While we’re standing here waiting for yet another piece of paper to get stamped in order for us to ship the bike to Italy I thought I’d write a quick post.

This is the third building we’ve been taken to which is packed with people and paper and very little order. We have a little man doing everything for us (which seems to consist of pushing his way to the front of every queue) while we are ushered into different rooms and corners to wait. We’re still waiting to see why we needed to be here in the first place… (eventually I had to sign some paperwork by putting my thumb print onto lots of pieces of paper – odd)

We’re now in Alexandria, the very north of Egypt organising our shipping to Europe. Alexandria is a lot more Mediterranean than the rest of Egypt in terms of weather and architecture and the streets are filled with makeshift markets and men drinking coffee/smoking sheesha. They may not be allowed to drink but they sure make up for it with sugar and sheesha!

Back at the Sudanese/Egyptian border, after a long and frustrating day processing customs to enter Egypt, we spent the night in Abu Simbel, the first town you get to from the border and one that also has a temple.

We had our first beer in a week and were pleasantly surprised with the friendliness of the people. The roads were good, there were buildings and the street lamps worked…it started feeling like we were getting closer to Europe.

We got up early to beat the heat and went to visit the temple which was really impressive. It was the first time we’d seen any Egyptian temples and it was very unique.

We then got back on the road for another day in the desert and 44° heat. Bottles and bottles of water were poured over ourselves before reaching Luxor.

There’s lots to see in Luxor and it was the first time we’d experienced the extreme pestering of the Egyptians wanting to sell us something. Horse rides and market tours seemed to be the things that EVERYONE wanted to sell us. A polite ‘no’ was never enough until it got to the point of me loosing it at them, telling them to leave us alone

‘Smile, why you not smile? You’re on holiday’

This really didn’t help.

We visited Valley of the King’s and Karnak temple among others which were amazing, it was just a shame it was so hot.

We decided to ride from Luxor to Cairo in one day as we really wanted to get the bikes on the next ferry to Europe. It was a long day with nothing to see and at random intervals we had to have a police escort. We have no idea why, but it only seemed to be for 10-20 kms at a time so it didn’t slow us down too much.

In Cairo we stayed at a hotel which had a roof that overlooked the pyramids and displayed the evening light show.

The next day we went to visit the pyramids and saw the Sphinx which was the highlight – smaller than we’d imagined but pretty cool to see.

We raced to Alexandria hoping that if everything lined up for us we’d be able to get the bike on the boat due to depart for Italy on the 15th. Luckily for us it did!

Egypt for me has been a pleasant surprise. I expected the Egyptians to make life a lot harder for us with constant searching of the bike and general dodgyness, however unless they’re trying to sell you something, the Egyptians have been lovely.

We’ve had daily issues with the price of food increasing from when we order it to when we go to pay for it which has been frustrating but as I said, if they’re not trying to squeeze you for all the money you have they’ve been great!

As always the food was great to start with but before long we got a bit sick of the same few ingredients served in pita bread.

We take for granted the wide range of food we have available to us in Australia. Whilst in a foreign country we only ever eat local food and unfortunately in Africa there is no variety so it doesn’t take long to crave something new.

We’re off to Italy tomorrow and I’m dreaming of pizza, cheese and cold meat.

And wine.


Sudan (or India?)

A helpful local leading us the way on his donkey

Today as we were riding through the Sudanese desert for the third day, in 45 degree heat a thought came to my mind:

‘Would I prefer to be in Sudan or India?’

Just to put this into perspective, whilst I was in India I lost hair and felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I also hold India responsible for going grey.

You can imagine how I’m feeling about Sudan.

As I said to Dean the other day: ‘this is my idea of hell’

After we left India I was unable to look at any photo I’d taken there for at least 6 months…but…at least I took photos….lots of them….so many….however here…I’m finding it hard to find anything very interesting.

It’s hot….so so hot, with no shade and no relief.

It’s an Islamic country which I always find depressing.

And there’s nothing here….just miles and miles of desert. It’s not unusual to see piles and piles of carcasses of cows, horses and donkeys off in the distance – the terrain so harsh animals just collapse and die.

Walking over a dune leading to one of Sudan’s many Nubian Pyramids

The people are lovely, very welcoming and friendly, as were Indians (when they weren’t trying to kill us on the road) and whilst here they have religion ruling their lives, India had the caste system which was equally as oppressive. Here Islam also has its own sort of caste system where men are the most important and women and animals come second and third – I’m not sure which comes second, women or animals but I do know the men spend alot more time with their animals than their wives (plural).

lovely lady selling chai (sweet black tea) on the highway where we took a break and drenched ourselves before continuing in the desert.

The terrain is dry and barren with mostly sand and rocks however one night we wild camped in some stunning sand dunes which was a beautiful experience.

Our camp in the dunes at one of the Nubian ruins


We have visited a few Nubian ruins, mostly small (30m high) sets of sandstone pyramids used for burying important people.  They’re something like 3000 years old!!  Pretty amazing when you consider that everything else in modern Africa is completely ruined within about three years.

