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Horizons Unlimited
Motorcycle Travellers'

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Quality Touring equipment worldwide.

Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in being chased by the hounds of Huari, skull sweeties, riding between the cliff face and the sheer drop, paranoid in Russia, goblin shows, Maarten of Arabia, hammock-class up the Amazon, a salt hotel, India-Pakistan border skirmishes, 'take no prisoners' in Peru, ritual sacrifices in Bonampak, riding a mud pit to Uaxactun, temple of rats, the Isle of Man TT for camels, venomous dragons, techno in the jungle, vodka traditions, making bombs in Bolivia, and much more...?

Then you're reading the right newsletter!

In this e-zine:

Calendar, Events
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Final Thoughts
Helpful People
Home Again
In Progress...
Leaving Soon
Motorcycle News
New Links
Quotable Quotes
Repair Shops on the

Seen on the road
Tech Tips and Bits
Travellers Community
Travellers' Tips
Travellers' Questions
Whatever happened to?

Who's on the Road
Who Are They?
Your Privacy

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Travellers' News Report

38th Edition, December 1, 2002

Hard to believe that it’s December 1st, 2002 already. The first issue of the Ezine went out 3 years ago today, to some 200 friends and visitors to the site.

Today, there's thousands of you, and we are in contact every day with you - people of all races, religions and cultures from some 120+ countries around the world, people travelling and meeting people they might never otherwise meet, and learning about the way other people live - and that they're not so scary or strange - we're all more alike than we are different.

Snow has already fallen in parts of Canada, though thankfully, not here on the wet coast. We had a couple of days of nonstop rain, but then almost a week of sun to compensate. If you have to spend the winter in Canada, Vancouver is definitely the place to do it! Since this is the last newsletter before Christmas, for those of you who will be on the road this year, best wishes for a great holiday in Ushuaia, Cape Town, Goa, and other locations around the globe where travellers tend to congregate at this time of year. See the sidebar on the left (Special Events News) for details. If you’re away from home, spending the holidays with fellow travellers is the next best thing! Maybe even better, and certainly more likely to be memorable than another turkey dinner at home! Don’t forget to take pictures and send them to us for the next issue to make everyone jealous ;-)

NOTE: The January issue may be late - we might be lucky enough to be away on holiday ourselves!

Travellers Meetings 2003 - time to plan ahead!

Have you thought about a 'Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting' in your Community area? Following the very popular UK (2001 and 2002) and Canadian / USA (2002) Travellers Meetings, I'd like to see at least one a year on every continent - I think there is enough interest, it's just a (small ;-) matter of doing it! It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, just a get-together at an interesting location - and it's a lot easier than you might think. Our UK organisers had a blast this year and are all set to do it again next year! We'd like to see the Aussies and/or Kiwis hold one in the southern summer, and there are plenty of travellers heading in your direction now! Let me know what you think - we'll do all we can to support you and your Community.

The UK 2003 Meeting is on for June 27-29 2003, (date changed, careful!) so keep that date free!

If you'd like to present a slide show or put on a talk for the UK 2003 event, please let us know.

We could use an assist from a graphic artist to design the poster used as the base for all our events. Some compensation available, (t-shirt, sweatshirt, or some such) so if you think you can help out please let us know. Nothing super elaborate required.

We're also working on a Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting in Mexico's Copper Canyon in September 2003, as well as the Western Canada / USA meeting. Portugal is working on holding a Meeting in the Algarve area, probably the week before the UK meeting. Contact or me if you would like to assist in Portugal, or can be there and would like to put on a slide show. Brisbane is also talking about a Meeting, so again, please let us know if you can help out.

Susan and I are going to try very hard to be at as many of the meetings as possible ourselves, so we hope to see you there!

I'm planning on going to the Seattle Cycle World International MC Show, Dec 13-15, anyone else going to be there? I need to visit with vendors and potential advertisers. I could also use cheap accommodation if anything is available too. Thanks, Grant.

Christmas is coming!

If there's anything you'd like from Amazon, (and remember they're not just books, but electronics, music and more), start at the Horizons Unlimited books page, and use the Amazon search function for your area to look for what you want. We'll get a small percentage of the sale when you buy anything. And don't forget, if you just want to contribute by check, we gratefully accept checks in 5 currencies!

Horizons Unlimited Communities

I've had a couple of comments from Communities that not enough of you are dropping by for a visit! Remember that they are Communities, not just in case of a problem - they really do want to meet you! They'll show you around town, or just provide a place to stay for the night, or help service your bike - so start contacting them! The Communities are a terrific resource for travellers on the road, so check out the list and get in touch!

Please submit news reports, web links etc. to us for inclusion in this newsletter.

We try to link to your website if you have one. And if you don't have a website, we can help.

This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.

your editors, Grant and Susan Johnson, (about us, contact us)

Special Events News

December 25, 2002, and December 31, 2002 - Christmas and New Years Eve!

Where: Wherever you are! Travellers everywhere looking to meet up with others for some Christmas cheer can post on the HUBB - Horizons Unlimited Bulletin Board - in the Travellers Seeking Travellers Forum. In years past, the main meeting points have been Ushuaia, Goa, and Cape Town. Where will you be?

The Ratay's are planning on a major Christmas bash in Panama, so keep that one in mind! Lots of travellers already planning on coming.

TonyK, UK, plans on Morocco for Christmas,

Story Leavesley, USA, heading for Copper Canyon, Mexico, for Christmas. (also looking for a place to park a truck around El Paso area).

Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, writes: "Xmas and New Year 2002 I will be in Goa, India. When Grant Johnson heard this... he elected me as organizer for the rest of the two-wheeled-explorers. Let me know if you will be there... I'll try to organize a pretty beach and some nice food and drinks etc... campfire... the works. Of course I need to know who will join... otherwise I have to drink everything myself ;-) Take care and hope to see you, Maarten." Details


up to top of page Calendar

Plan where to be when!

If you know of any events of interest to travellers, send me a note.

Paris Dakar,

Paris to Dakar race starts Jan 1, from Marseilles.

Telstra Extreme Rally Raid 2003, January 11th, Phnom Penh, Cambodia,

"The toughest ride of the year - and not for the faint hearted... the first Extreme Rally Raid to circle the country, or complete the ring, taking in Cambodia's four biggest towns, the main Angkorian group and their namesake, Angkor Wat, as well as camping in temples way off the map. This tour will dip its toes in the ocean and climb the country's highest peak through its densest jungles. Experienced dirt bikers only need apply for the full 11 days... a charity event we lose money on every year. Last year we handed out over $15,000 USD of mosquito nets as well as de-worming tablets for children along the route, and handed out seeds and rice to remote villages accessible only by bike. This was all done with the backing of WHO (World Health Organization) in addition to UNICEF who supplied us with ionized salt and health literature" Details here.

Krystall-Rally No.32, January 29 - February 2 - 2003, Norway,

will be held at: Dalseter Höjfjellshotell (Mountain Top Hotel), Espedalen, Norway

NO camping ! NO cars / automobiles / wagons / etc - you come on a motorcycle; 1, 2 or 3 wheels - perhaps Leif allows for quads (?...). Please, equip your bike for winter use... you can expect it to be winter; i.e. snow, lots of it, chilly weather or rather freezing temperatures so to speak (you can expect -20'C or more; then again it can be "summer" too...).

Reply to:
Leif Arnesen

Deadline for booking is December 14!

Christchurch, NZ Horizons Unlimited Community meeting

Nigel Marx writes: "We are planning a Christchurch HU Community Didn't-Quite-Make-It-For-Christmas Party towards the end of January. Date to be finalized in consultation with any travellers that might be able to get there. Spit roasted Canterbury lamb and all the trimmings! So as you can see we will need a big turnout to eat everything. What do ya say, mate? You coming? Regards Nigel Marx & Kitty Rhodes in NZ" Let Nigel know you're coming!

3rd BMW Biker Meeting, 4-6 July 2003, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Details eventually. :)

22nd Faro Rally 18-20 July 2003, Portugal


up to top of page Horizons Unlimited New LINKS...

From Chris Bright,

"if you're having problems with your electrics check out the following websites - reading them transformed my electrics"

BMW Airheads electrics
IBMWR charging info

UK off-road Events and green-laning:

Australia off-road

Get your website listed in the LINKS Section

by listing Horizons Unlimited on YOUR web site, let me know you've done it by mailing me a link to the page, and you may get listed here in the next newsletter and on the Horizons Unlimited web site Links page. To make it easy for you, we even have our logo and link code here!

All sites will be considered for listing, but must be a MOTORCYCLE or TRAVEL site, useful or of interest in some way to travellers. We reserve the right to refuse to link back.

up to top of page A host of
volunteers for 'People en route willing to help!'

There are many 'Helpful People' listed on the Links page, a huge thanks to all of them. How about you? Or you can join a Community, or start your own!

up to top of pagespacerRepair Shops...

Do you know of a good shop 'on the road,' other words, somewhere there isn't a large number of shops? (Also of course any shop that specialises in travellers equipment and repairs is of interest.) But we're particularly looking for those rare items, good repair shops in South America, Africa and Asia etc. Please post your info in the Repair shops around the world Forum on the HUBB.

up to top of pagespacerTech tips and bits...

"If you want to know more about the BMW coding plugs you probably will get the right answers from Matthias Krist from the Brisk-Germany Team. He knows really a lot about that stuff and has build a switchbox for recalling all programs at the bmw-motronic. Just ask him. He speaks english, too. Contact Hope that helps, Marcus, Germany"

The Avon Gripster AM 24 is officially available again, in 17 and 18" sizes, tubeless only "back by popular demand" is the word.

Also, an Avon rep "recommended mounting the front model of the Distancia in the reverse direction than the rotational arrow indicates. The tire pattern on the front tire actually tracks better and runs truer and is more stable when run in the reverse direction than the arrows indicate. This was his recommendation on the front tire only and on the Distancia only." From Larry, SF Bay Area

Apparently a number of R11xxGS owners have broken the cast rear rack.

There is a good fix available here from

up to top of pagespacerWho are they?

When you meet people on the road, and they haven't heard of this e-zine or the website, we'd appreciate it - and hope they would too! - if you get their names and email addresses and send it in to me, or use the recommend form available on most all pages of the website.

Thanks, Grant

up to top of pagespacerTravellers' Questions...

Who's heading south?

Want to meet others on the road? Check the HUBB posts here

It's that time of year - every man and his dog - well, bike anyway... is heading south from Canada and the USA to escape the winter. John "kcfire" Kennedy and "bud," "paulzen," "clark," "Biram," "pifa" and others are all heading south! Link up with them and others on the way south here.

