Horizons Unlimited - the motorcycle travel website - E-zine, Bulletin Board, Community, tips, info.

Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' Questions

in cooperation with
Quality Touring equipment worldwide.
Search 

These are responses to questions we have been asked about how to do an area or continent, shipping etc. We will be adding to it as time permits - and your questions come in!!

Note that all of the below information is OLD, but will serve as a good starter.

See the Bulletin Board for up-to-date answers to your questions!

The newsletter has a ton of up-to-date information as well.

Preparing to Travel

The All-important Carnet de passage...

The following is put together from several back and forth e-mails, and an addition or two...

From: lever rukhin
Sent: Sun, 28 Feb 1999

Greetings from Andalucia,

I left Santa Monica, CA five months ago with the dream of circling the world on my motorcycle. From Tangier I will drive to Cape Town. I do not have a carnet de Passage for my R1100GS motorcycle and am beginning to worry. Will I be able to get around not having one?

Lever
the madNOmad

up to top of page

Next question

===============
TO: Lever,

In most of Africa, at least the parts we went through, (as well as other areas such as India) a carnet is required. No carnet, no entry. With a carnet entry is very simple - in all of Africa, with the notable exceptions of Libya and Egypt, entry was a 10 minute affair.

In North America you can only get it from the Canadian Automobile Association. If you decide to get it from there here's how:

Suzanne Danis - International Documentation - Technical & Travel Services
Canadian Automobile Association
1145 Hunt Club Road, Suite 200
Ottawa Ontario K1V 0Y3
Canada
Tel. 1-613-247-0117 ext. 2025
Fax. 1-613-247-0118

Tell Suzanne you got her number from us - she'll remember. She is very helpful and will do everything possible to help. The problem with this route is financial. You MUST post a bond to guarantee the amount needed. Calculated as follows:

(Bike value + annual insurance + freight to transport overseas) TIMES: (e.g. India) 383%. Africa was much less, generally only 100 - 150%, with India the all time high. = Value of the bond. Note that the Carnet is NOT required anywhere in North or South America EXCEPT Ecuador IF you FLY in - by land not normally required.

In other words if your bike is worth CDN$10,000, worst case scenario, for India you need CDN$38,300.00 sitting in a bank with power of attorney over the account principal given to CAA, and you have no authority over the account until the CAA releases it on satisfactory return of the carnet with all the exit stamps properly stamped. You do get the interest on the money! The fee is about $CDN350 for all the paperwork, (assuming you are an AAA or CAA member, if not it's quick to join) and they will courier the carnet (at your expense) to you anywhere in the world. We've had ours sent to Gibraltar and Cape Town SA, when it came up for renewal. There is also a CDN$150 charge for costs, like couriers etc. which is refundable if not used up. Make sure your bike registration is current. It helps if your bike is old and well worn and worth less, reducing the funds required.

Check out the Books pages for Travel books and videos.

Support your favourite website!


If not, the European method for carnets works like insurance - you pay a non-refundable FEE of (I believe) US$400 - 500 for the carnet. Having never done this I can't say for sure, but you could start with:

(Germany Automobile Association)

ADAC Geschäftsstelle & Reisebüro
Jahnstr. 26
88214 Ravensburg-Germany
Mirjam Gründler


Tel.: 0751-3616811
Fax.:0751-3616888
E-mail: mirjam.gruendler@wtb.adac.de

She arranged our green card insurance for Europe, and may be able to point you to the carnet department. BTW, you MUST have an international drivers licence.
=================

TO: Grant:

I've just read in my LP that there is a place in London that possibly deals with carnets. They are called Campbell Irvine Ltd. in London. Know anything about them?

If you live in London, could you drop them a line for me for an inquiry. Their number is (0171) 937 6981

I send you 5000 thank you's and two truck loads of gratitude.

Lever

=================
TO: Lever, Good News!

Re Campbell Irvine - The way it works here (England) is different from Canada/USA, and one of the things is that they are very particular about how they do it - their way!!!!! Remember that when you talk to them. I went round and round trying to get a little more information and probably just pissed her off a bit trying to get answers.

