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Chad Benning

A motorcycle safari in Africa would be the highlight of the year for most people. It was for Shannon and Chad Benning too, but it shared the spotlight in a monumental year. As 2016 began, they were still dating, living apart, and a trip to Africa hadn’t crossed their mind.


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The changes began with Chad’s trip to the Montreal motorcycle show. That’s where he bumped into Rene and learned of Renedian’s African trips.

Before Chad left for the show with his dad and brothers, Shannon mentioned he should plan a weekend getaway they could both enjoy. He came home with a Renedian brochure—not exactly what Shannon had in mind. A long-time rider, he’d also purchased a new BMW F800GS, the same model he’d ride in Africa.

“The crazy thing was, Shannon had never been on a motorcycle,” says Chad. “It took a little convincing, but in March, we went ahead and booked the Waterfalls and Wildlife Tour. We told her parents we were going to Africa but casually slipped in the motorcycle part only a month before leaving.”

Around the same time, they sold their individual houses and purchased their dream home together.


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The biggest focus after that was making sure Shannon really enjoyed the motorcycle. They bought good gear, learned to pack, and did as much riding as they could, starting slowly with weekend camping trips. They wanted to make sure they were comfortable travelling together and Shannon was happy riding pillion.


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Successful at those, they were ready to push further. In early summer, the couple, both teachers in Southern Ontario, headed to a family cottage in Twillingate, Newfoundland. While on the Rock, Chad proposed on Cape Spear, the eastern most point of North America. It was all west from there.

On their trip back to Ontario, they scaled Mount Washington, riding through howling winds, fog, and cold. Shannon took it all in stride, not at all deterred from riding. It may have helped that the whole way home, they were planning their autumn wedding through their headsets.

They got home in time to pack and leave for Africa. Chad had majored in geography in university. He’d loved studying different parts of the world but Africa was at the top of the list.



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“Even as a kid,” he recalled, “I thought it would be great to check out this enormous continent. Being able to do it on a motorcycle was even more exciting.

“Flying over the Okavango Delta and seeing it from above made me feel like I was watching Planet Earth,” he says. “With my interest in geography, I was particularly fascinated.”


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Shannon’s favourite part of the trip was their time in Victoria Falls. She was awed by the Falls’ natural beauty and majesty, especially after viewing them at sunrise.

Both of them were fascinated by the varied geography and topography. The three countries they were in – Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe—were merely a snapshot of the whole continent. Yet even within them was an enormous variety of vegetation and wildlife.


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Arriving home at the end of August, it was time to return to work and finish preparations for the pinnacle of the year—their Thanksgiving Weekend wedding. They’d planned a small and simple event at a picturesque venue. Fifty guests—family and close friends—celebrated with them.



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It was an action-packed year, but their intuition told them if they didn’t travel then, the trips might not happen for a while.

It was intuition well followed. This October, they’re expecting their first child, and a whole new adventure awaits!


Photo credits: Chad Benning