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Adventures

The Experts in Adventure Holidays

Days - 16: Bikes - Honda CB500x: Distance - 3,200km

We kicked off 2017 on a high, with another Big Adventure.

Starting in the beautiful, cool climate of Chaing Mai, Thailand, this two-week motorcycle tour took us right into the heart of Burma – exploring ancient pagodas, rugged jungle and unforgettable winding roads.

Though crossing the Thai/Burmese border was laborious (several trees’ worth of paperwork were used in the process), we had a lovely welcome. A Burmese official greeted us with ‘A warm welcome to our tourism country’, as locals grabbed their smart phones to film our bikes crossing over the river.

Within the first few kilometres, the contrast between Thailand and Burma couldn’t have been more stark. Gone were clean wide roads with pristine concrete curves. Instead, the edges scattered, dropping off into tree-lined red dirt.

Pot holes and bumps, as well as wet surfaces from heavy rain, made the riding more challenging, so we had to keep alert at all times.

Conditions got more chaotic as we hit the mountain range, where trucks and road works were added into the mix. This triggered our first drama. 

One of our riders was travelling around a bend when his bike skidded 60 metres down the road between three oncoming vehicles. If he’d connected with any of them, the bike would’ve been a write off, and so would he.

Thankfully, by some miracle, he came away unscathed and the bike pulled off some sort of remarkable stand up manoeuvre. It was a bit broken but, amazingly, still rideable.

Counting his lucky stars, he brushed himself off and we pressed on.

As day merged into evening, we passed families cooking on the roadside, filling the air with scents of open fire and delicious food. We reached Hpa-an in high spirits, ready to relax after a fantastic first day.

Rain continued to hammer down that night, and was still going strong the following morning. Luckily, it began to ease off as we made our way along flat, twisty roads towards Kyaiktiyo – home of the Golden Rock.

Legend has it that a supernatural-powered king found the huge, distinctive boulder at the bottom of the sea. To make it easy for people to find, he placed it on top of Mount Kyaiktiyo and built a pagoda on top. Inside the pagoda is a strand of Buddha’s hair, which prevents the precariously balanced Golden Rock from tumbling down the hill.

After incredible 360˚ views of the Mon state, we jumped back in the saddle, bound for the new national capital city – Naypyidaw. As we rode through the misty morning air, we found a little cut-through on an unsealed dirt road, winding through rural villages.

This led us to the A1 highway, which felt like an arcade game in comparison. Everywhere you looked there was chaos – traffic to dodge, coconut stalls right on the edge of the road, and high speed scooters loaded with huge bags of grapes.

We stopped on the roadside for tea and cracking samosas, before hitting quieter roads towards Naypyidaw.

The purpose-built capital of Burma absolutely blew us away. It’s an unbelievable place, with 20 lane mega highways. It was unveiled as the new capital in 2005, by the old military regime. Although the population is said to be one million, it appears to be running at about a 20% capacity at the moment.

Naypyidaw seemed so out of place in a country we’d come to associate with broken roads and heavy traffic. With grass-lined avenues, massive hotels and shopping complexes, it looked like an alien lost in the middle of Burma.

We took some time to explore this bizarre, eerily empty capital, including a visit to the Uppatasanti Pagoda – a replica of the previous capital city (Yangon)’s sacred Shwedagon Pagoda.

There was a big transition in the landscape the next day, as we began to see more grasslands, small forests, brush, and a little bit of jungle. With the sun shining and idyllic roads stretched out before us, it felt great to be on a motorbike.

Due to a closed road, we made a slight alteration to the route and came across a nice, cultural stop-off point – the birthplace of General Aung San. This guy was an important figure, heavily involved in the independence of Burma. His daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, currently serves as the First Female Minister of Foreign Affairs.

As we continued to Bagan, the scenery became more agricultural, with far less traffic, and far fewer people. Winding through tiny roads, we encountered a few surprise drops. Some of the riders were getting some big air, with big smiles to match.

