Five months on the road, Kenya’s ‘bike cou­ple’ still eager to con­quer the world

The Kar­iukis com­plete African leg of an ad­ven­ture that will see them ride around the world in three years.

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - SUNDAY REVIEW - BY THOMAS RAJULA

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When in April this year the fea­tured a cou­ple that had just an­nounced plans to ride around the world on mo­tor­cy­cles in an epic trip ex­pected to last three years, it seemed like a dis­tant dream. But on July 2, Dos Waweru Kar­iuki and Wa­muyu Kar­iuki left Nairobi seek­ing to leave the im­prints of their BMW F700GS mo­tor­cy­cle tyres on 50 coun­tries across seven con­ti­nents. To­day, five months later, Throt­tle Ad­ven­tures, as they call them­selves, are through with the Africa leg of their world tour.

Speak­ing to the on phone, the cou­ple said it has been an ex­pe­ri­ence like no other.

Wa­muyu, who has a soft spot for girls, “since I am a mother of a beau­ti­ful daugh­ter”, says one of her high­lights on the way out of Kenya was en­coun­ter­ing a group of ex­cited school­girls who recog­nised her and her hus­band.

“When we were at Mbita wait­ing to cross the ferry to­wards Lwanda, we ran into stu­dents from Bun­y­ore Girls High School as they came off the ferry. See­ing our bikes, they asked us if we were the same peo­ple they had watched on NTV; even calling me out by name. They were so ex­cited and asked a lot of ques­tions that their teacher was not in a hurry to get them back on the bus. I see those girls go­ing places,” she says.

Af­ter the cou­ple crossed into Uganda, they got to see the ori­gins of the Nile river. They also learnt how Ugan­dans take time in pre­par­ing food.

“In Kenya we are just eat­ing ‘mashakura'. Ugan­dan women serve their hus­bands while kneel­ing, to show re­spect, so I tried it a few times with Dos,” says Wa­muyu.

Kam­pala, she says, has so far been the most dan­ger­ous city to ride a mo­tor­bike.

When the cou­ple crossed the bor­der to Rwanda, the first shock was that they had to ride on the right-hand side of the road un­like in Kenya. Road users in Rwanda are also so dis­ci­plined that the Kenyan ad­ven­tur­ers hardly came across traf­fic po­lice.

“Ki­gali is a small place but get­ting from one place to another is a strug­gle. Their road net­work is so con­fus­ing that in the seven days we spent there, we weren't able to mas­ter the way from our ho­tel to where we wanted to go,” says Waweru.

He also found him­self in an un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion when he threw away a cig­a­rette but af­ter smok­ing but had to pick it up im­me­di­ately af­ter see­ing how clean the city was.

On cross­ing from Rwanda, per­haps the worst leg of their East African ride was in Tan­za­nia where they went through the north-west­ern town of Rusumo. From Nyakanazi all the way to Uy­ovu they were driv­ing do­ing be­tween 10 to 20 kilo­me­tres-per-hour as top speed. The road was so bad that their hands were tired from clutch and throt­tle bal­anc­ing. They had to stop by a mo­tel af­ter cut­ting their trip short at 8.30pm with their mo­tor­bikes over­heat­ing. In the Tan­za­nian town of Ka­hama, Wa­muyu un­der­es­ti­mated the width of her mo­tor­cy­cle with the pan­niers on. She caught the gate and the mo­tor­bike fell, break­ing the wind­shield's han­dle. They welded it back and con­tin­ued with the epic jour­ney. They had di­verted 1,400 kilo­me­tres from go­ing di­rectly into Malawi for Wa­muyu to have her wish — ex­pe­ri­ence Zanz­ibar with her hus­band.

“Zanz­ibar is just par­adise,” she says.

Rid­ing to­wards Malawi they came across strong cross­winds that made Wa­muyu so sure she would fall off her mo­tor­bike at one point. They had to take many breaks in be­tween for her hus­band to give her tips on how to tackle the winds.

“Good thing about rid­ing with my hus­band, is that he re­alises eas­ily when I was strug­gling and he is pa­tient enough to wait for me to gain con­fi­dence be­fore we go back on the road. Oth­er­wise, he would have been a very stressed man,” says Wa­muyu with a laugh.

In Malawi, the cou­ple had their first taste of but­ter­fish at Hakuna Matata Camp, Rhumpi. There are very few petrol sta­tions in Malawi along the high­way and the rid­ers had to carry ex­tra fuel af­ter each stop. The ATMS also al­lowed a max­i­mum with­drawal of $100 (Sh10,200) daily and don't work with a lot of for­eign bank cards. Wa­muyu had another fall here, af­ter she got her first ex­pe­ri­ence of rid­ing in deep sand. There was, how­ever, no in­jury and the mo­tor­bike was not dam­aged.

They zoomed into Zam­bia through Li­longwe and were amazed at how straight and smooth the high­way was from the bor­der to Pe­tauke.

“We stayed in a dor­mi­tory, which we shared with a Turk­ish lady called Ba­har. I had to sleep on the top bunk. It felt like high school all over again,” says Waweru.

