Wanted RTW on a KTM 1190 - Adventuring Into The Heart of Africa.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Wanted, May 16, 2016.

  1. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    The plan is to take the bike down the West Coast of Africa for the next 5 months, after that ride up the East coast then onward to Asia, North, Central and South America, etc. I have been delayed substantially in Europe and am now on the border of the Sahara in Morocco, I am super late and now have less than 2 months to get to Ghana to get a flight back to Europe for a couple of weeks. The Sahara is naturally the optimum place for a shakedown..... I'll try catch up the last few days quickly..

    After riding through 8 hours of torrential rain from Madrid I made it to Tarifa to catch the ferry the next morning. By the time I boarded the ferry I’d already seen 7 BMW1200GS, guess they’re a pretty popular bike here in Europe. I got chatting to some older French blokes as I boarded the ferry who were embarking on a week long trip through Morocco.. 2x BMW1200s and an Africa Twin

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    This was their backyard, as they come here every year in their 4x4's or on the motos, they'd ridden the Dakar some 20 odd years ago. On learning that I had planned to head directly to the border of Algeria and follow the border down to meet the Sahara, they told me I was out of my mind as it is far too dangerous. They brought out the Michelin map and offered several alternative routes South through Morocco. They really emphasised the seriousness of it and that the danger was no joke. They were great guys, we were all planning to go to Asilah together for lunch, however getting SIM cards took longer than expected and they had 800km ahead of them still that day, so I stuck around for a haircut and let them continue.

    Here are the 3 French guys

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    I jump back on the bike and start gunning it toward Algeria, stopping briefly overnight in the famous Blue city of Chefchaouen, also famous for its hash and fields of marijuana. I stopped in at a hostel that I had stayed in this time last year, back then there was this hilarious Japanese guy staying there as stereotypical as they come, he would just sit there all day getting high, talking in overly excited broken English, and saying "no probrem" a lot. As I walk into the hostel, who do I see? Still there getting high as ever, a year later.

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    I spent the night in Chefchaouen, taking a hike up through the mountains and repacking my stuff into better suited bags. I managed to sneak a drone into the country for the travels, as they're illegal here, got a nice video on the hills above the city at sunrise.

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    I left at 12 hoping to make it to Oujda on the border of Algeria that night. I had no idea how bad the road would be from Chefchaouen to Taza (the halfway point), it took far longer than expected. I stop for gas 40km out of Oujda as the sun is setting, I plan on camping tonight so I have to get back on the bike and started hauling toward Oujda! By the time I arrive into the city it's pitch black, I decide I still want to camp so continue on out of the city hoping to find a good spot with nobody around, only problem was now as I was 100km or so South of Oujda, where there were no lights. No people. And now I ca't see anything.

    Long story alert** Can Skip -
    This is where my excessive auxiliary lights become worth their weight in gold, I could see quite far down the road but the spread to the sides is only enough to illuminate a few meters either side off the road. That far East it turns into wide open rocky plains, as most of Northern Morocco used to be underwater a long time ago. This made it really hard in terms of getting a private area, and finding a decent place to set up camp. its 11:30pm and I'm starting to get a bit nervous, by now I'm looking for any small trail or track that will lead off the side so I can put some distance between me and the road to set up camp.

    Everything from the last couple of days is starting to play on my mind, do I really know what I was doing? Could those French guys have actually been right and I'm in a dangerous place right now? I had known the borders to Algeria were dangerous, but more in toward Western Sahara, Northern Mali, Niger.. I'd never really heard of any bad news in North Moroccan territory, some of it is land mined as well, but I don't think in the North either.

