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Riding the globe...

Horizons Unlimited
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Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in running blockades in Bolivia, altitude obsession, lunar landscapes in Iceland, car chases on frozen lakes, Brighty in Bollywood, riding up waterfalls, Florence of Arabia in a boil-in-bag, white sheet fines in Argentina, manic riding in Pakistan, blood feuds in Peshawar, riding on marbles on the edge of a cliff, the Bomb Disposal Department in Islamabad, and much more...?

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International Health Insurance

Travellers' News Report

47th Edition, December 2003

Happy New Year and welcome to the 47th edition of the Horizons Unlimited E-zine!

Many people have written to us in the past couple of months, concerned that some disaster had befallen us. Otherwise, why wasn't the e-zine out? We do appreciate how important this magazine has become to many people, and we are sorry there hasn't been an issue since late September.

Why is that? Looking back over the past year, there are two things that are different from previous years. First, Susan is no longer working full-time on the website, as the net revenues don't cover even one salary, much less two, and we can't continue to support ourselves - and the website - from our savings. Since we made the decision to stay in Canada for family reasons early in the year, Susan has been trying to build an independent consulting practice focusing on information security and privacy. Since she previously has worked in large consulting firms, this is her first experience of having to sell her own services. Business development is definitely a full-time job, so that leaves less time for the website.

The second thing that is different is that the HU Travellers Meetings are taking off. This summer Grant spent almost a month in Europe, attending the UK meeting, and talking to potential advertisers in Germany. That month put him well behind on everything to do with the site. We were just starting to catch up with ourselves after the HU Meeting in Revelstoke in early September, when before you know it we were flying down to Mexico for the Copper Canyon meeting in late October. Had a great time in Mexico, and we love all the events, but particularly for the first year in each location, there is a fair amount of our time required in organizing things.

So those are our excuses. We'll try to do better next year, but the third thing that is happening is that there are heaps more travellers taking off all the time now! We're very happy about this phenomena, (and we'd like to take some credit for it ;), but it also means that there are lots more stories to read through and excerpt every month. BTW, we really appreciate it when travellers send us just a few highlights (spell-checked, etc. :) plus some pictures.

Looking out our front window we are viewing something which is very unusual for Vancouver, but apparently not so unusual for Surrey, (just east of Vancouver) - snow! Not just a light dusting this time, a couple of days ago it started to snow and we have at least 9-10 inches (22-25 cm) accumulation. So, as soon as the newsletter is finished, our top priority is to get the garage sorted so the car can actually go in out of the snow! The bike of course is well-protected in the garage, taking up the best spot...

As usual this time of year, we read all the stories of travellers in warm places and get very bitter and twisted ;-) We hope the stories in this issue will inspire some of you folks sitting in your armchairs reading to start planning your next trip! It's never too soon to plan, after all...

Thanks to all our loyal supporters

... and a gentle reminder to those who haven't contributed that we still need your help to pay for the ongoing costs of keeping the website running, especially now that our server costs alone are US$325 a month :-( and keeping this global community going. If you know anyone who should be advertising with us (anyone who sells motorcycles or motorcycle accessories, riding gear, camping equipment and clothing, transports motorcycles, organizes motorcycle tours, or has motorcycles to rent should be advertising), please let us know or send them to our Advertising page with your recommendation.

Start your planning with travel books 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. Don't forget to visit the Souk for sweatshirts, mugs and boxer shorts. If you don't need any clothes (or you have to work off a few Holiday pounds before you can fit into any ;-), we now gratefully accept donations through PayPal, (preferred) as well as the Amazon Honor System, and checks in 5 currencies! Some of you have told us that the ezine and website is better and more valuable to you than any of your PAID magazine subscriptions - well, how about thinking of a Horizons Unlimited Membership as a yearly subscription? It would sure help us a lot!

Finally, if you do use the services of one of our advertisers/supporters, we hope you'll let them know that you're buying from them because of their support for HU - and of course that they have a great product or service! :)

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)

up to top of pagespacerHorizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings...

Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings 2003/2004 - time to plan ahead!

Mark your calendars for at least one of these events. This is your chance to meet your fellow travellers, share adventures and travel tips, and incidentally to help support your favourite website! We are going to try very hard to be at as many of the meetings as possible ourselves, so we hope to see you there!

2004 Meetings so far:

New Zealand, Sunday 18th January 2004

Contact for more details. "We are having the spit-roast on the beach nearby here at Amberley (Pegasus Bay to be exact) otherwise it will be here at our house. Food supplied so we need to know who is coming."

Australia 2004 in progress, date to be advised

Several people have responded to our request for volunteers, so this event is in progress. We could still use volunteers, though.

Eastern USA / Canada First Annual Meeting, North Carolina, June 18-20, 2004 NOTE DATE CHANGE!

Details to come, but Richard and Karen Fawcett and Jim and Liz Donaldson are organizing the meeting. It is on, so mark your calendars!

UK 2004, Fourth Annual Meeting, July 9-11, 2004

Get in on the fun at the 2004 Meeting! NOTE fantastic NEW Location!

Western Canada / USA, Third Annual Meeting, September 10-12 2004

Carol Palladino and Peter Cameron (RTW 2002) will be hosting this event again, in beautiful Revelstoke, BC. Some of the best riding country in the world, rides of every description, including one to a local hot spring. Watch for new location in Revelstoke. Details and signup here.

Portugal, Second Annual Meeting is planned, date not determined. Tentatively end September.

Contact Gonšalo Pais if you're interested in attending next year or helping out. If you wish to put on a slide show let us or Gonšalo know. Full Details of the 2003 event and pictures here.

Copper Canyon, Creel, Mexico, tentative date: Oct 14 - 17, 2004

Yes that's 4 days - we're extending it - too much to do and places to ride! Main 'events' will still be Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night. Planning in progress, expect lots of exciting things, trail rides, tours of the area and more. If you wish to put on a slide show let us know!

Viedma, Argentina, December 3-5, 2004 - Details coming.

Oscar Knecht, HU Viedma Community is the organizer of the meeting. Oscar's is a favourite stop with traveller's on the way to Ushuaia - if you're headed that way be sure to add this event to your plans!

See the Meetings page for more details.

Last Meetings:

Mexico - Oct. 31-Nov 2 2003 - Juan Carlos and Gerardo Ibarra organized this event, in the Copper Canyon. The meeting was fantastic! A great turnout, unbelievable on and off-road riding, beautiful scenery and great Mexican hospitality contributed to a very successful meeting. We were there, unfortunately not on the bike due to time constraints. Photos here.

Argentina - December 5-7. 2003 - Oscar Knecht of the HU Viedma Community organized this meeting, and reports: 'We are very, very happy, because all in our meeting was very good. We want to thank you both, because without your work it couldn't be possible. We had more people than we expected and they left Viedma happier than we thought too. During the time of the meeting we have all been a big family, we ate BBQs, had a few beer and some wine, we rode our motorbikes around the city and we went to see the sea lion research, and we sailed in the river on a ship'. Photos here.

Thanks to all the volunteers at all the meetings this year!

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.

Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting in New Zealand - Sunday 18th January 2004

Contact Nigel Marx for more details. "We are having the spit-roast on the beach nearby here at Amberley (Pegasus Bay to be exact) otherwise it will be here at our house. Food supplied so we need to know who is coming."

Horizons Unlimited Travellers' Meetings 2004

Lots of meetings planned for 2004 - visit the Meetings page and start your planning now! If you haven't been to one, this is your chance!

Midsummer Sunrise Tour, June 19-20 2004, Netherlands

2 days mostly unpaved road ride from Groningen in the North to Maastricht in the south. Sign up here in Dutch and English details here.

Dempster Highway 25th Anniversary, June 20-21 2004

2004 is the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Dempster Highway between Dawson City, Yukon and Inuvik at the end of the road. It's a neat gravel road of about 900 km through amazing country. It's north of the Arctic Circle enough that the sun doesn't set for quite some time in summer. I travelled that road by cycle when it first opened and plan to travel it again June 20-21 2004. I have also cycled there several times since and every June 21 seems to be a gathering of travelers, being a beautifully place as far north as the road goes in the summer. I would be glad to host a no host gathering there or at least pass on information for anyone interested in an amazing place to journey to where the sun doesn't set.
Bill Ryder, Helena Montana, USA

Big Dog Ride, August 12-15, 2004.

Details on the Big Dog site.

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

Susan has created a great Information Security and Privacy presentation that EVERYONE that uses a computer should see and pay attention to - especially if you're using internet cafes.

Bruno Valeri, Montreal Canada,

Click for more!
Cold weather riding tips

MotoMacondo, Ricardo Kuhn makes a much improved set of handlebars and mounts for R11xxGS's, using his "Pro-Taper" mount system.

Singapore has a very good page explaining all about Carnets, and a listing of which countries they are valid in. NOTE: This list SHOULD change frequently, but I don't know how well they maintain it - so do NOT assume it is perfect - ALWAYS check with your carnet issuer for the latest information.

The Internet Sidecar Owners Club has available Hal Kendall's books on sidecar safety on CD-ROM. Order from Hal, US$10 in the US, US$15 for overseas. They're also available online for free.

GPS Waypoint listing of all BMW motorcycle dealers in the States here.

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.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!
Motorcycle Express
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

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!

David Finlay, new HU Community in Chengdu, Sichuan, China;

"A friend has let me use his, until now new-ish, Chang Jiang 750, (sidevalve 1937 design BMW) with sidecar, here in Chengdu (west China). I have 'done' about 800kms so far, the bike 980kms. It's a little different from the Triumph Sprint ST I had back in Australia, but am enjoying the experience, and enjoying the motorbike. In fact am considering buying one and riding it to Europe, next spring. The sidecar is very stable at all speeds, seems to be built like a tractor and with only petrol and a spark to worry about, offers the simplicity that modern bikes lack. A new one here in China costs about 15,500rmb for a sidevalve, or 16,500rmb for OHV. I found your site through cj750.com, the Sth. African importer. I have been in China 3 years, teaching 'the English', the last year here in Chengdu, Sichuan. Should anyone visiting your site want info in relation to China, happy to help. If you are considering a trip to China, a good place to start is by reading the travel guides plus a few books like 'River Town', 'Life and Death in Shanghi', and 'Wild Swans'. cheers, David Finlay."

up to top of pagespacerRepair Shops...

Do you know of a good shop 'on the road,'

...in other words, somewhere there isn't a large number of shops? (Also of course any shop that specializes 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.

There are now 54 + shops listed in out - of - the - way places, from Abidjan to Ghana to Peru! Be sure to check out the HUBB "Repair shops around the world"  forum if you need work done!

up to top of pagespacerTech tips and bits...

BMW airheads - electronic ignition trigger canister assembly - can be repaired! Details here.

Broken one of those plastic buckles? Left with just a web loop sewn onto a bag? If you have a spare buckle, you can CUT the plastic bar that holds the buckle on with a hot knife or razor, or hacksaw blade, as narrow as possible and right in the center, and thread the webbing on. thanks to Mountain Equipment Coop for the tip! More details here.

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'd 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...

DavidMC from San Francisco, asks about buying in the UK and selling in Australia, on the HUBB:

"I am headed from Europe to Australia in early 2005, and was planning on buying my bike in the US and shipping back to the US at the end of the trip.

But shipping costs are adding up, I only plan on spending $3-5k on a bike for the trip. Would it be any better to buy a bike in Europe and just sell in Australia?

After reading many of the posts here, it sounds like selling the bike in Australia would be a big hassle and perhaps the carnet issue also, but I would probably save $2-2.5k in shipping costs. I guess the ideal situation would be to buy a bike(an Australian registered bike) from someone who rode from Australia to Europe and buy the bike from them, but I would imagine that this would be a long shot.

Has anyone had experience doing this, or is too much of a hassle? I will most likely sell the bike at the end of the trip anyway regardless of where the bike ends up... Dave "

Neva Williams from Australia asks about shipping to India:

"Has anyone flown their bike from The Hague or another city close by in the Netherlands to India."

Blackelk from Australia asks about shipping to Sri Lanka

"Has anyone out there shipped to Sri Lanka? I am planning to do so from s/e Asia probably from Thailand. Can this be done or has anyone done this? Thank you. Chris"


Plenty more questions and answers on the HU Bulletin Board! We've over 3,400 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...

Uwe Krauss and Ramona Eichhorn, Germany, around the world, KTM's,

Writing in response to the question from Kevin and Julia Sanders, UK, on Brazil licensing;

"a quick note concerning driving licenses in Brazil. In the last 3 month we entered Brazil twice (at Gujaramerim from Bolivia and Foz de Iguacu from Argentina). We were never asked for a driving license. There were no Problems with officials at all. We encountered some of the best food and some of the nicest people since our 2.5 years on the road. That means: Just go there.
Ramona & Uwe, stuck in Bolivia at the moment."

