Right Around Africa

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JoRust, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. JoRust

    JoRust Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Africa
    Spain - France - Italy


    I had a wonderful time in Valencia with Carlos and his wife Alicia. They were fantastic hosts. And what’s more is that they rode with me from Valencia till about halfway to Madrid. Solidarity amongst riders/bikers, is something that I’ve come to really appreciate and cherish so much. It really is something special.

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    I was really looking forward to visiting Madrid as I’d be meeting up with a fellow adventurer named Alicia Sornosa. Alicia has ridden through America, from Alaska to the most southern point in South America. Through Australia and also from Egypt to Kenya. Later this year she will ride from Egypt to South Africa and we hope to meet up somewhere along the way.

    I arrived in Madrid in the afternoon and met up with Alicia at her place. Unloaded the bike and had a quick shower before it was time to meet some friends and accompany Alicia to her talk at the National Geographic store in central Madrid. I met so many wonderful people and made so many new friends that evening. It was absolutely wonderful. We were a group of about 12 people, all adventure bikers, who spent the night eating tapas, drinking beers and talking bikes and adventure. Absolutely in my element!

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    The next day was spent doing some ‘admin’. Editing photos and uploading updates etc. And also getting my phone fixed as the screen was giving me trouble. Then we spent the night exploring the ‘old city’ of Madrid and hopping from one café to the next sampling delicious food and beer. It was then decided that Alicia and a number of friends would accompany me the next day till about halfway to Terrassa, which is about 30km from Barcelona.

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    Alicia and I only got home around 3am. I knew the next day would be a long one (about 600km) so headed straight for bed to get some sleep. I got up at 7:30, had a quick shower and loaded my bike. By 9:00 we were ready to hit the road. Some of the guys pulled out and we were left with only 4 riders (including myself) out of the original 6.

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    And then, about 200km from Zaragoza, my chain broke at 120km/h on the highway. It broke at the master link and went whizzing past the 2 riders behind me. Luckily everyone steered clear of it and I also had no trouble with the chain getting caught on anything. We pulled over and assessed the damage. I have some spare links with me but I don’t have a chain breaker. Either way the chain was too damaged to repair anyway. So my fellow riders all jumped on their phones and within minutes it was decided that Emilio would ride back to the nearest town where he would buy a new chain. Polo and I pushed Dax to the nearest station and the three of us (Polo, Alicia and I) had breakfast…and of course some beers!

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    Emilio returned with a new chain AND a BMW mechanic in tow! We ordered more beers and the boys went about fixing my chain problem. Within no time the problem had been resolved, I had a new chain, a full tummy and having fun with great friends.

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    Although this had put quite a delay on the day’s riding and I worked out that I would probably only reach Terrassa round 9/10pm that night. We were all pretty tired but I knew I could cover the distance. About 100km from Zaragoza the rest turned back as they still had to ride all the way back to Madrid, and I carried on toward Terrassa.

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    Another friend, Domingo, met up with me about 100km from Terrassa and rode in with me. We finally reached his place around 11:00pm. I was finished! I had a quick shower and we sat chatting a bit and sampling his father’s home-grown tomatoes and locally sourced cheese and then I hit the sack. Hard!

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    Next morning I got up around 8:00 and got ready to get going again. I would crossing into France and staying with some dear friends in Montpellier. Domingo took me for breakfast and much needed coffee, then I filled up with fuel, checked tyre pressure and off I went again.

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    There are so many countries I would like to return to one day and Spain is definitely on the top 5 list!

    Seems I have a knack for timing in terms of heat-waves. Throughout Spain and in France the weather hit 35 degrees plus. Just to get me ready for what lay ahead!
    I, unfortunately, mostly stuck to the highways to make up for time. Never again! Firstly, it’s helluva expensive. Secondly, you miss all the good stuff!

    Initially I would’ve stayed in France for 3 or 4 days. One night in Montpellier, one night in Marseille, one night in Nice and one night in Grenoble. But this was also where I needed to make a decision on whether I’d be gunning it for Tunisia and Libya, or take the long way round and catch a boat to Egypt. I really, really wanted to visit Tunisia and so decided on taking the boat from Italy (Civitavecchia) to Tunis. I booked my ticket in Montpellier and had 4 days to get there. And with that I decided on spending an extra day in Montpellier and then head straight for Italy.

    I spent two wonderful days in Montpellier with my wonderful hosts, Charles and Michele. Really exceptional people. They took me on a small tour of the city and we went to a jazz concert under the stars. It was wonderful. I really wish I could’ve stayed longer but now I had a boat waiting for me.

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    Next up I’d be heading for Genova where I’d meet up with the ‘Cape Town to Dublin by Scooter’ boys from South Africa. We first met up in Johannesburg when they had just set out on their journey, riding through Africa on their scooters to raise funds and awareness for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. And now we’d meet up again way up north, just about on the opposite end of the world! I was very excited to meet up with the guys!

    Two things on my ride to Genova: 1. I have NEVER in my life ridden through so many tunnels in a single day. 101 tunnels from when you cross into Italy until you get to Genova. I counted them!! 2. Genova is probably the most confusing city I’ve ever been in. It took me about and hour and a half to finally find the guys. It’s a crazy, busy, noisy city operating at full steam with the hustle and bustle of people going about their business. I managed to get hold of Chris (one of the scooter boys) and he gave me a landmark to search for. “Search for the big ship with a tweety bird on it”. Well I eventually found the tweety bird and the guys. First thing was to buy some food and drinks for the evening. The boys were hosted by the Genova Vespa club and were kind enough to let me spend the night as well. So we all bought some pizza and beers and then headed back to the ‘clubhouse’ where we had beds and showers and food. What more do you need?

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    I spent the night catching up with the boys and we exchanged stories from our adventures. The only thing that was missing was a nice campfire!

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    Next day I headed off to Lucca, where I would meet up with yet another old friend of mine. Though first, I would make a new friend on route. About 20km outside of Genova I noticed a bike behind me and I could sense this was someone also touring. Maybe on holiday or so. He passed me and signaled to pull over. It turned out to be a man named Rik, from Germany. He was making use of his holiday to tour around Italy a bit. We had a quick chat and decided to ride together for the day. This was also the only day I spent not riding on the highway and exploring the smaller roads a bit. It was fabulous!! I really had a fantastic time and will definitely have to return to do a proper tour of Europe someday.

