Motorcycling around the world - 50.000km across Africa
It was a sunny winter day in 2013. I was sitting comfortably at the breakfast table while I was reading the headlines of a motorcycle magazine. Slowly, I stirred my coffee. Suddenly, an article drew my attention. Someone has started with his 30 years old Simson Schwalbe to ride through Africa all by himself.
Since a friend of mine travelled through Africa in his Unimog and had shown me some great pictures of his trip, I was dreaming of a Trans Africa trip as well. When I grow up. At this time I was about 16 years old. Now, ten years later, I decided that the right time has come to make my dream come true. With these words i quit my job. Life has so much more to offer. My budget was 5000 Euro for two years. 700 Euro of this i spend to buy the perfect bike: a Honda XL 600V Transalp.
I would advise you not to use an expensive BMW GS bike see 1, 2, 3.
If you expect nothing because you know nothing about bikes the GS is perfect. If you expect it to last for 200.000 km as most Hondas or expect it to be easy to repair even in Africa you realize how bad the GS actually is.
Someone who knows how to ride does not need a computer helping him anyway. The price of a new 18.000 Dollar bike will fource you to work two years for it instead of travel two years. Used 700 Euro bikes sometimes can be sold for the same price after the trip. While the loss of value per km is smaller, old bikes are also much easyer to repair.
Bikes with fancy computer technology can not be repaired in Africa, South America or Asia, and the theoretical argument that you can simply ship in new parts if needet does not work because customs authorities often need several weeks to process courierd stuff if it ever arrives. Buy this time an expired visum has cicked you out of most yountrys on this planet. Not talking about more then 100% import tax in many countrys.
A used motorcycle can often be sold again at the same price without loss of value after the trip. Also, you do not look like money on legs, will begged and cheated less. Clothes make people.
here to view the route in Google Earth or here to open the map in a new tab. Here you can download my GPS way points from the trip as *.xls document and here as a *.gpi file to copy directly on to a Garmin GPS navigationssystem and here as a *.gpx file for further processing with Garmin MapSource.
After a few days of intensive research, I sent my passport, two photos and a stamped return envelope to the Syrian embassy in Berlin to apply for a transit visa.
I took as many memory cards as possible and decided to use a camera which can use normal accus or even battery's because even in africa you can get them everywhere.
Of course, it would have been much nicer to take a SLR camera, but then I did not want to care about something expensive like that while travelling.
To transport spare tires I extended the back of the bike. In place of the Topcase I installed two jerry cans each with 5 litres capacity.
ferry from Venice to Alexandria did not exist at this time. Starting from Patras I followed the beautiful coastal road past some ship wrecks to Piraeus. From here, a ferry brought me to Kos, a Greek vacation island. I rented a flat and waited some rainy days, until the next expensive ferry brought me to Bodrum in Turkey.
To travel using a tent is cheaper then to rent a flat in Europa. Adventure trips dont have to be expensive.
The snow became stronger. Even the road was completely white, when suddenly my front wheel slipped away. I crashed to the side, turned around and slipped on the overhauling trace, where the motorcycle finally stopped. I jumped in to the ditches. Then I stood up and ran toward the approaching trucks, to warn them and get them to the other trace. It lasted eternally, until finally there was a gap which left me enough time to drag my motorcycle, which was still lying on the road, in to the ditches.
In the morning, I wakened by the noise of a machine gun in the distance. After a bath in the sea I was invited to a delicious breakfast in one of the trucks.
On my way, the annoying police kept following me constantly. The driver gesticulated wildly. He tried to direct me to the next bigger city. The police told me in the dark that I have to ride 100km more to the next city.
At 6 clock I was wakened up again by the police and off we went at temperatures around freezing point.
When we arrived, there was no one knowing anything about free camping. I was passed around from one patrol to the other and finally offloaded in front of an expensive hotel. At least, I could eat in town and go to an internet cafe to skype and to backup my photos. Because most computers here were infected with viruses, I was glad to be able to have written a protection program for my SD card and had a Linux boot CD.