Daniel Todd, USA/Puerto Rico, second around the world tour, KLR650,

"I am looking for any motorbike contacts, information, places to stay or other recommendations in Australia especially in NSW, Victoria and Queensland for my ride in the coming months. Please email me with any info. Lots of thanks to the guys at Horizons!"

Daniel - and others with the same thought in mind - please just contact the Communities!

Plenty more questions and answers on the HU Bulletin Board! We've over 2,192 registered users on the Board, which I think is pretty amazing, and gives a huge resource of knowledge and experience to help you with anything you might need to know.

Check it out!

up to top of pagespacerTravellers' tips and advisories...

PeteSC, USA,

has come up with an interesting tidbit - truck stops in the US often have internet facilities - sometimes expensive and unreliable, but good in a pinch.

Werner Bausenhart, Canada, replying to a question from Pietro Spera:

"On July 28, 2002 I tried to enter Georgia from Russia (near Sochi) with a Georgian visa in my possession, but was turned back at the Russian border post and told to take a plane, that this border has been closed since 1999. Other travellers told me that all land borders between Russia and Georgia are closed since the resumption of the war with Chechnia. This is not so between Georgia and Turkey, and Georgia and Azerbaijan. So make your plans accordingly."

From Chris and Erin Ratay, USA,

"...the road from Manaus to the Venezuelan border is 99.9% paved. There are about 10 stretches of less then 100 meters that are unpaved. However, there are more potholes than acne on a 14 year old with bad skin. When the road was good, it was good. When bad, you had to shift down to 1st gear to manoeuvre around the craters. The one I hit today was well camouflaged, which is typical... I hit a huge pothole 20km from the border, and lost all my dampening oil in my Ohlins shock!"

More on the HUBB here

In response to a question on the HUBB about safety in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Vincent Danna replied:

"Hello I was in Turkmenistan after Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia. I spent 6 months totally in this region. It's quite hard to get visas, I know. But it's definitely worth going there. I did not have a single bad experience/ problem in those countries. Turkmenistan is my less favorite but still nice. Go to Russia, Central Asia. It's safe, nice, friendly, beautiful happy trails. I put information on my website."

Guatemala to Honduras border crossing woes, from Arne Bomblies

"The Honduran border (Puerto Cortes) was unimaginably more difficult than I had expected. It was decided by one of these guys that we were to pay US$20 to some guy for the 'service' of riding on the back of one of our bikes, our passports and bike papers in hand, to make sure we didn't do any funny business on the way to the customs office in Puerto Cortes. Then he changed his mind. $20 each, heh heh. At 2:30, the guy who had to give the official approval, the 'jefe', had left the office for the weekend already. We were ordered to surrender our licence plates in addition to all of our important documents. Only the passports were allowed to stay in our possession. We were told to come back the next day, a Saturday. The jefe would be there. Of course he wasn't. But since this was a weekend and the jefe MIGHT have had to work overtime, the customs fee was raised to $100 per bike rather than the usual $75. No matter that it didn't work out in the weekend, we still had to pay. It was not until late Monday that we finally got out of Puerto Cortes. I could have sworn I heard loud laughter coming out of the customs office right as we rode away from there."

Request for info

Wouldn't YOU like to know all about the border you're approaching - what it should cost, paperwork required, 'tips' needed, and who to talk to, etc.?

When you cross ANY border, take some notes, and pass them on to us. Thanks!


The Shipping page on the site is HUGE! It can be reached directly or from the Shipping link on the Trip Planning page.

If you have any information to contribute, there is a form at the bottom of the page which you can submit and we will put it on the page. Thanks!

Travel Advisories:

The Foreign Office in London's Travel Advice Unit advises against all travel to all sorts of places. Check out the listing before you start!

The US State Department has issued travel advisories, information and/or warnings.


up to top of pagespacerWho's on the road, and where...

Arno Backes and Sian Mackenzie, Germany and UK, Australia via USA to South America, in Mexico, on BMW R100GS PD and Yamaha XT600E

"From Cuauhtémoc we rode to Durango via Creel, stopping off point for Barranca Del Cobre or Copper Canyon. The canyon, or actually a series of 6 canyons, gave me my first real taste of serious off road riding. Conditions were not exactly perfect, it had rained solidly for the past 2 days, but a break in the weather encouraged us to make the trip down into the canyon itself. From Creel, it was a 150km ride, the first half on winding tarmac, the second dirt! When the tarmac ended we met up with 3 Americans on KLR's with whom we rode for a while. We stopped to take photos quite often, too often for our companions, who drove on ahead.

Suddenly, the road narrowed, cut through the rock and plunged steeply down into the canyon. So this was it, the start of the serious riding! Hairpin bends over a mixture of rock and deep gravel, took all my concentration. Luckily there was almost no oncoming traffic as I bounced between the cliff face and the sheer drop! It was with sheer relief that we reached Batopilas at the bottom of the canyon. The next day we had to ride the same road back to Creel. At a photo stop, I misjudged the width of my panniers as I often do. Instead of the usual near miss, however, I made contact with Arno's bike and we both ended up all over the road. It was a silly mistake and the first dent in my confidence, even so we had a good laugh about it.

Onward and upward, at some points I wondered if I really had ridden down this road. Arno was having fun even though he has a much heavier bike. I was struggling at some points but chose a reasonably easy stretch to dump the bike for the second time in one day. Luckily I was ok, the bike was ok and there were no witnesses, apart from the goat which had momentarily distracted me. We made it back up to Creel without further incident and much learned.

... Today is Day of the Dead, here in Zacatecas. Yesterday the children celebrated by dressing up in Halloween type costumes and parading around the city asking for sweets. Today they accompany their parents to the cemetery where the graves are decorated with many flowers and examples of the dead persons favourite foods. Shop windows are decorated with skeletons and there are sweets in the shape of skulls on sale in the market.

Skull sweeties in Zacatecas, Mexico.

Skull sweeties

We have been here a couple of days, it is a nice city in which to hang out and catch up with things. It also has turned out to be a good place to meet people. The first BMW we saw was being ridden by Hank and Sherrie from Texas, here for a quick trip and to follow a classic car race. Our second day in town and another BMW, this time it is Merv and Ruth from the UK, into the second year of their RTW trip."

For more stories, check out Arno and Sian's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Simon and Monika Newbound, UK and Eastern Czech Republic, around the world, in Russia, on R1150GS and F650GS,

"We entered Russia from Norway on two BMW motorbikes, a 650gs and r1150gs. It was something we almost didn't do because of all the warnings about mafia, gangsters, theft, police corruption etc. from the Finnish, Norwegians and Swedes. We crossed the border into northern Russia, an area that is completely militarized, in fact so big is the military presence it looks like they are waiting to invade Europe. We traveled the first 60 kilometers towards Murmansk surrounded by electrical fences, watchtowers and military roadblocks that did not ease our nerves or paranoia especially after I had just completed 24 years in the royal navy submarine service. We spent the first week completely paranoid and frightened, every Russian to us was a possible gangster, mafia member or thief and pitching the tent was a nightmare because there was never ever anywhere safe enough to camp.

After one week we departed St. Petersburg for the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Such was our relief on arriving in Estonia that we had a celebration drink because we had survived! But we had survived what! As nothing really had happened to us, it was just us that were paranoid. And so we decided to be more outward in our presence and make a real effort to integrate and be more trusting of people, after all this is why you go traveling to meet people and see how they live and experience the culture! It was the best decision we made because once we changed, and became more receptive all sorts of doors open up.

We extended our stay in the Ukraine from three days to three weeks because of a motorbike show called the 'goblin show' situated on the sea in late June. About three hundred bikers turned up from Ukraine, Russia Baltics and Siberia and this would be our chance to meet and make new friends. We had an incredible time and everybody was so friendly and kind to us. We discovered what we already knew, that the Russkies have an enormous appetite for vodka and I do mean they drink it for breakfast, dinner and tea. There are many traditions that revolve around vodka, such as once a bottle is open you must always finish it, never drink vodka with beer as it spoils the vodka effect, always put an empty bottle of vodka under the table as you don't want people to see how much you have all drunk. The first glass should always be downed in one irrespective of the size of the glass and many, many more.

Simon in Red Square.

And so we left Ukraine for Moscow, Kazakhstan and Mongolia with renewed faith in mankind and the Russkies and the ability to drink large quantities of vodka without collapsing or throwing up. 99.9 percent of the people we met during on our travels in the soviet block were kind generous and friendly. We heard many times 'please tell the people in the west that we are a nice people, we don't have the money to visit Europe or America but the next best thing is you coming to visit us.' A lot of Russians have a hard life, their infrastructure is poor, bad roads and dilapidated housing but slowly improving. Salaries are bad, with a traffic policeman or fireman earning only 100 dollars per month and a nurse only 80 dollars. Unemployment is bad and the weather is extreme, but it does not stop them being one of the most generous and kind people we have met especially in Siberia."

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Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, around the world, in India, Honda Africa Twin,

"After riding the Karakoram highway and my illegal entry into China (they did not like it ;-) we split up. (I was traveling in a group of 6 bikes since Quetta) Andreas wanted to spend some time in Hunze, Sean and Adrian had left a few days before because they are on a tight schedule. Cliff, Jenny and me went to Lahore, Pakistan. Enjoyed a relaxed day at the fort and went on to Amritsar, India. There we also split up. Cliff and Jenny went north, I went south.

Pakistan-India border.

Pakistan-India border

My first destination was Jaisalmer, a remote desert-outpost in west Rajasthan on the outskirts of the Thar Desert It turned out to be a very relaxed journey... all the stories about India, the traffic, the roads and the people seemed to be heavily exaggerated... of course this was to be expected.

Maarten relaxing at the Jaisalmer fort, India.

Maarten relaxing at the Jaisalmer fort, India

Naturally I went on a desert safari. Swapping the bike for a camel I rode off into the sunset... Well that was the general idea, but it was cloudy and there was no sunset. No worries said my guide... you will enjoy the stars tonight because there is no moon... wow... millions and millions of stars. Too bad there was a sandstorm... not too many stars. And the silence of the desert was far to be found... the wind howling and trying to grab my sleeping bag. Well, at least the sunrise was worthwhile. Slowly the sun climbed up and started to warm the sand.

The rest of the day we rode through the sand dunes. We even had a race, but unfortunately I lost... and this while the guide was sitting backwards on his camel. Maybe this is the secret trick because you're in a better position to hit him/her on the behind ;-)

Maarten of Arabia.