    I pass a lone mosque out in the middle of nowhere. 300m later I ride past a track off up to the right, I don't want to ride all night, especially if it is actually a dangerous area, so this is my chance. I do a U-turn and take off up the track, it turned into some really difficult terrain, big rocks everywhere and large washed out parts of the track from streams during the rainy season. I come upon a beat up abandoned car - man I really hope nobody else is around! I keep pushing up the track and suddenly my lights shine on some abandoned looking houses up ahead, there are dogs up there going crazy. I don't know if anybody is up there and the bike is loud as anything! I swerve around to the right, ride 50m, then shut it off and listen. Dogs barking and snarling up by the houses, but no sign of people. I get off the bike and drop it, -Shit! the large sidestand foot has a thing about throwing my bike over if its not on perfectly flat ground or on a downward slope. God damn. I bend down to pick up the bike and then I see them, some small flashlights some 200m away coming down towards me from the houses, my heart starts racing as I'm stressing from what the French guys had told me earlier, it was so dark and by now, even if I could get back on the bike I'd have to find my way back to the trail. By now they're only 40m away from me when I hear one of them yell to me - "Bonsoir!!".... I watch as they get closer, 4 guys about my age (26) came out of the darkness all dressed in some weird robes. A lot of people tend to wear them around here. They didn't even look a little confused to see me, some white guy with a huge bike tipped over on their property at midnight in the middle of nowhere, Morocco.

    They started to talk casually in French to me like I was one of their neighbours who just came over for a yarn, I had no idea what they were saying but after a lot of hand gestures and repeating words neither of us understood, they gathered that I wanted to set up a tent to sleep. One guy ran off back to the house, while I started setting up the tent, with them all shining their lights for me to see what I was doing. The other guy came back carrying a big cup of milk fresh from the cow and some bread, "mangé, mangé". The dogs were still going off, so they told me to pack up my stuff and follow them to the mosque down the road. They guided me as I rode the bike back to the trail and a few hundred meters back down to the road, by now I'm glad I didn't camp as on the way back down taking it at walking pace, I saw these HUGE white spiders scuttling along the rocks in my headlights. After spending 2 years in Australia I thought I'd seen some big spiders, but I have never seen anything as big as these before, if there is anything that I can't stand, its spiders.

    After they had guided me for about 15 minutes, we finally reached the mosque. They took me around the back of it and said I could set up my tent there, we said our goodbyes and bro-shaked. They left, and I was left to calm my nerves a bit, until I realised the ground was hard as stone and my tent pegs were not going in. I had no choice but to set up my bed in the corner of the stairs behind the mosque and sleep there, it was a clear sky so no chance of rain but those damn spiders had me spooked.
    Long story over**


    Here is the bike, bed is under the stairs to the mosque

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    Woke up at 5.30 to the 'call to prayer' being blasted over the countryside in the tower above my head. Cheers. Car loads of people showed up and entered the front of the mosque, I could hear them all praying from where I was sleeping around the back, none of them came out or noticed I was there. I slept a couple more hours then packed the bike up and keep following the border South to Figuig, right in the very East

    (Edit: looking back now, I have no idea why I didn't just sleep in my tent without pegs, it bothers me a lot, what an absolute amateur)
    #1
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  2. JHpowderhound

    JHpowderhound Been here awhile

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    Wow. I'm in.

    Eric
    #2
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  3. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    What a great intro! Thanks for taking us with you! Safe journey :thumb
    #3
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  4. Dataman

    Dataman Adventurer

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    Im in, your planned trip sounds very interesting. As GB said - safe travels.
    #4
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  5. RobBD

    RobBD Been here awhile

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    I'm in - yes safe travels and I look forward to the updates
    #5
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  6. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    There are police checkpoints everywhere down the border with Algeria, on many times 3 or 4 check points just on entering and exiting one town

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    It was about 5 hours to get down to the oasis of Figuig, quality, but boring road. Wide open plains with nothing but stones and sand, you can actually find a lot of fossils in these stones from sea critters who got left high and dry when the water went away. It’s typical to see bench tops and the like made with stone with these fossils in them, they try to sell them as souvenirs everywhere too.

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    On arriving in Figuig, I needed to do two things, get the 4G sim card working properly as it hasn’t been working since Tangier, and smash some water. It’s starting to get really hot the further south I’m getting, around 35 celcius at the moment. It’s not too bad when riding but as soon as I stop its easy to dehydrate rapidly. I found a store selling the sim card, so went in to ask. As I speak no French, asking is a broad term used for making hand movements and repeating words in hopes we will understand each other. A Moroccan woman came into the store with her daughter, she could understand what was going on, and “asked” me to wait outside for her so she can show me to the Maroc Telecom store. I followed her car through the town to the shop. After 15 minutes they worked out I had to get a recharge, as the guys in Tangier never charged my phone for 4G. I had to follow her to another shop, this time for quite a while, eventually we got there and she explained again to the woman behind the counter. Finally after about 45 minutes I was in business. As we were leaving the store, amidst many “Merci’s”, she asked me if I wanted “mangé”, I said sure, and followed her back through the town again to her house. It was really cool when going inside, there were probably 3 families living in there of all ages, everyone was super excited to see me and they started preparing meals frantically, bringing out Sunny Delight only used for special occasions. We ate these really nice bread things, almost Pizza meets Naan bread

