Hello Friends - I just signed up for the HU forum, though I've been reading for many months. I'm eager for your help and advice!
I'm in the midst of organizing a photodocumentary project that will take me across West Africa. In a nutshell, I'll be travelling with a friend from Cameroon to Senegal, visiting camps of nomadic Fulani herders to share their stories in the face of climate change and development. My travel partner is a young Fulani man who's motivated to share the stories of his people.
Here is the project website:
PULAKU | the fulani photo project
Travelling by moto is the only reasonable way to reach these rural camps, and we're both experienced with motorcycles. I've been living here in Benin the last 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and I'll dive into this project when I finish my service in December.
Although we were finalists for a National Geographic grant, we didn't get selected. That means we're financing this project grassroots style, by selling photo prints. Knowing that our budget will be very tight, it's time to start thinking about our equipment.
Here are our considerations:
1. We need two identical bikes - easier for service and a carrying spare parts.
2. Cost - we can't afford anything fancy.
3. Reliability - easy to fix in the bush, and find spare parts in small towns
4. Discrete - we'll be visiting Fulani camps, and we don't want to show up on big fancy bikes. As much as possible, we want them to be able to relate to us (my collaborator is Fulani, after all). Ideally, we'll ride something similar to the bikes often used by Fulani men - cheap Indian/Chinese imports.
I've got two ideas in mind:
Bajaj "Boxer S" - these are Indian bikes assembled in Nigeria. 4-stroke 125cc. Amidst the wide variety of junky bikes sold here, these are hands-down the best quality. The motorcycle taxi drivers use these all over Benin, even in rural regions with terrible roads. From talking to locals, they say these are quite sturdy and require little maintenance aside from regular oil changes. Since they last several years under the abuse of moto-taxis, I assume they would suffice to get across West Africa. They'll cost us just under $1000 each. Anybody familiar with them? Can we find spare parts outside of Benin/Togo/Nigeria/Niger/Cameroon?
Yamahah DT125 - these are available all over the region and are commonly used by NGOs and other development projects. They're obviously a bit sturdier, but also more conspicuous. Spare parts are harder to find in rural areas, but definitely available in all big cities. 2-stroke engine is probably a little peppier than the Bajaj, but less fuel efficient. They're pretty pricey here ($3000 new, $2000 used). Anybody know what they sell for in Accra?
I'm open to other possibilities, perhaps shopping around in Accra. I'd consider a Yamaha Serow 225 if I could find two identical bikes.
Also, does anybody know the license requirements for other countries in the region? I've got a US moto license plus international license. My project partner has no license because nothing is required for motos here in Benin. Will he need a license for other countries (Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, etc.?)
Please chime in with your opinion/advice. Thanks in advance!
Please bear in mind that I have limited internet access, so I may not be able to respond quickly - I'm eager to hear your opinion.
Pulaku - the fulani photo project
PULAKU | the fulani photo project