The Sudanese haven’t worked out how much money tourism can bring, so we were able to ride up to most of the pyramids with no entrance fee at all, which is great for us. (India on the other hand was the other extreme and reamed tourists wherever they had the chance)

we didnt really want to pose for this, but Matias insisted 🙂

The most famous Ruin at Meroe, as seen from our camp. You can also see main set of pyramids off in the distance.

I came to the conclusion that I would choose India and then I remembered the horns…the incessant,stupid, loud, annoying horns which I think contributed to my almost nervous breakdown….no no no!!!

Ok, ok….so its not that bad here….it would probably be half enjoyable if it wasn’t so hot….

We’ve been showering in water from the Nile for the last few days and it looks like we will continue to do so until Cairo. The Nile is brown and so are our showers. Not just a bit brown, but completely brown, like putting a spade full of soil in a bucket, swirling it around and then showering in that.

this is the water coming from one of the many water “filters” around the place.

People here also drink it! We’re tough, but we’re not that tough. Throughout our whole trip we have avoided buying bottles of water and have filtered water when required. We’ve also refused the numerous plastic bags given to us in shops whilst trying to spread the word that plastic is bad (usually followed by blank looks). However here there’s too much dirt in the water to filter it, so we have no option other than to buy plastic bottles, which hurts our soul.

As a way to stay cool and sane, we refill 2 litre bottles with Nile water and soak our t-shirts and pants every time we stop the bike, so when we’re moving again the air cools the wet shirt and for about 30mins we escape the heat. The locals who are dressed head to toe in gowns and wear hats (and sometimes gloves and socks too) look at us like we’re crazy.


We were going to camp tonight but thankfully found a guesthouse with a fan. It’s 9pm and still 38°. Dean and I have both had a muddy shower and are preparing for another hot, sweaty night (not the good kind 😳) dean plans to lay a soaked t-shirt on him to try to stay cool, I may have to follow suit.

Heading to the border tomorrow where this is promise of air conditioning…


Hi all, I’ve just read Sal’s post and feel that maybe I should restore a little balance.  The Saharan desert here in Sudan is incredibly beautiful, but in the most harsh way.  I really like it, not so much the heat, but the vastness and the “don’t fuck with me or you’ll die out here” sense of it all.  It just seems to go on forever, dunes, stony mountains or rocky boulders strewn around the landscape like some giant sandpit, with the Nile feeding this thin line of green through the rock and sand.  And it’s HUGE, we’ve been riding north for a few days now, and have another three days to reach Cairo! 

We cross to Egypt tomorrow, please god, let there be cold beer in Egypt.


The Real Paradise Hotel

We’re in Sudan, day 3, in the capital Khartoum, it’s really hot.

Entering the city we agreed to spend a little more than the usual 5 to 10 dollars on a filthy room, figuring that we’d save loads on alcohol anyway.

So we’re at a mediocre hotel in the middle of town, the bikes are parked in the rear foyer, we’re sharing a “suite” with Matias.

Our suite has hot running water, electricity, WiFi, breakfast included and clean beds (albeit incredibly hard).

Our suite does not have a strong smell of feaces, a million mosquitos, dripping taps that don’t actually work, broken tiles everywhere, stained sheets that smell like (I’m not sure what but Sally calls it) dirty head, a broken toilet seat or exposed wiring. It’s the real hotel Paradiso.

Feels a bit like cheating actually, but we’re headed from here into the desert camping so are making the most of it.

We went out last night for dinner in a Syrian restaurant. Turns out there are lots of Syrians here, and their food is AMAZING! After weeks of ugali, non descript inedible meat, beans, rice and cabbage, the feast of fresh tabouli, chicken, eggplant, yoghourt and mango juice left us all draped in our seats with big smiles.

The friendly Syrian owner grimaced when I mentioned the only thing missing was a beer “here it is not easy to live, too many rules, not so much fun…”

It’s Sharia law in Sudan, which means a lot of things, but Matias summed it up quite well recently in an expletive ridden rant in Spanish saying something like…

“Now I understand, no alcohol, no drugs, no sex, you can’t even see a woman, this horrible screaming coming from ten different mosques 5 times every day… it wears you out! In another week I’m going to start praying for something too!!”

Of course there were plenty of “puta madres” and “en la concha de tu madres” thrown in as well…

On the up side, the men here are very friendly! (we dont/can’t really talk to any women). Yesterday on the highway a man came over to the stall where we were trying to work out what was being sold for lunch, I initially thought he was begging because of how dirty he was, but he translated the food for us then invited us for coffee and shisha at his stall down the road when we were finished.

We chatted for some time about Argentina and Australia, and when we asked to pay he just smiled, put his hand on his heart and said no, you are my guests.

These acts of kindness are so humbling when you consider the man sells coffee for maybe 30c per cup out of a mud hut on the highway.

He spoke fluent English, explaining he was a qualified translator but there was no work, so he and his wife sold coffee here, (and the odd bag of charcoal made in the next village, hence the dirty clothes!).

