Whether you’re looking for a quick eight-day ride in the sunshine, a more conventional two-week trip with your partner, or you want to take off on a long-term overland expedition, there’s someone out there willing to help you.
With the increase in media attention towards motorcycle travel through such programmes as “The World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides”, “African Motorcycle Diaries”, and heaps and heaps more on the general market, it’s not really surprising that we’re seeing a big increase in people wanting to have their own adventures on motorcycles. I have certainly seen massive growth in enquiries from both solo riders and two-up couples wanting more than just a blast around for the day or a self-organised holiday in Europe. I like to think that some of this increase is due to client care, honesty, and integrity, coupled with a great track record.
Of course guided tours aren’t everyone’s cup of tea… There are those that want to do it for themselves and I completely understand this having done quite a number of solo trips around Southern Africa myself. The planning is part of the adventure for sure. As is the problem-solving on the road, although I must admit I have never encountered a show-stopping moment, or even had that many hiccups during my road time. In fact I think in around 80,000 kms of solo riding in and around Southern Africa, I’ve had one lot of dirty fuel and only two flat tyres. Maybe I’m lucky, or maybe “The Long Way Down” just created an image of trouble, drama and turmoil on the roads?
The motorcycle community has long been something that you can really feel you belong to, and in general help is at hand when things go wrong or advice is needed. What I really enjoy is the people who say that they don’t want to do an organised tour, because that’s not a real adventure or they like to sort everything out themselves. They are normally the ones that send me emails telling me how they are going to do their own trip and it will be so much more exciting, because they have done it all. They then ask me for recommendations of where to hire a bike, do I know any good routes and accommodation along the way. Yep I know stacks and stacks. Gotta love a trier!
So what’s to consider with an organised tour? Well firstly the cons. You’ll be in a group of people you probably don’t know (yet!) Your tour will be on set dates. You probably won’t be riding your own bike. You may take a different route to what you would have done if riding alone (this can also be one of the pros).
Obviously I can only say what I think the plus side is from the perspective of my own company. As an operator and guide I have extensively researched the areas and properties that I will take you to. My aim is to do exactly the same as a book author or film maker does when they sell you a book or DVD: We all want to share our experiences with you. I just share in a different way, by taking you on the actual journey so you can experience it for yourself rather than read or watch someone else’s adventure.
A good tour guide will take you to places that are even new to some of the locals. As for travelling with strangers, I am pretty certain that most of my clients go home with new friends and you’ll have people to share the moments with you. One thing I have found on a number of occasions when travelling solo is that those special moments when you see something iconic are just not the same alone.
I can recall a couple of times when I just wished I had someone else there to silently share with. For instance Victoria Falls is just not the same when walking around alone. The mighty Fish River Canyon in Namibia would have been so much better if there had been someone else there to gasp at the view. While sitting on the bike among 20 elephants in Botswana, it would have been great to have someone else there, even if only to keep a look out behind me!
Group travel isn’t for everyone for sure, but it is right for those who maybe only have a couple of weeks off work and need something off the shelf. It’s not wrong, it’s just different. More expensive? Yes, probably a little, but again you can normally see where the money is being spent.
Tips For Choosing A Tour Company
Firstly, ask lots of questions about the country you want to visit.
Read their testimonials and even ask to speak to previous clients.
Make sure the people you’re talking to are the ones who are going to be riding with you on the tour and not just sales people.
Stay small. Remember no one knows everywhere, not in detail anyway. Your guide should have a thorough local knowledge, not just have been there a couple of times.
Make sure you’re happy with the type of motorcyles being offered. All too often companies will be contracted to one make of bike. Its your holiday, so make sure you get to choose!
Finally, make sure the company focuses on you – their client! You’re paying them after all.
However you choose to travel, be happy, smile a lot, and have a great time.