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Cape to Cairo Adventure 2017

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Dispatch Four from Nick Gudewill

Please refer to my personal blog for further details of our Cape to Cairo adventure: Http://





Day 43, Sun, Feb 26th

Sunny Side Hotel, Kombolcha to Mountain View Hotel, Lalibela, 313 km


The story of today was climb, descend, climb, descend‎. We got to 12,000 feet altitude in some places. It was exhilarating but hard work. It was not a long day mileage wise but the first 140 km took us 2.5 hours as an example of the more technical nature of the ride. Northern Ethiopia is spectacular scenery wise, the best we have seen yet; much of it is to do with the varying topography. A couple of issues: the turns are very tight in places necessitating total focus and therefore some potential missed views; the cloud cover did not give us terrific viewing opportunities either. Last, there are few safe or convenient exit p‎oints to stop and look around. Still, we had an eye full so no complaints, just not very good pictures. Early on we were in some drizzle, an occasional whiteout requiring 4 way flashers and lots of pot holes to dodge. Later, we were on gravel roads for about 70 km or so.


We are now at this lovely scenic hotel way up high called not surprisingly, the Mountain View Hotel. We will get a rest from the bikes tomorrow and find out about the Lalibela Monolithic churches which are world famous from the 12th century.


Day 44, Mon, Feb 27th

Mountain View Hotel, Lalibela, 0 km


Lalibela (population 30,000) means 'eater of the ‎honey bee' and when King Lalibela was born he was surrounded by honey bees hence the name. He was a revered and generous man, travelled to Jerusalem and wanted to create something similar here. He built 6 complete churches right into the ground with a hammer, chisel and other rudimentary tools in 23 years. They simply started digging and kept digging into basalt and volcanic rock. The biggest one is huge, 34 by 24 metres by 10 metres high with 34 pillars inside and 38 pillars outside. It is a Unesco world heritage site and gets visited annually by over 40,000 international tourists


Tonight we went to this amazing restaurant on an even higher hill top than our hotel called the Ben Abeba Restaurant. With panoramic 360 degree views in every direction; we got there early for a stunning sunset picture opportunity and then sat down to a wonderful dinner. We were truly fortunate to have such an experience basically in the middle of nowhere.


Day 45, Tue, Feb 28th

Mountain View Hotel, Lalibela to Goha Hotel, Gonder, 366 km


Today's ride was pure motorcycle heaven; great tarmac (a few ruts and potholes and truck trenches but on the whole excellent‎). We started out in the high alpine and it was coolish, about 13 degrees. Then we got into the switch backs, what fun, up and down and then again. I wish I could better explain the feeling but those that ride will understand. It was one of my best riding days ever.


I will really miss Ethiopia. The people are so pleasant and the scenery is like nowhere else. Due to the concentrations of people and animals constant vigilance is required which means you are always a bit on edge when riding. Despite this we have all greatly enjoyed Ethiopia and all its wonders.


My lasting impression is one of smiling waving kids walking to school, papers and books in hand as we ride by. Their innocence, joy of seeing us and great smiles are priceless.




Day 53, Wed, March 8th, Nefertari Abu Simbel Hotel, 0 Km


Pretty easy day; breakfast 7:30 am then off to see a wonderful set of temples within walking distance of our hotel. In the 1960's Nasser flooded what became the single biggest man made lake in the world as part of the plan to create the Aswan Dam. Named after him, it is 500 km long and up to 170 m deep in the middle. Part of the problem apart from the desecration of so many Nubian villages was the potential destruction of 14 very important temples built by Pharoah Ramses ‎and others 3300 years ago in about 1280 BC.

Unesco was asked to get involved and with significant German engineering, the help of 5 international companies and archaeological assistance, $36 mm was spent between 1964-68 to move the two most important ones 66 m higher and 200 m back from this new lake. They used bull dozers, cranes, heavy saws and meticulous numbering of 1041 huge blocks of sandstone (some of them up to 7 tons) to create this huge success for all the world to see and enjoy.


This area is far to the south of where the Pharaohs wanted to be (600 km south of Luxor) but it contained most of the gold they so treasured for ‎their activities; therefore, they had to conquer the area to extract the resource.


Ramses III was the man to do it and he was an extraordinary guy; the third of 11 Ramses he lived to 97 had 34 wives and 150 kids. He set himself up as an all powerful god in direct competition with the powerful priests of the day and accomplished a lot in his long life including these incredible temples for all to enjoy even today.