From Sandy Methven,

"We are currently in Argentina and went to the Brazilian Consulate in Buenos Aires to enquire what the position was and they informed us that all we required was our IDP. This is not 100% proof - we will see what happens at the border, but it is the best info we have at the moment. Will keep you posted and would appreciate the same if you hear otherwise."

Abdominal advice

"Montezuma's revenge, Delhi belly - call it what you like but it ain't cute. It can cause permanent damage to the intestines and stomach lining, and even kill. Health Canada recently approved Dukoral - the first and only drinkable vaccine that guards against travellers diarrhoea caused by cholera and the nasty, and most common culprit, Eschericha coli (ETEC). Two doses of this raspberry flavoured medicine provide three months of protection. With the vaccine registered in 13 countries and more than a million doses sold, it has been proved safe for seniors, adults, and children over two." Doreen Hansen

Three bicyclists and their guide kidnapped on the main route through Iran, on the BAM to Zahadan route.

See the HUBB thread for more .

From Chris Lockwood, USA/Japan, re Carnets and crashes

Chris crashed hard in Russia and broke his arm, and ended up selling his bike to a Russian. He spent a fair bit of time sorting out the paperwork, while in a hurry to get out so he could get surgery on his arm at home in Japan. I asked him about his experience with the carnet and paperwork involved in leaving a bike behind.

"Hi Grant. My injured arm is much better now. I hope to continue my travels in November or December in South America (if I can scratch up a bike in Chile or someplace). I got the money back for my carnet with no problem because it had not been stamped at all (Russia, etc. don't use the Carnet as you know). The auto club told me that if the bike is totalled in a Carnet country, you need to get proof that it is scrapped from a scrap yard. Then show that to customs in that country and have them write that information on the final page of the carnet in the "location information" area. (Sorry, I don't have my carnet any more, so I don't know what the actual name of that area is). With that, your auto club should release the carnet deposit..."

From Alec Simpson, Australia, in Iran, on money changing and credit cards

"Iranian Bank Melli .yazd. will not change USD notes less than 20. So take larger denominations than this. They prefer 100'S. Also you cannot use a credit card in any bank or shop within Iran. So what money you bring in is all you have. The Lonely Planet guide is wrong! Surprise surprise."


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!

Shipping

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, please go here, and register (or just login IF you have used this system before) and you can then submit your information. Thanks!

Travel Advisories:

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

The US State Department regularly issues updated travel advisories, information and/or warnings.

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

Lois Pryce, UK, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, in Bolivia and Chile, Yamaha XT225 Serow,

"Over the last few weeks I have received many emails enquiring about Amalia's progress and also wondering if following her serious crash in Bolivia, I would be throwing in the towel and heading for home. While her accident was indeed a shock to the system and a brutal reminder of the fragility of the human form, it never occurred to me to abandon my journey south to Tierra Del Fuego. Amalia's boyfriend arrived from London to take up the baton, and once I was sure she was in safe hands and on the road to recovery, I left La Paz with her blessing. She has now been released from hospital and will soon be flying home to London.

... I had never given much thought to the subject of altitude before, not really being a topic that crops up that often back home. Now, I was downright obsessed with it. Each time Robb and I took a break I would be peering at his GPS or bugging him with questions: 'How high did we go today? How high up are we now? What altitude is this town? That town?'. Having spent the majority of the last two months spluttering my way through the high passes of the Andes, the words 'sea level' had begun to take on an almost mythical quality - the garden of Eden, the promised land. A land where I could breathe easily again, where my shampoo bottle didn't explode on opening and where I could ride my motorcycle at the exhilarating speed of oooh... 55 miles an hour.

LLamas crossing.

A hill start on a steep street in the centre of La Paz was the final insult to the struggling Serow. Red light turned to green but the bike simply refused to budge, the engine stalling each time I attempted to pull away. Naturally, this caused much annoyance to the queue of rush hour motorists behind me who honked their horns impatiently and shouted various suggestions that, I think fortunately for me, I didn't understand. Finally, I was forced to dismount and enlist the help of a nearby street vendor to push the bike over the brow of the hill. 'Let's get down to sea level! And sharpish!' I gasped at Robb, who was in complete agreement with the idea. After all, who would want to be stuck with a riding companion boasting a top speed of 25mph (and that's going downhill with a strong wind in my favour).

Camping in the desert in Chile.

Camping in the desert in Chile

... Chile turned out to be something of a culture shock. Suddenly, life was orderly and efficient again. This was good news in many respects, it just meant that I now had to be orderly and efficient too, and to be honest, I was a little out of practice. This mainly consisted of training myself to ride without the constant use of my horn and re-acquainting myself with my indicators. Another benefit I discovered of this new found civilisation was that restaurant menus tended to reflect what was actually in the kitchen, rather than merely being a list of dishes the proprietor would like to offer in an ideal world. The fact that Chile produces some of the world's finest wines also assisted me in adapting to this new found land of plenty.

Feliz Navidad from Lois in Chile.

So it's the middle of summer here and Christmas is coming, which feels quite strange to a resident of the northern hemisphere. Robb, Rachel and I will be enjoying the festivities in the Lake District of Chile, where we are renting a little log cabin with an outdoor hot tub and views of the active volcanoes. Come the New Year, it's just another 2000 miles across the wilds of Patagonia to Tierra Del Fuego and the end of the road. Feliz Navidad! As they say round here."

Simon and Lisa Thomas, 2RideTheWorld.com, UK, around the world, R1100GS and F650GS, in Morocco,

"By 3pm we were approaching Casablanca and all the old clichés ran through our minds and our intercoms were full of 'here's looking at you kid!'

We were determined this time not to get hustled and had decided in advance to stay at the campground listed in our Lonely Planets. 'Camping L'Oasis' which the book said was just off the El Jadida road. Well, after going 18k south of Casablanca we headed back into town to make sure we hadn't missed it. Nope – not a campsite in sight!

The El Jadida road is an experience. Traffic does what it wants. Mercs' do battle with clapped out Fiats and large holes, which run right across the road test the suspension. Thrown in for good measure is several thousand people trying to cross from left to right and right to left. A good portion of these get stuck in the middle and then finally make a mad dash for it when all hope of walking is gone!

The mandatory donkey queue lines both sides of the road, and with the sprawling city so close, it still feels strange to see whole goats hung from trees whilst being skinned. The blood, which streams down to the roadside, is a stark reminder that this really is a different world.

Heading back to Casablanca we finally pulled over, risking the attention of the 'would be guides'. We needed to re-read the 'Lonely Planet'. Well, no matter how often we read it, it still said the same. We headed off again.

'Simon! Simon! I need to stop!' Lisa shouted over the Autocom. 'There's something wrong with my tyre!'

A few seconds later and we'd discovered the 'something'...a 4-inch piece of metal with a spike in the end. The spike had gone right into the tyre. Somehow Lisa's front tyre was still inflated. As we withdrew the spike we nervously awaited the bang and the hiss of escaping air – nothing! We couldn't believe our luck. Our luck stayed with us as Berrada, who'd been looking on, offered his assistance. Minutes later he'd walked back to his house, got in his car and was escorting us to the campsite. Without his help we'd still be looking.

We'll explore Casablanca a little tomorrow after sorting out our visas."

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

Canadian Wilderness Tours on an ATV (Quad Bike)

The Roughest, Toughest and Dirtiest Tour you will ever have! (No wimps or wooses please!)

Discounts for Group bookings.
Check out our website: www.ChaletCasamia.com or
Tel: (1) 705 729 5202.

Thanks!

Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, around the world, talking to the animals in Australia and Argentina, Honda Africa Twin,

Maarten cuddles a koala.

Maarten cuddles a koala in Australia

"Heading south on Ruta 40 in Argentina I was on the way to Viedma, where I had a Horizons Unlimited meeting to go to. Many motorcycle travelers should be there and I looked forward to it.

In a little town I tried to find a hospedaje. And then I saw a big bike with a lot of luggage and German plates parked in front of a little shop. Daniel and Andreas were starting their trip to Ushuaia, and when I told them about the meeting in Viedma, we decided to go together.

Sleeping under the stars in the warm night was fine, except for the part where Daniel had parked his bike on top of a thorn-bush... but after removing the thorns the next morning, no air was escaping so no harm done... except to the bush.

The plan was to go to the 7-lake route, and then cross over to the east coast to Viedma. Unfortunately, when 3 Africa twins ride together, one will have a faulty fuel pump. Since Andreas was the only one with an original Honda fuel pump, his broke down. How lucky he brought a new pump with him :-)

Maarten approaching sea elephants.

Maarten approaching sea elephants

... it struck us that we would never make it to Bariloche and then to Viedma in time for the meeting... so we skipped Bariloche and made camp in a little hosteria, met 2 interesting girls who work with Mapuchi Indians at dinner, decided to spilt up in two groups (Andreas wanted to stay in the area a bit longer) and went to sleep. So... the next day Daniel and me drove east... and Andreas drove south... we'll meet again where the land ends and the oceans meet (Tierra del Fuego).

Arriving in Viedma two days later, we could not find the right campsite... On the wrong campsite we did find Rob, an English biker, waiting for the rest to arrive. So, resuming the search with 3 bikes we found a police car. In it, we found a policeman, who had a police radio and asked his police colleagues where this camp was... and then escorted us, with flashing blue lights to it. Halfway we picked up another group of bikers (among them was Frank, who I met in San Pedro) who were also puzzled and lost. And so... 15 minutes later, 7 or 8 big bikes with a police escort entered the campsite where the meeting was going to be.

Oscar and his daughter Camila had done a great job... and still did it. Entertaining us, arranging diner, asado, pizza and everything. Slowly more bikers entered the site and soon we were the talk of the town. Many people came to take a look at those big bikes for themselves... it was fun!

The next day we had a drive to the coast... in convoy through the town. A lot of fun, and waving... Especially when another convoy of police-motorcycles came from the opposite direction... Howling sirens, flashing lights and waving and cheering... Great fun again!

Maarten cuddling a penguin in Argentina.

Maarten cuddling a penguin in Argentina

We had a very nice lunch at a sea lion colony (they were a bit smelly)... 4000 sea lions were scattered on the beach... a wonderful sight. Two penguins were recuperating in the infirmary (a little fenced off piece of ground) and we fed them fish, cuddled them (well... I did, and got very wet... but it was fun)."

Chris Smith, Australia, around Australia and on to SE Asia, KTM 640 Adventure,

"My trip started two years ago in Melbourne and ever since I have been riding and working throughout Australia. Some of the highlights have been the Flinders Ranges with it's windy offroad tracks and scenic lookouts which takes you onto one of the best rides in Australia. Another highlight in the two years of riding around Australia was completing the Oodnadatta Track and riding through the Pedirka desert...

... Seeing Uluru (no longer called Ayers Rock) in the distance while riding on Lasseters Hwy has left a great memory, also the three nights and four days I spent on The Great Central Road through the Great Victoria Desert which was also highlighted with stunning scenery and remote aboriginal communities, where I learnt how mystique and beautiful these people and their lives still are...

The ride from Broome to Derby was somewhat exciting because it meant I was almost on the Gibb River Road - a 680 km desert track and the last off road riding I will ride in Australia for this trip. This track took me through to Windjana Gorge National Park were I spent my first night on the Gibb River Road. It was quite a spectacular site ranging from it's grand natural wall of stone as you enter the park to it's fresh water crocodiles and bird life ...I reached Manning Gorge. It is spectacular there amongst the many gorges on the Gibb River Road, and I spent the day there and woke early the next day to be able to ride through to my next spot. After waking to find all my food had been eaten by some hungry crows, it was a bit of a kick to the guts as I had only limited food for the ride. This meant I would have to stock up at the next road house - which I knew would cost a bomb - but you gotta eat!

...rode through to Gregory's Jump Up and the road took on a new shape. This section was much more hilly and windy so it made for a great day of riding...The road through to the Elquestro Station turn off was just magic. Riding through the Cockburn Ranges was the highlight of the Gibb River Road. When I arrived at the Elquestro Station, I still had another 120kms to ride until I was off the track. But it felt like I had finished the track. Elquestro station I found to be a little to confronting for the area with its $1000 a night lodges (and that was just the starting rate). I still enjoyed a beer there and set up my tent for $25 a night, as the $1000 a night rooms were a little out of my price range. In this area of the Elquestro Station, I enjoyed many of the gorges and hot springs they have to offer. However, I found the Emma Gorge to be most spectacular and would be even better in the wet season. I rode from there to the turn off to Kunnunurra and felt excited and proud that I had finished the last desert track of my trip. My KTM 640 Adventure didn't miss a beat the whole way and I have been very happy with it's performance. It was then onto sealed road for the first time in almost a week. I sat on a comfortable 120 kms to Kunnunurra...on to Katharine Gorge and then into Litchfield National Park. My final destination has been Darwin. From here I will be shipping out to South East Asia in November/December. I will fill you all in on the stories and the ride as I go..."

