donderdag 29 december 2011

Crossing the Sahara

Morocco from Tony Peeters on Vimeo.

We are driving every day now, going down the Atlantic Highway that crosses the big sahara desert. This is one of 2 asfalted roads that connect North and South Africa, the other one is in Egypt, and that one is on my itinerary also. I realy don't like this road, but as there is no alternative, every day we make our way a bit further down, down south, to the real Africa, which for me starts as soon as we cross the border to Mali.

Casa del Mar in Tarfaya

For the moment we are in Dakhla and Mauritania is only one days drive away, but we decided to spend newyear here, as in Mauritania alcohol is forbidden and any alcohol that is found in your luggage, is immediately confiscated. Tomorrow Charlie should arrive and we can have a little international biker party!

Kitesurfers in Dakhla

maandag 26 december 2011


Rock arches at Legzira near Sidi Ifni
Tony checking for WiFi, there was none.

On my way down the south of Morocco with Tony Gahegan. We'll pass the border of Mauritania by the end of the week.

donderdag 22 december 2011


Meeting up with other travelers, Charlie (USA) and Byron (UK) and hanging around Essaouira.
This must the only city where it's easier to get hash than beer, so in the end we gave in and smoked some shisha.

maandag 19 december 2011

Meeting Up

"So you must be Tony"
When I came back from the Mauritanian embassy with Joep & Angelique, I discovered that Tony Gahegan found the campsite I was staying in. I have been following Tony's blog and mailing with him for some while. By pure coincidence his name is also Tony,  his site is also named Tony 's travels, he is on the same route as me and he is doing it in the same period, so this could get confusing. 

The next day I showed him the embassy, so he could also hand in his passport and off we went, inland to see the 'cascades de Ouzoud', the most famous Moroccon waterfalls. We stayed at camping Zebra for a day where the Dutch owners made us feel welcome and Paul showed me around on his old Yamaha tenere. In the meantime Tony was trying to figure out if he could loose some luggage for the difficult roads in West Africa. I was amazed what he was carrying around on this little bike, there was a guitar in there, a knive sharpening set, a complete syllabus English, a Haynes manual, a tyre compressor for trucks and some other bulky stuff. In the end he threw away some clothes and is considering to send some stuff by mail.
I left to Ouarzazate the next day, over the High Atlas, with Tony returning to Rabat for his visa. It took me 5 hours for the 200 km to Bikershome, but the 2200 meter mountain passes where spectacular and not too cold.
Once I drove into the city of Ouarzazate, I stumbled upon two BMW drivers, so I stopped to say hello. When I walked up to the black and yellow GS 800, the guy said 'so you must be Tony'? As I looked at his face, I recognised him as Charlie, the American RTW traveler, which I was also in contact with and was planning to meet in Essaouira.

The internet is a funny thing, it makes the world a small and cosy place! Charly was teamed up with Ryan, an Irisch guy on a 1150 GS. As they where going to Zagora first we agreed to meet up in Essaouira in a couple of days, where  by now about 5 bikers would congregate for the trip down Western Sahara and into West Africa. It's gonna be a lovely christmas!

woensdag 14 december 2011

First day in Africa

I was in Morocco for about 7 hours and now I was sitting in a car with Mohamed and we were driving to Casablanca. How did I get here and why are we going to Casablanca?

I met Mohammed on the ferry, he and his friend Bouba sat on the same dining table in the restaurant. When we drove of the ferry he invited me to his home and gave me his number as he lived close to Rabat, where I was going. I started driving with Hamid, another Moroccon I met on the ferry, and who was also driving a motorbike. Halfway Hamid turned to Fes, where his parents live and I was rushing to Rabat. Daylight was fading quickly and the traffic was horrendous. I didn't find the campsite and the hotels in the centre were too expensive, so I phone my new friend Mohamed.
He miraculously found me in half an hour, and we went to his brother to put the bike in his garage. Then he told me to get in the car as he needed to pick up Bouba. What followed was a crazy nightdrive through dangerous roadworks passing trucks with no lights to Casablanca some 120 km away, while Mohamed was on the phone with one of his many girlfriends or associates to conduct some shady business offloading his broken down 4x4 in downtown Casablanca. After pizza we drove back to Rabat with Bouba playing some music on his phone, singing along and making it into a music quiz. Good fun! We arrived at his house around 1u30 and had a good sleep.
Today I went to the Mauritanian embassy to apply for a visa where I met a young Dutch couple on their way to Gambia and Kenya. So now I'm in Rabat, waiting for the visa and hoping to meet up with some travelers I had contact with in the last weeks.
The adventure has begun, that's for sure.