When you walk through this place you wonder just how the experts were able to interpret all of the complicated art work on the walls. In 1799 the ‎Rosetta Stone was discovered east of Alexandria in a town called Rashid by a Frenchman, Pierre Bouchard.


The Rosetta Stone which resides in the British Museum in London was the communication key to the whole vast puzzle. It was written in 3 languages, Ancient Egyptian, hieroglyphic script and Demotic and went a long way towards allowing us to understand the complicated Egyptian society of so long ago.


King Ptolemy V created the Rosetta Stone in 196 B.C. and gave the world this gift as a cross referencing system.


Day 54, Thur, Mar 9th, 284 km
Nefertari Abu Simbel to Helnan Aswan Hotel, 284 km


Nice to get back on my bike, easy ride up the highway to Aswan‎. Early on I am wrapped up a bit for the cool morning and then take off a few layers halfway along; the terrain is like the surface of the moon so nothing to report except a few polite police checkpoints.

Fatimah turned out to be one of our best guides of the trip so far; an archeology major, clear english and slower of speech she educated us about the history of the Aswan area (greater population about a million).


The important antiquities here are the obelisks; the pharoahs people came here to carve out multi ton granite statues out of‎ special rock quarries. The quarry we saw is two km away from the river and the obelisk pictured here is 42 metres long and weighs 1200 tons. How in the heck did they dislodge this massive piece let alone move it (the reason it is even here is that it cracked in place in 2500 BC and became useless)?


These granite obelisks are now displayed all over the world as an awareness opportunity to encourage people to come here and see for themselves how advanced their civilization was in those days. The procedure was that they carved and carved into the bedrock and then dislodged the large blocks by driving sycamore wedges under the piece and soaking the wood; the wood absorbed the water then expanded and eventually burst and separated the underlying rock from the obelisk; seems crazy but that is what they did.


Day 56, Sat Mar 11th

Maritim Jolie Ville Kings, Luxor, 0 km


I have been to the Pantheon, the Acropolis and Cape Sounion in Greece, the Coliseum in Rome and many other ruins, all very impressive. However, nothing remotely compares to what I saw today. The Greeks and Romans were like little boys playing with meccano sets in comparison to what the Egyptians built more than a ‎millennia before them.


We started off on the west bank of the Nile which symbolized death because that is where the sun set and it became nightfall; the east symbolized life with the sunrise. The west bank ‎is where the Valley of the Kings was discovered up in the mountains right adjacent to Luxor. There are 64 tombs in total but in order to preserve what is there, 9 are open to the public; only 26 remain intact as the tomb robbers made a habit of ransacking the treasures inside once a sacred location was discovered.


Our visit was heavenly compared to what the tourist traffic used to be like; in the good old days 8,000‎ tourists per day caused claustrophobic conditions getting in and out of the tombs. Untold billions of tourism dollars flowed in which is now just a comparative trickle- this makes visitations today that much more pleasant and educational.


I have not seen anything quite so large, majestic and moving in my lifetime. We were all exhausted and somewhat speechless by the end of the day's activities.


Day 60, Wed, Mar 15th

Mövenpick Resort, El Sokhna to Mena House, Giza, 147 km


Very neat opportunity arranged by Omar's connections to get us up close to the Giza pyramids. Our hotel right next door is spectacular, an old castle and the reception area is equally so; we met there at 1 pm suited up and ready to go.


Surrounded by police detail (most speak great English), many are Captains and Majors, all well armed and chatty; they are having a ball because it is a significant departure to their usual routine and they all oogle our bikes; one guy says he is going to buy them all.


Finally we get the go ahead to proceed but we are not in any hurry because after all, we are up very close and personal to perhaps the most famous site in the world; on top of that, the temperature is perfect and there are scads of people (all manners of dress) and activity, camels crapping, horses peeing, ‎great huge blocks of stone piled high to what looks like the sky.


Horns and sirens blaring we head up the dusty, dirt road to get in behind where the hoi paloi cannot go. I feel shivers as we proceed because it is all a bit surreal.


Closing thoughts:


It is not an exaggeration to say that this has been the most eventful, exciting and intense two months of my life. How does that come about at 68 years of age? Words cannot express the emotions, the sheer diversity of the continent, its people, its customs and culture, its countryside and its multiple languages and music is something to treasure forever through photos, a few videos and this story.


One of my best buddies wondered how many pots I could be cooked in along the way; others were just as cautious both verbally and with unspoken eye contact. Frankly I wondered a bit too as my imagination sometimes got the better of me.