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

"...got into Panang three days ago and retrieved my bike at Guans Workshop (brother of Sunny from Kuala Lumpur). I guess you could say that riding Asia has been a divine pleasure, since I've stayed here riding the last four years, however this will be a farewell tour before shipping the bike out of here finally and on to the South American Continent.

Breakdown in the Philippines

The plan is to head across Thailand for the fourth time and back into Laos and Cambodia where I plan to do a photo essay on a lot of dirt tracks, roads and border crossings that have recently opened up. (It seems that the mine clearing efforts over the years have been successful and that at least some of these new tracks are quite safe if you don't wonder too far off them.) One of the things I hope to photograph is a lot of the victims of these mine explosions and the clean-up campaign that is a driving force in modern day Cambodia. I'll do the Plain of Jars and and rural Loas all the way up to the Chinese border and arrive hopefully in Northern Thailand for Bike Week..."

Andy Miller, UK, and Heidi Volgger, Switzerland, in Iceland, KTM LC8 950 and BMW F650GS,

"Heidi, my best friend and travel partner, had asked me 'Hey Andy do you want to go to Iceland with me?' How could I refuse such an offer, having had such a great time in Canada and Alaska last year together?

We rode up to Scotland, some 700kms. From Aberdeen we boarded our first of two ferries to gain access to Iceland, this was an overnight ferry of 12 hours to the Shetland isles (U.K). 32 hours from leaving the Shetlands we arrived in Iceland, with only a 3-hour stop at Torshavn (Faroes). Weather still good at the port of Seydisfjordur (west coast). Our route was to start heading north in a counter clockwise direction taking in all there was to see. Iceland is basically an oval shaped island and has only one real paved road! Highway 1 runs around the outside of the island, this is still only 90% paved.

Heidi Miller in Iceland.

Heidi Volgger in Iceland

The riding was fast paced but great fun most of the time we stayed to the off road piste this could be taken at a good speed. 50% of our time here we were blessed with rain which was good after speaking to others just leaving the island said it had rained all 3 weeks there. All the glacial rivers were high thus making crossing sometimes a no go zone, well for us anyway. Heidi had wanted to do a river crossing on her 650 GS but had decided to give up, as some of these were up to and more than a metre and flowing.

The scenery was mixed - one minute green fields and sheep then up and over a mountain onto what can only be described as a lunar landscape. In fact a place in the centre of Iceland called Askja was the training ground for the US astronauts. It's also home to the highest mountain some 1510 meters.

Lunar landscape in Iceland.

Lunar landscape in Iceland

... there is a natural thermal pool in Myvatn right on the side of the road and cost nothing to get in unlike the blue lagoon in Reykjavik this being where all the tourists are.

The north of the country was great and I found the south to be a bit of a let down, until we came across Vatnajokull, Europe's largest glacier! Man this was huge it could be seen from the road for over 20kms!

Spending the night at one of the guest houses on the way, we decided to take in the what was then the frozen lake in which the James bond film 'Die another day' was shot, the scene of the car chase on a frozen lake. It was just around the corner of this lake that I was trying to get as close with my bike to the glacier as possible when at 1km I lost my footing while doing a U turn and promptly dropped my 950 KTM. Worth the photo.

Dropped KTM in Iceland.

Nothing could have prepared us for the amazing beauty of this country and it's people; they have one of the highest standards of living in the world. In general they appear to be very kind and friendly people always wishing to please their guests, whether they be in a gas station or a top restaurant.

Camping was our preferred choice of accommodation if the weather was good and if not a guesthouse, these were very good value for money if sharing. They had all the facilities one needs to cook etc, and sometimes a garage for the bikes. These would cost on average 15 pounds sterling.

Gas was cheaper than the UK (but where isn't)? As for the food, most of it is imported from all over the world except for fish - they have plenty of that, fruit and vegetables were not so good but quite acceptable considering, but the cost made it unappealing to the eye. If you like your beer, think before you drink, a small bottle 330ml will cost on average four pounds sterling!

Iceland in a word is just an awesome country for such a small place; it has many different scenes, lunar landscapes, waterfall after waterfall, lava fields, mountains, glaciers and volcanoes. The best of Iceland was in the interior where it gets more serious off roading. We managed to see what we wanted to and more, but three weeks would have been better. It's on my list to return with a few mates on dirt bikes, but no camping, just hotels. Cheers Andy."

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Kai Grimmel, Germany and Ulrike Teutriene, Germany, on their way to Australia, in Romania, on BMW R1100 GS and BMW F650,

Kai Grimmel and Ulrike Teutriene.

Kai Grimmel and Ulrike Teutriene

"When we crossed the Romanian border, lifestyle and landscape changed quite a lot. First you notice the open fields even next to the main transit routes. Second there are many places that are abandoned and derelict, especially old industrial sites. In the German media the image of Romania is dominated by poverty and roaming gangs of thieves crossing the border.

But the reality we saw was of people rebuilding their houses and their communities. There is construction work here and there, new petrol stations, garages with brand new tyre-changing equipment, huge shopping centres and friendly and open people everywhere...

We were heading for the Fagaras Mountains between Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Brasov (Kronstadt) which are part of the Carpathian Range. In the town of Fagaras we went to the local Tourist Information Centre. With a fresh hiking map and free tour tips in our luggage we went back to the junction where the Transfagaras Road meets the main highway. This masterpiece of Ceausescu's civil engineers is a winding mountain road with great views over the plains. In early June the road had not yet been cleared since winter and some rocks and trees were partially blocking our way. At the top of the pass we met the 'street gang' who had just finished clearing the tunnel of ice. A quick shot of homemade vodka and a snapshot for their album and off they went...

The next morning we were woken by bright sunshine and, full of energy, we decided to hike to the Negoiu Hut (1564 m) over the Fagaras Ridgeway. Regina told us that we would reach the hut in 8 to 9 hours, but getting reliable information is difficult because this area is not often travelled anymore. The tracks are lacking sign posts and proper map reading becomes an essential capability. The mountain scenery is dramatic and we rested at various spots to enjoy the panoramas."

Chris Bright, UK, has become a movie star <well, sort of... > in India, Enfield

"Bollywood called and I answered! Yep, I'm a star in their new movie called 'Yaara', which is one of the Hindi words for 'Friend'. It is about an Indian lad who meets a western girl and falls in love, follows her from Mandi to Kullu to Manali to Leh in Ladakh, finds the meaning of life etc etc. I played neither the Indian man, nor the girl, but Britney was standing centre-scene (filmed in Old Manali) and I rode a Rumanian chap's shiny chopper looking Enfield through the scene, called another fellow over and chatted for 20 or 30 seconds about whatever, shook his hand and drove off. The fortunate or unfortunate thing is that you only ever saw the back of my head. The film is scheduled to be released next March or April.

... After Whiskey, Driving Risky - The road sign said it: Don't consume any Johnny Walker Red and attempt to negotiate an Indian road along with all the other professional road users. Other street signs included: Better Mr late, than the late Mr... Stop gossiping, let him drive... Be gentle on my curves... On my curves, don't lose your nerves... Apologies for Ohhh Ahhh Ouch... There shall be no accidents today... And my favourite: When the going get's touch, the tough get going (remember the Billy Ocean song?)

One thing you must know. Fully loaded 15bhp 350cc Enfields are no good at riding up waterfalls. This one was a glacial run off coming down a road with about a 40 degree incline. Big boulders and about half a metre of water depth. I made it half way up and got stuck. Luckily there was a car stuck at the top (about 1 vehicle per hour passed me!) and the occupants gave me a push. Then again, they had no choice, because I was blocking the road!"

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Simon and Georgie McCarthy, UK to Asia, in Iran, BMW R100GS and Enfield,

"Before crossing the border from Pakistan into the far south of Iran we had to get Georgie into fancy dress. Everyone knows that the country insists that women wear 'the veil', but what that actually means is not at all clear. We had received mixed messages about the dress code and how much flesh/body shape she could show...

The common theme seemed to be 'wear baggies and some form of head and neck covering'. So to save money, indignity and stupidity (like wearing a trench coat in 44 Celsius weather) we decided to spend as little as possible before hitting Iran; once there we'd buy what the local women were wearing. All we had to do was get across the border without being turned back for indecency. To this end we bought a hejab ('nuns on the bike run') to go over her head and neck.

So we crossed the border with Georgie wearing my pyjama top (the baggiest thing on earth), baggy hiking trousers and hejab. No complaints and no laughs; only a 'boil-in-bag' Georgie, gently simmering.

Gently simmering - Florence of Arabia.

Gently simmering - Florence of Arabia

Georgie in Iran

... We were delighted to find that ice cream parlours are popular, but crushed when we found that the ice creams are all heavily flavoured with rose water, making even the chocolate coloured ices synthetically perfumed. On the up side though, there is always a plentiful supply of black or mint tea, and the fruit was superb, especially the grapes and plums. When we arrived in Bam we discovered that it is famous for its dates; the place is full of date palms with red dates ripening. But they were not in season and the dried dates were so sweet that you could only eat one before needing a gallon of tea to wash it down.

Bam citadel - everything built from mud and straw.

Bam citadel - everything built from mud and straw

... The other attraction of Bam is the old town and citadel (fort). The place is hundreds of years old and only made from unbaked adobe (mud and straw). This says a lot about the climate! It's an amazing sight, but we were surprisingly un-amazed. And we had the same feeling when we visited other sites in Iran. JADED! We had been out on the road for too long, losing the will to see the '10 million and tenth amazing thing', and lacking the energy to deal with and enjoy interactions with challenging locals. I was tired of trying to work places out, just getting one place 'sussed' before moving onto another, even more confounding place: I wanted to live a simple, obvious life for a while. We both knew that it was time to go home, so our itinerary in Iran got butchered, bypassing places of minor interest, leaving only the juiciest morsels to tempt our spoilt palates."

Ed. Simon and Georgie are safely home now, but unfortunately, Bam has been virtually destroyed by an earthquake. See News section :-(

Rayko Moritz, Germany, at the Mongolian border with China

"Our visas are expiring, so at the border village of Zamyn Uud we want to look for a Mongolian truck, that will carry our motorcycles, declared as transit goods, through the border. By this we can, like normal tourists, cross the border... While searching for a truck driver we meet Albrecht, Heiko and Roland. The 3 Germans are supposed to construct here a petrol - diesel refilling/changing station, because the tracks of the Mongolian and Chinese rail road systems are different. After lunch we get an exclusive inspection of the German-Mongolian construction site. Our visas will expire tomorrow, but we are astonishingly calm.

And so together with our new friend Albrecht I hunt in his Jeep over sand dunes to some truck drivers. We collect some telephone numbers to be well prepared for the next, last visa day. We keep Albrecht quite busy, but our presence seems to be a welcome change from his daily routine on his construction site...

At last we find a truck ...Together we load the bikes by using a small sand hill as ramp on the truck."

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Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, touring Australia, on a Harley-Davidson,

"12/11/03. Two months to the day since we left the motorcycle in San Francisco it was available to us at the wharf in Sydney. Shipped with the other 300 Australian Harley-Davidson's returning after the 100th anniversary.

Staying at Kay's mother's unit and using the facilities of her cousin Philip's workshop we started work on the motorcycle. Not a mechanic at heart it was relieving to see the motorcycle reshape itself back to a whole bike this morning as the last jobs were completed.

Repacked the motorcycle, leaving unnecessary items at Kay's mum's. A thank you lunch at the old Goulburn Brewery and with Philip and Tanya (also Harley riders), in rain, we were on the road, well a short hop to Peter's mums place in Canberra.

18/11/03 - We left this morning, I guess the beginning of our Australian trip. Heading north towards Sydney we peeled off onto the Old Hume Highway. The road we always travelled on to visit our Sydney relatives at Easter or Christmas. As we crossed the state border from NSW to Queensland, a less conservative state, traffic increased it's speeds free of electronic monitoring big brother. Into Brisbane to stay with our oldest son John.

Kay and friends in the septic tank.

Ingenious Aussie hot tub... an ex-septic tank...

... A job carries with it a certain status and with it a social expectation level. Factory workers rent houses in poorer neighbourhoods while doctors drive expensive cars and live in big houses, it's the pigeon holing expectation. We visited our doctor friend on his 50 hectare property at the edge of town but instead of a big house he and his wife have chosen to live in a motley of 3 caravans, two transportable dongas and five shipping containers. With electricity from a generator for a few hours a day and a can toilet, living is spartan. Still the place is quiet for reflection, people rarely drop by and a sea breeze flaps the caravan tarp keeping the place cool. We took a dip in a previous septic tank, now cleaned and used as a swim, spa, cooling pond and sipped champagne in the evening surrounded by bird noises, watching the sunset and the moon rise..."

