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We're just back after being away for all of August and most of September. We had a quick trip to Canada for the HU BC meeting in Nelson combined with a family visit, then spent almost a month in Spain and Portugal, where we finally got our summer :-) We had sun almost every day, and riding in the Pyrenees is fantastic! Not that we were on vacation, far from it ;-) We were hard at work hosting the HU Portugal meeting in Gois with Antonio Caldeira and then the first HUMM (Horizons Unlimited Mountain Madness) in Llavorsi, Spain with Austin Vince (Terra Circa and Mondo Enduro) and Lois Pryce (Lois on the Loose).
Although the HUMM was a great success and the participants thoroughly enjoyed it (see story here), we felt a little left out! So, on our way to Switzerland via Andorra, riding over the mountains on fantastically twisty paved roads, we decided to create an on-road version of the HUMM for those like us - two up on slightly off-road bikes or even solo on street bikes. During the next two weeks, we rode every paved-ish road in the Spanish Pyrenees and Andorra and created heaps of fiendish way points, complete with secrets to find and hard questions to answer, crazy pics and video! Why should Austin and Lois have all the fun? We never did get to Switzerland, but there's always next year... And you can sign up for the 2008 HUMM now: OFF or ON road, it's the most fun you can have on two wheels ;-)
As the weather turns cooler, we have lots of new travellers heading out for parts unknown, or as the t-shirt says 'I don't know where I am, but I'm not lost!' We also have all the regulars (some of whom are now known as Perpetual Travellers, like Peter and Kay Forwood). Fellow Aussies Ken and Carol Duval are heading off again after going RTW from 99-01. Perhaps we should post a health warning here at the beginning: "Engaging in motorcycle travel has been known to result in permanent addiction and significant disruption to ordinary lifestyles." Horizons Unlimited has already been accused of being the major cause of the productivity decline of western workers, and judging by our weekly statistics, which show that peak usage of the site is on Wednesday, we might be guilty as charged ;-)
This issue will do nothing to reduce our sentence, since we show no remorse whatsoever as we report inspiring, terrifying and funny stories from intrepid motorcycle travellers in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brasil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, the Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey, Turkmenistan, USA and Zambia. You do get around!
To get you started with your planning, we have the famous (well, it is in some circles ;-) HU Achievable Dream Video. It's available now. Everything you need to know if you are seriously interested in travelling - your questions answered. Feedback has been great. Recent comments:
"The Achievable Dream DVD - Absolutely superb - really inspirational and useful."
"I received the video the other day. I found it enjoyable and informative. I'm planning on a late 2008 take off. I can't wait."
"Thanks for the DVD, I thoroughly enjoyed it. And of course it has given me itchy feet."
"I have just completed viewing the DVD - it is fantastic."
"You should issue a health warning with the DVD - it leads to extreme bouts of itchy feet and restlessness! :)"
"I just wanted to say thanks so much for the DVD. I'm planning a 2 month solo ride around Europe on my BMW R1200GS. It's small scale compared to some of the stuff I've read about on HorizonsUnlimited, but still, it's my first big tour! While I know that in Europe I don't need to worry about some of the stuff you guys talked about, I've learned a lot from it, and it's given me a real insight to get going. I was worried that it'd get a bit boring watching a long presentation, but I was completely hooked from beginning to end, pen and paper at the ready. I'm just about to watch it for the 2nd time now!"
Price is a bargain at £14.99 or €21.99 or US$29.99 or CDN$29.99. Order now, and we'll pay the shipping / postage costs! But be warned, viewing this may be a life-changing experience!
Horizons Unlimited 2008 Motorcycle Travellers Calendar - Winners from the 2007 Photo Contest!
Just in time for Christmas presents for your favorite motorcycle traveller, the 2008 calendar is now available! Check it out and get your copy now, for some terrific travel inspiration! The calendars are available through CafePress, and the price is US$24.99 plus postage. The cost to us from CafePress is $14.99, and we split the $10.00 profit with the photographers.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2007 contest - Andy Gower, Brad Houghton, Juan Pablo Gonzalez, Carl Parker, Julie Rose, Ingo Cordes, Marc Gibaud, Mark Stowe, Matt Slater, Eddie Mendes, Stefan Thiel and Saskia Roskam.
It was a really hard job to narrow it down to only 13 pics, as we had hundreds of great photos to choose from, but we think that the winners really deserve their accolades. The small pics don't really do them justice, you'll just have to buy the calendar to appreciate them in full size.
All winners will receive a share of the proceeds from the calendar sales, a free calendar, and 1 year Gold Member status on the HUBB.
The 2007 contest is now CLOSED, but it's now an annual event, so plan now to take those great pics for next year's contest.
Tip: Make sure your camera is set to at least 2300x1800 pixels!
Horizons Unlimited T-Shirts - the holiday season is coming and this is your last chance to get a genuine HU t-shirt for this year - Ride Your World!
Due to our t-shirt supplier miscalculating the numbers, we actually have extra t-shirts in stock from this year's meetings. So, if you missed out on getting your t-shirt at the meeting, or if you got a cotton t-shirt and were wishing you'd opted for an uber-cool sweat wicking synth t-shirt, now's your chance! We have almost all sizes (M, L, XL, XXL) in stock in both synthetic and cotton, black and some grey. So you'll be sure to get them in time for Christmas giving (or keeping), we'll air mail them to you wherever you are in the world, but get your order in soon.
As always, thanks to all our generous supporters for helping us to keep going. For those who haven't yet contributed, or haven't recently contributed, here's all the ways you can help!
Start your planning with travel books at the Horizons Unlimited books page, and use the Amazon search function for your region to look for what you want. Don't forget to visit the Souk for sweatshirts, mugs, boxer shorts and much more.
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.
It's our advertisers, sponsors and product sales that make it possible for us to make the website and e-zine available to you. We hope you'll check out their products and services and if you plan to buy these products, do it from our site or links. 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! :)
If you've had problems receiving the e-zine due to spam filters or insufficient bandwidth, remember you can subscribe to the 'Notice' edition instead of the full HTML version. The Notice edition is a short, straight text message that contains a URL to bring you to the full text on the website. Because the Notice email is so small, it downloads in a flash, and leaves your mailbox uncluttered. Change to the Notice version here.
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This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily ;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.
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If you haven't been to an HU Meeting yet, you missed...
HU Canada West meeting, in Nelson BC
We had a great time at the HU Canada West meeting in Nelson, BC. The weather mostly cooperated, allowing great riding, off-road riding tech clinic in the campsite, and the ever-popular 'For Women Only' panel discussion! The evenings featured entertaining presentations on a range of topics including travels in South and Central America, Motorcycle Therapy, Rider Traffic Survival Skills and 'How to Let Sleeping Bears Lie', which resulted in some discussion between the Canadians and Americans as to the relative merits of bear spray vs. automatic weapons for bear encounters.
Special thanks to Timo Scheiber, Chad Stocking and Andy and Luciana Miller (recently migrated from UK to Canada) for making this happen! The team is out scouting for a new location next year, hopefully a little closer to the coast for those from Vancouver and Seattle to get to.
HU Portugal meeting, in Gois
The weather for the 5th Annual HU Portugal Motorcycle Travellers Meeting was a delightful contrast to the UK - warm and sunny in Gois, a lovely town in northern Portugal with fantastic riding. The group was a mixture of Portuguese and Brits with a few Belgians and an Australian for colour.
Many thanks to presenters Patrick Watson and Helen Antcliff (a.k.a. Pat and Hippy), Carlos Azevedo, Sean Howman, Anatilde Ramos, Paulo Oliveira and Jose Fonseca. We're also very grateful to Catarina Almeida and Pedro Leite for all the help with the logistics. Antonio Caldeira did his usual sterling job as our local host, and even organized a mini-HUMM on the Sunday! The riders who took part enjoyed themselves immensely and raved about the twisty roads and scenery, so this might be an annual feature?
Horizons Unlimited Mountain Madness (HUMM), Llavorsi, Spain,
A small but enthusiastic bunch of riders participated in the first annual HUMM in the Spanish Pyrenees, with seven teams competing for the trophy and bragging rights. Twenty-three hours of riding in the beautiful mountain trails of the Pyrenees, hunting for elusive marker points and riding mile after mile of fun trails, with fantastic mountain views, left some of the riders in such awe of the place that they spent more time looking at the scenery than they did bagging points!
We want to thank Austin Vince and Lois Pryce (Lois on the Loose) for the huge effort in setting up the course and for partnering with us to put on this event, which will definitely be an annual event. See below for details on the 2008 meeting.
