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Cape to Cairo 2012 Expedition

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Chapter Two Dispatch from Helge

In this installment we will be riding from Botswana to Kenya. After several days of Safari in Botswana Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta we say farewell to the family, get back on the bikes again.

While we were riding north to Tanzania the family would fly and arrive 10 days ahead of us. They would be on a incredible safari and visit many a place that I personally always have dreamt to see. But who I am to complain, I got to ride my bike through Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.

The highlight was to get back to Malawi where I had been hired by Odd Mofjeld in 1983 to help his family to run Kasungu National Park. Meeting Odd again when we visited him at the shore of Lake Malawi was very special and I had a big lump in my trout when I said goodbye after a lovely lunch and a great chat. Thanks Odd for all the great experiences you gave me during my 5 months stay in the 80’s.

Tanzania called out all of our dirt riding skills where we had to battle bull dust, rocks and bad corrugation. It was a hard ride, but we felt alive and loved it.

Another highlight was our visit to Bwindi National Park in Uganda where we had close encounters with the Mountain Gorillas. Hard to explain what it feels like to have a Silverback gorilla pas you so close that he actually step on your foot. The big boy moved fast in between Vincent and me and you can see the pictures that I took below in the gallery. Both Vincent and I were fortunate to be able to share this experience with our wife’s. For Karen, my wife, this was a very emotional experience and a life long dream to see the Mountain Gorillas.

When we started the ride to Kenya we had said our final goodbyes to family and would now ride alone all the way north to Egypt.
I leave you with this short story and trust that you can enjoy the pictures below and of course the stories from Roger and Dan.


Helge Pedersen





Helge's Photo Gallery

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Chapter Two Dispatch from Roger


I ask myself the question of why I go on these long tough trips on a motorcycle. My wife is not at all happy that I do it. I don’t like leaving her home but this trip would be too hard two up. The challenge of riding a motorcycle somewhere where you have never been is exciting. Having three friends who love do ride these crazy places also helps. Also, I doubt that I would ever have ventured to these out of the way places without the urging of Helge Pedersen. He has been a fantastic guide and friend on the Silk Road, Los Angeles to Tierra del Fuego, and now Cape to Cairo.


Because of Helge urging us do stretch our limits of riding a R1200 GS ADV on some very difficult roads we have had some great experiences in Africa. Riding up the west coast of South Africa and then on dirt roads thru Namibia was hard but great fun. When we went thru Rhino Camp, if it hadn’t been for a wrong turn I think I might have made it without falling but the sand got me more than once and then I lost some confidence.
We camped out one night and what a fantastic feeling to be in the middle of the Namibian desert with nothing around you but quite. It was special.

Botswana was wonderful with all the animals on Safari. We were very lucky to see some leopards actively hunting and got some great photos.


I had been to Victoria Falls before but it was nice to see it again from the Zambian side.
Riding thru Zambia and especially Malawi I really think how lucky I am to have been born in the USA with all our luxuries. My image of Malawi is the women carrying the water from the village well to their home on their head. They carry almost everything on their head but the water in a 5 gallon bucket seems to be very heavy.


Tanzania had been another very difficult but satisfying riding experience. We first experienced the heavy truck traffic to Mbeya and then a long day riding on dirt next to a road being constructed by the Chinese. It was sandy, rocky, and dusty but we made it with only a few falls. We could have gone another way on sealed roads but we would have never experienced some of the villages that we passed on the road. We also greatly improved our riding skills. I am still very cautious in the sand but I think that I am getting better.

When we got to our lodge in Uganda at The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park we had the thrill of a lifetime with gorillas running around the paths of the lodge. It was really special. The next day we hiked up about 3000 vertical feet to see another family.
The views and the jungle was fantastic.


For the past week, we have talked more about what will happen to the people of Africa.
We have had many discussions with local whites and some blacks. It seems to be a very big problem in Africa with the invasion of the western cultures conflicting with the traditional culture of the native African indigenes people.

I do not think that all the money that the west has sent to Africa has done much good and probably has done a lot of harm. Africa has to learn to work out it’s own problems.
We all agree that education is important but once a person is educated he needs to be able to use that education. Now there is very little industry. Africa has huge natural resources that is being taken by the rest of the world and not much stays here for the people to manufacture.


