African diaries (or When we were young)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Thomas B., Aug 17, 2020.

  1. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Leaving Iran we only had Turkey and Greece before getting onto the ferry for Venice and finally riding home. It was all smooth and since there are no bike-pictures anymore (and we do want to get back to Africa - right?) I am going to just post a couple of pictures of the rest of the journey to give you and idea of all the fantastic places there are to see on a trip like this.


    It was a cold ride when we entered Turkey

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    Dogubeyazit

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    beautiful fortress

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    Cappadocia

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    reached the sea

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    lots of roman ruins in Turkey


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    the salt terraces of Pamucale

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    Ephesus

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    only real stop in Greece, Meteora - we had to get home for Dads birthday

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    across Greece

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    and the rest of the way home - we took the ferry to Venice (Italy)

    (you can see how the whole trip started on the section of the map too)

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    and we made it home to my parents

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    That was it - one and a half years and what a journey.

    Let get back to Africa!!
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  2. simmons1

    simmons1 Long timer

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    Absolutely outstanding.
  3. Geezerguy

    Geezerguy In the shadows

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    Excellent RR Thomas. Thank you both!
    I hope you are able to get out and about this year and enjoy wherever your itch to travel takes you.
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  4. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    One and a half year… what a honeymoon!
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  5. Ian640

    Ian640 Been here awhile

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    Excellent RR - thank you.
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  6. NAVIGATOR

    NAVIGATOR Wanderer

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    eye opening thank you
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  7. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    fantastic!
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  8. Watercat

    Watercat . . . gravity sucks

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    Hey Thomas,

    We don't mind at all that you took a detour through Asia on your way home from Africa . . . . . .
    In fact, it was very fun to follow along; Thank you for posting your adventures.
    Will continue to peruse your Africa trips . . . . .:lurk . . . . . :beer . . . . . :D . . . . .:bow

    Thanks again . . . . . :thumb . . . . . :tb . . . . . :ricky
    Thomas B. likes this.
  9. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    thanks for all your kind remarks.

    Let's continue to the black continent.



    After coming home my mind was thinking about the future already and it was looking back at Africa. We started looking for new bikes. There wasn’t much on the market that came close to what I was looking for and KTMs 640 was closest. We rented one from the dealer for an afternoon and went for a ride. On the road it was fine with us and having a long off-road history it must be good there too. We bought two (never go traveling with different bikes again) and a longer built time began. My goal was to be able to carry a big amount of fuel on the bikes because I had some remote routes in Algeria in mind. So I bought big front tanks for the bikes and the side-tanks used on the Dakar-bikes. I built whole new subframes for the tanks and panniers and we would strap 10 liter jerry cans on the panniers. That would give us 65 liters on each bike and I managed to get the weight distribution pretty well. The big load was in front of the rear wheel axle and although the bikes were heavy fully loaded they were very well manageable - even in soft sand. It was a lot of welding, but I finally had both bikes ready. And then of course it happened. In the beginning of 2003 there were a lot of abductions in Algeria and it became too risky to go there. We had to think of something else and found Mauritania. There was a lot of remoteness there although the country does not have the spectacular landscapes like Algeria. In December 2003 we set off to have a look down there. Crossing the alps in Winter is always cold, but then it was only one day on a ferry and we were in Morocco, which we just crossed to get south to Mauritania.

    Getting out of some layers after crossing the alps in winter

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    At the ferry port

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    killing time on the ferry

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    Africa - here we come

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    Sandwich-stop in Morocco

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    There are high mountains in Morocco

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    Another break on the way south

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    Doing some bike work in Agadir, where we met some others on bikes

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    busy petrol station

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    First night out in the open

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  10. Geezerguy

    Geezerguy In the shadows

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    Yay! Off on another adventure! Your telling of past trips is one of the best things about the restrictions in traveling right now. I still hope you can get out on some new adventures soon though.
  11. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    that's right. We didn't move much in the last months and I do hope that will change during this year. I am ready. Let's see what the bug does.
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  12. marcopolo66

    marcopolo66 n00b

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  13. marcopolo66

    marcopolo66 n00b

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    Your previous pictures were apparently shot with film camera. How about theses ones? Already digital camera?
  14. Watercat