Mark your calendar and sign up now for one of the following meetings:
Thailand Mini-meeting, January 19, 2008 - no registration, just show up! Khaomao Khaofang Restaurant (near the Night Safari) 6:00 PM, Chiang Mai. The Night Safari is about 10 km southwest of central Chiang Mai, just west of the Canal Road.
UK Meeting, 3rd July - 6th July 2008 confirmed, same location! Registration is now open, and the entry fee is priced to encourage early-birds - we're holding at the 2007 prices only until December 31!
Colorado, USA, Silverton, July 10-13, 2008 to be confirmed.
North Carolina, USA, July 17-20 confirmed, same location!
HUMM 2008, Spain, 29-30 July (briefing 28 July evening) confirmed. Based out of Llavorsi, Spain, this two-day, no GPS, orienteering event will range over the Spanish Pyrenees and Andorra. Note this is a mid-week event.For 2008, there will be TWO classes:
And for those of you who would like to bring along your non-riding spouse / significant other, the 4 star Riberies Hotel we are staying at offers horseback riding, white water rafting, or for the less energetic an outdoor pool and a full spa. I'm determined to try the Chocolate Massage next year!
Registration is now open for the HUMM 2008. Numbers are strictly limited, so first in, best dressed as the Aussies say...
We are working on dates and locations for Canada West, Portugal, Spain (Malaga area), Germany and possibly Belgium. As soon as we have confirmed details we'll post them.
If you are planning on coming to one of the meetings, please register early. Also let us know if you'd like to show a few slides from one of your trips too - it doesn't have to be a fancy multimedia presentation, a few slides and a few words about the area is great. Length can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes.
For the Saturday afternoon (for most meetings) we are also adding even more clinics on all subjects, and looking for more volunteers to lead them. Tech subjects such as tire changing, travel prep on documentation, health, packing the bike and anything else anyone wants to talk about are all of interest. You don't need to be an expert, just have done it! Let us know if you can help!
Volunteers for all meetings are needed, just a couple of hours of your time makes it all a lot easier - and fun - for all. You can volunteer a few hours of your time for any meeting here.
If you'd like to host an HU Meeting in your area, please see the How To Host a Meeting page for details.
See you there!
Grant and Susan.
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Too many to list! If you haven't checked out the Links page it's time you did - it's scary long, but it's a fascinating browse.
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.
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 100's of 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!
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.
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!
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!
The US State Department regularly issues updated travel advisories, information and/or warnings.
Grant Guerin and Julie Rose, Australia, Trans America and Beyond, in Argentina, Ushuaia and Chile, Suzuki V-Strom,
"'There is some ice on the road, so be careful' the young and cocky Gendarme informed Grant at the Argentine/Chilean frontier, Paso de Jama. Concerned about the 180 odd kilometre ride ahead, Jules sought clarification.
We discussed whether to go on or turn back and decided to go for it, confident that Hamish and Emma were not far behind us should there be any problems. Clear blue skies, icy cold head winds Piggy and her faithful mounts crossed into Chile. The road was good, dry and the scenery just as spectacular as it was in November last year.
'This is not too bad!' we thought continuing on till we hit a small patch of ice, slowly and carefully we crept over it with the back tyre slipping a little. 'Still not too bad, need to be careful.' we thought.
A little further up the snow was thicker along the sides of the road and a few trucks and cars had stopped. 'You will not get through, it's impossible!' yelled a truckie passing us by foot.
We dismounted to check it out. For 200 metres one lane of the road was blocked by thick ice, snow and a broken down truck. It did not look pretty but it was certainly possible. Grant gently maneuvered the bike down the road and Jules followed on foot. 'This is getting a bit more difficult,' we thought 'Hopefully that's the last of it.'
Last year the lakes were a spectrum of colours and filled with flamingos, now they were frozen over and deep blue. The rivers and streams were iced up, however, it was after all a clear bright day.
Our next ice traversing feat arrived. This time there was heavy snow all around and covered most of Ruta 25 with just a narrow thoroughfare down the middle that was thick with ice.
Jules jumped off to lighten the load for Grant. He slowly and surely navigated through a couple of hundred metres, stopping periodically for Jules to catch up. 'Things appear to be getting worse' we thought.
Suddenly we were being bombarded by white wind and our blue sky was disappearing fast as an evil looking storm was forming at the apex of the pass 4,500m above sea level... exactly where we were heading. We were 75 kilometres away from San Pedro de Atacama and a nice warm hotel.
We pushed on for another kilometer into the ferocious wind, blinding snow and intensifying storm. The road had disappeared.... completely."
Ed. See Grant and Julie's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and lots of great photos!
Mike and Lotta Vaananen, Finland, Vietnam to Europe, in Cambodia and Laos,
"We roamed the ruins of Angkor for three days, up and down the sloped steps, on top of the mountains - at the end of it we were both limping - injury or not! On the second day we were a little wiser and took our own bikes down, which was great fun as the area is huge, it was great to be free to roam all over the place and stop to take photos when ever we wanted to! It had just rained and the jungle smelled green and fresh, and the temples were just breath-taking in the glint of the afternoon sun!
Thursday morning we finally packed our belongings, and started the day's journey by going through the Angkor area once more, to view some more remote ruins along the way.The day's leg was only about 140km and after what felt like forever over the bumps and through the dust in the merciless heat of the day we finally made it to the lost little town of Anlong Veng. We checked into an extremely basic guesthouse with a squat toilet that was recommended by the Lonely Planet, but they must have been there a LONG time ago... However, the owner was kind and proud enough of his little establishment, and keen to practice his English, we practically had to push him out of the room for the night! Our bikes, bags, and clothes were all covered in red dust, we didn't bother even to try and clean up but headed out for dinner to the only restaurant in town, and were charged an extortionate amount of money for a few beers, some rice and stir-fried vegetables! We could hardly wait for the dawn to break in order to be back on the road!
The following day we headed to Prasat Preah Vihear up in the Northern border, a 7th century monastery perched on the mountain top, with stunning views over the plateaus of Cambodia and Thailand. The ascent was pretty challenging, and once we made it to the summit we didn't want to face coming down in the dusk, and were allowed to sleep on the floor of a local police shack instead! We had a beautiful evening there on the top of the world, the temperature was cool and comfortable and it was all quiet as we were chatting with the locals in a little noodle stall, under the impossibly bright stars. The descent the following day was HAIR-RAISING though, my heart was pounding like hell, and honestly I can't remember when I've done something that scared me as much!! But it all went very well and the feeling of achievement afterwards was fantastic!
Our next stop was Tbeng Meanchey, where over a bowl of noodles we decided to catch up a little on our plan and avoid the 500km loop to the South by taking a direct route to Stung Treng on the border. This route was specifically NOT recommended by any of our guide books, and now we know why; it took us two days to cover 120k, we ended up sleeping with a local family in a little village in the middle of nowhere, the people in this poor country are some of the friendliest we've ever met! We rode through dry riverbeds, sandpits, mud, ditches - you name it - it was extremely tiring, but also fantastically fun!! Once we finally made it to Stung Treng we were able to relax a couple of days there, before crossing over the Mekong , and a smooth ride to the border for Laos.
Across the border we spent a few days relaxing in '4000 Islands', on the utterly beautiful Island of Don Det. The bikes had to be lifted in to what practically looked like a canoe, and on the other side we had to ride them over a soft sandy beach. While on the island I also came down with mild food poisoning that in turn led into pretty serious case of dehydration - hallucinations and all - my second super-scary experience after Prasat Preah Vihear, within only a week!!! But we still managed to see the magnificent water falls and the rare freshwater dolphins that reside on the area.
Since entering Laos the roads so far have all been covered and beautiful to travel on. We stopped for two nights in a small town of Champasak to see the impressive pre-Angkorian ruins of Wat Phu, and then continued to Savannakhet, where we were soaked with buckets of water - the local's fabulously entertaining idea of celebrating the Laos New Year - let's hope it's a happy one for us all!"
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Grant says: "The Omega system is simply a must-do for all airheads" (And I just got the starter too!)
Takayuki Nezasa, Japan, in Africa and Russia, on Suzuki Djebel 250 xc,
"Moscow is too hot! But Novosibirsk and so on are too cold! It's as if winter drive for motorcycle! I'm heading for Japan!
Some thoughts on Africa: from Kenya to Sudan - this is the difficult section in the east side of Africa (RSA - Egypt). If you can pass this section, everything is easy in the east side of Africa (western and central Africa area is more difficult. Please don't misunderstand. North of Kenya - Nairobi - Moyale section it's well known? As a bandits area. Via Marsabit is popular among the tourists, but it's also popular among the bandits. I took the route which is via Wajir. This is close to Somalia, so most tourists avoid this.
