4 Month Aniversary

Its incredible to think that today is 4 months to the day that we rolled through the rainy streets of London all green and wide-eyed into the big old world! But yes it really is.

We had all sorts of plans and schedules and thought we might be rolling into Cape Town long haired and bearded up sometime this month… well two out of three isn’t too bad is it?

What we’ve learnt so far is that you can’t put a schedule on Africa and make it stick, and if you want to really enjoy it here you need to throw away the schedule and be prepared to meet all sorts of crazy and wonderful people and take some time with them.


So instead we are sitting in Togo getting our bikes serviced in the hope that they will make the next big push for civilisation (Namibia) and that our schedule won’t be too shot up by the next countries in our list (Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Angola, Namibia and South Africa), quite literally in some cases!

We’ve both been busy revising our plans a bit for this year, but we aren’t sad one bit that we are still only this far as Africa has been more than we expected and the people we have met along the way have been the biggest standout – from the most loony and crazy ones to the most sobering sights its been worth every minute so far!

Dakar Days

Our Dakar days are coming to a close as we write and we are planning our next adventure already with our departure sometime in the next week via The Gambia to southern Senegal and then on to Mali.

It’s been a real time of rest and relaxation for us here in Dakar, at times in our journey we have just needed to recoup ourselves, take some time out to think and reflect on the journey so far and ponder the future when the journey finally ends and we have to face the real world again. Both of us have read a couple books, journalled a lot and feel more relaxed than when we arrived.

Most of our admin tasks have been taken care of. The bikes are serviced and fixed up and looking clean again after their hard life in the desert. We’ve also managed to sort some visas out for our next leg which we were worried about and our thoughts are turning to the journey once again.

We’ve still got a couple more days in Dakar to go and tomorrow promises to be exciting as we are off to watch an Enduro race with our new found biker friends. We picked up our bikes this evening from the mechanics and we saw their bikes being loaded up for tomorrow. So it’s an early start for us, in fact one of the earliest we have had since we started the trip!

More pictures in our gallery of our time so far in Senegal.

Landing on our feet in Dakar

We’ve been in Senegal for a few days now and after our escapades in the desert for the last month it feels pretty good to be back in a lush green land again. Mauritania and Senegal are divided by the Senegal river which forms the start of the greenery of West Africa. Literally one minute you are riding along with sand dunes on either side and then the next you see green grassy fields on the banks of the river and more birds than we know, warthog run out across the road in front of you and cows replace camels on the side of the road!

This crossing marked the end of our North African leg and the start of our travels through West Africa.

We’ve really landed on our feet here in Dakar as we have ended up house sitting for parents of a friend. It’s a fantastic house literally on the beach. It’s taken a bit for us to get used to having our own rooms and even toilets, we even have a housekeeper who comes 3 days a week to make sure we are fed and our clothes are cleaned and ironed! I don’t think we will manage the road again so easily after this. It’s really quite something to be in a real family home again, it makes a change from camping and rough hotels and makes you feel more civilised again!

While here in Dakar we have been taking the time to sort out our visas for the next few countries and getting the bikes serviced again after their hard life in the desert. Again we have landed on our feet in that respect as the Nigerian transit visa we applied for (our most expensive to date at 100 Euros each!!!!) was given to us with no hassles and we have in fact been given 3 month open tourist visas without having to produce a letter of invitation and a bunch of other stuff we were expecting! Perhaps not particularly good value for money… but it’s a worry taken care of.

While we were chilling out to live music on Sunday night at a Moroccan guy’s restaurant next to the beach a brand spanking new factory special KTM rolled up outside. After admiring the rider’s trick bike for a bit we asked him for some recommendations for a KTM mechanic and he told us about a friend of his who does it in his spare time… what a find it proved to be! We arrived at the mechanic’s house and the first thing he does is hand us each a beer! Iba really knows his KTMs and does enduro races on his own trick bike here in Senegal.

It really has been great so far here in Senegal and we will write more soon about the cool nightlife and the live bands we have been to see here.

There are no pictures yet as Keith’s camera got sand in it in our last couple days in the desert and we have only just managed to take it apart and clean it, however we will get back snapping and uploading pretty soon.