Here's what you need to do.

1. Get a fax number that can receive a 10 page fax for you.
2. Call the AA at 44-(0)1256-493806 (note the format of the number - drop the first 0 after the 44 if dialling from outside the UK, dial the 0 but not the 44 inside the UK) and tell her you need an application for a carnet de passage and give her the fax number. Don't ask how much or anything.
3. Fill it in, fax it back, and they will give you the info you need and the valuation forms for Campbell Irvine. You will have to courier the original as well, as they need your original signature. Use DHL if possible, they're the most expensive but you definitely get what you paid for. I could give you horror stories on others e.g. Fedex but won't now.

4. Contact Campbell Irvine Ltd. in London at 44-(0)1719-376981 . They actually issue the carnet. They will want the valuation form from AA.

It will cost 5% + 4% tax for the carnet - of the value assessed by AA of your bike. The price you paid is irrelevant. Understand that all the countries you are going to have different procedures for valuation and very different rates. One country could be 10% duty, the one next door 300%.

You may want to avoid a country for this reason. When you fax back the form, I would add a note to this effect: - you want to know if a country is significantly higher than any other and if so which one, as if possible you could elect to avoid this country because of the increase in cost of the premium. It may not be a big problem, as it is only a percentage, but it is money gone forever.

When you are done, please make sure you document the hoops you had to jump and info supplied and rates, and I will post it (here!) on the web. That should help others significantly.

Good luck, Grant

If anybody else has anything to add to this, please let me know, as the carnet is a common problem.

In case you are wondering what happened to Lever, he didn't have enough money for a carnet, or current registration for his bike, or a current drivers licence for that matter, so gave up on Africa and at last check was heading for Russia. He made it all the way to Vladivostok!

up to top of page

What bike do we need?

From: Ximena Tolosa
Sent: 29 March 1999 1:52 AM
Subject: questions

Hi, Me and my friend are planning a trip to South America, leaving from Salt Lake City, Utah. My questions are:

... 2- Please give us some advice in choosing a cheap and practical motorcycle for 2 people.

up to top of page

Next question

Our answer:

There is a huge range of available bikes of course, the "right" answer having several factors. Your previous experience riding and repairing is a big factor, and just what is your budget. "Cheap" is variable from the point of view of long-term versus short-term. New will be expensive immediately, but your repair costs on the road over the first 2 or 3 years will probably be much less than a 10 year old "cheap" bike, possibly even less TOTAL over a 3 year trip.

To give you the idea, too many years ago I was in the motorcycle business, and one cold winter somebody in the business I knew decided to price a complete motorcycle by parts. A new 900cc Kawasaki was selling then for $1995.00. In parts, without getting into ALL the little pieces - he got tired of the exercise - it came to over $20,000.00. And that's not counting the labour to put it together! Point is, parts and repairs are expensive. On the other hand, you aren't going to have to replace everything, but a ratty old bike will nickel and dime you to death. Also, parts in other countries can be double or triple what they are in the States. e.g., an electronic ignition box for a BMW F650 is US$350.00 in USA, US$850 in Brazil. Front tire, US$90.00 in USA, US$200 in Santiago, Chile. Mechanics are often very poor in the third world, although they can be incredibly good at fixing something with nothing!

Another factor not immediately obvious is you and your friends physical size. If you are both small, a Japanese 650 single is probably adequate, but if you are average or large I think you will need a BMW 800 or larger. I am assuming here that you mean one motorcycle for the two of you. Just physical room for riding any distance with two people on one bike requires something bigger than the Japanese big single (or twin) cylinder dual purpose bikes, never mind luggage capacity. Also, how much off-road/bad road versus pavement and main highways are you interested in?

