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Old 10-16-2013, 07:38 AM   #76
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Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
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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.
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:25 PM   #77
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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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
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Old 11-03-2013, 11:37 AM   #78
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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.

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.

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.

Wadi Halfa

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)

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!

The 'road' to our hotel.

Mazar on his KLR that a South African guy gave to him.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:39 PM   #79
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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.
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Old 11-08-2013, 12:15 PM   #80
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Glad to See an Update!

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!
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Old 01-10-2014, 09:26 AM   #81
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Hrm. Where is our brave adventuress? I get worried with no posts over a long period of time.
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:34 PM   #82
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This report slipped under the radar somehow.
I think Jo is experiencing Dakar fever.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:54 AM   #83
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Yikes! Sorry everyone. I do need to update this RR. Will do so asap. I seriously do have Dakar fever!
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
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Old 01-12-2014, 02:38 AM   #84
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Right Around Africa

Incredible!!! You are a brave and strong woman! Biking all Africa -wow and then going around Africa by ADV bike - unbelievable.

And then you have friends I mean not just friends but friends with influence its really great!!!

Hopefully will be moving to South Africa next year. To meet you on one of those trips would be an honor.

You are not currently on the Dakar Ralley, aren't you?

Keep on riding safely...
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Old 04-09-2014, 02:13 PM   #85
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Talking Ethiopia


I was up before the sun the next morning and went about boiling some water for coffee on my cool MSR expedition stove. It was my last day in Sudan and I was happy I’d spent it in a tent. I hadn’t spent much time in my tent and I was, after all, lugging it with me all the way around Africa! Might as well use it every now and then!

Francois got up as the first rays of the sun peeked over the horizon. I had already packed my bike. We had our coffee and enjoyed the fresh morning air, contemplating what the next border might be like?

We filled up just before we reached the Ethiopian border. We had camped only 40 kilometers from the border, so it didn’t take us all that long to reach the invisible line that divides Sudan and Ethiopia.*

We were directed to a building next to the road. A small decent down a muddy path brought us to a small group of immigration officials. We were greeted with friendly smiles and shown inside. No fuss, no hassles. Quick and easy. So quick and easy that I wondered off in search of some coffee at one of the little “cafés” that are situated all along the road. After we’d had our coffee it was off to immigration to have our baggage checked and our Carnet’s stamped. Once again we were met by a friendly face and efficient service. You are shown to a seat inside a building and the officer on the other side of the desk asks you questions. “Where are you from”, “Where are you going to”, “Any electronics to declare?” – and here you declare things like your mobile phone, cameras, laptops, tablets, gps etc.

After the paperwork has been completed, you get ushered to your vehicle, where they check that your vehicle’s VIN number and the VIN number on your Carnet match. And then you’re free to proceed.

We planned to stay over at Tim & Kim Village ( in Gorgora next to Lake Tana that night. Not that far from the border and so we weren’t in any rush.

Francois took an early turn-off toward Lake Tana and I could see on my GPS that this was not a tarred road. This was an off road detour. Francois stopped and looked back at me and asked whether this was the road we were supposed to take? I quickly made some calculations as to whether we’d have enough fuel for the detour, and figured, seeing as Francois didn’t have a great deal of off road experience…the more practice, the better. I smiled quietly and indicated that he should take the detour.

It wasn’t that bad. Maybe 60 kilometers off road with fairly good graded gravel and the odd river crossing. I was having a ball. Although Francois was a little stressed out, I think deep down he was also enjoying himself a great deal. There were a few deep and tricky water crossings, but Francois just soldiered on right through them. He did a fantastic job I’d hoped this bit of off road would help him get into a more comfortable rhythm by the time we reached ‘hell road’ in Kenya.

Reaching Tim & Kim Village in Gorgora was like arriving in paradise. It is an absolute jewel of a place. You make your way up and down a two-track road and then you’re most likely to be greeted personally by either Tim or Kim…or both, as you’re welcomed to their beautiful piece of heaven. You can choose between staying in a bungalow or pitching your tent or staying in one of their tents. They have great facilities. You’re right on Lake Tana and as a result you can enjoy the most spectacular views whilst kicking back and enjoying an ice cold one after a hard days riding.

We did exactly that and spent the afternoon relaxing. Later that evening we were introduced to another South African who joined us for dinner. Seeing as there were now two South Africans at the village, a fire and a braai (BBQ) was in order. We spent the rest of the evening in conversation with our hosts and swopping out stories with everyone around the table.