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    I said goodbye to Rik in Livorno and headed back towards Lucca to meet up with Federico. We first met up last year in Morocco between Laayoune and Agadir. I had stopped off on the side of the road to take a break and Federico had spotted me and stopped to find out whether I was okay. He was touring from Italy to Mauritania and back and we happened to bump into each other here, in the middle of nowhere and decided to ride together until Agadir.

    And now we got to meet up again in his hometown in Italy. It was so good to see him and I spent two very relaxed, wonderful days with him and his wife Bruna, relaxing and doing washing and bike maintenance etc. During the day I was home alone, left to sleep in and do my thing. At night we spent time together eating good Italian food, drinking good Italian wine and talking adventure. Of course. *

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    My passport landed in the wash in Montpellier and was still wet when I got to Lucca. Oops!
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    From Lucca I would head towards Civitavecchia to catch the boat to Tunis. But first I had to stop in Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. Getting into Pisa is easy…finding the tower or parking for the tower, not so easy. It took me a good hour and lots of riding around before I finally found my way to the tower. I spotted a couple on a loaded Super Tenere and decided to follow them. We pulled into a paid-parking garage and were chased out immediately by a guy waving and just saying: “No bikes, no bikes”. They couple stopped a block further and so did I to chat to them. Turned out it was a couple from the UK on holiday. We promptly decided to stick together and find a place to park so we could take the obligatory photos of the tower. If need be I’d look after their bike whilst they went in and they’d do the same for me.

    We eventually found parking close to the entrance and I spoke to the Senegalese parking attendant in French to make sure he’d look after our bikes. With that we headed in, snapped a few pics, and back out again.

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    I bid my friends farewell and off I went towards the port.

    I arrived at the port around 18:00, checked in and took my place in line to wait for boarding.

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    #61
  2. jorrie

    jorrie Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    144
    Location:
    NELSPRUIT,MPUMALANGA,SOUTH AFRICA
    EK IS IN KAN NIE WAG VIR DIE RES NIE,LAAT WAAI JO JY IS MY HERO:norton:norton
    #62
  3. JoRust

    JoRust Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Africa
    Magical Tunisia!

    After standing in line for about 4 hours I was finally led onto the ship and parked Dax on the bottom deck with the rest of the bikes. Mine would be the only one heading for Tunis. The rest of the bikes would be disembarking at Palermo.

    Tunisia is a country I have dreamed of visiting for a long time. For one, Cap Blanc in Tunisia is the most northern point in Africa, so literally the opposite side of the continent for me. (Being from South Africa). Secondly, I have friends who live in Tunisia who were very dear to me before I had even met them in real life. And lastly, it just holds some kind of magic that captures my soul.

    On board I grabbed something to eat and then headed out on deck to watch as we hoisted anchor and started heading out of the port. There was a young man standing close to me and I could almost feel him burn a hole through me in the way he was staring at me. After a few minutes he approached me and said he’d seen me with my bike and wanted to know where I was from. From that point on the young man that was Bilel from Sousse didn’t leave my side until we disembarked in Tunis. He had obviously appointed himself as my personal guardian on board and we spent the next 24 hours chatting in four different languages (mainly French), drinking coffee whilst sitting outside on the deck and watching the stars overhead. He bought me food and drinks and made sure no potential unsavory characters came near me. Sweet boy.

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    Meanwhile in Tunis my dear, dear friends were waiting to welcome me at the port. I had told them that we’d be arriving around 21:00. I was one of the first people to disembark but with customs and all the paperwork to get through I finally made it out by 23:00. It felt good to be back on African soil!

    Sahbi and Anis
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    Sahbi and Nawfel were standing just outside the port and waved at me as I went through the last few checks. When I was finally free to enter Tunisia I was welcomed by the rest of the group – Anis, Sahbi’s son Mehdi and daughter Ramla and Mehdi Barrak. First point of order was to get something to eat and drink and then I’d have to ride about 60km to where I’d be staying with Sahbi and his family in Nabeul. They were so kind as to let me stay with them in their beautiful home. I also had the pleasure of having dinner during Ramadan with Sahbi and his family.

    Next day I spent on the beach in Hammamet (a very popular touristic area) with Mehdi and Mehdi. (Sahbi’s son and a friend of his) And later on Sahbi and some friends joined us (Including the crazy and very entertaining Jean-Baptiste). It was a day for relaxing and just soaking up the sun.

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    At night the guys took me out riding about town and drinking coffee at the medina in Jasmine Hammamet. I loved spending time with my friends.

    From Nabeul I moved to Tunis where I stayed with Nawfel and his wife Lamia and their beautiful daughter Nadia. Such a kind family who I had a wonderful time with. Nawfel rode with me to Bizerte, about 60km from Tunis, where I finally got to visit Cap Blanc. The most northern point in Africa! And this also marked the halfway mark of my trip! A great moment and joyous occasion. I always said that: “If I can make it halfway, I can make it all the way”!

    At Cap Blanc in Bizerte with Nawfel
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    At Cap Blanc in Bizerte with Mehdi Bachrouch
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    In Bizerte
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    Nawfel helped me as I serviced my bike back home and in return I spilt oil all over his floor! LoL. He was so kind he bought me new globes for my rear light, oil for my bike, gave me chain cleaner and new chain lube and even washed my bike! At night we’d all have dinner after breaking fast and I met so many wonderful people over wonderful meals.

    Nawfel and his family also took me to visit Carthage to see the Carthaginian ruins of Phoenicians that populated the area before the Romans took over the city. I love that one can literally FEEL the history when you visit these places. I try to imagine what it looked like in ancient times. What the people looked like. The markets, the ports, the trade. Fascinating!

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    In the meantime I also had some admin related issues to attend to in the way of sorting my visa for Libya. Sahbi accompanied me and helped me to get my passport translated into Arabic and spoke to my Libyan friends over the phone and then relayed the information back to me. It was touch-and-go for a little while and at first it seemed that I would be refused a visa. I had to consider my options and come up with a plan B. *The only other option I’d have really is to return to Italy and then either take a boat from there to Israel or to Greece and ride through Turkey and then take a boat from there to get to Egypt. I was convinced that somehow everything would work out and I’d be granted my visa for Libya, so opted to take some time out and go on a four-day road trip to the southwest region of Tunisia with a good friend of mine, Anis, before tackling the issue with the visa again.

    Before leaving for the south-west I spent a night with Anis and his family at their house. We all had a wonderful dinner together and then I had the opportunity to attend the protest in Le Bardo just west of Tunis. Although I try to refrain from getting involved in any political issues, I do have a great deal of respect for people who stand up for what they believe in and I was really excited to be part of this historical event.

