"With 20 liters of extra fuel in water jugs, some pasta and water we set off to Bolivia. What we should have also taken with us was a new battery, since mine failed and we had to push start the bike every time we stopped. At about 15,000 ft the cold wind picked up and the sandy, dusty, rutted road started, we both had some serious swerves and almost fell off in the first hundred feet. Than we got the hang of it more or less and made it to some beautiful hot springs. It was definitely the worst road I have ridden and it really took it out of me, standing up most of the way in fear. The three ladies were very sweet and laid out some 16 blankets on the floor for us to sleep under, gave us coca leaves to chew on to keep the altitude headaches away, and cooked us some food. All the tours finally left around 5 and we had the hot springs all to ourselves, with the longest shooting star we had ever seen."
Brad and Jolanta Glabek, USA, in Bolivia
"I was really surprised by the good roads in Iran and above all of the kindness and friendliness of its population. The mosques of Esfahan were the most beautiful of the trip and Persepolis sent me back to the ancient Persian times. The bazaars in Baluchistan Quetta were a real human zoo, full of Pashtuns, Afghans, and Baluchies with their daring glances and turbans. The Karakoram Highway in north Pakistan gave the best glimpses of some of the highest snowy mountains of the Himalayas. I finally reached India after five months and 20000 kms of roads. The highlight of my journey has been the unbelievable Leh-Manali road in Ladakh. No doubt, the most beautiful road in the world riding a motorbike. The astonishing almost moon landscape, at more than 4000 m altitude, of the Himalayan chain with the highest pass of the world at 5600 m. The craziness of Delhi's traffic and the Rajput palaces of Rajasthan and some elephants and holy cows to be avoided all the way on the messy roads of India."
Pablo Alvarez, Spain, in Iran, Pakistan and India
"We finally found the real Africa. The journey from Wadi Halfa to Dongola, our favorite, through some of the toughest riding we had done, 420km of washboard gravel roads to sand and more sand. The scenery makes up for all the exhausting hours of standing up and trying not to crash in the sand. Every so often one gets a glimpse of the Nile. Each village unique, the Sudanese people very welcoming and all smiles. Camping under the stars by the Nile, having the local farmer come for a visit with his wife and child in the middle of the night, is something that we will never forget ."
Ruby and Mike, Canada, in Sudan
"We hadn't planned to cross the border that evening, and indeed at one point we pulled over hoping to bush camp for the night, but as everywhere was either fields of crops or near to villages, we were a bit dubious. So we pressed on, assuming that we could find somewhere to sleep at the border town of Gallabat. No such luck. Not that it mattered! The border was still open, even at 5:30pm. So, with some help from a fixer whose assistance we didn't need or want, we got through the Sudanese customs, crossed a bridge (no barriers, sign posts or anything), and arrived in Ethiopia! It was the least difficult border crossing I've ever experienced. The customs official sat outside on his plastic chair, waved various papers about at his minions, who ran about sorting them out, while we drank cold pepsi and made small talk with him about our bikes. It couldn't have been further from our experiences elsewhere in Sudan, and set a nice tone for our departure."
Cathy and Glyn Riley, UK, Bristol to Cape Town, in Sudan
"Vwaza has a big elephant population, but the rangers at the gate were happy for us to ride the 1km to the campsite, so because they were relaxed, so were we and we rode into the camp and chose our spot next to some bushes. Still sitting on the bikes, a little boy crept over to us and whispered 'be careful', then shot back to hide behind his Dad's 4x4. Following his wide eyed gaze we saw a herd of elephants munching on the bushes about 2 metres away from us! Paul got off his bike and backed away behind a tree, but I just sat there staring. It wasn't until he said in a low, stern voice 'Zoe, get off your bike you idiot', that I followed suit! When a bull came out of nowhere from behind us, I chose to sit on a picnic bench for protection, while Stanford, the campsite manager, crawled underneath trying to hide and this time Paul just hauled me out of the way!"
Paul and Zoe Jenkins, South Africa, in Malawi
"Motoring into the darkness, I also realise that my rear suspension is too hard. Set up for a load or two people, my weight doesn't load the spring enough and I bounce over every bump while I lose traction every time I accelerate. The constant vibration passes through to my kidneys feeling a lot like a 'stitch' when you exercise harder than your body can handle. After 10 minutes the pain subsides and I start to climb, sliding and bouncing over the washboard of the gravel switchbacks torn up by previous trucks. I climb, I climb, and I climb further. The oncoming trucks are ruthless, blinding me with their high-beam and forcing me to the edge of an invisible precipice. The buses are worse, not even slowing. Every time I meet another vehicle, dust blinds me and I must hold my breath and look for any opportunity to pass..."
Josh Forde, New Zealand, in Bolivia
"Route finding was proving problematic; there were few road signs, and what had survived had mostly been shot to bits. Late one dark, rainy afternoon, I was riding along what had once been a tarmac road, and came upon an unexpected fork in the route. The left fork showed the broken remains of the tarmac leading off into a forest; the right fork appeared to be a bumpy, potholed dirt track, but was currently under a foot of fast-flowing water. I paused and deliberated, unsure which option to choose. There was no-one around to ask, but I could see tyre tracks coming out from the river. On the other hand the remains of the tarmac suggested the route of the old road, and this fork was also marked with official-looking red and white painted concrete posts. This looked the most promising, so I set off hopefully, bumping over the smashed-up blacktop. But after a few hundred yards, I don't know why, but I just had a hunch I had chosen the wrong way. I decided to turn round and go back to the junction and think again. I swung a wide U-turn through the trees and around one of the concrete posts. Out of the corner of my eye I saw there was some faded writing on the post, and more ominously, a skull and cross bones. I stopped to take a closer look. I gulped as I read the words, DANGER! MINES. My hunch had been right - I had just ridden into a minefield..."
Lois Pryce, UK, in Angola
"At one point we go to overtake two trucks and get pushed off the road into the soft sand, the bike is out of control (tank slapping), all I can think is 'this is going to hurt'. Skill powers on and somehow we remain upright. His remarkably cool comment is, 'I don't think I'll do that again'. There was only one section near Nushki where we thought things were a bit dodgy with the kids throwing rocks and a couple of cars swerving towards us to frighten us, and people screaming at us. We also passed a motorcycle, where the pillion was carrying a shotgun. Around the next corner we come across three army trucks and about 100 soldiers who seemed to be scouring the area, guns at the ready. It was at this point I was really looking forward to getting to Quetta. We have since learned that most other travellers had an armed escort through this area."
John and Alanna Skillington, UK, in Pakistan
"I am so proud of my dad. This trip is certainly not for the faint of heart. His friends think he's crazy. He's absolutely killing it. I have seen him maneuver his bike up and down steep grades of washboard gravel and sand and even through washed out river crossings. I've seen him weave in and around potholes the size of craters on the moon. I've watched him negotiate heavy crosswinds and rain while cornering sharp turns. Part Ricky Carmichael and part Valentino Rossi. I always have a watchful eye on him through my little side mirrors and he's always right there every step of the way with that headlight brightly beaming, right on my ass. I admire his spirit of adventure and hope that I will carry that through when I'm in my 60's and beyond."
Ryan Martin, Canada, in Mexico
"...Leh to Manali is 500km, it took us 3 days to do this - the road is THAT bad, the bike battled everything from flash flooded rivers to desert roads to very hairy and narrow mountain roads with not much room to move when passing suicide mission trucks and coaches. Its a long way down with no barriers to protect you. They call it a road, but its really just big rocks and stones punctuated with the occasional bit of tarmac..."
Brian Coles and Anne-Sofie Hennings, UK, in the Himalayas
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