zaterdag 10 december 2011

status update

........receiving message....

location: motorway to Dijon, France
time: 14u00
temperature: 4 celcius
weather: clear sky, rain possible
E.T.A. : 16u30 Dijon Sud
status motorbike: no faults
status rider: cold feet but warm hands (heated grips)
morale:  high

location: motorway to Dijon, France
time 16u00
temperature: 5 celcius
weather: very damp, light drizzle
E.T.A.:  17u00 Dijon Sud
status motorbike: warning light battery not charging? Temp gauge indicating -42 celcius?
status rider: cold feet and cold hands (heated grips turned off to spare battery), new rain trousers leaking, boots not waterproof.
morale: still high

....end of communication

zaterdag 29 oktober 2011

How every setback is an opportunity

It was a normal working day last monday when my boss organised a meeting with all of the truck drivers in our chemical waste plant in Antwerp that I been working for in the last 8 years. Only a few minutes into the meeting he dropped the bomb that all of us were going to be fired. That evening, after recovering from the initial shock, my mind was clear and the decision was made:
So, that was the easy bit, now I just need to get myself ready for this 10 month and 40000 km trip through twenty plus countries in about 5 weeks! But as I was sort of planning a 6 month trip for august 2012 before I got fired, and I did  a 4 month trip to West Africa last year, I  already had a good idea where to start.
It's very strange how your life can change completely in just a few days, but in a way it all felt so right, all  the pieces of the puzzle just fell into place. I had no girlfriend or wife, no kids, no mortgage and now, no job: what better time to go than  right now, no?
There was one thing that was not completely sorted though, and that scared me more than Nigerian robbers or the roads in DRC .... money. I was saving for the planned trip in august, but  I'm nowhere near the amount that I need. And instead of going 6 months , I will be on the road for 10 months or more. Even when I sell my 2011 KTM smt, it will be very tight, and in my mind, all of these nice hotels I would be enjoying, are turning into campsites, and I hate camping. Oh well, it all adds to the challenge I guess. Now the question is not only, will I make it through the rough bits, but also, will I run out of money on the way, forcing me to become a beggar in the streets of some dirty African capital or faking an injury, so my insurance will repatriate me for free? (just kidding)
It all comes down to a different kind of mindset, and in a way it will be easier to connect with the Africans, for who every white person is a millionaire. Now I am forced to spend as little as possible, I may catch a glimpse of what it's like to be poor like all of these pitiable Africans, for whom every day is a struggle. So I'm looking at this realisticly, worst case is that I run out of money, will have to park up the bike, return to Belgium with my last spare change and get a job for a few months, so be it. Hakuna Matata.

So, what's the plan. I will start around the 10th of december 2011 driving towards Sete in France to take the ferry to Morocco. Then I will take on the rest of the continent anti-clockwise, hoping to end in Tunisia in about a year, thus the blog title, Africa Full Circle. This of course takes into account that I will be able to cross the recently liberated Lybia. First stop however is Mali, where in january, I will meet up with a friend that I promissed to show a little bit of Africa. We will travel the land for a month, he on Chinese moped we will buy in Bamako, me on my trusty Yamaha ténéré. After that I will slowly make my way down to Cape Town, hoping to find some company for the more challenging bits of  road.
South Africa will be ideal to give the bike a big service and buy tyres for the return trip via the East coast, I'm just hoping that SA won't be too expensive as I would realy like to see a good bit of the country.
You will be able to follow my progress through this blog and if any of you are on the same route, please contact me, so we can maybe meet up, share experiences, have a beer  and maybe travel together for a while.

YES I'm really doing this (just needed to type this as I can't really believe it myself), I'm going to Africa....