Into The World - 2Up around Africa, 2 bikes along the Silk Road
Hello advriders!John (Ionut) and Ana, a Romanian couple, both architects. We love good design, exploring the countryside, experimenting with food, a good challenge and sharing a laugh or a tear with true friends. More about us on our website: www.intotheworld.eu
I was born in a car, so I love everything about horse power :)
Ana went for her first ride at 5 months old :)
About our journey Into The World[CENTER]
This is an on-going adventure. The first part was the tour of Africa: from June 2011 to August 2012 totalling 14 months and 55,000km across 29 countries. The gods of travel made it so that we became the first Romanians to tour Africa by a motorbike. We did it 2up on a 660 Tenere.
Today we are riding on 2 bikes, along the Sill Road. I have became an off-road fanatic and Ana a rookie on two wheels. For us it's a new challenge.
To help us process the intense experience of Africa, we have started writing a book. Please download from here a teaser - the first 120 pages with plenty of pics and vids.
This is the route we followed in Africa:
Here is the scoop of what you can find on our thread:
We hope that you'll find in our story a little inspiration for your own adventures, just like we did in many great threads of others (tsiklonaut aka From Estonia with love and metaljockey among them). Thank you all for taking this journey with us.
The making of an expedition
The beginning was not easy.
First I get the idea while recovering from an an Achilles tendon rupture.
Ana thinks it is a great plan, and she starts packing our previous life in cardboard boxes. But, as the expedition is primed to take off, in October 2010, on the very departure day, I am hit by a car, just a few yards from my house. The bike is destroyed and I have surgery, and our plans are postponed by 9 months. So I find a second Tenere and I start working in the garage all over again.
On the 11th of June we finally load our Yamaha Tenere motorbike in a van and leave Bucharest. A car broken down and a two-day "cruise" by ferry from Livorno to Tanger later, we begin our trans-Africa biking adventure with a warm up month in Morocco. Fuelled by Sir David Attenborough's documentaries and past travels to Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and South-East Asia, here we are, daring ourselves to make a dream come true. We've been thinking about this trip for two years and preparing for it for one. Africa, which until now has been just a word, has become a reality.
With over 6 years of riding under my belt, mostly on street bikes, this time I have chosen the Tenere for our 2-up RTW trip, knowing that there is no perfect bike, only the will do do something like this. The soul of my first totaled Tenere is alive in the current motorbike, after I did an engine swap to a newer, but with higher mileage 2010 machine.
The first Tenere had just arrived.
GPS mount and weather proof case.
Kev Mod - from xt660.com
First Tenere outside our garage. Custom Leo Cans just mounted.
Supersporx. Scottoiler injector. In the meantime the new bike has a touring Scottoiler and a custom dual-injector.
Custom sidecase rack.
Upgrading the suspension to Hyperpro Combo kit. Thanks to HYPERPRO
Alu short brake and clutch lever.
Unifilter foam filter.
The second Tenere just arrived. The soul of the crashed Tenere in the back, days from being transplanted to the new one.
The bike has the following mods/ upgrades:
- front + rear steel braided brake hose
- high Givi windshield
- GPS mount + direct battery charger with backup system
- custom-made radiator protection
- G-IT aluminum engine shield + crashbar combo (from AdventureSpec)
- MK3 pivot pegs
- Unifilter foam air filter
- Kev mod (from xt660.com)
- Renthal Dakar fatbar with KTM plastic handguards, alu short brake and clutch lever and rallyride foam grips
- Hein Greike tankbag
- custom made dual Leo Vince SBK exhausts (with custom dB killer)
- 14 tooth JT front sprocket
- touring Scottoiler
- custom rack for aluTech 41l cases
- Hepko & Becker Gobi topcase
- 150W inverter for gizmo charging
- Hyperpro suspension upgrade (front progressive springs with 15W oil and rear progressive spring)
Also we carry loads of tools and parts, along with a change of knobbies for later. Fitness preparation aside, we are geared up with these essentials and geeky things:
- The North Face Roadrunner 3 seasons lightweight tent
- The North Face Twin Peaks -7 degrees resistant 2 person sleeping bag + MSR silk liner + Mammoth self-inflating mats
- MSR stove for cooking, stainless steel pot, knife, 2x petzl + extra torchlight, binoculars, machete, compass, MSR pactowels, compression + dry sacks, water filter + purifying tablets
- foto: 5DMKII + 20D bodies, 24 f/1.4, 70-200 f/2.8, Sigma 10-20 F/4-5.6; Polaroid Pogo printer; 13" Macbook; GPS
- first aid kit (sterile bandage, scissors, sterile needles + anesthetic, bethadine, Baneocin, Clartec antihistaminic, Malarone, diarrhea pills, calcium, rehydratable powder, antibacterial gel, Siddhaleppa ayurvedic balm for pains/flu/insect bites, thermometer, 50% DDET mosquito repellant, 50+ sunscreen, eye drops, antibiotics, aspirin, Ibuprofen, talc, medical tape); moto wear: Arai Tour X3 + Shoei XR1100 helmets, Rev'It Offtrack jacket + Sand pants and Turbine ladies combo with Gaerne boots; other stuff: 3 tshirts each, swimming suit, moto socks + gloves, cotton Thai pants, slippers, 1 pair shorts each, 3 pairs knickers each, scarf, 1 bed sheet (very useful for picnics and as sun/wind shield), sunglasses, spare of clear visor for rider, lots of GPS maps, PDF books and guides.