The ferry left Aswan the next day with 6 hours delay. In Europe people have a watch, in Africa they have time. The vehicles of the passengers were followed on a separate boat.
After arriving in Wadi Halfar, Magda Mahier picked us as up at the port (like agreed by telephone (+2499-18335149, +249-122380740 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tour-sudan.com bzw. 01217308855 oder 0122262060 email@example.com) and took us to his house (GPS N21°47'46.9" E031°22'50.7"). We tourists from the ferry got nice food and were allowed to camp in his yard, while we had to wait 18 hours until the ferry with the vehicles arrived.
When the second ferry had finally arrived, we had great difficulty getting our vehicles along a narrow plank off the ship. The captain had extra parked very bad so that it was impossible to get off the cars. This way he probably wanted to get more money to repark the ferry.
The entry procedure within the heat of the day took ages but was rather unspectacular. Finally, I could leave.
The perfect asphalt surface of the newly built road stopped after a few meters. Then we had to follow one of the many alternate tracks that ran partially in soft sand, but itsuddenly stopped or disapered. It was very hard to ride with all our water and spare petrol in soft sand. By now, the new tar road is finished. At night we camped in the desert under one million stars. Ali prepared delicious noodle soup with corned beef and pita bread.
After some searching in the workshop mile (GPS N15°33'41.3" E032°31'56.4"), I found a bearing with 25 mm size, that fited into the bearing shell of my broken bike. I could get it changed to the required 26 mm (GPS N15°34'14.6" E032°31'33.3"). While I was taking photograph's of someone who removed the broken bearing with a flex of the steering head, my camera was suddenly taken by a police in civilian clothes. Since photography is generally not allowed in Sudan, I had to follow to the police station and was arrested.
The track up to the highlands to Gondar was quite bumpy, with Fech Fech extremely dusty and a little rain suddenly made it very slippery. Everywhere people were walking by foot. To protect against the sun, many women used an umbrella. Most of the men were dressed in beautiful red or blue cloth and carried a long stick across the shoulders.
flying stones. Save...
Because I did not find a place to sleep, I camped in the courtyard of a hotel (GPS N12°36'37.9" E037°28'19.5"). On the way to Lake Tana and Blue Nile, I found a gas station every 200 km which was able to Sell some gas to me.
I went to Langano Lake (Camping GPS N07°32'54.5" E038°41'03.0") and to the Ziway lake. Here I saw many great Marabu birds, who life on the wastes of the fishermen. Of course, I was begged massively.
In Kenya I had to ride on the left side of the road. For the 30-day visa at the border I had to pay $ 50 U.S. The price has now been reduced to alleged U.S. $ 25. The 250 km track to Marsabit was hell and took a whole day.
rainy season it is impossible to cross The Chinese people are bussy building a new road. 2016 it should be finished. Then it is possible to cross Africa on tarmac only. Several times brand-new Toyota Landcruisers with big Unicef logos and fat, greasy drivers, who seem to life well from the money donated for starving children, dangerously raced past me. Again and again, my loaded bike almost sank in the sand or has been shaken hard by big rocks. Then my front wheel slipped and the whole load tipped over. Then all my luggage and especially the jerrycans has to be offloaded to be able to pick up the the heavy motorcycle from the ground. My travel companion was nowhere to be seen.
Still this part of the road is dangerous.
I survived the following very hard 260 km to Isiolo the next day as well. Camping in Isiolo: GPS N00°17'30.9" E037°33'26.1").
Camp Jungle Junction. I stayed a few days to relax and use the provided free wireless internet in the lounge. Outside it was raining and raining.
Kenya made a much more civilized impression than Ethiopia. There were large shopping centers and many private cars. People were less interested in us. They were friendly but not bothersome.
After a refreshing dip in the pool, I watched some antelopes and birds at the waterhole. Unfortunately I saw no more elephants. Due to the heavy rains of recent days, there was even enough water in the Savanna so they did not have to come to the drinkingwater spots.