Maarten of Arabia

The next day I traveled into the same desert with my bike... unfortunately I got a flat tyre about 20 Km from the nearest town and with no tools (I left them in my hotel). Luckily there were two jeeps parked a bit further on the road... and I asked them if they had any tools like an air pump. No, but if you go over this little hill you'll find a guy in a white shirt, ask him if he can miss a jeep and I'll bring you to town. So I walked over the little hill and found... a complete film-crew, shooting a video-clip. Of course they had no time to drive me to the town right now... but... stick around, join us and when we are done we can bring you to your hotel, get the tools and bring you back to your bike... for now, sit back and enjoy! So, I went with them for the rest of the day. Even did a 'location-survey' for the next day. Of course the exotic dancers did help a lot to make the desert 'a nice place.' At the end of the day they brought me back... and. they made me promise to come to Bombay, where their base is. So, Bollywood, here I come ;-)

Pierced in Rajasthan.

Right now I am in Jodhpur. I have met a lot of very nice people, some just 'plucked' me off the road and showed me their town, the fields and gave me anything I needed... I will never forget them. Some just invited me into their house and offered me dinner, some just wanted to talk a bit with me. I enjoyed all of it."

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Chris and Erin Ratay, USA, around the world, in Brazil, two BMW F650s,

"Belem is 160 kilometers south of the equator and with 45C temps and 95% humidity, we were sweating our ------s off. We are on the edge of the great rainforest area known as the Amazon, and at the mouth of the mighty Amazon River. Monday, we board a 'bird cage', the locals term for the little wooden ferry boats, for a 5-day journey up the Amazon River to Manaus. The bikes will ride down in the cargo hold, while we bask in relative luxury in a 2x1 meter cabin. We could go hammock-class, but that would mean sleeping in extremely close proximity to 100 other people with all the associated noises and annoyances that implies. There is also a security issue, along with exposing ourselves to the swarms of mosquitoes. Cost for the journey is about US$200. Travelling in a hammock would have saved us US$30, but we think it is worth the added expense!

Hammock accommodations on the boat.

Hammock accommodations on the boat

... We packed up our gear and rode down to the docks around 11am - the river was high and we could easily load the bikes onto the lower deck. Although we were cleanly showered, we were sweating before the work was even started. We met the balance of the crew, and all were extremely friendly.

... During the next 5 days, a routine settled in -- We managed to wake before the 6am breakfast whistle and watch the sun lift up over the stern like a giant orange balloon. We take care of the morning rituals and head down to the dining table, located behind the open cargo on the lower deck. Crackers and hot chocolate are not that bad a breakfast, especially when fortified with a few bananas we bring along. After breakfast we hike to the top deck and flop into our hammocks for some relaxing swaying and reading, while enjoying the cool morning breeze. It is not long before we are asleep. The morning hours pass as we wake with heavy eyelids, beginning to break a sweat with the increasing heat, take in the view, and try to finish that same paragraph/page of reading before slipping back into unconsciousness.

The Meeting of the Waters in Santarem: The green-blue Tapajos meets the brown-yellow Amazon River.

The Meeting of the Waters in Santarem: The green-blue Tapajos meets the brown-yellow Amazon River

By 10-11am, we are more awake and watch life on the shores drift by. The views alternate between small cattle farms, dense trees (with monkeys and Toucans), mangroves, loads of fresh water dolphins, and small villages. The river is filled with various sizes and types of boats and barges, while dolphins can be spotted throughout the day.

...The beds are actually better then we expected, and leaving the a/c on its lowest setting at night provides a comfortable sleeping environment. Throughout our journey, the boat has been surprisingly clean, and the crew very attentive. Our trip along the Rio Amazonas was not the exotic adventure we imagined from several months before. It is, however, a very interesting journey meeting all sorts of people and experiencing life along the river. If you are looking for a very relaxing experience, don't mind very basic facilities, and enjoy meeting friendly locals (not those whose lives depend on tourism), we would highly recommend this trip."

Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, in Bolivia, on a Harley Davidson,

"We took the almost one lane road north to Jujuy on one of those days where you think to yourself 'life doesn't get much better than this'. It twisted through rain forest before Jujuy then opened to a good two lane as we hit the flatlands. We headed up the switch back dirt to 4200m before descending to sleep at 3700m in Susques, our highest altitude sleep. The magnificent barren mountain views disappeared as we descended from the pass to cross a salt lake on good asphalt for the last 70 km to town. A less touristy town thrust into the 21st century by the upgrading of this road, now the main northern artery to Chile. Here we found two other overland motorcyclists, a Japanese and German heading south who had great information and recommendations about the Uyuni area where we were heading. I had a poor night's sleep at this new altitude with a racing heart and headache and feeling jittery.

... Riding on the salar yesterday was such fun that this morning we couldn't just leave. We had awoken before dawn to see the full moon setting from our window and walked to the top of the island to see the sun rising. With 360 degree views of the salar, in a pink morning light, in total solitude, a great experience. Fresh deep fried bread for breakfast and still not wanting to leave we headed west to see just another salar islet and to ride a little further on the salt flats. It's like riding in an ocean, being able to go in any direction, not needing to worry about traffic, seemingly floating across the salt. It was finally time to leave and we headed east following the well worn tracks 60 km to the salt hotel. Made entirely from salt blocks, the wall, floor, tables, beds and chairs hard as rock, salt. A great place for a coffee but at $US 20.00 a bed we moved on to the salt mining town of Colchani, 15 km's and a dirt road to Uyuni a further 20 km's. The bikes, covered in salt crystals, were pressure cleaned, the clothes filthy from dust and salt, washed, and we rested watching this end of the tourist migration organize their tours.

Ben had been travelling with us now for almost two weeks, learning from each other's experiences, laughing at jokes and swapping travelling stories, as we explored this remote yet tourist inundated region of the altiplano together. Ben needs to move faster than us so is heading directly to La Paz while we hopefully will beat the onset of the rainy season deciding to go to Potosi."

Ed. The Forwood's have been to over 125 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. In September 2002, they started their final leg, through South America. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host their entire trip story here.

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Cliff and Jenny Batley, UK, UK to New Zealand, in India

"From Amritsar we returned to the border to watch the flag lowering ceremony, for this we hired an auto rickshaw for the 30 km drive and shared it with Maarten and two Aussie ladies (Jan and Robin) that we met at Mrs. Bandahari's. The flag lowering ceremony involves a lot of marching as fast as possible followed by stamping the ground as hard as possible and then inflating their chests as much as possible and using a few arm movements to try to suggest to the opposing side that they are inferior, add to this the slamming shut of the gates, now add into the mix crowds of Indians and Pakistanis in their respective grandstands cheering and shouting as loud as possible, all taunting each other, and a couple of people on each side are allowed to run up to the gates and wave their respective flags at each other before then running back in front of the crowds to a tumultuous cheer.

Indian soldiers prepare to taunt their opponents.

Indian soldiers prepare to taunt their opponents.

Because we were foreign tourists we were given special treatment and taken to the VIP section, then as the ceremony was about to begin the senior officer invited us to move to an even better position, from which Cliff was able to capture most of the ceremony on video. This was one of those evenings that will stay with us for many years to come."

Tiffany Coates, UK, Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia, in Peru and Bolivia, R80G/S,

""Peruvian Police - a 'take no prisoners' attitude to fines/bribes was what I had heard from the other bikers - all of whom had been stung. So here I was having been pulled over on my first day in the country for speeding (who me??), I put on my best charm school act and managed to get away with it - along the lines of 'aah senorita...' In fact despite getting stopped twice more in Peru I never had to pay a penny. Having quickly bored of the coast in Peru I was zig-zagging in the mountains, and followed a great dirt track through Canyon del Pato (Duck Canyon in English - not quite as poetic), which goes through more than 40 roughly-hewn stone tunnels as it follows the canyon side - a beautiful ride, so if you're going through Peru look for the track, it is north of Huaraz and leads to the coast.

As Ricardo (Rocco) and Anthony (Griffin) didn't come up with enough bribe money, I'm letting you guys have it! It shows just what the Ecuadorian roads can do to a bike.

On leaving Cusco heading towards Lake Titicaca I was caught in a vicious storm - it seemed to be trapped in the valley I was in and I had lightning hitting the ground all around me - at one point only 300 yards away - I was hoping my rubber-topped foot pegs would help in saving me!

Bolivia and the diverse road surfaces it has to offer - I have managed to 'snap' Thelma - the fairing/headlight bit has sheared through and is now supported solely by the crash bars. To add insult to injury I had the hounds of Huari chasing me (a pastime practiced by dogs world-wide as all riders know), however this time with a difference when I felt a searing pain and looked down to find one with its fangs around my left calf - I yelled, kicked it off and sped onwards, so now I have rabies to worry about as well as everything else!

The Salar de Uyuni was beckoning - and in a mini posse I set off with Alon (from New Mexico) on his Transalp and Rob (from England) on his KLR. We had a great time - it really is an unbelievable experience to be riding fast over this huge expanse of white as far as the eye can see, overall the journey to the Chilean border turned out to be quite an epic one but we made it, with Thelma limping across the frontier with 1500rpm and only first gear possible!"

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Arne Bomblies, USA, to Ushuaia and back, in Mexico and Guatemala, KLR650

"So we climbed from the Oaxaca coast with all its palm trees into the Chiapas highlands. Fantastic ride as the sweltering humid head gave way to moist, cool air with rainforest-type vegetation. At one point I broke my clutch cable, and spent the next half hour leisurely installing it. Friendly people stopped to ask if they could help, the air was humid but not hot, scented with mild hints of flowers, birds were singing their brightly colored little heads off, there was a clear, gurgling brook right where we stopped and I realized that if it hadn't been for a broken clutch cable I would never have stopped at such an 'ordinary' place, which was in fact a huge treat. The place is remarkably beautiful. I enjoyed having a breakdown there immensely. Ah, the joys of motorcycle travel.

Roadside repairs in Mexico.

San Cristobal de Las Casas is an interesting highland town, with a strong local indian presence. And a strong presence of armed soldiers carrying M-16s guarding every single street corner. We did a long loop up to visit the Maya ruins at Palenque, then down along the Guatemala border to Bonampak, another Maya site. Super interesting, that one. And we had the site to ourselves cause we weren't in a tour group, and were the only independent travellers. It was the site of numerous ritual sacrifices, which are well preserved in a series of wall paintings in closed vaults which we could walk into and check out. I put on my Indiana Jones hat for that one. It really does make you feel godlike, standing on one of the huge pyramids, stones carvings of gnarly looking heads and symbols all around, imagining a bunch of followers below worshipping you.