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    Next morning Anis and I were up early, had a quick coffee and loaded our bikes. Me on my Dax and Anis on his Transalp. Direction – Tozeur, about 450/ 500km from Tunis. We had a good ride and made it to Tozeur around 4pm. We unloaded our bikes, had a quick shower and then headed to Naftah as I wanted to visit the Star Wars set. I am a die-hard Star Wars fan and had been dreaming of visiting the Star Wars sets for a long time. There’s a narrow, but good road that leads you through desert surroundings to the set. We made it just in time for the sunset, which was the absolute perfect time to visit this magnificent place. A dream come true! It was just like I imagined it! There are small markets in the ‘city’ where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs. The buildings are just as you see it in the movie and I was just waiting for a real-life Darth Vader to show up at any moment.

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    Next day we hit the road to do some really fun off-road riding to a lesser-known location known as Rommel Piste, near Gafsa. It is a road that was built by Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) (also known as the "Desert Fox", Wüstenfuchs), who was perhaps the most famous German Field Marshal of World War II. It’s a windy (fairly challenging) road up and over a mountain from which the view is absolutely spectacular! From what I understand this road was built to carry supplies over the mountain during the war. (My more knowledgeable Tunisian friends can help me out on this one)

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    We made it in a cool 52 degree dry heat and took a break at the top to just sit on top of the world and take in the sights. Then we made our way back down the other side and rode on to Mides gorge which is just a few kilometers from the Algerian border and then we also went to visit the waterfall and oasis in Tamaqzah.

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    There are so many wonderful and interesting sites to visit in this magnificent country and I’ll definitely be back to explore more…on a regular basis!

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    Next day our route took us back to Gafsa, then through Kasserine and on to El Kef where we would spend the night and another friend Mehdi Barrak would join us from Tunis.

    Part of our route took us along the Algerian border, which was both exciting and annoying as it’s the only North African country I would not travel through due to being denied a visa.

    We also visited the Table de Jugurtha (which made me miss Table Mountain back in Cape Town in South Africa), before heading into El Kef. We booked into a hotel for the night, parked our bikes and headed out for dinner and to meet up with Mehdi a little later on. We walked around town a bit and got to experience a bit of the nightlife. It’s a unique and interesting experience how places come alive at night during Ramadan. I really enjoy it.

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    Next day Anis, Mehdi and I rode together further north to Tabarka, which is a city on the coast, again, near the Algerian border. What caught my attention in this town is it’s obvious love for music and arts. Everywhere in town you will find big sculptures of musical instruments placed at intersections. It’s lovely.

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    From Tabarka we then headed back ‘home’ to Tunis. By the time we got back I had received confirmation that I would be able to get my visa for Libya at the border!

    Since I now received the go-ahead to enter Libya I could start planning for my trip south to the border. Nawfel was so kind as to offer to ride with me! That evening we joined some friends for dinner with their family and another fellow North African Rider, Sofiane Meddeb, also offered to join us for the ride to the border. And so it was arranged! We would ride from Tunis to Tataouine, where I would get to visit more Star Wars sites and other really interesting and beautiful places.

    From Tunis we headed to Sfax, then Gabes and on to Matmata for lunch. After Matmata we stopped off in Toujene to visit local carpet makers and were kindly offered tea and locally made flatbread and olive oil. From here we visited Ksar Hadada, another famous Star Wars site. From Ksar Hadada we headed for Tataouine where we booked into a hotel for the night and all jumped into the pool for a well-deserved ‘cooling down’.

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    Next day we left Tataouine and visited the the town of Chenini and then the abandoned city of Douiret. A town built up on the hills by nomadic folk years ago. These cities were used as the main storage facility for their food and supplies and the reason why it’s built high up on top of the hills is to give them a vantage point so as to see when enemies approach to potentially attack the village. Very interesting.

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    Sofiane and Nawfel
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    From here we then carried on to Djerba island. First stop was a pottery visit at a local potter’s shop. Here his son gave us a demonstration as to the processes in pottery making. Nawfel bought me a very cool souvenir. (I’ll try upload a video at some point of this genial souvenir).

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    We then had a wonderful, freshly grilled fish lunch at Guellala.

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    We then stayed at Hotel Riadh in Homt Souk for the night. A wonderful hotel with a beautiful open foyer where you can sit and have coffee and just relax. They even allowed us to park our bikes inside.

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    Next morning we had breakfast at Café Ben Yedder and then headed for the Libyan border at Ras Ajdir via Ben Guerdane.

    Nawfel and Soufiane rode with me all the way to the border and didn’t leave until I was received by the Libyan guys from the other side! At first I was told that non-Tunisian and non-Libyan vehicles were not allowed through the border. But after some waiting and negotiating and calls to the chief, I was finally allowed through.

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    And with that I had to say farewell to my beautiful Tunisia!
    Definitely my favorite country so far. I love all the countries I’ve traveled through so far, but Tunisia has something extra special!

    I met so many amazing, amazing people and am super grateful for the fantastic hospitality and support shown to me. I really hope to return again very soon!! Inchallah!
    Tunisia and her beautiful people will always have a special place in my heart!!
    #63
  4. wheatwhacker

    wheatwhacker It's raining here

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,114
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland
    Great report and pic's.
    Have a safe trip.
    #64
  5. Pickup man

    Pickup man Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Oddometer:
    353
    Location:
    People's Socialist Republic of Ontario, Toronto
    One of my favourite Ride Reports just keeps geting better and better.
    Fantastic stuff Jo , this is like a National Geographic Traveller episode on steroids with motorbikes. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together for us.
    #65
  6. mousebird

    mousebird n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Cape Town, South Africa
    What a fantastic RR, Jo, I'm just loving seeing more of my own continent through your eyes.
    #66
  7. GSF1200S

    GSF1200S Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2012
    Oddometer:
    977
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Epic!

    Your recall of information is a great help to someone considering traveling Africa by motorcycle. Very candid, very entertaining, very informative and some great photos! Subscribed :deal
    #67
  8. JoRust

    JoRust Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Africa
    Liberating Libya:

    Not the easiest country to get into or travel through. Firstly, it’s not easy to get a visa for Libya nowadays. They don’t give tourist visas, which means you have to get a business visa or transit visa, both of which are quite pricy. Secondly, you need to arrange with a travel agency to hire a guide/escort, who will accompany you throughout. And then there are the countless checkpoints you have to negotiate your way through.

    I crossed the border from Tunisia to Libya at the Ras Jdir post on the northern coast, which is also Libya’s most northern point.

