Welcome to mad nomad’s adventurous website! This site is about travelling the way I’ve been dreaming of as a child! When I took the decision to make my dream come true, it seemed remote and totally unfamiliar to me. Finally, after two years of profound research and intense preparation, I hit the road!
On the 14th of April 2007 I set off solo from Thessaloniki, Greece by my small motorcycle (Honda XR 250S), on a journey to four countries, for ten months’ time: Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India. During my trip, however, there were many changes in my schedule, and, finally, I ended up returning to Greece after two years and two and a half months, having covered 73,000 km. (45,361 miles), after travelling to fourteen Asian countries: Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh! This was my journey known as “greece2india“. You will find my trip reports from that time at: http://www.moto.gr/forums/showthread.php?t=38448
On July 18th, 2013, we hit the road for an even longer journey! Africa and Middle East are calling us and we are eager to explore those lands! Why do I use the plural form? This time, Christina, the she-mad nomad, was travelling with me for 10 months. Therefore, we were riding two motorcycles of the same type (Honda XR 250), travelling according to my usual recipe: innumerous detours, in order to visit everything interesting, years on the road, to catch the scent of the local societies we are visiting, always guided by the love for People and Nature. Since August 2014, I keep traveling solo, as Christina decided to fly from Zambia back to Greece because of some personal reasons. This is the expedition called “mad about Africa“! You can check out our route on Live Trip Traveller and you can enjoy our reports at the Trip diary section.
Cobrra is a new Slovakian company which released a ground-breaking product. Its Nemo 2 is an independent system which automatically lubricates the motorcycle’s chain while riding. This way the chain never has to work without oil which is something that increases the chain’s lifetime. So, you don’t have to struggle lubricating your chain every once in a while, which can be a headache, especially if you don’t have a centre stand on your bike. While riding, you just rotate the container of Nemo 2 90 degrees clockwise and it will take care of the rest… It doesn’t get any easier!
When you travel around Africa, it’s always a trouble to find a chain lubrication spray. They are just not available in most countries. But now I don’t have to carry any spray! One thing less in my luggage I can feed Nemo 2 with any kind of oil, preferably 80W90 gear oil, which is widely available even in Africa.
Another advantage is than I can lubricate my chain right when it needs to, for instance, after rain or a dusty off-road ride. By rotating the Nemo 2 180 degrees, you can flush your chain with more oil, which is very useful when you come out of a desert and you want to get rid of that nasty sand… Each lubrication cycle lasts between 150 and 350 km (93 to 217 miles), depending on your speed and the weather conditions. Each container full of oil can last up to 5,000 km (3,107 miles).
The most important advantage of Cobrra Nemo 2 against other automatic lubrication systems is its reliability. Nemo 2 is absolutely independent. It works with pressure which is formed in its container. That means it doesn’t need vacuum or even electricity, so you don’t have to make any nasty modification to your bike and nothing can go wrong. Nemo 2 is robust even for thousands of kilometers in rough off-road conditions and that’s what is important for me.
So, now my rides are more peaceful and enjoyable since I have one thing less to care about. I am glad I have the Cobrra Nemo 2 along my expedition on the African continent!
Proceeding with “You’ve got mail!” action, that unites African immigrants with their families, I had a special mission to accomplish in South Africa… This time it was not the letter of an immigrant in Greece but the letter of a girl’s family from Cameroon. Loic from Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, gave us a letter in June 2014 for his two sisters who live in South Africa. Six years have passed since they left home and they have never met ever since. They keep in touch but it is too expensive to fly in Africa, so most people cannot afford it.
Stephanie is 31 years old and is currently living between Pretoria and Johannesburg. She invited me to her small apartment and she made me feel like an honored guest. She studies management and accounting, while she translates between English and French to make a living.
Her sister lives in Johannesburg and she is married to a Cameroonian. They got three children. They sometimes meet each other during weekends. There are many Cameroonians in South Africa but Stephanie told me that she’s quite antisocial and hasn’t got any friends. She was asking about my journey and she was curious how could I not be afraid of the locals. She is quite afraid herself due to the xenophobic attacks that are on the rise in South Africa these days.