“Zam­bia is more de­vel­oped than I had imag­ined. The In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity was faster than in the other coun­tries, the cities were well or­gan­ised and peo­ple look wealth­ier. A Kwacha was ex­chang­ing for Sh10 too. The peo­ple are very warm and we felt safe,” says Wa­muyu.

A high­light of this leg was the tan­ta­lis­ing view of Vic­to­ria Falls from both the Zam­bia and Zim­babwe sides.

In­formed that there were long queues of lor­ries at the bor­der from Kazun­gula, when go­ing into Botswana, the two trav­elled on a Sun­day morn­ing and crossed the Zam­bezi River “like a boss” with just two lor­ries and a smaller ve­hi­cle.

On the high­way in Botswana they came across two ele­phants cross­ing the road. The big­ger of them stood in the mid­dle of the road, faced the rid­ers and fanned its ears. Just as they were about to make a U-turn upon the ap­par­ently hos­tile re­ac­tion, the an­i­mal turned, crossed the road and van­ished.

The Kenyans had a chance meet­ing with a cou­ple that had trav­elled from Canada to South Amer­ica then to South Africa — and were head­ing to­wards East Africa. It was an en­counter that en­able them to ex­change valu­able notes on travel routes.

“Trav­el­ling through Oka­vango River in moko­ros (small dugout ca­noes) is the most calm­ing but amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence you can ever have. We spent five hours in the wa­ter,” re­calls Waweru.

In Ghanzi, they met three fe­male rid­ers from Gaborone. They went to a char­ity event to­gether and were later in­vited to meet Pres­i­dent Mokg­weetsi Ma­sisi of Botswana at the air­port.

“You can see the photo on In­sta­gram where he holds my shoul­der as he signs our bikes. I haven't washed that jacket yet,” says Wa­muyu.

They also at­tended the Kuru Dance Fes­ti­val, where all the San groups from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa con­gre­gate to cel­e­brate their cul­ture once a year.

In Namibia, they had an in­ter­est­ing duel with an ostrich while rid­ing to­wards Gob­a­bis. The ostrich was run­ning along­side them and wouldn't let up even as they in­creased their speed.

“All I can say is those birds are fast!” says Waweru.

At Swakop­mund in Namibia, they pitched camp only 50 me­tres from the shores of the At­lantic Ocean. They had ac­com­plished one of their tar­gets: Cross­ing Africa from Kenya where there is the In­dian Ocean to the At­lantic.

“The waves were so loud and winds ex­tremely cold, we could hardly sleep that night,” re­calls Wa­muyu.

Swakop­mund, they felt, is the most Ger­man place in Africa: From the lan­guage, food, in­hab­i­tants and in­fra­struc­ture. Af­ter the town, they rode more than 400 kilo­me­tres on cor­ru­gated gravel. Imag­ine rid­ing on rum­ble bumps through­out that dis­tance.

For rea­sons un­known to Wa­muyu, she found her­self off the bike and on the ground. She wasn't hurt and nei­ther was the mo­tor­bike dam­aged. They ex­plored the dunes and also drove more than 600 kilo­me­tres across the desert be­fore get­ting onto tar­mac.

Waweru and Wa­muyu then crossed to South Africa and took time to tour the coun­try. Waweru had in 2014 rid­den from Nairobi to Cape Agul­has, West­ern Cape. This was a chance for Wa­muyu to tour the point where the In­dian and At­lantic Oceans meet. They also went to the Cape of Good Hope and later crossed into Le­sotho then back to South Africa.

“We have fallen more in love with Africa's amaz­ing beauty. We've made a lot of friends from all over the world, ev­ery­where we've been to. We also hope to meet more trav­el­ling Kenyans; we have only come across one lady so far,” says Wa­muyu.

So far, the two have pre­ferred to cover longer dis­tances in the morn­ing be­cause they want to ride when they are more fo­cused. Tired shoul­ders and the dreaded “mon­key butt” (chaf­ing from be­ing on the seat for hours), cou­pled with thoughts run­ning across one's mind could make for dan­ger­ous rid­ing due to lack of con­cen­tra­tion.

The cou­ple left South Africa on Tues­day and jet­ted into Argentina on Thurs­day to start the South Amer­i­can leg of the thrilling ad­ven­ture.

The cou­ple says they are trav­el­ling on a shoe­string budget and are do­ing it for ad­ven­ture.

They, how­ever, hope to con­tinue rais­ing funds for their tour around the world through do­na­tions (in­clud­ing M-pesa do­na­tions that may be sent on Pay­bill num­ber: 891300, Ac­count Num­ber 12489).

To ease lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges, they got, an in­ter­na­tional cus­toms doc­u­ment that cov­ers the tem­po­rary ad­mis­sion of mo­tor ve­hi­cles in for­eign coun­tries, from Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion of Kenya and will be re­new­able af­ter a year.

They sim­ply need to present it at cus­toms and they are cleared, the same way pass­ports are.

For now, as they em­bark on another leg of their jour­ney, it is five months gone, two-and-a -half years to go!

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