It’s 830am now, I’ve been awake since the morning prayer at stupidoclock, time to wake Sal and get some breakfast.

Love to all at home xxoo

Nice smile for the man with the AK47… nice smiles all around…

“yes yes nice smiling man with the gun, nice smiles, nice friendly man…”

Is what I heard through the intercom today in a bit of a manic tone as we passed another village full of guys with automatic weapons, who smiled and waved us through.

It’s been quite a day.

It started normally enough in a standard crappy hotel (all of which we now call “hotel Paradiso”, breakfast of egg something and coffee from a stall across the street.

Then we did about 90km with the now normalised northern Ethiopian rock throwing by small angry children as we pass, the odd whip cracked across the bike (and one that got me in the helmet) and some wooden canes swung at us for good measure.

(It’s pretty wild up here, and the kids tending cattle between villages don’t like it if you don’t stop and give them candy or something, no kidding!)

The scenery is really pretty though, rolling hills, cultivated by hand with cows pulling wooden ploughs through the mud, people tending small herds of cows, sheep or goats, donkeys loaded with water or pulling carts, life playing out on the roadway. The houses are made from tree limbs lined up and caked in mud and straw, there’s is no electricity or running water, hence all the donkeys, and not really any shops or industry, just small plot farming.   It feels kind of quaint (except for the rock throwing!), a bit like the hobbit town in lord of the rings 🙂  The villages are usually less than a few hundred metres from start to finish, and seperated by several kilometers.

round mud houses in one small village

We stopped in one large village to compare bruises and to drink another coffee when some guys at the coffee stall told us the only road to Gondar (get it?? Gondor????) anyway… they said it was closed (and the only road out of the country), and that we’d have to stay there in Shitsville until the trouble passed, something about a guy who died in Addis and the people from Gondar being very angry.

Undeterred, and unwilling to stay the night there we pushed on.

The first road block was in a village 20km down the road where a group of people were standing in the road and had a rope pulled across it behind them.

They seemed pretty angry about something, Sal jumped off the bike and went marching down the street to find some police while Matias tried to convince them to let us pass, telling some story about our visas expiring, and appealing to their humanity 🙂

I wasn’t sure who was more crazy! I tried to remain calm while yelling for Sal to some back, but she was long gone.  I tried to inch forwards, but this got people really angry and they started physically pushing me backwards.   This was not good.

In an unexpected twist Matias was somehow successful!  One of the locals decided we didn’t have anything to do with their blockade, so we shook hands with the now starkly friendly mob, and they lowered the rope so we could pass. A hundred metres on I picked up Sal and we continued.

the now friendly group of people waving us away, it looks a bit like a gay pride march with all the men and the almost rainbow the flag! 🙂

“I don’t think that’s the last of it…”

We dodged through a few half assed road blocks made by putting large rocks on the road before meeting another angry mob.

This time someone came over who spoke english and told the rest of the guys to back off and let us through, which they did.   We smiled and said “amasuckinello” (thankyou) and continued.

A hundred metres later someone threatened us with a rock the size of a brick, I feigned riding straight at him and he stepped back, only to throw the rock at Matias instead.

“Guys we need to go straight to the border, not go to Mordor, this is very dangerous situation”

“yes the road to Mordor is very dangerous”

I had earlier suggested to Matias that the town was called Mordor (instead of Gondar), so it was quite hard to keep a straight face at this point (more Lord of the Rings humor.   Yes I am a nerd.)

Matias takes these situations very seriously so we listened to his concerns before explaining that we really wanted to see Gondar and we really thought it would be fine.

“Let’s just go slowly, if it gets serious or we are actually stopped we will make another plan”

The next road block was made from big logs laid across the road, 4 or 5 of them to cross, each about a foot high.

Sal slid off the back and went looking for a way around it while we talked to the mob who seemed more interested in the bikes than the road block.

Sensing some way through (or just ignoring the risks and moving, I’m not sure!), Matias went for it and bounced his way across the logs one by one, sending them rolling back down the road towards me as his rear wheel skidded over them.

The crowd cheered, Matias pumped the air and did a bit of a wheelie before returning to see me come over.

“This is a bad idea”

“Be careful babe!”

And over went Betsy, somewhat to my amazement without much fuss, although the previously ordered road block was now scattered about the place as the logs were shot out the back of the motorbike one by one.  This pissed off a couple of guys (who probably put the logs there in the first place), but impressed everyone else, and we rode away with people mostly cheering and smiling.

Gondar was only another 15km so we pushed on, thinking we could get a room there and hang out for a couple of days while all this fuss blew over.

That didn’t quite work out.

The roads actually in Gondar were completely devoid of traffic, and it all had this really weird tense feeling with the streets full of staring people and literally no other cars or trucks.  The smiling village people were gone, replaced by staring angry looking city dwellers.   Every few km we had to dodge a field of rocks put on the road, but no one protested us doing this, they just stared at us passing. Then approaching town centre we came to a sea of angry people, some carrying makeshift weapons like bits of concrete reinforcing rod or wooden bats, and we realised we weren’t going to make it to the hotel.

