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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 12 Nov 2006
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Women Crossing the Sahara

In Sept, I travelled through the Sahara in Niger as part of an expedition with a travel company. Having always travelled independently, this was my first sojourn into the "tour group" experience. I survived...but it is safe to say that not only was it my first tour, it was probably also my last. lol

While my fellow paying companions discussed TV and movies for a month (seriously..they did)...I was absolutely entranced by the landscape. I was also interested in the hows and wheres of obtaining fuel, water, food, as well as vehicle maintenance, payoffs etc. I was limited in my ability to probe these aspects however, because apparently, this amounted to be treated as "special" from the others. It was very frustrating to be treated as "tourist". I loved the desert though..absolutely loved it.

Since returning home in early October, I am obsessed with returning to the Sahara. I would like to cross independently, and am devouring everything I can find to read. I am considering crossing by motorcycle (or 4x4 if I can come up with the money) and am planning to continue on to other parts of Africa as well. I am finding little though on women's crossings of the Sahara. I would love to have feedback on the following:

1) Can anyone direct me to recent written accounts of womens experience crossing the Sahara?
2) Any thoughts as to issues/feasibility of solo crossing in general?
3) Any thoughts as to issues/feasibility of women solo crossing?
4) Thoughts on how manage security and safety? (21 tourists were captured by bandits in Niger 2 weeks before my expedition began).

I am open to all possiblities. I recognize that the sane thing to do is to travel with others....

Last edited by femalenomad; 12 Nov 2006 at 21:24.
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  #2  
Old 12 Nov 2006
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Lois is on the loose in North Africa now, check her website.
http://www.loisontheloose.com/
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  #3  
Old 12 Nov 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ferris
Lois is on the loose in North Africa now, check her website.
http://www.loisontheloose.com/
Thanks John. I'll watch for Lois updates on her journal.
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  #4  
Old 12 Nov 2006
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Hello [femalenomad]

Quote:
2) Any thoughts as to issues/feasibility of solo crossing in general?.
Depends on the definition of "crossing". E.g. going by the Atlantic route you end up on the other side but the travelling is done almost entirely on tarmac.

Which mode of transport? If own car or bike, successful solo travel is only for the very experienced.

In Algeria or Libya you are not allowed to travel without a guide anyway.

Quote:
3) Any thoughts as to issues/feasibility of women solo crossing?
Sex makes no real difference when it comes to assimilating experience and mastering the skills required, physical strength is a bonus.

Quote:
4) Thoughts on how manage security and safety? (21 tourists were captured by bandits in Niger 2 weeks before my expedition began).
Like everywhere else, trying not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time definitely helps. Almost every incident ends up being reported here, so stay tuned. In the end it wasn't 21 tourists - just two.

Quote:
I am open to all possiblities. I recognize that the sane thing to do is to travel with others....
If you just want to be there to admire the landscapes without actually going too far, perhaps Morocco will be a good starter.
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Last edited by Roman; 13 Nov 2006 at 18:04.
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  #5  
Old 12 Nov 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roman

Like everywhere else, trying not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time definitely helps. Almost every incident ends up being reported here, so stayed tuned. In the end it wasn't 21 tourists - just two.
My understanding was that the entire group was captured, and that the rest of the group was released the following day, but the 2 Italians were held until mid October.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roman

If you just want to be there to admire the landscapes without actually going too far, perhaps Morocco will be a good starter.
I was thinking that Morocco would be a good place to practice driving, but I would really like to go back to Temet in Niger.

I have much, much more homework to do!!

Thanks for the feedback Roman.
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  #6  
Old 13 Nov 2006
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Myself and my travelling companion have just returned from Morocco and the Sahara on our bikes. KTM 400 mine and XR400 Jen's.

We do want to travel back as this time we followed weypoints provided by a friend.

PM me your e-mail address if you want to chat more about this.

We are in the UK


Cheers

Julie





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  #7  
Old 13 Nov 2006
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Ladies of the desert

Hi Julie,

AWESOME pictures!!

The Sahara is a tricky beast for most, but being a woman and contemplating it definitely does add an additional few challenges.
I suspect that there are quite a few female HUBBers who would love to read about your experiences. Is there any feedback you are happy to put on here for us?

