Motorcycle Travellers' News Report - July/Aug 2013, 98th Edition

Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in armed mechanics in Kazakhstan, shit-sprayed in New Zealand, an octogenarian's Himalayan Adventure, ferry-sharing with camels, plagues of many-legged critters running across various body parts, boiled in the bags in Sudan, the largest bonfire in the world... and much more? Then you're reading the right newsletter!

Introduction to this issue.

Welcome to the 98th Edition of the overland travellers' e-zine! Back from BMW MOA in Oregon, and leaving in a couple of days for North Carolina (Aug 9-11), so I saw a window of opportunity to get a newsletter out! Not sure when the next one will be, but will do our best to publish whenever we can over the next few months! See the meetings schedule for the rest of the year - we'll be at all the rest of the North American and all the Australia meetings! Hope to see you there!

HUBB UK overland adventure travel vehicles.

Long time readers of this e-zine know that our focus has always been on the overland travel, rather than a specific brand or model of vehicle - as Grant says, what you ride doesn't matter, just get out there! This issue we are reaching out to a neglected constituency - overland adventure travellers on more than 2 wheels! Our new HUBB UK event explicitly includes cyclists and 4-wheelers, and the feedback has been very positive. Typical comments:

" was so great to see and meet people with a common interest, irrespective of the number of wheels."

"Another brilliant HU meet... the weekend was only made more special with the cyclists and 4X4 input. The talks by the various cyclists were all truly inspiring."

"Fantastic! As a 4x4 member we were all made to feel very welcome. From the moment we were greeted at the gate, to the moment we left, everyone we met treated us almost as family."

"...the overall friendliness from folks with 2 wheels or 4 had to be seen to be believed."

We have a couple of stories from 4WD travellers who are also long-time HUBBers, and we'd like to get some regular correspondents in the months to come. As the HU Meetings tag line says 'On 2 wheels or 4 wheels, however you travel, it's where they take you that counts!' Which leads nicely to...

Where are our intrepid travellers this month?

We've got great stories from Bolivia, Mali, the Galapagos, Kazakhstan, Peru, New Zealand, Scotland, Laos, the Himalayas, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Indonesia, Cuba, Ireland, Guatemala, Romania and even Canada!

...And those are just the ones we tracked down! What about you? Get out there on the road and make your own adventure, and don't forget to write! Seriously, there are so many travellers out there now that it's hard for me to keep up with them all. If you send me a couple of paragraphs and pics every month you'll have a much better chance of making it into the e-zine! We try to link to your blog/website if you have one. If you don't have a blog, we can help, and it won't cost you anything.

This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily ;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.

your editors, Grant and Susan Johnson, (about us, contact us)

Travellers on the Road

Nick Jones, UK, (klous-1), Tales from the Saddle, in Bolivia,

"Suddenly I'm at a junction with six exits to choose from and not a single sign. Miraculously there is someone building a house at this junction and I go through the trees into the shade, to the house but there is no-one there. Damn, now what? But then after a moment, from out of the darkness comes a man with a bulging cheek of coca and the familiar faint delirium. When I ask which way to go he points with his chin and then with a spit of coca slime says, 'the carreterra,' to which I reply, 'but which one is that!' I pull him out by the elbow to the 6-ways junction. He obviously thinks I'm stupid and he tiresomely points the way, across the broad riverbed, chopping the air with his hand as he says 'sssiiiigue, siiigue, sigue,' meaning the road is easy to follow, just stay straight...

6 ways junction, Bolivia.

The 6-ways junction

And upright, I think as I cross the deep sand again to the other side. There's hardly a tire mark here now and plants and trees grow freely and hang into the road. The farther I go, the more and more of the hard-packed sand road I find has been consumed at some time by the river, and so more and more often I'm riding along the tricky riverbed itself. At one point, I try to slip narrowly between a tree leaning half-uprooted, bent forwards in the sand from an ancient flood, and an area of softer sand cut by the few tyres that have passed this way. I catch one of the tree's tough branches on my body and tumble off, stopping with a jolt. Before I even hit the soft sand I'm thinking to myself, 'turn back... this is crazy, if it's like this now, what will it be like in 100km!'

Falling again.

I wiggle out painfully from under the bike sunk heavily in the sand, burning my leg on the engine case and hurting my ankle as I rush to tug it free from the heavy heat. I go to heave the bike up and as I do a spurt of blood surges out from somewhere on to the sand. 'Bloody hell... that's a lot of blood!' I picture a syringe full of blood being squeezed hard without a needle. My hand is cut and I wipe it on my trousers ineffectively but can see that whilst it's quite nasty, it's quite a small cut in my finger, maybe the brake lever or a branch stabbed it. But no time for that, vital fuel is leaking out from the tank; I have to get the bike up. I plunge my bloody hand amongst the soft sand and fix it around the grip and heave the bike a second time. This time my reddened hand slips from the now wet grip and I fall backwards and tangle in the tough tree branches which I fight angrily against. I manage better the third time and push and run the bike along the riverbed and across to the far side.

Nick Jones, bloody hand.

A slow awkward fall and a small but bloody cut to my finger.

The injury and fall have really brought things to the fore, I want out. This isn't a very wise place to be alone, or maybe I'm just not good enough or tough enough, it's the same feeling I get when I'm climbing far above the last protection, a fall would be big, and my first thoughts here are to turn back. The road isn't that tough (though I say this in hindsight), but it is long and isolated and the difficulties reside not in the depth of sand, or lack of people but in my head.

Then I start to think - as is usual - not about turning back but instead, 'just a little more, just a little more effort, you can always turn back, just see what it's looks like...'"

Nick Jones in Bolivia.

more »

Ed. Read the rest of Nick's story and great pics on the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

Jo Rust, South Africa, Circumnavigating Africa, in Mali, BMW F650 GS Dakar,

"...From the border I made my way to Sikasso, from here my GPS had information on routes again. The first thing that hit me upon entering Mali is how quiet it is here! There's this tangible calmness in the air. In stark contrast to the North! There aren't as many people on the road as I've become used to in Central and the rest of Western Africa. On the contrary I noticed that mostly people are working in fields all along the roadside. You don't hear anything. People just go about their daily lives, working in the fields. Whenever I stopped for a break next to the road maybe one or two people would walk past me. I would greet them and they'd shyly smile and move along. It's like I've entered a completely different Africa now.

That's until I reached Bamako! I underestimated just how big Bamako is and only arrived around 20:00. From about 10 kilometers outside of the actual city I could see long files of traffic snaking through the countryside, making their way in and out of town. I followed my GPS into town and then I got lost! Crazy traffic everywhere!

Tour de Afrique statue, Mali.

Tour de Afrique statue

I was trying to find a good landmark to phone my contact, Valerie, from so they could then meet up with me. But it became impossible and as soon as I found a gap to pull off to the side of the road I phoned Valerie and we agreed that I should make my way back to the 'Tour de l'Afrique' statue you see as you enter Bamako. I would estimate the statue/ memorial to be about 12 meters tall, so it's not like you can miss it! It's situated in the middle of a big 'rond-point'. (Roundabout) I found myself a spot within the roundabout and parked off to the side, waiting for Valerie and her friend to meet up with me.

Ferry to Mauritania with camels.

...Within about ten minutes I was standing on the other side of the gates in the holding area where everyone waited to board the ferry to Mauritania. The ferry arrived before long. Though I could not board, as there were no less than 100 camels waiting to be loaded first. A crowd had gathered around me and we stood watching as the men in their white and light blue robes rounded up the camels in small groups to get them onto the ferry. It was a slow and 'not-all-that-fun-to-watch' procedure. I hated how they kept hitting the camels with their big sticks!

Ferry to Mauritania with camels.

