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Old 03-22-2006, 06:35 PM   #1
The Cone of Silence OP
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Safety when riding solo in Africa - thoughts?

Sorry to ask similar questions to some i've asked earlier but I thought a dedicated thread would be suitable for this topic.

I'm getting increasingly nervous about doing Capetown to London solo - mainly because of all the people I've got telling me that I'm going to get my bike stripped down everytime I go into a shop for 5 minutes, I'll get it stolen if I take my eyes off it for 10 minutes, I'll get stabbed, shot, harassed by gangs etc etc

So, I figured I'd ask experienced riders what they think. Some of you have contacted me already about Africa but I'd appreciate your thoughts on how to handle this trip on my own, and the problems I might face when it comes to safety.

It was suggested to me that I get a handgun the day I arrive in South Africa, but this might land me in a lot of trouble at border crossings! Also I don't want to have to pull a gun on someone only for them to pull an AK47 on me and put me on the News at Ten.

Would love to hear as many thoughts as possible.


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Old 03-22-2006, 06:47 PM   #2
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Have you read Striking Vikings thread? He made it through Africa with nothing but good.
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Old 03-22-2006, 07:19 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by AndrewAnonymous
Have you read Striking Vikings thread? He made it through Africa with nothing but good.
Sure but isn't Glenn a trained kick boxer? That won't help with an AK47 but when you look someone in the eye without fear (even with a smile), it can inhibit unwanted advances.

That said I believe, Glenn had more issues with local police than bandittos (wait aren't those words synonomous).....
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Old 03-22-2006, 07:28 PM   #4
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"Have you read Striking Vikings thread? He made it through Africa with nothing but good."

What an Asshat!

As Glen and other travelers will admit, its a crapshoot riddled with luck...requiring first and foremost a ton of experience and common sense...and a constant updating of what the current status is of revolutionary forces, borders open/closed, documents required, current weather and road/river conditions, updates from the state department, local embassies of several nations, rumors, heresay, Horizons Unlimited contacts, a network of other LD riders, trekkers, and vagabonds.

Yeah, I read Glen's thread, and all of the above were referenced at one time or another as sources to keep his ass out of a jamb, and even then he did his share of back tracking and flat did not go to some areas and some countries. He also has a knack for seeking and getting incredible aid from the natives of any group...a trait that can be practiced, but if you're naturally a prick, it will transcend any language.

If you look at the above, your best ally is information, so the best thing you can pack is a good local cell fone and a lap top.

Good luck. Based on what I read, that gun you're thinking of packing would probably be shoved up your butt and a clip or two run out. Take pics!
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Old 03-22-2006, 07:35 PM   #5
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Get yer butt over to

Those are some hard core ADV types and they have more answers about global motorcycle travel than the folks here.

There is a discussion board over there.
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Old 03-23-2006, 07:28 AM   #6
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I can only comment on riding in SA itself. I just rode a KLR there for a couple of days around the "garden route" area. I experienced no problems and found the locals helpful rather than intimidating. That said, I wouldn't ride remote areas at night. The roads are generally OK, but maintance can be rather casual and washouts, potholes, and the like can surprise you out of nowhere. Driving on the "wrong" side demands constant attention. Locals have a different definition of "close" and generally drive faster than I am used to here. Gas/petrol can be an issue if you don't use your head and map. Security of bike and belongings wasen't a problem for me where I was - lots of locals ride/park their bikes every day - just use common sense. SA and Namibia should not pose a problem, don't know about other countries. I did meet a guy in Capetown who had recently returned from a Cairo to Capetown trip w/o any security type difficultys. He travled in a group of six and took 36 days, unfortunately, I don't know what their route was. I think traveling in a group would be a huge advantage in improving your odds and I think arming youself is a bad idea.

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Old 03-23-2006, 02:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by orv
If you look at the above, your best ally is information, so the best thing you can pack is a good local cell fone
"Local Cell Phone" Who yer gonna call? Gostbusters?

I was told by some who was there "Pack a short wave radio and listen to the bbc world service when there. They do a nightly update on the situation in africa."

Go ovedr to the HU site - all this info is there .. you just have to find it. And in finding it you will find answers to questions you have not even thought of yet.

Frank Warner screwed with this post 03-23-2006 at 02:30 PM
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Old 03-24-2006, 01:05 AM   #8
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Crikey, its the funniest stuff when someone calls someone else an asshat, and hasnt (not according to what he has written) travelled through Africa.

SRG is quite correct, and thats from an American perspective. I am a local South African and have scoured the land (been places where there have NEVER been white people before ever), up to and including Zaire and been held up by everything from drunk border officials to Ak47's.

I have always been okay, its a good thing to learn the customs a bit, NOT be a prick (that part is totally true), and know how to handle yourself. Confidence, as well as respect will be a good thing.

The one thing I can unequivocally say, is that you if you like getting delayed endlessly by every single policeman or border guard or speed trap or guard overseeing road works, take a gun. Its the surest way to see your arse into suspicion and be treated accordingly. Dont do it.

Good manners, respect, confidence and friendliness will help you out far more.

And oh yes, comic books (cheap cheap cheap ones) will help you at border crossings if you get searched or at road blocks. Worked for us on 10 journeys, totally 35000 kilometres.

Go to HUnlimited, better answers there.
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Old 03-24-2006, 02:01 AM   #9
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don't worry about the crime.
the lions, tigers, buffalo, and krokonostervoel will get you when you step off the plane. and your bones will be picked clean by the swarms of flesh eating tstetse flies.

but seriously, like LITO said, africa is not as dangerous as you think. just use your head and be friendly. nobody likes a prick. (except maybe some women but i'm not sure about that)
be happy, throw stones.
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Old 03-24-2006, 05:04 AM   #10
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don't worry about the crime.
the lions, tigers, buffalo, and krokonostervoel will get you when you step off the plane. and your bones will be picked clean by the swarms of flesh eating tstetse flies.

dont forget the deadly rootwamweiler
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Old 03-27-2006, 03:30 PM   #11
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I did the same route (more or less) as Glen "striking viking" last year. I never felt threatend though I know it was dangerous in North Kenya. The cities aren't all that bad by day. I mean, yeah, be careful of course, read the warnings in the guidebooks and stay out of the bad areas, but don't cancel your trip over it. Out in the country, a few drunks aside, I never once met anyone who wasn't decidedly friendly though the begging can be a pain- especially in Ethiopia). The border crossings all went fine- easy compared to lots of Latin America.

The main thing here is to not get your advice from an American who has never been there. Listen to the input from the guys who live there. Maybe even better in a way is the advice from guys because theirs is the perspective of an outsider like yourself.

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