We crossed the Sahara from Morocco to Mauritania in January. Unlike countless adventure rider predecessors, it was an easy ride for us along an excellent sealed road that runs parallel to the coast through the disputed zone of Western Saraha.
We camped in coastal towns all along the coast. The days were sunny and warm and the evenings were cool and perfect for camping. These coastal towns were small, only a few shops and restaurants were geared for tourists so on the pricy side. We decided to make all our meals because we set up in each town for a couple of nights and had the time an inspiration. Generally it was scrambled eggs for breakfast, fruit for lunch and then a tuna Couscous concoction for dinner. Supplies in the mini supermarkets were basic, theres no Trader Joes, Coles or Aldi's.
Before we knew it the Sahara was gone. We didn't die of thirst or heat exhaustion, we didn't sink in sand dunes and it was really very pleasant. It would have been fun to deviate from the ro...
The Pack Track entered Africa with great excitment and trepidation. There is so much to see in Africa, such different cultures to explore. But it is a challenging continent (roads, climate, poverty) and a volatile continent (conflict). We had rested enough in Europe and felt ready for the next adventure, not to mention warmer climates!
We took the Trasmediterranea ferry from Algeciras to Tangier Med. This is the slow, run-down looking ferry and coincidently the cheapest option at €77 for 2 people and 2 motorbikes. We'd checked the prices online which indicated a cost for dogs but decided not to book online after our recent ferry debacle in England resutling in a missed ferry, additional 600km+, hotel expenses and more riding in the cold, wet, England rain. So, when we turned up to the ferry terminal in Algeciras we were happily surprised the dogs were allowed on for free and when we were on the ferry, motorbikes tied down in the parking area, the girls were allowed to sit inside t...
We hadn’t seen Stu’s brother since he flew down to Cancun right at the start of our trip. We’d also never met his new girlfriend Diana or seen him in his new life in Ottawa. So after spending a lovely time with Janells family in New York, we felt spoilt to be riding to Greg and Diana for more family time. We had planned to spend a few nights with them and then ride up to see Montreal, Quebec City and some more to the east before making our way west, but Shadow had something else in mind.
Since finding Shadow, 6 weeks previous, she had started to put on weight and was looking more like a guinea-pig than a dog. This is to be expected when you take a dog from the streets but she was so ravenous. Its unchartered territory when you adopt a street dog, nobody can tell you anything about it and Shadow was so much smaller than any dog we'd ever had so we had no idea how much food she should eat. She reduced the food she was eating but the tummy still got bigger.
Can you guess what was go...
We were back in the US in a new state for us, Florida. After the eventful departure from Botoga it was nice to enjoy a relaxing flight and collect our babies on the other side, safe and sound. We must admit, the LAN staff at the airport in Bogota were very helpful, we were really messed around with the dogs flights so they waived their pet freight fee ($50/dog) so the girls got a free ride. Thanks LAN.
The process for collecting the girls after the flight was very different at Miami Airport compared to Dallas where we flew in with Skyla from Australia. The girls were in their crates literally sitting next to the conveyor belts in the baggage claim. Anyone could have walked on up and taken them. When Skyla flew in from the US she was taken to a separate secure location and we had to get a heap of stamps and approvals before they released her to us. It was one extreme to the other. It was a long flight but we were keen to get them outside to go to the toilet. After baggage and doggy ...
When will someone bite the bullet and build a road between Panama and Colombia! For now, adventure riders can either fly (by aeroplane) or ship (typically sail boat or ferry) themselves and their motorbikes between North and South America. Of course this depends on the politics of the time and how well Colombia and Panama are getting on. On our way to South America we chose the seven day sailing option from the San Blass Islands off Panama which proved to be an adventure and overall fun experience. This time, returning north with time against us, we decided to fly and from our online research and communication with other motorcycle travellers the easiest way to fly was with Lyn Cargo.
Stu had spent a lot of time requesting quotes from various airlines to crate our motorbikes from Bogota to a range of destinations in North America including Miami, Mexico City and Montreal. Ideally we wanted to get as far north as possible to see Canada while it was still warm, and then travel ant...
After a productive visit in Bogota sorting our shipping quotes and getting Negrita’s paperwork in order for flying to the USA, we decided to take a 3 week trip back into Venezuela to visit some friends and attend a Moto Event in the state of Falcon.
There is always plenty of excitement and drama when visiting Venezuela and this occasion didn’t upset. We entered near San Cristobal and as is usually the case the border was busy. When we first entered Colombia we had conducted a temporary import of both our bikes which was valid for 3 months, it was now less then a month later and so we pleaded with the Aduana officials to allow us to keep the paperwork and skip the import when we returned. Initially this request fell on deaf ears, but after struggling to transfer our VIN to their form with carbon paper, they reconsidered thinking it was a great idea and that it would be silly any other way. Thanks guys. As far as Venezuela goes, we still had insurance left over from the 12 months w...