On the second round I boarded the ferry with the rest of the camels. It only takes a ten-minute ride over the Senegal river to get to the other side. Though it was a Friday and Ramadan, so by the time we reached the other side I would have to wait for about two hours as everyone was off to pray. In the meantime a couple arrived on a red BMW f800gs. They were from Spain, riding down to Dakar. The man started chatting to me and complained about how bad this border is. I smiled at him and said: 'Well brace yourself, the other side is worse"! Which is true, in my opinion. I found the Mauritania side to be much more relaxed.

By the time I had my passport stamped and all the paperwork filled out, it was too late to try and gun it for Nouakchott. I would certainly only reach it by night and Mauritania is not really a country where I felt comfortable riding around at night. Just after you cross the border there is a hotel on your right. Clean and cool, I thought it a good idea to rather spend the night and get an early start the next morning. In retrospect, I should've pushed through to Nouakchott..."

more »

Ed. Lots more on Jo's blog in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

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Mark and Carlie, Australia, Just out to get some milk - a three year RTW journey, on the Galapagos Islands, 650 V-Strom,

"Hey folks. We just spent some time out in the Galapagos, one of the 'musts' of Ecuador in my mind now. I know that there is not much 'ride' in this 'ride report' but I thought to share my experiences.

1,000 kms west off the South American coastline lies a small archipelago of rocky, arguably barren, collection of motley islands. Their name, quietly and reverently heard in places likely to subscribe to National Geographic, is the Galapagos.

Seal pup in Galapagos.

By some stroke of luck they were visited by a young 27 year old naturalist whose thoughts and ideas were both quite revolutionary and inflammatory. But in 1832, some 28 years before his famous book, a young Charles Darwin was quite taken by the place, and so were we!

Skip forward to today and even though his grizzled yet thoughtful likeness graces the front of tacky t-shirts and cheesy coffee-mugs, there is little doubt his influence has saved many a playful sea lion or grumpy iguana. All this and he only mentioned the islands a mere 26 times in his 200 plus page publication.

By another stroke of luck these ramshackle volcanoes in the ocean have also been claimed by the country of Ecuador. I very much doubt the future tourist windfall was in the forefront of the sovereignty all those years ago. But it is now. The cash bonanza that is eco-tourism economics is laying golden tortoise eggs. With up to 125,000 camera toting nature tourists visiting each year, the recipe is perfect for ecological destruction; putting Darwin's ideas of Natural Selection to a real life test.

Flamingos in the Galapagos.

What chance does a graceful pink flamingo delicately feeding on nearly microscopic prawns have against the almost boundless resources of the tourist, hungry for that perfect bragging photo or the local industry that has risen to serve them?

The answer lies in the best example of sustainable tourism I have ever witnessed. Gone is the dynamite fishing of the Philippines or the Japanese tourist doing a Kabuki dance on fragile coral in Australia. Here the unobtrusive signage is strictly adhered to, nature not merely respected but almost reverent and a highly trained guide to hold your hand, or slap it, as navigator.

For our journey his name was Ivan. Just as quick with facts as with his own brand of questionable humour. In the Galapagos nature is the star, but to fully appreciate her beauty, you need to know her story and Ivan is her biographer. You know he is pimping his knowledge and that there have been many more before you but it still feels special.

From the 'chicky-chicky' mating dance of the Blue-Footed Booby, through the colour changes of the Marine Iguana of Isla Espanola up to the dubious excuses for the national football team's failure, his insight was invaluable.

Iguana in the Galapagos.

...The animals themselves display an arrogance bordering on annoyance at us bipeds. Their genus blissfully unaware of the destruction capable by us so-called top-of-the-food-chain dwellers. Our mastery of nature to do such things as build cities in the desert and create antibiotics is no more than a bit of historical flatulence to a 200 year old tortoise. It's when a 7 week old sea-lion pup can scatter a highly paid executive out of his way that you know nature has a chance."

more »

Ed. Read more of Mark and Carlie's story in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

Bruce Porter and Mike Speechley, A northern hemisphere RTW, 91 days in 2013, in Kazakhstan,

"Almaty Or (And) Bust (Again). It took us 3 days to get out of Semey. One day was for my recovery and the 3rd to register our visas. They have a strange system in some places like Kazakhstan. Yes you have a visa to get in, but then you have to visit the migration police in 5 days to register. Day 1 is the day you enter. That was Saturday, and they only open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. But not if Monday is after a weekend holiday.

All forms need filling in Russian. We paid a taxi driver to help ease us through the system. This involved returning to the hotel to get a hotel stamp on the forms before the policeman would continue the process. At one point we had a total stranger filling our forms in for us.

Fun and games over, we wound our way out of the city. Missed the advised detour (200kms) that would avoid the road works on the main Almaty road and put the bikes back to the test again. If a Lada Samara can do the 50-60kms of mud, gravel, pot holes, humps and sand, so could we.

We were now in the boonies. Nowhere to stay, except pull off the side of the road and camp.

Main road to Almaty, Kazakhstan.

It took us a couple of days, but then as we approached Almaty the Himalayas appeared in the distance. Their white peaks sandwiched between the clouds and the smog. Then, as if this is to be a new ritual upon entry to a city, just as we parked the bikes by the central station to look for an hotel, mine lived up to its name once more. The 'bastard' died.

I've researched these too well, once I had ascertained the fuses and battery were all OK it was straight to the ignition wires. A slight push and a connection was made, and then lost. Outside our chosen hotel we peeled away the layers to get at the culprit.

Bike wires.

That green wire should be attached.

All we needed now was a soldering iron. Something neither of us had packed. Or maybe a mechanic. Here is one, Daniel, who just happened to be passing on his bike, with a soldering iron. I think he was soldering Mike to my ignition at this point.

Armed mechanic in Almaty, Kazahstan.

I noticed a bulge at his hip. Yes, an armed mechanic.

The manager at the hotel was also very helpful, being a biker he loved what we were doing and offered us a discount, but we had already paid. So he insisted on giving us 6 litres of water and a large bag of fruit for the road. Then in the evening a complimentary supper. This turned out to be steak and chips. Nice chaps these Kazaks. And not a man-kini in sight.

We even had time to wander around the city. Soviet and Arabic styles, clashing and mingling in wide tree lined streets."

more »

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John and Alanna Skillington, Australia, RTW in Peru, Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom,

"For the first time since we arrived in Santiago 9 months ago we have pre-booked our accommodation in Ollantaytambo at the lovely Hotel Munay Tika. The hotel is gorgeous, we have the most amazing views from our room and the staff are so helpful. The only problem is getting the bike through the garden door. It is more than a tight fit but Skill manages it.

John and Alanna Skillington, bike at hotel, Ollantaytambo, Peru.

Skill got the bike through that door

We love this little village, it is just so beautiful, the ruins are visible from everywhere. On one of our days in the village we walk up to the Incan granaries on the opposite side of the main ruins. The views are outstanding.

Granary ruins, Peru.

The train ride to Aguas Calientes is absolutely stunning, our necks are on swivels, in every direction the views are breath taking. Unfortunately the train is packed, not a seat to be had, and we are packed in like sardines, poor Skill cannot fit his legs under the table.

Aguas Calientes would have to be the most touristed place we have been to in South America, it is sustained solely by tourists, to and from Machu Picchu. We arrive in this little town just after dark and are met by a girl from the hostel who has our name on a little board (Johan and Ellena), we follow her blindly through the maze of streets to arrive at our hostel. A quick shower, a dodgy pizza dinner and then it is off to meet our guide Peter, who gives us a run down for our MP visit tomorrow, we are to meet him at 8.00 am. We quickly buy snacks from the shop across the road for tomorrow's visit and that is all we see of Aguas Calientes as we are in bed by 9.00pm.

The alarm sounds at 4.30 am, up and at 'em, dodgy breakfast then it is down to join the queue for the bus to Machu Picchu, we have a half hour wait but are soon on a bus enjoying the 30 minute ride up the switchbacks to Machu Picchu and enter the gates by 6.45 am.