    Libyan Border
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    It had been arranged with a friend from Tripoli to meet me at the border and accompany me to the capital. What I did not expect to find is more than twenty bikers to be waiting to surprise me on the other side of the border! I was astonished. What a wonderful surprise!

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    The paperwork went fairly quickly and smoothly on the Libyan side. I was issued a transit visa and had to pay 100 LYD (Libyan Dinar – 1 USD = 1.2 LYD). And in no time I was introduced to the group and we headed for Tripoli. First stop would be to see the 2000-year-old ancient Roman ruins in Sabratha. But first, I would be welcomed by way of automatic gunfire before we even reach Sabratha. About halfway between the border and the ancient ruins, we pass a pickup with a man sitting on the back, holding an AK47 / Kalashnikov. He fires a few rounds as a way of ‘saluting’ us as we pass by. Immediately, all eyes shoot to me to see how I might react? I just smile and give a thumbs-up to let everyone know I’m fine and not freaking out…yet.

    We stop off in Sabratha and the guys show me around, giving me an informative tour of the ancient ruins. It’s a pretty amazing place to visit. These places fascinate me as I try to imagine what it must have been like back in those days. In the time of the Phoenicians and the Great Roman Empire.

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    After the tour and a rest under the trees, we continued on. We stopped at a fuel station and one of the riders asked me: “Why do you smile the whole time? Do you know you’re in Libya”? I found this a bit strange. Why do I smile all the time? Because I’m happy to be alive. Because I’m on a grand adventure. I have many reasons to smile.

    We arrived in Tripoli and I was checked into Hotel Thobacts on Omar Al Mokhtar street. A very nice hotel that the ministry of tourism was so kind to put me up in for four days during my stay in Tripoli. I had initially planned to spend only a few days in Libya. Maybe one night in Tripoli, one night in Misrata, one in Sirte and finally in Benghazi. But it soon became very clear that there would be no chance of that. My hosts were extremely kind and adamant that I stay on longer.

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    I got to meet many riders in Tripoli and the amazingly talented (and slightly crazy) stunt riders that Libya is famous for amongst the biking communities. I was received by the Minister of Tourism, Ms Ikram Bash Imam, who welcomed me to Libya and wished me well for the rest of my journey. Very kind and she also offered any assistance I may need during my stay in Libya.

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    I also had the opportunity to meet with the head of the Libyan motorcycling federation, Masaud Jerbi who invited me for dinner and then surprised me with a donation from the federation towards my trip! A big, huge thank you to him for his amazing kindness and generosity. And also Mr Harim Al Turki who organized to meet with Mr Jerbi and who also serviced my bike at no charge.

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    Whilst in Tripoli I also got to meet up with a friend whom I first met in 2011 when I was still cycling around Africa. I met up with Philip Zaayman and his wife Janine in Namibia. I was on my way North towards Angola and they had ridden up from Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa to attend a wedding in northern Namibia. And now, all this time later I got to meet up with Philip again on the other side of the continent! It’s a small world!

    When the time came to finally hit the road again, I had two Honda Gold wings and four riders to accompany me all the way to Misrata. Normally, tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Libya and I was happy and grateful for the company. I had heard so many horror stories, especially when it comes to negotiating your way through checkpoints with heavily armed men who are not always interested in your long sad story.

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    The road from Libya to Misrata is fairly straightforward and easy to follow. Busy in places and maybe a bit broken here and there, but overall a good tar road. Before getting to Misrata we stopped off in Khoms to meet up with a group of riders and have a tour of the world famous Leptis Magna ruins. To quite from Wikipedia: “Today, the site of Leptis Magna is the site of some of the most impressive ruins of the Roman period.” It really is spectacular and well worth the visit!

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    From Khoms we headed to Misrata where we would spend the night. I stayed in a hotel and the boys elsewhere with friends. I checked into my hotel and then went out with the guys to meet up with a big group of bikers who had come together to celebrate the wedding of a friend and fellow rider. It’s a custom in Libya that when a fellow rider gets married, all the riders in that city/town come together to celebrate the occasion by way of revving engines and spectacular stunts. The group comes together in a certain location and then awaits the groom’s arrival. Then the show starts. From here all the riders follow the groom’s car to the area where the rest of the wedding’s proceedings take place. The groom and bride are separate and the men don’t get to see the women as they celebrate on their own. The groom sits on a chair/sofa as his brothers, uncles, nephews, friends and rest of the men of the family come up to congratulate him. I got to congratulate both the groom and the bride. But out of respect I cannot reveal what goes on behind the curtain where the ladies celebrate. It’s a secret. It’s also become a custom nowadays in Libya for pistols and automatic rifles to be fired in celebration, especially at weddings.

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    Seeing as everyone and their dog have a gun in Libya, I became quite used to shots being fired around me all the time. As long as it’s not aimed at me, I don’t mind all that much.

    After the celebrations I returned to my hotel and turned in for the night. Next morning I was informed that I would have to carry on, on my own as the guys would be returning to Libya. At first I was a bit shocked. As I mentioned, normally a foreigner is not allowed to travel alone. I didn’t have much of a choice and just sent out positive vibes that everything would be okay.

    I rode alone from Misrata to Ajdabiya, which is a city just south of Benghazi. Just over 600 kilometers and countless checkpoints in between. First checkpoint – no problems. I was just waved through. So far so good. Second checkpoint – I get stopped and told to remove my helmet. I do as I’m ordered and the ‘officers’ (not all the checkpoints are manned by military officers, some are civilians, some are ‘other’ groups) are, understandably, taken aback to see a woman riding in Libya on her own. At first they tell me that I cannot ride on my own as it’s too dangerous. In my (very) limited Arabic, I try to explain to them that I was told that it would be no problem and the minister of tourism is aware that I am traveling through Libya. I phone my friend Ahmed Busefi in Tripoli and hand the phone to the officer. After a few minutes of incomprehensible discussion the officer hands me my phone back and indicates that I am free to proceed. He tells me not to stop for anyone and to keep going until I reach Ajdabiya. I thank them and proceed, wondering if this will be the case at every checkpoint.

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    I am happy to report that I do not get stopped at any of the checkpoints I pass through all the way to Ajdabiya.

    On route I stop off in Sirte as I wanted to visit this city that had been nearly destroyed in the war. A friend of Ahmed receives me with a cameraman in tow. A very kind gentleman who takes me to his house and offers me dates and fresh milk. He takes me on a tour of the city and describes to me what it was like to sit in his house whilst bombs are being dropped outside and automatic weapons tore down his walls. My heart breaks as we ride through the city and I bare witness to the catastrophic consequences that war brings with it. The pain and anguish is so tangible it’s like a thick fog that hangs in the air. And for what? Visiting Sirte had an immense impact on me and it’s something I will never forget.

