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-   -   Feedback on my Sahara overland adventure (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/sahara-travel-forum/feedback-my-sahara-overland-adventure-42175)

saharanadventurer 15 Apr 2009 17:06

Feedback on my Sahara overland adventure
Hi all,

I just got my motorcycle license and am now planning for my Sahara overland adventure! I've bought a Suzuki 200cc dual sport bike and have ridden over 280 miles so far as preparation. It's still very early in the planning process so I wanted to run my plans through you and get some feedback on the whole idea. Here's the scoop:

I'll fly into either Morocco or Tunisia and buy a 450-650cc motorcycle there. I'll sell or dump it once I've crossed Sahara.

I'll either go by myself or with a friend. She's terrified of motorcycles, has never been on one, but likes the idea so she'd either go as a passenger on my bike or in a sidecar.

Doesn't matter where I'll fly out from. Could be Senegal or Mali. I plan to do this in July when I have time off work. According to my calculations, I'll cross the desert in 4 days, but have allocated 2 full weeks to allow for sightseeing, border/visa issues and unexpected delays.

No tent, we'll bring light sleeping bags and sleep under the stars. That's how we roll.

My friend wants to do a safari too to see some animal, cool if we could fit that in, but I'm unsure where we'd do that.

Your comments and suggestions are welcome! Everyone hearing this plan, except my friend, seems to think that I will die during this trip. Please note that the post is serious. I'm an experienced traveler and used to traveling in extreme conditions. I know what I am getting myself into, and am ready to deal with it.


markharf 15 Apr 2009 19:07

Your post is admirably crammed with hubris and ignorance--basically, you're at the place where we all begin our journeys--even those who sound tough and experienced. It would be silly to start critiquing and quibbling with each piece of your plans. Probably the most important advice at this point would be to try to nurture a bit of humility as you move forward. It sounds like you'll need it.

I'm concerned mostly about your stated intent to take with you a friend who's "terrified" of motorcycles. It's well enough that you're on the steep initial learning curve; this is not the time to ruin a serviceable friendship (much less romance) by overextending. Try to work her into the picture gradually.

Good luck and safe journeys.



backofbeyond 15 Apr 2009 19:10

Good luck with the trip Max. I think you've just got enough time to change your surname from Power to Payne.

Bertrand 15 Apr 2009 19:40


Originally Posted by saharanadventurer (Post 237824)
Hi all,

Could be Senegal or Mali. I plan to do this in July when I have time off work.

I'm an experienced traveler and used to traveling in extreme conditions. I know what I am getting myself into, and am ready to deal with it.


mmmmmm I guess you know that it's Monsoon time there then ...:excl:
You have a pm!

Threewheelbonnie 16 Apr 2009 08:18


Originally Posted by markharf (Post 237858)
Your post is admirably crammed with hubris and ignorance--

Harsh, but I thought the same. We all start somewhere though.

Sidecars BTW are not bikes. They handle completely differently and will kill the unwary by filiiping over on the first off camber turn towards the chair at speed, sandy rut with rocks etc. You'll take a while to buy an overland ready rig in Europe, they are non-existant in Africa for the simple fact a 4x4 is less fun but way easier to deal with day to day.

I'd get a bike or outfit closer to home and get another thirty thousand miles in until you know what it'll do and how it'll break.

There are no short cuts to getting the experience required for this sort of trip and while you seem prepared to accept the risks I fear for your friend.

Maybe your enthusiasm just doesn't translate well into the screen?

Good Luck and have fun,


Jaqhama 16 Apr 2009 10:52

Quote: I'll either go by myself or with a friend. She's terrified of motorcycles, has never been on one, but likes the idea so she'd either go as a passenger on my bike or in a sidecar. Unquote.

I would suggest that your friend goes pillion on a motorcycle at home, to see just how terrified she really is of them, before jumping on the back of a novice rider's bike and essaying across the Sahara desert with you.

I've got a mate here with me at work, he's a novice rider also, he's been riding on the road for a couple of months now, and in fact has progressed from his Learner plate to a Provisional plate...he would like to say this to you:

"Why would a novice rider, with little experience, take a pillion passenger on an off road journey that is likely to be difficult, if not hazardous?
It beggers belief that you think so little of your friend that you are prepared to risk her life in this way. And that's what your doing, risking her life.
In many countries of the world it is illegal for a new rider (a Learner plate) to carry a pillion for up to 12 months or 2 years. There is a reason for this. Think on that.
As a new rider it is extremely unlikely that you will have the skill-set to deal with unexpected/emergency riding situations...and that's on the road, much less off it on dirt/sandy tracks.
Do your friend a favour...have her hire a 4x4 and carry all your gear and equipment for you.
Or let her take the bus." Jason. (4000 kms on the road so far...and still learning a lot each ride.)