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    I ate until I was going to explode, and drank more mint tea to fill in the gaps, but they still kept feeding me. It’s really interesting how these families work, none of the women were allowed to eat at the table, they had to go into the side room with all the beds and eat on the floor, while the men ate at the table. I noticed they were all only eating with their right hand, maybe that was just coincidence, but I’m sure they say their left hand is dirty - of course I only noticed this after finishing my meal almost entirely with my left hand. After a good couple of hours, we had a really great time, and then they got together for a family photo for me. However like the meals, the women can’t be in the photo, so all the men got in and the girls just stayed behind me. It was a shame as some of the girls were really beautiful, I don’t know why they have to hide all the time.

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    The guy in the hat had a weird fascination with "Lacoste", everything he was wearing was Lacoste, hat, sunglasses, T-Shirt, satchel, pants, flip flops. Lacoste must be cool around here I guess.

    As I was about to leave, the woman who had helped me didn’t want any of it, she was adamant she was going to take me on a tour of the town. I followed her in her car and she took me down to the Algerian border crossing, apparently the borders have been closed for 20 odd years, and you could tell by the 30m between countries, by the state the control was in. Some guards by the border wouldn’t let me take a picture, but I attempted anyway.

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    She then took me off to see the oasis from some rocks overlooking the town. It was really beautiful to see palm trees growing so prevalently in these small wonders of the desert. They also had a local swimming pool, though the water is low now due to the dry season. We said our goodbyes and I decided not to stay in Figuig, but to make up some lost time by heading direct to Errachidea, another town I had spent a bunch of time in last year, however that is another story.

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    I made the most of the “hotel” and slept in, had a leisurely breakfast and prepared the bike. I was out of Errachidea by 11 and gunning for Tinghir. I rode through a town that had like 3000 people riding down the road on bicycles. I had no idea what was going or why there was so many bicycles.

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    On exiting the town I rode straight into a huge dust storm, it was really hard to keep the bike upright and I couldn’t see very much in front of me. My eyes, ears, mouth and nose were full of sand, along with all of my gear. I finally made it into Tinghir and refueled before heading up into the famous Todra gorge, the plan was to head up the gorge to Agoudal and then take the road back down the Dades gorge, maybe a 4 hour ride.

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    The gorge was an awesome road, really nice twisties that were often ruined by trucks coming the other direction on my side of the road, and made no attempt to move which in turn forced me to brake heavily, or sometimes go off the road entirely. Halfway between the towns I saw an off-road piste with a sign saying Dades, this must be the famous off-road section I've read about online. Screw this, I wanted some fun and get off the asphalt for a bit, could the 1190 handle it? no doubt, could I? That remained to be seen....

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    I spent the first 30 minutes heading down the track and getting used to the big bike off-road, it was a lot of fun. I got to a fork in the road and didn't know which way to go. I was playing around with the drone while I was considering if I should head back, when I noticed 3 big Land Rover Discovery 4x4's snaking their way up the track behind me. As they went by they stopped and asked if I needed any help, I said I didn't know the way, and they let me follow them, though they were driving really slowly.

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    After some time, I got a bit bored with the 10kmp/h of the Land Rovers, and decided to pass in front and go on ahead. At least if I got into trouble I knew they were behind me. I pressed on ahead, really happy with how the bike was handling, another hour later I had zipped past some track turn-offs and slightly up a hill. On coming to a stop half on a hill, half off, my feet couldn't touch the ground to balance myself and I threw the bike, this happened a further 2 times. It was a real pain as getting back up and moving again took a good few minutes, the air up here was thin and it was a workout. After a while the track started to dip in and out of dry riverbeds, progressively getting worse and worse. Then it was only riverbed. I continued for another 40 minutes, I was getting way out of my comfort zone. The rocks became small boulders amongst smaller pebbles, the bike was bucking me like a rodeo. Finally the tracks had all but evaporated, I was having to make my own tracks which was near impossible with the size of the rocks, finally I lowsided the bike and needed a break.