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    #68
  9. JoRust

    JoRust Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Africa
    After my visit to Sirte I headed straight for Ajdabiya and had no hassles at any of the checkpoints. Hamdoulah. (Thanks God in Arabic)
    On route I had a few cars who hung around, either with kids who waved non stop and took pictures (very sweet) or people just following me out of curiosity. There was one Ford pickup who rode behind me, then passed me and slowed down again to ride next to me. The driver opened his window and shouted to me in English: “Where are you from”? I answered him and then his next question was: “You are a woman”? I guess he could hear that I am a woman because you can’t really tell when I’m wearing all my gear on the bike. I just nodded. He then tried to persuade me to load my bike on the back of the truck saying: “It’s really not safe to be riding in Libya”. I thanked him but refused his offer and told him that I would be fine. The last time I trusted some guys in a Ford pickup was when all my belongings got stolen in Angola. Once bitten, twice shy.

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    I did, admittedly, stop once before Ajdabiya to take a quick break. A car pulled over next to me and the man driving asked me if I was okay? “Kolo tmam” I answered. (All good)
    He invited me to stay in his house with his family for the night and to have a meal with them. I had to decline as I had people waiting for me in Ajdabiya. I thanked him for his kind offer and then set off again for the last push to the town.

    I arrived and luckily found the guys that Ahmed had arranged to meet with me and take me to my hotel. I stayed in the Amal Africa hotel and I was not to pay anything as my hosts kindly made me understand that it’s against Arab culture to let your guests pay. I am astonished at the number of really nice and high-class hotels in Libya. But I wonder how they manage to survive? I was starving as I’d only eaten a few dates so kindly offered to me in Sirte and a glass of milk. The guys took me out for dinner in town and we sat chatting about my trip and my time in Libya. Then on the way back to the hotel I asked if we could please stop at a shop so I could buy some snacks and cold drinks for the next day to Benghazi. In the shop I wanted to buy a can of Sprite and a pack of cookies. The owner of the shop took out another can and a handful of chocolate bars, put it in a bag and gave it to me. When I wanted to pay he refused and said: “Welcome in Libya”.

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    Next morning, a good friend of mine named Nabil rode to Ajdabiya along with four other bikers to meet me and accompany me to Benghazi. I thanked my kind hosts and we hit the road. It was very windy on the way to Benghazi. The road is good, surrounded by desert-like views most of the way. We stopped off for a quick coffee halfway and here I met a Tunisian man who owned the coffee shop. He was married to an English girl so his English was really good and we had a nice long chat. I told him how much I love and miss Tunisia. He also refused to let me pay for my coffee.

    In Benghazi I stayed in Hotel Juliana. Amazing hotel! I met the owner of the hotel as well. A very kind, decent man who, once again, refused to let me pay for my stay. My friend Nabil looked after me very well and took me on a tour of the town. At night I had dinner with the guys who had ridden with me from Ajdabiya and we all became good friends. One of the things I will always remember about my time in Benghazi is the sound of fireworks and gunshots at night. Every night there would be wedding celebrations taking place right near the hotel. And every night we’d bare witness to firework shows and gun shots going off in celebration of newly weds.

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    At this point is when the proverbial paw-paw hit the fan in Egypt and I had to make a decision. Either I would have to return to Tunisia or carry on to Egypt. A very good friend and very well known fellow adventure rider in Alexandria, Omar Mansour, was advising me on the situation in Egypt on a daily basis. Although I would’ve loved to return to my beloved Tunisia, there was just no way I could skip out on visiting ‘Om Edonia’ – The mother of the world, that is Egypt.

    So after three nights’ stay in Benghazi I headed for Tubruq with my new friends who accompanied me all the way. We took the quiet desert road to Tubruq which was great. I love the desert and enjoy riding through the desert. (It’s a tar road, surrounded by desert)

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    At a stop to refuel I had a wonderful experience that brings a smile to my face even as I think back now. I was refilling my bike and an old man came to stand next to me. The guys explained to him who I am and in no time a small crowd of men gathered around me. This old man with wisdom in his eyes and deep settled wrinkles of experience on his face took my hand and repeated a dozen times: “Ahlan wa sahlan, marhaban, ahlan wa sahlan, ahlan wa sahlan”. Which basically means: welcome, welcome, welcome.

    Just outside of Tubruq, a big group of riders had come to welcome us with a television crew in tow. After greetings and quick introductions I was taken to the Tubruq Square where snacks and refreshments had been prepared for everyone and lots and lots of photos were taken. A grand welcome in my last town in Libya before I would cross to Egypt.

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    I spent two nights in Tubruq in a nice little hotel near the square, my room overlooking the town with a nice view over a beautiful mosque nearby. I don’t know why but I feel deeply nostalgic when I hear the Adhan (Azan) – The call to prayer.

    I had a small incident in this hotel when a young man who works in the hotel came to my room the morning after my arrival. He came under the pretenses of finding out whether I wanted to have breakfast brought to my room? I had just woken up and told him I would take breakfast in the restaurant a little later. He then pushed the door open and took a step towards me, trying to kiss me. I immediately stepped back and he asked: “Are you afraid of me”. No buddy, but come any closer and I’ll give you reason to be afraid of me! I pushed him back against the wall and told him to leave. He looked surprised and said: “Please, don’t tell anyone okay”? Later in the restaurant he brought me a chocolate as to ‘buy’ my silence. It wasn’t a big deal and at first I didn’t want to mention it. But later on that day I went to the beach with my friends and Nabil asked me if everything was okay and if the people at the hotel were treating me well? I decided to tell him about what happened. I explained to him that I didn’t want a fuss made over the issue. He told me not to say anything to anyone and that it would be taken care of.

    Next morning I got ready to leave for the border. The guys arranged to meet me in front of my hotel early in the morning and then they would ride with me all the way. 7 Libyan riders arrived at the hotel and the head of the Tubruq riders asked me to point out the boy to him that had come to my room. I knew then that this was not to be a pleasant start to my day. How would you feel if seven big strong Libyan bikers descended on you all of the sudden? You would crap yourself! Trust me, I almost did and I was standing outside. Suffice it to say that the boy learned a very valuable lesson, the hard way. There was no blood, I can tell you that much. But there was a lot of screaming and shouting as he was dragged outside to apologize to me. I felt really bad!

