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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #1  
Old 21 Mar 2012
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Africa South-North on a budget?

Hi all,

I'm from the UK and will be in South Africa this summer at the end of a holiday and i'm just wondering how realistic it is to go from South Africa to Morocco on a motorbike, with a relatively tight budget - what sort of budgets have you guys had previously?
I am a student so this will be on a budget, but from looking at this site there are two streams of thought. Those who spend tons of money on bikes and equipment and electronics and gear etc. compared with a smaller minority of those who just rock up with a cheap bike that is common to africa so they can get spares/repairs easily. I just have a few questions about a trip like this.

1) What sort of prices am I looking at to buy a bike that could cross Africa, i've had a look on gumtree.za and autotrader and there are some old suitable bikes going for $1000 and less online. Also, there seem to be quite a few documents needed if you are going to take the bike out of the country having bought it as a foreigner! What recommendations do you guys have for this? (I'm not planning on an off-road trip).

2) I'm 19 and the law here is that you cannot ride anything over 125cc (or limited to 33bhp) untill you are 21+ so my licence probably wouldn't cover the sort of bike i'd need for this journey - is it possible to wing it in South Africa and buy the bike and hope no one checks exact UK licencing? Also is it possible to get insurance and carnets etc. as a foreigner on an SA bike?

3) I'm fairly new to travelling so i'd like to stick to the more tried and tested routes that are busier - for safety and better access to repairs etc. - hopefully when i'm older I can do more offroading and get to further out places but for now i'd like to stay safe and get riding & travelling experience. What do you guys reckon is best for this? East or West Coast.

Sorry for the really long first post, if anyone has any links or anything that may be usefull please let me know - I've been looking at this site a while but most of the information is aimed at the traveller who has all the gear, whereas i'm hoping to travel very light and slow!

Thanks in advance for any replies, this website has been amazingly usefull - this has been a dream of mine for a while but i still suspect i'm too young and inexperienced.
Regards

Last edited by carfraec; 21 Mar 2012 at 22:48. Reason: grammar fail
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  #2  
Old 22 Mar 2012
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Travel finances can vary greatly. In North America and South America (my trip so far) I've been told it is absolutely impossible to travel for less than $100 per day, yet I have proof that it can be done with $45 USD per day (including absolutely everything, such as shipping the bike from Panama to Colombia), and I am confident that if I really wanted I could have done it for half that cost. Just depends on how you are willing to travel. Keep in mind, however, that if you sacrifice too much you might not enjoy the trip and will burn out early. This is why I do not choose to travel cheaper than I do. I hear Africa is cheaper than the Americas. There are also ways to earn money on the road. Play an instrument on the street (busking). Fix things for people. Work at a farm. Work at a bar. Work at a hostel. Search this site for other ideas.

There is absolutely no reason a 125cc bike is unsuitable for the trip. I am currently on the road with a 650cc bike (KLR 650) and frequently would prefer a 250cc. 33bhp is not enough? The KLR only has 37bhp and as I just noted, I would be happy with less. Starting the trip again right now, I would probably choose something around the range of 250cc - 450cc.

Don't worry about a lack of experience on the bike. Be careful and you will get that experience VERY fast. You will be practicing every day. But find someone to teach you a bit about off-road riding. Even if you don't intend to leave pavement, you will appreciate having the skill because paved roads in many countries look a lot more like dirt roads in places like the USA. But I highly recommend you do find dirt roads and remote locations as they are frequently the best parts of the trip. Also consider this: The smaller the bike, the more places you can go. On a KLR650 I regularly go places that a bigger/heaver BMW GS or KTM would not consider, but there are still many times I REALLY wish I had chosen a smaller bike.

If you think a lack of travel experience is a problem, read books such as "Jupiter's Travels" or "One Man Caravan". Common sense and patience go a long way. I may be older than you, but before leaving on this trip I'd never traveled more than two weeks at a time, never out of the country, and only once on a motorcycle. I never considered my lack of experience a problem.

Same for repairs. Lots of people traveling have no knowledge about repairs at all. But if you want to learn to repair a bike, something small will be far easier to work on. I carry a clymer manual for my bike so that I can look at it while doing repairs. I do not need it very often any more, and will probably throw it away if that trend continues.

Good luck on your travels. If this is something you want to do, I guarantee there is a way to make it happen.
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Old 22 Mar 2012
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Thanks for your reply it has been very inspirational and usefull, i think a lower power bike would be more suitable (and entertaining!), similarly with repairs maybe a basic course would be of use as well, but a smaller bike will be easier to fix.
I'd also be happy to work during the trip to earn money to carry on.
All the best with your trip, regards.
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Old 23 Mar 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carfraec View Post
Thanks for your reply it has been very inspirational and usefull, i think a lower power bike would be more suitable (and entertaining!), similarly with repairs maybe a basic course would be of use as well, but a smaller bike will be easier to fix.
I'd also be happy to work during the trip to earn money to carry on.
All the best with your trip, regards.
FYI, For small bike inspiration, read about Simon Gandolfi's travels. In his 70's he traveled around South America twice then India. And is planning another trip I believe. All on 125cc.
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  #5  
Old 12 May 2012
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Africa is the last place I would try to do on a budget.

Sure, you can cross the roads and camp by the side of the road. Petrol prices are pretty similar everywhere in the world.

The question is what do you want to experience along the way? Because all the classic African experiences are very expensive and they don't discount or offer alternatives.
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