The grins only widened when we hit Bagan, one of South East Asia’s most stunning areas. Motorcycles are banned in this UNESCO world heritage site, so instead we hopped onto electric bikes to whizz around and see the legendary pagodas.

The main highlight was the Shwesandaw pagoda, also known as ‘sunset pagoda’ for its impeccable views. Our climb to the top rewarded us with a real sight to behold – a huge expanse of terracotta pagodas poking out above the jungle. We watched, enraptured, as the descending sun painted a warm, golden trail across the red brick pagodas. They looked like ships scattered across a vast sea of lush green jungle.

A few of the guys were treated to more monumental views of Bagan the next morning, when they headed out for a hot air balloon ride over the ancient city. Though we’d been told it was no longer possible to fly over the pagodas, it thankfully wasn’t true. The guys flew right over, with eye-popping views of the entire site.

After a morning in the clouds, we hit a selection of small back roads and highways heading North to Mandalay. We managed to pick up some speed, enjoying fast riding on fairly flat, tarmacked roads.

Along the way, we sampled some flavoursome roadside Mohinga –  a rice noodle and fish broth combo that many consider to be Burma’s national dish. It was just the energy hit we needed for the last push up to Mandalay.

Burmese cuisine continued to shine later that evening, when we tucked into one of the best meals I’ve ever had. We were brought lots of different bowls and before long, the table was a colourful sea of delicious food.

To embrace the culture fully, a few of us sampled the local rum. Needless to say, there were a few sore heads the next morning.

The road to Inle Lake took us up into the beautiful, rolling mountains of the Shan state. With very little traffic and switchback after switchback, it was exactly the kind of riding we love. There really is no bigger smile than that of a biker on a mountain road.

Inle Lake is set in a valley, surrounded by vibrant green mountains. It’s home to around 70,000 people who make their living through farming and fishing. After a few intense days of riding, unwinding in this historically rich area was a welcome relief on our weary limbs. We spent the day on boats around the lake, visiting local craftsmen – including jewellery and cheroot (traditional Burmese cigars) makers, and lotus weavers.

We were set to ride deeper into the Shan State, but the Burmese government refused to give us permits. This was allegedly for our safety, although several locals we met seemed shocked to learn the Burmese government were painting a negative picture of such a friendly area. Nonetheless, we were left with no choice but to take a new route.

We travelled down winding roads along the East side of Inle Lake, testing previously unchartered terrain towards Loikaw. As we rode, we encountered more hilly, mountainous areas, with limestone rock poking out of otherwise fairly flat scenery.

Our detour really paid off when we discovered a five-acre fun fair up the road from our hotel. It was huge! Full of cheesy stalls, dodgy looking rides and fantastic street food. We tried all sorts of weird and wonderful things, including liver on a stick and five-egg quail pancakes – all cooked fresh in front of us.

The fun continued into the night, when we found a street party with a DJ and some very cheap whisky (less than £1 for a 500ml bottle!).

The East side of Burma may be less developed than the West, but the riding conditions are incredible. We found the most amazing single track road on the way to Tuangoo. With sweeping bends through lush green jungle, we were able to throw our weight from left to right and accelerate over little sections of potholes and ridges.

As we began to make our way back to the Burmese/Thai border, the refused permits meant we had to repeat the section of highway down to Kyaiktiyo. But although we were travelling on the same road, the sun was out and it was boiling hot, so it felt completely different to our rainy first day.

On our last day in Burma, we visited Linno Cave – a unique ecosystem, home to millions of bats – where we learnt about the value of guano (bat droppings). The locals gather it in vast amounts, approximately 30kg per week, to make fertiliser.

With a new wealth of knowledge about bat faeces, we made a last blast down to the Mae Sot border crossing. Here we waved a fond farewell to our Burmese guide, AK, who’d been amazingly informative throughout our trip.

Back in Thailand, we came across a huge camp of over 50,000 Burmese people taking refuge from their country’s regime.