Another change we have made about the website is that we have tried to simplify the bar on the right AND we have introduced tweets to our blog posts! Tweets are “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) that we post to our Twitter website and are also put up on our blog. Think of them like short facebook status messages.

We’ve added these tweets to our website because we noticed that quite a few of you are visiting the site every day… but we don’t always have a new post for you to read, however now you will be able to see some more frequently updated status messages to know what we are up to.

In addition we are going to break a bit with the way we have been blogging and try and get a new post out every 2-3 days but not try and keep exactly with our current timeline instead we will try and give you all the stories and the good stuff of what we have been up to. Our tweets and our route page will still give you more of our live activity and current location!


We arrived in Essaouira yesterday evening after a really picturesque ride down the coast via El Jedida and Safi. After El Jedida the coast road is really quiet as the main road goes inland for a faster road south, however with a strong desire to conserve our Michelin Desert tyres we are only doing 85 km/h (50 mph) so the coast road appealed to us.

It was a lovely ride down with parts of it feeling like Europe with lush green fields and fertile farm land all around us. There was one stretch of road near El Jedida where the road was shaded by forest on both sides and it just felt so luscious and green. Made you feel like you were in an Irish forest!

All the way down we were riding through fields belonging to homesteads where I imagine people managed to just about keep above the poverty line and no more.

A couple kids threw stones or in one case a hula hoop, which is strange for Morocco, but most were friendly and smiled and waved or clapped as we passed by. Strange that on this one out of the way stretch between El Jedida and Safi there seemed to be a few that wanted to hit us bikers as normally the people here are overwhelmingly friendly to bikes and we get a real reaction from young and old alike when we pass by.

We stopped at Safi for lunch and I think the waiter went to town on us trying to get us to spend as much as possible! Still the food was great and there was plenty of it so we were happy enough – it cost 7 pounds including tip for both of us to eat more than our fill and Keith to have his two cokes!

We should have stopped to refuel our bikes at Safi but instead we rolled out of the town. I knew my bike had enough to make the next 140 km to Essaouira but I didn’t think about Keith’s bike’s higher consumption! He went on reserve (2 litres) about 60 km out of Essaouira and because he stopped when he was on reserve and I was the lead biker I went back 5km to find him – so by the time we got back to where I had turned I had done an extra 10 km… eating into my own calculations and leaving little margin for error! There were no fuel stations between Safi and Essaouira as the coast road is so rural there are few cars traveling down it.

Keith ran out 22 km from Essaouira and by then I’d been on reserve for nearly 20 km! He had only made 35 km on his reserve so I was doubtful if I’d make it! We decided that I should give it a go and I’d already been as riding conservatively as possible so off I rolled, 80-85 km/h in fifth gear, barely accelerating, just riding as smoothly as possible, counting down the km markers on the road and watching as the number of ks on reserve went up on my dashboard!

It was nerve wracking stuff and the last 5km were really touch and go, however the sight of the Afriquia petrol station on the edge of Essaouira was a huge relief and I forgot anything about fuel conservation as I accelerated towards the station forecourt! If I ran out at this point I didn’t care as I could push the bike in!

I filled up my bike with 24.5 litres (25 litre tank) so I found out my range was a bit more than Keith’s and exactly what my reserve is on tarmac when riding like a priest! I went back and rescued Keith with some fuel from my tank and then we we managed to get into town an hour before the sun set. Keith did his usual magic in finding us a budget room for the night while I watched our bikes and kit.

Good to know how far the bikes will really go on tarmac but not something we are hoping to repeat again!

We’ve really enjoyed chilling in this laid back town with it’s old Portuguese fort and Medina full of shops of art and curios. The ladies would particularly love spending a few days in the souk here trawling and haggling for jewelry and nik naks, we were content to wander idly around and soak up life in a few street cafes.

Tomorrow sees us pushing south again to hopefully make Assa in the Moroccan Sahara sometime in the evening.

Checkout our updated Morocco gallery for our latest images. We’ve finally fixed the ordering of the images and put some more captions up.

One month on in Casablanca

Yesterday was our one month anniversary on the road, we left London on the 7th of January and it was fitting that we had the bikes serviced here in Casablanca after having done about 6500 kilometers on them so far (about 4000 miles).

