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Ride Tales Post your ride reports for a weekend ride or around the world. Please make the first words of the title WHERE the ride is. Please do NOT just post a link to your site. For a link, see Get a Link.
Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA



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  #31  
Old 1 May 2023
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Danane to Daloa

The previous day was still fresh in our minds but there were some things to do. First was to find an ATM. Not easy in Danane. While in the back streets a guy stepped out and stopped us. He was just friendly and soon his friends had come over to see us. They wanted photos standing with the bikes. We found the ATM after riding around town and asking various locals. Never would have found the bank as it was down some back roads in amongst shacks but the bank itself was all modern and fresh. Money in hand we could buy sim cards, fuel, food and water. We then set off for Daloa. The ride was fine but I was just waiting for the inevitable roadblocks. There were a few but the police weren't really interested in us and a few of them just waved us through. Others were friendly and checked passport or licence, all stuff I had. The further from the border we got, the less likely we were to get stopped by customs. We made it to Daloa and found a quaint hotel for the night.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

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  #32  
Old 1 May 2023
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Daloa to Abidjan

The ride to Abidjan was uneventful. generally good roads but I was still worried about the loss of documents. We found a hotel and headed straight for it. It didn't have much curb appeal but was a real little Oasis inside. Major bonus was that it had big steel gates we could hide the bikes behind. I parked my bike inside the grounds and decided that it would stay there until I had sorted the document problems out. I would need a Carnet to get it into Ghana and I didn't have one any more. It was in Cote d'ivoire in what I'd say was a state of limbo.
First thing to do was to replace the lost documents. I spoke to the Carnet office but they said that unfortunately there is a lot of procedural stuff to do so it would take a week plus shipping time to replace the Carnet. At best that would be 9 days.
I requested a replacement V5 from the DVLA. Back in the UK, Belinda rushed off to get my yellow fever card re issued, passport photos reprinted and some UK stickers. They are a requirement in some countries and mine was on a lost pannier. With all that together Belinda DHL'ed it to Abidjan.
While waiting we used the down time to get our Cameroon visas. What an effort that was. Although we requested expedited service on the form, they took our passports and said come back in 8 days at 4pm.
We used taxis to get around Abidjan as I wasn't going to risk riding my bike. We went all over trying to find chain lube. Seems it is an alien concept in Abidjan. Even Yamaha said they didn't sell it but we could ask the maintenance dept. if they had any.
The DHL folders arrived and we collected the new documents and Carnet. The hold up now was due to the Cameroon visa. We went back at 1pm on the 8th day and they said come back at 4pm, it's not ready yet. Went back at 4pm and still no action. About eight people all hanging around waiting for their passports. After 6pm we finally got the passports with visas. That was all we needed, next morning we were keen to get going. On our way to Ghana.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-04-23  

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  #33  
Old 2 May 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Posttree View Post
No chance of that tjmouse.........

Sounds like situation rescued / resolved. Enjoying the report
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  #34  
Old 2 May 2023
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I read your report while thinking to myself "How could they not notice the change in handling once their panniers fell off?" Then I remembered the time I was bicycling back from the grocery store, both panniers stuffed full of Trader Joe's goodies, and one fell off a mile from home. It wasn't until I got off the bike and got ready to carry my groceries indoors that I noticed. Fortunately Bellingham is a sleepy little town, and I found it right where it landed.

So if that could escape my notice on a bicycle, where a pair of loaded panniers probably outweighs the bike itself, I can see where you might not immediately notice on a motorbike. But another issue concerns how we attach stuff which might inadvertently become detached in normal operation. On motorcycles, I habitually go with two means of attachment for each bit of luggage, just because sometimes one will fail (or I'll forget, or buckle/lock/hook/tie it wrong). My panniers are through-bolted twice apiece; same with my top box, and that dry bag on the back seat is both strapped and bungied into place. When I take shortcuts sometimes I lose stuff, although this is limited to water bottles, sunglasses, and the occasional flipflop.

Hope you're enjoying Ghana, a relatively low-stress place featuring history, culture, nightlife, and excellent beaches!