“Please you go now, leave here now, very dangerous here now” said one man pleading with us to go.

Matias at this point wasn’t taking no for an answer, and was already going the other way when we agreed to turn back.  We backtracked our way out of town through crowds of people and rock debris on the road until we reach the outskirts of Gondar and took the main road to the border, unsure whether there would be more trouble.

There were no road blocks going the other way out of town, and it quickly settled back into the normal looking flow of villages, but it was really eerie traveling on a main road without any other traffic at all. Literally no one.  Like some sort of post apocalyptic movie where all the cars are gone and everyone lives in strange round mud houses and donkeys do all the heavy work.  I’m not doing it justice but anyway…

30km further and we started to see people on the road carrying guns, mostly rifles and AK47’s.  The ones not carrying guns were carrying knives, picks or some other wooden implement, which is probably what they carry every day of the year, but when you add all the guns it made things feel pretty sketchy.

We waved, they mostly waved back, and we stopped briefly for some food where more armed people came to say hello… one actually let Matias hold his AK for a photo!  Now it’s not everyday someone offers you an AK, the weapon of choice for militants all over the world, as a photo prop, so I had to get one with Sally too 🙂

To make it all even more surreal, we were now following a storm which had left the road wet, but now it was full sun on the damp road so there was this weird fog rising from the tar, the scene complete with a road full of armed men, donkeys, cows, goats and wild lawless sneering children sometimes throwing rocks and whipping at us as we passed.

We passed one of the larger villages (where the rock throwing would usually stop), and stopped in front of a roadside restaurant to see if they were serving food. The men there looked at us as though we were totally insane and shook their heads, pointing us further on with their weapons.

Further on more guns, odd looks and some smiles.

“Yes yes keep smiling for the nice man with the gun, hello nice man!”

“What the fuck is going on here?!” we were starting to get wigged out.

Another ten kilometres and we reached a long line of oil tankers on the road, ending with a military blockade, complete with an anti aircraft gun mounted to the roof of a Toyota pickup truck!

“Documents, what is in the bags”

We went through the usual questions of where we were going and where we’d been, showed our passports, and asked our own questions like…

“Why are the men in the last village carrying guns?”

Answered by

“You are safe now, you have passed the fighting”

“Oh good.”

It turns out that there were actually TWO different bits of civil unrest going on simultaneously in neighbouring areas here in Northern Ethiopia.

The first was centred on some politician from Gondar who died (or was killed by Europeans we were told at a petrol station…), so the Gondarians decided to block all the roads into and out of Gondar, as you do…  (I’m finding it hard not to make more Lord of the Rings jokes here!)

Then a little way down the road from Gondar there was a tribal dispute that had spilled over and both tribes took to the streets armed with all kinds of weapons… and we’d just ridden unawares from one side of the conflict to the other!  They were all very nice to us at least! (except for the rock throwing children, little fuckers.)

We ended the day 180km from Gondar, 30km from the Sudan border, and just past the tribal conflict in a town called Shitsville, with local people quizzing us about the situation down the road, asking us whether we thought they could safely leave town?!

Turns out we were the only three people to have made it through that area for the last few days!!

I’m writing this from a particularly “Paradise” hotel in a city in Sudan, about 175km from the Ethiopian border.  Happy to be out of Ethiopia.  Unhappy that beer is forbidden in Sudan.

Love to all back home xxoo



Sudan border

Well, here I am, standing at the border between Ethiopia and Sudan after a dodgy money change deal, waiting for Dean and Matias to complete customs for Ethiopia.

It’s been an interesting few days, more of which Dean is in the middle of writing a post about but we’ve had to leave Ethiopia earlier than planned.

It started in Addis where both Dean and I got sick from something we ate (it could have been the plate of raw meat we ate the day before but Matias was fine) which resulted in me spending the day in bed. Thankfully the room was clean and the toilet was nearby – it could have been so much worse!

The next day we headed north out of Addis towards Bahir Dar. The road was beautiful. Stunning scenery, so green and lush. As always, lots of animals walking along the road but unlike the south, the people seemed less friendly. We experienced the stone throwing we’d heard about but also some whipping!

Animals get treated pretty rough here and it seems kids are given whips at a very young age to pretty much do what they want with. Usually they whip animals for no real reason other than they can, however some children (and adults) seem to also like whipping motorcyclists! Thankfully nothing got us but the bike got a few whips. It makes it really hard to enjoy being in a place when you feel so much aggression coming from the people, especially when you dont even know why.

We stopped off for some lunch and as we pulled up we got the usual crowd of locals staring.

We usually sit where we can keep an eye on the bikes however the owner of the restaurant who was sitting outside told us to go inside and he would watch them.

Whilst sitting inside eating, one of the waiters gave Martias a nudge as he passed him. None of us understood why but Dean decided to go outside and stand by the bikes just in case. Two kids on a small motorcycle had pulled up close to our bike and were parked there for a while, staring with everyone else.