People are swarming in like ants and I begin to question our visit. After dreaming of coming here for 30 years and all the amazing ruins we have seen in our travels am I going to be disappointed?

Machu Picchu.

As we climb the path to the lookout at the Caretaker's Hut and finally arrive for our first glimpse, we cannot help but be overwhelmed by the absolute beauty of this ruin and its location. It is everything we have imagined and more. Simply stunning. The sun does not rise over the mountains and hit the ruins until around 7.30 am. We secure our view point and soak it all in, it is all a bit much to take in, almost like I am in someone else's movie."

more »

Ed. Read more amazing stories on John and Alanna's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

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Extreme Bike Tours India, Raasthan, Bhutan

Extreme Bike Tours - India, Rajasthan, Bhutan

Sherri Jo Wilkins, Australia/USA, RTW, in New Zealand, KTM 690 Enduro,

"Finally time to move on and head to the north of the South Island. But not without a proper motorcycle send off by attending the famous Brass Monkey Rally.

As mentioned before, Bill Veitch from McIver & Veitch KTM, who also happens to be one of the founding members of the BMR 33 years ago, invited me to what is usually the coldest place on the south island to ride your motorcycle, camp, drink and be merry around the largest bonfire in the world. Anyone who has attended has told me their stories of surviving the snow and cold at the Brass. Now to see if I have what it takes! ;-)

Road to Brass Monkey Rally, New Zealand.

The road takes me into Central Otago, where there are cute little outback towns and scenery to boot!

..I noticed early on that the road had a very slippery brown 'layer' on my side sometimes. It looks like diluted manure. Well I found out that is exactly what it was! I passed an animal hauler that was spraying the lovely mixture of poo and urine and hoped that was the end of it, but there was plenty ahead of him so he wasn't the only problem truck. As you can see the road is nice, smooth with plenty of twists and turns and on one of my turns, I was going uphill in the curve when around the corner came another animal hauler coming down hill. I had seen enough for the last 2 hours and knew to keep as left as I could. Never mind! He totally sprayed me with the disgusting mix. Both me and the bike were covered head to toe in shit!

I was so ticked off. I kept riding and wiped my visor clear with my gloves. Thank goodness the visor was right down! The more I thought about it, and smelled it, the more ticked off I got. At the first fuel station I came to in Ranfurly, one very pathetic looking Sherri Jo went inside and asked if they had a hose I could use. The super nice lady did. You could see in her eyes how sorry she felt for me, and I went to spraying down everything I own. I was so mad, I didn't think to take a picture until now, after everything was clean again.

After the bath.

I arrived the Brass Monkey camp soaking wet, a bit late, but happy to be here."

Bonfire at Brass Monkey Rally, New Zealand.

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Wolfi (Germany) and Ilta (Finland) and dogs, Sauerkraut and Tofuwurst (vegan bikers trotting the globe), in Scotland, BMW R1150GS Adventure and Suzuki V-Strom DL650,

"The beauty and the comfort (at Loch Ness) came with a high price for us low budget travellers. It was clear to us that the following days we would need to go camping.

Wild camping in Scotland.

As we learned earlier, the strange thing about camping is that our dogs might cost extra and in the end the difference to a motel or to a B&B compared to camping with three dogs might be marginal.

Camping with the dogs.

Anyway, camping it was and the camping places we tried out were fully booked, and the many other sites were only for caravans. At some point we got enough and decided to go into the wild. We found a resting place besides a river with a decent spot. There was a table and a trash bin on which we could find the 'rules' for camping in the wild."

Camping rules for wild camping in Scotland.


more »

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Ekke and Audrey Kok, Canada, Circumnavigation of Asia, crossing the Mekong River, R1200GS, F650GS,

"We were both feeling pretty good and happy to be on the road again. Our first adventure was only two kilometres away at the crossing of the Mekong. We could have backtracked to Pakse and used a bridge to cross the Mekong but what fun would that be? Instead we rode our bikes down a sandy shore onto tiny wooden rafts lashed together and balanced on top of a couple of pontoons. One of the pontoons had an outboard motor attached for propulsion.

Mekong Ferry.

Getting on the rafts was quite interesting as the rafts were docked next to each other. It was necessary to ride across one raft in order to get on the one furthest out. As the F650 was much lighter than the 1200 we loaded that first and it was quite easy. But when I pushed the 1200 up the ramp and onto the raft the boat operators both gasped as the boat sank more than they were used to. It still seemed to be floating so it was deemed safe enough to cross the Mekong.

Off we went, carefully watching the water levels in relation to the pontoons. At the far side there were already two rafts tied up and Audrey's raft pulled up to the outer one to tie up. My raft was then the fourth boat out from shore. I rode the F650 across the first raft and down the gangplank to the shore without too much trouble. But when I went to bring the Adventure ashore it was a bit more challenging. My raft was about 30 centimetres lower than the next raft so I had to use the engine to climb up onto it and then it sank 30 centimetres so the process could be repeated for the next raft in.

Boarding the Mekong ferry - Click to watch the video.

Click the picture to see the video!

At the final raft a scooter coming the other way decided that this was the perfect time for him to board. This made it a bit more challenging getting the heavy bike balanced on the bobbing boat so I could get on it to ride down the ramp. Audrey filmed the whole event at both ends but just as I was getting on the Adventure to ride down the ramp (i.e. the most exciting part) the camera battery died. And I wasn't going back for a re-take!"

more »

Ed. Ekke and Audrey will be back just in time to tell us their stories at the HU Canwest Meeting in Nakusp coming up soon! Yoo-hoo!

Octogenarian's Himalayan Adventure - video by Rahul Bodh, narration by Simon Gandolfi

Simon Gandolfi rides over Rohtang Pass. Click to play the video.

Simon Gandolfi rides over Rohtang Pass in the Himalayas. Click on the picture to play the video.

"Travel writer and biker, Simon Gandolfi sets a record as the oldest man to have ridden a motorcycle over the Rohtang Pass in India's Himalayan State of Himachal Pradesh - his bike a 125 cc TVS Phoenix. 'Most bikers would consider riding a 125 unwise. For an 80-year old, who has suffered two heart attacks, totally insane.'"

Simon Gandolfi resting.

Simon resting after the ordeal!

more »

Ed. Good on ya, Simon! Check out Simon's newest book - Old Men Can't Wait!

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Motorcycle Touring On Small Hidden Roads Through The Heart Of The Alps!

Next Tour Dates: August 09 - 18, 2013 | September 21 - 30, 2013

Experience the European Alps at their best on the Ultimate Alps motorcycle tour. This is the measure by which all other adventures are compared. Every mile of these roads, every menu, every hotel, every roadside, lunch spot and camera opportunity are etched in our memory, ready to be shared with you!

If ever there was a place on earth that was made for the eye, the camera and our bikes, it is surely the Alps. We have chosen the very best of those roads and selected the choicest hotels. We know what is here, this is our home, and we offer it to you! If you could take only one motorcycle trip in Europe in your life, this is the one we would suggest.

TOUR DESCRIPTION: START/FINISH: Mieming, Austria | NEAREST AIRPORT: Innsbruck | DURATION: 10 days vacation, 8 riding days | ROUTE: Total distance 1160 - 1370 miles (1870 - 2200 km). Daily rides 73 - 175 miles (116 - 280 km). The entire route runs on good asphalt roads. | ACCOMMODATIONS: Comfortable middle-class hotels with a special Alpine touch. | REST DAYS: Bolzano | HIGHLIGHTS: Lucerne, Matterhorn, Menaggio, Lakes Maggiore and Como, Lake Garda, Dolomites, roads and passes of the Western Alps.

HU Events

Why Come to a Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting?

You can meet people who don't think you're crazy for wanting to ride your bike to South America or Africa or across Asia! People who will encourage you, share their experiences and advice on how to do it!