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    This kind of stuff might be easy for some but I just didn't have the capabilities if I'm honest.

    I took a breather and checked the GPS, it said I was only 5km from the other side. I got my bottle of water out, only 1/2 a litre left. The sun was starting to dip down in the sky. I had to make a decision. Do I continue on trying to wrestle my way through this riverbed for what could be another 5km, or do the sensible thing and turn back. I was alone, I didn't have much water, I could hurt myself, I could break something on the bike, anything could happen. I made the decision to turn back. I rode 40 minutes back through the riverbed in the opposite direction, this time getting easier and easier. Went up and over a couple of hills and then as I came down the other side, I rounded a corner and saw 3 Land rovers parked up in a gully. The Dutch guys I had followed were all down there waving at me, I went across to them and told them it was too risky for me to continue alone, and that I made the decision to turn back. They told me to camp with them for the night. I parked up the moto and set up my tent.

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    These guys were awesome, not only did they have spare water for me, but they also had soup, bread, beer, dinner, coffee, wine & liquor. It turned into a really great night sitting round a table talking and passing stories. Apparently this road is only 47km long, where we were camped was half way to the asphalt, I probably could have just continued and been back on the asphalt after 10-20min, but didn’t want to risk it - a downfall of travelling alone. They pulled out Chris Scotts Moroccan handbook - turns out I had gone down the second hardest track in his Morocco book without realising it, "strictly for 4x4's, trail bikes and MTB", though some BMW1200's had been known to do it in May. We were 2400m above sea level and it was getting quite cold, I had only packed a light sleeping bag for Africa, and my stretcher and air mattress had no insulation. One of them gave me the reflective shield for his windscreen, the same size as me, perfect! I crawled into my tent well fed and comfortable.

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    In the morning I got moving about 8.30 and although the Dutch guys had offered to work as a team the rest of the way, I opted to go back. I couldn't be bothered wrestling with the bike and I really needed to find some WiFi, my family had expected a message from me when I got out of the gorge, they were probably worried sick by now. I went slow and steady, it took an hour to get back out. On the way I stopped to take this photo

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    What I didn't realise is that a woman who lived in a cave had seen me, and crept up behind me from up on the hill, when I turned around she was just standing there. I took a photo of her and gave her 5 dirhams (50 cents).

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    I find it incredible how these people live out here, they're not just the typical Moroccans living in far away towns, or in houses far from anywhere. They're living in caves, far away from any actual roads. Her hands were literally like cracked cement, hard and worn. I felt like she was from another planet... or maybe I was.

    Back out of the gorge I had 600km to get to Agadir today, and nothing was going to stop me
    #6
  7. kiwial

    kiwial Allweatherrider

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  8. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the update---you are definitely on an ADVENTURE!! Wonder what the cave lady does all day? What a trip.
    #8
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  9. Vin7832

    Vin7832 Been here awhile

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    Awesome, let me know if/when you make it into Nairobi. I am hoping to take delivery of my new 1190 Adv R in the next week or so.....but then again, TIA.
    #9
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  10. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    Arrived in Tamraght, a small surf town just north of Agadir 2 days ago. Spending the time in the surf here and having a good rest, trying to motivate myself to pin the throttle down the next 2000km through Western Sahara. I went out to 'Paradise Valley" yesterday for a look, an awesome valley filled with palm trees and water holes. There were young Moroccans everywhere swimming and playing Arabian music on their drums and trumpets, it was quite cool. I shot a few clips on the drone, unfortunately only had 15 minutes of battery and no ND filters so the footage is a bit jittery, still gives a bit of an idea what they get up to out there!


    Watch in 1080p

    Enjoy

    EDIT: I forgot, it seemed quite risky to jump from the cliffs there as there were shallow rocks under the water. One guy back flipped of the cliff and struck his head on the rocks, when he came to the surface there was blood all over his head and his friends all jumped into the water and dragged him out. They lay him down there on the left...