It was all for naught. Africa is an amazing, amazing place full of its own complexities just like our world but mostly very caring, friendly people, people always glad to see us, help out and have us enjoy a bit of what is theirs.


I looked up the dictionary definition of adventure: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. Synonyms: exploit, escapade, deed, feat, experience; that pretty much sums up my trip.


I will miss our group of comrades and minders. From Andy and Harry at the beginning to Simon in the middle, Omar at the end and others too numerous to mention; we have been very well looked after.


Our group of 10 bikers has jelled very well together and enjoyed experiences and memories we will not soon forget. It is just unfortunate that our bonding process is over at least for now.


Finishing off with Ethiopia and Egypt could not be more fitting. These are two very large countries in terms of size and population. Their complexities, beauty and history have been described. I am not saying they are the best of the ten just they just left the greatest impression.


Augustine of Hippo who lived in the period 400 AD said long ago: The world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page.


So true!


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Dispatch Four from Steve Smith

I question if pre-conceived pictures of people or places, dreamed up through wonder, has ever brushed up against realistic outcome. Likely not. 

Prior to traveling through Ethiopia, I conceived a country barren of mentionable character, in topography and pallet. Quite the opposite was the case, as always. 

After a day of skirting and crossing lower land, with an anticipated follow-up day of the same, we were instead treated to a day that carved and winded us up through dramatic canyon after canyon, into the clouds, where we ventured for several days. 

The tarmacs elevation never dropping below six thousand feet, but reaching close to eleven. 

We maintained a road that split a high altitude plain with canyons of very large scale on each side, creating a juxtaposed scene in par with the Grand Canyon. 

Due to the altitude as well as length of this spine, clouds are taken prisoner and the land below made fertile from rainfall and the turning of crops. Like much of Africa, the ground so worked with sweat and resign, by hoe, cow driven plow and sickle, yields crops intended primarily for livestock. 

The huts larger in scale than other parts of Africa, often have a vestibule of equal design attached to the main living, and likely house the livestock during cooler months of the year. The fields dotted with family members of multiple ages, also differ from other parts of Africa; as men are represented as part of the daily workforce targeted at means, versus other forms of consuming time and creating income. 
I was left with the impression of a more harmonic existence between family and neighbors. 

The natural beauty of Ethiopia as well as the blissful riding, equated to an unexpected pleasure in all form of measure. 

Lastly, for anyone that may have stumbled upon this journal entry in pursuit of information or perhaps a final catalyst to take the next step; the one called "commitment", please consider this:


Helge Pedersen is simply the "Best" in the business!


Spending a lifetime on a motorcycle touring the world, has most definitely benefited his clients in more ways than I can lay out here, but you should also consider much more.

Helge is as close to a perfectionist as one would desire, but without the burdening baggage that might accompany such a pursuit. He does multiple pre-runs of every tour prior to offering them to the public, creating routes of interest; with sites, lodging, rest days with guided tours of must see places, and much of what you have found in other rider’s entries. But there is much more to this guy, and his approach to business. 

He has partners and fixers that specialize in each country, and they reflect well on him.

We had challenges from different arenas due to client error, and Helge and his partners seamlessly made Swiss cheese of the incidents, and the day was always saved. Not to mention the absolute nightmare dealing with the carnet for our bikes. 

Helge is strong in every character trait important both as a professional as well as being a steward for humanity. 
If one desires to see any part of the world, worry free, and hassle free, via motorcycle, there simply can't be a better company than GlobeRiders!

Thanks Helge.



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Dispatch Four from Gary Schmidt

This last entry in the journal covers a very different part of the African continent, Ethiopia, The Sudan, and Egypt.  This upper part of Africa offers a very different but enjoyable view of Africa.


Ethiopia was nothing like I thought it would be.  The country has mountain ranges and mountain passes over 10,000 feet.  I was expecting much more desert but was pleasantly surprised by the incredible bike roads over and through the mountains.  Some of the best riding was in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, there are many people and animals right alongside the road which makes riding a bit more treacherous.


The animals and even the people can run or walk right into the road and cause an accident.  We had a very unfortunate incident when one of our riders hit a donkey.  The donkey was killed and our rider’s bike was likely totaled.  Fortunately, he walked away from the accident with only a bruised shoulder and a limp.  