At Garissa, there is 'Mikono international,' they are one of NGO from Japan. Japanese web site, but in it they show their contact address. I wondered they must have the latest info in the east area. if the east area was dangerous, they must not be there. I visited them first. They said there had been nothing serious for those 10 years. They are very kind and you may stay there. Most of the staff are Japanese. I recommend you to visit them anyway.
Then I took the route from Garissa via Wajir to Moyale. the road was sandy. The soft-sand sections would appear so often. I hadn't met serious atmosphere. I think it's safe today. Ii know a Japanese motorcyclist who passed the desert route in the east, almost same time. So it's possible and you can try! But for me, my motorcycle condition was not so good. i took the Nile-side route in the west. You need to cross the Nile somewhere. There's not a bridge but some ferries. The road was sandy, corrugation and so on. Sometimes the Nile flooded over the road. But don't worry about it. There is a detour every flood section.
When you go to Egypt, you have to get on a ferry at Wadi Haifa. I recommend you the first-class of the ferry. The second-class was very busy. A tourist with me had his camera stolen while he was sleeping. You could also sleep on the deck, but there was a strong wind. You need a blanket or sleeping bag. You have to load your motorcycle into the cabin (passageway). Everything is after all passengers. The passengers' entrance is not so wide. And there is a little step (10..15 cm?) at the entrance. I didn't check the width exactly, but DR250 with rear side-cases was possible to load. The parking space is just the passageway near the entrance. The width of the passageway is enough for two 250cc motorcycles parking in two rows there. You can arrange your motorcycles lengthwise, too. Don't forget to cover your motorcycle. I had the accessories of the motorcycle stolen."
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Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, in Maldives, Harley-Davidson,
"Our morning ride was accompanied by three police motorcycles plus one plain clothed police coordinator. It lasted just over 30 minutes, including a few stops for photographs and a loop of the island of Male was just 6 km's. Not our usual sort of riding but it was pleasant in early morning. We were welcomed on our return by the Deputy Director and the Assistant Director General of Transport for a few more photos.
All too soon it was back to paperwork to export the motorcycle. An easier process involving the usual people, shipping company, customs, port authority, again exceptionally helpful and we had re-crated soon after lunch with it waiting for the next ship to Colombo, transship to Singapore and onto Fiji. Who knows when it will arrive, which is why we will be heading home to Australia to wait.
Mali is quiet for a capital city. There are no dogs barking, they are banned, we have not seen any cats or other animals other than a few lizards and fruit bats. Music does not come from cars or entertainment venues. Trucks are small and quiet, no buses and horns are rarely used. A pleasant change from India and Sri Lanka."
Ed. The Forwood's have travelled to 178 countries now, over 470,000 km during 11+ years on the road. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host their complete RTW story and pictures here!
Richard Miller and Sascha Meyer, through Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in Kenya and Tanzania, 1955 Royal Enfield Bullet,
"Heading North out of Nairobi into the highlands towards Lake Naivasha we had any final illusions that Africa is a continent of sunshine completely beaten out of us by incessant drizzle, fog and general coldness. Our quick diversion North before heading South was mainly down to the possibility of seeing hippos by the Lake and to have a stroll around Hell's Gate National Park. The hippos didn't disappoint but the stars of the show were a rowdy bunch of Marabou Stork, clacking their beaks and revelling in their status as possibly the ugliest creatures in all creation.
Our plans to miss the rainy season were pretty much spot on for Tanzania but what no-one had told us is that the rainy season is followed by the windy season and we had four days of battling against morale sapping headwinds. Of course it wasn't all bad, the road took us through Mikumi National Park. It's the only National Park in East Africa that you can officially enter by motorcycle - having a major highway carve through it they can hardly stop you.
Our first sight of elephants had us hopping off the bike for photo opps. Then we were told off by a passing warden. On the face of it fair enough as you can't really have people wandering around when lions are on the loose, but were we mauled it could have provided some good 'stupid tourist' stories in papers local and worldwide."
Ed. See Richard and Sascha's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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Paul and Zoe Jenkins, South Africa, in Malawi, Honda XR250 Baja's,
"So, the last you heard, we were living and working in a dive lodge in Nacala, Northern Mozambique! Paul was training to be a Dive Master and I was managing the lodge. Luckily only a month into the job, we had to take a 10 day holiday to Malawi to re-new our bike import permits….. I mean it wasn't that we wanted a holiday so soon, it was just unavoidable!
This trip gave us the opportunity to explore inland Mozambique, as we were planning to take a dirt road directly west into Malawi, through a tiny border post that would conveniently take us straight into Liwonde National Park, supposedly Malawi's best game park. Although, the route was only 500kms, the road was pretty rough in parts, so it took us 3 days to get to the border – so we needed a few days in Malawi to recover before heading back to work…honest!
It was great to get off the tar (which we have been moaning about since we started the trip) and the bikes really came into their own on the dirt roads and we had great fun…one of us had a little bit too much fun, smashing his number plate and on the 2nd day, I came around a corner to find Paul looking dazed and his bike facing me on the wrong side of the road! My heart sank because I knew he had had a fall and then when I saw him limping towards his bike – I was working out how close we were to a hospital….it didn't bear thinking about! Luckily, it was just a badly grazed knee…nothing a bit of ibuprofen and antiseptic cream couldn't sort out, but after that I was the pace setter and we were traveling at a more sedate pace (which I try to persuade Paul allows us to look at the scenery more!).
Of course we knew that Liwonde National park had cats and elephants, but we rode up the gate on our bikes and were promptly turned away…for our own safety! Luckily, there was another route into the park via boat, so we headed north towards Lake Malawi and the northern gate of the park. Here they let you ride the 1km through the park to the river, where a boat ferry's you to the lodge and campsite. The 1 km of park was enough, it was like entering Jurassic Park, with huge trees and thick bush and the promise of an elephant around every corner! Our 'elephant strategy' was to try not to meet on because I can't u-turn at the best of times and luckily it worked and we arrived at the boat unscathed!
Unfortunately we had to leave our bikes on the other side of the river, so we untied our dirty bags and muddled our way on the little boat. On the other side of the river, we were greeted with a glass of bucks fizz and it was immediately obvious this wasn't 'our' kind of place! The poor staff that helped us carry our bags probably had to throw away their nice clean uniforms afterwards and we sat dirtying the reception area, sipping the drinks surrounded by lots of clean Europeans staring at us and our big pile of dirty bags, helmets and jackets! Luckily, they had a campsite we set up camp, showered and suddenly blended in a bit more!
...we headed out of Milange along Robert Mugabe highway (nice touch!) to Blantyre, the biggest city in Malawi. Just outside the city we were stopped at a Police road block. Nothing unusual here, it happens at least once a day, usually more, but at this one I managed to get myself arrested!
Completely innocently (that's what they all say!), we didn't have any 3rd party insurance because there was nowhere to buy it at the border and so after trying to fob off my expired English bike insurance the policeman told me 'You are under arrest'! I felt it was time to take off my helmet and launch a huge charm offensive to avoid going to prison…or worse…paying a fine! It worked and they were very reasonable allowing us to go, on the condition we would buy insurance in Blantyre! Sadly, that meant we had to hang around in the city for 2 days as it was Saturday and everywhere was closed, but we occupied ourselves by exploring the city and sampling the delights of every single ATM in the city in the hope of withdrawing cash!
Blantyre is an industrial city, so not much to talk about and the back-packers we stayed in was adjacent to the bus station, so equally uninspiring! We had camped in an empty spot under a shady tree and by the first evening we realized why it was empty! Sitting outside cooking our dinner as the sun came down, the bats arrived to eat the berries in the tree above us. They swooped in, grabbed a berry and relieved themselves of the last one they'd eaten!! Consequently we were pooed on all evening – I say we, but it was just me! Paul is a bigger target than me, but not a drop touched him and I got my trousers, chair flip flops and hat covered in bat crap... not a good night and every morning we had to swill down the tent after the bats overnight feast!
...Vwaza has a big elephant population, but the rangers at the gate were happy for us to ride the 1km to the campsite, so because they were relaxed, so were we and we rode into the camp and chose our spot next to some bushes. Still sitting on the bikes, a little boy crept over to us and whispered 'be careful', then shot back to hide behind his Dad's 4x4. Following his wide eyed gaze we saw a herd of elephants munching on the bushes about 2 metres away from us! What a welcome!