Two-up long distance travel virtually requires a BMW R80 G/S or R100 GS, or R1100GS. We have a 1986 R80 G/S, and it works perfectly for us. I am a light 6'1, Susan is a medium 5'4. However, if I were starting fresh tomorrow I'd buy a new R1100GS, no question. Note that I know of NO long distance two-up tourers on anything smaller than an R80 G/S. There are people touring (long-distance, i.e. outside US/Canada) two-up on non-BMWs, but they are well under 1% of the total two-up tourers.

Finding a good used R80 G/S+ shouldn't be a big problem in the States, there are lots around. Check the BMWMOA magazine for the latest for sale ads. If you decide to buy a BMW, join the BMWMOA asap. They have a decent magazine with an excellent Flea Market section where just about everything is available for sale. Note that there are a few European makers of bits for the BMW's that are as good or better than the US stuff, and also there is a lot more available here, stuff the US has never even heard of.

Let me know which way you decide to go and I can point you in the right direction for what is needed and where to get it. Check our links page also. The BMWMOA address is there and others.

Grant

Africa Questions

Question 1:

To Grant and Susan Johnson

Hi dear Friends

Thanks for you to sent as an email, and for now on I say that in Brazil we can't get the "Carnet de Passage", and you sad in Europe we could get for lower price. So how is it?

First val., are group of motorbikes, taking travel around the (08) countries of South Africa driving motorbikes. Starting in South Africa (Cape Town), then Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

This trip will take forty days to be done, and around 12.000 km.

We want to now if it's necessary Carnet de Passage in Customs Officer, be the time, that we gonna be travelling using motorbikes around this Countries. If it were necessary, would you tell us how could we get it?

As your experience travelling, could you tell us the documents are going to be need for transiting all around these Countries, using Brazilian motorbikes, transposing the Customs Officer, Frontiers and the each Country Federal Polices.

Waiting for your message
And, nice talking,

Killian Matheussi
From Rupio Negro Motorcycle Group.

up to top of page

Next question:

Our answer:

Killian,

Sounds like a great trip - but you will need more time! There is a lot to see on your route, and 40 days is very fast.

As I understand it, of the countries on your list you MIGHT only need a Carnet de passages for Tanzania and MAYBE Mozambique. You MAY be able to get away without it for them as well, and I would suggest you try. Kenya and farther North, you DEFINITELY need a carnet, and also to the West of Tanzania.

In other words, don't bother with a carnet for where you are going. The difficulty in getting it is about equal to the difficulty you will encounter at the borders without it! It is easier at all the borders with a carnet - only 5 minutes at Tanzania! However, you should be all right without.

South Africa, Namibia and Botswana are in a "Common Customs Union" - once you're in one of the three the border crossing for the others is very easy.

Documents you need:

1. "Vehicle Registration", in other words proof that the motorcycle is yours. The more 'official looking' the better.
2. Your ordinary Brazilian "Drivers Licence."
3. "International Drivers Permit" is important. You should be able to get that from Brazilian AA.
4. Passport
5. extra Visa photos

You also need a visa for Mozambique for sure, I don't know what other visas you may need as Brazilians. We didn't need any except Mozambique.

You can contact the "South African Automobile Association" (AA) for further information. From outside the country call 27-11-799-1500, inside South Africa call 011-799-1500.

Always change money BEFORE the border crossing. Zimbabwe to Botswana and Botswana to Namibia there are no money changers AT the border crossing.

In Cape Town, contact Trefco BMW, an excellent dealer. John Carr, Asst. Mgr., 9 Aylesbury St., Bellville, Cape Town. 949-3690; 945-2490. Can arrange crating of motorcycles too, and will probably hold your crate for you.

Definitely go to Malawi, especially Mvuu River Lodge on the Shire River in Liwonde National Park, Southern Malawi. You can ride from the paved road at Ulongwe to the Shire River, where you can safely leave the bikes and cross the river on a boat there to the lodge. Cheap and very good camping, jungle walks and safaris. Excellent rest stop. Note: This is the ONLY WAY IN for motorcycles. Motorcycles are NOT ALLOWED in the Game Parks AT ALL ANYWHERE in Southern Africa except the main road from Zimbabwe to Namibia, where the only way is through the park.

