Before we started travelling together, Isabel's travelling experience was confined to Europe. Nicolaas had been exploring Europe with friends, but soon after he bought his first motorcycle ('78 Honda CB250T), he decided to take it to Turkey. The plan grew larger and it became a 10k km trip via France, Italy and Greece to Turkey's far east and back. On the Turkish-Iranian border, he met other bikers on their way to Pakistan and India, leaving him with the appetite for more.
|slideshow Turkey 2002|
Next Spring, he dreamt of riding his own Antwerp-Dakar rally. Going and back was too far, shipping the bike too costly, so it ended up being a trans-Maroccan journey on an '82 Yamaha XT250 and his first meeting with the Sahara desert. He found out that good maps, a companion and more off-road experience could have made the difference on these trails. On the way back, Isabel joined him in Malaga (Spain). The pillion seat was fine for 2 weeks, but there she swore to ride a bike herself one day.
|slideshow Morocco 2003|
In the summer of 2005 we chose a different kind of steeds to carry us on our travels through Mongolia. Indeed Laurel and Hardy, as we named our two horses, proved to be faithful companions who contributed to our journey not only by taking us from one point to the next but also by colouring the day with their moods and characteristical gestures. We really got to know one another and it was with pain in our hearts that we had to leave them behind. Fare them well!
|slideshow Mongolia 2005|
KENYA and UGANDA
As our next means of transport, we decided to take our bikes on our first real African adventure. Despite many disapproving shakes of the head and many "you better make it back home"'s we set off. And what a good choice it turned out to be! The bicycles allowed us to discover places we would have never thought of going to otherwise. At a slow but steady pace we roamed the small roads of Kenya and Uganda and almost blended in with the local cyclists. Almost....
|slideshow Kenya & Uganda 2006|
In 2007 Isabel stood before her last three-month summer holliday. To make the most of this precious time she travelled to China by herself before joining Nicolaas on an adventure in Burkina Faso. A combination of walking, cycling and the use of public transport, ranging from overcrowded trains, minivans and long distance sleeper busses to domestic flights, took her through various regions of China, cities and rural areas alike.
|slideshow China 2007|
In Burkina Faso, again, bicycles were the way to go to get off the beaten track (which is not so beaten anyway in these parts, but still...) We pedalled the sandy grounds in the Sahel and the gravel roads of the South-West on our very own "Tour du Burkina".
|slideshow Burkina Faso 2007|
Because of the limited window of time we had together in Rwanda, for the most part we toured the country in a 4X4. And although sometimes we were charmed by the rough luxury of our Toyota Hilux, we were glad to get out of the confinement of the car once in a while to trek mount Karisimbi or to hitchhike back from Nyungwe forest. Unexpected meetings guaranteed.
|slideshow Rwanda 2008|
To cycle a thousand kilometres from Chandigarh to Leh across the Indian Himalaya - carrying luggage! - was heavy business. But although we often suffered, struggling to creap up the slopes, breathing heavily, pushing our strengths to the limit, it has all been worth it. When you finally reach your goal ... you're on top of the world!
|slideshow India 2009|