I am planning an adventure to Maroc and Mauritania (with lovely HUBBers George and Zydie) and am a little aprehensive with it being my first real African experience on a bike.

Any shared learning is good!


Thanks!
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Old 13 Nov 2006
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Hi Julie,

Thanks for the offer to chat. I need another 8 posts before I can PM. Once I do...I'll send you my email. Or perhaps you can PM me instead?

Fab photos by the way!!
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  #9  
Old 13 Nov 2006
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Hi Shells,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shells
The Sahara is a tricky beast for most, but being a woman and contemplating it definitely does add an additional few challenges.
I'm curious as to what additional challenges there are for women from your perspective. Are you willing to elaborate on your comment?
Thanks!
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Old 14 Nov 2006
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I was wondering that - gender should never be an issue. Its only going to carry on being an issue if Women make it a problem. We can be our on worst enemy.

If you want todo something then just go out and do it who cares what gender you are.

My travelling compainion is a photo jerno and i take photos for a bike magazine so i cant say to much about our trip yet as it will be featured next month in a 4x4 magazine and following months in BIKE magazines.


I cant send PM's either.
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  #11  
Old 14 Nov 2006
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Not a problem at all

Hi!

I didn't mean to convey anything about women not being willing or able - not at all!

I am very keen to give things a go, no matter what the gender expectations are. For me it's more the challenge of being a woman and travelling to a very male dominated society that is the challenge - completely different cultural norms.
And then there is being 5'7 and handling a 650 cc beastie in the sand!

Not insurmountables by any means - additional challenges (I wouldn't have it any other way!)
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Old 14 Nov 2006
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shells
Hi!

I didn't mean to convey anything about women not being willing or able - not at all!

I am very keen to give things a go, no matter what the gender expectations are. For me it's more the challenge of being a woman and travelling to a very male dominated society that is the challenge - completely different cultural norms.
And then there is being 5'7 and handling a 650 cc beastie in the sand!

Not insurmountables by any means - additional challenges (I wouldn't have it any other way!)
I must agree with Shell on this.

Traditional societies can be a bit of a challenge for women. I've been to Morocco few times (with 2 male friends) and to the middle east. In the North of Morocco, an occidental woman accompanied by a male would be "invisible", just totally ignored, no eye contact. That's the way to show respect. A bit surprising. (Except in shops!)
A (occidental) woman on her own would be considered no better than a prostitute and easy game. The image they have is that occidental women just sleep around with anyone who approach them! Being assertive and wearing conservative clothes helps fend off unwanted attention.
In the south they are "Berbers" and more open, generally very friendly and helpful. At least it was my experience when we went there.

Also the bikes! They're just so bloody heavy! That can be a bigger challenge for women and small riders in general. Although men, even short ones (!) have bigger upper body strength than women. Planning how and where to park so that I can get the bike off again is always in my mind. In small spaces it can be complicated. Or on a slope. But the big plus of being a woman is, if you have a problem, there will always be someone very willing to help you! Just look a bit dumb, flick those ye lashes and it works any time!
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  #13  
Old 14 Nov 2006
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My experience in Morocco last month was all positive from a females perspective.

I’m a 9 stone – slim built – fair haired 34 year old women and I found that the Men were fine with me when I was filling up the bikes or ordering food or asking for help or just saying ‘NO I DON’T NEED A NEW CARPET’
It really didn’t cross my mind that I was being treated any different than male tourists.

I rode from Spain to the Sahara and had chain problems on the way – the men were happy to help like they would in the UK.
In fact I felt very safe amongst the Moroccan People. Safer than in my own city in the UK!

The sand was as fine to ride in – though I was on a 400cc KTM which is not as heavy as the biker touring bikes. If I was to go again I would still go on an off road bike like the EXC rather than the touring bikes as they are to heavy in the Sahara in my opinion.

The only danger in Moroccan Sahara is if you run out of fuel – water or get lost.
I feel a guide would be a good idea - male or female.
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  #14  
Old 14 Nov 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julie
The only danger in Moroccan Sahara is if you run out of fuel – water or get lost.
…….or you can crash, have a breakdown or get sick ++
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  #15  
Old 14 Nov 2006
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Linda did Africa North to South solo a number of years back. Get her email address from her web site haefale.de/linda.
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