Copper Canyon, Mexico.

Copper Canyon, Mexico

... From Guatemala City, James (Courtier), Tom (Sewell) and I headed back north to the Peten region. Palenque and Bonampak hadn't satisfied me, I wanted to see some more ruins. Sure I wanted to see Tikal, but for me the main draw was the large concentration of remote Maya sites that still have the 'lost city' thing going, and I wanted to get an impression of what it must have been like for the early explorers to come across these ruins. The advice of our guidebooks was to leave exploration of the area until February at the earliest, but we decided that applied to ordinary people, not us. So we continued north through Tikal, after obtaining our permits, on a dirt road toward Uaxactun. This was supposed to be the 'good road' section of the drive to Rio Azul.

James  in the mud on the road to Uaxactun.

James Courtier in the mud on the road to Uaxactun

It was some of the most difficult and muddy road I have ever seen. It had rained the day before, and the whole stretch was a mud pit as it sliced through the steamy, dripping wet rainforest. When we made it to Uaxactun, 23 km out of Tikal, it was already very clear to me that this would be as far as we would make it. If the so-called 'good road' was this abysmal, the rest of the road would be like trying to ride through the Everglades swamp."

For more stories, check out Arne's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Lance Wiggs, New Zealand, highlights of South America, BMW F650GS,

"In the last few months I have:
- Made a wooden box, put the bike in it and shipped it from Panama to Ecuador - Toby and Chris/Sara did as well
- Chased horses in the hills above Quito

- Eaten more than a few almuerzos (multi course lunches costing about $1 to $2)
- Roughed-it in a Ecuadorian hostel with sauna, swimming pool, spa/Jacuzzi, basketball court... for about $6/night
- Been on the highest road in the world - as measured from the center of the earth
- lost my Sony DSC P-1 digital camera - a suspected theft in a hostel in Trujillo
- Met several other crazy motorcyclists and cyclists

French motorcyclist.

French motorcyclist - anyone recognize him?

- Overstayed my bikes permisso in Peru
- Hit 4000+ meters high for the first time this trip (previous record of 5500 is intact...)
- Experienced *all* the symptoms of altitude sickness - while on - or near - a motorcycle (something about 4000m)
- Ridden - and confronted evidence of - the most dangerous road in the world - La Paz to Coroico

At the top of the Most Dangerous Road in the World.

At the top of the Most Dangerous Road in the World

- Shopped in the largest market in the world - in El Alto, above La Paz
- Motorcycled through the Salar de Uyuni - the worlds highest salt lake
- Ridden through the 4000 meter + high "sandy beaches" (alleged roads) of Bolivia
- Overstayed my visa in Bolivia
- Been escorted around Iquique by a policeman

- Visited a nunnery that was closed to the public for hundreds of years
- Hiked the Inca trail (4 day version). Up the mountain, down to the temple and ran to Aguas Caliente
- Reached 31,000 (50,000 kms) miles on the odometer
- Learned Spanish for a couple of weeks in Sucre
- Realized that I need about another 2941 weeks to grasp Spanish satisfactorily - and that they speak another language in Brasil...

Life on the road is still fun - next I head to Brasil via Chile, Paraguay and Argentina... Sounds like a plan... cheers all, Lance"

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Goose and Lucy, (Adrian Greygoose and Lucy Gardner), UK, around the world, in Malaysia, R1100GS,

"We had arrived just in time for the Malaysian Moto-GP and headed to Sepang, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur to watch the rare spectacle of Max Biaggi beat Valentino Rossi to the podium. It was a fairly gripping race - even though Goose had to give me a quick introduction to some of the riders I was less familiar with. We left with ears ringing and arms full of motorsports merchandise.

Goose at Sepang raceway in Malaysia.

Goose wishing he was a participant, not a spectator!

Ornate carvings, Batu Temple, Malaysia.

Ornate carvings, Batu Temple, Malaysia.

Our Asian trip finished in Kuala Lumpur from where we were shipping the bike to Australia. Surprisingly it was cheaper to ship the bike to Perth than to Darwin - presumably because it is a busier port. The bike would take two weeks to get there.

Strict Aussie customs controls mean the bike has to be fumigated before leaving Asia.

Strict Aussie customs controls mean the bike has to be fumigated before leaving Asia.

With the bike packed up and ready to go we had time to do a bit of sightseeing. We took a day trip to Gombak Park - rainforest and waterfalls - and the impressive Batu Caves and Temple just outside Kuala Lumpur. Our driver finished the day by taking us out to Kuala Selangor to see the Fire Flies. This is an after-dark event and starts from a small pier at Kampung Kuantan. We sat in a wooden boat and were rowed up the river in the moonlight - an enjoyable experience in itself. As the night closed in, the mangrove trees on either side of the river lit up like Christmas trees with the flashing glow of the Kelip Kelip (or Fire Fly). Even with a full moon this made an impressive display. Away from the noise and lights of the city it was a pleasant way to spend an evening - listening to the sounds of the river and watching Fire Flies having an evening chat."

Patrick and Belinda Peck, Australia, USA to Chile, in Uruguay, Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ 750,

"We spent one wonderful week in Uruguay and pretty much had the place to ourselves. The reasons for this is that we are here just before the summer season and Uruguay used to be cheaper than Argentina, but now is more expensive, so the 'rich Argentineans' are no longer coming to Uruguay. It's amazing how far reaching the economy on one country can impact those countries nearby.

Patrick and Belinda.

Patrick and Belinda

Uruguay is the smallest country in South America and we found the people really friendly and happy. Montevideo, the capital, was a quaint, safe city with great Boulevard drives. There were antique cars everywhere used for everyday use- it was like stepping back in time to the '20s- '50s. The beaches were fantastic, the roads were first class and heaps of street and directional signs, which was really great to know where we were going for a change!

Roughing it in Uruguay

We basically followed the coast from one side of the country to the other. At Punta Del Este, Uruguay's premier beach resort we had images of crowded beaches like the Gold Coast in Australia. We drove into the heart of town with skyscrapers all around us and thought a bomb must have just gone off. We seemed to be the only people around! We found a cute, family run hotel on the beachfront and negotiated the room down from US$40 to US$15 per night and stayed in luxury for 2 nights. We were the only people staying there. There were whole high rise buildings empty with Se Vende (for sale) signs on the balconies everywhere."

Read more in Pat and Bin's new blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

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Sean Kelly and Adrian Scott, UK to Oz 2002-2003, in India, R80GS Basic's,

"Sand and sandals, camels and rats... Against all our expectations, and unlike many other visitors, we rather enjoyed the hustle and hassle of Delhi, we really did. But, after only one week, a combination of pollution and virulent colds left us both craving some clean air. And what better way to indulge ourselves and repair our fly blown carcasses than to idle away a few days touring the Land of the Kings. The deserts of Rajasthan beckoned...

... On towards Bikaner and the Karni Mata Temple at Deshnok, not for the squeamish this one... It seems that a lot of dead story tellers were somewhere along the line reincarnated as rats, and this place is the equivalent of James Herbert questing on Jackanory. The thing is you've got to take your shoes off before you enter. And when you do, all you can see, hear and smell are rats. Honestly, there are thousands and thousands of them; young ones, old ones, baby ones, deformed ones, dead ones, ones with humongous testicles for reasons as yet unclear. Heve you ever had a rat run over your bare foot? Well we have and, big balls or not, I for one don't think the experience is going to catch on in the UK quite yet.

The ride to Pushkar the next day was actually really tough. With the Indian and Pakistani armies standing down from their respective borders, there was a large number of army convoys and huge volume of traffic clogging up the main roads. This made progress slow and tedious and to top it all, Adrian picked up a puncture from a small, but perfectly formed stone. His appalling good luck continued and we were within spitting distance of yet another tyre repair wallah complete with a fully functional compressor. By the way, don't trust the pressure gauges used by these guys, they are massively inaccurate and Adrian's bike had to be roped down to stop it floating off after we plugged the hole with Roach's 'safety seal'. This stuff is great, it's a sticky liquorice stick that you just stuff into a hole and presto! The puncture is sealed. Whoever imports this stuff into the UK will make a killing.

And Pushkar Camel festival itself? A veritable Isle of Man TT for camels but with sun, sand and absolutely no sea. Up to 200,000 people from all over India come to trade, deal and to bathe in the waters of the holy lake. There are saddhus galore (people who have given up all material possessions on a spiritual quest) and all the visitors are dressed in their sunday best."

Read more in Sean's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!

Daniel Todd, USA/Puerto Rico, second around the world tour, in Indonesia, KLR650,

"In the last three years I have logged 70,000 Kilometers in various parts of Asia, 12,000 of which were just in Indonesia. I can't think of anywhere on the planet where I got more 'bang for my buck.' In Bali, my girlfriend Ully Setiawati and I went dolphin spotting as the sun was rising, found lodging beside mountain crater lakes and listened to traditional Balinese Music outside Hindu temples. On the Island of Lombok we went scuba diving in the Gili Islands and rode up into a fertile green bowl-shaped valley that was surrounded by three volcanoes. Sumbawa, the next island in this Archipelago offered stunning coastal views all the way across the island on many switchbacks with good road conditions. But the real adventure started in the next island Flores, which is much less developed and very primitive in parts. Here the road was washed out very often on its 700-km journey across this rugged Island because of the heavy wet-season and frequent earthquakes. We were able to travel all the way across this chain of islands on car ferries and the boat journey was a full day to arrive in Flores.

We left the bike behind and took a small boat out to visit the Komodo Dragons, the largest Monitor Lizards in the world reaching three meters and 100KG. This is the only place in the world where they can be found. They are considered dangerous, especially when cornered and are highly venomous with very powerful jaws! That night we roasted a four-foot Barracuda over a fire and washed it down with Bintang, the favored Indonesian beer. There were 14 of us but we still could not finish that fish!

Of all the sights in Nusa Tenggara, the colored lakes of Kelimutu are the most spectacular. The three lakes are set in deep craters at 1600 meters near the summit of the Keli Mutu volcano and often change colour from time to time. No one can come up with any reasonable explanation for the different colours but it is supposed that different minerals are dissolved in each lake. Our highest moment was standing on a ridge several thousand feet above two of the lakes, a deep turquoise and chocolate contrast.