I wonder how much the cell phone has changed Africa. There is good cell service over everyplace that we have been so far. It is incredible that we could be in the middle of the bush and get cell service. A lot of the local people have cell phones even while tending their animals in the bush. What a contrast!

We are now in Nairobi and today we changed our tires, oil, oil filters, and air filters and we are set to go on the second part of our ride thru Africa. It has been an unbelievable experience so far.


Roger Hansen

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Chapter Two Dispatch from Dan

Off-road riding

People have asked me what the differences are between the Cape Town to Cairo ride and the Silk Road and South American tours. The off-road riding here has been spectacular, even better than in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. There are two stand-out examples: first, the Rhino Camp road - rocky, twisty with steep inclines and descents, sand patches, lots of ruts and gulleys. I think it is my favorite ride ever - although I fell a lot. I wish there was something like that around Cleveland. Second, the 600km dirt road between Isiolo and Moyale in Kenya. The road was populated with sharp rocks, sandy patches, gulleys and ruts. The road passed through numerous villages and we saw huge herds of camels and were constantly encountering livestock in the road.

Witness to how rocky these road have been, we have had three tire slashes where the tires needed to have innertubes inserted - the normal tubeless tire plugs would not hold.




The animals have been extraordinary. At our camp in Uganda we were sharing the sidewalks with a troop of gorillas. When we went out on our gorilla viewing trek, there was one point where the alpha gorilla moved by us so quickly that he stepped on Helge's foot! We on another trek to look for rhinos and we ran into a family and got perhaps within 200 ft. of them. The male actually walked toward us in a menacing way. We quietly evaporated. We saw virtually every animal imaginable in Botswana - leopards, elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, antelopes, baboons, and all sorts of birds - up close and personal. We were in vehicles but in one case a leopard went under the vehicle and in another location we saw lions just a few feet away. I have never been to Africa and I have never been that close to wild animals before - this was transformational.




It is phenomenal how many residents of the ex-English colonies that we are passing through, speak English. In the most rural cities you always run into someone who is fluent and can translate or answer questions. On the Silk Road hardly anyone spoke English.



Poverty and people

We were surprised by the number of people barely living subsistence lives. The populations of these countries are huge, but the Silk Road countries are almost depopulating. For example, in Ethiopia, where we are now, the population is 94 million. The population is growing at 3.2% per year. The average woman has six children and for every 11 deaths there are nearly 42 births. The whole region is a family planning nightmare with little being done about it. The focus has been on feeding, vacinating and treating disease. Education and family planning have not been emphasized sufficiently. AIDS is coming under some control but is still rampant. One-third of the population of some of these countries is HIV positive. In Uganda, the wife of the current leader has successfully discouraged the use of condoms and the AIDS infection rate has almost immediately responded upwards.




The leadership difference between the Silk Road and Africa is dramatic. On the Silk Road, leadership was authoritarian, oppressive but not necessarily thoughtful. Here we see more of an absence of leadership, both in the manner in which the government is leading, and the way the NGO's (non-government organizations) and non-profits and church groups are leading. Much of the revenues spent are wasted on higher level bureaucracy and in the field of education, little finds its way to the student. Many of these countries have a fertility rate of 6 (number of children per woman) compared to a U.S. fertlity rate of 2.1. In some of these countries one-half the population is age 15 and under. Can you imagine how different the U.S. would be if we had demographics like that?

Traveling through these countries on a motorcycle gives you a strong understanding of the difficult problems facing Africa. I have read about Africa for years, but getting down on the ground, talking to the people, visiting the villages, all of this makes more clear the huge challenges in this area of the world.

Tomorrow we take off from Addis Ababa north toward the Sudan border. It is the rainy season here in Ethiopia and the dirt roads will be too muddy to traverse. We are looking forward to some beautiful rides up through the mountains. None of us brought rain gear but rather have waterproof suits - we'll see if they work.



Dan T. Moore



Dan's Blog

Dan "The Professor" Moore is blogging the ride as well.  If you're interested in viewing his commentary and photos, please click on the image below:

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