Mark
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  #35  
Old 4 May 2023
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Markharf: Thanks. Yes, the panniers were big and bulky but full of lightweight stuff, particularly the big left side one, so not overloaded. It was a paved road so no real handling to highlight the loss.
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  #36  
Old 4 May 2023
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Abidjan to Takoradi via Elubo

We set off at daybreak to try and avoid as much city traffic as possible. The ride went better than expected, probably because most of the traffic was coming into town and we were leaving. It was still busy but could have been worse. It was raining but it's so hot and humid whether you're wet from sweat or rain is somewhat academic. There was still the apprehension as although I now had a full set of documents, we hadn't had our carnets stamped in. There are many stories on the travel forums about needing all sorts of customs clearance documents to get out of Cote d'Ivoire. What would happen at the border we wondered. As it turned out, absolutely nothing! Approaching the border there was a building with Dounes written on it. A few uniformed guys sitting outside but no physical barrier to stop traffic. I slowed down, and as always, opened my visor to make eye contact. None of them motioned for me to stop so I gave a thumbs up, still no one directed me to stop so I rolled slowly past checking my mirrors, expecting to see an officer run out into the road. I wondered if that was in fact customs but decided to carry on. Next we came to some officials and the bridge. This was immigration. Really helpful, they stamped our passports, then wished us well on our journey and directed us towards the bridge. We rode across the bridge to Ghana. There you turn into a sort of compound and park up. Walk back to the first kiosk and an officer checks the carnet but doesn't stamp it. Instead he gives a slip of paper which you must keep with the carnet. Then it's immigration, quite confusing as there are multiple doors and desks, some inside, some outside but we found out what to do in the end. Then customs stamped the carnets. No problem. The money changer had helped as usual and we changed some money to Cedis. He also did sim cards so we bought one each. He didn't do top up credit but took us to a hut where a woman did lots of number tapping and eventually concluded that data credit had been added. Indeed it had so we were good to go. We rode out the way we came in, evidently not correct as the whole place and all the parking areas are a one way. Easily corrected (after we heard the shouting) we went onto the main road and promptly found out what that first slip of paper we'd been given was for. You need to hand it over with your carnet to a guy in the exit hut. He keeps the paper and returns your carnet. Then you're good to go. In amongst all that we also got money guy to take us to the insurance office as our ECOWAS brown card insurance was about to expire. That's another story and I'll start that as a separate thread as we've had conflicting information about this. We were in Ghana, all paperwork legally stamped. Everything up to date and reset.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  


Last edited by Posttree; 4 May 2023 at 20:42.
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  #37  
Old 4 May 2023
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Takoradi to Accra

A very slow ride due to bad roads, traffic congestion, towns, speed bumps and general Africaness. We had found a hotel on one of the Booking sites and unfortunately it didn't exist in the advertised location so we had to choose something else. While riding around looking for the hotel though we passed a bike shop. A dual purpose shop, it was divided in two. Left part was body building supplements, right side was a small bike shop. On display was a Ducati Panigale. Not a bike I was expecting to see in Ghana. They also had a Motul stand and we restocked on chain lube. I'd lost mine with the panniers in Guinea and the chain was needing some TLC. We stumbled upon a guest house while looking for a second hotel which also didn't exist in the advertised google location. The guest house was fine and a short walk from a shopping centre. We walked up to get dinner. There was also a very good supermarket, first we'd seen in Africa.
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  #38  
Old 4 May 2023
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Accra to Lome via Dzodze border

Usual thing, we left early and headed for the border having decided to use Dzodze border rather than the main one at the coast. Reason was to try and avoid going into Lome and we also hoped a small border would be easier. Not sure that's true and I wouldn't recommend the Dzodze border. First we came to a whole lot of buildings which was clearly the border but nobody was around. We pondered what to do. Should we just continue.......but what if it was the border, no it couldn't be, there was no one there. We decided to proceed and came upon a building with three people in it. The window was awkwardly positioned to make it difficult to speak through but on enquiring the fat one demanded Covid and Yellow Fever certificates. We produced them and he said he wasn't accepting mine. Long story short he is corrupt and regardless of the paperwork he won't let you pass unless you pay him. In this case he claimed a Pharmacist can't issue a Yellow Fever certificate. Richard's is signed by an RGN. I asked him what an RGN is and he didn't know, but he was happy to accept Richard's certificate. We had to pay him to move on, annoying but what can you do at that point? The Togo entry and Ghana exit are done at the same building. On getting up there the first to accost us were some white coats. They demanded we go with them to an office, which I did. After some discussion and going round in circles I asked what they wanted from me. They said Yellow Fever and Covid certificates. I told them I had already done that and paid and wasn't doing it again. Moving on we were told to follow an official who would stamp our passports. We walked round various offices with him. He eventually chose one and directed us to sit down. Optimistically we assumed this would be a quick stamp but no, he needed to open every draw, look at every rubber stamp, test every rubber stamp, check alignment of rubber on every stamp, retest ones he had already tested, check the colour of the stamp pad........... you get the picture. A long time later carnets were stamped and then the whole process started again for the Togo entry. Hours later and we were in Togo. We followed the Lome bypass, it's on Google maps but not on the Garmin maps. Richard and I both have updated Garmin maps on different Garmin models and neither had the bypass. We've found Google to be far more reliable than Garmin for navigation. We found a hotel and checked in, satisfied that another border crossing was complete.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