We rode up to Lalibela, Ethiopia which is a place I had never heard of.  But it was well worth the 40 miles of dirt road.  There are 11 or so churches that have been carved out of solid rock.  It’s amazing what people could do in those days with just the most rudimentary of tools.

The Sudan was more like I expected, mostly desert.  We spent 2 days in the capital, Khartoum.  I didn’t think much of Khartoum until we went to a cemetery a couple of hours before sunset.  It was a huge cemetery and we parked the minibus near a small Mosque.  There I experienced a Sufi religious ceremony that I will never forget.  What took place until sunset was amazing.  There were two burial ceremonies, one goat sacrifice, and a Sufi celebration of friendship and happiness that I can’t describe .   The Sufis are an amazing sect of the Muslim religion.  They are the most friendly and joyous of people that I have ever met.


Next was Egypt.  Egypt was all I could ever expect.  We saw all the highlights that I have been reading about in National Geographic for the past 60 years or so.  We visited the pyramids, the sphinx, Ramses Temple, the temple of Luxor and the temple of Karnac.  But what I found most interesting was our visit to the quarry where the Egyptians carved out of solid pink granite the giant obelisks that they are famous for.  There was an unfinished 40+ meter obelisk that was left unfinished when they discovered a crack in the stone.  It was amazing to see how accurate they could carve a huge piece of stone out of the solid granite using just the most simple of tools.


The people of modern day Egypt are very friendly (as were everyone I meet in Africa) but their bureaucracy was incredible.  It took 2 days just to ship our bikes out of the country.  And this was after weeks of communication between Helge and our guide, Omar.  This kind of bureaucracy is going to slow down any advancement that the country needs to make.  Just riding through Cairo, a city of over 21 million people, and you can see that the government has not been able to keep up with the population growth.


Riding from the southern tip of Africa to Alexandria, Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea was an incredible adventure that would never be possible without the planning and assistance of the GlobeRiders, which is Helge Pedersen.  I plan on riding with Helge again in September 2018 on the Himalayas trip.



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Dispatch Four from Tom Botz

Part 1


After we left the cool and wet mountain lodge at Mt. Kenya (where 14 elephants came to our watering hole in the middle of the night), things began to change rapidly. We crossed the equator and then began a long descent into a hot desert world filled with camels, drought and a whole new level of poverty.


I pulled over to take a pic of some hovels and was surprised when people started to emerge from them. After a couple of minutes, there were maybe 50 people approaching me from all sides and I left. 


The border crossing into Ethiopia was chaotic and took several hours.


Gasoline can be hard to find in Ethiopia.  Many gas stations don’t have any and those that do can have long lines. We bought gas from bottles.


There is an extreme drought here and in the middle of nowhere, people at the side of the road hold out empty containers and beg for water.


We spent a fun day crossing a mountain range, mostly potholed dirt roads.  Villages and people everywhere.  It is almost impossible to pull over anywhere in Ethiopia without being mobbed by people who seem to come out of nowhere and surround you on the bike.


Africans are generally timid and kind people, but they are not shy about beating their donkeys and oxen all day long, usually with twigs or tree branches but often with whips.  The continent was built on the backs of these animals.  They are the hardest workers around here, followed by the women working the fields and those on the side of the road carrying heavy loads.  This little donkey had a big load to pull.


The brown bones of “Lucy,” the 3.2 million-y-o upright hominoid was found in this area.


Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has never been colonized.  As a result it feels like its own world.  It has its own language, alphabet, calendar, time and food.  We had a fun dinner at a touristy ethnic restaurant in Addis, complete with music and show. There were not only tourists at the restaurant. 


As we rode into the northern highlands, it started to get COLD (down to 45 Fahrenheit at the 3,400-meter pass) and wet.


I see thousands of animals every day, grazing and walking on the sides of the road, and crossing it in groups or by themselves.  When they run into the road at the wrong time they become road kill.  I’ve seen quite a few dead donkeys, camels, cows and dogs over the last 10,000 km.  A donkey ran into one of our riders, Aaron.  The beautiful donkey was killed, and Aaron’s brand-new bike was probably totaled. Aaron was x-rayed at the local clinic and pronounced unhurt.  He had been very lucky. 


Aaron returned to Abbis to supervise the shipping of the bike back to Oregon and will be riding Nick’s bike through the Sudan (it turned out Nick’s Sudan visa has expired because he applied for it too early, meaning he has to meet up with us in Egypt). 30 minutes after the donkey scene I came across a 10-foot snake that had just been run over by a truck.