Ed. The Forwood's have been to 143 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North and South America. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host their entire trip story here.

Simon Milward, UK, around the world, in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, home built ROTAX,

"Motorcyclists in Paraguay have a solution to the problem of corrupt policemen - have them sacked. President Josemaria Silva Alonso of the Nomadas Motorcycle Club explains that the club used legitimate means to collect evidence and followed legal processes to have the offending police officers fired. Corrupt policemen throughout South America often see motorcyclists as an easy target. Riders in other Latin countries should try the Paraguay solution.

Paraguay is an ace little place. From the moment of crossing the river in the ferry from northern Argentina I had hospitality showered on me. I spent two nights at the ship-discotech of David, who walks around with his leather mate ('matay' a sort of herb tea) kit. Mate drinking is a continuous daily activity in Paraguay. Men hold their hot water bottle and mate cup (with stainless steel drinking straw) a little like a handbag, or pet. Many drink it cold.

I met quite a number of the local bikers as well as visiting their rally down south in Ayolas where I received a plaque on behalf of the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations. In particular Carlos Mazo, who previously created the bike club Nomadas MC and, it turns out, is deeply motivated on both the issues of my Millennium Ride. It was his doing that got the 120 corrupt policemen sacked, an idea we passed on to other motorcycle groups in Latin America. We met the Ministry of Health together to speak about motorcycles in delivering basic health services to rural areas. Carlos had proposed this solution to them 5 years ago, but because of ministry prejudice the idea was not adopted. Anyway now they urgently need 200 motorcycles. Carlos seemed to have many solutions, like 50 sponsors for 50 motorcycles, but time will tell if we can put them into action for the poorest Paraguayans...

Police in Argentinean Chaco, a massive flat dry expanse covering much of northern Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, presented the most blatant attempts at corruption that I have witnessed on my journey. The first tried to issue a 'multa' (fine) because I had no fire extinguisher. The second, not an hour later, demanded money because I had no white sheet. The sheet is used to cover you up after a fatal accident and is compulsory for motorcyclists! The mere mention of a multa now instantly renders me in a fit of apoplexy, the perfectly indignant Englishman threatening to call the consulate and flatly refusing to accept the fine. Sometimes the cops leave it at that. If more persuasion is needed I bring out the health by motorbike card and threaten to stop activities in their country. The third Argentine policeman gave up all pretense of a fine and resorted to outright begging after he saw that I was no easy target. I should have given him something for his straightforwardness.

Here in Brazil the word is also multa, and a traffic cop wanted $60 for no daytime headlight. Make my day, I thought. I flatly refused to accept it and eventually had to use the health card. They know what they can do with their fines."

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Fun times in Bolivia...

Dave and Sam, UK, around the world, in Bolivia, KTM 640,

Oct 12, 2003: "The peasants are revolting - no seriously, we are in La Paz in Bolivia and the town is under siege. Tried to leave this morning but all roads blocked. Military with teargas etc. The services are being cut and we are stocking up with grub. Wish you were here."

16 October: "Looks and sounds like the majority of the population are heading to la Paz, including the coca farmers. Have been advised by the embassy not to leave the hotel and to gather food and rations. Airport completely unserviceable and evacuation unlikely. Anyone want to buy a KTM (in Bolivia)? Fully set up for overland travel. Will accept credit card.
Dave and Sam"

From Frank Schwarzbauer, Germany, living in Bolivia, and HU Bolivia Travellers Meeting organiser,

"Hi Grant, Situation in LP is getting worse, now we have more than 80 dead and the city and the government are in chaos. The Vice-president said 'I have nothing more to do with the government', one minister said 'See you!' and the President seems as if he has no clue about what is really going on. Nobody can leave or enter the city, we have no more petrol or bread since yesterday.

I have received unfortunately first 'Sorry we will not come'-mails. And I cannot say anything against such a decision. Those who still like to come are warned by me to ask the current condition before entering this "lovely" country. I really do not want somebody stuck between the crazy drunken Indians.

I thought it would go over quickly, but now we are close to another rebellion. I still think everything will be fine in November, but for certain reasons I am not sure - 'it smells different' this time.

The safest place in LP is the part where all the militaries live - we are in their middle!"

Ed. Comment: Unfortunately in the end, even though things had settled down, the event was cancelled, as everyone had rerouted and changed their plans. Next year! Dave and Sam and others who were there were all ok, no problems reported.

October 19: "Here's the news: Our President went out to Miami with his closest ministers and will not come back. I do not think that this is the way democracy should function, but we are back to peace with a new President, who will have ministers who are not member of any party.

Life is totally back to normal. Interesting to "feel" it. Because like after a thunderstorm, the air is fresh and clean. All the best, Frank"

Ed. Comment: So Bolivia is once again good to travel in! Lois Pryce, Robb McElroy, Amalia Zimmerman and a few others ended up at Frank's anyway.

Andreas Voelker, Germany, Americas, in Argentina and Chile, R1100GS

"We left Tierra del Fuego, using the Ferry from Porvenir to Punta Arenas. The ferry needs 2.5 hours for sailing From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales it's 250km to go on a paved road. Tierra del Fuego is an island, you have to use a ferry to go there. On our way to the south we took the ferry that sails from Punta Delgada to Fireland.

The first night we spent at the Camping Municipal in Cerro Sombrero. C. Sombrero is a tiny village, but at least it had a gas station and a small mercado. The next day we had to pass the border to Argentina again, which was no problem. In Rio Grande we found a great hostel (Hotel Argentina). As everybody was very tired the next day, we decided to stay one more day.

Group photo in front of Hotel Argentina in Rio Grande..

Group photo in front of Hotel Argentina in Rio Grande. From left to right: Christian, Andreas, Melanie, Rainer

Ushuaia - the southernmost city in the world. It's a two hours ride from Rio Grande to Ushuaia. I liked the landscape and scenery very much. As we arrived Ushuaia, we went to the tourist information, and soon we found a nice place to stay: the hostel Patagonia Pais has safe parking for motorcycles and very friendly owners. On our way to the tourist information we met the two Swiss girls from the Peninsula Valdez again and in the evening we had a BBQ together. Heaven on Earth ;-)

Heaven on Earth.

Heaven on Earth ;-)

On our way down south we visited Los Angeles, Chillan, Temuco. Spent several days as well at the Pacific Ocean as in the national parks in the mountains. We visited to botega Miguel Torres and Rafael climbed the Vulcano Villarica.

One of the highlights of this part of the journey was our stay in the Hostel La Torre Suiza in Villarica, where we spent several days and met nice people."

Ed. For more stories, see Andreas' blog here on Horizons Unlimited.

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Richard Parkinson and Lisa Godfery, New Zealand, UK to NZ, in Pakistan and India, Yamaha TDM850,

"After returning down the KKH to Gilgit we decided to brave another cold valley and rode up to Khapulu, past Skardu. Despite being the only road link into disputed territories with India, the road here is worse than the KKH, being mostly one lane, very rough and cut into the cliff above a river running through a gorge. It's a manic days ride with blind bends that have crazy truck drivers appearing just where you don't want them.

Broken shock mount - click for a TDM850 Lowrider

We covered 230km in 6 hours after which Rich was exhausted but we were treated to a spectacular vista at the end.

We headed to Peshawar, home of the legendary Pathans, one of the largest tribal societies in the world. They are known for both their incredible hospitality, extended without question to all strangers and guests and their long running blood feuds, whereby a Pathan must avenge any insult against himself, his family or his tribe if he is to retain his honour. The bazaars of the Old City combine an amazing mix of Afghani, Baluchi and Pathan cultures and I had been looking forward to doing some shopping. I was disappointed however as everything was closed for Eid (end of Ramadan celebrations) for 3 days so we were unable to see much.

Lisa finds shade in the desert.

Lisa finds shade in the desert

Next stop Islamabad where we enjoyed the hospitality and ex-pat luxury of Ian Robinson (who we linked up with on the Horizons Unlimited website). Finally the border - another one with no baksheesh and no delays. The Indian customs guys asked us to take our luggage packs off the bike so they could put them through the scanner but Rich said it was too much hassle and took too long. Would they like to look in the boot and tank bag instead? 'Yes, certainly sir, and would you like some chai'?

Petrol station in desert.

Petrol station in desert

Despite being the middle of December, we were yet again drawn to the mountains for the International Himalayan Festival at McLeod Ganj, home of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan community in exile. It's touristy but a laid back place to hang out and we were treated to some fantastic displays of music, dancing and culture. It felt like being on holiday in India with none of the madness, and was not nearly as cold as northern Pakistan, being only 1730m.

We stayed for 6 nights enjoying the vibe and Tibetan friendliness before being forced south by the approach of winter. We have been staying on the outskirts of Delhi with Lisa Roberts and Harvey Gordon-Sawyers in their beautiful apartment. Tomorrow we will be back on the road for what feels like the true start of our Indian adventure and 3 months of craziness."

Ed. For more stories, see Richard and Lisa's blog here on Horizons Unlimited

Jan Marc Staelens, Australia and USA, in Mexico, on Suzuki DR400,

"...this trip has truly surpassed my expectations. Mexico is an incredibly beautiful and fascinating country. Basically it's an enormous playground for on- & off-road motorcyclists, nature fans, and culture and history buffs.

I am still at the home of my good friend and riding companion Juan Carlos Ibarra in Valle de Bravo (who together with Grant and Susan Johnson and his brother Gerardo co-hosted the HU Meeting in Creel which I attended).

We arrived here on Monday a week ago, after 8 days of solid riding. My butt was saddle-sore, and I sure was glad to get off the bike for some R&R. The ride down here was spectacular. We visited several old 'silver' cities (Zacatecas, Guanajuato) on the way inland from Mazatlan and the Spanish colonial architectural heritage was very impressive. The ride from Creel to Alamos through the canyons (via Urique, Temoris, Chinipas) was an unforgettable experience. It's almost unreal how beautiful and rugged the landscapes are.

This trip ranks among the best rides I have ever done, and I have done quite a few in more than 25 years of bike traveling. Riding the canyons was quite challenging, as the tracks were not in good shape. The slopes were steep and deep ruts, which tend to run diagonally across the track just to make the riding a bit more interesting, carved up the gravel-strewn tracks. Negotiating these obstacles required constant attention, in particular in the corners and the steep parts, where bike wheels have a tendency to drift towards the lowest parts, the dreaded ruts which you are trying hard to avoid. Especially tricky was approaching corners on a steep downhill, as the loose gravel acted like marbles. Applying the brakes hence became a balancing act on marbles, as it would often result in locking both wheels, making the bike slide at undiminished speed to the edge of the track, bordered by a ravine of dizzying depths or a solid rock wall of a hardness which I was not interested in measuring. More than once I ended up going sideways into the corner speedway style, hoping that the front wheel wouldn't wash out. It was good adrenaline-pumping fun, although a couple of times I scared myself sliding further and closer to the edge than what I considered good for my longevity. After a few of these hair-raising experiences I decided to slow down, as I had no intention to end up with brown skid-marks in my g-string.

Yesterday Juan Carlos and I, together with Sidney Lewis, the local Yamaha/Kawasaki dealer, went enduro riding in the mountains surrounding the lake. Apart from being a really nice guy, Sidney is also very generous, as he lent me a 2003 Yamaha WR450 for the day. This bike was absolutely awesome, it handled the worst dirt road situations beyond my (dis)belief! Of course the bike's capabilities of handling tricky situations far surpasses my rusty off-road riding skills, as my enduro riding days date back to the 80's and early 90's in Africa. But boy did I have fun! Sidney was on a 2003 Yamaha YZ250, a 2-stroke mx-bike, and boy did he know how to ride the thing!

Sidney was very interested in our stories about riding in the Copper Canyon and the HU meeting, and he is interested in attending next year's meeting in Creel.

... OK, signing off here, time to apply antiseptic cream on my blisters (small price to pay for the enduro fun). Oh no, wait, I just heard two bikes arriving and opened the door to see Leah (GB) and Dominic (Ireland) entering the driveway. They are a couple of Horizonistas who were also at the HU meeting in Creel. They're both riding KLR650s from Alaska to Ushuaia. So time for a cup of tea and some catching up... Marc"

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Tour Africa with the experts - somewhere between heaven and hell.

