Category Archives: Travel Preparation

Muy buenos Buenos Aires

Ah yes, Buenos Aires. It is hard not to like the place; with its gorgeous architecture, good food and beautiful people. Very beautiful people. It is just how I imagined it to be, very European, the Spanish influence extremely noticeable. I arrived a few days before the bike which gave me some time to do the tourist thing.

Pleased to meet you, meat to please you.

Nut Shot, or Nouakchott as the locals call it

Sit on an oven, in a bigger oven with a hair dryer blowing in your face and you get an idea of what riding conditions are like here.

Shove it up Rabat

Actually, that’s a bit harsh, Rabat is a pretty cool city. Everyone’s friendly (except for our hotel manager), the hassling is minimal and everything works. They even have a modern tram system.

Rabat, Morocco and the start of Africa

We have stopped off in Rabat, the capital of Morocco; for a few days to arrange our Mauritanian visas. Rabat has a distinctly European feel, it’s clean, laid back and there is far less hassle than in most other Moroccan cities. We were planning to just pop in, get the visas and leave. But as we arrived on the weekend and with the embassy closed, we stayed longer than planned. And it has been a lot nicer than expected. The medina is quite new, at only 400 years old it is not as impressive as the medinas’ of Marrakesh or Fes, but when the new marina is complete I can see more tourists coming.

Bike recovered, it’s all back on!

Wow, what a roller coaster the last 3 days has been. I’d found replacement bike, almost picked it up and nearly cancelled the old bike’s documents. Then on Wednesday night, I got a call from the Police to say that they have recovered my bike. You can’t believe my relief.

The thieving reprobates had parked the bike a few neighbourhoods away and left it too ‘cool off’. They do this in case the bike has a tracker that leads the police to their evil lair. Whilst the bike was cooling off, another thieving reprobate tried to steal it! Fortunately a member of the public saw this happening and called 999. The police came immediately and almost caught the punk. They then checked up on the vehicle and noticed that it had been reported stolen, which is when they called me. Ironically, it was reprobate #2 that lead to my bike being recovered.

Fortunately there is no major damage apart from a broken ignition barrel and stolen panniers. BMW have repaired the barrel and Bernie from Stahlkoffer has sent replacement panniers overnight.

With Adrian’s crash last week and my (2) thefts, we are quite happy that we have used up all of our bad luck before we have even left! Touch wood, it should now be plain sailing all the way down to Cape Town.

Both bikes are now recovered and repaired, but we have pushed back the leave date to Sunday 16 October as there are a few loose ends to tie up.

P.s. I’d like to thank everyone for all the support over the last 3 days, it’s been incredible.

Russell’s bike stolen

Yesterday was not a good day, I woke up to find the beast missing. A walk up and down the street and it is definitely not where I parked it the night before. Knowing that we are supposed to be leaving on Friday, I can’t begin to express my shock, anger and disappointment at finding my bike had been stolen.

I frekking love that bike.

Looking back on it now, I’m seeing this as a test of my determination to do this trip. That and that I could possibly set a new world record for finding a replacement bike, get it up to spec, register it, process carnets, all before we leave. Something always works out, it always does…  Dont get me wrong, Im still angry, fuming in fact. But I’ve have been quite touched by some of the support I’ve received from various friends and acquaintances.

Within seconds of posting on UKGSer about the theft and needing a new bike, I got a call from a member offering support. The RAC reckon they can fast track a new Carnet in a few days, reissuing paperwork is my biggest concern. I only hope that the various other agencies that I need to deal with are as helpful.

As I ran out of fuel 20 miles from Gaya, I tucked my gloves into my helmet and stood my the bike wondering who was going to help me this time, and what it would lead to this time. I did not doubt that help would come, and with it most probably some unexpected twist in my fortunes. It had taken years to achieve this measure of confidence and calm, and as I waited I allowed myself some pleasure in knowing it.

Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels

P.s. If you came to this site becuase you nicked a bike with Pikipiki Safari stickers on, you can forget all that hippy stuff I’ve just said. On the trip, I will be actively seeking out some of West Africa’s best voodoo, putting the strongest curses on you and your dog.

Disaster! Adrian’s accident

Bike accident

Not how it's supposed to be

Fate, if it exists, has dealt me a very cruel blow indeed. My Monday commute was very rudely interrupted by an accident. It was one of those accidents that are the equivalent of winning the lottery.

An incident on the other side of the road, caused by a truck rear-ending a taxi, forced the taxi right into my lane in a millisecond. I braked VERY hard, but not hard enough and I collided with the side of a black cab that was now parked sideways in the middle of my lane.

I fortunately didn’t sustain any major injuries. The force of the impact bent both my thumbs down to my wrists spraining my thumb knuckles and wrists. When the paramedics asked me if I was ok and if I had any injuries, I stuck up both my thumbs. They took this as a good sign and left me alone.

So BMW Battersea have the beast and are compiling a quote for the damage. My biggest fear is they rack up such a bill for the repairs, the insurance company decides to right it off. I can only hope and pray it’s not that serious. Update to follow.

Thanks girls!

Just a quick thank you to Jess and Jamie for choosing our trip and our supported charity Riders for Health, to be presented to their school, Surbiton High.  Good luck girls, let us know how it went!

3 weeks to go!

In exactly 3 weeks time we’ll be boarding the Portsmouth ferry to Santander.

Yes, we are cheating a bit by catching the ferry straight to Spain, by passing France. The ferry works out quite a bit cheaper when you take the costs of the Paige tolls roads into account.

All the trip prep is ticking over smoothly, carnet applications have been submitted and progressing smoothly. We’ve already obtained visa to as far as Ghana. Nigeria to DRC visas are planned for the next 2 weeks. The remaining visas, from Angola onwards, will need to be picked up en route, joy.

The bikes are all sorted, baring one final service. We have a bunch of new kit that we are breaking in and so far all is good.

Watching this space!

Motor Insurance for overland travellers

I classify motor insurance as essential. Not necessarily for your vehicle but the other person, 3rd party cover. Worst-case scenario is you have an accident and another person gets seriously injured. You don’t want an angry mob after you or locked up in a dingy jail without insurance.

Very few of the specialist insurance companies would provide cover for our whole trip. Those that would only offered 3rd party insurance. Many countries still require you to buy local insurance even with pre-arranged insurance meaning a doubling up of costs. However many people report travelling through Africa without requiring local insurance.

Through the International Motor Insurance Card System, it is possible to buy temporary local 3rd party motor insurance. And it is through these card systems that we intend to cover our vehicles.

An arrangement between authorities and insurance organizations of multiple states to ensure that victims of road traffic accidents do not suffer from the fact that injuries were caused by a visiting motorist rather than a motorist resident in the same country.

Wikipedia, 2011

Our routes will take us through 4 different card regions. These 4 regions will cover most of the 26 countries in the trip. There are a few countries that do not fall into these regions; so we plan to buy local 3rd party cover which is normally available at borders and larger towns

Based on our route we plan to get the following cards:

  • Green Card – Primarily European cover, you can pre-organise Green Card cover from a few Insurers in the UK. Our UK policies covered us as far as the EU, but not all but all Green card member countries like Morocco.
  • Brown Card (Carte Brune) – Covers the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); from Senegal and Burkina Faso all the way through to Nigeria. Previous forum posts indicate that costs were around 38,000 CFA/£38 for four months’ third party insurance.
  • Pink Card (Carte Rose) – Covers the Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS); from Cameroon to Congo (Republic of). Reports are that costs are around £40 for 2 months
  • Yellow Card – Covers the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Will cover us from DR Congo, Tanzania and Zimbabwe up to Kenya but goes as far as Ethiopia/Eritrea.

This is plan for now, how it turns out may be a completely different story.

Local Carnets – the “carte” insurance above is not to be to be confused with a Carte Grise (grey card), an international certificate for motor vehicle ownership required in West Africa and other French speaking areas.