The next day was a terrific riding day — sunny, passes like in the Alps, with maybe 50 miles of dirt thrown in at the end.



The people in the highlands seem to have their lives more together than the ones at the lower elevations:

We spent two nights in the small town of Lalibela, a rural town with no paved streets, dramatically overlooking the big dusty valley which had just traversed. We spent our off-day touring Lalilbela’s world-famous rock-hewn monolithic churches.  These churches were carved entirely into the volcanic rock approx. 900 years ago, with the ground level of the hills thus constituting the roofs of the churches.  The churches are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and have been in continuous use since the 13th century.  The town of Lalibela is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity and a place of pilgrimage and devotion.  It has an almost biblical feel to it.


I hit a pothole too hard, bending my left front fork leg inside the fork tube.  This created a wobbly front wheel under braking but more seriously the possibility of the cap, which connects the fork leg to the handle bar, being separated from the leg and pushed out of the fork tube altogether.  In other words, any of the next 5,000 potholes and bumps from here to Cairo could cause me to lose the front wheel and go down at speed.  This is the kind of thing that could end a trip like this were I on my own.  Helge emailed a photo of the damage to a Seattle mechanic who overnight emailed back drawings of the inside of the tube and potential ways of securing the cap to the leg.  The next morning Helge and co-rider Steve (home builder/dirt rider from Lake Tahoe) used the metal drill of a local shop to drill a hole through the tube, cap and leg, and then secured all three together with a spoke from a GS wheel.  Ingenious and very impressive.  I now need to keep my speed down for the rest of the trip and only use the rear brake.


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Part 2


After Ethiopia, where we were could barely pull over anywhere without being mobbed by (generally very friendly) people, the Sudan was a big change.  Suddenly it was quiet.  Not many people around, except in the cities, and those whom we did see were much more distant and reserved.  The roads suddenly empty.  No people, no animals.


Until 2011 the Sudan was the largest country in Africa, but with the break-away of South Sudan that has changed.  97% of the country is Muslim.  Sharia law applies and zero alcohol is allowed anywhere.  No beer, wine, nothing.  40 lashes if you’re caught.  We had been told that at certain hotels it would somehow be available, but that was not true anywhere we went.  There is virtually no petty crime in the country, including in Khartoum (pop. 9 million).  People are subdued and resent being photographed.


The visa to the Sudan was the most difficult to obtain of any for this trip and this had to be done well in advance.  Each of us also needed a U$80 travel and photography permit, to be carried on our person.  There are virtually no tourists in the country. 


Poverty and incredible amounts of trash everywhere. We spent a night in Gedaref, a busy farming town with a big market.


We spent 3 nights in Khartoum in a modest but well-run hotel frequented by journalists and maybe 4 tourists in addition to us.  This gave us a chance to catch up on work, emails, laundry etc. and do some sight-seeing.  Here’s the poster in the lobby, because I couldn’t get the real thing to look this good.


Khartoum is built at the confluence of the Blue and the White Niles, clearly visible here (looking upriver/south - - the Blue Nile is on the left).  Shades of Manaus.


Khartoum as a tourist destination was a disappointment.  Despite the grand name and history, there did not seem to be an old town or historic core or much of anything else. The words “dump” and “Chernobyl” came up repeatedly in our discussions, as did comparisons to Paraguay.  But the National Museum had some excellent 3,500 y.o. exhibits (and was dusty and run-down and completely devoid of people - I think they opened it up just for us). 


The camel market was truly exotic: most of these animals are being shipped to Egypt to be slaughtered.


It was a relief to get out of Khartoum and continue north.


Then things began to change.  The desert became beautiful and much cleaner. Karima is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Nubian desert.


Our hotel there felt like Palm Springs: no kidding!


In the 8,000 miles since Cape Town, we have run into only 2 or 3 other long-distance motorcyclists.  So I got a kick out these 5 amigos, all in their mid-twenties, who were riding 50-year-old Czechoslovakian-made 50cc mopeds from their home in Slovenia to Cape Town.  They were 2 months into the trip but kept running out of food, gas and money.  They bummed some gas off me.  They have 27,000 followers on facebook.  Great spirit.


After several days of nothing but desert, coming to an oasis is something special.  But when you realize that the "oasis" is the palm-fringed Nile and that you are next to it all by yourself, it is really something else.  The current travels north and the wind south, making this river easy to navigate.  This plus the fact that it used to overflow its banks every year, creating arable land on both sides, made Egypt the economic powerhouse of its time thousands of years ago and created an entire civilization.  Even today, the Nile Valley is a beautiful green ribbon in a desert country that gets virtually no rain. 