Also, the meetings help to make HU more than just a website - a community of motorcycle travellers - real people, not just e-mail addresses ;-) And last but not least, they make a significant contribution to HU revenue, thus helping us to keep the HUBB and website going and a roof over our heads! So thanks to everyone who comes!

We have a record 18 events this year! We're getting to as many of them as we can - looking forward to seeing old friends again and making new ones!

You missed it!

Ireland - July 12-14, 2013. Enniskillen. Liam, Naomi, Jochen and the team had a great event as usual:

"Just wanted to say I enjoyed my first HU meeting a lot! I am so glad I decided to come to Ireland, it is absolutely beautiful and I felt very welcomed everywhere I went! The weather was a nice extra. Definitely visit Ireland again in the future!

The meeting was very nice, interesting presentations, good laughs, lovely people and even some nice dancing... Looking forward to and happily planning my first big trip, I have a lot of insecurity and questions as well, but the presentations and talking to everyone has given me more confidence... Go girl go! Big thanks to everyone! Greetings from Belgium! Heidi"

More comments here on the HUBB Post!

Colorado - July 12-14, 2013. Campfire and Ride Mini Meeting. Greg Frazier hosted this event with a RIDE focus!

"Great group, great presentations, great campground, great suggestions on where to ride in Colorado which are turning out great! Enjoyed the whole event immensely."

India - July 27-28, 2013. Motorcycle Travellers Meet India, near Bangalore. Santosh and friends organized the first motorcycle travellers meeting in India, which we hope will be a full-on HU event in 2014!

Meetings and Events still to come, 2013-2014. Mark your calendars and sign up now!

North Carolina - August 8-11, 2013, Stecoah, NC. This event is held at the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge and Campground, a secluded 39-acre resort on Stecoah Creek in the smoky mountains of western North Carolina, offering some of the best motorcycle riding in the world. The 10th Anniversary of this meeting will be hosted by Mike Kilpatrick, assisted by Steve Anderson. We'll be there! Online registration is closed, but come along anyway and hope to see you there!

Camping at Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge, North Carolina.

Canada West - August 22-25, 2013. Nakusp, BC. Ekke and Audrey are back just in time to share their stories about riding to the Great Wall of China, Kevan and Karen Ibbotson are organizing and we'll be there! Great riding in the area, friendly town and lots of great presentations and workshops lined up. Online registration will be closing soon!

Nakusp Lake, BC.

Kyrgyzstan Mini-Meeting! - August 31, 2013. Patrik Zimmermann (Patrik MuzToo) is our local host for this event. Patrik has a great ride planned to a nearby lake, slide shows and a traditional meal. Free entry and camping. Sign up here!

New!France Mini-Meeting! September 6-8, 2013. John Whyman (Pongo) and Mark and Gemma Herron (Gemmasun) are organizing this event in St Amant-des-Cots, Aveyron. See the HUBB post for details and to let them know you're coming!

Ontario Canada, September 12-15, 2013. New location on Lake Manitou near Parry Sound! We'll be there! Online registration is open now!

Camp Manitou dock and lake.

Australia QLD - September 26-29, 2013. Dayboro, Queensland. Shane Kuhl and Helen Black are the local hosts for the 10th Anniversary of HU meetings in Australia! We'll be there! Online registration is open now!

Australia VIC - October 11-13, 2013. Cavendish, Victoria. Anthony and Janet Morrison are the local hosts for this event in the beautiful Grampian Mountains. We'll be there! Online registration is open now!

Grampian Mountains, Victoria, Australia.

New!Australia Perth - October 18-20, 2013. Yanchep National Park near Perth. Ewen MacGregor is leading the organising team for this first HU event in Western Australia. We'll be there! Online registration is open now!

California - October 24-27, 2013, Cambria. Camp Ocean Pines overlooks the Pacific Ocean. There's great riding and lots of things to see in the area. Ted Simon, Carla King, Ken and Carol Duval, Jeremy Kroeker, Mike and Jo Hannan and many other presenters and hands-on workshops. We'll be there! Online registration is open now!

Argentina, Viedma - first weekend in December usually - details to come.

Thailand, January 10-11, 2014. Chiang Mai - Greg Frazier hosts this event, which is expanding to 2 days - details to come! See the HUBB post for pics from the 2013 event!

HUBB UK 2014, June 19-22, 2014. Donington. Sam Manicom and Iain Harper host the premier event for overland adventure travellers on two, three or four wheels! Online registration is open now! Early birds are rewarded with the biggest discount, so make sure you register online before the end of August to get the best value. Check out the video from HUBB UK 2013 for a taster.


How about you? We're all here to learn, and there's LOTS to learn! We want to do more presentations and seminars - but we need volunteers to give them! Any topic you can contribute having to do with motorcycle travel, maintenance, planning, first aid, etc, lasting 20 minutes or more, would be great. We love people who have done trips and taken pictures to come present, but we also are interested in practical how-to sessions such as roadside cooking, navigation/GPS, trip prep and planning, adventure motorcycling medicine, packing light, setting your bike up, bodging/bike maintenance, tire repair, communications/blogging from the road, photography, videography, self-publishing your story, self-defense, safe riding techniques, picking up your bike and off-road riding. Please contact us here to volunteer.

Had a great trip? Got good stories and pics of it? Never presented before? Tips for putting on a successful Travel Slide Show!

Volunteers and Hosts

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. And volunteering is always a great way to meet a lot of people!

If you'd like to host an HU Meeting in your area, please see the How To Host a Meeting page for details.

Vendors/Traders sign up here to join us at a Meeting.

See the Events page for more details on all events.

Hope to see you there! Grin!

Grant and Susan

Gareth Griffiths, UK, in Tajikistan, Land Rover,

"We fuelled up on our way out of town and made our way north-east to take the 'Summer' route into the Pamirs. We didn't know at the time that everyone was using the more southerly route avoiding the mountain pass. It was a few hundred kilometres longer so we overlooked it. As the day went on the asphalt finished quite early. We were on the M41, a National Highway but still the surface was gravel. We passed a few police checkpoints then had to register our GBAO permit (where we caught up with Adam) before being allowed into the Pamir Region. The sky darkened, the road turned to mud, it started to rain and afternoon became evening. We crossed a few rivers where the road had been washed away but couldn't find anywhere to camp. It was a well-populated area with nomads camped up between villages.

Pamir Crossing, Tajikistan.

Through the gap, M41, Tajikistan

We got to a large river crossing where the whole village had turned out to see a Kamaz truck pull another truck through and watch the general saga that unfolds at these kind of places. Then we spotted Adam making his way out the other side of the muddy torrent, all eyes were now fixed on us. Nerves kicked in as this crossing was deeper than the others with a steep drop in and a steep climb out. Luckily for us it was short in length so the whole rig wouldn't be subjected to the full flow of muddy water at once. We dropped in, crawled out, no drama. Had we been there a little earlier we would have seen Adam cross. He hit a submerged boulder which stopped him dead and being short in the legs promptly fell over in the river! I saw the video on a local man's 2MP Nokia phone, I'm sure it was Adam. We had all had enough that day so camped up on the edge of a lake as the storms rolled in."

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Ed. note: See the next item for Adam's perspective!

Adam Lewis, UK, Short Way Round, in Tajikistan, BMW F650,

"I arrived at the Adventurers Inn in Dushanbe just as another storm broke and walked into the garden to find Griff & Lisa's (UK) Landrover parked there.

After a few days of blog writing, photo editing, laundry and buying supplies we set off (at different times) for Khorog – 500km away over the mountains. The threat of a storm loomed large as I rode east and I wondered what the weather had in store for me. I was soon out of the city and into a wide, green river valley. The river was red and raging thanks to the recent storms.

Adam Lewis crossing the Pamir River, Tajikistan.

Fancy carrying your shopping back across there after going to market?

On the map the M41 through Tavildara looks like a major road but in reality it's a single carriageway road with little traffic that often turns to dirt.