Shocked by the basic conditions the refugees were living in, we pulled together to collect food. We managed to gather a pretty big parcel – around 180 kilos of rice and 300 cans of sardines – but between 50,000 people, we knew it wouldn’t even scratch the surface. Having spent time meeting these amazing people and sharing their country, it was heart-breaking to see them not being looked after by their government.

We stopped at three different checkposts, before we finally found one that let us deposit the goods. All we could do was hope they reached the people who needed it.

A stark reminder of just how lucky we are to have our freedom.

We finished our trip on a really fast, flowing road along the side of a beautiful river – the perfect place to reflect on an incredible adventure through such a culturally rich and fascinating country.

Thanks to all our brilliant riders for upholding the spirit of adventure.

Burma, we can’t wait to come back.


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After October’s intense but incredible trip to Nepal, we were itching to get back in the saddle for another dirt bike adventure. So where better to test our riding skills than the rugged, technical terrain of Cambodia?

Our journey began in the bustling capital city of Phnom Penh. Here, the group took a little time to get to know each other and acclimatise, exploring the museums, palaces and street markets – and later on, the bars and nightclubs.

The first stretch on the bikes was a choppy dirt run, heading towards Snoul – the site of a major battle during the Vietnam war. As we rode, huge ominous storm clouds gathered overhead. The monsoon season in Cambodia came late this year, opening us to extremely heavy downpours.

We rested in Snoul that night, hanging our dripping wet kit out before hitting the sack. Luckily, the warm air left it dry by morning and we got an early start, heading down the unseasonably wet King’s Highway for our first taste of the jungle.

The muddy, challenging conditions really put us through our paces and brought the team closer. We were working well together, laughing as we helped each other blast over the wet trails.

We arrived into Sen Monorom, right on the border of Vietnam, in great spirits. As the evening drew in, we relaxed with a barbeque by our resort’s pool.

It rained torrentially throughout the night. As a result, the double-drop Bou Sra waterfall was raging heavily the next morning. The thundering cascades of water was an incredible sight, and an exhilarating way to start the day before tackling the infamous ‘Death Highway’.

We rode through the remote village of Kon Niek before encountering some very tough conditions. Persistent rain had left a section of the road slicked in deep mud. It was horribly slippy and overgrown, and before long we threw in the towel and found an alternative route to the highway.

Our efforts to reach the Death Highway were rewarded with a stretch of fun, fast riding. We made quick progress for the following hour and the team were loving every second. But we soon discovered the late monsoon’s challenges weren’t over when we hit a submerged rice paddy. Unable to see what was under the surface of the water, a few of our riders were thrown off their bikes. To slow us down further, some of the bikes flooded and our mechanics had to step in to ensure they were fit for the remaining day’s riding.

Pushing on as a unit, we eventually popped out of the jungle onto a smoother road where we could make progress again. We gunned it to Banlung, arriving just in time before the sun went down. That night, we stayed in a fantastic little spa resort, tucked away in the middle of nowhere, to relax after a day of tough but rewarding riding.

The following day was a much-appreciated rest day, giving us the chance to unwind and explore the area. We split off into groups to enjoy a few different activities, including visiting a hill tribe village, an elephant sanctuary, and swimming in the beautiful volcanic crater lake of Yeak Laom. For the guys in need of some gentle R&R, there was a spa and massages too.

We awoke the next day, rested and raring for more adventure. Cambodia was 100% willing to deliver, as we received word that the Mekong River had flooded. Our intended route to Stung Treng was now a lake, so we needed to re-engineer our plan to accommodate a bit of highway followed by exciting off-road trails and dirt roads.

Making steady progress, we rode cautiously through Khmer Rouge village strongholds. There were lots of stark, harsh reminders of this offshoot of the Vietnam People’s Army, responsible for orchestrating the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s.

Though the CMAC (Cambodian Mine Action Centre) are hard at work to remove mines from the area, it remains littered with warning signs which reminded us to stick to well-trodden paths.

As we continued to push up the border, we rode alongside the mighty Mekong. Brimming with character, the river is scattered with rapids, islands and waterfalls as it drops from Laos and forms a natural border into Cambodia.