The next morning I was up early enough to watch the sun rise over the Lake. After breakfast we loaded our bikes and headed off towards Debre Markos, where we would spend the night before heading to Wim’s Holland House in Addis. We had to take the same gravel road out towards Gondar to fill up with fuel before turning southwards again. It had, by now, become apparent that we might struggle with finding fuel everywhere. We were shown away from a number of filling stations before finding one that was willing to help us out. Seems that Ethiopia has a bit of a fuel problem.

The road to Debre Markos is a good tarmac road leading you through some beautiful Ethiopian countryside. We also made our way through a number of smaller villages. We stopped off in one of said villages for a coffee and the obligatory Injera (traditional Ethiopian flatbread) and inadvertently became the main attraction as hundreds of locals started gathering around our bikes, pointing and engaging in pensive conversation. The children come closer and put their hands out, chanting: “you, you, you…money, money, money”. Though at the same time I’ve had children come up to me and simply ask for stationary! Broke my heart that I didn’t have any pens or books to give them.

We were going at a very easy pace through Ethiopia, which gives you a chance to really take in the scenery. It is such a beautiful country and definitely one of the top three most beautiful countries I’ve ridden through. It is such a rich and fertile land with lush green hills that just roll on forever. Mountains that tower over you in all their majestic greatness and valleys that plunge down beside you to reveal neat farms down below.

That being said, Addis Ababa was not one of my favorite cities visited. When we arrived in Addis it was raining. Coming down the steep hill into town visibility was minimal and the traffic at a slow-go. It all seemed pretty straightforward at first and I thought I’d have us at Wim’s Holland House in no time…until I realized that half the city had been dug up in road works and what seemed to be a new underground train system in progress. I got us within 500 meters of our destination, but just couldn’t find a way that would get us TO Wim’s place.*

I eventually admitted defeat and phoned Wim. I had stopped just beyond a big roundabout and hoped it might be enough of a landmark for him to explain to me how to get to his place. Whilst talking to him on the phone, a young boy came and stood next to me. Really close, right up against me. Then another appeared. And another. And another. And then, I felt a little hand slipping into my bag that I’ve always carried over my shoulder, under my jacket and kind of on my hip. I’ve never had any issues despite people always thinking it makes for an easy target.

The boys pretended to be looking at my GPS and asked me questions whilst the one that was right up against me went to work with finding whatever he could in my bag. I didn’t make a fuss. I just reached down, took hold of his arm and started twisting. With a somewhat surprised and slightly bewildered look in his eyes, the teenager just turned and walked away. I was trying to indicate to Francois that we needed to get out of there, but he was talking to two guys on a bike who said they could take us to Wim’s. My inner voice was telling me that this is a very bad idea and before I could stop Francois he was following the two guys on their bike. I started chasing after them and after almost 20 kilometers of riding in the complete opposite direction I got Francois’ attention and we turned around. The two guys on the bike ahead of us turned around as well, chasing after us, but we managed to lose them in the traffic. I’ve heard some horror stories in other countries where travelers had been mugged or had their vehicles stolen after being told to follow someone, so I’m glad we got out of that one.

We made our way and I tried to find a way around the road works to Wim’s place. The city was in chaos with construction vehicles all over and no way of figuring out where one might find a detour. We eventually landed up in front of a police office and I phoned Wim again. We were still only 500 meters from his place and still just couldn’t find a way through to the street we needed to be on. He told us to stay put and he’d come and fetch us. It took him half an hour to get to us, 500 meters away!

Wim instructed one of his workers to show us to his place and left to go do some shopping. This poor man ran all the way, through the traffic to show us where to go and after an eventful few hours since we’d arrived in Addis, we finally made it to Wim’s Holland House. We immediately went straight to the bar to have something cold to drink and then found out that they didn’t have any accommodation available. When Wim arrived back he said we could either camp in the parking area (there was some grass) or he’d let us sleep in his house. He even provided us with some mattresses and made some space for us in his living room. The only reason we didn’t camp was because it was raining.*

The bar is like a local hangout for overlanders of all walks of life. We spent the evening meeting people from all over the world and swapping out stories. Some traveling in Land Rovers, others by public transport and a guy in a car who had some crazy stories to tell about how he was chased by Bedouins through the desert in the south of Egypt. How he was thrown in jail in Iran. It seemed that everywhere this guy went, trouble followed. I loved chatting to all these interesting people. I sat chatting to Wim for a while as well and asked him about routes going south. He suggested we not take the main road heading towards Kenya but rather take a back route that’s not as congested and far more interesting. He drew me a map and wrote down directions on 3 different scraps of paper and with that I turned in for the night, confident that I’d be able to navigate us safely out of Addis the next morning.