In Mauritania we started carrying a 5l jerrycan with gas and a 5l raffia-insulated plastic can with water (hint from locals). Usually we bushcamp, or stay in campings when in cities, from time to time stopping for a refreshing night or two in a auberge. We eat where the locals do, in markets and street food stalls and restaurants, but we love to cook when fresh produce is available. 7000km into the trip, we had little maintenance and servicing to do: a change of oil, change of chain (freak thing, a fairly new one, it got stiffer and stiffer with o-rings falling off), replacing the chain safetypin (fish-pin fell possibly due to offroading).
Some other details about how we travel.
Bushcamping in Rabat.
We miss our kitchen.
Changing the oil.
Our mule heavily loaded.
Thank you all who supported us thru our African odyssey and who continue to do so. We couldn't be luckier. Enjoy browsing... :)
Happy to see some of us got the bull by the horns and start doing what others just dream about!Hope you fullfill your journey and have the best time.Never been there but I read and heard enough about Africa to know that is a wonderfull destination and the mother of all conquests.Be cool, be tough and never leave the smile behind! I'll be watching you...every step you take, every move you make!Ride safe!
Wow....for many reasons. Good luck and safe travels
Te felicito, muy buenas fotos y muy buen viaje, esperamos mas fotos e historias. :clap:clap:lurk
Congratulations, very nice pictures and very good trip, expect more photos and stories. :clap:clap:lurk
Subscribed, looking forward to your journey.
Are you travelling the West coastline of Africa all the way?
Keep the pics coming.
That's a proper first post, and welcome to Asylum!
Tot norocul din lume :freaky
Morocco - A Warm Up
After loading our Tenere in a van that broke down 300 km from Livorno (where we were to catch the ferry to Morocco), we began our trans-Africa riding adventure with a bang. It's crazy how the 2008 VW Transporter timing belt gave up at merely 50K!
EU citizens are allowed a 90 days stay in Morocco without a visa. We entered via the newly launched Tanger Med port, where the border formalities are a breeze; its a one-stop-shop, you get your passport stamped, then checked by the gendarmerie, then the duane officer issues for free a Declaration d'admission temporaire de moyens de transport (temporary import permit).
For the customs you can apply online, using this form. The International Motor Insurance Card (green card) from your country of origin may also cover Morocco, you want to check this with your insurer (that is the case for Romania). Otherwise you can purchase insurance at the border. The Moroccan infrastructure is quite developed, with over 1145km of autoroute and good tarred roads even in countryside. Morocco is an offroad paradise, with adrenaline-pumping pistes zig-zagging the ever changing landscape. The gas (essence) is about 1 Euro/liter and widely available at gas stations or at hole-in-the-walls in small villages. There are ATM machines everywhere, but obviously the food stalls are cash only.
Morocco boasts a diverse landscape, ranging from wild Atlantic coasts to 4K High Atlas peaks, from sterile desert to lush oases, from Sahara dunes to mudbrick villages. We rode through the north (Tanger, Larache) which is feeling the crunch of the real estate bubble, with ghost towns and suburbs that nobody can afford built in the middle of nowhere. We stayed in and around Rabat for a week, waiting for the Mali and Mauritania visas, camping on beaches and getting to know the local way of life.