This part of northern Sudan, where the road follows the river and the river is lined with Nubian villages and historic sites, was by far the best of the country for me.


Debbie, the only woman on this trip, who is about as agreeable as anyone you will ever meet, told me that, as a woman, she was treated very poorly in the Sudan.  Sudanese border officials purposely ignored her and made her wait and threw her documents back at her when they were completed.  She was often simply ignored at gas stations, the thought apparently being that as a woman she did not deserve to ride such a nice motorcycle.  In hotels, restaurants etc. she was consistently served last or not at all, and mocked when she spoke up.  At the camel market, she was felt up.  She has traveled to 120 countries and says that nowhere has she been treated as poorly as in the Sudan, and that she does not care ever to return. 

Arriving at the border into Egypt:


After passing through this gate and obtaining the Sudanese exit stamps in our passports and carnets, we entered a very basic Egyptian waiting area/cafeteria.  There was music playing, a small selection of drinks and snacks, and people suddenly seemed to be open and happy, instead of beaten down.  We looked at each other in this fairly dumpy setting and wondered out loud whether we had maybe gone to heaven.


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Part 3


30 minutes after leaving the Sudan and entering Egypt, we took a 1-hour ferry across Lake Nasser, the largest man-made lake in the world.

On the other side, we spent 2 nights at this hotel overlooking the lake.


The hotel had beer and wine, which after a completely “dry” week in the Sudan really helped the mood over dinner that night.  Even better, it was walking distance from the two temples of Abu Simbel.  We ended up seeing a lot of temples, tombs, columns, pyramids and other monuments in Egypt, but to me the giant statues at Abu Simbel's temples’ entrances were the most impressive.  For thousands of years, anyone sailing down the Nile toward the Mediterranean would have encountered these huge sentinels.  They were moved just above their original location when the Aswan High Dam was built.


Heading north following the Nile valley, we went to Aswan, Luxor, Cairo and Alexandria.  Egypt was my favorite country of the trip.  It makes a natural tourist destination, especially now, when most of the hotels are 80-90% empty (blamed on the 2011 revolution) and accommodations accordingly cheap.  The famous tombs in the Valley of the Kings were also almost devoid of tourists, with virtually no lines.  There is so much to see and do and learn in Egypt that it is well beyond the scope of this report and so I won’t even try to cover it.

We took a cruise on the Nile.


We stayed at a 5-star resort on the Red Sea, near Hurghada, where I played 18 holes and got in two excellent shore dives.  The Red Sea has the best scuba diving in the world.


90 miles south of Cairo, an oncoming truck crossed the centerline and knocked me off my bike, resulting in a sore foot and a small flesh wound that will heal in a couple of weeks.  My protective gear worked very well.


In Cairo, we stayed at an historic hotel walking distance from the Giza pyramids.


Overall, this has been a fantastic trip.  We had some exceptional motorcycle riding and incredible landscapes.  We definitely lucked out in having a great group of riders;  the cross section of people who not only can go on a trip like this but also want to is fairly small, and while I spent most of the days riding by myself, the dinner conversations were a real pleasure and often hilarious.  We had a great leader, as you may have gathered from my reports.  Also notable:  From Cape Town to Cairo we only saw 2 or 3 other long-distance riders. 


When I look back on an overland journey like this, I mostly think about the people, thousands of them, whom I came into contact with, whose lives I got a glimpse of, and whom I will likely never see again.  We basically had an entire continent of people smiling and waiving at us as we rode by.  Many of the boys and young men cheered us on wildly (no different from South America). 


A hunger problem was not really evident anywhere we went, which, I was told, represents significant progress from 20 years ago.  But:  If you have a roof over your head, your own bed (even if you share the room), 2 or 3 meals a day and as much clean water as you need, you are ahead of 98% of the people on this continent.  And if you have some extra $ and want to do something meaningful, I recommend spending some of it on building water wells in some of the smaller villages and settlements, maybe in Malawi or Ethiopia (or contributing to organizations that do this).  There are quite a few of these professional-looking pumps already, and they were clearly installed by NGOs or other outside sources of funds.  There are always long lines of people at these wells, and those people, including children and old women, carry the water in heavy containers on their heads or bent-over backs for miles along the road to their homes, simply because there are no wells closer to where they live. 


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Helge's Dispatch Four Photo Gallery

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