Paul got off his bike and backed away behind a tree, but I just sat there staring – it wasn't until he said in a low, stern voice 'Zoe, get off your bike you idiot', that I followed suit! When a bull came out of nowhere from behind us, I chose to sit on a picnic bench for protection, while Stanford, the campsite manager, crawled underneath trying to hide and this time Paul just hauled me out of the way! For the rest of the day we watched more than 50 elephants come through the camp site towards the Vwaza river for a drink with the hippos, before coming back later in the evening and disappearing into the bush. It was amazing and happened every day we were there."
Ed. See Paul and Zoe's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and great photos!
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Drop in on Alaska Leather on your Alaskan adventure for service, tires, accessories and a hot cup of fresh coffee!
Adam Lewis and Danny Burroughs, UK, UK to Nepal, in New Zealand for the winter,
"Finally, we got confirmation that the bikes had arrived in Christchurch. They were a week late and had cost us a lot more than expected thanks to them being taken off the ship in Auckland, not Christchurch. We'd been under the impression that the vessel would arrive in Auckland and unload relevant cargo before continuing to Christchurch where we'd receive our bikes, unpack and dispose of the crates before clearing customs; this was not the case.
It transpires that the initial MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) inspection takes place at the port of entry and any decision on fumigation is made there. With MAF deciding the bikes required fumigating before being forwarded to Christchurch, the shipping agent hired a trucking company to take them to the fumigators. Total bill NZ$715; plus port and handling fees of NZ$475 and a second MAF inspection in Christchurch of NZ$75. Add all that to the RM4800 we'd paid in Malaysia and it cost a total of GBP1200 to ship the two bikes.
It's all in the name - Prepare for the cold and be colder was what we'd been told. As we approached the campsite so we saw fires ablaze across the hillside like medieval beacons; only these beacons were surrounded by bikers drinking piss. With its reputation for being cold, the organizers dump large piles of firewood around the campsite for campers to help themselves to and so fires littered the place.
Come Saturday morning the only thing more persistent than the rain was the constant stream of arrivals. What amazed us the most was the amount of riders arriving on dirt bikes having ridden hundreds of kilometers cross country to get there. Many of these were on motocross bikes and when we asked them about being 'road legal' they looked at us as though we had two heads.
That evening the mother of all bonfires was lit. 30m long and 5m high, the timber must have been marinated in petrol as burnt with an intensity neither of us had ever seen. The crowd, soaked from a days' rain, smoldered as they listened to the band and drank yet more beer.
We won the prize for the furthest traveled but really the award should have gone to Yorkshireman Ian Coates. We met the 64 year old the following morning when he came to introduce himself. He left the UK almost eight years ago having told his wife he was going for a ride for two months! During that time he's ridden 190,000 km on his Africa Twin and his wife has visited him four times. He says they have a good marriage as they've only had four rows in eight years!"
Erik Saue, Norway, Around the World, in the USA,
"And just before the ocean view starts to become habitual the Highway 1 ends at the junction to 101 where you all of a sudden feel like an ant. It's the trees that do it. They are the biggest on the planet. A redwood tree adrift at sea could sink a supertanker. Or to put it more constructively; one redwood tree and your sauna will be hot as hell for the rest of your life. They are an awesome sight. Really, you'll have to be there to grasp their scale. So when I crossed the border to Oregon I did a right turn and – spellbound by the many grand vistas - headed inland to see if I could find some really rocky mountains too.
A few hours later; I was alone in my lane and came in a fine angle through a curve and jumped on the brakes. Straight ahead was something large, wooly and unhappy cornered by thick forest to the left, a canyon to the right, and a line of cars blocking the opposite direction. It was something I'd never seen before. I just knew it meant trouble. The animal had a massive forehead wide as the steering bar on my motorcycle. Even worse, it came straight at me.
I have to add that somebody, earlier the same day, told me that every year a number of people are run down and killed by buffalos, thus adding some excitement to the moment. But just before it hammered into my headlight it tilted slightly to my left, and passed me so close that I could have touched it. Phew... One car driver leaned out her window and shouted: 'You lucky son of a bitch.'
...Being an Arctic citizen on a motorcycle in South Dakota has its disadvantages. Temperatures rose to a record high 107 Fahrenheit; or 42 Celsius if you like. I felt like a polar bear in a zoo in Cairo. In Rapid City I found relief in an aircon motel with a fellow biker from Canada, but eventually I had to move on. It was plain awful because the breeze when driving was warmer than me thus heating me up instead of cooling me down. And if that wasn't bad enough - Americans everywhere gave me a really warm welcome.
...I perspired my way into a nearby town (in South Dakota) to find a new refuge, but they were all occupied by fashion-conscious men with soft leather pants, stylish bandanas, and with colorful drawings on the back of their jackets. It seemed to be a group thing; matching tattoos and everything. Their motherly attachment was underlined by resting safe in the lap of the women sitting behind them. The name of the town was Sturgis which is famous for arranging the largest motorcycle rally in the world. One week a year approx. half a million Harleys roll into town. However, it might be the world's biggest rally, but not the best. The best rally in the world is Nord-Norge Treffet arranged by HMC. Everybody knows that. Maybe that is why the boys in Sturgis were seeking comfort in the bosoms of their loved ones – Nord-Norge it's just too far away.
In Wisconsin I came across the Harley Davidson factory. I thought why not, knocked on the door, apologized for not driving a Harley, and wondered if I could have a look inside. Sure, no problem, and a member of staff gave me an hour tour through the factory halls. It was very interesting."
Ed. See more stories in Erik's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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The book you've been waiting for - a great read!
Andrew Wells, UK, Chelmsford to Cape Town, near Victoria Falls,
"Encountered my first real breakdown with the bike during the transit of Tanzania from Kenya on the way to Malawi. This was the consequence of picking up a tank full of bad fuel and resulted in a truck ride back to the nearest town. I got to experience first hand why it is that these trucks are seen on their side in the ditch on the side of the road. It was a frightening ride at some speed for something weighing many tons and controlled by someone scarcely old enough to have a driving license.
The decision was taken to spend a few nights at South Luangwa National Park, more off road riding. The campsites there are open for the wildlife to freely roam which is all well and good until being awoken early one morning to the sound of an Elephant eating the tree that my tent was camped under along with the bike. I don't remember getting much sleep for the remainder of the time there. Must have met the same animal again on leaving the park as it chased me down the track with ears flapping for some 30 meters. An exhilarating few seconds of riding, these things can run fast through the rough bush when they want to.
At Vic Falls took to the skies in another form of transport to see this great spectacle and later at night under a full moon to see the lunar rainbows."
Ed. Follow Andrew's adventures in his blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Derek Fairless, ATW Adventure Travel, in Newfoundland, BMW F650 Funduro,
"'I put you in number 5 site, it's opposite the toilets and water tap, but there's only you up that side, so take your pick, whatever you fancy. Black fly are a bit of a nuisance at the moment though, hope you got some spray.'
I soon have the tent up and scavenge unused wood from the other fire places and in the best Boy Scout tradition the coffee is boiling and the sausage sandwiches imminent. The atmosphere is humid and dank, and I strip off my Motorcycling gear, don my high ankle shoes and outdoor lightweight trousers, spray my exposed parts with DEET and sit back to enjoy my meal that has finished cooking while I was thus engaged. Isn't modern lightweight fabric fantastic? It pulls the sweat away from the sweaty parts, keeps you cool, keeps you warm, washes easily and dries so quickly. Mosquitoes love it, they can pierce through its figure hugging layer with no trouble at all, I sat watching incredulously as one did it in front of me. A special feature of my expensive Knox wear, is the mesh that runs along the seams, to allow air to flow and keep you cool, the mosquitoes can't get through it, but they don't need to anyway, but the black fly can, and I have tracks up the inside of my arms that the most extreme junky would be proud of. If you are going into black fly country do not buy Knox underwear!!
That evening while the black flies were feasting on me, the fireflies were taking flash photos for the Boyleston Insect Gazette. I have never seen more than one or two of these incredible insects before, and here in front of me were dozens, flashing away in the bushes all around me.
...Now a word of warning about the roads in Newfoundland. The main road goes up the WEST shore of Newfoundland, but it heads upwards in a north-easterly direction and ends up on the EAST coast, so following the signs for WEST, I end up in a cul-de-sac in the less spectacular part of town. After wandering back and forwards through suburbs of wooden houses and waste ground I find myself back at the docks and resolve to head in the opposite direction. Just out of town I come across the Visitors Centre, park and review my options. It is 11.45, foggy, cold and wet, I am tired and confused. Time for a cigar and a think. After the cigar and think I get out my emergency survival bag, and climb in it at the bottom of a shallow ditch, welcome to Newfoundland."