Suddenly they screeched away really fast.

‘Sal, where’s your helmet?’ Dean asked

‘On the bike where it always is’

‘No it’s not’


By now there are about 100 people crowding around the bike.

I start to lose it.

‘Where did my helmet go?’

‘The guys on the bike, who knows them?’

‘Take us to them’

I just received blank stares. Maybe nobody understood anything I’d said but I’m sure they picked up that I was mad. It was clear they all saw it happen and knew the guys who took it.

Matias started to have a go at the owner

‘You said you’d look after our bikes! You told us to go inside! Why did this happen?’

By now we had about 200 people staring.

‘Dont worry, we’ll get your helmet back, I’ll go to the police’

We all know how effective the police are, especially in these countries…it didnt fill me with encouragement.

Nobody really spoke English except for the waiter I’d been dealing with in the restaurant so I went back to look for him, sure that someone in the crowd knew where these kids lived.

I finally found him.

‘Please, that kid took my helmet, someone must know where he lives, please get my helmet back, I’ll pay money’

‘I know, I’m trying, I’m trying’ he said, looking obviously distressed and ashamed.

He disappeared. The police stood around talking for a while, not really appearing to do anything and then they all got in a ute together and drove off up the road, no doubt for some lunch.

‘So, I guess we wait’ said Dean ‘We give it a few hours and if nothing happens we’ll have to go back to Addis and buy another helmet’

‘No way, I’m not going back, I’ll ride without a helmet if I have to’

‘No you won’t Sally. You’re not leaving here without a helmet. Start looking in Addis for a place that sells helmets’

He can be such a dad at times.

Addis was 200 KMs back. I hate going back, and I knew there was no way I was going to find a good helmet in Addis. NOBODY wears helmets in Ethiopia and this was MY helmet, it had been everywhere with me, I couldn’t bear travelling any further without it.

I started reluctantly looking for helmets in Addis for about 5 minutes….

‘Sally!!! Hijo de puta!!!’ yells Matias

The waiter had ran back with my helmet – camera and intercom still attached.

‘I paid 500 birr for it’ he said ($20)

‘No problem, thank you so much, you have no idea how important this is, thank you.

Dean started to count out the money to give to him when the owner of the restaurant appeared

‘Whats happening here?’ he said

‘I paid 500 for the helmet’

‘What?!!!’ the owner was furious and pointed to Dean

‘You, no money’

He then pulled out his own wallet and counted out 500 birr and threw it at the kid.

‘There’s your money, now you come with me and we are going to get that money back’

He was so mad and stormed to a car with the kid following.

‘I’m so sorry, I just want to say sorry’ he said to me as he passed and then got in the car and drove away.

There were now about 300 people crowding around, we couldn’t even see the bikes anymore.

‘Lets get the fuck out of here’ we all said to each other

The people seemed happy that we got the helmet back. I even had one lady shake my hand.

‘You need it more than him’ she said with a smile

We were all shocked and weren’t quite sure what to feel. We’d experienced negativity and theft and then kindness and support.

I was so lucky.

I’ll let Dean write about our remaining few days in Ethiopia in another post.

We’re now about to embark on possibly a week of no alcohol (unless Martias manages to smuggle a bottle of gin across without getting 40 lashes), lots of heat, sand and Islam.

Believe it or not I’m looking forward to new food – it didn’t take long to get sick of bread and dips – a good dose of food poisoning helped that!

Ethiopia started out being my favourite country in Africa so far however now it has to go down as the most interesting!

Wish us luck!

Don’t believe the hype…

Before entering Ethiopia, we’d heard some horror stories.

Other travelers had said that children throw rocks at motorcycles as you pass.

We were told there were millions of displaced Somalians along the main road to Addis who frequently blocked the road stopping all travel for days.

A few days before we were due to cross Matias read an article that 50 people had been killed at the border we were due to cross at.

‘We can’t cross here, we need to change our plans’ Martias said, slightly desperately

‘But there’s no where else to cross Matias, except one remote crossing with no fuel and 9 hours of rocks and sand’ we tried to explain ‘and we don’t know if that will be any better’

‘You don’t understand, if there is trouble at a border, you don’t cross, no way, we get a plane if we have to’

‘Well, if there have been killings, there will be more security. If it’s that dangerous they will close the border, if it’s open, we’ll be fine’ Dean and I explained

‘You guys are crazy’

‘And anyway’ Dean said ‘ they won’t want to kill us, they’ll kidknap us first and hold us for ransom’

Matias looked genuinely scared. He spent the rest of the day trying to ring shops, hotels and immigration on the border to get more information…he didn’t get much of a response but one guy from immigration said there was no problem, so short of going alone across the other border he seemed to reluctantly accept that.

We were more concerned the country would be more Muslim and it was going to be hard to get a beer…how wrong we were.

Ethiopia is the oldest Christian country, second only to Armenia which means, they like to drink. Jesus turned water into wine, he liked to party! 😁

So we crossed the border first thing to avoid all the crowds.

The border was empty.