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    I don't know what happened to him
    #10
  11. Dotbond

    Dotbond Africa, Africa

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    Dunedin. New Zealand
    We're waiting..... :)
    #11
  12. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    I left Agadir and tried to reach Dakhla approximately 1200km South. By the time I had breakfast and packed the bike it was already 11. I wanted to make a real go of it, but after 300km started hitting police checkpoint after checkpoint, so only made it half way to a town called Laayoune. These guys are super annoying, I prepared the Fiche which has all the information on it but they still demand a passport. You get stopped at one checkpoint, and then quite literally 100m away there is another checkpoint and they do the whole ordeal all over again.

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    (Quite tragically the most interesting thing in 700km)

    I was caught in a speed trap 150km North of Laayoune, they had me in the speed camera doing 100 in a 60 zone, and wanted 70 euro as a fine. I questioned the legitimacy of the fine, which is where he showed me the video on the camera. He the suggested if I didn't believe him, go back and see the sign where it was labelled 60. There was no way I was going to pay 70 euro for this, so I doubled back to check the sign (he held onto my passport, drivers license and registration while I did this). When I got far enough away, I took out my wallet and hid most of my money. I came back and said yes, I saw the sign. He wrote me out a ticket on an official pad. I told him I don't have the money, and after 20 minutes and showing my wallet multiple times, he let me go with paying 30 euro. Still a lot more than I wanted, but better than 70.

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    (It might look like a lot of crap on the bike, but all the buckles snapped off my tank bag, so that + the jerry can + the drone tied to the back, doesn't weigh all that much)

    The ride through Western Sahara is long and boring, it is just hundreds of miles of rock, dirt and sand. I had some camels run out in front of me while I was daydreaming and almost crashed into them. I caught it all on video but there was dust and crap all over the lens so it turned out really bad. This place sucks.
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    I have 4000 miles left until Ghana on this rear, with already 2000 miles on the tire when I took the photo... :muutt

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    Not sure how confident I am with this, what do you think?
    #12
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  13. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    If you get several laminated color copies of your Identification papers, use those-never questioned but once in 4 months in asia, and that by a hotel clerk.
    If they then try the : hold your papers trick , just continue on your way, cheap to do, water proof, well almost in the humid climates.
    #13
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  14. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    200km North of Dakhla the skies cleared and it became beautiful and sunny, I rode up to the edge of the cliffs where the Sahara meets the Atlantic and got some drone video, here is a snapshot pulled from the video

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    It really feels like it goes on forever.

    I was riding and saw a police checkpoint up ahead with a lot of commotion, as I got closer I realised it wasn't a checkpoint but there was a police officer there, a truck stopped on my side of the road, and then another big truck further ahead that looked like it had crashed somehow not too long ago

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    It wasn't until I got closer that I saw what was going on, this smaller truck had managed to rear end the big truck, it looked pretty nasty

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    I really don't know if the guy survived

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    I then had to spend an hour searching around Dakhla to finally come back to where I started, managed to get a place right in the center on the waterfront with a balcony for 6 Euro, score!

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    6000 miles on TKC 80 rear might be a stretch.
    #15
  16. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    Can't turn back now, just have to cross my fingers haha
    #16
  17. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    air up n slow down. keep the tires cool as you can by not running too many k,s without a rest. as I understand they are really a road tire compound having a knobby tread. Looking forward to your next writeup,
    #17
  18. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

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    Page one and obsessing again on how to uproot and relocate closer to Africa.

    :lurk
    #18
  19. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    I haven't been on for a few days so this is a pretty lengthy write up, but worth the read.

    Up early to get out of Dakhla, I put 300km on the clock by 2pm getting more and more impatient at the excessive amount of police checkpoints who continue to take and hold onto my passport for the next 5-10 minutes. I arrived at a hotel 100km from the border, this isn’t just any hotel in any town, this hotel is the town. Aside from a gas station and a bank there is pretty much nothing else here.