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Daniel Schaller, Switzerland, to Asia, in India, Yamaha XT600E,

"...I got my portion of snow and mud anyway up on the road from Skardu to Aristor. The road was so bad you could only advance by two kilometers an hour. At some river crossings I got wet feet and several times I had to unload my luggage to lift the rear wheel out of the mud. And this at an altitude above 4000m where there is some melting snow lying around. As the night came the road and my feet started to freeze and I just told myself never again...

Muddy roads at 4000m are not relaxing.

Muddy roads at 4000m are not relaxing.

Sick of the mountains I returned to Islamabad to get my Indian visa. To do some good to my stomach I went to Pizza Hut. A warden in front of the restaurant made me feel my bike is safe on the restaurant's parking. It stayed there even as I went around in the surroundings. But as I got back in the evening it had disappeared. Panic. Soon Pizza Hut's Manager showed up and told me the police got it. Shortly after I found the police station and the bike. Relief. But they broke up the steering lock and the Bomb Disposal Department searched through my aluminium boxes, breaking them up as well. I was quite upset and tried to find the responsible person but with no success. I even couldn't go back to the youth hostel straightforward; I had to convince them first that the bike is mine. So after one month in Pakistan it was really time now to get to India. This is where I am actually and I couldn't find any of Pakistan's paranoia yet here in India.

In theory they know.

In theory they know...

I just want to ask you a little question: when can you call a trip a RTW trip. If I get to Australia and manage to get back to Europe somehow by road, can I call this RTW? Or do I have to have ridden all continents?"

Ed. Comment: You don't have to have ridden all continents to claim a RTW trip. Last I heard, Guinness' Book of Records requires that you cross the Equator twice and cover 24,900 or so road miles (40,075km) - and go in one direction - approximately, so any form of "around" the world is ok.

up to top of pagespacerBooks

One Year on the Road, Cinq Continents en Moto, by Manou Emringer and Ellen Spencer, in English and French. "This travelogue illustrated with over 400 photos follows their journey through North and South America, West Africa, Europe and Asia."

Available only through Manou and Ellen directly. Don't forget to tell them where you heard about it. It's a very nice book, well done - I have one! Grant

From Nordkapp to Cape York on a Motorcycle, by Werner Bausenhart. Werner, 66, was born in Germany and worked in Canada until his retirement. He has authored a number of books since getting bit by the motorcycle travel bug, including 8 Around the Americas by Motorcycle, Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle, and Africa Against the Clock on a Motorcycle.

Werner's latest book describes his travels from Nordkapp to Australia overland, and back to Canada to complete the RTW trip. Should be an inspiration to any of you who have been thinking you're too old to go around the world on a motorcycle!

All his books are available directly from Werner. 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.

Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, by Neil Peart

A review by Steve Hornung:

"I just finished reading a book that anyone who loves riding or has had loss in their lives will relate to. It is called "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road"... by Neil Peart. If the name sounds familiar it is because he is the accomplished drummer for the band Rush. The book however deals very little with his rock life. Do not buy the book to get a backstage view of a rockers life. What the book deals with is how Peart got through a devastating series of tragic losses in his life. In the time frame of a year his daughter was killed in a car wreck. His wife essentially died of a broken heart over the daughters loss, and to top it off his dog died too. After time stewing in his own misery he chose to find if he could find a way back to life. He chose to try activities that he formerly loved to see if he could still find any happiness in this world. His first step as an avid motorcyclist was to get his BMW R1100GS and travel down what he calls the "Healing Road". Over... 14 months Peart rode 55,000 miles through his homeland Canada as well as the United States, Mexico and Belize. The book is written in a mix of a biography style as well as letters from the road to friends. His descriptions of loss are heartbreaking, and will have you asking how would I react to such a series of losses in my life. I learned a bit about life and death from Peart. This book is not all on a down note though. It has terrific descriptions of scenery and roads that he traveled. It is an interesting insight into a motorcyclists travels as well as a course in human spirits ability to rebound from misery. It will entertain and teach on a number of levels. I recommend this book highly. The tales this book tells will remain with you long after the last page is turned. Steve Hornung, Hixson, TN

NOTE: If you buy the book - or any book - starting with one of our links as below, we get a little bit to help support the website!

buy from Amazon USA buy from Amazon UK buy from Amazon Deutschland Shop at Amazon Canada

The Producers of Mondo Enduro present Terra Circa, Around the World by Motorcycle (6 x 20 minute episodes).

Regular readers of this newsletter will remember Terra Circa's adventures around the world, and especially the Zilov Gap. Now's your chance to see it in video. Austin Vince is a very funny guy and the video is hilarious, as he leads his intrepid crew through misadventure after misadventure.

"This is adventure motorcycling" says Chris Scott, who wrote the book, so he ought to know!

Contact Terra Circa video distributors for the PAL video or all format DVD. Don't forget to tell them where you heard about it.

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, Amazon Canada, 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...

Quotes from British newspapers:

"Commenting on a complaint from a Mr Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for North Westgas said, "We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It's possible Mr Purdey has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, Because they cannot issue a description. It's a Special Branch vehicle and they don't want the public to know what it looks like." (The Guardian)

"A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth was rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coastguard spokesman commented, 'This sort of thing is all too common.'" (The Times)

"At the height of the gale, the harbourmaster radioed a coastguard on the spot and asked him to estimate the windspeed. He replied he was sorry, but he didn't have a gauge. However, if it was any help, the wind had just blown his Land Rover off the cliff." (Aberdeen Evening Express)

up to top of pagespacerQuotable Quotes...

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Marcel Proust

"Planning? You mean I'm supposed to plan this trip? Well, I was planning to start off in McAllen Tx because that's where my parents stay for the winter. Then I head south. When I come to a fork in the road, I take it."
John (kcfire) Kennedy, USA

up to top of page Some nice comments...

"No doubt about it: This is the best site! Grant, Susan and all others, Thanks!"
Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, currently RTW

"Hey, This'll get your mind out of 'reality' and back into travel where it belongs."
Porter Watson

"Merry Xmas & a big thank you from an almost daily visitor. You have created the arguably most useful resource for bike travellers. Keep it up!"
Peter & Jenny Hendricks

Thanks for the kind words, and for your support, Peter and Jenny!

"It is a great site! Happy to have found (stumbled across) it."
John Pettinari, USA

"We miss your awesome e-zine! 2 months without it is a pain!"
Renate and Gino, Germany

"Merry Christmas, thanks for maintaining the great website."
Michael Moore, Canada (PanEuropean)

You're very welcome, and thanks for your support, Michael!

"I had a great time at the HU meeting (in Ulmarra). Great dirt roads to get there, met up with some good friends, made several new friends and enjoyed lots of interesting conversations. Ken and Carol (and others) did a great job. I think the same time and same place next year is an excellent suggestion. Cheers"
Tink, Brisbane, Australia

"Many thanks to all of you who helped and advised during my recent x-usa trip. Its great to know that there's always someone to help and advise. I can honestly say that its highly likely the trip would not have gone ahead without the support of this forum! Thanks!"
David Lomax, UK

"Dear Ricardo (Rocco), Compliments of the season. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of myself and the many other Horizonistas from around the globe for the generous assistance you have provided us all when in Ecuador. You are a great ambassador for motorcycling. Feliz Navidad. P.S. Compliments also to Grant & Susan whose foresight and hard work created the organisation that brought us all together."
Ralph Green, HU Melbourne Community

"My friends and me have spent 2 years planning this trip around backpacking advice and are now realizing how stupid that was. The friends I'm travelling with have done some motorcycle travel, but very little, and me no motorcycle travel at all. I discovered this site about a month ago and since then I've been spending every free moment I can here."
Captain Tim, Canada

"Lots of thanks to Grant and Susan for all the information and inspiration I have gotten from your site (hey you should put that on your next batch of t-shirts 'information and inspiration'. But seriously, I don't know if I'd be here right now if I hadn't spent so much time at work reading your site instead of doing my job!"
Pete Corboy, USA, around the world

"In response to all your questions, can only give one answer: HorizonsUnlimited.com. Wish I had visited the site before I left..."
Chris Bright, UK, RTW 1999-2002

"Thank you very much for your website. It is wonderful. We are travelling in south east Asia on a Vespa We have been to Thailand, Laos, Malaysia in the past months. Thanks for your help."
Chevalier Emmanuel, France

"Susan: Thank you and I want to express my recognition for such good work you are doing, all this helps in creating the feeling of brotherhood that all motorcyclists share, all this made me feel that I am not a loner, I found that there are a lot of adventurous two wheel souls that make connection through your HUBB. By the way we as Mexicans have a lot of respect for women for their role as foundation for the family, you made me feel under your protecting hand, I will keep you posted on my endeavour."
Alfonso Jimenez, Mexico

"Horizonsunlimited.com is probably the best starting point for info on a lot of things regarding international motorcycle travel and shipping etc. They have a good section on the costs and experiences of shipping between just about anywhere and anywhere"
Shane Dwyer, Australia

"Just a note to say thanks for the hard work. It must be close to a year since I last sent you some money, so I just did it again. It's money well spent, and I wish you all the best with the site. Kind regards."
Nigel Marx, New Zealand

You're very welcome, and we appreciate your support, Nigel!

"I am an Englishman who has lived in Switzerland for 14 years. Was a biker in England during 1960's, 70's and 80's (lots of oily jeans etc, but good vibrations). Now taken it up again in Switzerland (Africa Twin). It's as wonderful as ever! Thanks Grant & Susan, the website is superb and VERY helpful. All best wishes."
Steve Gisler, UK

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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' Ezine - Copyright 1999-2003, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan Johnson. All rights reserved.

Redistribution - sending it on to friends 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 pagespacerNews Items...

Earthquake in Bam...

Bastienne Wentzel and Erwin Voogt from the Netherlands posted this message on the HUBB on 28 Dec:

'We visited Bam the day after the earthquake. We have the following important messages:
- The city is really completely destroyed, there is hardly a single house left.
- The main road which passes by the city is unaffected and travel from Kerman to Zahedan is no problem by car/motorbike or by public transport.
- Please do not visit Bam unless you are completely self-sufficient. There is no accommodation or food available for visitors.

We spoke to Mr. Akhbar of Akhbar Tourist Guest House. The guesthouse is a big heap of rubble. Nine tourists were staying there when the earthquake happened. According to Mr. Akhbar one of them died; a British man of around 30 years named Gavin (or Kevin?) traveling on an Enfield, bought in Nepal, back to Europe.

Mr. Akhbar and his family are relatively alright and is happy to receive any supporting words from his guests. (if you can locate him between the mess that was once Bam).

Pictures we took are posted on our website. Thanks for your support and cooperation"

31 Dec - Kemal Altay, Turkey, writes: 'Unfortunately, its been confirmed. Today I read in the newspapers that Gwen Sexton (38 - British) lost his life in the earthquake. His body has been retrieved by the British rescue team who came as int. help.'

Ed. Comment: Anyone wishing to help out should contact the Red Cross or Red Crescent. Unfortunately, there isn't any local infrastructure left through which to donate directly to Mr. Akhbar. Also, we have no contact info for Gwen Sexton or family - if anyone does, let me know and we'll post the info on the HUBB thread on the Bam earthquake, or you can post it there yourself. Thanks.

Crashes...

Vladimir Yarets Alexeevich, Belarus, around the world, Jawa 350,

"Yarets, a 62 y.o. deaf & mute biker from Minsk, Byelorussia, ...got into a bad road accident on October 13, 2003 after travelling through Europe, Caribbean, and riding through all 50 states of the USA. He was on his way to ride through South America as a part of his plan to enter the Book of Guinness as the only deaf & mute biker who has gone around the world. He had both legs, arm and pelvis broken, but is in stable condition on the way to recovery thanks to wonderful doctors and nurses at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, IL. He needs your help to get through rehab, so pls send him a card or visit at the hospital, and, if you can, send a donation to the address below (Vladimir has no official sponsors or insurance, so every little bit will help)." Jim Winterer.

Fund for Vladimir
c/o Jim Winterer
1032 Bowdoin St.
St. Paul, MN 55116

Vlad has been released from hospital, after 50 days, and is in a care facility:

Vladimir Yarets
East 24
OSF St. Clare Home
5533 North Galena Road
Peoria Heights, IL 61616
USA

Ed. Comment: Drop Vlad a line, perhaps with a cheque, and let him know we support his ride, and wish him well!

Amalia Zimmerman, UK, around South America,

 

Amalia Zimmerman in Peru.

Amalia Zimmerman in Peru

From Frank Schawrzbauer in HU Bolivia Community:

" ...in my house are now Lois Pryce and Robb McElroy. The friend of Lois - her name is Amalia - had an accident close to the Titicaca Lake. She was transported with an ambulance to a hospital in La Paz. I got a call from Robb getting the bikes to La Paz, so I lent a pickup and went over for "rescue".

some weeks later,

"Hi Grant, thanks a lot for the support! Amalia will leave hospital today or tomorrow.

