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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    In the end of 1998 we made a big plan come true. We put all our belongings into storage and pointed our front wheels south. Africa was waiting for us. The route on the east side all the way to the bottom. It was a cold morning in November when we set off to Genova and the ferry to Tunisia. Having visited Tunisia before we took the shortest way to the Libyan border (which was luckily open again). With us was a German guy that was on the ferry with us.

    In Libya our first stop was Ghadames. A beautiful oasis and UNESCO world heritage site. Then we wanted to get off the tarmac and took a track southeast. We took the direct line to Ubari and then headed to the Akakus mountains. There is a National Park there where you have to take a guide with you. We found another couple in a Land cruiser that joined us to split the costs for the multi day tour. The good thing was that we could throw our panniers into the cruiser of the guide and had the pleasure of a “light” ride which was nice as a lot of the Akakus was sand. We saw beautiful old paintings and engravings hidden on some of the rocks – thousands of years old. The landscape was stunning and the riding a pure pleasure.


    a picture of what we took with us at the time

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    and the bikes unloaded

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    and loaded (way to much stuff, but we send some things home on the way)

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    first meal in Africa (Tunisia)

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    Ghadames (Libya)

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    our guide through the oasis

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    our track down there

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    camping on the way

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    the ruins of Germa on the way

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    and some fort

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  2. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    jewlery makers we met

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    young Sandra

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    out in the NP

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    note the huge Libyan plates we had on our bikes

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    thousands of years old

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    this is "off road" riding - whooo hooo

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  3. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    HAPPY NEW YEAR all you out there. Lets hope for a better one!
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  4. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    still in the Akakus

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    almost stepped on this bugger,deadly sand viper

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    we weren´t the only tour

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  5. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    A very happy new year to Sandra and you Thomas!

    the rock paintings remind me of Tassili in Algeria, I just checked a map and noticed that it is not too far from Ghadames. Perhaps similar culture and era? Fascinating anyhow…
  6. Ian640

    Ian640 Been here awhile

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    A good summary of motorcycling in the Sahara. Thanks for the Ride Report, it's been a welcome distraction.
  7. MZ5

    MZ5 Been here awhile

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    Neat petroglyphs. I've only ever seen those in Arizona before.
  8. steved57

    steved57 Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for posting these awesome pics and Happy New Year
  9. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    It could be that they are from a similar era.I never looked that up. I never got to see the ones in Algeria. Sadly. And that opportunity is gone - at least for me.
    Happy New Year to you too.

    Thanks and your welcome. Riding in the Sahara is next to nothing. there are so many things to see and the riding always diverse and often challenging and so much fun.

    I´ve never seen those in Arizona, but some in New Mexico. But I admite those in Libya are neat.

    Thanks and same to you.
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  10. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Next stop where the Mandara lakes. That are lakes in the middle of the dunes. There was a campsite close by where we put up our tents and took all the luggage off the bikes. Sandra didn´t want to join us so the German and I set off into the sand. The riding was challenging, but great. Real good fun. Speeding over plains and crossing one dune area after the next. Then the GPS said “approaching point” and we could see the first green palm heads sticking out of the sand. There were several lakes in the area (the real number was unknown). We visited a few and then turned around as it was getting late. While riding, I remember thinking – this is great, but with the luggage it would be a tough ride. With a single cylinder bike and luggage I would have about the same weight and the ride would be possible. I remembered that thought when I got new bikes back home.

    The first lake in the distance

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  11. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    Curious what company made the aluminum panniers back in those days? Great RR by the way!
  12. NoelJ

    NoelJ Long timer

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    Google maps satellite view shows those lakes looking much the same. A nice surprise!
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  13. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    probably Hepco & Becker? They have been around for a while…
  14. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    thanks. The panniers were sold by a big outdoor shop at the time called "Daerr" in Munich, but by the look and make I would guess Zarges made them. They were good quality. Later the same shop sold different panniers that were real crap.

    I guess Zarges (see above)
  15. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    On that campsite we met another couple that had been on the ferry with us and we all teamed up for the next stretch. 5 bikes and one car. Waw an Namus a large volcano, with 3 different colored lakes in it, in the middle of Libya’s south was our next goal. Our plan was to go to the volcano and the on until we reached Tazurbu and then the road from Kufra to the coast in the north. Orientation would not have been easy, because on the whole stretch there were hardly any track to be seen. So it was just riding from one GPS coordinate to the next and see where riding was best. It was a long route for us bikes with a lot of fuel consuming soft terrain. One of the bikes actually ran out of fuel in sight of Tazurbu.

    Up at the coast we said good bye to the one German guy and the couple in the car and turned east with the other couple on bikes towards Egypt.


    Approaching the Waw an Namus the ground turned a different color

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    The car that joined us

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    The crater

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    Spending the night "out there"

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    road signs were not easy to read

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    And the route through Libya

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  16. beltipox

    beltipox Adventurer

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    Amazing. As a younger and way less experienced rider i can only tip my hat to your African Travels ...please don’t stop now with your memories!
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  17. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    thanks for the flowers. There is still more coming.
  18. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Entering Egypt at the time was time consuming and expensive. We had to run from one office to the next, immigration, driving license for Egypt, bike registration in Egypt, road tax, ….. and pay money everywhere, but finally after hours we were in the country. Cairo is one big city and arriving there by road was chaotic. We did have a GPS coordinate of a campsite, but no clou how to get there. We just always tried to follow the direction the arrow of the GPS would point. It turned out that the camping was close to the road we came into Cairo on, and as a bonus we saw the pyramids on our way there. The camping was a rundown dump, but safe and quiet. And it had a tower from which´s top we could see the pyramids again. Getting into town we sometimes took a taxi or we took the panniers off of Sandra’s DR and took that (it´s narrower than the BMW). The traffic in Cairo was chaotic and I loved it. No lanes, no rules, just stay alive. If there was space between the cars – open the throttle and race through. You can imagine how Sandra would press her knees against me while riding.


    view from the tower on the campsite

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    without comment (you all know what this is)

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    The cool thing was the guy at the gate let us in so we could ride around the area. Not a normal procedure.

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    with Cairo in the background

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  19. Essbee

    Essbee Been here awhile

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    A belated NY to you, Thomas, and thanks for sharing these lovely memories of yours. I can only imagine how special it must be! Danke Vielmals!
  20. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Thanks and to you too. I am enjoying remembering them and writing them down and looking at all the old pictures. Thinking of it now it was a very special time in my life and I would love to go back or do it again.
    Bitte, gern geschehen.
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