    And so, with some excitement to start the day with, we hit the road to the border.

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    #69
  10. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    391
    Location:
    Redondo Beach CA
    Crap! Just saw your report and couldn't walk away. I had to keep reading. I look forward to the rest of your journey home.

    I've been to all of north Africa many time (never on a bike) and experienced Arab kindness everywhere I went. I'm glad your buddies didn't kill that hotel boy...as I have similar but worse stories like that one.

    Ride safe!

    Johnny da Rock
    #70
  11. crowe2815

    crowe2815 kenoath

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2011
    Oddometer:
    489
    Location:
    andamooka South Australia
    :clap What a great read. looking forward to the next update.:ear
    #71
  12. jbcaddy

    jbcaddy Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,293
    Location:
    Oroville & Placerville, California U.S.of A.
    Just read your story from the start in one sitting! Thanks for sharing your story. Between you and Mark (Radioman) I have spend lots of time reading and dreaming :D Best wishes for a safe and fun continuing adventure.
    #72
  13. Starstruck

    Starstruck Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    102
    Location:
    SoCal
    A wonderful RR - sounds like a great adventure! Kudos to you!
    #73
  14. GiorgioXT

    GiorgioXT Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,447
    Very lekker report !

    When you want to come see Italy and Alps just tell me .
    #74
  15. Grouik

    Grouik Bike & Beer

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Belgium
    Thank you for this wonderful RR :clap
    One day, I will go to Tunisia as well !
    #75
  16. zigaturkster

    zigaturkster n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Really great posts and really nice pictures, can't wait to see more. Me and my girl friend are planning to do the same trip but going to go from Europe down the west cost to South Africa and back up, so all the info is very useful.

    Good luck with the rest of your trip.
    #76
  17. JoRust

    JoRust Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Africa
    Egypt: Mother of the world.

    I’ve heard so many horror stories about the border between Libya and Egypt and with the morning’s excitement as a start to my day, I was feeling a tad more nervous as to what may lie ahead for me.

    My Libyan friends rode with me from Tubruq and stayed with me all the way to the Salloum border. They even sorted me out in helping me get local sim cards for Egypt and also changing my Libyan Dinar to Egyptian Pounds.

    I spent about an hour at the Libyan side of the border. I’m not sure what the holdup was but was made to wait, sitting between three customs officers and one very trigger-happy military officer that insisted on firing a few shots into the air right next to me.

    Libyan friends with me just before the border
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    After about an hour I was let through to Egypt side of Salloum. An officer from Egyptian customs accompanied me into the customs and immigrations offices and I started with processing all the necessary paperwork. “This is all going pretty well”, I thought to myself. I was directed from office to office and offered tea and biscuits. Everything went pretty well until I was taken to see two gentlemen who are the equivalent of the Egyptian secret service. Then everything came to a grinding halt.

    Meanwhile a good friend and one of Egypt’s very own adventure riders, Omar Mansour, had ridden all the way from Alexandria to meet me at the border. They eventually let him through and allowed him to join me in the building. He was a great help as nobody could really speak English and he was able to translate between the officers and myself.

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    Omar stayed with me the entire time and in the end I spent about nine hours at the border! Though I can honestly say that all the officers and staff were very friendly and helpful and accommodating.

    I spent my first night in Egypt in the border town of El Salloum. Next morning we left early and made our way towards Marsa Matruh, had fresh lemon under a tree on the side of the road and then on to Marina where we had lunch. We weren’t sure whether we’d be able to make it to Cairo in time for the curfew that had been enforced at the time. I was supposed to have a police escort with me all the way but when they weren’t at the checkpoint in the morning when we left, we carried on without them.

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    I made it to Cairo from the border in one day! Something that kept delaying us on the road, were the military checkpoints where we needed to unpack all my kit every single time. One can understand this precaution, especially during those troubled times. Needless to say I was pretty tired by the time I crossed the Nile River (posed for a quick photo first of course) into Cairo. I unfortunately had to say goodbye to Omar as he had to return to Alexandria, but a friend of his (Bakir) took over and rode with me until the city limits where another friend, Mahmoud Mazen was waiting to escort me the rest of the way.

    I had planned on spending maybe ten days to two weeks in Egypt. My first point of order was to sort out new visas for Sudan and Ethiopia. With the delays, waiting in Libya for things to calm down in Egypt, both my visas would have expired before I could make it to either Sudan or Ethiopia. It also soon became clear that Egypt had big plans for me.

    I met up with the BikerZone team in Cairo who organized my stay at Le Meridien hotel in Heliopolis and also a big group ride to the Pyramids the next weekend, which was absolutely amazing. I have had many layovers on flights in Cairo before and always had this rule that I was never allowed to look out the window during landing or taking off, as to avoid seeing the pyramids. I had to see it in person, on my bike…and I finally did! I instantly made so many new wonderful friends in Cairo and everyone made me feel right at home. All over Egypt really. Wonderful people.

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    I was kept busy in Cairo with meeting fellow bikers, conducting press conferences and working on plans for my next project after I finish my tour around Africa. The Dakar Rally! I got to chat with the BikerZone team and they were very eager to get involved with my future plans. After some brainstorming and negotiating I signed with the team and they are now my sole representatives and managing team!

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    I took some time out whilst in Cairo and rode to the Bahariya oasis over a weekend to see a bit more of the country. Things to see in the area are the white and black deserts, which are amazing! A lot of friends were nervous about my riding out to the oasis area by myself because of banditry in the area. About a 730-kilometer round trip and I didn’t see any suspicious activities on the road. Just beautiful views of the desert all the way!

    I spent about three weeks in Cairo and had a fantastic time. After I managed to sort a new visa for Ethiopia I set off for the coastal town of Hurghada. Omar joined me again for the ride to Hurghada, along with three other friends. (Ehab Hassanein, Emad Hassan, Mohamed Fareed El-Gohary). Omar, Ehad and Emad rode with me all the way and even spent a night at the resort as well. Very nice of them. A very famous touristic spot for diving, desert safaris and just relaxing next to the Red Sea. My stay was sponsored by the Sunrise Grand Select, Crystal Bay Resort! How awesome! I spent four nights at the resort and they even organized a guided quad desert safari and snorkeling, which was absolutely AMAZING! Going snorkeling opened up a whole new world for me. It was my first time and I didn’t want to leave. I just wanted to stay there in this new magical underwater world.

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    A press conference was held at the hotel and the Governor of Hurghada presented me with a medal to honor my efforts on my trip, which was so humbling.