Notes from our website:

Tanzania:

"In Dar es Salaam finally, we stayed at the Palm Beach Motel, run by a Greek family. At US$40.00/night incl. breakfast it was great value." Say Hello to "Dmitri" for us. Safe parking.

"Arusha is the second largest city in Tanzania, and the safari capital of the country, situated between the most popular game parks, with Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater to the west and Mt. Kilimanjaro to the east. Lots of touts on the streets trying to sell you cheap safaris here. After doing some research and checking with a few outfits, we ended up taking a safari with a company which has a very good reputation, Hoopoe Tours. (a Hoopoe is a small bird) We went to Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara, 6 days and 5 nights. The total cost was $1,200 for both of us. We saved about $600 by going with another couple, an American couple in their early 60s. Blassie was our driver/guide and Richard our cook."

Blassie and Richard are definitely recommended, good workers, Blassie is a great guide, and Richard is a fantastic cook.

Hoopoe also has a safe place to park the bikes in their repair compound. When you park the bikes, talk to the workers and make sure they don't play with the bikes. They sat on ours and it fell over, but no damage.

Namibia:

Definitely "do Etosha National Park. ...We rented a 4 WD truck and parked the bike at our hotel in Tsumeb for a week. With the truck, we were able to tour the park on our own, camping in the campsites run by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism here." Truck rent from Imperial Rental in Tsumeb was very good.

South of Tsumeb, go to "Okonjima guest ranch. This place was worth the 24 km on dirt roads to get to it. Okonjima is the home of the Africat Foundation, and they use the revenue from guest accommodation to fund its activities. They serve as a home for orphaned cats.

Cheetahs wander on the lawns, and caracals, which are smallish wildcats (about the size of a medium-sized dog) with very long pointy ears, walk right into your room just like a house cat. They also have playful lions, and wild leopards coming to a hide to eat."

Very expensive, and you must reserve in advance, but absolutely one of the BIGGEST HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR TRIP IN AFRICA. Incredibly close to the animals, very well run and ecologically responsible. Most of the money you pay goes to supporting the animals.

Sossusvlei in Namibia is also well worth a visit - spectacular sand dunes, desert, Gemsbok etc.

Let us know how you do!

Have a great trip, hope this helps, Grant and Susan

up to top of page

Question 2:

Hi Susan and Grant,

Checked out your site, keep getting impressed.
Loved the new photos of the penguins
Can you help me with more details of the visa to Libya?
How long did it take in Tunisia and if you can remember how much?
Was it compulsory to take a guide?
Any other relevant info would be great.
We hope to arrive from Malta either direct to Tunisia or maybe we will have to go back to Italy for the crossing. We are also trying to get to Algeria, don't know if you had any info on there?
Any help greatly appreciated
Keep in touch
Peter and Kay Forwood

(Peter and Kay are from Australia, travelling around the world on a Harley, started 1996 and going to whenever Harley's 100th anniversary is. http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/forwood/ )

up to top of page

Next question:
Our answer:

Hi, Peter & Kay. Good to hear from you. Various responses below.

<<Can you help me with more details of the visa to Libya?>> See below - it is a hassle but worth it, in our opinion - the alternative route of going back from Tunisia to Europe and across to Egypt from Greece would have been way more hassle.

<<How long did it take in Tunisia and if you can remember how much?>> Once you have the "invitation", it's only a couple of days in Tunis. But the invitation takes 7-10 days after you've agreed details with the tour agency. Our contact name in Libya is Tareg El-Badri, ITC Touring Center, Tripoli, Libya. His phone number is Country code 218, then 21-75013 (also a fax machine) or 218-21-73811, or mobile 218-91-21-24472. He does speak English.

<<Was it compulsory to take a guide?>> We were told that was the case, but I suspect it depends on nationality. We did hear of Europeans who were allowed in unescorted, having obtained their visas at the various Libyan embassies in Europe. Germany and Italy are both on good terms with Libya as they are oil customers. As for Australians, I don't know what the rules would be. Canada is just too close to the U.S. to be in the Libyans most favoured nations list!