East of Tavildara I turned south and just at the entrance to the GBAO (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province) region I found the road and bridge completely washed away. There was a 3-axle Kamaz truck stuck exiting the river crossing and an attempt was being made to haul it out with a tractor. That proved fruitless and so an army Kamaz was used. It pulled the truck out like you'd grab a small child by the wrist – impressive? The Kamaz driver offered to give me a ride across but he wanted SOM100 ($20) and wouldn't budge on the price. I declined.

After watching a Freelander and a Lada Niva make the crossing it was my turn. It wasn't far across but It was rocky and fast flowing. I entered the water hit a boulder and suddenly found myself stopped and unable to touch the floor. I promptly fell over. I ended up pushing/driving the bike across but hit another large submerged boulder that bounced me away from the exit ramp and I struggled to get Daisy up the bank. Just as I did so Griff & Lisa arrived. I don't think the Landrover even noticed the crossing. Feckers!"

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Ed. note: See more, including some amazing photos on Adam's blog.

Issa Breibish and Nita, Canada, RTW, in Tunisia, BMW F650GS,

"With a long day on the road ahead of us, Nita and I want to get an early start and it's not hard to get out of bed. All night my dreams have been invaded by a plague of six and eight legged critters running across various body parts and, when I awake, I find that I'm not alone in those unsettling images. While I can definitely say that getting a room here was a mistake, the grounds with their colorful mosaics and ample gardens are a lovely place to wake up to. Next time – and we hope there is – we'll camp and make our own larvae-free food.

Breibish bikes in Gafsa.

Even with a full day in mind, we're up early enough to enjoy the cool air, bright sun and a walk to the breakfast area where a simple spread offers clear view of anything that could be hiding on our plates. The food goes down fairly easily and, after a walk around the quiet paths of Al Hassan, we load up the bikes and make our way back towards the streets of Gafsa.

In town we're unprepared for the gauntlet of traffic that meets us, but our sleepy bodies soon adapt to the weaving and heaving that's Tunisian riding. Even in its chaos there's a flow – a rhythm to riding here; though this morning it seems a little more messy than normal. Rather than fight it, we settle into frequent stops, fleeting bursts of speed to pass and, always, patience. In my helmet the mantra 'We're guests. Do as the locals do.' plays over and over – not like a skipping CD but rather a slow, meditative groove.

Breibish in traffic in Gafsa.

A car stops for no reason. Pass. Forward – don't hit the pedestrian who's just stepped into traffic without looking. Gap! Speed up – in! Bus is blocking the intersection. Stop. This guy isn't really trying to sell me a camel head right now is he? Oh, he is. Is that a Citroen driving on the sidewalk to pass?! Yes. Okay. Into the traffic circle. Avoid the pedestrian who is looking but thinks his hand in my face will magically stop the bike before it hits him. No, I don't need bread right now even if it is a great deal. Is that a different Citroen going the wrong way? Yes. Okay."

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Beth and Dave (Irish) Anderson, USA, in Europe, F700GS and F800GS,

Beth writes to the HU Communities in Spain: "Hola, My husband and I are nearly 3 months into our journey from Ireland to South Africa. We are currently in the Basque region of Spain and are looking for tips on things like campgrounds, great roads, hikes, must see beaches/ small villages (we've found we don't much like big cities). We are finding that our lack of research before we left, leaves us ignorant sometimes as to where to go.

Our rough route takes us from Donostia-San-Sebastian along the north coast towards Santiago, down into Portugal, back in towards Gibraltar, before driving our way back up the country towards France. We have no set plans or route, only that we will be taking a ferry from Turkey into Egypt in October/November (and even that is up in the air). Thanks for any tips at all, Beth and Irish"

Beth and Dave Anderson in the Swiss Alps.

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Ed. Beth and Dave - check out the Europe regional forum on the HUBB, too, and keep in touch!

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You'll be taking on some of the finest enduro terrain in the world. With an expert team at your side you'll pass through jungles, cross the Mekong, climb mountains and stand in the shadows of the ancient temples of Angkor.

'You'll be taking on some of the finest enduro terrain in the world. With an expert team at your side you'll pass through jungles, cross the Mekong, climb mountains and stand in the shadows of the ancient temples of Angkor.'

Heike Fania, Switzerland and Filippo Fania, Germany, Europe to Australia and beyond, in Indonesia, BMW F650GS and BMW R1150GS,

"The distances on Sumatra are easily underestimated, especially since many roads are in a terrible condition and full of dangerous potholes. We could travel only slowly, and spend some very long days riding.

Right in the middle of the massive island we crossed the equator. However, without the gigantic sign over the road and without our GPS devices we wouldn't actually have noticed it. But knowing where we were, it was a special moment. We had managed to ride all the way to the equator in Indonesia on our motorcycles – and now we would continue our trip on the southern hemisphere – crazy feeling!

Heike and Filippo crossing the equator in Sumatra.

Already in the southern part of Sumatra, we passed the highest peak of Indonesia, the mighty Mount Kerinchi, a 3805 metres high volcano, surrounded by huge tea plantations – fantastic scenery, with empty roads and fascinating plants and animals.

Large beetle.

...Fuel: petrol stations are infrequent, and the quality ('Premium') is terrible (less than 90 Octane), 92 Octane can be found only in the cities. In the south it was difficult to find fuel, since it was often sold out, and when they had some we had to queue for it. But it's cheap – only about 0.40 EUR per litre (4500 Indonesian Rupee)."

Queue at filling station, Sumatra.

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Sam and Clare (Pheebs), in Africa,

Libya: This place... is just simply amazing. Yes we had the heebie jeebies put in us as it was during the time of the hostage takings in Algeria and also the week previous when the ambassadors were assassinated... but we loved it. Genuine people, AMAZING Roman Ruins, so much culture and a fascinating history. We simply cannot wait to return to explore the deserts in the South.

Lady praying in Leptis Magna, Libya.

Lady praying in the Roman Ruins at Leptis Magna

Egypt: Having been held at the border at gun point for hope of sexual favours and due to not being able to speak Arabic, to riding out in the middle of nowhere for hundreds of miles in a stunning desert... we had a varied experience of Egypt. Granted, we will never ever go through again with our own vehicle... the expenses and pain to do so along with the abundance of corruption just far out weighed the enjoyment. But we did experience some seriously stupendous artefacts, history and culture as well as some great desert rides. A hard hard country to travel but having met some amazing people there, we did okay!

Wild camping in desert, north Africa.

Wild camping in the desert

Sudan: This one took us by surprise. Loved it. Yes, we were boil in the bags (55 degrees Celsius) and yes, being a Muslim country I suffered a fair whack with having to stay covered up but the riding, camping, company and people just blew us away. More pyramids than Egypt there did you know? Plus, a national park with lions and an insane amount of wildlife! Hard for climate, awesome memories.

Aswan to Wadi Halfa ferry.

The Aswan to Wadi Halfa ferry... this was the cargo ferry which rocked up with both our bikes on and two big cars (a landrover and land cruiser). Can you spot them!?

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Ed. Lots of great pics of Africa on Sam and Clare's post in the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

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Gene and Neda, Canada, 'Lightcycle', RTW, in Cuba, R1200GS and F800GS,

"After almost a month on the island, our time in Cuba was coming to an end. From Vinales, we doubled back on the main Autopista past Havana towards Playa Giron on the south coast. There were some nice beaches that were a lot cheaper than the resorts at Varadero and Cayo Coco, but we were really here to see the Bahia de Cochinos - The Bay of Pigs.

We rode through the swamplands of Zapata, the largest wetlands in the world and home to crocodiles, lily pads and marshes. There, we found an all-inclusive resort (first one of this trip) right on the beaches of Playa Giron, and immediately gorged ourselves sick on several rounds of complimentary cocktails that were more sugar than alcohol.