Ed. Follow Derek's trip in his blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
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James Burman and Imogen Mitchell, Europe, Morocco and Turkey – in Turkey
"The Turkish border is quite a thing... jaunty waves abounded from the armed 'kids' on the bridge but then we hit the big guns. Hut 1: Greek farewell dude and a photo of the bike number plate; Hut 2: Friendly Turk greeting; Hut 3: Main Turk a) passport check b) bike insurance (but a bargain at 8EUR); c) visa (not a bargain at 30EUR) d) vehicle stamp e) final stamp; Hut 4: customs and photo of bike; Hut 5: post-main-passport control, fierce, then super friendly and of course, another photo of the bike number plate and with more jaunty waves and, quite some time later, we were in Asia Minor, our 3rd continent.
... It's been a Roman ruins bonanza, with visits to Troy (no Brad Pitt, alas), Ephesus, Pergammon, Hierapolis and the famous travertine pools at Pamukkale. Also the amazing 'fairy chimneys' in Goreme (and the early morning wake up call of 20 balloons floating over the tent doing their 'sunrise over the valley' thang).
The Turkish people are unbelievably friendly and generous: one guy came out from his shop by a mosque in Sarkikargac and gave us a bundle of fruit, then brought out hot drinks and bottles of water! Then the amazing bonus night near Ankara where it was getting late, so we nipped into a likely looking spot just off the ring road. Alas, we were then waved over by 3 armed security guards, and with much use of the phrase book, it turns out we had entered the studio lot of TRT (Turkish TV), but over more cay, the guys said we could sleep in one of the spare snow ploughs, use their shower and asked us what time we wanted breakfast. Result! Then the international language of 'Pass the Pigs' game whiled the night away.
Other notable friendliness was at the Abant lake campsite, which in itself was negotiated with the (again, armed) ticket guard over much cay, where we were greeted by the other campers like lost family and given almost more food and cay than we could cope with... We were also given Turkish names: James (as he doesn't look English apparently!) is now known as Tolga (a name given by Zafer, a pide shop owner, and his eccentric American pal Delmar) and Imogen was given 'Dilara' as 'Imogen' was way too tricky.
... On a more personal note for those of a soppy persuasion, James and Imogen are now engaged, with rings being purchased in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and exchanged between the Aga Sofia and Blue Mosque... AHHHHHH..."
Ed. Congratulations to you both! We'll look forward to the wedding photos in due course... See James and Imogen's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Peter Cameron and Carol Palladino, Canada, to Ushuaia, in USA, Mexico and Guatemala,
"... We climbed the highest pass yet, 11,000+ up into Silverton, Colorado for the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting. It was cold and rainy when we arrived which sort of felt good - for a short while. Hanging out at 9,000 feet makes you a bit breathless even when doing some very basic things.
The travellers meeting was well organized and interesting. It was good to see Grant Johnson - the Horizons Unlimited guru - who we had first met several years ago when planning our last trip and also to meet a whole bunch of new folks all interested in motorcycle touring. Peter took the opportunity to replace the back tire which was slowly leaking in the cool mountain air from the repair in Kamloops on our first day of the trip. Cindy Poole from Texas shared her Yamaha 225 with Carol for the 'Basic off road riding' course put on by Chris Ratay and Simon Thomas and Rawhyde Adventure. Lots of good information from Dr. Arturo Macias, he's been riding the Copper Canyon area of Mexico for 30 years. We also met Chan Chandler, a retired doctor from South Carolina who supplied us with morning coffee and wide ranging conversations. We left the meeting with Eric Sargent - sometimes from Costa Rica, Jeremiah St. Ours, the traveller's meeting organizer just back from a South American journey, and Dan Wilson from Las Lunas New Mexico, who very kindly invited us back to his home for a couple of days while we reorganized stuff for crossing the border into Mexico - like mailing extra clothes home, etc.
...Drove to Ciudad Cuauhtemoc and had our passports stamped out of Mexico and Peter dealt with the bike documents and the temporary import/export permit and then 4 kms later in La Mesilla we did the documentation for Guatemala that includes 90 day visas for Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua - a very easy crossing with no problems and little expense. The bike had to be fumigated - it's their rules.
...Antigua is a very beautiful old city, cobbled streets, old churches, volcanoes in the distance. We needed funds and headed for a bank machine... we found a machine that didn't work the first time... and there was a guy there who seemed to be having trouble with his card... we looked for another machine, but they were in very crowded areas, so we went back to the first one...making a long story short, when we accessed the atm the second time, we asked for less money... hit the yes button for a receipt (we thought) and encouragement from the same guy who was there at the beginning. Peter started to get a bad feeling and was watching the guy, who had switched from the machine he had been using to the one I had just used. After a few minutes the guy left and headed to a 'Burger King' across the street and I told Peter that I could check my bank account online from an internet cafe that was just around the corner. I did that and saw that there had been 12 illegal withdrawals! Peter went running back to the Burger King and tried to grab the guy, the guy started to run and Peter was chasing him along the main streets of Antigua shouting 'ladron' which is the Spanish for 'thief' at the top of his lungs.
The tourist police caught the guy and then we were introduced to some pretty decent Central American policing. I didn't know what had happened out on the street until Peter came to get me with the 'civil policia' better known as the 'federales'. We went to do a report at a temporary mobile office set up where the thief was handcuffed to the stair railing outside! The federales showed us the money they took from him (it did not total the amount he had withdrawn and we suspect he handed some off to a partner). The police offered us his watch, ring, cell phones and most of the money - indicating that they needed to have some funds for evidence. We declined the stuff, but took the money which came to about half of what had been stolen. Then we spoke to a guy on a cell phone who spoke English and he indicated he would meet with us on Monday to do a more formal report. Suffice to say, it was a rather miserable evening."
Ed. What a bummer about the cash machine! Good that you were able to check your account and determine what had happened quickly.
Simon Roberts, UK, The Road to Kathmandu - the comic strip - coming soon to Horizons Unlimited!
In August 2005 Simon Roberts, a freelance Graphic artist, set off from Bristol,UK on his trusty BMW R100GS heading east to Kathmandu, Nepal. Having to push the bike off the ferry at Calais, France, due to starter motor failure, he knew the trip was going to be anything but uneventful....
Over the next seven months he pushed East, through the motorcycle workshops of Europe, Turkey, Iran. Pakistan and India and finally into Nepal to be met by the Maoist uprising... He encountered wild dogs, wild men and wild women. From the desperation of a failed driveshaft in Baluchistan, close to the Afghan border to the joys of a Cappuccino in Delhi, euphoria, despair and maniacal rickshaw drivers were his daily companions...
"Throughout the 7 months, I drew cartoons feverishly , documenting the Highs – and Lows – of the trip and these hundreds of drawings are finally being collated into a unique 'Illustrated Motorcycle Diary travel journal comic strip'"
Ed. As from the end of September, Simon will be uploading the 'Road to Kathmandu' comic strip as each page is completed. You’ll find it on Horizons Unlimited under Travellers Stories / Simon Roberts
Ron Markiewicz, Australia, Africa and TransAm 07, in Alaska and Yukon Territory, Canada,
"As this is the salmon spawning time, we were lucky to see many bears fishing and gorging themselves:
I did come across one on the road - my riding buddy said 'What a great photo Ron - just wait there while I get the camera'. Only problem was - the bear was now happily strolling towards me. The smile masks some serious arse pucker.
I was ready to hit the starter button and skedaddle - luckily he went into the bush just after this photo - as close an encounter as I ever want.
We stayed a couple of nights in a little old gold town called Stewart at the end of a fjord. The town is very quaint (1890's style), and our digs were brilliant - restored timber buildings - using recycled material and great local artifacts adorning the walls."
Ed. See Ron's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more stories and lots of great pics!
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The place to go to get good brakes for that overloaded world touring bike.
I'm running a 6 piston caliper from Harrison on my R80G/S, and it works REALLY well! Grant
Andi Naumann, Germany to India, in Turkmenistan, MZ ETZ 251 Saxon Tour,
"...The rest of the day I spent riding down very bumpy roads, waving to the most motorcycle enthusiastic people I've seen so far. Almost all kids, boys and men thought I was a hilarious sight and smiled and laughed and waved at me. I stopped only two times, and thus managed to cover half the country until sunset. Once for eating a melon, with dozens of people surrounding me and the bike like in Syria, and the other time for talking to a cop and my way out of buying him vodka..