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    (I assure you, this picture sadly looks better than it actually is)

    It was at this moment I realised - I’ve somehow managed to lose all my passport photos for visas. I need these photos tomorrow for the border crossing! I managed to find a single passport photo in my documents wallet, this is where I start looking for someone, anyone who can photocopy my passport photo. There was nowhere to get passport photos unless I went 300km back to Dakhla. This is not going to happen. I managed to get a black and white photocopy of my passport photo in the gas station on normal paper.. this isn’t going to work. What should I do? Should I ride 300km back to Dakhla and get passport photos so I will guarantee my visa? or do I ride 100km to the border and take a chance with the photocopy? If they turn me away that will be 800km just for a single photo. I spent the rest of the afternoon stressing at the prospect of having to head back to Dakhla, I also got a pizza at the hotel that already had a bite out of it wtf….

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    Only joking, I was just too impatient to stop and take a picture first. It was pretty average though.

    By morning, I bailed from the hotel and got to the border by 9.30, the border between Morocco and Mauritania, and likewise with Mauritania and Senegal are notoriously corrupt. I had prepared a list of exactly what I would have to pay for and would try as hard as I could to stick to this. Exiting Morocco was more or less a straight forward affair, on exiting the border, there is a 2-3km gap between borders consisting of various different tracks offering safe passage, snaking their way across the minefield that is no mans land. When I crossed, several cars and trucks were going at the same time. You don't want to go off the safe tracks here, it could really set you up for a bad day. There was reports of a 4x4 with a couple of Europeans a few years back who decided to make their own route and ran over a land mine, it killed one of them and critically injured the other.

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    After attempting it on my own first and getting stuck in some deep sand, a guy helped pick up my bike and I started following him instead. He was slow, but we got to the other side without too much hassle.

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    I paid a fixer on the Mauritanian side 10 euro to get me through without having to worry about getting ripped off. I paid exactly what I had to pay aside from him trying to screw me on insurance at the end, and got out of the border into Mauritania no problem. I gave these guys my electric air pump to inflate their flat tire they got while crossing no mans land.

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    Well there was one problem. I had no gas, I hand’t been able to fill up since the hotel, I had 250km left in the tank, more than enough… to get 250km, but not to get me to Nouakchott where the next fuel stop was 450km away. I stopped at the turn-off to Nouakchott and got talking to some army guys, they helped me change money and phoned ahead, a guy would be waiting for me 40km ahead on the side of the road with fuel. I was praying they were right, little did I know the price of fuel here is outrageous.

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    The army guys gettup

    Mauritania is a pretty baron place, I didn’t really want to get stuck out here without fuel

    This is me, the little dot in the center
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    This is the road
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    Precisely 40km later I came upon the town Bon Lanuar, a small sandy village with nobody about, except for a guy waving me down on the side of the road. He took me to his shack where he gave me 10L of fuel from bottles - enough to fill the bike to the brim, but also at the price of every cent I had left (7000MRO//17 Euro....) Time to get started on the journey south.

    [​IMG]

    On the way down it felt like being in a movie, at the start it was huge white sand dunes like what you see in the pictures, vehicles would leach trails of sand off the edges as they drove past, and throw up a huge billowing plume of sand in their wake. It was really beautiful, and then it turned into vast flat plains of sand, snaking its way in tendrils across the road which stretched out to the horizon where it disappeared into the reflection of the sky. I think I’m really going to like this country. I thought wrong. The people had changed now too, I was coming upon 4x4’s and pickup trucks with no suspension. Four guys packed across the front seat with 10 others hanging off the back clinging to the overloaded crap on the tray, all black as night, headscarves wrapped around their heads with big black glasses on. As I was stopped at checkpoints, they would often be on the opposite side of the road, I would be staring at them in shear amazement, the only thing they were missing were AK-47s, instead replaced with cigarettes, they would all be staring back at me, some white kid on a blinged out moto. It truly felt like something out of Black Hawk Down. I didn’t try to take pictures of these guys as I didn’t know if they were friendly or not. But I did come across a group of camels all lined up perfectly in a row laying down, I turned around to take the picture buy my bike scared a few of them

    [​IMG]

    The first 200km were really awesome, however one police checkpoint turned into two, three, four, five, six, they just didn’t end. Every time taking my passport for 5-10 minutes. I was never going to make it at this rate.

    I was also running low on gas, really low. I used my 5L jerry can I’ve been carrying since early on in Morocco to fill the tank, 110km the fuel gauge read, hopefully I make it, if I don’t I’m screwed as I have no money.