On a small dirty road I drove around Mombasa towards the Twiga Lodge Campsite at the Tivi Beach (GPS S04°14'24.1" E039°36'03.8").
french family and another nice family with children from Switzerland, who had sold their house to travel with their children in a colorful Iveco base motor home through Africa, India and South America while searching for a new home.
Shortly before Easter we all went on.
I drove 80 km along the coast to the border of Tanzania. Then I followed a nice route to the campsite Peponi Gravel (GPS S05°17'14.4" E039°03'56.7"). Here I could use the pool during the low tide and filled my empty battery with distilled water, before I went on to Dar es Salaam.
For breakfast, they served sweet tea, pancakes and baked beans with sugar. At noon, we got ugali: corn flour with pieces of meat, In the evening, we ordered Chipsimaiei: potato pancakes with bits of egg. To find tasty food was really never a problem on this trip.
I met Avishai again on the roadside in Mbeya and again in Mzuzu in Malawi. We agreed to meet again in Nkhata Bay in Camp Butterfly (GPS S11°36'43.6" E034°18'17.0" www.butterfly-space.com) next to Mayoka Village (www.mayokavillage.com). But in sequence.
When it got dark, I went back to the lodge. As I arrived, a black man with a light machine gun came running and pointed it towards me. I did not understand what he said, stopped but stayed on the bike, because this way the front of the machine covered a large part of my body and I did not trust the guy to be able to shoot very good.
I laughed at him and lied that I did not have so much money. He then asked how much I have. I told him a much lower amount and asked how I should know that the road is not free, if there is no sign at all. While we were negotiating, it was getting dark. Slowly I pushed my bike forward, I approached the barrier and opened the chain.
I drove the 10 kilometers almost in total darkness back to the main road and left the park on the way I had come. Since it was too dark around the wooded area to search for a hidden place to camp, I asked the oldest man in a small village, if I could set up my tent next to his mud hut. To thank him for his permission, he got paid by me with a baseballcap. The next day very early in the morning I followed the main road through the Mikumi National Park.
Behind Iringa I pitched my tent at dusk hidden in a dense forest. Two cyclists from the United States had told me about the forest 50 km before. The exit and entry from Tanzania to Malawi the next day was free and lasted less than 5 minutes. I ignored the numerous illegal money changer.
In the steep and therefore not suitable for cars Camp Butterfly, we spent some wonderful days at the lake. In the nearby village, we got delicious food. I snorkeled while Avishai practiced driving in the canoe. The canoe I had already tried a few days before, when I camped near Karonga in a small fishing village on the lake under the prying eyes of many children. The fishermen treated me very kindly and respectfully.
As it had rained heavily at night, some rivers were overflooded. In such a place, children were waiting and showed me the way I should go. However, I was already long enough on the road not to trust them. The water at the place they showed me was much quieter than anywhere else .
When I stopped at a beautiful location to oil my chain, the son of a large local family invited me to camp on their ground (GPS S12°08'18.5" E034°02'08.7"). I was well fed with Nsima, grilled corn and freshly baked bread. When I left towards Cool Runnings at Senga Bay they were happy because I had given them a new mosquito net.
In the Camp Cool Runnings, there was a well-filled book swap, a shelf of books, of which you're allowed to take one if you bring one in exchange. In this way, one always has something new to read even without much luggage (GPS S13°43'50.6 E034°37'08.3").
I pitched my tent on the Camp Fat Monkey, after I had met Robert, the new owner (GPS S14°01'25 firstname.lastname@example.org" E034°50'29.5"). Here I left my black box with the reserve fuel canisters, because I no longer needed them.
I swam 1.9 km (GPS) to the offshore Lissard Iceland and back, Then I was pretty hungry. I cooked pasta with tuna sauce when Petra arrived. Petra is leading a project in Luchenza and traveled 300 km squeezed in between 22 people in a minibus. Spontaneously, I invited her for dinner. Together, it just tastes better.
Later on, we had a common boat tour to Otter Point and a barbecue while we planed our further trip. I decided to give Petra a lift back to Luchenza and to stay there for several days. Continue to next page.