In Nusa Tenggara, I was still undecided as to which direction of travel I was going to take. An email from a fellow Overlander helped sort me out. Gion Paulin (Swiss John) confirmed that the overland route between East Timor and Darwin, Australia was easy and economical as well. Even though the dry season was almost over I opted to go Down Under instead of the Philippines.

True to his email, Eric Mancini from SDV Logistics loaded my bike into a sealed container that leaves on a cargo ship every Wednesday to Darwin for an unbelievable 80 Dollars with the panniers left on the bike! Since I had some time to kill, I flew back to Bali and hung out on Legion Street in front of the Sari Club for the next five days with other RTW riders Swiss John, Jason Homewood and Ully. This was the sixth time I met up with Swiss John in his two-year odyssey around the world! The day after we all left, the bomb went off killing almost 200 foreigners just like us! Two German sisters who were on my flight to Darwin also escaped the bomb and booked a tour to Kakadu Park upon arrival. Two days later one of the sisters watched as the other was attacked and killed by a seven-meter crocodile! It was the first attack in Kakadu Park in eight years."

Didier Martin, France, living in Australia, around the world for World Vision, in Malawi, F650GS,

"Most of the people in Malawi live in rural areas. The staple diet is based on white maize, cooked into a stiff porridge, which is eaten with different kinds of relish such as vegetables and occasionally fish, chicken or meat. Children become malnourished because one or two meals of porridge a day fills their stomachs but does not provide adequate nutrition. Approximately half the people have access to a safe water source, but improper water storage and poor personal hygiene result in illness such as malaria, TB, bilharzia and gastrointestinal complaints.

Today, I am visiting the Kafulu area development programme, which is funded by World Vision Australia. We spent the day visiting different projects, the first was the goats crossbreeding program, the local goats are crossbred with improved Boer goats for better meat and more milk. Next was the adult literacy class, I was welcomed by dancing and singing ladies.

Dancing ladies in Malawi.

In 1995 a survey revealed that illiteracy level in Kafulu was at 51%, to mitigate that, the program has initiated 16 adult classes, now more than 1200 adults have graduated and are taking leading roles in decision making. The new water borehole followed, supplying clean and safe drinking water. World Vision has built 21 of them around Kafulu. They have also trained 16 birth attendants to address the maternal and neonatal deaths. The Longwe primary school was next, the program has built 5 more school blocks such as this one around the region, resulting in improving the primary and secondary school results. We finished the visit with the Cassava field. Cassava is a plant that grows in very dry area, the leaves are rich in vitamins A and the roots are eaten as well, those plants were introduced because they can grow when there is a drought.

I enjoyed the whole day immensely, the people made me so welcome and important, they were treating me like if I was the prime minister (of France not Australia) shaking hundreds of hands, in every village I was always the guest of honour. I learned so much from my visit. It was good to see how the money is spent and yes, it makes a big difference to the people and the children.

Lake Malawi from the bike.

I left the camp quite late, 11am and rode the 400km to Nkhata Bay, which is one of the most scenic lakeshore towns in Malawi. The last 20km were a paradise for bike riding, hardly any traffic and plenty of fast bends going up and down toward the shore of the lake. There are always hundreds of people walking along the road and most of them wave at me when I go past. The difference between Africa and other third world countries is that everyone walks instead of cycling or taking local public transport as they do in Asia or South America.

I decided to spent a couple of days here, I found a small bungalow in a place called Mayoka Village, overlooking the lake for less than US$4 per day, perfect place to relax, enjoy the sunshine and the tranquillity of the surrounding."

Martin Rooiman and Jeannette Boom, a.k.a. De Twee Musketiers, Netherlands, around the world, in New Zealand,

"After our trip through Indonesia (Sumatra, Java and Bali) we are now in New Zealand. We are at Graham Jones' place, an overlander we met in May 2001 in Nepal, and have our bike serviced. Martin's bike had some problems and after arriving in Bali it broke down. Problems with the battery, rear wheel bearing, rear shock and 80.000 kms without a 'proper' BMW-dealer was enough for Rosie. So in Auckland we had to bring the bike from the airport to the BMW-dealer on a little truck Graham arranged. No big thing except that the spare part stock in New Zealand is not that big so we're now waiting for parts from Germany. Jeannette's bike is doing fine however so we're still mobile.

... Our bikes are serviced by the dealer as well as by us, so they are ready for the next leg. So are we, in fact we were ready to go when we saw the first glimpse of New Zealand here in Auckland. And they tell us it's better elsewhere. So tomorrow we start exploring the North of New Zealand and we be back here in Auckland at Christmas and New Year."

Check out Martin and Jen's blog here on Horizons Unlimited.

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Tim Corrigan, (a.k.a. rndmtim), USA, Alaska to South America, in Mexico, BMW 650 GS

"The road dipped and then climbed high again, and each time we could feel the effect as we rose up to altitude. I felt like I had the flu, somewhat disoriented, with joint aches and a sore throat. Cathy was starting to feel faint. We had to stop to rest often, which made the ride even longer, through winding roads up and down slopes, with speed bumps surprising us around every curve. We had been surprised by the altitude because our road atlas did not show topography, so now we scoured our guidebook for some sign that things would improve if we continued. The only reason we had to hope was that one description had Palenque at the edge of the Yucatan plain. Armed with this we kept going through the hills, and then through roadwork where we had to ride on loose sand. Finally with one last military checkpoint where we had to open everything we were in Palenque.

We stopped for dinner and literally could not keep our heads off the table. We took a jungle cabana near the ruins of Palenque, away from the noise of the city, so we could sleep. The cabana was deep in the jungle, over a small footbridge, fairly distant from a few cafes and another cabana place with a meditation center. Our room was screened on all sides, including above the room, and the noises of the jungle were feet away. As soon as we had the gear off of the bike I fell onto one of the beds and went right into a feverish sleep until 11pm, when I woke up. I was sure I was hallucinating. 'That's not techno music, is it?' 'Oh yeah,' Cathy said. 'What jungle experience would be complete without the soothing sounds of techno?' It kept me up for about ten minutes. Then I fell asleep again and slept until dawn. We both had a hangover for the rest of the next day, but by the time we went to bed in Escarcega, we were recovering. I can't say how excited I am to get to Antigua Guatemala, which is in the same mountain range. Hopefully it will be different this time if we take it easy. Besides, it's good exposure for Peru..."

Gary Nisbet, Damian and Dominic Booth, Zimbabwe, London to Australia, in Malaysia and Australia, on Honda XRV 750 Africa Twins,

"After leaving the wet Cameron Highlands, we were fortunate to have good weather all the way down to Port Klang via Kuala Lumpur. We used the main freeway, which has tolls for all vehicles except motorcycles, which are allowed to go free. The narrow paths that bypass the tollbooths need a certain amount of concentration though!

German travelers, Ralf and Caroline heading back home after having spent some time in Oz and NZ.

German travellers, Ralf and Caroline heading back home after having spent some time in Oz and NZ.

We used Lucas Yap, the shipping agent recommended on Horizons Unlimited. His work is very professional and he is an extremely helpful guy. Ed. See contact details on the shipping page.

We spent about an hour sorting out the paperwork with Lucas and then a few days cleaning the bikes. Australia is very strict as far as cleanliness of vehicles entering and even fumigates all crates before they depart. For the Saturday sailing, the bikes have to be ready for customs inspection on the previous Thursday. We spent a few hours crating them on the Wednesday as we were flying out early on the Thursday morning. We followed the carpenters from Lucas office down to the warehouse and within 3 hours the bikes were ready for shipment!

'Biker chics'.

'Biker chics'

Immigration was no problem on arrival in Perth, something we had prepped ourselves for just in case (we only had 1 way tickets). We had acquired our 6-month tourist visas a few months earlier in London and had heard some stories that without a return ticket we would run into problems at the Perth immigration terminal.

We have been in Australia for 5 days now and the time has flown by! We have been treated to the wonderful relaxed lifestyle that Perth has to offer. The weekend was spent on the beach and in the rather chilly sea. The summer is just starting and, although it was 38 degrees centigrade on our arrival, it's been in the late 20's and early 30's over the past few days. Perth reminds us a bit of Cape Town; it is quite a windy city but the relaxed atmosphere also reminds us that it is just a big town really!

We have the rest of this week to chill out and be real tourists before our bikes arrive here next Monday, the 25th and we can once again become adventure motorcyclists! It feels a bit strange having to catch busses, taxi's and trains to get around when all we've become used to over the last few months is jumping on our bikes and heading off with ease..."

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Alon Carter, USA, in Bolivia, Honda Transalp,

"Potosi's a great little town. People on narrow streets, crowded markets, the whole deal. Got in about mid-afternoon and booked a mine tour. Next day met guide (Wilson) and Laura and Finbar, an Irish couple that made our tour group a threesome. When getting our coats, boots, and carbide lanterns for the dark and dirty tour, I asked Wilson 'where are the canaries' (old timers used the birds as early warning signs for toxic gasses)... Wilson replied 'we don't use them anymore, we use tourists now!'

We were issued coca leaves to chew, and explosive materials to give to miners to blast when in the mine. At one point Wilson dug out by hand an ore lode to make the shaft big enough for us to crawl through. Other places we walked on a single 4' round viga over 4' diameter vertical shafts that had no bottoms, and no safety nets either. Other times we are crawling-climbing near vertical twisted spaces where a slip meant a trip, if not life-ending, experience... I'm a good climber but my breathing was rapid and not because of the altitude.

Since Wilson was unable to find a miner actively blasting, we took our purchased material outside and Wilson and Victorio mixed up some plastik and ammonium nitrate (fertilizer of Oklahoma bombing fame), stuck in a blasting cap, crimped on a 18' fuse with teeth, lit it, and ask if anyone wants to hold the deadly package. I volunteer, giving my camera to Laura for evidence of how stupid I really am. Not to appear smarter, Finbar takes a photo opportunity too. Victorio then scampers across the slope and lays the charge down on the ground about 100 yards away. Now, this is a public place...dogs sniffing around, children about, and taxis from town driving by... there is no 'fire in the hole' yell. Nothing. Minutes later the blast sends debris 40 feet into the air and a shock wave to the marrow, Finbar feels some specks hit his arm. We all three agree it's the best tour we've ever taken.