Somewhere after passing the Kura river I went sideways into the fields, put my tent up because of the mosquitoes, and fell asleep just in my undies, no blankets or nothin'. Only in the morning I woke up because it was a little cholodno, pulled the bike jacket over me and fine. Man, I'm such a tough bugger by now :-).
...On the ship all the passengers underwent a health check (a quick look and some forms filled out by a 'doctor') and apparently I was in best condition. That changed in the next hours. First I thought it's just the missing breakfast and no water during the waiting for the border process, but when I was finished (120$ for now 3 days TM) and ready to leave Turkmenbashi around 1pm I couldn't because some fever was kicking in. God knows where this came from again, but I had to deal with it. For a while I was contemplating sleeping on the bench at the border, but no, that way I would never cross Turkmenistan. And the facts were that from the 5 day visa I had only two and a half left to cover some 1200km in the hottest of the Central Asian countries. So I tried and verified a new healing method for spontaneous, diarrhoea accompanied fevers. It's very easy, just follow these steps:
1. go to a Central Asian desert in the middle of the summer
Believe me, it works. In the beginning the intervals were at 50-75km. But by the middle of the next day they were ever increasing to 100, in the end 150 km. Getting up at the 3rd (and last) day in Turkmenistan I felt a little dizzy because of having eaten almost nothing for 2 days, but the fever was almost gone and the appetite slowly came back. This way I successfully managed to cover all the way to the border to Turkmenistan on the evening of the 7th of August, the exit date on my visa. Only to discover that the border was closed already. Turkmenistan is really not the place to bust your visa! As some of the Mongolia racers were told in very sincere words by the British Embassy: 'If you overstay your visa, your belongings are confiscated, you are put in jail and afterwards deported home!'"
Ed. See Andy's blog here on Horizons Unlimited for more great stories and pics!
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Africa Bike Tours provides you with a selection of unique guided Namibian tours by experienced off road hosts.
Bharadwaj Dayala, India, RTW, Bungee jumping in New Zealand, on a Bajaj(?),
"The lady asked me to follow her to the jumping platform. The platform itself is specially built extending to 40 feet into the air from the vertical rock face. Another buddy reconfirmed my weight and started making arrangements. I was looking back and forth for a chance to run away but they closed the gate. I was not even wearing shoes. I was just wearing my shorts and sandals. What if the rope slips off my feet?
She was attaching the bungee chord to my legs and seeing I was too tensed, told me 'Don't be afraid. There is an easy way to jump. Instead of looking down and facing the depth, you just keep looking at my beautiful face and just fall back. You will be down in no time'.
I was fighting my own fear and trying to win over it and absent mindedly said 'I rather face my own fear and jump'. Bang! She left the ropes there and called 'John you look after this guy' and went away angrily. I told you she was beautiful but I was really trying to face my own fear and win it. But now I am more scared as she might have attached the rope to only one leg expecting to have great fun when I hang on one leg screaming.
Then the guys came and checked everything and told me 'Ok now you walk to the edge, put your hands up and jump'. 'Oh that's all' with a Terminator face again. I took a deep breath as if that's my last and slowly walked to the edge. Unlike a school boy, I always had the chance to quit but then some part of me is saying that I should do it.
I waved at the camera and wanted to jump like Superman but jumped like Hanuman.Then the time stopped. I was descending only inch by inch in slow motion. It's a free fall. It's beyond ecstasy. I actually opted to touch the water but due to my feather light weight I could not reach water. The first time I came all the way down, I enjoyed it in silence. But the bungee pulls you up again a couple of times to almost half the height giving you the same feeling all the time. Then I started laughing like hell with fun. As soon as I was on ground, I was running to take another jump!
We should always have fear. We should respect fear. We should know our limits. And then try to win over it and go beyond the limits."
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Renata Mesaros and Tobias Mauz, Germany, Transasia, Honda Transalps,
"After 697 days and 44249 km we are back in Hamburg from our travel on two motorbikes – Honda Transalp – to Australia. Being 'home' again, it feels like waking up and remembering a dream we had… it all seems unreal… but we have the pictures so we must have done this.
Before we set off in September 2005 we had planned to travel for one year, our destination was Southeast Asia. Soon we realized, that we move slower and spend less money as expected. And as we had no job or flat waiting for us in Germany and still loved travelling, we decided to extend for another year.
Riding through Turkey, Iran and Pakistan was a great adventure and experiencing the hospitality of the Muslim people is truly wonderful: We got invited for tea, dinner or to spend the night with local families.
The traffic in India follows its own rules, which usually means the bigger one has priority. This put us very far back in the list. But driving carefully and with full attention every moment we made it to Goa and back up to Nepal without harm worth mentioning.
Unfortunately it was not possible to continue overland to SEA ( China and Myanmar did not allow to import the motorbikes), so we crated the bikes in Kathmandu and shipped them to Bangkok.
Thailand – Cambodia – Laos – Malaysia are beautiful and laid back countries, travelling is a treat. Crossing Indonesia during the rainy season was challenging again, but the enormously friendly people, animals and nature absolutely stunning. Spotting Orangutans, Komodo Dragons and Manta Rays, climbing still active volcanoes are unforgettable experiences.
Through the islands Sumatra – Bali – Lombok – Sumbawa – Flores and finally Timor, we go to truly remote areas and it is rather shocking to arrive in Australia after that. We cross the country from north to south and get a feeling what 'Outback' means. We finish our travel in Sydney, crate the bikes once more and our families are happy to meet us in person again, after 23 months.
This trip was our dream and we are happy we realized it. We found extraordinarily friendly people in all the countries we've been. Whenever a difficulty came up that we could not handle ourselves, there was always someone helping us.
Meeting other overlander travellers on the road and exchanging stories and experiences was always good fun. We are still in close contact with many of them.
Although we had only two years of experience riding motorbikes before we had started we managed hard weather and road conditions – we crossed deserts, drove on icy roads in the mountains of Pakistan, through flooded roads in Cambodia… but mostly we had a phantastic time! Always keep the mirrors up. Renata and Tobias"
by Sam ManicomSam's plans frequently don't work out as they should... new challenges and surprises... jailed in Tanzania ...lives in a remote village, canoes a dugout in Malawi, escapes a bush fire and much more. Get it here!
Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle. 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,
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 Aimimage for the PAL video or all format DVD. Don't forget to tell them you heard about it on HU, we'll make a bit, and it won't cost you any more.
Looking for a travel book for someone special?
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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' E-zine - Copyright 1999-2007, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan Johnson. All rights reserved.
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Hamish Oag and Emma Myatt, UK, Asia, Australia and the Americas, in Argentina, BMW R1100 GS,
"Hame and I wanted to ride North to La Quaica and cross into Bolivia there, but Jules and Grant had had enough of the cold and had decided to cross the border at Yacuiba, a town at a lower altitude where it might be warmer.
We said farewell and made plans to meet in a couple of weeks in Santa Cruz to ride the road to Corumba (Brazil) together. Hame and I North headed to Humahuaca - crossing the Tropic of Capricorn on the way.
La Quaica, the border town, wasn't very inviting so we rode West, out to Yavi - a small adobe village with a way of life which seemingly hadn't changed for the last 200 years."
Josh Forde, New Zealand, in Brasil,
"September 20th, 2007 - I have done it! I pulled into Rio late last night and made my way into the centre. To sum up Brasilian driving habits, 'give a Brasilian an inch and he'll drive a car through it'. It is 6pm and about 27 degrees Celsius as if anyone needed reminding that they were in Rio. It was still an eventful trip. I thought I was dead when a power line dropped on my head (really). The following morning I almost was run over by a motorcycle which would have been ironic.
It has been a great trip for me of some 25000 kms making friends along the way and having many countless helpers, advisors and well wishers. My main regret of travelling so far is being unable to spend longer in each place and learn more of the lives of my friends."
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Robbo and Amy, Australia, to Africa, in South Africa, Africa Twin,
"After spending over a month in Cape Town revitalising the bikes at Tim's Motorcycles shop, engine out for new rings in the Africa Twin, new forks and stocking up for the next leg of Rob's trip up the east coast, we head east along the Garden Route."
Ed. For more stories and great pics, see Robbo and Amy's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!
Cynthia Milton, UK, RTW, in South Africa, recuperating with a broken wrist, R80G/S,
"Sorry, short, one-handed. SA people keep kidnapping me. All wonderful, especially Des and Marina at Velddrif. Yesterday had delightful half-hour in operating theatre to reset broken left wrist. Pethidine/Valium cocktail worked. Wednesday morning dropped bike on gravel at standstill - foot slid, fell over. Rode 300km to Springbok (170km south of Namibia border). No can do clutch. Guesthouse next to hospital. All very helpful. Nice docs. Plaster. Six weeks. Hurts. Dunno what to do now."