<<Any other relevant info would be great.>> You will have to get your passport details translated into Arabic, which your embassy in Tunisia should be able to do for about $15.

<<We hope to arrive from Malta either direct to Tunisia or maybe we will have to go back to Italy for the crossing. >> We saw ferries from Malta in Tripoli when we were there, but don't have any further info on them.

<<We are also trying to get to Algeria, don't know if you had any info on there?>> We didn't go to Algeria, but did meet a couple in Tunisia who had been there - this would be summer of 1997, and they thought it was great. We read the State Department Advisories, but take them with a grain of salt. Your own embassy in the neighbouring country can also be a good source of info, but they are also very conservative - just in case you go somewhere and get killed or kidnapped, they want to be able to say they warned you!

<<Any help greatly appreciated. Keep in touch. >> Good luck. Spend lots of time in Tunisia - it's also known as Arabia for beginners, and it's far more oriented to tourists than either Libya or Egypt. You do have to be able to speak enough French to get by, though, unless you speak Arabic. Tunisia will help to prepare you gradually for the other parts of North Africa or the Middle East.

We cannot recommend Egypt with a vehicle, as you will see from the saga on the web site.

Suggest checking in Europe, esp. Italy on boats through the Suez Canal to bypass Egypt.

All of the north eastern part of black Africa is dodgy but changeable - Eritrea and Ethiopia are sniping at each other, Sudan is still closed as far as we know, northern Kenya and Somalia are considered pretty dangerous for overland travel. You might be able to hook up with a m/c tour group. We met a guy at the BMW rally in Montana this summer who runs tours through Africa. He seems okay - can't vouch for him, though, as we have always avoided organized tours. David Fisher, Director, Tours for Africa USA Inc., P.O. Box 450926, Westlake OH 44145, USA, 1-440-327-6664, 1-440-327-6665 Fax.

There are also a number of m/c tour companies in Germany you may already have details for, let us know if you need the contact details.

Once you get to Tanzania, your main worry will be road conditions - and they will be lots of fun in Tanzania and Malawi. Zimbabwe's infrastructure is good, as is Namibia and South Africa, and lots to see in all of southern Africa. Kenya and Tanzania are more well known for wildlife, but it's just as good in the south and more accessible.

Keep in touch, Susan and Grant

up to top of page

Question 3:

From: Gloria Duda
To: Grant,
Date: 29-Jan-99 7:27 PM
Subject: africa

great web site.we can really relate to the egyptian border story as we crossed from israel to egypt with a caravan and a motorbike. your crossing had computers, where we crossed the customs man had a chair with only 3 legs, the 4th leg was a pile of rocks! we are starting to plan a 1 year africa overland north to south on 2 enduro bikes. there is one area we can not cross so will fly our bikes across that section. did you find shipping your bike by air very expensive? any other advice?

thanks in advance. by the way we live in white rock so if you are ever home it would be great to get together for a beer.

up to top of page

Next question:

Our answer:

Hi Gloria and ?

Glad you liked the web site!

We would have been better off without the computer (singular) at our crossing - it was worth about an additional 2 hours on everybody's crossing time as it had to create the form you had to carry with you for the licence plates and it was unbelievably slow - 10 minutes per form!

We had originally planned to drive through Sudan, but the border was closed tight, and there was no way through at all. We chose to fly to Kenya, not Ethiopia, as we heard some real horror stories about the Ethiopian paperwork if you were bringing in a vehicle - like two weeks to get the vehicle cleared at customs to bring it in! Pretty awful.

Also, when we were in Egypt, there was a lot of tension in Kenya because of the upcoming election - we decided we wanted to get through Kenya and on to Tanzania quickly to avoid the problems. A good thing, as there was a major riot a block away from our hotel in Nairobi the day after we left, which was reported in all the major world papers and CNN etc. The country really went to hell after that, and was very dangerous until some time after the election. We were pleased to have missed it, and if we had gone to Ethiopia as we originally planned we would have been right in the middle of the shit in Kenya!