South Africa is the most developed country on the continent and it attracts immigrants from various African countries where life is hell. Unfortunately, the last years some black South Africans attack immigrants from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Somalia, Congo, Malawi and other African countries. The excuse is always the same all around the world… Those immigrants take the job opportunities out of the locals, they say. However, most businessmen claim that Zimbabweans are better educated, more reliable and more hard working than South Africans. But people everywhere are afraid of the competition and they don’t want meritocracy to rule. They just want to get rid of the foreigners, who struggle to make ends meet and sometimes they pay with their life…
Images from xenophobic attacks on the news are really hard to watch… Groups of furious locals with machetes on hands grab any poor guy who tried to escape the hell from his own country in order to survive. How could they imagine that an even worse kind of living hell would wait for them in South Africa, in Europe, in America… The story is the same worldwide. Poor people are the ones who have to pay the price. Some locals tie young immigrants wearing shabby clothes, who can hardly survive, and they burn them alive! There was even somebody who was filming that on his mobile phone, so I watched the most hideous images my eyes have ever seen… It makes you wonder: don’t these people have any feelings?
I handed over to Stephanie the letter that I was carrying all those months around Africa. She opened it, she read it and she found inside some old family photos that really touched her. She saw herself as a little girl with her siblings and her best friends. When I asked her if and when she will meet them again, she didn’t know what to answer. Until then, she will only be seeing them on these old, washed-out photographs…
Exiting Swaziland and re-entering South Africa, I ran across some of the oldest rock formations found on planet earth. They are three and a half billion years old! It was hard for me to realize what those numbers mean… I was trying to imagine how different our planet was back then. The moon was closer, the earth was rotating faster, a day was consisted of just 18 hours and the sea water was boiling hot! There are very few places around the world where rocks of a similar age have been found. The unique thing about these areas is that they were underneath the sea when our planet was first created but they are completely revealed now.
I was hosted in a beautiful, quiet farm and my host took me to a safari through the famous Kruger National Park. It’s a park as big as Israel! We were very lucky… We saw lions, rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, a leopard, hippos, giraffes, crocodiles, rare wild dogs, various kinds of antelopes and monkeys, plus many rare birds! The army patrols the area all the time in order to stop the hunters who enter the park, usually through Mozambique, to kill rhinos. Chinese people think the rhino’s horn has aphrodisiac properties, so they pay lots of money for that!
I headed north riding through thick forests. I was amazed by the area around Sabie… I was hosted in the Gunyatoo trout farm and I explored the mountains around there, which are full of forests and marvelous waterfalls. I then reached the picturesque village of Haenertsburg through the impressive Blyde River Canyon. That is also surrounded by thick forests and beautiful mountains where I enjoyed some hikes with my host and a couple of other travelers that she was hosting.
It was time to get to Johannesburg and Pretoria. At first I was not sure I wanted to visit this huge metropolis that is infamous for its violent criminality. However, I had a great time with some cool friends I met there! I was hosted by Philip, the South African motorcyclist I had met on the road and traveled with for a couple of days, when I had first entered South Africa some months ago! Every night we had a barbecue or braai as South Africans call it, and we had nice conversations with Philip, his friend Pieter and his family.
It was time to exit this very interesting country and start heading north. I spent more than three months in South Africa and made many good friends who I hope to meet again. So, a part of my soul stayed in this beautiful country… I was always curious to see how such a diverse mix of people coexist in this multicultural country. I sadly realized that this is not a peaceful coexistence though. But anyway, it’s very interesting to study this diverse society.
I knew that a tourist is not supposed to stay in South Africa for more than three months in a period of a year. I definitely needed more time to explore this huge and interesting country, so I overstayed my entry permit. This way I became an illegal immigrant too! Extending the entry permit is practically impossible but I had carefully researched the new law which is applied since May 2014. I knew that while exiting South Africa, I would be declared undesirable for a year, which is something I don’t mind at all. There is no fine anymore, so it was not a big deal for me…
The only issue was that the friendly border officials were worried that I would be trapped in no man’s land if a visa for Botswana would not be granted to me. I explained them that Europeans do not need a visa for Botswana, so I convinced them to go on and declare me undesirable. They took my fingerprints and I just kept as a souvenir the document which makes me too undesirable in a country…
More photos and reports at: Live Trip Traveller