The resorts was filled with locals and backpackers, and after we left the bikes parked outside our cabin, we were relatively unmolested and enjoyed sunsets and mojitos at the rustic, 2-star budget resort.

Just outside the resort is the Bay of Pigs museum, which housed military vehicles from the period of the invasion as well as a photographic history of the ill-fated attempt of US-backed Cuban exiles to wrest control away from Fidel Castro after La Revolucion.

Bay of Pigs Museum, Cuba.

Bay of Pigs Museum

...After a couple of days at Playa Giron, we took a short two hour ride to Cienfuegos, the port town where we would meet up with the Stahlratte again to take us back to the mainland.

Now we were on the opposite side of the dreaded 'schedule' - trying to find ways to pass the time and dodging the hustlers at every street corner, while waiting for the ship to take us off this island! Honestly, we did feel a bit trapped, not able to leave when we wanted to, and I understood now the plight of many on the island, not having the resources to leave the country. Never did we look so forward to throwing up our lunches overboard!"

Street in Trinidad, Cuba.

Riding through the cobblestone streets of Trinidad, Cuba

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Ed. See Gene and Neda's story and great pics on the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

Karen and Kevin Browne, UK, RTW, in Canada, Moto Guzzi Spada,

"We arrived in Canada 3rd May 2013 ready to begin our Americas leg. Our plan to travel up the Cassiar highway to Alaska and do a round trip taking in most of the sights before returning down the main highway to Dawson Creek and on through Jasper.

In the blogs we have finally waded through our Australian blogs to the end, have been home to the UK for a quick visit and flown out to Vancouver to be reunited with the bike.

The Moto Guzzi Spada, modified by Kevin Browne.

...Releasing the bike from customs proved to be a more of a mission than we had hoped. Harri was a huge help, it took lots of phone calls and running around to sort things out complicated by the fact that we were dealing with people the other side of the country in different time zones.

This stuff is never easy and something as unusual as a 'temporary' personal motorcycle import (we run on English licence plates) always seems to cause some confusion simply because they don't deal with this sort of thing very often. We know the drill by now having done it many times but each country has its own rules, regulations and departments so it's never quite the same.

Uncrating the Guzzi in Vancouver.

We got there in the end and picked up the bike from a customs bonded warehouse just outside of town. I was cross to discover that customs had torn open the side of the crate using a crowbar rather than just undoing six bolts and removing the end door but at least the bike was here and undamaged. A special thank you to Harri, Case and John for the use of their trailer and tools and help with unloading.

After ensuring the necessary bike insurances were in order for Canada and the USA and with new tyres now on, our very first ride out was fittingly to Grant and Susan's home for lunch. They are the founders of Horizons a motorcycle travel website which is an absolute must for any motorcycle traveller.

Karen Browne and Jeffrey Polnaja with mascots.

Karen and Jeffrey Polnaja are holding their mascots.
Jeffrey is Indonesian and riding round the world for peace.

During our time in Vancouver we were contacted by David, a Kiwi and ex motorcycle traveller who has now made Vancouver his home. He wanted to meet us and see if there was anything he could do to help. He got some welding done for us and arranged this meet up with Grant and Susan which was a nice surprise. Grant, Susan and her sister treated us all to a lovely lunch at their home. Thanks to all involved it was a great afternoon."

Group shot in Vancouver.

Jeffrey Polnaja, Karen Browne, Dave Barrett, Grant and Kevin Browne

Horseshoe Bay, near Vancouver.

Now we were ready for the start of our Canadian and Alaskan adventure
- Horseshoe bay to Vancouver Island our first stop.

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Ed. Kev and Karen, you're very welcome and safe travels!
HU Presents...

Achievable Dream and Road Heroes DVDs!

As a thank you to our loyal e-zine subscribers, we are giving a 15% discount on any Store order over $20. The discount code (enter when you checkout) is 'ezspec' (case is unimportant).

Road Heroes - Motorcycle Adventure Travel Tales - Part 1.Road Heroes - Motorcycle Adventure Travel Tales, features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (Challenges of travelling to 193 countries 2-up on a Harley Electra-Glide), Dr. Gregory Frazier (5 times RTW on a variety of bikes), Tiffany Coates (RTW traveller recounts her Mongolia Mayhem) and Rene Cormier (5 years in the University of Gravel Roads). Not to be missed!

If you've been inspired by the stories you've read in this e-zine and are keen to get on the road yourself, the Achievable Dream is the definitive 'How To' series on long-distance motorcycle travel.

This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an informative and entertaining 5-part, 18 hour DVD series: "The ultimate round the world rider's how-to DVD!" MCN UK.

The Achievable Dream Series - the Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide!

The series features interviews with veteran travellers, such as Ted Simon, Austin Vince, Greg Frazier, Lois book., Chris and Erin Ratay, Peter and Kay Forwood, Tiffany Coates, Sam Manicom, and many others. Over 150 contributors from all over the world tell their fantastic and entertaining stories, sharing their hard-earned knowledge from amazing motorcycle trips to every country on earth. Includes thousands of great photos, video clips, presentations and demos by experts.

The series was filmed in broadcast quality wide screen, with multiple cameras and custom written music. Filming took place at Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers meetings and on location in the USA, Canada, UK, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and the South Pacific.

Achievable Dream Collectors Box Set - 5 Motorcycle Adventure Travel DVDs!The 'Collectors Box Set' is also available - all 5 DVDs (18 hours of informative and entertaining content!) in a custom box at a gift price of $139.00. "The series is 'free' because the tips and advice will save much more than you spend on buying the DVD's."

After selling over 6,000 DVDs, we're pretty confident you'll like them. If you're not completely happy with them, just let us know within 30 days of purchase for a full refund or exchange. And you don't even have to send them back!

If by some chance you've never heard of the Achievable Dream and Road Heroes DVDs, you can see the trailers and read the comments for all the DVDs here.

Nacho Vaca Arenaza, France, RTW, in Guatemala,

"With a full belly, at around 12:30PM Honduran time, I set off again, determined to get to Santa Rosa de Copán, a bit of an ambitious goal but I would cross into El Salvador from there. Just wondering how many hours I would have to ride to get there, I looked down to the GPS screen and when I looked up I realised that the Honduran police had put some cones on the road for people to slow down. On a curve! I'm not trying to blame them for this but, who puts cones in the middle of a fast bypass on a frickin' curve! I freaked out and instead of swerving or deciding that I would ride over (or in between) them, I pulled the brake, very hard.

The next thing I remember is skidding on the ground, with my right leg pressed down against the asphalt by the bike and my right hand rubbing the ground too, both in great pain. Somehow, I was separated from the bike and I stopped, the bike continued for a few more meters. I got up, checked the landscape and sat on the kerb while the police and some soldiers gathered the contents of my map pouch that were scattered on the road.

Police after bike accident.

I seemed to be alright, I asked one of the cops to tell me if I was bleeding anywhere around my face and since he said no and I was conscious, I removed my helmet and started checking the rest of my body and bike. I had a big scratch on my leg and a smaller one on my arm, a blister was forming in my hand. I asked them to help me pick up the bike and where was the closest hospital.

I rode to the Hospital Militar a few blocks away and got my wounds cleaned, an antibiotic and some other stuff injected and was released with instructions on meds to take and things to wear. I followed most of it and stayed in Tegucigalpa for 2 nights to kick-start my recovery. Now I am in Antigua, Guatemala, resting and trying to fix the bike. I read somewhere that for a catastrophe to happen, there has to be concourse of 7 bad or unusual little accidents. Until today, I had only identified 6 of them:

1. I woke up tired
2. A bee stung me on my right wrist
3. I had lunch (I almost never do when I ride)
4. I was looking down at the GPS screen
5. The police put cones in a curve on the road
6. I pulled the brake while my front wheel was not straight

Nacho with Jose, friend of uncle Lucas, at garage.