Shipping the bike by air from Cairo to Nairobi was an experience - not to be repeated. Cost wasn't too bad, about US$1170 for the crated bike at a total weight of 550 kilos.

Price was Egyptian pounds 4.4 per kilogram. Exchange was EP 1.00 to US$0.30

We hired a local importer exporter to do the paperwork for us:

Emad and Hany Fwzy El-Adawy
African Union for Import and Export
6, Darb El Barki
Kelot Bek,
Ramses, Cairo Egypt
Tel 20-2-589-7155 or 20-2-393-4807
Fax 20-2-392-3686

Flights worked out at US$1550 for the two of us.

The problem is that Egyptian customs won't stamp the carnet until the bike is actually IN THE AIR - and of course you want to be on that same plane. Problem. After a day and a half of wrangling (I will be writing that story someday and posting it) I finally got a Colonel in the Tourist Police at the airport to come to customs and help - it took another two hours with his assistance to get the carnet stamped. Note that all during this day and a half the bike was in the customs impound area at the airport. The fact that we couldn't get it back was irrelevant - it had to be in the air and irrevocably gone before they would risk stamping the carnet. They even offered to stamp the carnet and mail it to Nairobi for us! Yeah right. Like I was born yesterday.

Emad and Hany have now been through the experience and it may be no problem the next time...but you never know. If you use them, tell them I sent you and you know all about the problem with customs. Also they really don't understand how to build an adequate crate - go with them to buy the materials. The materials they originally supplied to build the crate (at the airport) wouldn't have held a moped safely.

Plan on doing most of the planning and organising part of the building of the crate and supervise their guys carefully. They work hard but don't understand the strength required for big bikes.

Landing in Nairobi is straightforward, somebody will try to get you to hire them to do the customs clearance for you - it's normal to do so, but clear with them what their charges will be - don't take "not much" for an answer - and how long it will take and how much in "tips" to get it through. Expect US$100+ if you want it in a few hours, as in sometime today. You can try yourself, but it's pretty chaotic and you don't know who and how much to "tip," although you can probably figure it out eventually.

Uncrating the bikes is easy - let it be known that you don't want the crates and they will disappear in seconds before your eyes - they will do all the uncrating. Since you are doing two bikes, make sure you do one bike at a time and both of you watch or stuff will disappear.

As you can probably gather, I don't recommend the flying out of Egypt method, but there isn't much else, so have fun, don't let it get to you, relax, appreciate the experience, and good luck!

Grant and Susan Johnson

African NOTES:

Some of the details we didn't put on the web site - following is excerpted from a letter to Lonely Planet in late 97. Things may have changed since then, for better or worse.

"As part of our world tour by motorcycle we wanted to travel from Tunisia through Libya to Egypt in May of 1997. As Canadians, we expected some difficulties, being right next door to Libya's least favourite country, the US. While in Marseille, we contacted the Libyan Embassy there, who couldn't help us because we weren't French, and suggested the Libyan Embassy in Canada, but as there isn't a Libyan Embassy in Canada, he finally suggested the Libyan Embassy in Paris. Two days of inquiries and telephone calls later, and a much embarrassed, very helpful but unsuccessful person at the embassy told us that after talking to the Consul, there was nothing they could do for us.

Some research on the net turned up the name of Tareg El-Badri of ITC Travel in Tripoli. On contacting him, we were advised that the only way in was on a guided tour with a Libyan Tour company. Supposedly, the Libyan government requires that travelling foreigners be accompanied at all times. French and Swiss citizens are an exception - there appears to be no difficulties for them obtaining a visa and travelling on their own. There may be other exceptions. It does apparently take several weeks at least for them to get visas.