We had some fun and games coming up from Agadir to Casablanca with a few interesting incidents to keep us on our toes!

The road from Agadir to Marrakesh is notoriously dangerous as it curves through the mountains with a slippery tarmac surface that gave me one big slide on a bend that nearly made me fill my pants! Keith was behind and thankfully didn’t go over the same part of the road that I did and so managed to avoid having his scare!

Moroccans drive like maniacs and it doesn’t seem to concern them that they are driving an articulated lorry or an overloaded taxi up or down a mountain road, they go as fast as possible with the minimum margin for error – i.e. none! It’s all based on the Arabic phrase – “Insh a Allah” which translated means “God willing”, this means that they are pretty fatalistic about accidents, God willed it and it had nothing to do with the fact that they were overtaking on a blind corner with no idea of what is coming around the corner! It makes for a fun and varied driving experience in Morocco as you try and avoid God’s messengers of death!

One incident I had on the way up the mountain was particularly fun! I came around a corner about 80 km/h (50 mph) to find a water truck going in the same direction at about 30 km/h (20 mph) as he struggled to go uphill. The truck was spilling water all over the slick and dusty tarmac surface that was heated nicely by the sun as it was about 30 degrees C outside.

Normally I would just sail right by, but there was one of God’s messengers coming the other way downhill with his overloaded taxi of death. No problem, I’ll just put the brakes on to scrub off some speed and let this taxi past… front brake on, rear brake on… screeching rubber sound, front wheel sliding away from under me as I see the back of the truck and the front of the taxi approaching me fast and I feel God’s fingers holding them in a pincer movement that would have made Hannibal proud!

Thankfully we have now done quite a bit of offroading so my reactions kicked in and I released the front brake, kicked out with my left boot to right the bike and then gassed the bike between the two vehicles with my handlebars still waggling a bit from the tank slapper I was recovering from.

Phew! It was a close call and I’m glad I haven’t ended this trip under the back wheels of a truck, or worse on the bonnet of a very wide eyed taxi driver! I saw it all in slow motion and he was definitely saying Insh a Allah as I squeezed in between him and the truck. The take away lesson is you can drive slow but you can’t always be prepared for what is going to happen around you in Africa!

It was Keith’s turn when we got into Casablanca when we pulled up in front of our hostel in the Medina of the old city. He hadn’t noticed that his bike had been running hot in the traffic of the Casablanca and when we pulled up outside the hotel he switched the ignition off and went inside to sort a room out.

It was only a couple minutes later when I heard a big whoosh and a load of water was dropped on the pavement and Keith’s bike was engulfed in a cloud of steam. The hot water in the coolant system had built up a huge pressure with the radiator off and no water circulating and had caused one of the pipes to pop off and release all the water and steam on the ground. Not a big thing to fix, just pop the hose back on and refill the radiator with water. We were servicing the bike the next day so we didn’t bother with distilled water, however the takeaway lesson is to not switch the hot bike off as you don’t want that happening in the desert!

We have been enjoying the big city buzz here in Casablanca, checking out the huge and ostentatious Hassan II mosque and enjoying the street cafe life. It’s been a good time to get ourselves and our bikes sorted before we make a push for our next country, Mauritania.

The bikes are now spotless after a hopefully good service, it was certainly cheap at less than 100 pounds per bike including parts and labor! As long as they didn’t wreck anything we should be okay – Insh a Allah! The mechanic reckons he has sorted Keith’s clutch and both bikes are certainly running a lot smoother now that we have treated them to fresh oil and a bit of a tune up. We’ve also put in new reusable stainless steel oil filters and added Water Wetter to the water in the radiators. Lets see how these perform in the big wide world!

We’ve loved being in Morocco and the friends that we have made here but I think both of us are now champing at the bit for our next country.

The plan is to ride south tomorrow to the old Portuguese town of Essaouira before pushing south to the start of the Sahara and Tiznit and Tan-Tan via another piste between Assa and Smara. We will then continue down the Atlantic road along the coast to Mauritania. It will take us several days and we will try to blog as we go but who knows how good the Internet connections will be south of Tiznit.