I suspected what the 7th cause was but I wasn't sure. Today I went to a Honda garage where a friend of my uncle Lucas works and had the bike looked at. After finding out that the right fork arm is bent, we ended up changing that front wheel bearings, they were due for a change, the axle being a bit loose and one of the bearings not turning properly. There you are:

7. The front wheel bearings needed changing. 7 little accidents that got together to cause the big one. 3, 4, and 6, can be considered pilot error. Maybe also 7, since the pilot is also the usual maintainer.

Of course, if I am writing this it's because I am alright, just a bit bruised so you needn't worry and ask me if I'm alright. I appreciate attention but not repetition. Oh, and the bike has no windscreen anymore."

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Sam Manicom, UK, at the HU Ireland Meeting,

"Liam's suggestion about arriving a tad early and leaving a bit late? Took him up on that. Amazing area! I was blessed to have the chance to ride with Paddy Tyson and Nich Brown from Overland Magazine and with Peter Francon. Paddy knows the area like the back of his hand and took us to some cracking spots along some brilliant roads. And the bike he was on? Watch that space!

Ireland Coast, Sam Manicom.

So glad I'm an optimist and took hot weather gear as well as wet. Guess what I wore all the time. What did I think about the event itself? Wonderfully organised, terrific presentations, the venue is simply perfect, the camping and showers spot on and even the council get involved in a very positive way! A special mention is needed about the food! I wanted to take cookie home with me!

But the thing that topped my first visit to Ireland off wasn't any of the above or the fact that Guinness doesn't travel but is sublime on home shores. It's the atmosphere at the Meet - fantastic! Great bunch of people. Nice one everyone! Thanks to all the organisers and volunteers, and all the very best to Liam and Naomi as they hit the road."

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Ed. Wish we could have been there - sounds awesome, and amazing weather! So July 2014?

Liam McIlhone and Naomi Hodgins, Ireland/UK, to South America,

"Leaving on or about 29 July for a slow meander through UK and continent hopefully to pick up Grimaldi freight boat on or about 7 August. Arriving Montevideo late August and thereafter continue meandering through South America making it up as we go along!"

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Ed. That's all the news I have from Liam and Naomi, hope to have more next issue!

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Motocare Motorcycle Rental.  Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile.

Motocare Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile. Ride across the Andes, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, lakes, deserts, salt pans, waterfalls, beaches, rain forests, glaciers. Motocare Argentina

Phil and Angie, UK, in Peru, Iveco,

"The first hundred or so kilometres on Peruvian soil follows the shores of Lago Titicaca. Though the lake is still pretty, the flat farmland that it borders, is less so.

Our first scheduled visit was the Inca tombs at Sillustani. The slight diversion off the main road proved most interesting for two reasons: firstly the houses are very different. They were no longer the rather boring, single-level adobe but stone-built complexes of little round buildings around a gated courtyard. Each and every one sporting a pair of ceramic bulls attached to the thatched roof.

Sillustani, Peru.

We parked on the football field next to the museum as it was getting dark but within half an hour the security guy turned up to inform us that we would be 'safer" parked just by the museum and that he would gladly give us a night-time tour (for a small fee!) which we did.

Sillustani tombs, Peru.

The unusual tomb towers were the first of intricate Incan stonework that we would see, though there were some tombs that predated the Incan ones. The whole site is large and overlooks a lagoon in a lovely setting and it took us a couple of hours to ramble around the site.

A rough mountain road and a rather scary river crossing took us north from Arequipa to Chivay, the little town at the end of Colca Canyon.

Camping in the Colca Canyon with cruising condors.

Famous for its great profundity – they say it's deeper than the Grand Canyon and for its Condors, Colca Canyon is indeed impressive. Furthermore there were several excellent spots along the canyon where we could wild camp AND get great views of the mountains and the gorge itself. Apparently it was once possible to witness dozens of the great birds riding the thermals over the gorge but sadly numbers have dropped alarmingly. The most we saw at any one time was six or seven but they are truly impressive birds and when one landed on a precipice just a few metres away, we were very delighted.

Condor watching in the Colca Canyon, Peru.

As we drove back to the main road the following day we happened upon some village festivities which involved a whole lot of colourfully dressed ladies swirling their skirts, a group of children dressed as monkeys and quite a few inebriated guys. Oh the weird stuff we see!

Cusco, Peru.

And so to Cusco... which at a breathtaking 3700metres, is probably one of the world's highest cities. We camped above the city – adding further metres at the traveller-famed Quintalala alongside a French family and a German couple.

From the top, the city has a look of an Italian city with its earth coloured buildings and terracotta tiled roves. As you wander around the winding and very steep streets it's possible to encounter original Inca walls of carefully mortised stone. It's definitely a city of tourists and it's almost impossible to avoid the touts selling trips to Machu Picchu or massages but it's calm and safe and has plenty of good cafes to take a break from the sight-seeing."

more »

Ed. Great stories and gorgeous pics on Phil and Angie's blog.

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Interesting threads on the HUBB:

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Ed: Lots more topics, so check it out. All opinions posted are from their respective owners and your mileage may vary etc.
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Finances have been especially tight this year, so we are grateful 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 how you can help, and the benefits to you of becoming a Horizons Unlimited Contributing Member or Gold Member!

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Road Heroes - Part 1. Baby doll T-shirt - front. 2013 Horizons Unlimited Calendar. Pannier map.

Muchas Gracias! Grant and Susan

Home again, or off the road temporarily...

Alex (AnjinSan), Romania, across Americas, home again, Suzuki SV650,

"We follow our path and reach the Romanian border sooner than we thought. We cross this line and we are home!

At the Romanian border.

All of us getting home, getting to your own country from 'somewhere' have this feeling. No matter the cold, the exhaustion, nothing else matters, you are home!"

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Ed. See Alex's story and great pics on the HUBB Ride Tales Forum!

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Looking for a travel book for someone special?

Here's a few of our favorite picks! Check out our Books pages, where we have listed hundreds of the best motorcycle travel books, as well as overland travel stories, BMW books and travel guides.

There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - you can order books at great prices, and we'll make a dollar or a pound or a Euro, which goes a very little way to supporting this e-zine.

There's also links to search Amazon sites for all their products, books, CDs etc., and yes, we get a tiny piece of that too. We really appreciate it when you start your book search from our website. Thanks for the support!

buy from Amazon USA buy from Amazon UK buy from Amazon Deutschland Shop at Amazon Canada

Tortillas to Totems

by Sam Manicom
Tortillas to Totems by Sam Manicom.

The latest Adventure Motorcycle travel book by the
legendary Sam Manicom

Motorcycling the magnificent landscapes of Mexico, the USA and Canada. 'Sidetracked by the Unexpected'

'One of the World's leading Motorcycle Authors' - Motorcycle Sport and Leisure
'Sam's descriptions are in Technicolor.' - The Riders Digest
'Inspirational reading.' - World of BMW
'Superbly entertaining travel writing.' - BM Riders Club
'Few travel writers can conjure up sights and smells so provocatively as Sam.' - Daily Record - Scotland

Signed copies available directly from the Author here.
Order your copy now! Be sure to tell Sam where you heard about him!

Red Tape and White Knuckles: One Woman's Motorcycle Adventure Through Africa

Red Tape and White Knuckles:
One Woman's Motorcycle Adventure Through Africa

Lois' adventures in Africa! 'Alone. No support vehicles, no fancy GPS and no satellite phone. Leaving from London, finishing in Cape Town - and the small matter of tackling the Sahara, war-torn Angola and the Congo Basin along the way - this feisty independent woman's grand trek through the Dark Continent of Africa is the definitive motorcycling adventure.'

American Borders - A Motorcycle Misadventures Journey

American Borders
A comedy of breakdowns...

by Carla King

Excellent! Well-written - Carla's easy and engaging style sucks you in to the adventure and keeps you going right to the end. Highly Recommended - Grant

Obsessions Die Hard

Obsessions Die Hard:
Motorcycling the Pan American Highway's Jungle Gap...

by Ed Culberson

"For the die-hard motorcycling adventurer... both a riveting adventure story and a practical guide to this exotic and dangerous sport." 