The procedure for others is to arrange an "invitation" with a tour company, who then arrange for your visa in Tripoli. This will take about a week to ten days. They then send you a fax with the appropriate information and official stamps from the Libyan government. You take your passport and the fax to the nearest embassy - we used the one in Tunis - who return your passport the next day with all the appropriate stamps. Note that you must have your passport details translated into Arabic first. The Canadian embassy just a couple of blocks away did it for us in just a few minutes for only TND15.40 or US$15.00 for two passports. This can all take longer than anticipated due to incredibly bad telephone lines to Libya. We were completely unable to get through to Tripoli despite numerous tries from Spain, and only with difficulty from France. Tunisia was a mixed bag - extremely bad in the south, where Tunisian lines are terrible, and merely bad in the north where Tunisian lines are supposed to be good.

We ended up escorted through Libya from the Tunisian border to the Egyptian border with a car and driver/guide for 7 days. Since ALL signs are only in Arabic (cities, hotels, attractions), that has some advantages. You could easily drive right by the most interesting Roman ruins at Leptis Magna if you didn't have a guide.

We also took a side trip to Ghadames, a very interesting Berber town 600km. south of Tripoli, right at the intersection of Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. This was as part of a tour with four Swiss tourists, and was a pretty good price for the three days, but we felt was far too much driving for the one destination. As part of a desert trip into the Sahara, well worthwhile however.

To give an idea of what there is to see, here is the schedule we did. Remember, we are travelling by motorcycle, following their truck, except for the Ghadames excursion, which was in a van.

Day 1 Bengardane ==>Border ==>Sabratah ==> Tripoli 250 km
Day 2 Tripoli (tour of old city and museum)
Day 3-5 Tripoli ==>Ghadames ==> Tripoli (stop at Nalut
to see old Berber fortifications)
Day 6 Rest in Tripoli (got back very late from Ghadames)
Day 7 Tripoli ==> Khoms (Elkhoms or Al Khums)
Tour of Leptis Magna (Roman ruins)
Al Khums ==> Misurata 210 km
Day 8 Misurata ==> Benghazi 820 km
Day 9 Benghazi ==> Cyrene (Shahhat) 240 km
Day 10 Tour of Cyrene & Appolonia
Cyrene (Shahhat) ==> Tobruk 250 km
Day 11 Visit the WW2 cemeteries
Tobruk ==> Egyptian Border 140 km
Border to Mersa Matruh, Egypt 220 km

The only horrific day was the stretch from Misurata to Benghazi (there's little to see nor much in the way of accommodation to break this stretch). We felt a little rushed, but at US$300 a day for the car and minder, we didn't want to linger either. This sounds like a lot and it is, but it included all accommodation and meals plus their opportunity cost of having to take Sharif, one of their scarce multi-lingual guides away from a tour group and dedicate him to us for the trip across Libya plus his time to return to Tripoli from the Egyptian border (2 days at least).

For the last couple of years Libya has been officially promoting tourism in an effort to start diversifying an economy primarily based on oil. But, the tourist facilities (restaurants, hotels) are pretty limited, and way behind Tunisia in both quantity and quality of services. However, the major cities have government owned tourist hotels, the ones we stayed in were quite reasonable quality.

We were quite satisfied with ITC's operation, particularly given the lack of facilities in general in Libya. They were very friendly, helpful and flexible. Sharif, our guide, speaks English, German, French, Italian and Turkish (all well) as well as Arabic, and was very helpful. Do not expect a smooth, well-oiled modern tourist travel facility - tourism is only in its infancy here, and ITC is too. There may be better travel agents in Libya, but I'd be surprised.

The contact name in Libya is Tareg El-Badri, ITC Touring Center, Tripoli, Libya. His phone number is Country code 218, then 21-75013 (also a fax machine) or 218-21-73811, or mobile 218-91-21-24472. He speaks good English and reasonable Italian."

up to top of page

Australia Questions

Question 1:

Just curious when you will be putting information on your site from your Australian Tour. I have been thinking on doing a motorcycle trip to Australia. And would you have any information on shipping a bike to Australia from Vancouver, Canada.