Hubert Kriegel, France, back in Lima Peru, ready to reclaim his bike and hit the road again,
"I arrived in Cusco last night sunday night. To do my full maintenance, i ride from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina and came back to Cusco for a total of 4600 miles. It was worthy! I am riding a brand new motorcycle/sidecar. I reconnect with Jean Louis last night, we feel very fortunate to be there together. For years, living in New York City, we were dreaming of travelling on motorcycle together ... and here we are ready to explore the Urubamba Valley (where the last 4 Inca's Emperor lived).
Ed. Not many words (at least on the English site), but lots of fabulous pics on Hubert's site.
Jason Homewood, UK, Round the world, in USA, KTM950,
"From Costa Rica, after being up half the night drinking with Greg and Alexis and dealing with the aftermath of a fight between Greg and a Russian cargo ship captain (in which, spectacularly, the Russian broke a whisky bottle over Greg's arm, after accusing him of being a spy!), I set off for the trip north. Central America passed by quickly - 5 countries and borders in just 3 days. Had a few problems in Guatemala after I managed to snap a bolt on the oil filter cover doing an oil change. Doh.
Mexico was a weird one - I got an in stamp in the passport, but there was no one around in customs. I looked all around in the border town for an office but no luck. In the end 20 miles down the road the next day I got to a check point and managed to do the necessary paperwork there. I couldn't find a map to buy anywhere in the south. A nice lady in a book shop photocopied a page out of a school atlas, so I had the shape of the country to look at with the cities on, but no roads. Then a trucker helped me out by writing a list of the towns I needed to pass to get to Veracruz on the east coast. From there it was just a case of heading north and trying to stick to the coast.
...The plan now is to look to buy a house here that needs fixing up - so, basically, back to the building game for me. At the end of October I'll be back in the UK for a few weeks, and then I'll come back hopefully on a visa that lets me stay a bit longer."
Jack and Janet Murray, USA, China to Europe and North America, in North America, BMW R850R with sidecar,
"AEROstich in Duluth was, family excepted the best stop in the States. Nothing but long distance bikers (many getting ready to go to the BMW Rally just north of Milwaukee, WI), good conversation and excellent hospitality not to mention a lot of toys and gear that can be touched, felt and tried before purchase.
At dinner one evening Andy Goldfine, owner of AEROstich, told us about plans to celebrate the company's 25th anniversary next August. If we are around, Janet and I plan to go back to Duluth for the festivities.
Apart from all the above, this has been the hardest time I have had getting words on paper. The ride from Palm Bay to Calgary was boring at best and frustrating for the most part. I don't often speak for Janet but we are experiencing a tiredness that we haven't felt before. The fact that I am writing at all is more a testament to the beauty and grandeur of northern BC and the southern Yukon. Maybe we will get fully awake again in Alaska."
Maria Sanchez and Alistair, France and UK, to South America, in Bolivia, F650GS and 1200GS,
"We finally managed to leave town the following day and made our way to Oruro. Like any other biggish town, the traffic was manic and solid. With our bikes loaded with the panniers we are almost as wide as a car, but in a very busy narrow street, with nowhere to go with millions of cars ahead of me, some idiot decided he would overtake me! I felt that something was pushing the bike on the right side. When I looked on my left I saw that the bumper of a car was completely jammed under the metal frame that support my panniers. The same frame that was rebuilt in Puno! I managed not to drop my bike (YES!) and started shouting at the guy in his car. The incident happened in front of 2 cops. One came to help me get off the bike (not easy, the car's bumper pushing the bike on its side, I had to hold it!). Alistair came to the rescue and managed to unstuck the bike from the car. The car owner then tried to blame me for the incident, but in my fluent spanish I proceed to tell him exactly what I thought of him! The cops took also my side. Maybe he thought it was his chance to get money out of a 'gringo'! Fat chance of that! His bumper was completely destroyed! My bike had nothing! Big thanks to the metal worker in Puno!"
Mike Skinner and Michelle, Scotland and Australia, Argentina to Alaska, in Canada,
"Michelle and I decided to get a hotel room for our last couple of nights together and spent a couple of days sightseeing in Vancouver and even managed to do the 'Grouse Grind' though our time of 1hr 40mins wasn't nearly as impressive as the people who do it in under 30 minutes. On our last night, we watched the sunset from Grouse Mountain and thankfully caught the cable car down rather than walking.
It was very emotional at the airport the following morning as Michelle saw me off. She was flying to Australia a couple of days later and would be heading to her folks place for a bit. After everything we've seen and been through together, it felt really hard to be saying goodbye to Michelle however we will be seeing each other again in a few months.
I'm taking the 'Long Way Home' (...sorry) to Scotland by taking in some of Eastern Europe first. Next stop for me, Europe!"
Peter Murphy, Australia, writes to the HU Vladivostok community:
"A lesson about keys - keep them in your pocket! And spares in your buddies pocket! I'm presently in Vladivostok with two KLR650's which a mate and I were planning to ride around S/E Russia and Mongolia for the next month or so. One of my panniers was lost on the flight across and it contained the keys to our KLR's which we had shipped across. Is there a Kawasaki shop where I could get a new key or does anyone know of a locksmith who might be able to help."
Ed: This email came in on June 30 so Peter presumably got the keys sorted out but let it serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of us out there.
Jasper Hadman from Oxford, Gloucestershire, England writes to the HU Vladivostok community:
"I've been doing a trip across Asia now for the past 9 months. From England I've taken the southern route via Iran, India and SE Asia and I'm now in Japan. My plan was to head back to England through Russia but unfortunately my yamaha xt660 has completely died. I still am desperate to ride through Russia so I'm wondering if you know of a place in Vladivostok or Khabarovsk, or anywhere in east Russia where I might be able to find a cheap bike to ride back to England. I'm not fussy, a 125cc or anything would be fine as long as it was cheap and I could give it a decent shot at getting back. The problem is that I don't speak Russian and could struggle to find a bike on my own so I would greatly appreciate it if you could point me in the direction of some place or someone that might have something suitable. Also, since I'm asking questions, please could you recommend somewhere cheap to stay in Vlad and Khabarovsk. Thanks so much for any help."
Ed: Jasper, let us know how this turned out.
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Kevin and Clara McCrea, USA and Colombia, RTW, in Ireland, BMW R1200GS and BMW 650GS,
"We are in Kilkenny, staying at the John Donegan family home. He is another great and friendly motorcyclist from HorizonsUnlimited who has a beautiful home and a GS Beemer.
In the last day or two we have caught a trout, had so much rain it came through the seams of our tent and on our heads in the middle of the night, visited Howth and watched the sailboat races, fallen over because I forgot to look right not left on a downhill graded curve (no damage!), went 24 hours without fish and chips, visited Kilkenny Castle with a great Long Room, listened to wonderful traditional music at Hughes pub, had some rain, had more rain, saw the sun for a brief period, almost ran over a rabbit on Saturday night... and of course saw the Book of Kells, which was quite inspirational."
Motoedde (and rider), on the road in Turkmenistan and Mongolia, 93 BMW K75s,
"During this part of the trip, something odd has dawned upon me. Just because I don't understand the various languages in the countries I'm passing through, I am not dismissed by the people I interact with or considered uninteresting, stupid, etc. In fact, the bike is what intrigues these folk first and me second.
Here's my theory. To them, it seems that by taking on such a trip by bike, I have put myself out there. This un-insular mode of interaction with the unfamiliar identifies with these guys in a bent way. Whether we are Americans, French, Tajiks, Kazakhs, etc., we all would like to do something that is different from the ordinary in our lives. When you see someone doing this in his life and greets you with a handshake and smile, it's understood. He's having fun doing this and people irrelevant of the spoken word or nationality read this and want to be part of it... so you have to include them into the fun, whether it be struggling to answer their questions, or eating something bizarre, or taking a shot of vodka; as they are including you by NOT excluding you. AND you can't use language as an excuse since they aren't!
So how does one repay the generosity of complete strangers? Carry on the tradition and hope it spreads..."
