Since arriving in Africa, I’ve dreamed of having just a little bit more freedom. Teased by moto rides in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the desire to get a feel for the open road, to travel on my own clock, and to truly be free to my own devices has been festering stronger and stronger. And as of today, I’m pleased to announce that it’s all about to go down. I’m going to drive a scooter from Bamako, Mali to Cape Town, South Africa.
I want to introduce you to my scooter, Anne Murray (Yes, I really named her that).
Yes, really. To be honest, I have been craving the freedom of my own vehicle since realizing the challenges of West African public transport. Moreover, I’ve realized that although taking public transport has given me a nice bit of interaction with the locals I’m also missing out on a lot as well. I think I underestimated the lack of tourism infrastructure for non-rich travellers in Africa. Everyone is on a tour or has their own vehicle. Because I’m tied to public transport, I haven’t been able to stop along the road to take pictures, drive off route to special sights, and most of all I haven’t been able to travel when I wanted to travel.
How Did this Come About?
Like all my crazy ideas, I had this idea in the shower. Before even completely drying off I had shot out an email to HostelWorld.com seeing if they wanted to team up with me on this, and really how could they not? Thus, I am very gracious in thanking HostelWorld.com for helping to sponsor this incredible journey. It’s obviously going to have some serious challenges, in fact just getting the thing licensed has been a challenge, but it will certainly also result in a plethora of stories.
Why a Scooter? Are you Mad?
To answer your question in brief, yes I am mad. But moreover, there are a number of reasons why I’m doing this on a scooter and not in a 4×4 or even on a bigger bike. I’ve listed them for you here:
- Cost: I can’t afford a car, are you crazy? And I doubt Toyota is willing to give me one either. The scooter that I bought, which might be graciously described as “cheap Chinese engineering”, was only $800.
- Adventure: How many people ride 4x4s around Africa? Lots. How many ride around shitty Chinese-made scooters? That’s right, just me. I like the idea that I’m doing something that few others have attempted.
- Simplicity: I haven’t driven a motorbike since I was in high school, and I can’t be bothered spending weeks struggling to get back on the saddle. This bike is simple. It’s like a super powered bicycle.
- Safety: Although you might be thinking it to be unsafe motoring along slowly on African highways, I think it would be even less safe if you gave me the power behind a massive bike. The fact that I can’t go TOO fast on this thing is probably a good thing. I’m told this bike can go 80-90km/h, but most say it’s best driven around 60km/h.
- Environment: This bike does about 100 miles to the gallon which means I will hardly burn any fuel. My impact on the environment will be minimal.
- Humour: I’d be lying if I wasn’t doing this in part for the humour factor. Watching a grown man drive a moped across the hard roads of Western Africa? Can’t you just see a dude with everything he owns on the back of his bike rolling into Lagos? That’s funny! I can almost see the scene from Dumb and Dumber when Harry rocks up with the scooter that he’s traded for, that’s gold.
Logistics? How are you doing this?
- Distance: I honestly have no idea how many clicks this will be in total, but I’m going to guess about 15,000 when all is said and done. When I put it in to google maps roughly it comes out at 12,000, but I’m sure with a bunch of detours it will be well over 15,000.
- Countries: Due to the bike, and a couple other factors, I’ve altered my Africa route slightly. I’ll be heading from here in Mali to Burkina Faso, then comes Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, possible Sao Tome & Principe, Congo, DRC, Angola, Namibia, and ending in South Africa.
- Roads: To be honest, I’m not really sure how it’s going to go. Lots of people have warned me that the roads through part of the journey are going to be pretty difficult on the scooter. I fully expect to drop the bike a couple dozen times. However, I think I am up for the challenge.
- Time: My original plan had me arriving in Cape Town about July. That itinerary has held pretty strong to this point so I’m hoping that will still be the case. I guess only time will tell.
How can we Follow?
The beauty of this trip is that there are going to be a tonne of different ways to follow along. Both myself and HostelWorld.com will be pumping out content from the trip on the various social media networks. Below are some of the best ways to follow:
- YouTube: My travel channel on YouTube is very intensive. I basically film a segment of my life each and every day. There will be plenty of riding shots as I’ve set up a couple GoPro mounts on the bike and also have a head cam. I’m also working on setting up a helmet mic so you can hear me swearing at traffic on the road as well.
- Instagram: I’m in the process of unlocking my iPhone, and when I do so there will be plenty of instant photos of Anne Murray and I on the road and in cool places.
- Twitter: Those of you who follow me already know that I’m very active on twitter. It’s the best place to get realtime updates. For updates specific to the scooter rally follow the hashtag #ScooterRally
- Facebook: Who doesn’t love facebook? Follow both myself and HostelWorld.com for updates
- Right here: Of course, there will be plenty of stories to come right here on the blog. However, as you know, this site is always a couple weeks behind where I actually am in the world.
Let the adventure begin
I am heading off tomorrow. So be prepared for some great adventure footage from the road!