    Watercat . . . gravity sucks

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    I'd guess still the slide film; But please do share how you converted them to this format . . . . . Thanks.
  15. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    The pictures from this trip are a mix. Sandra had her first digital point and shoot and I still had my big DSLR with film (doing only slides).
    We wanted to get rid of all the slides we had so Sandra rented a professional slide scanner a couple of years back and scanned the whole lot.
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  16. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Filling up at the last gas station in Morocco I suddenly heard the sound of single cylinders coming closer. A couple on 2 bikes pulled in a few seconds later. They were on their way south as well and we agreed on going together over the border and on to the first village. The two were planning to take the route down to Tidjikja - a pretty remote route - so I figured they could ride off-road at least a little. (Turned out they had never left the pavement and seen a TV story of someone going to Tidjikja, but had no idea what they would be into). At the time there was a 30-40 Km no mans land between the border posts of Morocco and Mauritania. It was a very run down track that you shouldn’t leave, because there were mines around. We crossed the Moroccan side in the early afternoon and I thought we would be in Nouadhibou, Mauritania, in the evening. Wrong. We were there the next evening. Sandra and I are certainly not the best off road riders, but these two were hopeless. They would fall from one sand pit to the next. We told them how to ride in sand but it didn’t help much. As the evening came we had gotten nowhere and had to spend the night between the border posts. We found an abandoned building we could sleep in and I asked the guy about his luggage because helping them pick up their bikes I found them very heavy. They were carrying a huge amount of water for what reason ever and he had spare tires on both bikes. To make the next day easier we poured most of the water into the sand and started to mount the new tires they were carrying onto the bikes leaving the old ones at the building. That made the bikes a good bit lighter. While we were making dinner in the house, it was dark and late already, suddenly a couple of pickups came roaring up to the house with a lot of men with guns in and on them. In the first moment I thought - this is not good - expecting some robbery or abduction. It turned out it was the local chief that just wanted to see if we were ok and needed anything. Nice of him. The next day we rode on ( and they fell on) and made it to Nouadhibou in the evening. The two were so happy to have made it, that they invited us to dinner in the Chinese restaurant near the campsite. Sandra and I left without them the next day and later heard that the couple left directly south a couple of days later but came back in the evening and then hired a pickup to take them and the bikes down to Nouakchott.

    We decided to take the route along the train tracks towards the oasis of Atar.


    Getting the tires mounted

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    on the wheels ( for once)

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    Sandra doing well (no falls on her side)

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    Leaving for Atar we met a bigger group of bikes a couple of km out of Nouadhibou

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    our first night on the route to Atar

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  17. Mcahron

    Mcahron Love is "THE" Answer.

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    Thanks again for doing this.
  18. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    I wouldn’t call it an easy route, but the navigation at least is no big problem. You just follow the train tracks. This is the only train in Mauritania and it is one of the longest ones in the world. It often consists of up to 220 wagons and carries thousands of tons of iron ore from the middle of the Sahara (from Zouerat) to the coast (to Nouadhibou). The route itself is sandy over long stretches with gravel bits in-between. The scenery is not particularly spectacular, but going is fast so you better concentrate on riding anyway.

    first glimpse of the train

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    another night out there

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    racing the train

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    letting some camels pass

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    tricky riding - soft sand so you needed speed, but zigzagging through the mounts trying not to hit one

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    had an off on a slightly muddy lake I tried to ride, because it was smoother

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    the outskirts of Atar

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    in Atar

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    tents you could sleep in on the campsite

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  19. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    After a couple of days on the campsite in Atar we headed further east to the oasis of Ouadane and Chinguetti. (Oasis on the old caravan traveling routes.) I had some GPS tracks in that region that we wanted to check out and we wanted to have a look at the old books they had in the oasis.

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    out of Atar we had to gain some height - Where we came from

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    Out on one of the tracks I had from someone I didn't know. Sandy and fun.

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    Sometimes a girl needs a little help.

    I have to tell you something a lot of people on this forum will not like, because they love their DRs and they are not bad bikes. Sandra had a DR before and did well with it, but I did have to pick her up sometimes especially in sand. After she got her 640 she hardly ever had an off. I noticed riding behind her that when she would cross some tracks in the sand in a pointed angle the DR would take some time to stop „wobbling“. Not so the KTM one wobble and the bike was stable again. A much better frame, suspension, and the engine - no comparison. Just my (and Sandra’s) opinion.


    Here she needed help and was waiting for me to come back

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    This lady made us some tea and food in one of the oasis

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    Chingetti

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    it's about in the desert for sure

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    My desert-rider

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    A local showed us around and told us a lot about the history of the oasis

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    Sleeping in one of the tents

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    Packing up in the morning

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  20. calabash

    calabash runningrepair

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    Brilliant read!
    Thank you for your effort.