While Rabat has an european feel, the shanty towns that line the coast and the lively fresh food markets are intensely moroccan, so is charming Mahommedia. East from Rabat we used Meknes as our base camp for a few days, visiting the Imperial cities (Fez, Meknes), the sacred town of Moulay Idriss and the ancient ruins of Volubilis.
The Medina, (the medieval centre of Fez) has not changed for centuries: a maze of narrow alleys housing hundreds of merchants and craftsmen, stalls with spices, dried fruits and nuts, fish, handmade copper items, carpets and musical instruments. A seat of Arab learning, a Holy City and a place of pilgrimage (when the route to Mecca was obstructed), Fez was a place of considerable importance until recently, being the depot for the caravan trade from the south and east of the African continent. A must see in Fez is the Leather Souq with the oldest leather tannery in the world, Chouwara.
Even if Fez has a more intricate architecture in the beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage Medina, we found that Meknes has a more authentic feel, with few to no tourists and touts and a Medina where people seem to actually live and work (not just for show). Moulay Idriss is a little gem, a fairytale town on top of a mountain among olive tree hills, where life has a slower pace.
Morocco - A Warm Up
Later we rode through Casablanca, heading inland toward the High Atlas. After sleeping in a millet field and after a villager gave us fresh cow milk in the morning, we climbed to the 100m high Ouzoud falls (in full swing at this time of year). You can pass the touts and faux-guides and ride your bike close to the pools where you can take a cold plunge or enjoy the free spectacle of nature; just take the right gravel road before the bridge for 5-600m.
In the afternoon we stopped again in Azilal for a tagine, then continued on a breathtaking route among peaks ranging from 2K to 4K. The landscape kept changing every hour, from lifeless valleys, to cactus infested walls, from reddish soil and rocky forests to fragrant cedars and green canyons punctuated by magenta wild flowers. When the road appeared to end, we suddenly found ourselves at 2750m altitude, from where 50km of tarmac interrupted by gravel brought in by spring floods led us to Imilchil.
We slept a charmed night at the Gite d'etape run by a Berber family. Aziz has built the beautiful house himself and is a licensed guide. He also has a shop in the village, selling carpets hadmade by his wife, Fatma.
After eating some freshly baked bread in the morning, we left behind the Bhutan-like atmosphere of beautifully camouflaged Imilchil behind, heading to Gorges Dades via Agoudal. Enter the most thrilling piste so far: after Agoudal the tarmac turns to gravel, then just traces in the dust. For 5 km we rode through a riverbed that had erased the piste during the recent floods. Offroading with a heavily loaded bike proved difficult and we took a few tumbles, managing to cover only 100km in more than 4 hours. Apart from the riverbed crossings, the piste is a fun ride, climbing to 2700m then going down in hairpins and thrilling turns, with alternating gravel, rocky patches, sand and dirt. The piste ends with a 30cm deep river crossing, from where the road is all tarmac, interrupted by landslides that are easy to manage. As if the whole day ride wasn't enough, we crossed the canyon of Dades back to another famous set of spaghetti-like road.
The public demonstrations cheering the king's peace oriented decision to promulgate a new constitution (giving more executive power to the elected government) arrived from Meknes where we last seen them in Boulmaine de Dades. We bushcamped outside the town, then left at sunrise to see the place where Sahara starts. You can see the mighty sand dunes in two places in Morocco: the golden ones of M'Hamid or the psychedelic pink Erg Chebbi in Merzouga, which is where we arrived in a blazing hot weather. A weird afternoon rain in the Sahara and a pool plunge later, we woke up to see the sun rising behind the glistening foot-trace swallowing mirage that is Erg Chebbi, a dune 160m high, bordered by the village of Hassi Labied.
The beauty of the desert is magical, and we left the second day still reveling in it. As a technical problem that has been aggravating for a while become urgent, we rushed the 400km through desertificated Draa Valley from Merzouga to Ouarzazate, where after a few days and with the help of Peter at BikersHome, we managed to change our defective chain.
Marrakech was like a punch in the face: crazy, hot, bursting with energy. It's instant love or hate, and we left our bike in the parking behind the Koutoubia mosque, then dove into the UNESCO World Heritage show that is Djemma el-Fna, with its storytellers, musicians, artisans and food stalls selling Michelin star worthy plates of tangia, sheep brain and seafood. The next day visit to Ali Ben Youssef medersa was followed by a protein load in Mechoui Alley, then a cool walk in the Jardin Majorelle.