Thank you Rory O'Sullivan

up to top of page

Next Question

Our answer:

Rory,
>>Just curious when you will be putting information on your site from your Australian Tour. I have been thinking on doing a motorcycle trip to Australia.<< Unfortunately that may be a while - My current plans would put it about 3 -4 months or so.

Basics on Oz:

The North and centre is too hot in the summer for a bike (remember the seasons are reversed). Spring - (September - October) - is far and away the best time to visit. There is lots to see all over, but it is a long way. Australians like to do the "Grand Tour" - around Aus and through the centre to the various main spots - and they allocate 4-6 months with a 4wd to do it. Don't plan on hitting the highlights in a couple of weeks. Have a good look at a map and note the distances carefully. For instance, It took me 3 1/2 weeks to do the Melbourne to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and back loop, and it should have been longer. Granted I wasn't in a great hurry, and I stopped (a lot) for pics, but I was also in a 4wd wagon with air con and slept in the back, so no camp to setup.

A suggested itinerary:

Land in Sydney, up to Cairns, possibly to the very top if you're inclined and on a good dirt bike, then to Kakadu near Darwin, avoid the rainy season! to Perth and the dolphins, and Rottnest Island. Cross the longest straight stretch in the world to Adelaide, and north on the pavement to Alice and Uluru and Kings Canyon, down the Oodnadatta track to Flinders Ranges, then to the southern ocean, Kangaroo Island, the 12 Apostles, Melbourne, and back to Sydney.

>>And would you have any information on shipping a bike to Australia from Vancouver, Canada.

Contact any of the moving companies - Allied, Bekins etc. on cost to ship a crate to Australia. They are usually well prepared to do it and can even organise to build the crate. You may be able to scrounge a crate from a dealer. Shipping will take 6-12 weeks and should run very approx. $11-1500.00. each way.

It is also possible to fly the bike uncrated on the same plane you are on IF you are lucky. The rules and availability on this constantly change. DON'T call the airlines, the answer is almost certain to be no. You need to contact the guys in the freight departments of the airlines, the guys that will actually do the loading. Nobody else will give you a straight or informed answer. There are also problems with US carriers now where mc's are considered dangerous cargo and they won't even talk to you.

Lufthansa is the best for uncrated air ship, they do it all the time, but generally hub out of Frankfurt, so to Aus is unlikely. Unless you want to go via Frankfurt! This will probably cost about the same as shipping the bike or a little more. The only reason to ship it is if you just can't organise air. You might try Qantas, easily the best airline to Aus. I also heard that Canadian air shipped a couple of bikes to the UK, so try them also.

Hope that helps!

up to top of page

South America Questions

Question 1:

From: Janicki, Adam
To: 'grant
Date: 15-Jan-99 10:40 PM

Hello. I'm going to South America next winter. Can you tell me how to send my bike to Argentina or Chile? And how to send my bike back to USA?

Thank you, Adam.

up to top of page

Our answer:

Adam,

Best method to send your bike is via air. All you can do is call all the airlines freight departments and find out if they will do it. Not the head office etc. - their automatic reaction is NO. If you find one make sure you talk to the guys in the freight department that actually handle it - what they will tell you is often very different from the official story from head office and passenger people. Unfortunately the US airlines are getting paranoid about shipping bikes - they class them as hazardous materials - and often refuse to carry them at all.

You may have better luck with foreign carriers - Lufthansa is the best for shipping bikes - and SA freight companies, such as Challenge Air who shipped mine from Colombia to Miami for about $800. You may find you need to fly into Colombia or Venezuela and ride down.

Good luck! and keep in touch on your travels - don't forget to get a Hotmail or Juno account, there are lots of internet cafes down there, and phone calls home are really expensive - $2-6.00 / minute!

Grant.

Editors note:
We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Top of page Top Home Shop the Souk Grant & Susan's RTW Trip Subscribe to the E-zine HUBB Community Travellers' Stories
Trip Planning Books Links Search Privacy Policy Advertise on HU

Your comments and questions are welcome. Contact Horizons Unlimited.
All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson, 1987-, or their respective authors. All Rights Reserved.