People keep asking me why I’m doing this trip! For me it seems the most logical thing in the world, but I guess it is a little out of the ordinary and deserves a proper answer.
For me (Jeremy) it all really started about the same time I was getting into motorbikes, I started watching bits of the Dakar Rally in the Sahara desert which just captured my imagination. I could imagine myself riding along through desert dunes in the incredible heat experiencing nature in it’s rawest form, working with my machine to cover huge distances against the clock. What was even more exciting was that normal people could even enter this endurance race as amateurs! However as I researched the idea more I soon came to the realisation that they weren’t so much amateurs as very rich amateurs – the cost of a month in the Dakar as a privateer was just too much.
The seed had been planted though and coupled with my own wanderlust a plan started to form in my head. Inspired by a 4×4 trip with friends to the Arabian desert in Oman and the Emirates 2 years ago I started making my own hatchling of an idea into reality. My initial plan had been to ride across the Sahara from West to East, trying to spend as much time in the untouched and most remote parts as possible (limited by fuel and water) with the romantic idea of spending time with the Tuareg of the Sahara. But as I started looking into this idea politics started to get in the way. The problem with the Sahara is that it is just too wild and this seems to be reflected in a lot of the countries in the Sahara, even now as I write this Niger, Chad and Sudan all have some sort of conflict, Libya and Algeria have strict controls over where you go and you are forced to take guides with you (read megabucks!) and Egypt seems to be known as the most unfriendly country to take a bike into. Large parts of the Sahara just have too many restrictions or are simple unsafe because of rebels, smugglers and robbers.
So with a trans-Sahara expedition out of the question for the time being I started to look at the more traditional routes to Cape Town and settled on a route that would take me down the west coast of Africa through several of the western Saharan countries and then down through the interesting countries of the Congo and Angola before reaching the Cape. A slightly better trodden path will lead me up the east coast though I intend to fulfil a little more of my desert wanderings (if the Sahara hasn’t put paid to that) by heading across from Djibouti on the horn of Africa to Yemen and the Middle East before heading home overland through Iran.
It’s been a trip that has had a gestation period of over 2 years and has been at times hugely emotional as plans and dates have been changed and bikes have been stolen (yes – both my original bike and my existing one were nicked!). Still it is with both a sense of nervousness and excitement that I face this last few days of intense preparation before our estimated departure on or around the 6th/7th of January 2008.
It’s going to make for an interesting journey and I hope that all of you will join Keith and I as we travel through Africa. We will try and share as many of the people, sights, smells and sounds of Africa along with our reactions on this website for you to enjoy along the way.