We arrived at the Gabon Immigation in Ndende nice and early to check out. Nobody was around so we opened the gate ourselves, this certainly drew attention and some military staff appeared and called us over. They were friendly enough, recorded our passport and motorbike details then we stamped out of Gabon. We left the sealed roads in Ndende, it was then 50km off-road riding to reach the Republic of the Congo Customs and Immigration. So far the road wasn't too bad, we only saw a couple of big puddles. Surely this would have to be the worst of the road. Countries often maintain their roads up to the border post pretty well but don't want to spend money beyond this point. How wrong we would be.
Stamping in to the Republic of the Congo was fairly straightforward. We supplied a photocopy of our passports and visa for immigrations and then on to customs to import the bikes. The customs official checked all our papers against the bikes VIN's and produced the Temporary Import Permit. Befor...
We passed through Cameroon rather quickly. The wet season was imminent (April through June is the heavy rain) and we needed to get at least to southern Angola soon to avoid the heavy rains. We crossed into Cameroon at Ekok and spent one night at the Azi Motel on route to the capital Yaounde where we needed to purchase our visa for Gabon.
The Azi Motel (4.629379,9.441828) was a great find. We paid 11,000cfa for an airconditioned room, no negotiation required the staff simply stated the price and were fine with the dogs in the room with us. The quality of air conditioning can seriously range from excellent to terrible, with terrible being hardly any cooling effects, loud noises and intermittent power issues. The a/c here was weak to start with but only due to the power supply, once businesses closed at around 9pm there was more power available and the a/c worked well. The staff explained to us that the internet was down in the region due to political problems.
Next day we rode through...
A few days before leaving Benin we ran into a biker who told us about the motorcycle clubs in Nigeria and gave us the contact details of Queen, a prominent female biker. We contacted Queen to get some information about the border crossing into Nigeria and tried and organise a meetup. Queen was very responsive, but being located in the capital Abuja was well off the main route through Nigeria. However, she asked a friend and the president of the Lagos club, Paul, to reach out to us. Paul messaged us straight away and told us that he was unable to meet us at the border but would make sure we were taken care of by his friend Blessing. Once through the border we were to head to our accommodation and Paul would meet up with us after work.
The exit from Benin was pretty straight forward, apart from the immigration officers asking for a €10 exit fee each. We normally know when a fee is simply made up because the legitimate fees are easy to find online and the fake fees are also commonly me...
We crossed into Burkina Faso at Koloko. It was very quick and easy. We passed a Police checkpoint then in a few hundred meters we were outside the Mali Douane. The Police recorded our vehicle details, checked our visas and stamped our passports. No money requested. The Burkina Faso Douane we stamped in on our Passports and paid 5,000CFA per motorbike for the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) and a receipt.
We rode to the town of Orodara from the border. The whole day was hot riding so we took regular stops to hydrate us and the girls. We didn't have much of a plan for Burkina Faso so we stayed for a couple of nights in Orodara at a lovely local hotel. The owner explained to us that he had built the hotel and all the huts which were simple but very comfortable and we paid extra for air conditioning (16,000CFA per night) for Weeti and Shadows comfort; it's important they get a good night's sleep or they can get grumpy the next day. Orodara was a good location to do day trips to Sindou Pic...
Mauritania to Senegal was another difficult border crossing. We chose the sleepy border crossing of Diama instead of the more popular Rosso border crossing. The road to Diama takes you through a national park. Its a dirt road, heavily corrugated, but fun to ride. There are plenty of warthogs to see and local birds. We lost a few screws, shaken loose from the corrugations, and Janell broke a fuel line about 15km from the Senegal border. She only realised because the fuel was pouring on to her foot and it got really cold and stopped to investigate.
The broken fuel line had to be addressed asap. The rocks from the gravel road were flicking up and had cracked the plastic connection for the Touratech auxiliary tank. We've had this part damaged before so its no surprise and we were carrying one spare connector which we simply fitted on the spot. To protect the connector however we grabbed an empty 500mL coke bottle, chopped the end off and fed the line through the bottle to act as a prote...
The Pack Track entered Africa with great excitement 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 resulting 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 insid...
It was a big decision to take a break from travelling and to work in the UK. To this day we debate whether it was a good idea or not. Janell felt she needed some stability, to know where she was going to sleep every night, buy food for more than a few days and have some routine in our daily life. It could also be an opportunity to make some money for Africa and money to spend enjoying ourselves exploring the UK. Stu wasn't so sure about this plan, by his calculations we had enough money for Africa and wasn't keen to be sticking around in England through the cold months. It would give him time to work on the Pillion Pooch design and run a kickstarter campaign, an idea he'd been playing with in the US but just never had the time to really sit down and work on.