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  #39  
Old 4 May 2023
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Lome to Cotonou

Another day, another border crossing. Easy ride to the border along the coast road. The border crossing went well, the best one to date. We were done in an hour or so. As we stopped at the first hut, a couple of young guys came up. This is usual and I just look for the money changers. These guys said they could do that and I agreed I'd do money after everything else was complete. These two were super enthusiastic, running to show where to go, who to see, answer questions etc. They didn't actually do the money changing but their friend did. At the end we changed money and paid the two guys directly for all their help. They didn't claim to be fixers or ask for payment but without their help it would have taken us a lot longer I'm sure so I had no problem offering to pay them. They were happy and we'd set a new record for our shortest border crossing. We rode off to find a hotel in Cotonou.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

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  #40  
Old 4 May 2023
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Cotonou to Papalanto

We left Cotonou at 7am. The road out of town is mainly dual carriageway and mostly paved. Small bikes everywhere but that makes it easy to follow the traffic. Roads became progressively worse once we had left the city limits and at one point it was mud tracks and puddles on a detour due to a closed section of road. We had decided to take the more Northerly border rather than the coast road border. We wanted to avoid going into Lagos and after getting our Cameroon visas in Abidjan there was no need to go to Lagos. The border isn't far and it wasn't long before we found ourselves in yet another small chaotic village but this one had a rope across the road. That means it's the border. The usual crowd surrounds the bike as you stop, all wanting something. One was a money changer. These guys are really useful as they want your business and will guide you on where to find Customs, Immigration etc. In this town, full of shacks and ramshackle buildings we needed help as customs was just a metal grill opening in one of the buildings about 1km before the rope barrier. No signs to say customs, you just have to know or let a helpful money changer show you. The customs guys were helpful but weren't sure how a carnet needed to be stamped but they let Richard into their office to show them while I checked the rates for changing money. The app gave a rate which I use as a guide when checking the rate a money changer offers. In this case he offered significantly more than the app said and I remembered being told there is a black market rate and an official rate. Use the black market rate! The money changing was done and the two guys were happy to continue showing us where to find the next office. We cleared immigration out of Benin with a friendly helpful officer. Then to the rope barrier where another guy in a hut wanted to see all our paperwork again. We showed him and were told to pay him 5000 CFA each. I asked what it was for and he said tax. We paid but I insisted on having a receipt. Eventually he returned the bank notes instead. Then it was over to Nigeria. First some guy told us to follow him. Round the back of the building was a table, he sat down and wanted our Yellow Fever cards. After that we went back to the bikes. Then it was immigration. Our new money changer friends showed us the way to the office. Three officials poured over our passports while asking us to shown them bank notes with the Queens picture on. An imaginative way of asking for money to be fair! Again after lots of scrutiny and writing stuff the passports were stamped. Then it got weird. There were tables outside and we were directed to sit down. A smartly dressed guy, not in uniform, proceeded to ask a barrage of questions about where we were going, exactly when we would be in each place, who we were seeing, why and how we would get there. The two of us sweating in the heat wearing biking kit with overland bikes clearly in view didn't seem to give this guy any clue as to why we were there and what we were planning on doing!. It got a bit fraught but eventually he said welcome to Nigeria before directing us to a woman at the next table. She wanted passports so we got those out, again. She said she was narcotics and wrote our details down.
Then it was off to customs. A friendly guy in an air conditioned office was happy to stamp our carnets. No problem there. We were ready to go through the barrier and surprisingly that was it. The town on the other side is the usual African array of shanties. Our money friends were still with us as we needed petrol. They arranged it at their preferred station. Was only about 79p litre. Next up was sim card which our new friends also helped with as special ID was required. Then we were off into Nigeria. The road was just one roadblock after another. We went through at least 20 roadblocks so progress was slow. One was immigration and checked our passports yet again. All friendly, no problem. Another wanted "something for me", another wanted water, another just wanted to check out the bikes. The road was smooth in places, heavily damaged and potholed in others. We rode up to Papalanto but couldn't find the hotel at the location given on Google. After riding around for a while, through back streets and the deep potholed main road we stumbled upon a hotel, not the one we were looking for but at that stage anything with a shower was good enough. We had been through dirt water holes, mud pot holes and dust. We looked a mess and were done for the day.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

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  #41  
Old 4 May 2023
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Papalanto to Benin City