That evening we hopped on a riverboat, with a cool box full of beers and soft drinks in tow. There’s a stunning little island right in the middle of the Mekong, with sand banks about 100m long and 30m wide, where we set up camp for the night.

We pitched our tents and hammocks, grateful for a perfectly-timed respite from the rain. Just as the sun went down, we took a quick swim in the river to wash off the day’s dirt and sweat and made ourselves a roaring fire. We cooked up some lovely jacket potatoes with beef and chicken, talking and enjoying a few beers late into the night.

Though we stayed up pretty late, we managed to merge, bleary-eyed, from our tents early the next morning to watch the sun rise. After another quick wash in the river to get our blood pumping, we jumped on the boat and headed upstream to where critically endangered Irrawaddy river dolphins were playing. These amazing little guys are shy, with distinctively round heads. Recent population studies reveal there are only around eighty left in the Mekong River, so watching them breaching out the water that morning felt very special.

We stopped in Laos for breakfast, taking some time to check out a steam railway that was once used to transport goods from Laos into Cambodia.

Again, we felt the effects of the late monsoon when we attempted a dirt road through the jungle, but were unable to make it through due to too much water. All around us, rice paddies were flooded and river bridges had been washed away. Instead, we took an alternative dryer route through the forest.

We reached Preah Vihear that afternoon and headed to its ancient Hindu temple, atop a 525m cliff in the Dângrêk mountains, right on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. Climbing to the highest section of the temple gave us amazing views across both countries.

Next stop, Koh Ker. With a big day of riding ahead, we jumped on the dirt bikes early. Before long, we reached another flooded river with its bridge completely washed away. Luckily for us, a boat was on hand to take us to the other side. With capacity for just two bikes at a time, we got there slowly but surely.

Back on sandy, muddy trails, we enjoyed some brilliant riding. With fast sections and varied terrain, the route to Koh Ker regaled us with perfect dirt biking conditions. Perhaps a bit too caught up in the thrills of the trails, we made one wrong turn into the jungle and found ourselves tackling deep, tricky riding, with the light steadily fading.

Embracing the challenge, the group pushed forward over the tricky terrain, congratulating each other’s efforts as we finally reached Koh Ker under starry skies.

Having been put through their paces, the bikes needed a bit of TLC the following morning, affording us time to climb up the remote region’s beautiful 7-tier pyramid temple.

We took a less intense ride than the previous day, winding our way over to explore the deserted ruins of the Preah Khan (Sacred Sword) temple.

Preah Khan temple is one of the ancient Angkor temples. Right in the middle of the jungle, it’s very hard for most vehicles to access. But on dirt bikes, it’s no issue. We watched the sun set at the temple, listening to eerie sounds from the jungle as day turned to dusk.

Our final day’s riding was welcomed by another torrential downpour, leaving trails very wet and muddy. We made our way along potholed dirt roads, covered in a red clay that we were soon covered in.

That afternoon we were faced with two choices: take the highway to our final stop, get there early, relax and take some extra time to explore. Or attempt some previously untested backroads through paddy fields and farmland, with small alleyways winding towards our destination.

Of course, we chose to go off-road.

It was a decision none of us regretted. With fast, flowing tracks and no heavy ruts, we had the perfect riding conditions to finish our adventure. We eventually emerged from the Cambodian wilderness, high-fiving and cheering as we hit the wide city streets of Siem Reap.

The city is home to Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument and the Number One sight in the world, as voted by Lonely Planet. This epic Hindu temple was the ideal place to end our trip on a high. We spent our final day in Cambodia soaking up its astounding legacy.

In spite of the late monsoon’s heavy downpours, there were no dampened spirits. Thanks to all the riders who made Cambodia 2016 another fantastic trip. An amazing group of energetic, up for it, positive people. We salute you.


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Our Nepal Dirt Bike Adventure gives daring bikers the chance to be among the few to ride in the shadow of Mount Everest. From the bustling madness of Kathmandu to the tranquillity of the Himalayas’ untouched terrain, this ten-day adventure never fails to deliver. We’ve just returned from our Oct ’16 trip and it’s safe to say it was among our most eventful yet!