Kevin Foley, Ireland, Dublin to Ushuaia (on a pub crawl across the world), now in Mexico,
"On the road to Cuernavaca - The best bit of the ride is after Toluca, I took the free road again south to avoid Mexico City to Tenango just after Tenango on route 55 there is a 3rd class road which turns off to Joquicingo and on to Chalma. This is awesome! full of pot holes, covered in mud, lots of landslides from the recent rain, and of course twisty mountain road! It curls its way up over eroded volcanic formations to these villages which seem to hang onto the side of the cliff.
What was strange was a cycle race I met along the way, which was like Tour de France meets Procession of the Sacred Virgin on a Marrion Year. Most of the cyclists had large crosses with images of Christ or Mary projecting about 4 foot off the back of their saddles, and seemed to ride in groups from each of the villages! It was a sight to behold! Eventually the road descends out of the mountains to a great view over Cuernavaca. So I will stay here for a few days before riding to meet Gary for a tour of Mexico City."
Steve and Liz Ross-Bryant, UK to Australia, chilling in Goa, India, Honda Pan European ST1100s,
"We left McLeod Ganj after two weeks of cooking classes, turning the prayer wheels, visiting the Tibet museum and local arts and crafts. We headed for Manali which is North West of McLeod Ganj and a day and a half drive, so we stopped for the night in Mandi. Manali was nice, very cool with snow and glacier melt fed rivers (the river Beas being the most famous in the area) which made for good fishing. Plenty of Rainbow Trout in there.
We spent a week in Manali before moving a little further up to Old Manali where we stayed for a further week. Unfortunately Steve had another visit from the virus that knocked him for six in Turkey and was bed ridden for a few days. He was able to get out of bed for Liz's Birthday dinner with Stuart. Stuart had organised a birthday cake for Liz for the morning of her Birthday (Steve couldn't get out of bed at all the day before her Birthday, so Stuart was a lifesaver with organising the Birthday festivities). We had Liz's Birthday dinner at probably the best restaurant in Old Manali that make the best pizzas and pasta. Stuart and we separated at Old Manali as he was riding further North into Kashmir and Leh to meet up with a white water rafting expedition. We will meet up again back in Amritsar."
Marc Gibaud, France, BMW 1100GS,
"Just to let you know that I'm on the road. The blog is only in French but it's mainly photographs, and the website with a dedicated part on this project (with translations into English, Spanish, Portuguese) I do it with a '95 1100GS BMW but the purpose is much more photographic. I do not know if it will interest you but the fact is that your website helped me so much preparing this trip that I feel like I do have to feed it back: please, feel free to do whatever you want with this information. I do not have a fixed address (One and a half year = leaving, I sold everything!)."
Cathy and Glyn Riley, Bristol to Cape Town, F650 Dakars,
"On 29 September 2007, in a little village outside Bristol, UK, Cathy and Glyn Riley will wake up very early, eat very little for breakfast, dress very, very warmly, climb onto their matching BMW 650 Dakars, and ride to Cape Town. As Glyn might say, 'Come, Titus, bring thy friend hither and we shall depart to Peninsula in a series of triumphs!' (Perhaps they should be riding Triumphs).
Cathy and Glyn Riley are a thirty-something couple who live and work in the picturesque Chew Valley, 30 minutes south of Bristol, UK. Five years ago they moved from South Africa to the UK. For many years they had dreamed about travelling across Africa, exploring the continent and having great adventures along the way. Now they have got the opportunity to do so, and have decided to go back home for a visit, by motorbike!"
Carrie and Brent Larose, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
"We are planning to leave on a world trip in about 1 month. We had attended your 2006 event in Nelson. Thank you, it was inspirational.
We are regular working class people with goals and dreams. This has take a large amount of planning, desire, time commitment and a financial commitment to make this all happen. Brent is a millwright - he has worked for himself and others. Carrie has done many different jobs over the years but the most recent is the director of sales for a 200+ room hotel plus she renovated homes. I know we're both tired of working for material possessions that can't be taken with you. It seemed futile – there had to be more to life!"
Carol and Ken Duval, Australia, RTW 1999-2001, to South America,
"Carol and I are planning to start our South American journey in Santiago in September 2007. We will be in Ushuaia in December to catch a ship to Antarctica for 10 days (14/12 to 24/12). Can anyone recommend a safe place to leave our bike and gear? We will be back in time for Christmas so if anyone is organising a party count us in."
Ed. You will love Antarctica! Check out Pueblo Viejo for safe motorcycle parking (see ad below) Don't forget to tell them where you heard about them!
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Pueblo Viejo, Ushuaia, Argentina
Freddy invites you to stay at the "Pueblo Viejo" in the heart of Ushuaia, at the end of the world! Pueblo Viejo is just a few steps from the main avenue, Museums and places of interest.
Plenty of safe motorcycle parking, free internet access and WIFI and Breakfast included too!
Peter Oechsler, Canada, to Ushuaia,
"I am a member of the HU Vancouver Community. In early October I will be leaving for the Viedma meeting and ultimately Ushuaia. In order to find people travelling the same route, I placed a thread on the HUBB under travellers seeking travellers, headed 'Vancouver to Viedma.' If it is of any interest to you, please have a look."
Leo Schultze, Germany, Alaska to South America,
"Hi, I travel now from Alaska to South America and I just look out for bikers do the same!"
Barry Dewett, UK, Around the world,
"Was planning on riding down to Turkey ferry across the Black Sea to Russia then across to Vlad or Magadan. We would like to ship fly to Alaska but that depends on if there are flights."
Ed. Comment: So far as I know, there is no normal way to fly from Russia to Alaska with your bike - or on your own for that matter. If anyone has definitely DONE this, please let me know. I have often heard rumours of flights, but few facts.
Mark and Erin Kirkendall, USA, RTW?, back home, BMW F650GS, some road notes:
"In Grand Island, Nebraska we get off I-80 and on to Route 2. It's a lightly used county road, a whole lot prettier and better to ride than the highway. Our first real tourist stop on the ride home is to Carhenge - a recreation of Stonehenge in England, except they've used '57 Buicks and the like instead of stones. The trip is really ending. This is our last Friday on the road. We want to be home, we want to be settled, but still the voices speak 'Won't you miss this?' Getting home has taken on the same feeling as a border crossing in Central America. We want to get there, it's the direction we want to go, but there is a certain amount of dread and anxiousness associated with it. Only thing to do is just get there.
One of the things I hope that happens from this trip is people who have their own secret dream get one step closer to doing something about it as a result of reading about us. Another thing I hope happens is the people close to us see how many people have opened up to us, extended a hand to a complete stranger just when we needed it most and as a result, do some reaching out on their own, on our behalf. So do that for us. Next time you have that 'maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't' feeling about helping someone, just start the conversation. It might be some little thing you do has a big impact on someone."
Maarten Munnik, Netherlands, RTW 2002-2004, now living in Bolivia
"Maarten is settling in Bolivia for a while: The dusty little town of Samaipata in one of the valleys of the foothills of the Andes. At 1600 meter it is always spring or summer here... even though now technically it is winter.
The hostel I had in mind was full, but Andres, the Dutch owner, found me a spot in his attic for the night, instead of sending me away. When I wanted to pay him the next day he looked at me and told me he could not charge me for sleeping in the attic. I liked the town already.
Wandering around I came across several nice people and one of them offered me a small house. I could rent it by the month for the price of 46 euros. They needed to fix it up a bit, put in a kitchen and a fireplace (as my suggestion) and even told me I would only have to start paying rent when that work would be finished. So now I live in a small room, while the other room is being renovated, and I am enjoying the small-town life, the friendly people and the mild winter (20 degrees).
I have even started to work as a guide and web-site designer. The pay is low, but then again, so is the cost of life. If I work 5 days a month I can live from it. And being a guide in one of the worlds versatile nature-areas is hardly punishment.
Now all I have to do is wait for Tip to join me. She is still in Thailand for the transfer of our old house. Don Maarten "
Ed. Best wishes to Maarten on his new life in Bolivia. Maarten has published a book '100,000 Miles of Solitude' about his RTW travels and great pics - go to the Books page to order.
We've now reached an amazing 482 Communities in 90 Countries as of September 17, 2007!
A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are too many to list - it has been a while!
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. Please remember that they are volunteers and offering to help because they're great people - common courtesy helps! When you write, tell them who you are, that you're passing through, and would like to meet them. Let them know if you need anything, and I'm sure they'll help as best they can.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.
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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 500 world travellers listed, but there are many more. Have YOU done it? Let me know!
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...
We'd like to think that Horizons Unlimited; the website, the HUBB, the Communities and this newsletter help to push back the fear through knowledge and connecting with others, and teach all of us about the world and it's wonderful people.
See you on the road!
All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson
and their respective authors or creators, 1987-2007.