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.
Three years have passed since I said goodbye to family and friends in Thessaloniki, Greece. In the meanwhile, I explored 39 countries, mostly around Africa, by my small and humble Honda XR 250, the 20-year-old motorcycle that I rebuilt, modified and named “Baobabis”. I started this trip with Christina Pefani, I continued solo, I met Stella Fotakaki, I made hundreds of new friends around the world, I worked in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I felt “at home” in countries that I couldn’t imagine I would visit, I slept in the wild, in luxurious villas with a swimming pool, in police stations, I made my way through 310 police and army checkpoints, I got malaria, I was healed, I was robbed, I was assisted, I faced Africa’s biggest, wild animals from my motorcycle’s saddle, I was lost in its chaotic cities, I enjoyed riding off-road, I fell, I stood up, I enjoyed the adventure, I was hosted by black Africans, by white Africans, by colored Africans and in the end I feel that I became much richer. Don’t mistake me, my financial status is always a poor one but my soul and mind are much more heavily loaded than three years ago. This trip has provided me precious studies and experiences that no university could offer me. Of course, I have to thank from the bottom of my heart all those hundreds of people who helped me to go one step further and achieve this mission.
After completing my expedition around Africa, I continued to Middle East but the only two countries I could visit were Jordan and Israel. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to return to Greece overland due to the war in Syria and in Iraq. I have to ship my motorcycle from Haifa, Israel to Lavrio, Greece. In the meanwhile, I will fly to Athens on time to get Baobabis.
After three years, I will be very glad to see you again on my arrival to Greece. On Monday, June 27th, 2016, we can meet again in Athens! I will be in the parking lot next to Lycabettus Theatre at 20:00 and we can enjoy a nice evening there with stories from Africa… Old and new friends, you are all welcome!
I will reach Thessaloniki on Wednesday, June 29th, 2016. The meeting point cannot be other than the one where we said goodbye. So, see you in front of the White Tower at 20:00!
Here is my interview from Egypt by telephone at the broadcast of George Psaltis. It was live on May 2nd, 2016, 9:45 on Real FM 97.8. It is in Greek.
Egypt is infamous amongst overlanders for being one of the most difficult countries to enter on your own vehicle… Since Pharaonic times, Egyptians were famous for their highly advanced bureaucracy, for that era. The state was flourishing thanks to heavy taxes paid by ancient Egyptians and especially by passing caravans. Well, a few millenniums later not much has changed. The bureaucracy is almost the same and the heavy taxes still apply on everybody who wants to access the “gift of the Nile”…
For six and a half hours I was rushing from office to office in order to get Egyptian number plates for my motorcycle and pay taxes, fees to enter the border post, fees to exit the border post, fees to scan my luggage, fees to check my health (they never did anyway) and whatever else somebody can imagine to suck money our of a traveler… It was the first time I had to get local number plates for Baobabis. I had never spent so long time crossing a border but I was happy in the end. A few years ago, when travelers had to use a three-day ferry-boat crossing to ship their vehicle from Sudan to Egypt, the procedure was much more complicated and expensive.
My first stop in Egypt was in Abu Simbel. The first temples I visited in the country, happened to be the most impressive ones! The magnificent structures of Ramses II were carved out of the rocky mountain between 1274 and 1244 BC. In recent times, the artificial Lake Nasser would make the temples disappear. So the whole structures were broken in two thousand pieces weighting between ten and forty tones each! The temples were finally moved to Abu Simbel in 1968.
I was mostly following the Nile River on my way north. I explored the picturesque town of Aswan, Kom Ombo, Edfu, Esna and Luxor. I was astonished in every step when I was visiting the ancient Egyptian temples and tombs! Every inch of the monuments is decorated with impressive carvings. I couldn’t stop staring at them and imagine how grand was that civilization, one of the most ancient ones in the world. I was trying to get the age of those monuments in perspective but it’s something beyond our imagination… We are talking about unique monuments created three, four or even five millenniums ago!