The healing process of a human body is astonishing! Of course she will need "cosmetic surgery", new teeth to be planted and some time to recover. But she talks and is in a good mood.

Their (Amalias and her boyfriends') idea is to stay a week longer in Bolivia and visit the Jungas - then go back to England.

...as an information for you - she had received lots of mails - which was also for me (as a "bystander") a wonderful experience. Thanks again and all the best, Frank"

More in Amalia's blog here on Horizons Unlimited. And our thanks to Frank, Lois, and Robb for their support.

up to top of pagespacerMotorcycle News

From Germany's Motorrad Magazine, a photo of the new R1200GS with specifications.

The new bike is expected sometime next year. It's 1200cc, with more power and less weight than before. Should be VERY interesting! There's a lot of detail improvements too, such as the torque arm has been moved above the swingarm, and the whole swingarm assembly is much more compact. A full trellis frame is a big change, along with alloy wheels (spoke wheels apparently an option, and a possibility of 17" wheels), and a new exhaust system. Basic specs: (note two sets of info given - depends on whose story you want to believe!) 96HP/72kw or 102HP, either 100N-m/74foot/lbs or 117N-m torque, either 223kg or 240kg/530lb, depending on where you read it, 6 speed gearbox, and "new" looks, but it's still clearly a GS! The tank is plastic, but restyled - and it's shape may be a problem for tank bags.

The luggage is all new too. Let's hope it's better than the previous "Adventure" luggage.

Click for a better pic with specifications
Click the pic for a larger view with specs sheet (in German).

More exciting news for the horsepower crazy is this 48 cylinder, 4000cc Kawasaki two-stroke.


Click the pic for more, including a video

up to top of pagespacerShorts...

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

"Oururo behind us, we took the long way round to Sucre, as we had been told the more direct route was much tougher, 300kms of hard dirt. As we approached the small town of Challapata however, we began to think that maybe the direct route would have been faster. There were rocks littering the road as we approached one of the toll stations and a large crowd was gathered around a truck on the other side. A bloqueo or roadblock!

We parked up some distance away and watched for awhile. A lorry pulled up behind us and the driver came over for a chat. He didn’t know what the cause of the bloqueo was either. He said that we could probably pass if we were quick, either going around the side of the toll station, or going off the road onto one of the sandy tracks that led around the town. We could see the local cars doing just that, ferrying locals from one side of the bloqueo to the other, the long way around.

We decided to chance it and went for the short option, anything to avoid battling with sand! What we didn’t see was the trench that the campesinos had dug, obviously to prevent bus drivers and silly tourists from trying to get through. Luckily it must have been coca break–time before they had finished, as the trench was only 20cms or so deep. Still was a bit of a shock as we flew over it, accompanied by the whistles from the crowd..."

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

Peter Slarke, UK, Alaska to Patagonia, in Mexico, Honda Dominator,

" I was headed to Copper Canyon, Mexico's answer to the Grand Canyon. The tarmac road from Creel to where the dirt starts was super twisty and fun. When the dirt started I was glad to be on something that could take a hammering. The road, only 43 miles long took about 4 hours to ride. It was like nothing else I have experienced on the trip. How they built it is one thing, how many have snuffed it driving it can only be guessed at. There are plenty of little shrines at various places that give you some idea. The road was single lane, full of stones the size of softballs, had ditches where it had washed out and had drops off the side that were very big indeed. Add about 30 switchbacks into the bargain, a drop in height of about 2500 feet, animals on the road and psycho locals and you start to get the idea. Did it match the Grand Canyon for scenery? It sure did, it is one spectacular place I would like to revisit and spend more time in."

For more stories, check out Peter's blog here on Horizons Unlimited! And come to the HU Copper Canyon Travellers Meeting next year.

Marcel and Flavia Wolf, Switzerland, around the world, in New Zealand, Triumph Tiger,

"What a beautiful landscape: Huge green meadows, snowmountains in the far. Mount Cook we could watch by sunshine and still the weather's friendly to us. Again we were invited private. It's unbelievable, just great! Today we visited the DB-brewery and we left with six bottles of different beers. Tomorrow we're heading further south, to Dunedin."

Erik and Hanka Forkert , Germany, around the world, Honda Transalp,

"... Our next goal is Baja California, which is to lead us directly to America. We'll keep you up to date. Hasta luego!"

Chris Jones and Spice Griffith, USA, around the world, KLR650's,

"Our third and final day in San Juan del Sur was spent on our own private beach next the the Pacific. We took a water taxi about 7 miles up the coast to a small backpackers hangout and then walked along the beach to find out own stretch of sand. The waves were 8 foot walls of clear blue water that ran about 500 yards wide. I had no idea the Pacific was so amazing. We had a wonderful day in the sun.

The entire time in San Juan was spent in Rebecca's Hospedaje, a home with rooms for rent. Marta, the owner, was a dream. I forgot how nice it is to wake up in a home with a mother asking you if you had a good night's sleep. We spent many hours in the hammocks around her courtyard just waiting for the heat of the day to let off. By the time we are in Panama I am afraid we will have lost Chris to the ways of Latin America. He has mastered lounging around so all he needs now is a muscle shirt and a gold chain..."

Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors! Please be sure you tell them how you heard about Morton's BMW!

Mortons BMW, adventure touring specialists

Thanks!

Martin Schwingel, Germany, to India, R100GS,

"Some weeks ago, I bought a BMW R100GS. I organised a "Carnet de passage", and the necessary Visa. Sept.02.2003, I started to materialize one of my old dreams. Travel overland on a Motorbike to India. Route: Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Ferry, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India.

At the moment I'm stuck in Meteora, in Greece. Waiting for a necessary spare part (rubber of the Kardan. My case was to low and with the heavy load of the bike on bumpy southern roads the Case scratched the Kardan. And the Kardan scratched the case for that. Hope, both are alright with that for the rest of the trip). I'm looking for a Greek mechanic or any other Greek person who is going for "just right now" instead of 'tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, no problem, I can do everything' (everything you want me to do, you just imagine and it will happen, somewhere in twilight zone). "

Didier Martin, France / Australia, around the world for World Vision, in Panama, F650GS,

"...So this morning, right after breakfast, we took a local bus to the airport which took just about an hour and we arrived just 30 minutes before take off. Going through the check out took more time and by the time we went through we only had 15 minutes left. The good and the bad got through all right but the Ugly, travelling with an Irish passport, was told that he needed a visa for Colombia and he did not have one (I did not dare tell him an Irish joke just then). He had to go back to Panama City, find the Colombian Embassy and hopefully fly to Colombia the next day. I will let you know what happen to him in my next update. It was time to say good-bye to Rachel and with only minutes to spare we ran quickly and just made it in the plane as they were closing the door. The plane took off and we said farewell to Central America.

Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries on earth. With Kidnappings, car bombings, hold-ups and murders happening every day the Good, the Bad and the Ugly should have plenty of adventures. I hope I can write about them soon and if you don't hear from me in the next three weeks or so, please come and save me!"

Ed. note: If you want to know who he's talking about you'll have to read his journal! Also note that the Irish DO need a visa for Colombia, and you have to arrange it outside the country.

Leah Chapman and Dom Breen, Australia and Ireland, Americas, KLR650's,

"We flew into Vancouver on Monday 2 June with a set of throw over panniers, some tools, clothes and Tourist Visa's for the USA. We had a wonderful start to our trip by staying with some friends while we bought bikes and insurance. We hadn't done a lot of research so were a bit surprised on Tuesday morning when we walked into the Honda Shop and asked for "Two Transalps please"; only to be informed that Honda doesn't sell Transalps in North America. Thus we embarked on 3 days of catching buses all over Vancouver to find the right bikes and so it was on the Friday that we picked up 2 brand new Kawasaki KLR650 on/off road bikes."

Ed. See Leah and Dom's blog here on Horizons Unlimited.

Bernhard Fürst, Ulf Berger, Mathias Jahn, Germany, in South America,

"Hi, we are 3 Germans traveling around South America for 4 months...

After a warm welcome from new friends in Buenos Aires and the unproblematic importation of our bikes, we navigated in direction of Entre Rios, Corrientes and Misiones, some of the states of Argentina. The countryside dropped behind us fast just like the old liner brought on land, ancient missionary stations or corrupt police men..."

Leif Mortensen and Heather McKay , Denmark and England, through Central America, Harley-Davidson,

"...the riding in Mexico is going well (knock on wood) You just have to follow a few simple rules; always ride in daylight (to avoid potholes, animals and bandits) keep your distance (especially to buses and to everything in the cities) and drive slow so that you can spot the potholes and topes. Topes are speed bumps that are in all Mexican towns and not always well signed. Topes are rather hard on Asana (my Harley) I can recommend others not to take a Harley, but go for a dual sport bike...

Generally the roads are good here in Mexico, but there are long stretches with a lot of potholes and loose gravel, so have to slow down and steer between them (no scenic views for me.) The potholes are amazing, some are so big they could swallow the bike; when hills have been washed away from under the road, I have seen 1 meter wide and at least 2 meter deep potholes. Some of them have just mutated to mudstretches.

When riding from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca, it had been raining heavily the previous days and some of the potholes/mudholes filled the whole road and stretched for 10-20 meters. One memorable one was when we drove through a mudhole where a big modern long distance bus was stuck in the mud! We have also seen all kinds of animals, racing a herd of cattle up a hill, dogs, pigs, donkeys, even a pair of turkeys... It is challenging and tiring to ride down here, but it's fun."

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!"

Thanks!

Eric Blume, USA, in Namibia, R80G/S,

"Today is just one of those unique touring experiences. I am here in Africa and have been riding around the southern part of the continent for about a month. Today I was riding the narrow strip of Namibia between Angola and Botswana and a giant herd of elephants crossed the road in front of me. Strange to see so much mass crossing the road in front of me. There was a tour bus behind me and I thought I would give them a show. A gap appeared in the middle of the herd and I shot the gap with my G/S. The big bull elephant closest to me gave me a funny look but did nothing but flap his ears and shake his head.

Tomorrow I hear off towards the Skeleton Coast and lots of miles of gravel. The G/S is happy here on these roads and I'm glad I installed the TKC80s."

Martin Ellis, UK, around the world, XT600,

"After travelling over land for the last year and a half from England on an XT600 here I am in New Zealand. Next step is to ship over to Argentina and go up through the Americas."

Witek Majewski , Poland, through Africa, KTM,

"Hi, I've been travelling since a month in Africa on my KTM. Right now, (mid-October) I am in Mozambique where I am supposed to stay about two weeks. Then I am planning to come back to Europe via Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt."

but later...

"Unfortunately I had an accident in Northern Mozambique (collar bone broken) and I had to come back to Poland. I've left my bike and all my luggage (including cameras) in Africa. I have my flight back 3 December."

Kerstin Gaeckle and Volker Aldinger , Germany, to Australia, Yamaha Ténéré's,

"We are two Germans on the road with two Yamaha Ténéré's since the first of April. We spend two month in East-Europe, tried the Becherovska (Liquor) in Czech republic and crossed Russia. Made a stop in the Ural-Mountains, the Altai-Mountains, had a great time in Tomsk at a Biker-Festival, and also in Nachodka at the first international Biker-Festival. We enjoyed the Russian Vodka and of course the wonderful Siberian people.

Since 1st September we are in Japan. We can try all different kind of beer we can get and we are sure the best one is still the German beer. :) But now we get ready for our next destination: the Philippines. And looking forward for South-East-Asia. We are always happy to share our beers and stories with some other bikers. Maybe see you on the road... "

Pete Corboy, USA, around the world, R100GS,

"...after far too many delays I finally got out on the road. That was about six weeks ago and I've covered a lot of ground since then. I left from California and rode all the way down the Pacific coast of Mexico. Into Guatemala in time for the Presidential elections (oh great!) and across El Salvador. I just crossed into Honduras a couple of hours ago.

Lots of thanks to Grant and Susan for all the information and inspiration I have gotten from your site (hey you should put that on your next batch of t-shirts 'information and inspiration'. But seriously, I don't know if I'd be here right now if I hadn't spent so much time at work reading your site instead of doing my job!

So guess what happened last night? I'm riding along in south Nicaragua (as one does) and it's getting late. So I pulled into a beach town named San Juan del Sur. Well it turned out that everyone that's riding south is here. There was Steffan who I met in Antigua and another German named Bert. An Austrian (name escapes me, but he's on an Africa Twin), Simon Kennedy and Rachel (Rachel who rode through Mexico with Lois Pryce) are here. We have Didier Martin who knew friends of mine in San Francisco. Seven of us all together.

We declared an unofficial Horizons Unlimited meeting. We took a picture of us and all the bikes and Steffan is going to send it to you."

