“It’s clear now that the 1980s were a Golden Age of desert tourism,” explains Chris, who’s spent the last 30 years exploring north and west Africa. “In winter, the overlanders’ campsite in Tamanrasset was packed with VW Kombis, Land Rovers, Bedford lorries as well as early GS BMs, XTZ Ténérés and Honda XLs, all with the Paris-Dakar Rally look which was then in its heyday.”
“Most of Desert Travels describes my first organised motorcycle tour in 1988, when I managed to persuade five guys on XTZs, a DR600, and a Honda XLM to follow me in a cantankerous Landrover 101 for a month right through the Algerian Sahara. Only one of them finished the trip still riding, but by then no one was speaking”.
Today, following nearly a decade of increased banditry, kidnappings, nomadic rebellions and not least the security vacuum left by the recent collapse of Libya, independent tourism in the central Sahara is unrecognisable from the free-for-all Chris enjoyed in the 1980s. Desert Travels recaptures that pre-Touratech era when you made your own gear and navigated with a rosary. The new e-book format links to a website packed with maps, photos and even includes a ‘missing’ three-minute Super 8 movie of the ‘Sahara Motorcycle Tour’ in action.
“One day I’ll get around to writing Desert Travels II,” says Chris. “There’s certainly another book’s worth of yarns to be spun!”
Desert Travels – Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa is available to download from Amazon priced £2.14, or less than a flat white from Starbucks.