From the mountains of Cuenca we traveled a few hours to Salinas on the coast of Ecuador. The distance wasn't far, 350 km, but the journey took most of the day. From Cuenca we climbed up further in to the mountains on a narrow, windy road through thick cloud cover and very wet, cold conditions. Our visibility was dangerously low, sitting in 2nd gear with hazard lights and high beams on trying to increase our visibility to other drivers as much as possible. The locals power around those mountains, perhaps they know them like the back of their hands, we certainly didn't and often didn't know if the road was curving to the left or the right until we saw a rock wall in front of our tyre. As you could imagine the descent was a welcome change along with a coffee break and the removal of all our layers as we moved in to warmer coastal climates.
Passing around Guayaquil was also slow and traffic was particularly bad because it happened to be the week that the Pope was visiting. Never mind, w...
Cuenca is a small city with a lot of history and set between two fast flowing rivers. It has a cool, wet climate being elevated at 2500 m. We stayed in Cuence for 10 nights, a long time for The Pack Track to stay in one place, and learnt a lot about this bustling city for example in 1999 its historic centre reached UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
When we arrived in Cuenca we knew we either had a short stay or long stay. We had arranged, weeks earlier, for a replacement credit card to be sent from Australia to a friend (Michelle) of a friend (Daniela) in Cuenca. Postal endeavors in the past had not gone to plan for us, in fact we could describe them all as a tad disastrous, but we were hopeful this time it would go smoothly. We made contact with Daniela through Facebook but the parcel had not arrived.
Okay then, we could be in Cuenca for two weeks. We needed cheap pet friendly accommodation that was flexible. Booking.com helped us by locating the Check-Inn Hotel, only 3 bl...
After three long days crossing the Sechura Desert of north western Peru,we finally arrived at the Ecuadorean border late in the afternoon. This would conclude our tour of all the main land Spanish speaking countries within the Americas. Note I didn’t say Latin American countries as we hadn’t yet visited Canada, considered by some to be a Latin American country due to its French speaking (Latin language) parts or French Guiana although not a country on its own.
The border crossing at the La Tina/Macará was fairly uneventful. There was very little traffic and we quickly took turns entering the Aduana office and completing the immigration and vehicle import paperwork. The border officers were older gentlemen and took a shine to Janell who is always very receptive to attention and happy to smile and chat to keep the crossing pleasant and hassle free.
We didn't have any specific agenda for Ecuador except for one task. Having lost a credit card in Bolivia, we’d made arrangements to ...
Travelling from south to north Peru you realise what a big country it is and how many incredible sites there are to visit and explore. After the pinnacle of Machu Pichu it was hard to imagine anything could be quite as cool but then we pulled in to the town of Nazca, about 450 km South of Lima (the Capital) to see the ancient Nazca lines and a very barren landscape.
We've been really lucky to arrive at some major tourist attractions in the off-peak season completely unintentionally. The advantage is of coarse hotels and tour guides need your business and pay more attention to your needs. We found a lovely hotel for a very reasonable price that was very accommodating of our motorbikes, allowing us to park them in the main lobby on what looked like a brand new white tiled floor. They motorbikes were a terrible obstacle to the other guests accessing the hotel through reception and we offered to move them but the staff insisted we leave them for security.
Nazca is located in a regio...
In case you're not aware, there are many different ways of getting to Machu Picchu, the 15th century built Inca city situated in the Andes mountain range, Peru. We had researched a few options including trains, buses, trails and hikes but our sense of adventure drew us to the Inca trail hikes. The hikes usually take 4 days, the fourth day being the day you arrive at Machu Picchu, take all your photos then get a train back to Cusco in the evening. What you'll often find with these tours is that they book out months in advance. We couldn't afford that kind of deadline so we did some further investigation and found a short trail that was pet friendly. Other bikers had blogged about riding to a Hydro-electric scheme, parking their bikes and then hiking. So this is how The Pack Track saw Machu Picchu.
We had a delayed start leaving Cusco. Janells chain and sprocket desperately needed replacing before we left the city. We visited a street known to have a few motorbike parts and accesso...
Why do men transform into giant babies when they get sick? All their manliness is consumed by the illness and what is left is the shell of man with the temperament of a 5 year old boy. Stuart is no exception to the rule. It had been a while since his last bout of sickness but it struck again the day we left Sucre, Bolivia, headed for Cochabamba. We had been on the road maybe two hours after a breakfast feast in Sucre with our friends Hernan and Noelia from Argentina. The first symptom was a “sore tummy” and was closely followed by a headache, nausea and diarrhoea so it was slow going with long toilet breaks. Every time we stopped Stu would lie down on the ground for a few minutes until the pain passed then we would try to continue. Maybe 100km along Stuart lay down and wouldn't get up. We were in a tiny town with a few houses and services along the highway. It didn't take long for the locals to approach us with offers of assistance. We had some medication for these circumstances but...