Unofficial Horizons Unlimited meeting in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua..

Left to right: Didier Martin, BMW F650 Dakar, France/Australia; Steffen Utzmann, KTM640 Adv, Germany; Rachel Delavaud, KLR250 France/UK; Bernd Trautz, XR500, Germany; Simon Kennedy, Transalp, Ireland; Pete Corboy, BMW100GS, USA; Albert Hoermann, Africa Twin, Austria.

Doris Maron, Canada, RTW, in Europe and Canada, Honda Magna 750,

"In Austria I was delayed waiting for visa for Czech Republic and Poland. It seems like such a waste of money since I only spent one night in each country. I wanted to make it to Nordkapp, Norway before the end of August, but all the delays in waiting for visas put me behind schedule and by the time I reached Lithuania it was already getting cold.

I crossed from Lithuania to Sweden by ferry. Over the next week I rode in rain through Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany with only a couple of partial days of sun. I arrived in Amersfoort, Netherlands on Sept. 5th and flew to Calgary, AB, Canada on Sept. 9th. This was a very special gift from a very special friend. It was great reuniting with family and friends for 7 weeks. Oct. 26th I flew back to Amsterdam and met up with Martin and Jen, who just returned from riding in Australia. I spent some time with them before continuing south in Europe, then into Africa."

Nelson Oliveira, Canada, to South America, in Guatemala, F650GS,

"After Mexico, I went through Belize and then to Guatemala, using the International Travellers Map to Central America. This map is out of date. The most problems are where the map identifies a paved road and in fact it's dirt, and in some case, really bad dirt. Like, the backroads south of San Ignacio in Belize are all dirt. The first 20km in Guatemala on the main highway are dirt. The road from El Estor north of lake Izabal is a dirt road in some places horrible with deep ruts.

To get to El Estor from Rio Dulce, there is a new road, and the first 20km are wonderful asphalt and very twisty. Doesn't look like Guatemala at all. If you head to Belize, be prepared to pay $18 when exiting the country. To Guatemala, you also need to pay $5 for the bike when entering.

Broke the radiator at Lake Atitlan... Outside Guatemala City I met a group of people that get together with their bikes at this spot every Wednesday and Thursday morning before heading to work. When I told one guy that I had busted the radiator and was going to Guatemala city to fix it, he offered to guide me to BMW and I could later drop by his motorcycle shop to change the radiator. His name is Alfonso Pantoja and his shop is Moto Punto at 4. Avenida "A" 13-24, Zona 9, Guatemala city. If you ever get to Guatemala city drop by his shop and say hi from me."

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Thanks!

Steffen Utzmann, Germany, North and South America, in Nicaragua, KTM 640 Adventure,

"In Loretto (Baja California) I run into my first hurricane, Marty! Luckily for me it was just the outskirts, which hit the city. But that was already enough to topple a couple of buildings in town.

Especially the nice beachfront was hit hard. Luckily for me I got warned in time by the manager of the RV park. I could move my tent and stuff in a group house and park my bike in a storage building. I am really glad, I could move there. As the storm rocked for basically all day. Looking back, its nice that I can talk about it!

After that I had to wait another day before the road to La Paz opened up again. Even so I had to cross a couple of filled up dry washes and the streets covered often with mud, sand, branches, rocks, etc.

My Route was Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua. I did all border crossings alone and my Spanish is still not very good. But so far I was very very lucky, not more than 1.5 hours for any of the borders. In average I needed just a bit more than one hour for each. And apart from 9US$ too much at the Honduran border, no extra bribe costs."

Jim Stanley, USA, in South America

"At Thanksgiving was still in Quito, Ecuador, waiting for Xavier to arrive from USA.

Jim Stanley in Ecuador.

I had planned to get on a bus and head for the beach today, but there is going to be a big thanksgiving dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes, the works at my hostel tonight (owned by a guy from Michigan). I will go to the beach first thing tomorrow morning. I will then come back to Quito for the big city-wide fiesta with bullfights by day and dancing in the streets by night. After that I plan to climb nearby Cotopaxi (5800meter volcano). Then start heading south..."

Mika Kuhn, Germany, around the world, in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, Tenere,

"Too many stories to tell getting from Magadan in the far eastern part of Russia to here...

... Sao Paulo... In Brazil the petrol is mixed with 20% alcohol, and as my Tenere would not start I opened the petrol tank. The petrol and alcohol mix and the epoxy, which I had inside the tank to seal some leaks, had become a greasy plastic something mix. I had to clean it all out of the carbs and the tank to get the bike going. But I was happy to see my old Tenere again after seven months, and also David's dogs had not eaten the seat. Thanks David for taking good care of my bike.

Together with Quinho, a biker friend from Santa Catharina, I went to the motorcycle meeting near the border with Paraguay. I made a few jokes about travelling seven hundred kilometers on his Harley, but it was my Tenere that I had to fix on one of the petrol stations along the way. I had to wash out the carbs again, because there is still too much epoxy in the tank. More than a thousand bikers had come to the meeting, the tv people paid for some of my fuel and many bikers bought me a beer."

Simon Kennedy, Ireland, RTW, in Panama, Transalp,

"My face must be a picture. I am standing at the Avianca check-in desk. The bike's already flown to Bogota. My flight there goes in 45 minutes. 'I need a what? No, no, Ireland's in Europe. European Union. No necesito visa por European Union. Ireland in Europa'. She shakes her head sternly with the finality of a nightclub doorman. You ain't getting in mate. And sure enough, twenty minutes of phone calls and computer punching later, I ain't getting in. My two friends are on their way to gate 15 and I am left asking around if anyone knows where the Colombian consulate is.

It seems the US doesn't want the wrong sort of Irish in Colombia. So I go along with all my documents to prove that I am made of the right stuff, begorrah. Not the political type at all. The underlings won't deal with me. I am directed to the consul. She's advising God. I wait until she's finished putting him straight. Usual set-up, big office, wide wooden desk with the window behind so I squint into the white light that emanates from around her beatific person.

She's not a happy woman. 'You want to ride your motorcycle through Colombia?' Well that's the idea. So I nod, smile and say yes. She asks again. Second time around it provokes a long pause that gives us both time to reflect. I recall that priests do this a lot. And academics. Maybe she has a point. 'I want to ride my motorcycle through Colombia.' Hmmm, now I think about it, there is something not quite right about this phrase. I have a week to ponder on it while I await my next audience."

up to top of pagespacerSeen on the road...

by Simon and Georgie McCarthy, UK, in Shiraz, Iran,

"Francesca and Alessandro from Milano were on their honeymoon, riding a BMW F650 to India, intent on using money given to them as wedding presents to build a school for underprivileged kids!"

by Alec Simpson, Australia, in Iran,

"Some Belgians on BMW 650 were recently in Esfahan, I believe they crossed Tourgart then to Pakistan and KKH or maybe the other way...the permits for their China crossing amounted to 1000USD for one week. I am told they had an escort."

Ed. Comment - Alec "Simmo" has also posted a pile of information on Central Asia visas etc on the HUBB.

by Richard Beaumont, UK,

"I rode down to Seal Beach, south along the coast from LA, to meet up with Jon Holmes. Jon is your true modern day hobo, he's been traveling around the world for 25 plus years only stopping long enough to work when he has to. For most of that time he's been on a bicycle, but has recently added an engine to his two wheels. He's been staying here with his niece and her husband, Debbie and John Fox, since riding down from Alaska in the summer, having spent the winter working there. The are really good people, I stayed for dinner, helping to cook it, and am now spending the night on the floor of their offices round the corner from the house. It looks like Jon and I are going to hook up for a while going into Mexico. He's a great guy, clearly a very experienced traveler, and full of stories. I have two slight concerns, first he's much older – must be in his fifties – difficult to see how that would work over the long term. Secondly he's clearly used to travelling on a much tighter budget. He might prefer to camp where I would opt for a room. I am planning on some camping, and hope to pick up a tent tomorrow but perhaps not to the extent he would normally do. I guess we'll play it by ear and see how it goes. "

Ed. Comment: Jon was last seen at the HU Travellers Meeting in Revelstoke. He's riding an F650GS and having a great time with all the power!

by Lisa Roberts, UK, living in Delhi,

"We are very fine - Harvey has joined me out here in Delhi and now the temperature has started to drop we expect to see more travellers passing through.

...at our special Diwali dinner (combination of English and German cuisine) - me, Harvey, Daniel, Kai and Ulrike."


Daniel Schaller, Switzerland - NICE light load!

Kai Grimmel and Ulrike Teutriene, a German couple on their way East, stopped off with us for a few days. Daniel Schaller, from Switzerland, is also here, so we had quite a crowd for Diwali, the biggest festival here. As before, we're happy to lend a hand, (or bed), to any travellers who need a break from the challenges of India for a few days."

Ed. Comment: Contact Lisa and Harvey through the Delhi Community or the website of their trip.

by Ken and Carol Duval, Australia, throughout 2003

"Visitors from around the world paid us visits and a special hello go to everyone including Paul and Pia from Denmark who are currently in South America travelling the dusty and muddy trails in their Pajero.

Peter (Cameron) and Carol (Palladino) from Revelstoke, Canada who enjoyed a quiet few days before they shipped back home. Carol... I have more Bundy! They were riding a BMW R80RT with a "serious" luggage system.

John and Gerry both on R80GS Basics were on the home run to Ireland. They came over to dinner a couple of nights while they were waiting on repairs to their bikes.

Cliff and Jenny (Batley) from Sudbury in the UK had travelled overland to New Zealand/Australia on two BMW F650's.Now back in the UK. Jenny was enthralled by our Brush-tailed possums. She encouraged them to be hand fed and now they expect it all the time. Great entertainment for the following visitors. We have the most photographed possums in the world.

Simon on a Honda Transalp from London and Rachel from France on a Kawasaki KLR250 spent a few days doing repairs before shipping to the USA.

Pascale from Antwerp in Belgium on a BMW F650. Her enthusiasm for travel by motorcycle has enthused a friend of ours so much he has now bought his own 650 Dakar and is planning a trip around Australia.

Murray & Joyce from Calgary, Canada, travelling on a BMW 650GS and a 650 Dakar. Plenty of fun and laughter. May catch you in 2007!

Seamus from Ireland and Lenssa from the USA two up on a 1990 Yamaha Tenere. Lucky you are small Lenssa. Spent a few days with us doing a little maintenance and some seat modifications! Now in the USA.

John and Annette from Surrey in the UK. Riding a BMW R80GS Basic and a BMW R80GS Kalahari. Still travelling around Aus. and hope to be with us for Christmas. See ya then o caloused ones.

Eveline from the Netherlands riding a BMW R100GS Classic. Stressed her back while lifting the Black Beauty and spent a little R & R on Moreton Island. Liked the outback and hopes to return one day. Now back home again.

Uta from Germany dropped in again before she headed back home but has returned to travel more roads in New Zealand.

And our most recent guests Christoph and Sylvia from Switzerland travelling Australia in luxury. An R60 plus sidecar. Showed us great hospitality when we were in Europe...and they didn't even know us. Sorry about sending you to sleep with our slides.

Christmas is upon us once again and so our home is open to more visitors for the festive season. Holger from Germany who rode a bicycle from Europe to Australia and New Zealand will also be joining us with his friend Sandy. It will be an exciting time.

We take this opportunity to wish everyone a very safe and happy Christmas and an even better 2004. Please remember all you travelling adventurous types our door is always open and we are waiting for YOU to visit us down under. Love Carol & Ken"

Ed. Ken is recuperating from heart surgery last month. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Ken, and thanks to you both for all the hospitality you've shown to motorcycle travellers from all over the world!

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

Rick Barnes, (rickx HUBB handle), UK, down the West coast of Africa, R1150GS Adventure,

"I'm setting off from the UK and down the west side on my BMW GS (2 engines in 354 miles - I kid you not!) before the end of October.

I started preparing for the trip in July and have not done any serious travelling since overlanding in East Africa 10 years ago, after the first time I quit my job. That got me bitten by the bug and I have been packing in the corporate IT job in London and going off on mini trips ever since. This time it's different though. I hate the job, love biking and travelling and am bored with life... it is not a fun place to work anymore compared to when I started out 20 years ago.

Yes, I'm riding a new (first big mistake) GS Adventure which I bought in May. One new engine (timing chain snapped after 354 miles) and a few other parts later it seems to have come through the 'running in' process and I hope will keep me in good stead for the rest of the trip. BMW's cost cutting accountants seem to have got involved in the manufacturing process. This is my first BMW and the quality doesn't seem to be as good as the slightly older models.