:mchappy:"Watch out for the tree!" :eek3::palm::oops2:

Pretty much sums it up for me as well.

Just curious; Is Long Way Round or Long Way Down screening on TV in San Fran at the moment?

Cheers: Jaq.

Ride Far 16 Apr 2009 15:40

I guess I’m a little unclear on the time allotted…two weeks? Or two weeks and four days to buy a bike in Morocco or Tunisia, ride to Senegal or Mali (Dakar or Bamako I presume for return flight), and sell or “dump”: the bike? And book a flight home? Visas? Carnet?

That would be, um, interesting! :eek3:

You don’t say whether you’re planning offroad riding or not. You could stay on pavement virtually the whole way from Morocco to Senegal or Mali, but still … not enough time to enjoy yourself and experience the cultures.

Regardless of on or off road, you would have to negotiate very hazardous urban African traffic in i.e. Casablanca or Rabat or Dakar or Bamako.

Frankly, you’ll need a LOT more than 280 miles of prep riding to confidently maneuver a motorcycle thru reckless urban African traffic! With a passenger? And luggage? Not a good idea IMHO.

IMHO – take the time to ride Baja or somewhere else in Mexico instead.

Good luck.


Cactus Central 16 Apr 2009 15:57

Read Chris Scott's "Sahara Overland". For starters, the trip down Baja is an excellent idea as one member suggested above.

tommysmithfromleeds 16 Apr 2009 16:01

just do it....
just do it man, see what happens. it will be an adventure whatever happens. take lots of pics and have a great time! :thumbup1:

motoreiter 16 Apr 2009 16:25


Originally Posted by saharanadventurer (Post 237824)
Everyone hearing this plan, except my friend, seems to think that I will die during this trip.

Yeah, that was my initial reaction, although your friend's apparent faith is quite touching. I don't know anything about the Sahara, but wouldn't it be rather, uh, warm, in the Sahara in July?

In any event, I personally think that for a brand-new rider, crossing the Sahara, in summer, with a pillion, on some unknown bike you just picked up in Morocco, is a really bad idea.

Best of luck if that is how you roll.

Niva Say Never 16 Apr 2009 16:53

I've got to say, my biggest concern would be the time of year.
Anyone can run into problems in the desert (especially on an unknown bike), but the summer is when those problems can become life threatening very quickly. How much water could you hope to carry for 2 people on a bike?
It would be a whole lot more enjoyable in the cooler months as well i reckon.

Good luck

Gottoride 16 Apr 2009 21:17


I've done less silly things before and learnt to rather research, plan and ride in such a way so that I survive to ride again another day. Despite the ever-increasing amount of tar/blacktop/asphalt Earth is probably still too large a planet for the average working-guy's lifespan, so why limit what you can experience by not surviving your first trip?

PS. You're kidding, right?

psionick 17 Apr 2009 18:18

Hi there.
Not that i wish to put you off, but i can't help thinking of a little chat i had, while in southern morocco. I was talking to a guy and his wife who were in a 4x4. He had been to this same area in June, with his son. They had a puncture which needed the tyre changing. Having all the equipment they needed, they changed the tyre themselves. You know, Practice makes perfect, and all that sort of stuff. The father nearly fainted due to the high workload in the heat. The lad burnt his hand, "ON THE PAINTWORK OF THE BONNET". They recorded nearly 60 degrees, outside the car at one point. I dread to think what it would have been like inside the car?
Be carefull, and do your homework!
Have a great time, and come back and tell us your story please?

Jaqhama 17 Apr 2009 19:44

60 degreees C (140 F).

The highest tempreature ever recorded on Earth was 57.7 (136 F)

The biggest scorcher ever recorded was on September 13, 1922, in El Azizia (also known as Al 'Aziziyah), Libya, when the mercury hit 136 degrees Fahrenheit. El Azizia is near the Sahara desert.

However: The above temperature is seriously doubted in climatic circles for a number of reasons, one being that it's the wrong time of year to be that hot, and also that the type and exposure of the measuring instruments is suspect. This is the case with Australian records where the long-standing record of 53 degrees C has been downgraded to 51C, the latter on known reliable equipment.


psionick 17 Apr 2009 21:20

High temps
Hi there.
I was lead to believe the tale from the chap i met, as he had no reason to lie. But the truth could be in the word "tale"!
The reason behind this posting is to serve as a reminder to the chap, who wants to do the above trip.
My message is, Take it easy, we all have to start somewhere. But, maybe June isn't the best month to go north Africa?

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