    I spluttered into Nouakchott with 10km on the gauge. I had to pass 5 checkpoints all within 1km of each other entering the city, all taking my passport again. This city was a shit hole, the main street into the town wasn’t so bad by third world status, but the real city I would discover on my way out tomorrow.

    [​IMG]
    (This nice part of town...)

    I stayed at Auberge Sahara, which was apparently a hub for overlanders, I was the only one there. I had also heard in a recent review online that they had bed bugs, so I set up my own stretcher and slept in my sleeping bag in one of the rooms.

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    (This place could be quite cool if there were more people here)

    Dinner was from a pizza joint down the street PIZZA HOT 2.0, wow this must be like Pizza Hut on steroids! It wasn’t. All washed down with a fruit smoothie to make me feel more healthy. It didn't. I’m leaving tomorrow, I don’t want to be here.

    I woke up bright and early and was riding out of the auberge by 7.30, I need gas desperately. The first gas station had no fuel, okay no problem, maybe the next one will. It didn’t. Nine gas stations later and I still hadn’t found anything, I must have like 1km of gas left in the tank now, I don’t want to run out and have to leave my bike. I’d probably return to only footprints left in the sand where I left it. The locals were giving me really hostile looks too, this city didn’t feel friendly at all. I managed to get back to the auberge without running out of gas, a guy working there gave me a ride in his bomb of a car to a gas station that had fuel, the guy turned really rude after I had filled the jerry can and demanded I pay him. He wanted 7 euro. I couldn’t be bothered arguing with him so I paid him and left. I took the bike back there to fill the whole thing after and started making my way down the “highway” through the city, it was horrible. It smelt like human excrement, the whole city was a shanty town of filthy shacks. A million bomb cars in the street or “highway” with no movement, all looking like they were several minutes away from breaking down or blowing up, every car blasting their horn, people all over the road, flies everywhere, animals hanging from hooks on the side of the road and the ones that weren’t were on deaths doorstep anyway, skeletal donkeys being whipped viciously as they were forced to haul overloaded carts with its malnourished body down the road, dead dogs, cats and donkeys in the middle of the crowded street, goats everywhere being traded on every corner. It was disgusting, a hellish place that I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of. Finally by 9.30 I was out and on my way. Well I thought I was. Checkpoint after checkpoint. I was really frustrated now, I heard the border closes at 12 and I have 200km to make my way down this sorry excuse of a highway. In reality it wasn’t a highway, either there was no road where the highway had just broken away into dirt or there were giant potholes that trucks were swerving all over the road to avoid, never mind trying to avoid me coming the opposite direction. I didn’t take any photos of any of this as I was really mad now and just wanted to get to the border with Senegal.

    Rosso is probably the most corrupt border crossing in Africa, I had read a lot of horror stories from overlanders crossing here, being forced to pay hundreds of euros in bribes, false convoys and other deceptive tricks. I opted for the Diama crossing, 100km further West. To get here you have to drive to Rosso, and then go off-road through a National Park 100km to the border. I had heard there is a shortcut from further North so I wouldn’t have to ride all the way to Rosso, this would save me a lot of time, however there isn’t even a road on the map. With the GPS co-ordinates in my Garmin for the shortcut, I feverishly made my way there. The road was getting worse, now there were dunes all over the road and many sections with deep sand I had to ride over. At one stage I rode through a town where the narrow street was just straight sand. I had to keep momentum to get through, I had the revs up in second gear and was surfing over the top at 50kmp/h. Then a Mercedes swerved directly in front of me to park on my side of the street, I braked hard to not crash into him and started to lose control, the handlebars had their own plan and the back was fishtailing severely. All eyes were on me by this point, I have no idea how the bike stayed up but I managed to avoid the Merc, I shook my head and swore loudly in my helmet. I NEED to get the hell out of this country. Now I was getting really nervous, if the National highway was in this state… what the hell was the shortcut going to look like? I did not want to ride 100km in sand, in fact I don’t think I even can, it’s 37 celcius, I have no water, if I drop the bike or hurt myself nobody is going to be around. It was 11am now and the border was supposed to close at 12. I was praying the road would be at least light sand that would make it somewhat passable, I was 1km from the waypoint and was stressing hard. I hit the waypoint, holy shit, I see the shortcut ahead. It’s not deep sand, its not even light sand, its a perfectly paved asphalt road. YES! I was stoked, I was going to be able to get to the border.