As always it was easy to exit Kenya. Upon entry to Ethiopia our temperature was checked for Ebola (all good there) and we proceeded to the immigration counter. The guys behind the counter were super friendly and apart from having to provide details of a hotel booking (which I’d cancelled after we received our visas) it was a quick and easy process. Customs for the bike was also easy and free!

So one hour later and we were across…getting ready to deal with the millions of Somalians and nasty children throwing rocks….

We experienced nothing except smiling and waving children and adults and very quiet roads.

Nothing of what we’d heard was true…for us…on this day. Obviously these other reports were true (some only a week prior) but things change so quickly and you need to see things for yourself. If we’d followed everyones advice over the years we never would have left Australia (as happy as this would have made our mothers!)

As soon as we crossed the border the food changed. After two months of eating nothing but rice/ugali with beans and tough inedible meat we were given lots of different dishes all served on injera bread (a local steamed kind of flat bread) and coffee!

Actual coffee that has caffeine in it….pretty much exactly like an Italian stove top espresso however prepared in a different way.

And they love to drink. If they’re not drinking coffee, they’re drinking beer. They even drink beer for breakfast. Ethiopia makes their own wine too which I can actually stomach drinking!

The people here look less ‘African’ a little more Persian/Egyptian….slightly lighter skin with softer hair, which means there are some pretty cool afros…and more western dressed.

We still get children and the occasional adult ask for money which seems pretty standard in Africa as soon as they see white skin but we can only blame the west for that.

The country is green and mountainous with hundreds of donkeys, cows, goats and sheep wandering on the roads.

Donkeys are used for pretty much everything and they are worked hard. There aren’t many cars around, just a few Toyota LandCruisers and crammed buses. The people are so eager to please and go out of their way to make us feel welcome.

We are currently in Addis Ababa organising our visa for Sudan.

Again here we were expecting a complete headache due to things we’d read but so far it’s been the easiest visa we’ve applied for so far. We dropped our passports today, paid the money and apparently….tomorrow at 2pm, they will be ready….let’s see!

Northern Kenya

We just had an interesting conversation with a 25 year old Kenyan guy who offered to barter two camels for Sally… seriously.

I told him it would take 10 good camels, no old or sick ones, only good quality camels.

He shook his head and said it was too much.

(Posing at lake Turkana… I’d trade ten camels for Sal any day!)

He also told us that he’d just bought his wife for one camel, and she’s only 15 years old, this was accompanied by hand motions signifying a small, petite girl with small breasts… seriously.

I guess two camels for Sal isnt so bad, Matias and I reasoned that if we broke down in the desert we could always trade Sal for a pair of camels and walk out of there 🙂

We’re camped in a strange little village on the shores of lake Takana, three days ride north of Nairobi. This is a tribal area where people depend on things like camels, cows and goats for survival. The people are predominantly tall and thin, and they wear huge necklaces made from brightly coloured beads, and carry a knife or an AK47, and a tiny little seat made of wood that looks like a mushroom… seriously.

Their houses are the shape of a sphere with a bit missing on the bottom, traditionally they might have been covered in mud or straw, but now mostly with old waste plastic, so theyre relatively colourful in contrast to the surrounds which are brown and beige, the colour of the desert.



The road here was seriously rough, the type of road that breaks the motorbike, corrugations, rocks, rubble, sand, the last 20km was in loose rubble, really hard and slow going, so we decided to spend a day in the ‘oasis’ town before heading off tomorrow.

Leaving Nairobi we took some smaller roads north to a lake where we camped to the sounds of hippos grunting and snorting all night, some came really close to the shore, maybe 50m from us, really cool! From there it’s been two days on rough dirt roads to get here, passing through small towns and tribal grazing areas. We stopped at one point for a short break in the desert, and a guy came walking down the road out of nowhere. Turns out we’d stopped next to an army camp, and he came to see what we wanted.

“Is this a safe place?” Sal asked
“Yes, it is safe because we are here close by”
“But is it safe further along?”
“Ah yes it is quite fine now because there is grass”
“Grass?” I asked, thinking i’d misunderstood
“No drought now, so there is too much grass” hmmm
“So there is enough grass for every persons cows, so no fighting between tribes”
“And that makes it safe?”
“Yes, you see otherwise i would have my weapon, but i am waking casually now, when there is drought, no grass, so much fighting and violence”

It’s another world.

We stopped shortly after that for lunch in a tiny village, where we ate rice, beans and cabbage (again!) for 70c. The afternoon was pretty hard going in the heat and dust until we reached a much improved dirt road newly built to service a windfarm, and thinking we were home free I started to relax a little and enjoy the ride. Unfortunately at the end of the windfarm the road turned to shit again, and the last 25km were painfully slow and hot.

On the upside we were rewarded with an amazing view of an impossibly big lake in the middle of the desert, the road descending to the water in a steep rocky landscape that felt like we were on a harsh alien planet. No trees to be seen, only red brown rocks strewn across the hills, not even anything green next to the lake, just this shimmering surface that had me imagining the set of a scifi film and wondering whether the water might be poisoned to explain the total lack of any life.

