Fabrice Debusst, author of Travel Instinct Traveler’s blog, shares his experience of road trip in Africa.
The best memory of my life
The last road trip I did was a few weeks ago in Australia: 10 days drive through Queensland. For the rest of this trip across Australia, I borrowed public transportation. But I’m going to talk here about a road trip that I did a few years ago and that remains for me one of the best memories of my life. For 3 months, I left alone on a 125cm2 across West Africa, from Lagos to Nigeria in Dakar, Senegal. 7000 kilometers through fabulous landscapes. It was for me a kind of initiatory journey.
A motorcycle trip to Africa organized with the means of the edge
I organized it alone on the spot. At the time, I was working for the French cultural Centre in Lagos. Towards the end, every day, I took mechanical classes with an employee of the centre. In the courtyard, we dismantled and assembled the different parts of the bike. I also purchased the necessary equipment, spare parts, an old leather jacket in a market etc. As for the route, it was pretty sketchy, I knew just the road I was going to borrow, for the rest, nothing like the unexpected!
A first motorcycle trip in 125 cm3
I got on the bike in Africa. I went to work with it every day. So it was logical that I use it for this trip. Admittedly, it was only a 125 cm3, once loaded, it was not possible to go fast. But the African roads do not ask! As for the destination, I wanted to know more about this region of Africa. This route also drew me closer to France, as a return flight was waiting for me in Dakar. Moreover, my itinerary made me pass through Mali and its wonders: the Dogon country and Timbuktu.
A motorcycle trip to Africa is to live unique meetings
One of the most beautiful memories is probably the total solar eclipse that I was able to observe on a beach in Ghana with a kid I was lending my glasses to. A beautiful memory. The worst? This is going to be hard as the trip was extra. I don’t see too much. Certainly I had little mechanical worries, but nothing very nasty. I once crossed a border without realizing it! If it is possible in Africa. So a customs officer caught me on a scooter. Fortunately, he was in a cheerful mood!
A road trip is to reconnect with the basics of the trip
I’m a fan of slow travel. A road trip may seem to be the opposite of this travel mode. In a way it is. However, to make a road trip is to reconnect with the basics of the trip. Traveling is primarily the way to go from point A to point B. Travel is the road, it was much more so over the past centuries. In the nineteenth century, the aircraft destroyed this. Nowadays, it only takes a few hours to be transported in a totally different environment. Also, is a road trip not a return to the travel origins?
Taking the time to travel
When you think road trip, you think of course on the road. However, the train is also a road trip in the sense that it is a slow means of transportation.
The famous Transsiberian is the perfect illustration: several days on a railroad to Mongolia. A slow pace that allows you to really feel the road, especially as you can get off the train and back up whenever you like. If the experience tempts you, I invite you to read this interview to travel on the Trans-Siberian.
A motorcycle trip, a exhilarating sensation of freedom
Interest is freedom. I think this is the primary purpose of a road trip, this exhilarating sensation of freedom. In addition, some destinations are more suitable for road trips for several reasons. First of all, it is sometimes cheaper to rent a car than to borrow the bus or train, especially if you are several. This is particularly the case in Australia.
Second, some countries are so vast that the public transport system is poorly developed. Getting around by car makes all the sense, especially when the wide open spaces offer grandiose panoramas.
The USA is the perfect example. In this country, the automobile is really part of the American way of life. In 2013, I had travelled through California for two weeks on some of the most beautiful roads on the continent. I had written on my Traveler Instinct blog A handy article for whoever wants to do a road trip in the USA.
The perfect road trip?
The perfect road trip is just the one that makes you want to make another one!