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    From Hurghada, my next stop was in Luxor in Upper Egypt where I was hosted at the beautiful Maritime Jolie Ville hotel and resort on King’s Island. Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open air museum", as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city. I had the opportunity to see the temples, which are absolutely amazing! You can literally feel the history when walking among the ruins. Really something worth putting on one’s bucket list. The one thing that did break my heart was seeing how the tourism industry is suffering in Egypt. So many vendors tried desperately to get me to please just buy something as business is slow and they’re struggling to support their families. The day I visited the temples we were told that it was the busiest day since June!

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    After a tour of the temples I joined a group of men at a café, sitting outside on the street and drinking tea. I absolutely love these cultural experiences. One of the guys, nicknamed ‘Sisi’ (if you know a bit about what’s been going on in Egypt, you’ll know who General Sisi is), was absolutely adamant that I visit his family at a nearby tribe. He also wanted to ride with me to Aswan. I graciously declined his offer. Though I was a little worried that I might find him waiting next to my bike the next morning. He threatened to spend the night sleeping next to my bike as to not miss me the next morning. Hehe.

    Next morning, I was up early and heading to Aswan, my last destination in Egypt. There are two roads one can take between Luxor and Aswan. The main road and the desert road. If I’m not mistaken I think one needs a permit for the desert road though. The main road is a very busy road with speed bumps every few kilometers. It’s not that far (About 220 kilometers) but it took me five hours to do because of the heavy traffic.


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    Once I arrived to Aswan I met up with Kamal, THE fixer in Aswan. Many, many overlanders know Kamal and have made use of his services. With Kamal was a French guy named Francois. I later found out that Francois was there on his BMW R1200GS and planning on riding down to South Africa.

    First point of order was for me to sort a new visa for Sudan. We headed straight for the embassy and handed in my application. Quick and easy process. They assured me that I’d have my visa before I had to leave on the ferry to Wadi Halfa. After sorting the visa, Kamal led me to the hotel where I’d be staying. Mövenpick Resort Aswan. Again, this resort offered to sponsor my entire stay in Aswan! And I had the most wonderful welcome with traditional Nubian music and dancers. I even joined in and danced along as we took the barge across the river to the island on the Nile where the hotel is situated. Stunning hotel and I was absolutely spoilt rotten! I had my own double story apartment, complete with lounge and sliding doors that lead out onto the banks of the Nile River. Management and staff welcomed me with drinks and snacks in my room with a personalized welcome note.

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    I really had a wonderful stay in Aswan and appreciate all the effort the hotel’s staff and management went to, to make me feel special and right at home. I had dinner with management members every evening and also got to meet the Governor who had come to meet me and once again, I was given a medal in honor of my journey. (My luggage doubled in size in Egypt with all the gifts and medals! Haha)

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    I was taken on a felucca tour on the Nile to a traditional Nubian village where we had drinks looking out over the Nile. I also got a henna tattoo done by one of the local women.

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    Next day I had to take my Dax to be loaded onto the barge for Wadi Halfa. Another adventure rider, Obai, from Sudan had also arrived in the meantime. I knew he was on his way as friends in Tunisia first informed me that he was heading to Sudan. I could hardly believe that he had caught up with me. He started his trip in Senegal and was on the home stretch to finishing in his hometown, Khartoum. I was actually grateful for the company and all three of us (myself, Francois and Obai) all loaded our bikes on the barge for Wadi Halfa. We only got on the ferry two days later.

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    The famous ferry between Aswan and Wadi Halfa. What can I say? It’s an experience and a half!

    We arrived at the port around ten in the morning. We headed straight to the ticketing office to sort out tickets. We all decided to take first class cabins so we could have a place to store our baggage. Then we headed off to board the ferry. We were WAY early as the ferry was only set to leave around 16:00.

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    A first class cabin consists of a set of bunk beds, and air conditioner and if you’re lucky (I was) a window. *You do NOT want to have to use the toilets, as it’s absolutely revolting! The food was actually quite good.

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    We headed out onto the deck to watch as people boarded and goods were loaded onto the, already, overloaded ferry. 16:00 came and gone and we finally got word from some of the other passengers that we were waiting for a group of forty young Sudanese men that were caught trying to cross to Libya illegally. They got lost in the desert and were now being taken back to Sudan. The sorry-looking bunch arrived around 18:30 and we finally set off around 19:00!

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    Francois, Obai and I went to have dinner, which consisted of foul (a bean dish), bread and some salad. *Next day's lunch was the same but with chicken added. Obai kept teasing me saying I’m like a typical Egyptian because I love foul and drink a lot of tea!

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    After dinner we all turned in for the night to pass the 20-something-hour journey to Wadi Halfa a little faster. I woke up around 03:00 and went outside on deck *and found a spot between the hundreds of people sleeping under the stars to watch the stars overhead. Absolutely gorgeous! I considered dragging my sleeping bag outside to also lie under the stars as I crossed from Egypt to Sudan. But the chilly wind soon had me retreating back to my cabin.

    I was sad to leave Egypt. I left my heart there and will certainly return again soon!
    #77
  18. JoRust

    JoRust Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Africa
    Sudan: Smiles and Kindness.

    We finally arrived in Wadi Halfa around 13:00 in the afternoon. A bit of a frantic scurry broke out on board as people were grabbing their baggage and pushing to get to the front of the queue to disembark. I was met by Mazar, THE fixer in Wadi Halfa. He came on board and led me to the dining room where we sat and started filling out all the paperwork I needed to go through.

    Francois disappeared somewhere in between all the chaos, I later found out that he used another fixer. Obai and I got off together and made our way down the dock to the waiting area next to the customs and immigrations building. The barge with our bikes on it arrived literally minutes after we had docked. So we were rather hopeful that we might be able to get our bikes off the same day still.

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    I sat among the rest of the passengers and numerous people struck up a conversation with me whilst Obai and Mazar went about trying to get our bikes released. Sudanese people are incredibly friendly! Before I knew it I was sitting on a bench between about six men, eating peanuts and chatting about my trip. (Why is it always peanuts?)

    About four hours later it became clear that we weren’t going to get our bikes and they’d only be able to release them the next morning. So Mazar took us to our hotel where we met up with Francois again. Turns out he’d been at the hotel the whole time.

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    We settled in and I took a long, blissful, hot shower, after which we headed out to find something for dinner. As this was Obai’s home turf he insisted on looking after us and refused to let us pay for any of our meals! Not only are Sudanese people super friendly, they’re also super generous!