Our group assembled in Kathmandu, all set for the trip of a lifetime. We kicked off by exploring jazz bars, markets, gardens and monkey temples in the pupil-dilating city.

Dirt bikes prepped and ready to go, we set off on the first leg of our journey, riding north towards the dense green hills of Shivapuri. It wasn’t long before we encountered our first challenge: a muddy, mossy single track trail with difficult technical sections.

A slick grey clay created the slippiest conditions we’d ever ridden on and we all took a tumble. Unfortunately for one of our riders – Paul –  the fall was nasty, and the impact broke his collarbone. We pulled together to ensure he was taken to safety, transporting him back to the main road for medical attention. 

Once Paul was safe, the team pushed forward and arrived for lunch in Chisapani – a beautiful little town, renowned among hikers for its spectacular views of the Everest mountain range. Tragically, the April 2015 earthquake reduced many of the town’s roads, hotels and restaurants to rubble and there was a sombre feeling among us as we witnessed the sheer scale of its destruction.

Because the conditions reaching Chisapani had been so tough, we were running worryingly low on fuel. To test us further, our fuel truck was unable to make it over the broken roads to reach us.

Luckily, with help from the locals, we managed to siphon about 20 litres, enabling us to push down to Nagarkot – a stunning hilltop village surrounded by terraced rice paddies, where we were due to spend the night.

After three hours of exhilarating riding in the dark through mountains, we finally reached Nagarkot at 9.45pm, exhausted. With so many challenges thrown at us, the trip so far was certainly living up to its ‘Big Adventure’ title!

The next day, we crossed the incredible Shivapuri National Park, riding alongside all sorts of wildlife, including leopards, black bears, jungle cats and wild boar.

After a tough river crossing through huge rocks and boulders, we discovered the track between the river all the way up to our accommodation – the Shivapuri Eco Lodge – was scattered with deep holes and puddles. Navigating these technical, rocky sections slowed our progress significantly and by the time we reached our lodgings, we were absolutely shattered.

With another tricky dirt trail to wake us up the next day, our efforts were rewarded by immense views as we rode around the outskirts of Kathmandu. Cruising along mountain ridges, we revelled in our surroundings of lush green forests and tiered rice paddies.

Dropping down from the ridge to the highway, we finished the day’s ride in Kurimtar, midway between Kathmandu and Pokhara. That evening we kicked back in the hot, tropical atmosphere with a hearty meal and a whisky (or two!).

Next stop, Pokhara. After three full-on days in the saddle, we were relieved to have a more restful day, with a straightforward 100km ride on tarmac to take us to our destination. We had a relaxed afternoon exploring one of Nepal’s most beautiful spots, stretched along the tranquil Phewa Lake.

Restored and ready for more adventure, we left Pokhara the following morning and began pushing up to Lete. As we climbed north towards the Annapurna mountain range, our surroundings changed dramatically from the lush, green Shangri-La valleys to the crisper atmosphere in Tatopani, where the landscape became increasingly barren.

Powering our bikes over rocky, sandy terrain, we were able to pick up our pace as the trails transitioned from single tracks to faster, more flowing roads. Along our way, we passed several Nepalese drivers using the route as their main highway up to the Mustang Valley, transporting goods like fuel, water and medicine.

Pulling into Lete at the end of the day, we all had big smiles on our faces. It had been an incredible day’s riding and as we looked out across the immense peaks of Annapurna on every side, high above the treeline, we felt we’d truly arrived in the Himalayas.

The next morning began on a high, watching the sun rise over stunning snow-capped peaks before making our way from Lete to Jomsom. Circling up through evergreen woodland, we discovered a narrow track leading higher up the mountain. In the spirit of adventure, a few of us revved our way up the tough, tight little climb, to be rewarded with fantastic views and, thanks to a couple of shepherds we met up there, two litres of yaks’ milk!