Luckily I am pretty good with directions and managed to get us out of Addis and onto the back road Wim had suggested. I am not very fond of Addis. In fact, it might make my top 3 “least-favorite-cities” list. I felt very uneasy, even before the attempted pickpocketing incident and wouldn’t go there again unless I absolutely had to.

And so we made our way towards Arba Minch, via Butajira and through Sodo. Francois had read about a very posh looking lodge next to Lake Abaya, which he wanted to check out and so, it was decided that we’d head in that direction.

This road was far quieter and I felt more at ease on it as well. Felt like I could breathe again. We stopped off alongside the road for breakfast at a small hotel, which was really good, and then kept a very easy pace making our way through the beautiful countryside.*

When we got to the town of Arba Minch we first went in search of fuel as both of us needed to fill up. After two unsuccessful visits to filling stations I was getting a little nervous. We were told that they might have fuel the next morning. We had little choice and started searching for Francois’ lodge. We couldn’t find the place and eventually were helped by two local boys on a scooter who showed us to different lodges in the area. (This time I felt completely comfortable following them around. Amazing how your instincts guide you!)

It was getting dark and we needed to make a decision as to where we were going to stay. We found a beautiful lodge with the most stunning views over the Lake, but it was pricey. $60 per person per night. I wasn’t willing to pay that and we tried to negotiate for a better price. We eventually got away with $40 each. Still a bit steep but we decided to bite the bullet. Just the views made it worth it.

Next morning we started our hunt for fuel after we’d had breakfast. We couldn’t find fuel anywhere, but a tour guide back at the lodge arranged for another two local boys to help us. Again we were following two young men on a bike. They led us down into the valley to a village and then stopped about a kilometer outside the village. They told us to wait next to the road because, if we went into the village with them to buy fuel off the black market and people saw we are tourists, the price would automatically be doubled. I thought it rather considerate of them. We did as we were told and waited next to the road. Within minutes we had attracted quite a crowd. People pointing and smiling, conversing, frowning, laughing. I was starting to get a tiny bit claustrophobic and then our two saviors appeared with twenty liters worth of fuel in two liter plastic bottles. We emptied the bottles into our tanks, paid the boys (we still had to pay quite a hefty price for the fuel), bid farewell to the crowds and hit the road.

We had just passed through the village when we came down a hill and the most extraordinary site greeted us…There, in the road…not on the side of the road but IN the road…blocking the entire road, were thousands upon thousands (I kid you not) of cattle. I have never seen so many cows in my life! It quickly became clear that we were going to have to, painstakingly and very slowly, weave our way through all these cattle. My bike is pretty loud and I hoped this might help in clearing a path through the herds, but it was obvious that these cattle were used to all kinds of traffic making their way around them. No amount of revving or hooting really helped. I just tried to avoid their horns. Every now and then a bull would bump into Dax and I’d struggle to maneuver as to not bump into another bull. It was chaos! But fun in a limited kind of a way.

The tarmac road ended as soon as we finally got through the herds of cattle and we had quite a bit of off road to do until we’d rejoin the main road down to the border town of Moyale between Ethiopia and Kenya. It was a good, graded, gravel road though and we could easily average 80 kilometers per hour, sometimes a bit slower as we climbed up a beautiful mountain pass and then plunged down into an equally beautiful valley.

When we finally rejoined the main road heading down to Kenya, we stopped off for lunch and refueled the bikes. Tomorrow we would start on the notorious ‘Hell Road’ after crossing into Kenya. I knew it would be challenging, but I was looking forward to it!
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
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Old 04-09-2014, 02:59 PM   #86
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Welcome back

Welcome back - we missed you
4 Wheels, move the Body, but 2 Wheels, move the Soul
............(3 wheels = cold beer and a comfy bed)............

Lets Ride
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Old 04-09-2014, 03:17 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by Gobby View Post
Welcome back - we missed you
Thank you! I have some catching up to do!
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:36 AM   #88
Joined: Dec 2010
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Thank You once again for sharing your awesome adventure.

Hope the sponsors are lining up to help you to the starting line of Dakar 2015.

Anyone down in the dumps - 1 hour in this lady's company will lift your spirit.
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Old 04-12-2014, 12:40 AM   #89
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Glad You're Back

Very relieved to see you're ok and making steady progress south. I'm sure I was not the only one who was starting to get just a bit worried when you had not posted for a few months. Yours has been one of the most incredible adventures to follow on this site. Can't wait to read the book. Safe travels, Jo.
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Old 04-12-2014, 05:01 AM   #90
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Only see this now

Sien jou by EC bash
Honesty is very expensive. Don't expect it from cheap people.

There is always a risk in building a bridge, but once it's done, you don't know how you managed without it. The same applies with friendship.
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