Anyone can have a nice, easy, safe, overland trip. But some people prefer to make things a little more difficult for themselves. Lois Pryce explains how and why
In the words of the song, things ain’t what they used to be, or at least that’s what the overlanding old-timers will have you believe. They say there’s no real adventure left in this world, not with all these satellite phones and GPS and internet cafes on every corner. Where’s the danger? Where’s the thrill? Where’s the heart-stopping, nail-chewing, white-knuckle fear? You can’t even get properly lost anymore!
Well, they may have a point. Never has worldwide motorcycle travel been so darn easy – today’s bikes are more reliable than ever, you can find all the info you want, buy all the stuff you need (and don’t need) with a click of a mouse and before you know it, you’re off on your Trip of a Lifetime™.
But in other ways, global motorcycle travel has never been more difficult. Everything changed on September 11th 2001 and now the so-called Axis of Evil has turned a huge swathe of the planet into a no-go area for all but the most determined. And the Sahara, once the ultimate wilderness playground for European desert riders, and of course, host to the Dakar Rally, is now riddled with gun-toting extremists and crackpot political groups with a nice line in kidnapping.
Back in the day, when Britannia ruled not just the waves, but most of the world too, an intrepid motorcyclist could quite happily trot across Africa or Asia with no bureaucratic hoo-hah at all. A border crossing would involve nothing more taxing than a salute from a safari-suited colonel and if you were lucky, a nice cup of tea. No expensive visas, no angry comments about your country’s foreign policy, and certainly no palm-greasing of shifty uniformed men with gold teeth. But those heady days when a British passport provided some sort of superior status in the world are long gone, as are the embassy soirees and afternoon tea with the ambassador and his wife.
These days, if it all goes wrong, don’t even think about the Foreign Office stepping in. You’re on your own.
Anyone with a modicum of intelligence and common sense will realise that motorcycling in strange lands is on the whole a fun, exciting and yes, largely safe business. Most people come back alive from their motorcycle adventures. Of course they have a few hair-raising tales to tell, but hey, it wouldn’t be an adventure otherwise would it? But even The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, that trusty bible for all overland riders, features a crucial piece of small print at the beginning: ‘Global travel by motorcycle is unpredictable and can be dangerous’. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Most adventure motorcyclists stick to established routes, avoid the trouble spots and make it back in one piece. But there will always be a small hardcore of riders who are not just out there for the sunshine and the cheap beer. They are answering some primeval call to seek out the darker corners of the world – the lawless desert lands, the feral cities of failed states, the uncharted minefields, the ravaged war zones. Some may call them brave, some may call them foolish – you decide. But if you can feel adventure calling and you know deep down in your soul that the South of France just ain’t gonna cut it this time, you may want to consider a tour of these ten holiday hotspots…
So if you think you're ready to discard the shackles of safety, read on.
Posted: 25/01/2013 at 18:06
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