Then with just a few km left on the gps track, we came around a bend and there was the oasis town, with it’s funny little round houses, palm trees and shouting waving children.

It’s about 35 degress here now, but thankfully it cools down in the early hours of the night which if it werent for the galeforce winds would make it possible to sleep. We’re all a bit bleary eyed and short tempered as a result.

There’s a trip to the lake for a swim planned for this afternoon and bbq fish for dinner, before a super early start to beat the heat in the morning.

Love to all xxoo

African border processes

This post is for anyone researching current costs and processes for crossing borders in Africa.

We are traveling on Australian passports however we also both have EU passports, so far it hasn’t mattered as all requirements are the same. We have a carnet for our motorcycle which has made life considerably easier. All prices are in USD.

South Africa 24/5/18 – we arrived by plane, visa on arrival, the bike cost $30

Beitbridge, Zimbabwe 4/6/18 – a slow process, about 3 hours, $30 for us and $40 for the bike

Livingstone, Zambia 7/6/18 – another slow process, $50 for us as we needed a double entry visa and $40 for the bike

Botswana 8/6/18 – free visa on arrival – we didn’t cross with the bike

Chipata, Malawi 16/6/18 – $75 for us, $60 for the bike ($20 to enter $40 for insurance) Slow process, about 2 hours

Songwe, Tanzania 24/6/18 – $50 for us, nothing for the bike. Enquired about paying TIP as we’d read this was required however were told we didn’t need to (maybe due to having a carnet?). Needed a photocopy of international driver’s licence. Organised CODESA insurance in town for Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt for $55USD (after some haggling and refusing to pay more). Overall a easy, quick process, one hour max – we did this on a Sunday which may have helped the speed!

Lungalunga Kenya 7/7/18

Evisa organised in advance for $51 ( very quick and easy process.

2 of us were asked for yellow fever immunisation certificate, one of us wasn’t.

Customs was very slow. Unknown to us, we needed to apply for a foreign permit in advance (on the same website above) so someone had to do it for us and the service cost us $10.

If you’re traveling in Kenya for more than 2 weeks a permit costs you $20, if less it’s free. We took the free option however we may end up extending it. Overall process took 2 hours, being a Saturday the border was very quiet.

Applying for Ethiopia visa in Nairobi, Kenya 10/7/18:

We needed to supply a letter of introduction from the Australian embassy (we were charged $50 per letter 😳), passport copy, details of hotel booking, name of manager of hotel and phone number (booked on with free cancellation), passport photo and completed form.

We took our documents in at 10am. Our letters of introduction were taken and we were told to wait. At 12pm we were told to come back at 2.30pm. when we returned we were told to wait again, around 3.30pm we were told they were still waiting for the ambassador (?!) Finally we were asked for our application forms and told to wait some more. At 4.30pm we were ushered into an office where we had to wait. We were then given a bank account number and told to pay $40 into a CBA commercial bank and to come back the next day.

We did this and returned with our payment slips. We were then told to wait some more. We received our visas 45 minutes later. I think this process would have been a one day affair if the ambassador had turned up to work on time!

At the border, Moyale, Ethiopia…

After lots of stories of trouble at the border with recent shooting between tribes and 1000’s of displaced Somalians along the 200km main road to Addis, this was probably the easiest, quietest border we’ve crossed so far.

Exiting Kenya was simple however customs did inspect our bikes and the VIN number which was a first in Africa.

To enter Ethiopia, after an ebola temperature check we proceeded to immigration where we were asked the details of our hotel booking (name, address and phone number).

We had booked this when we applied for our visa however I cancelled it after we received it. Luckily our friend still had internet from Kenya so I was able to retrieve an old email with all the details. Once these details were supplied we were stamped in.

Customs was easy (with a carnet) no fee required, COMESA insurance accepted. 1 1/2 hours total.

Applying for Sudan tourist visa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 23/7.18

We wanted a transit visa but they are no longer available.

After hearing how hard it was to get a Sudanese visa we were prepared for the worse however this was the easiest visa to get so far.

We were told we needed two passport photos, passport photocopy, photocopy of Ethiopian visa and details of a hotel booking including the managers name.

We were served immediately, they completed the form for us and accepted an address and phone number of a hotel in Khartoum and the managers name (I got the details of a hotel on line – no booking made)

We paid $68 and were told to come back the next day at 2pm. They were there waiting for us!

At the border, Metema Sudan 28/7/18

Ethiopian exit, easy as always.

Entry to Sudan – passport and Sudan visa photocopy required as well as passport photos. Registration done here at the same time as immigration. Paid 620 Sudanese pounds per person.

Customs for bike – it was apparently a holiday for customs when we crossed so we had to wait a while for the man to come from his house to process us. Once he arrived it took a while as everything had to be translated into Arabic. He then had to go to his managers house to get a stamp. He returned and we were good to go with no money required (pay on exit)

Total time, about 3 hours

Wadi Halfa, Egypt 4/8/18 (the border crossing we’d been dreading!)