... On 11/25 we make our approach to the legendary flats. Tiffany (Coates) leads, Rob following, and me last on a due west heading to the Isla de Pescadores, a rock outcrop in the center of the Salar. After a few miles I decide, why not pull out to the outside and ride by these folks. So I kick the bike down a gear and twist the throttle. Of course little happens at this altitude, but eventually I gain some speed and racing alongside them about 50 yards away I blast ahead feeling more exhilarated by the moment. They look poetic on the white surface, absolutely a biker's fantasy watching them riding on this open surreal plain.... I could not contain myself, yelling into my helmet all those words you say to yourself when really spaced into an exciting thing for the first time. If only I had on a colorful scarf I would have felt like I was in that scene in Lawrence of Arabia, when O'Toole is riding his camel across the desert... Okay, I actually did feel that way! Yes, bikers get a little weird at times, so forgive me."

Chuck Chiodini, USA, in Baja California, Mexico

"Rode from La Paz to the seaside port town of Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez where my maps and guide books said another ferry to the mainland, Guaymas, was available. Ha! Outdated information again! The ferry office and ship was there but hasn't run for two months and probably never will again.

... All of the military checkpoints that waved me through on the way down now stopped me on the way back. No big deal, in fact, I looked forward to them. Imagine being a young soldier stuck in the middle of the desert with the 'important duty' of searching cars for contraband. I speak Spanish and am retired from the Army so every stop turned into a social conversation (often with free coffee and food). Traded my camp flashlight for dinner with one ill-equipped squad who didn't have a working flashlight to use at night.

At no time did I ever feel threatened and everyone went out of their way to be friendly and helpful. I will say that I never felt the need for my usual 'personal protection' and felt much safer in Baja than I do in my hometown. No 'banditos', no cops looking for bribes, no attempted theft. In fact, the cops gave me the impression they were there to help. Never once saw one hiding on the side of the roadway to 'catch a speeder' as they do in the States. Ride down a one-way street? No problem, the cop simply waves you the other way. Going too fast in town? The cop gives you the 'slow down' signal, he knows the speed bumps will do they rest. Radar speed traps? We don't need no steeeeenking radar or speed traps, the curves take care of the careless/stupid people. Viva Mexico! My only traffic problem the entire trip was being cut off in La Paz by a SUV driven by, I swear, a cell phone using woman... guess they are a scourge everywhere!

Did the 'Iron Butt' 725 mile ride from Santa Rosalia to Los Angeles in 11 hours. Within my first half hour 'back home' on the super slab to Los Angeles, I was cut off by cell phone yacking idiots too many times to count, paced by the California Highway Patrol and hassled at the immigration checkpoint near San Clemente. So good to be home in a 'civilized society'! Note to self: I DO now feel the need for my 'personal protection'.

Since my Mexican paperwork is still good for months, I'm planning on returning to Mexico right after Christmas. I need to see the Copper Canyon, the road to Durango and get a Mazatlan tan! Bike is all ready to rock, anyone interested?"

up to top of pagespacerBooks

Odyssey to Ushuaia: A Motorcycling Adventure from New York to Tierra del Fuego
by Andres Carlstein

Odyssey to Ushuaia: A motorcycle Adventuire - a great read

Looking for a travel book for someone special? Go to our Books pages, where we have listed some of the best motorcycle travel books, as well as a number of BMW books, general motorcycle books, and travel guides.

There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - you can order books at great prices, and we'll make a dollar or a pound or a Euro, which goes a very little way to supporting this e-zine.

There's also links to search Amazon sites for all their products, books, CDs etc., and yes, we get a tiny piece of that too. We really appreciate it when you start your book search from our website! Thanks for the support!

Book suggestions please!

If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and I'll put it on the site. Thanks, Grant

up to top of pagespacerFunnies...

Aircraft maintenance write-ups and corrective action taken

Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humour. Here are some actual logged maintenance complaints by QANTAS pilots and the corrective action recorded by mechanics. (By the way, Qantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident.)

Note: "P" = problem the pilots entered in the log "S" = solution by the mechanics.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except autoland very rough.
S: Autoland not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on backorder.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200-fpm descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: Suspected crack in windscreen.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

up to top of pagespacerQuotable Quotes...

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
-- J.R.R. Tolkien

from Ben Barry, Australia's webpage.

up to top of page Some nice comments...

"I have been a motorcyclist for 30 years, and have ridden over most of the US and Mexico. I owned an independent motorcycle shop for 15 years, and for the last 9 years have been teaching metal trades and mechanics at Presidio High School. My current ride is a 2002 Victory V92C with a Russian Ural sidecar attached. I live in the ghost town of Shafter, in the Chinati Mountains, in a 100 year-old adobe house. I like motorcyclists and would be pleased to meet folks traveling through. I can offer advice on where to go and what to see in the Big Bend, a place to camp, and assistance in case of problems. I think y'all's site is kick-ass and I'd be proud to contribute to it! Adios"
Randall Cater, Texas, USA

Thanks for starting the Big Bend, Texas HU Community, Randall!

"Thanks so very much for the information and the web site. The site is unbelievable! Tierra Del Fuego... Iran, unreal. Maybe someday... Thanks again"
Dennis Wind

"Fantastic, inspiring and informative site!"
Scott Andersen, Sydney, Australia

"I wish to thank you for your really wonderful website. I’ve been thru a lot of places in Africa, Asia & Europe on my good old bmw, but unfortunately this is more than 15 years ago, and since then there has only been time for some shorter holiday journeys in Europe. But each month, when your newsletter arrives, the spirit is getting stronger and I’m sure someday I’m back again on the road for a long trip (Oz would be nice ... or maybe Chile). To survive the meantime I really need your website! so keep on! May long you run."
Gerd Harders, Brandenburg, Germany

Thanks for your support, Gerd, and hope the spirit gets stronger with this issue!

"You are great- so much to read - not enough time!"
Janice Sikorski

Thanks for your support, Janice!

"Great web site. I read it frequently."
Steven Scarth, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

"Hi, Just became a Gold Member using the Amazon Honor System. I'm also the guy who opened the Nelson Community in NZ. I think your web site is the best thing that ever happened to biking and I hope you keep up the good work. I haven't started doing any really long journeys on the bike, but I will. Me and my son have promised each other that we will ride round the world when he is 18, but a bit of a wait to go as he is only 5. Still, I can dream and maybe in a few years we'll start... Thanks for keeping me entertained, informed, and inspired. Finally persuaded the missus to get a bike this week, so that trip might come sooner than I thought"
Richard Butler, Nelson, New Zealand

Thanks so much for your support, Rich, and hope you get on the road soon!

"very good site. Most useful."
David Burke, Galway, Ireland

"A great site. I'm going overland to Tanzania on a Yammy XT600 leaving in Jan '03. With the travel, and contrary to reasonable expectations, I'm involved in a computer project - for Tanzanian schools and community groups using UK and African charities. Along with Groucho I wouldn't normally want to be a member of any club that would have me - but I think you guys may be the exception. Power to your arm,"
Nick Pailthorpe, London, UK

"Finally I'm going to use the bike for real (not just commuting)- Planning to go to Morocco next April, mainly inspired by this board- cheers!" JFL, London

"Grateful thanks for the work you are doing." Nigel Marx, New Zealand

Thanks for your support, Nigel!

"I think the site is great. It is invaluable and exciting reading for armchair and active travellers."
Melanie Dooley

"I hope you keep sending messages like that. It's the first that I received and I was very fascinated I even printed it out and gave it to some friends."
Dino Y

"I've been visiting Horizons Unlimited for quite a while. I really like the idea behind ‘communities’, so I thought it's time to begin helping. I really like your site, it shows you put a lot of effort in it, thanks from all moto-travellers."
Guillermo, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Thanks for starting the Bahia Blanca HU Community, Guillermo!

Help support your favourite website! Here's how!

up to top of page Your Privacy

Please be assured that we will NOT under any circumstances, rent, lease, sell, or give out our mailing list, and/or your name and e-mail address, to anyone for whatever purpose. Your privacy is assured, and personally guaranteed.

Grant Johnson

up to top of page Administrivia

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To subscribe or UNsubscribe to this newsletter.

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All comments and suggestions are carefully read, and where possible will be acted on. Your help will make this a useful service for all travellers.

Feel free to use the Bulletin Board for questions and suggestions.


If you would like to advertise your product or service in this newsletter or on the website, please contact me. Ad rates are very reasonable. Details at this link.

ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' Ezine - Copyright 1999-2002, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan Johnson. All rights reserved.

REDISTRIBUTION is allowed, indeed encouraged, but other than the following requirements, only with permission. You may forward copies of the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine by forwarding it yourself by hand. You must forward the issue in its entirety, no fee may be involved. Please suggest they Subscribe!

Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York, not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan. Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand) Recommendations are based on positive or negative experiences of somebody, somewhere. Your mileage (kilometrage if you insist) may vary. We are not responsible in any way for any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you. You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct as best we can determine at that time.

up to top of pagespacerMotorcycle News

BMW Recall

"Approximately 515 motorcycle are affected with the R1150 RS, R1150 RT, R1150 R, R1150 GS, R1150 Adventure and the R1100S models represented. All affected models fall within September, October and November (one unit) production. The gearbox on all affected VINs will be replaced.

Any motorcycle with a VIN lower than the provided VIN is OK and can be sold and/or delivered.

R 1100 S ZB 52781
R 1150 GS ZE 54805
R 1150 RT ZE 89469
R 1150 ADV ZH 30685
R 1150 RS ZG 70506
R 1150 R ZF 47623"

Contact your dealer only IF yours is higher than the number listed.

Book special just for Horizons Unlimited Readers, and just in time for Christmas!

"Into the den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle"
"8 Around the Americas on a Motorcycle"
"Africa Against the Clock on a Motorcycle"

Werner Bausenhart has written several books on his travels around the world, and has offered them to HU readers at a great price. Tell him we sent you and get US$5.00 off the regular US$20 price!

For details on his books see here. Contact Werner via this link to get the deal.

Dual plugging for BMW motorcycle Boxer engines.

(for those of us who have been saying for years dual plugging is a good thing... )

"In order to reduce the emissions BMW Motorrad introduces dual plugging for the following models R 1100 S, R 1150 GS, R 1150 R, R 1150 RS and R 1150 RT. The change in the production will take place staggered by models starting at the end of November and will be finished at the beginning of 2003... As a side effect the efficiency of the engine was increased once again and as a result the mileage is also improved. The peak values of HP and torque will remain the same for all engines."

And Ducati is also dual plugging some models next year!

Burma-Thailand-India Road, From the Bangkok Post, referenced on the HUBB by Matt:

"In another development, Thailand, Burma and India are expected to have talks about a road link this month in Rangoon. Thailand will consider giving Burma a soft loan for a road linking Mae Sot, Myawaddy, and Morley in India. The route would link the eastern seaboard via Kanchanaburi to deep seaports in Burma and India."