    There’s not much to see in Wadi Halfa. It’s a tiny, dusty border town with a hotel or two that offer you the basics and a number of curios shacks and little outdoor restaurants. Though it makes up in personality, smiles and good food. We took a tuk-tuk into town and had a wonderful meal at a local restaurant. Various fried meat strips with onions and humus. Very yummy. Obai also helped me get a local sim card for my phone before we headed back to our hotel to turn in for an early night.

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    Next morning we headed back into town for breakfast, which consisted of deep-fried balls of dough, covered in sugar and very sweet milky tea. (Made with only milk)

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    After breakfast we headed back to the port to sort our bikes. Mazar was already at the port and sorted all the paperwork. I never even came into close contact with a single customs or immigrations official. Mazar sorted everything.
    We headed off to the barge and there were immediately a dozen men gathering around to help and watch our bikes be offloaded. Off loading meant having to lift the bikes over the side of the barge and then maneuvering it down a plank back to solid ground. Obai’s bike was first, then my beloved Dax and Francois’ 1200 last. When all the bikes were safely back on solid ground I let out a great big “eHamdoulillah”, (Thank God) which was echoed by all the guys standing around, followed by a big round of applause. And with that we headed straight back to the hotel to load the bikes and within an hour we were off! Next stop – Dongola!

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    The 'road' to our hotel.
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    Mazar on his KLR that a South African guy gave to him.
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    The new main road through Sudan is absolutely fantastic! Beautiful lazy turns surrounded by desert as far as the eye can see. We stopped off about halfway for lunch. Every now and then you can find a little settlement on the side of the road with small restaurants where you can stop off for something to eat or drink.

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    We made it to Dongola and crossed the Nile into town late afternoon and Obai suggested a hotel for us to stay in whilst he’d be staying with some relatives of his. We agreed to all freshen up and then we’d meet up again to go out for dinner.

    When I left the hotel, Francois was sitting across the road having tea and there were a few admirers ogling our bikes parked in front of the hotel. The hotel owner offered for us to park our bikes inside the lobby but we felt confident that our bikes would be fine outside. That’s another amazing thing about Sudan. I felt like I could leave Dax outside with all my gear on the bike and the keys in the ignition and not have to worry about anyone coming near my belongings. The only other place I’ve had that feeling has been Tunisia.

    A few minutes later Obai and a cousin of his arrived and we, once again, got into a tuk-tuk to take us to the center of town where we’d be having dinner. It’s amazing how many people you can squash into a tuk-tuk! This time Obai’s cousin insisted on paying for dinner saying that we are all his guests. We had a wonderful dinner and decided to walk most of the way back to the hotel so we could see a bit of the town. It’s rather big in comparison to Wadi Halfa. Though it’s not difficult to find a town bigger than Halfa. And people are just so friendly everywhere!

    The next day was a big day for Obai as it was the last day of his trip and he’d be arriving back home in Khartoum. I felt so excited for him and both Francois and I shook his hand and wished him luck before we set off. It was a real honor to be a part of those last few days of his journey. It made me think of what it will feel like when I near my finish line.

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    We left Dongola just as the sun started rising and it was obvious that Obai was eager to get home as he led and pushed our average speed quite a bit. There was a sense of accomplishment in the air and I found myself riding with a constant smile on my face, as I was just so darn happy and excited to see Obai finish his journey. I loved watching the sun slowly bringing light upon the desert and people with sleepy eyes emerge as we whizzed by on our bikes.

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    It’s just over five hundred kilometers from Dongola to Khartoum and we made it into town by around 15:00. With a breakfast stop and refueling and hydrating breaks on route. A television crew was waiting for Obai a few kilometers outside of town and followed him in. We followed behind and when he finally reached the finish line there were a big group of family and friends and television crew waiting for him. Awesome!

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    Francois had already booked himself into a hotel and I met up with another friend and fellow rider in Khartoum, Mohammed Nasir, who suggested I stay at the local youth hostel. Mohammed rode with us and we dropped Francois off at his hotel and then he rode with me to the youth hostel. I booked in and paid for two night’s as I knew Francois needed to get a visa for Ethiopia and we were hoping he’d get it sorted the next day. We had decided to ride together until Nairobi.

    I settled into my dorm room and found out that I was the only person at the youth hostel, so had the whole dorm to myself. I unloaded Dax, freshened up and then went out to find something to eat. I found a Subway shop near the hostel and the owner started chatting to me right away. It just so happened that friends of mine, three guys on scooters, who had ridden from Cape Town to Dublin, had also stayed at the hostel and also met this guy at the Subway shop! Small world!

    Later on we went out to dinner with Obai. I was surprised that he was willing to come out with us to dinner, as I would’ve thought he’d want to spend the time with his family. But he considered us his guests and would go out of his way to make our stay comfortable. He even helped Francois to get his visa the next day and invited us for lunch at his house with his family. It was wonderful!

    There were many reports of protests and instability in and around Khartoum, though I never saw any evidence of this. I walked around on my own and felt completely safe doing so.

    We had dinner with a group of bikers that evening before we left Khartoum and had a bit of a ride through town. The guys tried desperately to convince us to stay longer but Francois had time constrictions and a schedule to keep to, so we unfortunately had to decline their offer.

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    We hit the road early the next morning and the plan was to find a place to set up camp about fifty kilometers from the border. It’s amazing how the landscape starts changing from Khartoum to the south. It starts getting greener and suddenly you’re surrounded by thorn trees and more and more animals (donkeys and goats mainly). The road is good all the way through and makes for easy riding.

    About sixty kilometers from the border we came to a checkpoint and I asked the officers if they maybe knew of a spot nearby where we could pitch our tents? They just shook their heads and said that it’s not permitted to camp wild anywhere on the road.

    So we carried on for another ten kilometers and then we found a spot to camp anyway. Out of sight just next to the road.

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    We had stopped for lunch during earlier at a hotel in Qadarif and stocked up on bread, boiled eggs and some deep fried fish, knowing that we were planning on camping. So we pitched our tents and got out our food and watched a thunderstorm rolling in with a spectacular lightning show as we pondered what Ethiopia might be like when we cross the border the next day.
    #78
  19. Pickup man

    Pickup man Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Oddometer:
    353
    Location:
    People's Socialist Republic of Ontario, Toronto
    Keep it coming Jo Rust. This is like a really good soap opera....never know whats gonna happen next.. I love this. Thanks so much.
    #79
  20. Starstruck

    Starstruck Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    102
    Location:
    SoCal
    So glad to see an update - I was wondering what happened to you. Looks like you're having a wonderful ride and will, before too long, make it all the way round!
    #80