Arrived at the border at 8.30am, waited in immigration hall until they opened at 9am. Eventually processed customs to exit and were told to sit in another hall where they check any luggage you have on your person.

Exit for the bike – once a police officer lets you through the gates you have to complete customs.

We had to go to the traffic police office (there was no sign) they took 4 photocopies (carnet, license, ownership document, COMESA) this cost £sp30

Customs – stamped carnet (but only the header) and told us we were good to go.

We rode to the gate and they told us we had to get something else but nobody could tell us what, they just kept pointing to a fixer who wanted to charge us $50.

We tried to do it ourselves but everything was in Arabic and nobody wanted to help us, in the end we had no choice but to use someone. It cost £sp190 Sudanese in total

We decided to organise a fixer for Egypt – we’ve never done this before

In total, to exit Sudan, it took 4 hours

Egypt entry

We were stopped at the gate and directed to a window where we were told we needed to pay 100 per person in local money which we didn’t have.

We were taken to an office where they exchanged dollars or debited money off a credit card. Here we also had to pay $25USD for a visa.

We returned to the window and were told we had to pay £ep360 (£ep160 extra for the bike)

We had to then fill in a form and pay £ep30 per person – we got a receipt but have no idea what it was for.

We then went back to the bike and were allowed in the compound after they took our passports.

Then our fixer turned up

We then had to scan our bags, the fixer took our carnet, all the photocopies taken on the other side (license, bike document and passport)

We had to pay the fixer £ep1400, we were told that was for everything

He got our passports back and we lined up to get visa. We were then told to wait in a cafe for about an hour.

Eventually we were given back our passports and carnet then had to go to an office to get an egyptian licence and number plate, this took another hour – we received nothing at this stage.

We then had to go to another office and get our passport photocopied again.

Here, after half an hour we received our plates and license.

We paid our fixer £ep400(he told us how much he wanted) and he said we were good to go.

We were then stopped again at the gate for more passport photocopies and then we really could go…

Insurance wasn’t mentioned

Unfortunately a fixer was required as all forms were only in Arabic and there are no signs on any of the offices you have to go to

Time entering Egypt, 3 hours and $180 😳


On route to Kenya, after an early morning departure from Zanzibar, we decided to spend the night at a random lodge in what appeared to be a bus station/truck stop area due to an oncoming storm.

The rooms were cheap ($5), they were showing the football and they sold beer – this is all we ask for these days! Nobody spoke a word of English but everyone made an effort to understand us encouraged by Martias’ slightly weird Latino dancing

and Dean’s animal impressions

( I just sat in the middle shaking my head trying to explain they were both crazy)

As the sun went down and the rain subsided a street of food stalls appeared which is always a highlight.

The food in Africa isn’t very exciting. It’s not terrible but it’s getting a bit boring and we’ve started talking about pizza….and cheese…and salami…We’ve even got a bet going with the world cup… Whoever picks the winning team gets dinner bought for them by the other two…their choice of venue (we’re hoping Nairobi has ‘choices’). So far it’s only Dean (he chose France) who’s in with a chance….I however added an extra clause and said if England won, (my choice was Brazil as I didn’t think England would make it this far….!) I’ll buy them both dinner…there’s half a chance I’m buying dinner.

Every day we generally eat rice, beans maybe some silverbeet, maybe if we’re lucky, some meat (which is usually inedible) 2-3 times a day…at night sometimes we get what we call ‘shit on a stick’ which is bbq inedible meat skwerers…it’s been almost two months of this now so you can imagine how we’re feeling!

This food market, in addition to the above had liver shit on a stick which Dean and Martias loved and gorged on. I managed to find a cabbage salad with a chilli sauce which was great…basically anything fresh is good for me at this stage.

We all had an early night (ear plugs required as we had no windows) and set off early the next morning to Kenya (no showers)

After an easy yet slow process at the border we headed to Diani beach were we knew about a place where you could camp on the beach.

White sand and palm trees, the place is pretty idealic.

View from our tent

We’ve had campfires and cooked our own food, pasta one night and goat ribs (bought from the local butcher, no refridgeration and covered with flies) on Martias’ Parilla with a tomato salad the next.

Zoom in to see the flies!

Today we head towards Nairobi, no doubt for more beans and rice and lots of traffic 😉

Zanzibar V2.0

Finally the rain broke and we have some sun at the beach 😁

Oh and the power came on in our room as did the water finally, it’s the little things you miss!

Today we did a couple of dives off Zanzibar island at what was supposed to be the best diving spots in the area, it was ok-ish but nothing special, and the tides are no good for diving from tomorrow onwards so it looks like that’s it for now.

Sal had a bit of a panic attack in the first dive, and I forgot to rinse the soap out of my mask before the second one so wound up with stinging eyes the whole dive… Seems the universe is telling us something.

So tomorrow we’re having a “day off” at the beach before heading back to DAR to look for parts for Matias’ bike.

We haven’t had a day off in a while so really looking forward to it 😉