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    This is the shortcut

    This road must be pretty fresh, I caned it down the road at 140, 30km later I hit a village where the asphalt ended and the real shortcut lay ahead. However thankfully it was just dirt, and what a ride!! This was the Northern section of the National Park and for the next 50km to the border I got a real sense of Africa. The terrain was changing, the trees started looking more African-like, the dunes started to disappear and turn into dirt, there was a river on my left I followed the whole way.

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    Out of nowhere something big bolted out in front of my bike from behind a bush, I swerved to narrowly miss it. What the hell was that?! Then again, another one, it was Pumba! Warthogs, everywhere. The next 50km were warthogs darting out from behind bushes in front of me or chasing their babies to protect them

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    These guys seem like far away but at 100kmp/h you reach them pretty quickly!
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    Passing by cows casually munching grass next to the river or walking down the road in front of me

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    and still the odd couple of camels eating leaves from the trees.

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    This road was so much fun, I had the best time and my morale was sky high. I am getting closer to the heart of Africa, the real Africa, the one you see and read about.


    The border was the next hurdle. Diama was still the corrupted little brother of the Rosso crossing. It turns out the border didn't close until 6pm, lucky me. First was to get my bike stamped out of the country. The police officer wanted 10 Euro and fabricated some story that I never paid for the temporary import permit when entering Mauritania. I had. I told him I wasn’t paying and I don’t give a shit if he stamps my bike out or not, I'll just ride around the barricade. He realised I wasn’t going to play his game, so he said he would make a phone call to cover his tracks. He then talked to some guy on the other end in Arabic, probably buying his time to make it look like an official call. He then said ok, you don’t pay, and stamped my bike out, I went through the barricade. Second was getting my passport stamped to exit Mauritania. He asked for a fairy tale 10 Euro fee for the exit stamp to which I replied No, you stamp my passport and thats all. The look on his face was priceless, for the next five minutes he demanded the 10 Euro fee. I said I would just ride around the barricade and leave the country without an exit stamp, and that I really don’t care if he stamps it or not. He huffed and puffed, called in another officer and shuffled around my documents for a while repeating “He says he will not pay”. He stamped my passport and begrudgingly handed it back to me, I rode through the barricade to the bridge to cross into Senegal. The guy at the end of the bridge wanted 4000MRO (10 Euro) to cross his bridge, this was a real fee that I had read about online, but it wasn’t 4000MRO, it was 4000CFA (6 Euro) the Senegal currency. I knew it was only an extra 4 Euro but it’s the principal, my money was not going into his pocket and so a standoff occurred. He refused to open the barricade and I refused to pay him the extra 4 Euro. I told him he was a thief and piece of shit, after thirty minutes he opened the bridge barricade into Senegal.

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    Looking back at the bridge and the Mauri border

    I got my passport stamped, TIP and insurance free from hustling. I was now in Senegal. I made my way to a campsite “Zebrabar” by the rivers edge just out of St. Louis. I had heard about this place through African overlanders and what a place it is. It’s a tranquil paradise to catch your breath away from the hectic experience of passing through these countries. There are monkeys on the road now, monkeys in the camp site stealing food and being cheeky in general. There are exotic birds and lizards, and a giant crab who made a house right behind my tent.

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    This trip has been a headache, why would anyone do this? What do I gain from dealing with these corrupt officials, from not being able to let my bike out of my sight, from having to check and double check my money when getting change after paying, from worrying if I’m going to get shanked or robbed in the street, from having to use the most horrific squat toilets you’ve ever seen including one with a shower in the squat toilet… you literally have to stand in your own excrement to take a shower which ironically enough defeats the purpose. Why would anyone do it? Because this place is crazy and a bloody good experience, and this is only the beginning!

    I guess if anyone is actually reading this then I should do an introduction in the next post. I really need to stop taking photos with a crappy tablet as well
    #19
  20. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    361
    Location:
    RTW - Everywhere

    Hit 1080p!

    Here is a glimpse at some of Western Sahara and Mauritania, a few drone clips thrown together,

    Enjoy. :)
    #20
    Vectored2adv, zandesiro, zrks and 8 others like this.