found on Air BnB. Have a dry New Years. Meet fellow companions

01/01/19         Chill out                                

02/01/19         Depart South and head off early to the Tizi n Test pass through the Atlas mountains, arriving at Taroudant late in the evening. Excellent place and couldn’t recommend enough

03/01/19         Depart late next morning for a chilled out day driving to the Port of Tan Tan. Find the coast and meet up with fellow travellers for dinner

04/01/19         Leave for Bedouin Camp near Laayoune, arriving at 6pm. Chill, meet travellers, eat camel, drink beer

05/01/19         Drive to Dahkla, arriving at 6pm. Radiator blows near destination and I think this is the end of the trip. Spend evening trying to repair. Eventually get some putty and make a repair

06/01/19         Find an auto repair shop and buy Radseal and more putty, before heading south to Hotel Barbas, near the Mauritanian border

07/01/19         Pack of 13 cars arrive at border at 0800, crossing into nomansland, avoiding landmines and car wrecks. After much officialdom, all cars cross into Mauritania by 1400 hrs. We find our guide, Dahid, and 9 cars head into the desert 

08/01/19         After incredible driving though desert, we now head to the dunes to cross to the sea. Americans take the front of their car off and have to be towed for 60 miles. Dunes are pretty difficult. Arrive in Nouakchott early evening

09/01/19         Head out to eat and generally relax during the day. Absolutely nothing to do so arrange to head off early next day

10/01/19         Early start to Senegal, driving on dirt roads entire way. We now have the Americans. Feel pretty rough at border crossing. Even more difficult to cross with a car than previous border. Very costly getting permit. Border crossing takes many many hours, but eventually get into Sengal and head to Zebrabar, St Louis

11/01/19         Ill from food in Nouakchott so rest day required

12/01/19         Head to Gambia early. Completely underestimate journey times and it takes 14 hours straight. Still have Americans with us. Get to Barra late at night for the ferry to Banjul. Totally hustled by the locals and very stressful. Finally arrive in Banjul at 11pm. Stay in any hotel

13/01/19         Move to another hotel to find other teams, and rest

14/01/19         and rest                                 

15/01/19         and rest                                 

16/01/19         and fly home            

Discover David’s photos through this shared album here