Ballymagorry Travel Blog› entry 98 of 98 › view all entries
I spent exactly one year in Africa, 7months with Paulina. I can honestly say the armchair planning at home was nothing like the real thing, there were days when you feel great, days you very low, tough days especially on the bike at the start. People you speak to putting demons in your head, things you read put them in your head, plus your own demons travelling alone if things go wrong. It is physically and mentally tough. A couple of things that always put a smile on my face where, an ATM buzzing counting your money and a full tank of fuel!
Any good trip has the highs and lows, and as I pushed further down into Africa the demons were silenced in time. It takes time to get accustomed to your daily tasks and find a routine, picking your route, constantly doing fuel calculations, where to get fuel, local money, water, food, where you sleep each night (I loved bush camping up north west Africa alone with a small fire for cooking, relaxing), maintaining and repairing your bike, visa’s were always a problem and you needed to plan where to get them, many many tasks that’s all part of the trip!
I would like to say thanks to the members of HorizonsUnlimited.com for sharing up-to-date info, an essential forum for overlanders!! The world is not a small place, try seeing it all from a few centimetres above the ground and see how far you get!!!
On the bike people give you more respect than a 4x4, you are in the elements on a bike and can’t hide away. Both modes of transport have their own advantages (cold beers in the back of the Landy and the roof tent!!) But given a choice I’d take a bike any day of the week, its simple freedom and fun!
I’ve tried to give an honest account of this trip through West Africa and beyond without embellishing and exaggerating it, after all I didn’t want to scare my family who were following it and now it’s safe to say there were times when things could have gone horribly wrong, there was kidnappings along the road of a Spanish group during my time Mauritania and in Mail the treat was high forcing a music festival to move within 5km of Timbuktu instead of 80km (foreigners have been taken into the Sahara and handed to Al Qaeda for ransom, some never returned)... bandits, rebels... how close I came to anything happening to me? I’ll never know and with keeping an eye on uneasy situations I like to think it was always far away. I meet lots of great people. I was asked many times what weapons I carried for the trip by local African’s I meet, I told them only my smile and good handshake (they look at you like your're crazy, hahhaha). Despite the concerns from family and friends I was not attacked, robbed, shot or eaten alive by natives or lions (aunts were the biggest pain in the ass), it is not as bad as you think!! (and I only came off the bike a few times). Hope for those of you thinking about an overland trip, or any other, can get some tips or engorgement from my/our travels.
Some people have asked me if the trip has changed me... I hope it has or it would have been a waste of time! (Paulina reckons it has, and it’s also changed her)
Finally, thanks to everyone who has helped us in during our time in Africa. Think of reasons to do it, those are the important ones, and get on with it!!!