In 2011, John Colyer was primed for adventure. He’d recently returned to riding on a BMW 1200GS. Talking with Rene at the Calgary Motorcycle Show sparked an interest for Africa. Reading The University of Gravel Roads and watching videos like The Long Way Down only fueled the fire.
A dream without action remains a dream. After reading about a Renedian tour for fans of Motorcycle Mojo Magazine the following year, he decided to act. Wanting to spend more time in Africa than the trip was offering, he discussed his options with Rene. It just so happened that a new 21-day trip from Victoria Falls to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and back to Cape Town, South Africa was being planned and there was an opportunity to test it out. He signed up.
John also decided to arrive early and take in several side trips around Victoria Falls, all arranged through Renedian Adventures. He found it a great way to get acclimatized to the country, climate, and culture before hopping on a motorcycle.
“Money I can earn any time,” says John. “The memories I get from these kinds of experiences last forever and they’re priceless.”
So even before he set out on the formal part of the tour, he’d walked with lions, flown in a helicopter over Victoria Falls and the Okavanga Delta, and white-water rafted on the Zambezi River
Then the fun really began. “Every single place we went had something special, loving and unique about it,” recalls John. “On the second day, we were in Botswana, staying in an eco-lodge. We’d been in the bush with a guide who’d shown us plants from which traditional medicines were derived. Off in the distance we could see zebras, gazelles, giraffes, and occasionally elephants. The walk was followed by an unguided canoe paddle—on a river in Africa—paddling, just like you would in Alberta! Except you’re passing crocodiles, zebras, antelopes, and water buffalo. It was surreal. I never would have thought I’d be canoeing without a guide, down a river in Africa.
A pilot trip with a small group presents spontaneous opportunities not routinely built into other tours. Observing a rhino tagging mission in Namibia’s Etosha National Park, led by biologists and veterinarians to combat poaching was one such adventure. John even got to touch a rhino, whose hide “was like a chamois, but a little tougher, covered with very fine hairs.”
Everything they ate was really good. Game lodges served kudu, zebra, eland, and other game animals. They also had pizza, and even sushi. Breakfast was typically eggs, bacon, sausages, yogurts, fresh fruits, and cereals. Often they’d relax at the side of the road over a lunch of meats, cheeses, breads, and salads—in the middle of Africa.
John would go back, “in a heartbeat.” It was an exceptional experience. Learn more about Victoria Falls to Cape Town Safari.
Photo credits: John Colyer