It was agreed, we'd spend 6 months living and working in England. Janell was happy to get a job, she knew she'd enjoy the social aspect of work as well as the routine and exercising parts of her brain that hadn't been used in a ...
Stuart's vision blurred and dimmed, the room began to spin, he gasped for air in an attempt to fill his lungs with as much oxygen as possible given the elevation. His body had gone into autopilot, thrusting again and again in an animalistic fashion. Stuart finally climaxed and immediately after his body weakened and we both collapse on the bed. Earlier that day we had woken up at 800m (2,700ft) of elevation, we'd ended the day at 4200m (nearly 14,000ft) and it was our first experience at any substantial height. Lesson learnt; when you reach elevation for the first time, keep your sexual activity tame.
So what about our sex life?
We decided to write about this taboo topic because we believe its important and that many people will have a very real interest. When travelling, sex is easily forgotten or ignored, there is so much excitement all the time, why add more, right?
Whether you're travelling as a couple, solo or in a group, sex is going to be on the mind at some point, probably ...
We were to travel from New York to Southampton in the UK via Cunards Queen Mary 2 (QM2) cruise ship. Although Cunards had previously provided a vehicle transport service between New York and the UK, it had suspended this service with the decommissioning of the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), the last Cunard ship to boast an on board garage. We'd heard that luggage on the QM2 was unlimited but each piece could be no more than 20kg. We seriously considered breaking the bikes down into 20kg sections and taking them into our cabin, but knew this could end badly with us stuck and our bikes in pieces. The next best option was to send them in a container.
We contacted a company that shipped out of New York as this was the most convenient port for us. Schumacher Cargo Logistics quoted us $500 per bike plus £150 port fee at the other end. We didn't shop around but had done plenty of research and this price seemed very reasonable and so we booked the bikes in. Unfortunately between booking and our d...
After nearly two years of exploring the America's, it was time to move on. We hadn't seen everything by a long shot but there was more of the world to see. So we needed to get two people, two dogs and two bikes from the US to somewhere, anywhere in Europe.
We'd dreamed of taking the Cunard's Queen Mary II (QM2) cruise ship across the Atlantic since we first heard about it. We were already a fan of cruises having first experienced one for our honeymoon and then sailing on two others, each one just as good as the previous. Being dog lovers we were quick to research if dogs were ever welcome aboard but it was limited to just one ship on one particular transit, the QM2 from New York direct to Southampton (and occasionally on to Hamburg).
The QM2 had 12 kennels on board and availability was competitive. We booked Weeti in 12 months in advance as was suggested on Cunard's official website, but even then it was too late and we were placed on a waiting list. Luckily it didn't take long to b...
The dilemma was to move Stu's motorbike from Los Barriles in the south of Baja, 2,000km to Los Angeles where it would be shipped to Europe. However, after the accident Stu was unable to ride. In addition his bike had a serious oil leak and wasn't in a state for anyone else to ride it to California. So the decision was made to truck the bike to Tijuana where it would be ridden the last 200km to Long Beach. In theory it was simple, but events needed to line up for this plan to succeed. And by succeed we mean boarding the Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship from New York to England on the third of January that would transport us and the girls across the Atlantic Ocean knowing the motorbike was with the shipping company in LA ready to ship.
We were in San Diego when the large car carrier semi-trailer with a full load left La Paz on schedule with Stu's bike on board. It left early in the morning and was expected to arrive the following day at which point we would collect the bike from the depot in ...
Maybe it was an error, but it was booked and paid for online, one way car hire from California to New York for under $300. We were picking up from and dropping off at out of the way shops so maybe this has something to do with the cheap price but it was a bargain we couldn't pass, especially as the next best deal was well over a thousand dollars. When we walked into the car rental shop we fully expected to be told that an error had occurred and that we would need to pay substantially more. But this didn't happen, they of course tried to upgrade us to a larger model car but we resisted. We drove out of the parking lot before anyone could stop us feeling like we'd pulled off the heist of the century.
Our little blue hire car
We just squeezed all the luggage in
Weeti & Shadow's spot for the drive
We only had one commitment on this trip, to give a presentation in Dallas for a friend who'd been following us from the start. John had been excited about us giving a talk to the local b...