But I digress... I started planning for the trip in July and hoped to leave in September. Just as the book says, this takes a lot longer than you think, especially when you have decided that you are not coming back except for weddings and funerals so it was not until the end of November that I was able to do a trial pack. I still need to ditch one or two things and will now have to take some warm weather gear just to get to Morocco. The one thing holding me up now is that I was stopped by an unmarked police car in July for speeding (in my car) and I finally appeared in court - 6 pts and a $400 fine later, I am just waiting for my licence to be returned to me and I am off.

The Plan? Anti-clockwise round Africa to Dar es Salaam, boat to Bombay, anti clockwise around India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma (somehow), Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Oz, NZ.

Hope to find somewhere along the route to call home and if I need more mileage I'll ship over to Tierra del Fuego and aim for Alaska. Timescale? I've blocked out 2 years assuming nothing interesting happens along the way.

The postman delivered a bumper sack of Xmas mail today but still no driving licence. I sit and wait..."

Bob Morley, UK, around the world, F650GS,

"Planning to go round the world & visit the most northern & southern places on the way... interested? I'm hoping to leave late November & be back by September next year. Here's some detail:

Ship the bike from wherever (London for me) to Ushuaia. Visit Tierra Del Fuego.
Follow the Pacific coast through Chile, Peru & Ecuador
Ship the bike from Quito to Panama
Central America
Pacific coast of Mexico (with a, errm, slight detour to Cancun)
Keep the sea on the left & head north to Anchorage
Ship the bike to Magadan (or Vladivostok, not sure yet).
8000 miles across Russia, via Moscow & heading north to Murmansk
Go to the North Cape, then back through Norway/Sweden to mainland Europe & home.

Drop me a line if you'd like to come along or meet up on the way. Cheers, Bob"

Well, 17-November is 'the day' ...shipping the bike to Buenos Aires, Christmas in Ushuaia, then north to Alaska& back to the UK via Russia.

We're putting together a website to cover the trip & I'd like to credit (or is that blame) Horizons Unlimited for getting me into this... the trip will also raise funds for MAGPAS, more details of this worthwhile organisation can be found at MAGPAS"

Ed. Comment: We get blamed a lot... :) Have a great trip!

Mark, South Africa, XR650; Tyler, USA, KTM Adventure; Gary Nunan, Australia, KTM Adventure; UK to Morocco and south,

"Myself (South African), Tyler (USA) and Gary (AUS) will be heading off at the end of this month (October)... we plan a fairly quick trip down to Morocco and then kinda go where the wind blows with the intention of doing the Atlantic Route, Senegal, Gambia and then also up to Timbuktu..."

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

"I started the journey again from Pakistan end of September, direction India. After Shimla, Manali, now in Leh for a few days, high in the mountains. From Leh then west: to Kargil down south to Zanskar (not really only Rangdum), back to Kargil, more west to Srinagar, Jammu. Very nice, no road or weather problems. Sleep, food, almost everywhere, no worries, not much choice but it's ok. The roads stop being maintained in October around Leh, Manali."

Ed. Comment: Ezine regulars will remember that Vincent had a crash in Pakistan, and had to return home to recuperate. Good to see he's ok and on the road again.

Eric Creemers and Nanette Elfring, Holland, to Nepal, Africa Twin and Honda Transalp,

"Wheels 4 Eyes is an initiative to help people in Nepal to better eye-care. Two young and ambitious people from Holland will ride their motorbikes from Holland to the capital of Nepal in order to raise money for eye-care in Nepal.

The trip will start on the 17th of November and will take about three months."

Richard Beaumont, UK, USA and south to Ushuaia, F650GS Dakar,

"A couple of months later than planned but I am finally hitting the road at the end of this month. Arriving Chicago from London on Oct 27 to pick up bike, then a quick trip to NY. From there south to New Orleans, west to California, taking in Vegas and Grand Canyon (can't miss the opportunity even though its north again). From California to Mexico - most likely down Baja Then it's the long run all the way down to Ushuaia. Too late for new year but you can't have it all.

Travelling solo, but always keen to meet up with folks along the way...

Wow. Wow. Wow. Today I sky dived. Not a fixed line, or a tandem jump. Real free fall. It's called Accelerated Free Fall, I spent most of the day in training and then when I jumped there were two instructors holding on to me, but not connected, until my canopy was deployed. It was the rush of my life..."

"Damandaz", South Africa, London to SA,

"Finally leaving on my trip home to South Africa from London, via east Africa. would be good to meet up with any fellow overlanders along the way. Drop us an email if anyone's keen to meet up along the way. Route: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan and east all the way down."

up to top of pagespacerHome again...

Martin Rooiman and Jeannette Boom, a.k.a. De Twee Musketiers, Netherlands, around the world, settled temporarily in France,

"Hi everyone, we have arrived in France and our main aim was to be settled before Christmas and we have just managed to reach it as we yesterday made the last room livable. There are still a lot of boxes around in the house and we haven't found everything back yet but now have the feeling we can live in it!

Therefore we haven't had much time lately to write to everyone and certainly not to work on our last legs of the travel reports. We definitely are finishing them but this will be a project for next year.

Martin and Jeannette in Holland.

Finally we managed to get an email account so in addition to our new address we sent around the last time we have now also a new e-mail address.

Except for the room, the bikes are ready as well and we took them for a short test ride. We discovered that the bikes were running fine but the weather was too cold so we start exploring France on our motorbikes somewhere next spring.

Finally we like to wish everyone of you a happy holiday season and all the best wishes for 2004! Lots of love, Martin & Jeannette"

Ed. See Martin and Jeannette's blog here on Horizons Unlimited.

Hannes Haller and Brigitte Stauber, Switzerland, around South America and to Alaska, R1150GS Adventure,

"Just a quick note. Just arrived home in Switzerland two days ago and have a bundle to do. Yes, we finished this trip. Here are some statistics:

24 countries
92,700km by motorcycle
5900km by car
1200km by truck
12 flat tires (9 we fixed on the roadside ourselves)
Favourite countries: Argentina and Colombia
Three rear wheel bearings

Loading onto a boat

Click the pic for more

We had a wonderful trip. And a very eye opening one at that. It seems we had completely wrong views of most of the countries we visited. We really have made only positive experiences. Didn't find many of those bad people. One or two at most.

Yes, the website is still not updated. Hopefully I'll get around to it soon. All the best to you. Brigitte and Hannes"

(Ed. note: ...and a broken rear sub-frame. Worth beefing up if you're heading off, we've had a number of reports.)

James Mallory and Steven Wallstrom, USA, to South America, KLR650's,

"With the bikes wheezing and our lungs doing little better we struggled into the valley of La Paz at over 11,000ft. A fitting place to switch out the new frame sent from Kawasaki. Though after a day of crawling through the worst traffic of our trip the thrill of such heights quickly wore thin.

Fortunately the bike shop holding the frame was tucked away just south of town in the upper class neighbourhood. Feeling a bit guilty at enjoying rather unlatin surroundings, I quietly marvelled at the Mercedes and BMW's parked amid the chic, modern coffee shops. Feels just like Seattle. Sipping a latte in such scenery, it took a conscious effort to remember this is one of the poorest countries in South America.

Though when it comes to motorcycle shops in Latin America money equals expertise, no matter what people tell you. Yes, I read all the stories of Mexican ingenuity and shade tree mechanics. It's all fine and rosy until it's your bike under the torch of a drunk Bolivian. Though, rolling the KLR into the spacious shop of the local bike shop I knew something was different. For the first time in nearly a dozen countries I would actually trust my bike to these mechanics without keeping a watchful eye. When the owner of the shop rolled up in a Jaguar a sigh of relief escaped into the thin air.

Walter Nosiglia's shop in La Paz Bolivia

Walter Nosiglia's crew in La Paz, with James and Steven

Within a few hours of beginning the project I made it thoroughly clear whose intelligence was lacking. And it certainly wasn't the natives. Propping the new frame beside the disassembled bike my joy turned to despair as I realized Kawasaki had inadvertently sent the wrong frame.

Once again too shocked for anger, laugher instead welled up from the sheer absurdity of the situation. Unbelievable. After 10 minutes or so of contemplations and imagining the phone call to Kawasaki, I hollered over to the shop owner to take a look. Three or four chin scratching minutes later Walter came to a startling and profound conclusion. With a quick spin of metal he flipped the new frame upside down, leaving nothing but utter embarrassment as the shiny steel chassis suddenly fit perfectly. Bizarre. The only consolation provided was the fact it took a national champion a couple minutes to dismiss my foolishness. I shudder at the thought of having called Kawasaki.

After three days of blood, sweat and toil the bike was somehow restored to its former glory. Besides fabricating a custom new bearing race for the suspension, the process went off without a hitch. Almost too easily, as we sparked the engine and warily drove off, praying that every bolt found it's place once again. Of course this city of altitude had unfinished business to settle and less than an hour out of the shop Steve's clutch blew a hole, dumping its blood red contents among the crevasses of the engine case...

Salar de Uyunyi, Bolivia

The Salar de Uyunyi, Bolivia

...We are home, safe and sound. Forgive the delay on journal entries and photos, the excitement of returning to American soil left little room for diligent writing."

Ted Simon, UK/USA, "Jupiter's Travels," around the world, again,

"If I'm lucky, you have been waiting to hear from me that the CD is completed. It's taken a month to do it, but I'm quite pleased with it. The whole journey is now on this one CD, and it has been rearranged so that you can track through all the three years easily. Also, I have added in many more pictures, including fifty or more from my original Jupiter journey which should appeal to those of you who have a special fondness for that book.

Please look at my new web site... It's been pretty interesting going back over what I wrote. Especially the more controversial stuff. I'm happy to say I'm not ashamed of anything I said. I just wish I hadn't had to say it.

We live (as the Chinese say) in interesting times.

I have also had to reorganise all my email addresses. There are many hundreds of them, and yet I am surprised how many give me a sense of warm, personal connection. From those of you who wrote to me, I have kept snippets of your letters, and reading them now I am touched by the good will and encouragement they express. In many cases I feel that I should have replied, or done more to maintain contact, but in reality it is impossible for me to keep up a correspondence with so many people. I hope very much that you understand this, and do not take my silence as a sign of indifference. If and when we have reason to connect again, it will be no less sincere for the amount of time that may have passed. I have, as you know, friends all around the globe. Time and distance have made no difference to the warmth of our relationship. That's how it is.

May I add, for those of you who are feeling deprived now that it's over, SO AM I. But it had to end, didn't it?

My very best wishes. I hope we meet again. Perhaps when the book is written we will have that chance. Yours, Ted"

Simon and Georgie McCarthy, UK to Asia, BMW R100GS and Enfield,

"A quick mail from a friends house in England.

We are home and safe, if more than a little cold. We arrived a week ago, but finding an internet cafe in the UK seems to be more difficult than in Outer Mongolia!

We plan to send out 3 more newsletters about the trip, and then settle down to getting jobs and a membership at a gymnasium. We will keep this mail address so you can contact us here if you want free bed and breakfast in Manchester, or if you know anyone with jobs to offer.

More to follow - from our nice comfortable home. Simon and Georgie, Dunroamin, Manchester"

Check out all their stories on Simon and Georgie's blog here on Horizons Unlimited! Dunroamin? :)

Mark Moors, Canada, through Central and South America, Africa, Middle East and Europe, R1150GS,

"70,000 km in total (the bike now has 91,000 on the odometer)- both on road and off road. Ran like a top the entire trip.

Just a little background info: I did my trip without any sponsorship. I am 46 years old and had 20 years of street riding, but no dirt experience. I have little mechanical knowledge, but did spend 10 hours with a BMW mechanic before I left, learning about basic service for the bike. As such, I could change all the oils and do the valves. Nevertheless, I had BMW dealers do this work most of the time because the prices are quite reasonable in South America and Africa.

Ed. Comment: More details on Mark's ride and his review of the bike on the HUBB

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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.

up to top of pagespacerTraveller's Community News...

New Communities:

We've got 255 communities in 66 countries as of December 31, 2003! Wow! And I have a couple more to set up too!

A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are in Mexico City, Monterrey, Mexico; Mendoza, Argentina; Zagreb, Croatia; Lommel, Belgium; Cannon Falls, Minnesota, USA; Delhi, India; Regensburg, Germany; and Chengdu, Sichuan China.

If you are on the road, do check out the Communities - don't feel like you're imposing on people! They signed up for a Community because they want to meet travellers - that's you! You'll have a great time, so go to the Communities page and let them know you're coming.

For details on how you can join a Community in your area, or use the Communities 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.

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, or go for 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 jumpers / pullovers, t-shirts, hats and other products with the new logo and a variety of slogans!

 

Baby doll T-shirt - front.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 100 currently 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...

Grant and Susan Johnson

Live the dream! at:
www.HorizonsUnlimited.com

Riding the globe...

All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson and their respective authors or creators, 1987-2003.
All Rights Reserved.

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