Part 1: Road Trip with Wild Tracks: Scotland – South Africa

Last year while in Argentina I met Chris, a young and energetic lad from Scotland. Our 10 day adventure paved way for a lifelong friendship and he’s like a younger brother to me. On the road we packed in a few adventures along the way, searching for dinosaur fossils, sharing frustrations while the country basically came to a halt during Easter and spending my birthday drinking wine in Mendoza.

Chris & Julie in Purmamarca, Argentina

Chris & Julie in Purmamarca, Argentina

I wasn’t then surprised when he contacted me a few months ago with his plans to purchase and ride motorcycles on a road trip from Edinburgh, Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa with his two friends, the Archies, yes, that’s right, Archie and Archie, longtime childhood friends.

Please join me in welcoming Wild Tracks to The Travelling Munschkin. May we be inspired by their journey and courage!

The Boys of Wild Tracks

The Boys of Wild Tracks

A Little Bit About Wild Tracks – The Wild Tracks team are Archie B, Archie L and Chris who met in 1996 at a school in Scotland where they formed a fierce friendship which caused trouble for teachers and parents alike. Sixteen years later and nothing much has changed. Archie L still can’t grow a beard, Archie B is knee height to a grasshopper and Chris still gets confused between green and red. However one thing has changed, their sense of adventure! Bicycle rides in the woods were once exhilarating but have become boring so we’ve replaced them with motorbikes and, the Scottish woodlands substituted with the African continent.

We aren’t your typical hardcore adventurer motorcyclists, we don’t know much about fixing bikes, we don’t really have enough money and just as an example of our incompetence, Chris, having failed at his first attempt, only just passed his motorbike test two weeks before our departure date. What we do have however is a naïvely large amount of optimism and an abundance of enthusiasm that should see us through to South Africa.

Hi Chris! What an exciting adventure for you and your friends. What on ever prompted you to embark on a road trip like this?  

We have all done trips before and, as with most travellers, we caught the travel bug. (I’m sure you can testify to the severity of this condition.) Besides the bug we had all also discovered a passion for motorbikes and were eager to find a suitable adventure.

The opportunity arose when we found ourselves eager to escape our jobs, we each had a workable amount of money, and we were free from any type of commitment that could hold us down. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and so we immediately got planning. A mixture of research, recommendations and dreams saw us pointing to Africa on the map.

Were you nervous or scared and if so, what most about?

Funnily enough our biggest fear was breaking down before we reached Africa. We had a fair distance to cover through Europe before we made it to the true start of our adventure. A breakdown in Africa would have been fine but it would be devastating if we failed before crossing the Med.

We obviously had some trepidations about Libya. The media had painted the country very dark but through experience we knew to take the news reports with a pinch of salt. We did a substantial amount of research and the results were not great. It was largely to do with our timing. We were due to be arriving in Libya during the celebration of their recent revolution. If things were going to get heated then this was the time they would. But, along with the bad news we found reports of several overlanders travelling through Libya with nothing but nice things to say. There are some incredible things to see in Libya and we figured as long as we were sensible and kept away from the major hot spots we would be fine.

When did you begin planning your road trip and what was involved?

Things just kind of came together. It wasn’t absolutely spontaneous but neither was it completely premeditated. The seed of this trip had been planted long ago but none of us saw it coming into fruition until we were more or less saddling up our bikes.

Realistically it was about three months before we left that we started our Skype conference calls to plan. Initially we were far too excited to focus and get the necessary planning done. It was only after we had bought the bikes that we knuckled down and started the necessary steps. It was with about two months to go when we had our map out and our pins at the ready. After the route was drawn up our priorities were Chris’s bike test, Carnet de Passage (vehicle passport), insurance and visas. Everything else fell into place and the days counted down.

You were able to snag some sponsors, how did that happen?

We were luckily enough to gain sponsorship from a London-based company called Urban Rider. Will and Andrew, the co-owners, had seen footage from the two Archie’s previous trip around India and were eager to get involved with any future adventures. They jumped onboard as soon as we mentioned Africa and were generous enough to supply us with full bike gear to get us to Capetown.

Archie L's Bike

Archie L’s Bike

What kind of bikes are you riding and were they purchased or donated?

We bought our own bikes after a vast amount of research and endless debates. We needed something rugged, simple and of course cheap! Chris has ridden across Vietnam on a retired Russian Minsk, and the Archies have ridden around India on battered old Royal Enfields, so we are all fully accustomed to the life of slow and temperamental bikes. With this in mind we settled for the finest small capacity off-road bike of the 90’s… the Suzuki DR350.

Having seen Mondo Enduro take this bike around the world, we reckoned they must be fit for us to ride down Africa. The bikes sounded ideal; good off-road capabilities, a 6th gear to make cruising a bit easier, lightweight and most importantly of all you can find them on eBay for around £1000. Beyond this knowledge though we have no idea what we are getting ourselves into. We aren’t really sure how they worked or how to fix them, but I guess we’ve got a couple of months ahead for us to figure that all out.

What is your road trip itinerary, start and end date?

Our original date of departure was the 1st of February with the following route in mind.

Wild Tracks Map/Itinerary

Wild Tracks Map/Itinerary

Unfortunately our Libyan visas were rejected and we frantically had to re-evaluate our plan. This along with a couple of other hiccups set us back two weeks and we didn’t end up leaving until the 14th. Our revised route is as follows.

Revised Wild Tracks Map/Itinerary

Revised Wild Tracks Map/Itinerary

We begin the journey with a mad dash across icy cold Europe towards Turkey. From Turkey we will then take the ferry to Egypt. With our Libyan visas getting rejected and Syria being at war this was our only option for entering East Africa. Once in Egypt we will head south through the Sahara desert into Sudan and down into Ethiopia and Kenya. We then head through Uganda, Rwanda, Berundi and Tanzania, where we will make our way to Malawi. After Malawi we take a turn west and go through Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana until the Skeleton coast of Namibia. Then finally for the last time we head south again down to Cape Town, our final destination!

We estimated between 5 and 6 months to do the entire trip. So we planned on leaving Scotland in February arriving in South Africa around July. We like to keep our plans open to change so there is nothing set in stone. We have a rough list of countries and the wind to guide us. Where we actually end up we have no idea…

Wild Tracks Departure Day

Wild Tracks Departure Day

Thanks for letting us be a part of your adventurous road trip and we look forward to hearing more from you! 

Part 2, with European photos will be posted this upcoming weekend. Please also follow Wild Tracks on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WildTracksInAfrica

4 Responses to Part 1: Road Trip with Wild Tracks: Scotland – South Africa

  1. Pingback: Part 2: The Boys of Wild Tracks: Edinburgh, Scotland - Cape Town, South Africa - The Travelling Munschkin

  2. Pingback: True Story | Clarabelle

  3. There are allot of awesome things about this trip, the brotherhood etc… But it just goes to show, you just need an idea, and your good to go. The no planning and lack of knowledge about literally everything are proof to all the naysayers that it is possible, and probably better!

    Andi July 13, 2015 at 3:51 AM Reply
    • Thanks for reading. I know the guys loved their trip!

      Julie Munsch July 22, 2016 at 3:45 PM Reply

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