Ed. Won't that be great if it happens!

up to top of pagespacerShorts...

Ted Simon, UK/USA, "Jupiter's Travels," around the world, again, in Australia, R80GS Basic,

"I have left New Zealand behind me, and I'm revisiting some of the Australia I knew in 1976. Nothing is going to plan, but there IS progress. At least I now know that my bike is on the Pacific, as I write on November 15th, and should be here in Melbourne in ten days time.

On my way to Adelaide on the newly borrowed bike.

On my way to Adelaide on the newly borrowed bike.

Where I go then is still unsure. Visiting Papua New Guinea on the way north may no longer be possible. It depended on the local airline helping me, and they have changed their minds. Meanwhile, as I wait for my own bike, BMW Australia has come to my rescue, in unbelievably generous style, with a brand new R1150RT straight out of the crate, on loan to me for the next month. Already I've been down the Great Ocean Road, to Adelaide, Sydney, and Canberra."

Paul Backes and Henk De Lange, South Africa, London to Cape Town for Starfish AIDS charity, in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, on Yamaha Tenere's,

"Sudan is great the people are the best I have met. They are so friendly and just want to get to know you. It was about 55 degrees in the shade. The sand was great to ride in but some time very thick that you just fall off. The tar road was really hot, it melted the tube in my back tire and destroyed my Desert Michelin. I had Malaria in the desert that I picked up in Egypt and lost about 10kg so I am looking slim and ready to go.

Ethiopia looks like Natal and the Transkei. The food was good and really cheap. We have been riding on the worst roads ever and the best scenic routes. We were traveling down a piece of road in Kenya that is the most dangerous in Africa for bandits and had tire problems. I had 5 punctures and it took 5hrs to do 100km.It was a bit hairy but we are tough. We have been staying in Nairobi which is just like Johannesburg. Met many overlanders and shared a lot of stories.

I am now staying at the snake park campsite in Arusha in Tanzania sleeping next to the crocs. It is run by people from Durban and I feel right at home. I hope that very one is well and will give you another update soon. Sorry no pics but just imagine the fun we are having. Cheers Henk"

Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure you tell them how you heard about Motorrad Elektrik!

Visit the Motorrad Elektrik website for more info!"You want the best for your BMW Motorcycle. Motorrad Elektrik has been offering the best in electrical parts for classic and modern BMW's for over 10 years. Be it a full 12 volt conversion for your /2 or better than stock replacement parts for your late model "R" or "K", we've got you covered. Specialty parts for 'hardening' the charging and ignition systems for world-travelling Airhead GS's. Riders like Bob Higdon, Dr. Gregory Frazier, the late Ed Culberson and hundreds of others depend on Motorrad Elektrik components as they wander the globe.

Omega. 400 Watts. Light and heat for 1970-95 Boxers. YeeeHa! The end of that greatest limitation of the air cooled Boxer, a small capacity charging system!"


Jerome and Sophie, Côte d'Ivoire and Surinam, 1000 days around the world, Piaggio Liberty 125's,

"01 Novembre 2002, Bangkok (Thailand) We have the scooters after 10 days of delay and cold sweat! Indeed our case was blocked by the customs of Caracas. The customs officers Venezueliens decided they want us... Worst news made by the person in charge for Lufthansa who announces one morning to us: 'your motor bikes are blocked in Caracas! I cannot say to you much but apparently there is a problem of drugs!' Imagine the scenarios catastrophes which we could consider... Fortunately it was only about one control not more! But finally the scoots arrived.

Ouf, we were hot! We needed 4h to get the scoots from the customs and to make our first km in Asia, in Bangkok, under the rain... For those which know traffic in Bangkok, no need for drawings... We leave Sunday for KB Chang, a small island..."

Simon McCarthy and Georgie Simmonds, UK to Asia, in Russia, BMW R100GS,

"Our goal was Irkutsk, the nearest city to Lake Baikal where we would spend a few days preparing for our trip to Mongolia. Unfortunately we had absolutely no idea what distance it was, it being far too complicated to work out from the road atlas. So after a couple of day's travelling it was both a relief and shock to see a sign stating Irkutsk was 3010 km away. I didn't think it was possible that any place could be so far away. Based realistically on our average day's ride we calculated that we would probably get there in 10 days. It seemed a lifetime, ten long days of riding through pretty unspectacular countryside - massive fields of ripening wheat or sunflowers, followed by birch and pine forests infested with mosquitoes. We knew we just had to grin and bare it. We watched the kilometres count down on the signposts until we saw it suddenly jump from 2900 to 1850. Now there are typos and typhoos, but how can you mistakenly add 1000 km onto a distance? Seemingly the Russian sign makers had and now our journey was shortened by 3 days!

The problem with the Trans Siberian on the stretch between Novosibirsk and Irkutsk is that the Russians are currently ripping up vast swathes of it in preparation for resurfacing at a later date. We did come across smooth sections but for the majority Simon had to concentrate on swerving between the potholes, keeping us upright on the marble-type gravel and peering through dust clouds created by imported Japanese 4-wheel drive cars speeding through the taiga in convoy from the ferries in Vladivostok. No wonder we would both be exhausted at the end of the day. And to finish the day off with a bang we had to fight non-stop with the mosquitoes. They were the most bloodthirsty creatures we have come across. The locals had warned us about them beforehand, joking that they were so big you needed a shotgun to kill them.

... We returned to Irkutsk and miraculously met up with our two biking friends Simon and Monika Newbound who are undertaking a gruelling 105+ country round the world trip on two BMWs. A few days later the two Simons, Monika and I set off together for Mongolia. It would be interesting to see how we would all get on considering our different riding styles - the hare and tortoise comes to mind."

Read more in Simon and Georgie's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!

Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure to tell them how you heard about TinyStocks!

Check out Highway Manager from Tiny Stocks!

TinyStocks presents Highway Manager: the most complete and flexible gas mileage application for the Palm OS® platform, written by a biker for bikers. Keep track of your gas mileage, insurance payments, garage bills, hotels, highway tolls and whatever is necessary. Statistics, charting function, multi-currency, and more... So, got a Palm OS device? Why not take it on the road?


Tom Sewell, USA, to South America, in Guatemala, KLR650 "Lolita",

"Guatemala - in San Pedro on Lake Atitlan I spent a week in Spanish school, one on one, with lovely Ada, the upper class, hippy type, guate girl. When I could concentrate I learned a lot. Also spent the days doing nice 5-mile runs up the jeep road, hanging at the gringo bar, and managed to hike up San Pedro volcano on the muddy trail one day. You know it's time to leave when all the locals begin saying 'ola Tomas? Around town I ran into fellow KLR tourers Arne (Bomblies, USA) and James (Courtier, NZ). But first I went and took a guided overnite climb up Tojumulco Volcan, the highest peak in Central America, at 13,800 mas o menos, along with 20 other gringo kids. The bus ride made me glad I have my bike Lolita."

Read more stories in Toms blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!

Jason Homewood, UK, Round the world, in East Timor, BMW

"You have to use your imagination a bit (especially for the smoke and shell fire), but it was kind of cool crossing into East Timor. All the UN army types in their machine gun nests, razor-wire and baseball caps, calling out and giving us the thumbs up as we ride down the bombed out road - 2 wheeled storm troopers back from the front line. Yeah baby.

The border was easy enough, which was just as well as I didn't want to hang around any longer than necessary. We'd heard there was a bomb at the border that hurt a few people the day before. There was a bit of a buzz with the people in Dili. It sounds like they've gone through an awful lot to get their own country. Coming from Indonesia it was a shock to see lots of money about. Every other car was a fancy new Landcruiser. I won't pretend to understand the economics of it all (but) how can you pump in 3 billion dollars of 'aid'/future debt into a country with 750,000 people - most of them living as they've always done in grass huts and off the land?

Anyways, East Timor looked like a nice place. Hilly, with a beautiful coast-line, and no where near as populated as anywhere I saw in Indonesia. Definitely a place to go back to in a few years. Glad that I changed my plans to carry on east from Bali. All the best riding I did was from Lombok on."

Read more in Jason's blog, here on Horizons Unlimited!

Mika Kuhn, Germany, around the world, in Colombia, Tenere,

"Yes, I am still in Colombia; No, I have not been kidnapped; Yes, I like Colombia very much... but tomorrow I will go South and cross the border to Ecuador in a few days.

Two months I stayed in Bogota, six weeks in my friends Felipes house (gracias Felipe) in the North of Bogota, three weeks I took spanish classes and than I stayed two weeks in a nice little hostal in the centre of Bogota.

Medellin... I planned to stay a few days, but you know plans can change and I am here now three weeks. I tried to leave and made it down to Armenia again, together with the local biker Camilo. But then I had a strange engine noise and decided to ride back to Medellin to have a look in the engine. The last two weeks I spend in the workshop...

Colombia is a fantastic place, and I don't think it is very dangerous, if you take a bit of care. But I still have some kilometers before I cross the border and you know a lot can happen. So far I enjoyed every day here in the last three months, and I am quite sure I will come back to Colombia."

Vincent Danna, France, around the world, in Uzbekistan, BMW R100GS,

"Jens, Knut and I are in Tehran at the moment, at the BMW workshop. Address: Nouriani building, 91 Iranshahr ave. Tel (0098-21) 88 23 984-8. They are very nice. See you there maybe. Ktmwill is ahead of us, maybe 2 weeks, Jeroen and Henk too, maybe one week. Happy trails. Vincent Danna"

Not quite ready to ride!

Not quite ready to ride!

Ralph Dixon and Fionnuala Livingston, Australia, to UK, BMW F650,

"Disaster strikes in Wales!

Our bike was stolen yesterday (Monday Nov 4) 120 miles away from London in a semi rural area of Wales (near Caldicot)

We had filled up with petrol and were just having a cuppa when the bike was taken from the carpark. We were only gone 15 mins and it was parked right in front of the front door! To say we are gutted is an understatement! All our luggage is gone as well!

Bike recovered!

After a concerted effort by the Gwent Police in Wales our bike has been recovered so we completed our ride on the 6th November. Thanks to everyone in Wales for your support and well wishes. We have been overwhelmed by the number of emails we have received and the offers of assistance and the promises of donations to the MS Society UK (

Thanks especially to BMW Rydale Cardiff who repaired our bike so we could finish our ride and the media also deserve a bouquet as without them we would not have recovered the mighty BMW.

