Our plan was Tanzania. John was born there, had biked from London to Cape Town solo, & knew the trails. So in 1995 we flew his Super Tenere to Nairobi & spent an eventful time biking around to check things out, only to find out it couldn’t happen as they required us to invest a minimum $250.000 & put it in a local’s name!!
1996. Back to Andorra to kick-start (Hondas ) our vision to make off-road biker’s dreams into a reality.
START UP – No website, fax, mobiles, GPS or sat phones. Brochures had to be printed, & volunteer lickers to seal them in envelopes to post. Our office was the kitchen table & our workshop was the garage.We had the princely number of 5 new Honda XR400s, an elderly Toyota HDJ60; and a flatbed trailer. Two months later & we had 7. The most we owned at one time was 26 for one of our Dakar tours, & 115 in total over the years to 2005.
The first 2 years were just tours in & around Andorra and then in 1998 we started our Trans Spain to Portugal & back, Beach Run to the Med & back, & our Moroccan mountain & desert adventures.
In 2000 the DAKAR winner Cyril Despres was moving to Andorra but had no-where to garage his bikes. He contacted us, & for 2 yrs+ his rally bikes & mechanic Seb joined our Hondas in the garage. Riders would get a bonus meeting him, & on some days he’d stay for a drink with everyone in our garden.
We’d trailer the bikes, equipment, tyres and spare parts down to Morocco every September and they’d stay there until the May, when we returned for our summer season in Europe. There was no one else offering off-road tours in Morocco then.
I remember driving the 4×4 alone (no Hussein in those days) across the desert from Merzouga to Zagora (now a well beaten track but in those days still virgin desert) with just a good compass. Frequent regroupings as no communication between us possible. Our GPS were natural landmarks.
Crossing the High Atlas was scary, as in those days most of our tracks were the real meaning of cliff hangers with negative cambers, slippery corners in the wet and massive drop-offs. Like granite steps, they’d been dug out by hand by the Berbère people over the years. The width of one vehicle, if we met the local bus (Series 1 Land Rovers held together with rope and radically adapted as no parts available) fully laden with locals & livestock inside and on the roof rack, we’d have to find a place where we could drive our 4×4 up the slope so they could rock past.
From 2007 we operated wonderful touring adventures on BMW GS1200 across southern Africa, taking many riders and their friends from Cape Town to Victoria Falls and back, through Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Lesotho.
For 2 summer seasons we offered tours in Greece and Portugal but when Catalunya refused us permission to operate any more around the Pyrenees, we opted to stay full-time in Morocco combining with just our southern Africa tours in August and September. Our final 2 big adventures were our Warm Heart of Africa Tour in September 2019 from Zimbabwe, through Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, and to Lesotho – The Kingdom in the Sky in January 2020.
With all the knowledge we have gained and the contacts we have made across Morocco we have decided that this is really where we want to be full time. We are restarting our BMW adventures starting in Marrakech and in the summers when too hot to bike in the desert, we will be offering off-road around Essaouira and in the Middle Atlas.
During the years we have had many adventures – flash floods in a gorge; freak snowstorms; 30hrs on a desert “island”; & more. We still do have them, but there is always a Plan B & we always get everyone home. That is one of the reasons so many of you keep coming back for more!!