In Luxor I decided to treat myself with an experience of a lifetime… Magic Horizon took me to the skies in a hot-air balloon, just above Nile and the grand monuments of ancient Thebes! It was my first time in a hot-air balloon and it was an unforgettable experience. The flight was so quiet… I didn’t even realize when we took off. I just saw suddenly that the Earth was a few meters below my feet! I was not wearing a helmet or any seat-belt. I was not even sitting actually. I was standing in a basket feeling absolutely free in the middle of the skies!
I visited Dendara to admire another impressive Pharaonic temple. That’s where my troubles with the Egyptian police started and they wouldn’t end until my last moment in the country, a couple of months later… I was usually treated either as a suspected terrorist or as a V.I.P.. When I had my motorbike parked in Cairo and my helmet locked on it, policemen of the secret service destroyed my Sena Bluetooth intercommunication system because they thought it’s a bomb!!! I spent countless hours in police stations for interrogation but also riding and even walking with a police escort! I never spent so long time with policemen in any other country…
I reached Cairo after visiting the Monastery of St Anthony, the first Christian monastery established in the world. Cairo got so many interesting neighborhoods, that one week is not enough to explore all of them! Next on my itinerary was atmospheric Alexandria. That was a significant moment for me… I saw again the Mediterranean Sea after two and a half years! Last time I saw it in Morocco. Since then, I crossed the endless deserts and savannahs of Africa, I penetrated its thick jungles, I climbed its mountains, I reached the southernmost point of the continent and finally I was back in the Mediterranean safe and sound! I felt that a huge circle was almost complete…
One of the places I was dreaming to visit, despite it was complicated and far out of my way, was the mystical Siwa Oasis! I rode through El Alamein and Marsa Matruh, where I enjoyed my first swim in 2016 in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Siwa Oasis is situated about 300 km (186 miles) off the coast, in the middle of the desert, next to the Libyan border. It’s a remote heaven of peace and quiet. Its palm groves and natural springs were a refuge for desert travellers since ancient times. That’s where Alexander went to seek the famous Oracle of Amun and secure his power, since he was accepted by the priests as son of the god. Shali Lodge offered me a good rest and protection from the heat. Its thick, mud walls of the traditional, luxurious building work miracles! The rest of the time I was cooling down in natural springs staring at the palm trees over my head…
It was time to begin the hardest and most important mission I had to accomplish in Egypt… I had to cross the Suez Canal and access the Sinai Peninsula, something which is illegal on a motorcycle for some reasons that only the very secret service of Egypt knows! There are a lot of troubles with rebels in North Sinai, where I wouldn’t go anyway. South Sinai, though, is safe and really mesmerizing. It was not only that I wanted to visit that area. I had to visit it in order to continue my trip. There was no other way to get to Middle East! That’s why I was struggling a whole month to secure a special permission to cross the bloody Suez Canal. Finally, it was only because of some amazing local bikers that I was allowed to continue my trip further east…
A pilgrimage at the historic Greek Orthodox Monastery of St Katherine was required after that success! The friendly monks took me in and I became part of the monastic community for a few days. I climbed to the top of Mt Sinai, where Christians, Muslims and Jews alike believe that God delivered his Ten Commandments to Moses. I was feeling the sacredness of the place in every step and I was very grateful that I was able to be there.
Some earthly pleasures in the Red Sea were the last things I enjoyed in Egypt. I chose the bohemian, little town of Dahab, which is surrounded by the most amazing underwater seascape I have ever seen! That’s a heaven for divers and snorkelers alike. Dive Urge was the club that took me in and showed me the natural miracles of the area. The bottom of the sea was full of corals and colourful, exotic fish. I was feeling like experiencing the scenes of a documentary!
After two months and 5,650 km (3,510 miles) in Egypt, I can definitely say that it was worth the effort and the troubles I had. I made lots of friends all around the country, who were helping me on every step. I knew that Egypt is one of the hardest countries in the world to visit on my own vehicle but it’s actually really easy, enjoyable and cheap to visit it by airplane. The security is not an issue anymore in the biggest part of Egypt and there is a vast variety of places to visit: grand, ancient monuments, exotic beaches, mesmerizing deserts, cool oases, the atmospheric Nile and more…
You can check out the map with more photos and reports at: Live Trip Traveller