BMW UK have committed the funds from their bike show in Birmingham next thursday to the MS Society for which we are grateful."

Very good to hear that all turned out well for Ralph and Fionnuala, but it serves as a reminder to us all that it isn't only in the third world that we have to be careful where and how we park the bike. Personally I think we have to be more careful at home. Our bikes are often too special to be a worthwhile theft item in the third world, although things on the bikes are a big target everywhere.

Lew and Achi Waterman, USA, North and South America 2001-2, in Chile

"We had a cold and wet ride from Puerto Montt to Osorno, Chile and then over the Andes to Bariloche. Achi's gloves were not waterproof and she felt sick. Got her a new rain suit and gloves and she is now taking medication. She is not used to irregular meals on the road. Punky has a new sweater and gets even more attention. He got wet and cold crossing the Andes too. His bag proved not to be waterproof either. He now is better protected in a plastic bag inside his bag.

We were going to head south this morning, but checked the oil, lubed the chain and looked things over. Discovered the rear wheel is broken. A very dangerous thing that could have caused us serious problems crossing the Andes. A miracle that the tire is still holding air. I remember hitting a bad hole in the pavement in Chile about 10 days ago. Met groups from two motorcycle clubs, Wind Riders and Moto Club de Bariloche, here in town. Nicolas, a member of the Moto Club de Bariloche, owns an older KLR650. He is arranging for a mechanic to come to my hosteria tomorrow, look at the bike and get it fixed.

Got a message from Norwegian Honda 650 rider, Erling Steen, saying that his bike also suffered piston and ring damage, despite his continually adjusting the carburetor for altitude changes.

... Today, the wind velocity is estimated at 80kph gusting to 100 (close to hurricane force) and is doing its best or worst to blow anything not anchored down off the planet. At times, when walking, the force is so great it stops us in our tracks prohibiting forward movement. Don't think we should try to ride when the wind is blowing like this. Patiently waiting for the repairs to be completed. We should soon have a healthy Critter thumping under us to complete our tour. I have a good woman and a cute Yorkie to bolster my spirits. Life ain't so bad. Punky, Lew & Achi 2"

up to top of pagespacerSeen on the road...

by James Riley, Wellington, NZ,

"We have Ramona and Uwe (Uwe Krauss and Ramona Eichhorn, Germany, around the world, KTM's,) staying with us at the moment. They are the first, hopefully of many, to come this way since the winter. Last night they presented a slideshow to a group of 15 local bikers. The slides were excellent and the stories fantastic! Everyone had a good time and was suitably inspired, many of them had no idea that people did this kind of travel. When they are passing your way, try and convince them to let you and your friends have a look, it is worth it!"

by Peter and Kay Forwood, in Argentina

"... meeting Lance Wiggs yesterday heading South on his BMW F650 and again by coincidence Ben Zack on his Yamaha XT 650 heading north. These are our first overland motorcycle encounters this trip. Despite Lance heading south, the three bikes along with a French couple in a car, decided to ride the 300 km to Susques to say farewell to Ben and us who were going to ride together for a while."

by Nigel Marx, NZ

"We have had a good time lately with quite a number of travellers thru our humble abode. Oliver Kams stayed for about 6 weeks, Ralph & Caroline Koebler stayed three times, Jan & Kathrine and two friends stayed last week for a couple of nights (and promise to return) and of course there were the fantastic couple of nights when we had Ted Simon stay. How many people are fortunate enough to meet their heros? A Canadian couple are due in early December and who knows who will turn up as well? *grin*"

by Jason Homewood, in Indonesia

"While we were sorting out the shipping (Gion's XT to Darwin, and my bike back to Singapore), a Canadian couple (Mike and Melie) I'd first met nearly 2 years ago at the start of the trip in Mexico turned up. They are now on a 2 bike trip from New Zealand back to Canada hoping to go via Russia and Alaska(!). Really good to see them again and swap stories of derring do."

Sjaak Lucassen, Netherlands, second around the world trip, in Brazil, on Yamaha R1, seen by someone... can't remember who!

up to top of pagespacerLeaving soon, or just left...

Bob West, Dubai, South America and north to Alaska, DR650,

"My next trip starts in December in Buenos Aires, first South for New Year then North to Alaska and I will use this site for contacts etc. I will be arriving in BA 15th December and travelling South to Terra Del Fuego. From previous years reports I understand there is usually a small gathering in the National Park around Christmas or New Year, anyone else on the road who can confirm they will be there?

Bob West and his DR650 ready to go, in Dubai.

I'll be riding a new Suzuki DR 650 ($3,850 new, with XR400 tank 23 litres (I had the tank but it was a buggy to fit), Ali panniers, Screen, Ali handguards, Centre stand and Most important Horizons Unlimited sticker from UK meet (I could not go but a mate got it)"

Nick Pailthorpe, UK, through Africa to Tanzania, XT600,

"I'm going overland to Tanzania on a Yammy XT600 leaving in Jan '03. With the travel, and contrary to reasonable expectations, I'm involved in a computer project - for Tanzanian schools and community groups using UK and African charities. Along with Groucho I wouldn't normally want to be a member of any club that would have me - but I think you guys may be the exception. Power to your arm,
Laters, Nick Pailthorpe."

Gregory Frazier, USA, off to Thailand for a little winter riding, KLR650,

"...Chiang Mai, where I will be for the next 4 months, I have rented an apartment there..."

and obviously living it up more than his usual ...

Gail and Eric Haws, USA, back to South America, BMW R100GS,

"In December we return to La Paz to pick up our BMW and head to Argentina. Eric and Gail Haws, still in Oregon."

up to top of pagespacerHome again...

Iris and Trui were distressed that I hadn't mentioned the Suzuki DR650 in a page on what bike to choose to travel with, and here's why:

"We just returned from our 'overland from Belgium to the Himalayas and back'. 6,5 months, 28,000 kms. Turkey and Iran, good asphalt; Pakistan, extreme temperatures (40 to 55 °C, I'm not kidding). Northern India (Ladakh), plenty of rough off road and extreme heights (up to 5,400 metres). We rode - as you can see in our earlier post - on two DR 650 SEs. AND WE HAD ZERO PROBLEMS :-)) (not even a single puncture)

How about that?! Even at the extreme heights (the highest motorable roads in the world, Manali to Leh, and the Kardung La pass), we could ride like on the plains, and our bikes consumed what they do at sealevel. We did make a leaner mixture in the carburettors before going up of course (smaller main jet, lower needle, and above 4,500 we took off the airfilter lid).

I cannot recommend this bike enough. Suzuki has created a SOLID, RELIABLE AND LIGHT (well, 147 kgs empty is quite a bit lighter then its colleagues) bike, perfectly adapted for long distance travelling. Our bikes have now 40 and 50,000 kms, and don't use one drip of oil. Even the valves didn't have to be adjusted once (and, yes, we do ride fast or sportive when no traffic). 'If you can still find them (the hard bit), then don't hesitate', is my opinion. (and for parts: it's almost the Freewind but in another dress and much lighter) Take care out there, and keep the DR-page going. I'll do my best, and Toad does too. Iris and Trui, 2 belgian women, usually travelling on bikes (now on DR650SE's)"

up to top of pagespacerWhere are they now...

Steve Raucher, South Africa, around the world, R1150GS,

"I am alive and well and living in London. I plan to continue my journey sometime in the future, but that date seems far from now. I am planning to update with my last stories, but have been sucked into the 1st world and just haven't found the time. I promise to add these stories and will mail you when I do. Happy travels and safe riding wherever you are. Steve"

Lisa Roberts, UK, around the world, BMW R80ST,

"Hope this finds you all well - in whichever far flung corner of the globe you may be. Just to let you know that my ankle is fully healed and Xerox are sending me to Delhi for two years (hurray!). It would be great to see some friendly faces - if any of you are going to be passing by drop me a line and perhaps we could meet up. I haven't seen my apartment yet but I'm sure there will always be a corner free for any weary overlanders! Take care of yourselves and keep in touch. Lisa"

up to top of pagespacerTravellers Community News...

Nigel Marx and Kitty Rhodes write from the Christchurch, New Zealand HU Community

"We are planning a Christchurch HU Community Didn't-Quite-Make-It-For-Christmas Party towards the end of January. Date to be finalised in consultation with any travellers that might be able to get there. Spit roasted Canterbury lamb and all the trimmings! So as you can see we will need a big turnout to eat everything. What do ya say, mate? You coming? Regards Nigel Marx & Kitty Rhodes in NZ"

There are over 179 Communities in 59 countries running already. A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are Indianapolis, USA, Bahia Blanca, Argentina, Canberra Australia, and Daytona Beach, USA!

Thanks to all those who started these new Communities!

For details on how you can join, or use the Community to get information and help, or just meet people on the road or at home, go to the Community page. Send me some photos - with captions please - and a little text and you can have a web page about your Community! A few links to web pages about your area would be useful too.

From Chris Jones, Atlanta Community,

"Anyone in the Atlanta Community want to get together over a beer, maybe at the Vortex? I just bought a 1150GS to begin planning my RTW and would love to chat about trips, gear, bike mods, etc. Let me know. Bones."

Just a reminder to all, when you JOIN a Community in your area, send a note to the Community introducing yourself and suggesting a meeting for a beer or a ride or something. It's a good way of meeting like-minded individuals in your own town.

Support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - check out the HU Souk for fleece vests and jumpers / pullovers, t-shirts, hats and other products with the new logo and a variety of slogans! Just in time for Christmas presents for your favourite motorcycle traveller!


Check out t-shirts and other goodies at the HU Souk. Support your favorite website!Check out t-shirts and other goodies at the HU Souk. Support your favorite website!Check out t-shirts and other goodies at the HU Souk. Support your favorite website!

Thanks! Grant and Susan


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up to top of pagespacerIn Progress...

I am working on a listing of people who have ridden around the world, as well as what I call 'significant journeys' e.g. the first across Africa. Any information you may have on this topic, please let me know. Preferably e-mail me direct. I currently have information on over 100 world travellers listed, but there are many more. See Bernd Tesch's page for more. Bernd lists around 245 long distance travellers. And there's at least 30 enroute to an around the world. Have YOU done it? Let me know!

up to top of pagespacerFinal thoughts...

We hope you've enjoyed this issue, and do please let us know your thoughts. It's your newsletter, so tell us what you want to know about!

It is not the unknown, but the fear of it, that prevents us from doing what we want...

Riding the globe...

Grant and Susan Johnson

Live the dream! at:

All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson and their respective authors or creators, 1987-2002.

All Rights Reserved.

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