There is a direct route but it is quicker to take a much longer (in distance) route. We decided on the longer route as although much longer it was quicker which is a good indication that it's a better road. The hotel was on the main junction in town and unfortunately we were riding out of town before the Garmin or Google updated. The road was a mess, deep holes, mud, water filled deep holes and very slow going. Heavy on the bikes too, all 1st and 2nd gear stuff. At the first break it occurred to us that we had left the junction on the wrong road and the SatNavs had just updated to the road we were on. It occurred to us we were riding the direct route on the bad road but it was too late to turn back. The road did get better after an hour or two and from there on it was paved road. Progress would have been fine if it wasn't for roadblocks every few miles. Literally, you could often see the next one when departing the current one. Mostly they were fine and waved us through but the delay had already been caused waiting in the queue to get through the single file blockade. It's not good riding, slow progress and tedious. We made it to Benin City and took the first hotel close to the bypass, the plan was to avoid riding through the city the next day as that would add an hour or so to our journey.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-04  

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  #42  
Old 6 May 2023
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Enjoying the write-up and pictures. Thanks for taking the time!
Patience tested to the extreme! Ride safe.
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  #43  
Old 10 May 2023
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Thanks Mossproof. I'm just trying to get a Wi-Fi connection to upload the next weeks tales and photos. Hopefully tonight........
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  #44  
Old 10 May 2023
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Benin City to Owerri

Roads were paved. Some parts fine others in poor condition but no mud or dirt. Got off to a good start as there weren't many roadblocks but that changed and the roadblocks became more frequent until were back to one every few miles. It also rained, proper African rain. I had hoped it would stay warm if it rained as I have no wet weather gear having lost all my kit with the panniers. The temperature dropped by 10 or so degrees C and it was cold riding. First time I've been cold since leaving Europe. I put a supermarket bag inside my ventilated jacket to try and reduce the wind chill. Surprisingly it worked. Onitsha city was super busy and congested. Unfortunately we had to go through it. The roads had flooded in parts and that together with the roadblocks just caused gridlock. Bus passengers stepping out to urinate in the street, tuk tuk's trying to go everywhere. Everybody seemed to be hooting although I'm not sure what that would achieve. White oil smoke from cars, black smoke from the big diesels, mud and mess, quite a scene really. As often seems to be the case recently, the hotel we had looked up wasn't at the Google location but we found something adequate (way better than last nights effort) while looking for the first hotel. Job done for today and time to plan the next leg.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-10  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-10  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-10  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-10  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-copied-data-2023-05-10  

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  #45  
Old 10 May 2023
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Owerri to Calabar

We weren't sure how to proceed from Owerri as the Nigeria Cameroon border is a hostile area. It's well known and listed on the FCO web site as a complete red zone. We also had first hand information confirming the risk was high. We understood the main border is only open to commercial traffic. There is a border crossing further North but it involves a lot of riding in risky zones of Nigeria and the road across the border is dirt and can be very difficult, if not impassable in rainy season. Our preferred option was to take a boat. We couldn't find any information on ferries or cargo boat sailings or where they left from and whether there were customs and immigration facilities etc. We found a phone number on Facebook and called it. A guy answered and was very keen for us to pay in advance and he would do the rest, we just had to go to Uyo, Oron and James Town for departure. Maybe it's genuine, maybe a bit dodgy but clearing immigration and then staying in the country while heading down a road or track to another place seemed risky. We decided to go to Oron and check it out first. The vendor was very pushy which worried us. We decided to head for Calabar instead which would probably have more options.

The ride started out very well, blue sky, good roads, few roadblocks. That was all to change as Google and Garmin disagreed. We were already on the Garmin route so stuck with it. It led us through a town full of tuk tuks and traffic jams. After that the road deteriorated but was still usable until we reached a truck parked across the road, completely blocking it to cars and trucks. We rode around the side of it to be greeted by a mud bath. The road was soft mud which had been churned up and was impassable. Multiple trucks were stuck in the mud and we later learned they had been there all night. A bull dozer was trying to push articulated trucks out of the mud but all wheels were spinning. Small bikes had carved some ruts down the side and we had a go at that. Not easy on big bikes. With the help of some friendly bystanders we got the bikes through. There was a group photo session as locals and bystanders all wanted photos next to the bikes. Moving on, the road was partly paved, partly rocks, dust, holes and very rough. It got progressively worse, not helped by ever increasing numbers of roadblocks. It took over 7 hours to go about 130 miles but we arrived about 14:30.
Attached Thumbnails
Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-20230505_090355.jpg  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-20230505_090422.jpg  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-20230505_090947.jpg  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-20230505_090938.jpg  

Motorcycle Overland 2023 UK to South Africa. West Coast Route-20230505_091719.jpg  

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Five books by Graham Field!

Diaries of a compulsive traveller
by Graham Field
Book, eBook, Audiobook

"A compelling, honest, inspiring and entertaining writing style with a built-in feel-good factor" Get them NOW from the authors' website and Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk.



Back Road Map Books and Backroad GPS Maps for all of Canada - a must have!

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 R80G/S.

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 all over the world with the help of volunteers; 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, or ask questions on the HUBB. 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.




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