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Old 14 Nov 2007
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Africa trip need some info/help

Hello out there, i need some information about an africa trip my brother and i plan to do in July/August 09. Any info is welcome. At the moment i have the Sahara Overlands book on order but would like to try and find a trip path to start off with.

At the moment i am just starting a Civil engineering degree and my brother is just finsihing off his masters in civil engineering degree so for these reasons we only plan to make the trip last 2 months long as we will not have massive time between us to plan or organise the trip.

We either plan to enter through Italy to tunisia to libya, niger, Mali (maybe visiting timbuktu), Mauritania, morroco, spain then home.

Or enter from spain to morroco, mauritania then on to sengal to dakar or to mali to timbuktu then back home via near the same sort of route.

We will both be taking Yamaha XT660R's with some form of hard luggage on and carring extra fuel in containers as the oe tank only does about 120-130miles to a tank. We plan to do some sort of desert/sand riding and somesort of off roading but nothing hardcore expert type. We will camp out side in a tent or stay in BandB's what ever happens doesnt worry us.

I have measured it and say we could get to either italy or spain in 4-5 days so we would have around 50days to spend in Africa. Would either of these trips be possible in this sort of time? I no we will need visa, carnet's etc but just on an essitmate what would the price of this type of trip cost?
I understand that july and august is not the best time to go to africa in but is the climate going to be like, roasting, freezing, very wet??

Any info about these areas would be very welcome, and any tips of hints at where to look would also be welcome.
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Old 20 Nov 2007
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The local council library will have a guide book section .. in there you'll find at least one guide book on Africa .. borrow it and read. That will give you the climate stuff .. And tourist stuff ..You'll want to buy the current Michilan map of north west Africa .. that will give you distances.. and some climate stuff too - it is a good map for planning. Web surf over to UKGSer* ::::* For BMW GS Enthusiasts and see Tim Culls (sp?) thing on Morocco ..
There is heaps out there .. go read .. too much if you ask me .. limit yourself to a part of it.
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 20 Nov 2007
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I don't have experience of Libya, Niger, etc, but my concern with what you're considering is the time of year. Unless you are really used to hot climates, you really need to think again about the dates. You will likely experience shade temperatures in some places of 45-50C and the debilitating effect of constantly riding into the mouth of a fan oven can not be underestimated. And that's without considering the effects of the sun.

You could try to mitigate this by setting off before dawn when the temperature might be a more reasonable 25-30C, and then stopping for the day around noon but all your plans and everything you do will be controlled by the weather.

It's essential to keep well hydrated--factor in a load of 10+ litres of water on each bike. In Morocco five weeks ago the temperature was in the high 30s for a week, and then around 40C for a couple of days, then peaked at 42.5C. In those circumstances I was drinking 6+ litres of water per day. One day I drank 5 litres by 2pm.

Use breathright nose plasters to encourage breathing through the nose. Clothing would need to be extremely well ventilated and as cool as possible, such as motoX armour with a light-coloured long sleeved V-neck on top. In hot weather an open face helmet is more comfortable than motoX style, but in extreme temperatures you need to protect your face from the hot air blast with a buff or similar.
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Old 20 Nov 2007
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cheers for the replies guys

Yep i need to get one of those maps to find out where abouts the main roads etc are and what sort of route is possible. Also cheers for the link to the GSers web site, will need to look into that soon.

tim i think your post really does hit home when you mention the figures of heat in there. living in northern ireland i find anything around 30 C hot. I think i will had to have a big word with my brother about times to go. I would very much like to go then as i have a year to work in industry so its either go to africa 09 summer or 2010 summer or split my work into 2 halfs but i havent got a company yet so dont know if this will be possible.

Thanks for the general info any way and i will try and keep things posted and read into that GSers website. Cheers again.
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Old 21 Nov 2007
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Sorry about the missing 'i' there Tim...

Something else about climates .. 30C here is not hot .. unless it is humid too .. think most of the 'heat' in Morocco is dry (as in say less than 10% rel humidity) and that is a lot more tolerable than the same temperature at 90% RH ... You can fairly quickly aclimatise to dry heat .. say 2 - 3 weeks .. but high temperatures and humidity takes a lot longer .. think a year of two.

Possibly the Moroccan coast will have some humidity concerns.

In the 'outback' of Australia no one hires casual labour over christmass - more heat = less work. You'll probably find the same on the bikes .. go for easy sealed roads (less work) and alitude (less heat). of course you'd be better off at another time of year .. but if you're constrained then make the best of it.
Regards Frank Warner
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Old 21 Nov 2007
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I'd have to agree with the previous posts regarding the heat factor. Most travellers going to the Saharan countries go in spring or autumn. We did Morocoo in april and it was starting to get hot, but not so much that it became uncomfotable (high 30's I think).
You need to work hard riding in that sort of terrain, so once the temp gets over 35c you're really going to suffer. I did a week in greece in august when the were in the midst of a heatwave - it was upto 45c in the hills away from the coast. I'd hired an xt660 to get about on, but it really was too hot to ride comfortably, even at 60mph - imagine sitting in front of an oven with the door open and you'll get an idea.
You're also going to be working your bike really hard if your riding at low speeds over difficult ground - you could have real problems with overheating and boiling the engine. Even in april we were having to stop and let the bikes cool down on some of the slower off-road sections, especially in the sandy bits.

The sahara overland book is excellent will give you pretty much all the information you need to start planning your trip. You'd also do well to get hold of the Adventure Motorcycling handbook to go with it.
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