Into Africa

Into Africa:
Channel Islands to Cape Town by Motorcycle

by Sam Manicom

"Whether he's thrust into a brutal jail cell in Tanzania, being shot at, or knocked unconscious in the Namibian desert, this eye-opening tale catapults you into Africa. He lives in a remote village, escapes a bush fire and climbs a mountain. This is a captivating book."


Old Man on a Bike

Old Man on a Bike: A Septuagenarian Odyssey
by Simon Gandolfi

"Outrageously irresponsible and undeniably liberating, Gandolfi's travels will fire the imaginations of every traveller, young or old."

Tea with Bin Ladens Brother, by Simon Roberts.

Tea with Bin Laden's Brother
by Simon Roberts

"Evocative, honest and inspiring, it's all brightened up by a great design and amusing comic book graphics which all help set Simon's book above the average motorcycling travelogue". Chris Scott

Mi Moto Fidel

Mi Moto Fidel:
Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba

by Chris Baker

"A unique, exhilarating solo adventure into Cuba astride a cherry-red, 1000cc BMW Paris-Dakar motorcycle."

Motorcycle Adventurer

Motorcycle Adventurer - Carl Stearns Clancy
by Greg Frazier

"The longest, most difficult, and most perilous motorcycle journey ever attempted." In 1912, there were no GPSs, ATMs, Internet, and often no gas, roads or motorcycle repair shops...

One Man Caravan

One Man Caravan
by Robert Fulton Jr.

RTW in 1932! Grant: "A terrific book, right at the top of the list. Recommended."

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker.

Motorcycle Therapy,
by Jeremy Kroeker

From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, Motorcycle Therapy rumbles with comic adventure as two men, fleeing failed relationships, test the limits of their motorcycles and their friendship.

The Road to Getting Yourself Out of the Way

The Road to Getting Yourself Out of the Way
by Annette Birkmann

The book is about the author's solo motorcycle journey through Latin America and her search for an effortless approach to living. It describes the lessons she learned living her dream and her realization that in every experience there was something familiar: herself.

The University of Gravel Roads

The University of Gravel Roads
by Rene Cormier

Rene runs out of money half way through the tour and ultimately takes five years to cover his 41-country, 154,000-kilometre route. The ride of a lifetime, the old-fashioned way; no sponsors, no support vehicles, and no idea about what he is going to learn along the way.

Book suggestions please!

If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and we'll put it on the site.

Photo Contest

Update on Contest dates - Please note! 2013 Photo Contest is still on - entry deadline extended to Jan 31, 2014!

In the past we have used Cafe Press to print calendars on demand. However that is quite expensive for the buyer, and there is very little profit to share with the photographers! :-(

We were approached by Octane Press, a company with a large distribution network, who are (rightly!) impressed by our calendar photos. They have offered us an opportunity to produce a bigger, better calendar at a lower price, with worldwide distribution and potentially a larger profit to share with the photographers.

The catch is the timing - in order to have calendars printed well before the peak autumn sale season, for the 2014 calendar, the deadline was early May! So, the calendar producer has selected 12 winners from previous years to produce a 'best of' calendar for 2014, and those photographers will share the profits from the 2014 calendar sales.

What about this year's contest? We've decided to extend the entry deadline to Jan 31, 2014, which will allow enough time to properly put the 2015 calendar together. Prizes are unchanged, just the time frame for calendar royalties will obviously be later.

The contest is now an annual event, where you can showcase your best photos, and they can help inspire others to get on the road too.

Grand Prize is a South America Tour with Compass Expeditions!

Compass Expeditions - trips of a lifetime!

Dec 2014 to Jan 2015 - This wonderful 9 day tour by Compass Expeditions explores the scenic wonderland of the famous Chilean Lakes District, the frontier lands of Chiloe Island and the epic riding experienced as you cross the Andes and ride into Argentina. As with all Compass Expeditions rides the lucky winner will be aboard a BMW F650GS Twin. Approximate Value at time of writing: $3990. You are responsible for your transport to the start point of the Tour. Airfares and transport are NOT included.

First Prize is a Progressive Suspension Makeover, approx value US$650. (This prize is ONLY for winners in the USA and Canada.)
(The shock is available for popular models only, not all. Winner is responsible for any customs and duties payable. Progressive Suspension is awarded rights to use the Photo in promotion and advertising).

PSi - 465 Series Shock

The new Progressive Suspension PSi - 465 Series Shock

First Prize (non USA and Canada) is an Individual Annual Medical & Security Membership (up to 45 days per trip) from Global Rescue, value of $655. 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!

ALSO: The best 13 photos will be used in the 2015 calendar, and those photographers will share equally in half the proceeds. All Winners will also get a free calendar, and 1 year Gold Member status on the HUBB! Your photos could also be in an HU DVD!

To enter this year's contest, start here! Ends January 31, 2014!

Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure to tell them how you heard about Compass Expeditions. Thanks!

Discover the extraordinary with Compass Expeditions.

Traveller's Community News

New Communities:

We've now reached an amazing 759 Communities in 114 Countries as of July 27, 2013! A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area.

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.

Remember that although some HU communities are very small, many others are large and could be more active in getting together for rides (even just to the pub!) or other activities. It's a great way to meet other travellers in your area - who knows, you could meet your next travel partner! All you need is for someone to suggest a place and time, kick it around a bit and make it happen. If there aren't any HU Travellers Meetings in your area, perhaps it's time there was one? A Community could do a Mini-Meeting, (just a get-together in someone's backyard or at a restaurant), or a full meeting! Let us know about it and we'll help promote it :)

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.

Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
Please be sure you tell them how you heard about Rukka
. Thanks!

The Rukka brand name has become a synonym for high quality textile motorcycling apparel, and year after year the Finnish manufacturer has caused sensations pioneering highly innovative solutions for those looking for maximum quality, comfort and protection.

Adventure motorcycling clothing for the demanding traveller
Grant: We've been wearing Rukka since 2002 and highly recommend it!

Final Thoughts.

Grant and Susan at Ripley 2011 by Dan Walsh.

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 its wonderful people.

See you on the road!

Grant and Susan Johnson
Inspiring, informing and connecting travellers since 1997

Subscriptions, Privacy and Administrivia

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All comments and suggestions are carefully read, and where possible will be acted on. Your help will make this a useful service for all travellers.

Please use the Bulletin Board for questions and suggestions.


If you would like to advertise your product or service in this newsletter or on the website, please contact me. Ad rates are very reasonable.

ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' E-zine - All text and photographs are copyright Grant and Susan Johnson, 1987-2013, or their respective authors. All Rights Reserved.

Redistribution - sending it on to friends is allowed, indeed encouraged, but other than the following requirements, only with permission. You may forward copies of the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine by forwarding it yourself by hand. You must forward the issue in its entirety, no fee may be involved. Please suggest they Subscribe!

Every newsletter is permanently archived online. Back issues here.

Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York, not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan. Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand).

Recommendations are based on positive or negative experiences of somebody, somewhere. Your mileage (kilometrage if you insist) may vary. We are not responsible in any way for any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you. You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct as best we can determine at that time.


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Thinking about traveling? Not sure about the whole thing? Watch the HU Achievable Dream Video Trailers and then get ALL the information you need to get inspired and learn how to travel anywhere in the world!

Have YOU ever wondered who has ridden around the world? We did too - and now here's the list of Circumnavigators!
Check it out now
, and add your information if we didn't find you.

Are you an Overland Adventure Traveller?

Does the smell of spices wafting through the air make you think of Zanzibar, a cacophony of honking horns is Cairo, or a swirl of brilliantly patterned clothing Guatemala? Then this is the site for you!
Hosted by Grant and Susan Johnson, RTW 1987-1998

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