January 02, 2006 GMT
Trip towards Bekopaka.

These are some pictures and a story from my trip, not to, but towards Bekopaka in western madagascar.

My departure town was morondava, on the west-coast of madagascar. From there I rode 110km north to the city of Tsymafana (not hot) wich was indeed very hot as the rest of coastal madagascar. There I had to put the bike on a boat to cross the river Tsiribihina wich takes aprox 40minutes, and enter the town of Belo sur Tsiribihina. I came to Belo at about 1400 hours, and spent some time trying to get a new bulb for my headlight, as the one I had was broken due to all the shaking on the bad strech of road between Miandrivazo and Malaimbandy. As I had expected, there was no bulb to be found in Belo.
Bekopaka is another 100km north, but because of the rain, the roads are terrible, and all the public transport had stopped running for the season. This ment that I would be riding the entire strech of 200km from Belo to Bekopaka and back with the chance of not seeing any other vehicles, and thus no chance of getting a lift if my bike broke down.
I decided to spend the rest of the day checking out the road, and then decide if I should go or not afterwards. The road seemed ok, there was places with lots of water, but not too bad.PC260008_1.jpgWater up to 60cm dept.
So I decided to start early the next morning.
I got up at six, had breakfast, and was on the road by seven o`clock. There had been some rain during the night, but the road was not any worse than the day before. The first 40km went ok, riding at about 50-70km/h with no problems. But it got worse, a lot worse. And some places I had to walk besides the bike to move forward at all. The road was covered with real sticky mud, and my calculations about what time I would reach Bekopaka had to be recalculated a number of times. mud!

more mud!
A lot of riding in second gear, using the clutch a lot, and even some in first, though it`s not very pleasant with a four-stroke single...
Even though it was close at times, I managed to stay on my wheels trough all the water-holes, and all the mud. So far.
the sky is the limit
Having not seen one single vehicle since I left Belo, and carrying only three litres of water, I felt quite small in this remote wildernes. For me, that is what it was at least. I passed through several small villages, but people put there wasn`t used to seeing white people, at least not without a guide. At several ocasions they were runnging and screaming of, maybe, fear, when they saw me. It`s a strange feeling, but as I said, I felt quite small. It would be a long walk if the bike broke down. Great roads, great view
After some 20 more km of slow riding, I was really not sure if I was going to make it to Bekopaka, and was thinking of going back to Belo before I got any further away from civilization. But theres a difference between thinking and doing. So I kept on for some more km. Not until I met the first motorised vehicle did my trip come to a halt. To malagasy people on a yamaha200ccm came riding the other way. We passed each other weawing, and then we both turned our heads, and dicided it would be polite to stop and say hello. After all, this was not exactly the highway. They looked a bit surprised to see a single vazaha (foreigner) out here, and asked if I was riding along with someone. No, I`m alone.
They carried no luggage except a shotgun over the shoulder of the passanger. The area is said to host a group of zebu-thieves, and the gun was for protection in case of an engine brakedown. It didn`t make me feel any bigger out there. They also said the road was fine here!, but it would get worse closer to bekopaka, and there was some serious problems ahead. They had had to get their bike across a river with no bridge using a zebu-cart, and it had not been easy due to the heavy weight of the bike. And it was a 200ccm, my bike is a 650, and a lot bigger, and heavier. I decided that this was the end of my journey, and asked if it was ok if I rode with them back to Belo. I was a bit concerned about the fact that they were two adult men on the bike. Malagasy people tend to be a bit smaller than europeans, but nevertheless, the road had been terrible. It would show that I had no reason to worry. Whilst I was kicking the air like a pannicing swimmer, this guys feet harldy left the pegs. I was amazed. There was some parts were the passenger had to walk, but hes riding skills were great. So I assume he was used to riding terrain like this.
my helpers)
As I said, I had managed to stay on my wheels until now. But my good luck wouldnt last. I slipped in the mud, choking the engine, but got back on my feet within seconds, and the engine started, no problem. That was the first time. The second time I slipped in some water, and tipped the bike over again, choking the engine. This time it wouldnt start again, and this was what I had been fearing since I left the safety of Belo. My companions looked at me with a look wich could only mean: what is this guy doing out here on his own. And I felt about the same. And I felt a bit stupid since I had laid the bike down two times within just a few minutes.
Anyway, the bike wouldt start, and all the gasoline was pouring out of the carborator. I`m no mechanic, and I was not sure what to do. The two malagasy men had stopped of course. They had agreed to ride together back to Belo. And even though the passanger with the shotgun didn`t look to happy, the rider was very helpful. But after looking at the bike for a few minutes, he couldnt figure out what was the problem. I started to get really worried, it was still 40km to Belo, and the sun was really really hot. The sweat was pouring all over my body, and all I had was 3 litres of water. It didn`t calm me down when my helpers asked if I carried a lock, and the guy with the shotgun looked at their bike and explained that it could only carry two people. In wich I was not included.
Since I didn`t carry a lock, the desicion was made to have another look at the bike, and luckily it turned out to be just the floater in the carborator wich was stuck. The problem was fixed by tapping on it with a piece of metal. And to my relief, the engine started without any gasoline leaking.
We were on the road again, and I was feeling quite ambivalent. Happy because the bike was running, and I didn`t have to walk, but also feeling fragile aware of the fact that I`m sometimes very small in a big world. Thats what I felt then and there. When I got back to Belo, and what for me, was safety, it didn`t feel all that bad. It had been an adventerous ride.
The first of several I hope.
Happy me

Posted by Johan Bjorkas at January 02, 2006 01:36 PM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

  • South Africa: Nov 13-16
  • Thailand: Jan 9-11, 2015
  • NEW! USA Virginia: Apr 9-12
  • NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16
  • Germany: May 14-17
  • Canada Ontario: Jun 18-21
  • Ireland: June 26-28
  • Colorado: July 17-19 TBC
  • Canada West: Aug 20-23
  • USA California: Sep 24-27
  • Aus Queensland: Sep 24-27
  • USA North Carolina: Oct 8-11
  • Aus Perth: Oct 9-11
  • Germany: Oct 22-25

See all events


Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!

Circle to Circle by Brian and Shirley Rix.

Circle to Circle - a journey through the Americas and beyond. by Shirley Hardy-Rix and Brian Rix

"Well written, funny and informative."
"Thoroughly entertaining!"
Available NOW from the authors' website!

Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

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

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

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.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!