At 5pm when we exit town, the roadside thermometer read 53 degrees Celsius, but 200 km further, in Essaouira, the wind capital of Africa, we felt chilly at 22. We didn't stay long to enjoy the white and blue spanish influenced colonial architecture of the medina, as our GPS got stollen in the fish market, only to be retrieved later against a 30 Euro ransom. That's why we ate quickly our delicious sardines, fresh fish and squid grilled at the public grillades de poisson with possibly the best bread in Morocco, then camped some 200km later, near Agadir.
Morocco - A Warm Up
South of this package tourism oriented town, we rode a 3 day marathon through Western Sahara, ending up in Dakhla. Along the almost featureless landscape we bushcamped on a nice beach near Sidi Ifni and on a golden dune near Tarfaya.
We couldn't get to close to the soul of this country rich in natural resources (phosphate, fish abundant waters and oil) but with a difficult history, where the traditionally nomadic Saharawi herders are bribed with tout-compris homes to leave their identity behind (or are forced to live in refugee camps called ironically villages de peche), and where towns resemble M.A.S.H. movie sets, with their population of military personnel and UN workers.
After a month in Morocco where we rode over 6000km, the motorbike is in great shape and we experienced no technical issues, except for the chain problem. We took a few low-speed falls due to deep sandy patches and rocky pistes, the battery was drained two times while charging our laptop with the engine off and we had to send home a few spares and personal stuff in order to lose some 6,5 kg off the bike (which do make a sizable difference). So our first advice (not that is a huge novelty) is pack light, cause every gram counts.
People in Morocco are friendly, sometimes aggressively trying to sell you something or guide you, are not easy to trust, which is a shame, because up in the mountains you will meet genuinely sweet villagers and generous men. Moroccans nurture close family ties and friendships, and we witnessed how they warmly greet each other for minutes. The caffe culture is a big deal here, with solo men filling up terraces from morning to dawn, at a chat over coffee with friends. Women are harder to meet, but they are highly educated and almost all speak fluent French. Some Arab and Berber will come a long way here; in Merzouga area English is largely spoken and understood. We bought a Meditel modem for Internet, but discovered that IAM has a better 3G coverage, so we suggest you get that one instead.
Food is a reason to be here in itself. Produce is mostly organic and very regional: in Fez you have the famous fassi cousine with treats like b'sara (a soup made of fava beans served with a fragrant garlic olive oil), pigeon pastilla (a pastry spiced with cinnamon) and very spicy and hot sausage made of mutton and offal; in Meknes you can eat the freshest figs and delicious flat bread with thin crust and cumin spiced crumble; pure eucalyptus, almond or cactus honey is produced high in the Atlas; in Erfoud you will eat the best dates with the extraordinary sweet and creamy Medjool reigning supreme; Marrakech is home to sheep meat and offal delicacies like tangia (mutton or beef cooked slowly with cumin, ras-el-hanout, preserved lemons and olives in a dough-sealed clay pot), sheep brains and tongue and mechoui (whole sheep baked with spices in a vertical clay oven); the freshest fish is in Essaouira and other coastal cities - here you can follow our example, and buy your fish from the fihermen, then have it cooked for 5Dh/plate at the public grill, next to the market; in the Banana Village just before Agadir you can taste the local varieties of banana and suculent cactus fruits. All over the country you can find tasty veggies, mutton and beef kafta, gorgeous watermelons and melons, dried fruits and nuts, along with top quality spices like saffron, paprika, cumin and ras-el-hanout. The breakfast is usually bread with the best local olive oil or served with honey sweetened leben (local yoghurt), or couscous with cold sourmilk from streetside vendors. Bread is sold freshly baked along moroccan pancakes, which in Fez have a sweet spongy texture. At lunch people usually eat a tagine (a typical stew of meat or fish, slowly cooked on charcoal in a signature clay pot). Dinner is protein based: kafta or harira (bean soup with aromatic herbs, which in Agadir is served with a local twist - with dates, a boiled egg and a piece of hard caramel). Other signature Morocco treats available countrywide are freshly squeezed orange juice and green/black tea perfumed with fresh mint (called whisky marocain). Tap water is safe to drink and wild camping is possible in most unmarked places, even if locals may try to discourage you from doing so.
Also, it will be difficult to leave the country without buying some good quality shit.
Very nice ride report. Please post more. :clap
Amazing, thank you for sharing.
great report and great pics . Have a safe travel:clap
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