March 24, 2003 GMT

We made it across the Baluchistan desert without being robbed, kidnapped, shot or even breaking down, which altogether was quite a bonus.

Much to our surprise, customs in Quetta proved to be a pleasure, thanks to Mr Raza (Assistant Collection, Car Section). He is a very urbane and well-informed man, with whom we discussed cloning, the limits of scientific knowledge, and Bertrand Russell's views on religion, before we even turned to the issue of bikes. We later talked very frankly about the political situation in Pakistan and the region, and its wider implications for sovereignty and multilateralism.

Our bikes were still required to travel under the auspices of customs. This either meant waiting several days for a train to the border, or proceeding with an escort. We explored the possibilities of putting the bikes on a bus or truck, but in the end Mr Raza came up with the admirably creative solution of sending the escort on ahead by bus while we travelled independently on the bikes.

A rare patch of sand in the desert

A rare patch of sand in the desert

In addition to the frisson of excitement provided by the potential hazards, the ride across the desert was enjoyable in its own right. The first day was quite varied, riding through and beside the stark hills, with the landscape varying from a dusty, rock-strewn vista to the sand dunes of popular imagination. Despite the extremely inhospitable surroundings, there were occasional sparse settlements, from which little children came running as we approached, gesturing for school pens. Whether they do this to all passing vehicles, or whether they've become adept at recognising the sound of a Bullet across the desert, I can't say. Another mystery to me is where the flies come from in the desert. You can stop a hundred kilometres from anywhere in any direction, and within minutes there will be a crowd of them buzzing around your head. At one fly-strewn shack we stopped for a cup of tea, and heard murmurings of 'America' among the obligatory crowd, so we became French. Usually we're Scottish, as a compromise.

Keeping an eye out for Osama in the hills

Keeping an eye out for Osama in the hills

We kept a low profile when we stopped for the night in the outpost of Dalbandin, since it has a reputation as being a den of thieves, and proceeded early in the morning to the border after filling up with contraband fuel. This stretch was almost completely barren, with literally nothing to see in any direction for hour after hour. The occasional slight turn in the otherwise perfectly straight road was signposted, presumably to guard against the numbing effects of the monotonous surroundings.

Not much variety around here

Not much variety around here

Raza's letter had indeed preceded us to Pakistani customs at the border, and had the desired effect. At Iranian customs, however, we broke our previous record by enduring a full 48 hour wait in the middle of nowhere. Nevertheless, they were civil about it all, and never once told us that we had to go back to Pakistan. It took several hours before they came up with their proposed solution, which was that we would have to buy insurance to cross Iran and have details of the bikes written in our passports to ensure that we re-exported them.

To their credit, it would all have been sorted out more quickly had we not arrived on the first day of a two day holiday. In any case, progress would have been difficult since a hot sand storm raged around us throughout the wait. It wasn't until half way through the third day that the insurance document was drawn up and they came up with the non-negotiable figure of two hundred dollars each. Smarting from the financial blow, we rode on into Iranian side of the desert, gradually becoming more elated at overcoming the major administrative hurdles to our journey.

Posted by James Whyte at March 24, 2003 02:09 PM GMT

Renedian Adventures

HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.

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!