Making our way through the Mustang Valley, we enjoyed amazing riding over dried river beds, silt, gravel, rocks and boulders. After a delicious feast of noodle soup followed by Dutch chocolate cake in the High Plains Inn, we explored a Buddhist monastery before winding our way down to Jomsom.

Jomsom itself is a popular starting point for treks along the Kali Gandaki river. With daily flight connections to and from Pokhara, it has a terrifyingly tiny landing strip which our group unanimously agreed we’d never want to fly into. Saying that, it might just be worth the fear for bird’s eye views of the mighty and magnificent mountains.

Once acquainted with the village, we spent that night at the hotel Marco Polo, a lovely little guest house with incredible views of the Nilgiri mountain right in front of us. As darkness crept in, the very tops of the peaks were lit by the dying embers of the sun.

The next leg of the journey was a struggle. With multiple days’ riding, tough terrain and high altitudes catching up with us, the path from Jomsom towards Muktinath Temple really tested our riding skills. We took a brief break to explore the sacred sanctuary and its surrounding scenery, at nearly 4000 metres, before heading up into the peaks to explore new ground. High up in this tranquil space, it gave us a huge buzz to realise the terrain had probably never been ridden before. 

Better still, we found some amazing trails. One led us to Lukla Point – a jaw-dropping viewpoint looking far out across the stark landscapes of the Annapurna mountain range.

We slept light that night due to the altitude, but were soon shaken from our groggy states when we rode into a remote valley packed with top-quality trails and ridges to play around on. From there, we headed down a rocky road back towards Tatopani.

In Nepali, ‘Tatopani’ literally translates as ‘hot water’. True to its name, the village is visited primarily for its thermal springs. We spent the evening soaking our sore muscles and limbs, sinking a few beers and admiring the white water of the Kali Gandaki river raging alongside us.

The roads and weather joined forces to challenge us on our way to Pokhara the following day. After facing big delays on the road in Dimuwa, we decided to tackle a new back route leading to our next lodgings. But with landslide after landslide, and a storm brewing above us, we eventually admitted defeat and got back onto a more stable road to scoot around to the Happy Heart Hotel.

The final leg of our journey was also the most dangerous. The 200km stretch from Pokhara back to Kathmandu runs along Nepal’s main highway. With heavy traffic, crazy driving, massive potholes and sections where the road just turns to dust, we knew we needed to stay cautious and keep our wits about us.

This fact was hit home even harder when we came across a very nasty motorcycle accident involving a Nepalese local. Quite shook up, we slowed right down, riding steadily through rush hour traffic, large vehicles and markets, towards Kathmandu. Our Big Adventure crew did an excellent job of guiding everybody in on the radios to ensure we all arrived into the city safely.

That evening, we headed out for drinks to celebrate an absolutely unforgettable journey. The challenges had created a tight bond between our group and, all in all, made us feel we’d truly earned our end of trip beers!

 

A big thank you to all our riders, guides and crew who fully embraced the spirit of adventure, making this another astonishing journey we’ll never forget.


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With pure adrenaline rushing through your veins and an endless stretch of road in front of you, there are few more exciting ways to see the world than from the saddle of a motorbike. Other modes of transport will get you from A to B, but if you want a real adventure, two wheels is the way to go. 

1. Bikers see things differently

There’s no experience that compares to riding off the beaten track on a motorbike adventure. The sense of freedom feels infinite. From windy paved roads to rural dirt tracks, a motorbike gives you intimate access to places travellers don’t normally get to experience.  You try amazing food, see spectacular scenery and meet fascinating people, all of which you’d never even have known existed if you hadn’t jumped in the saddle.

2. Your bike is much more than a machine

Bikers love their bikes like cowboys love their horses. Your trusty steed may not have a pair of soulful eyes, or an appetite for hay, but just like The Lone Ranger riding Silver through the Wild West, your bike is your ticket to all sorts of unforgettable escapades. An enduring bond like this is a beautiful thing, best fostered by the highs and lows of a big adventure.

3. The present moment is all that matters

A real motorcycle adventure helps you drop out of everything that doesn’t matter. Suddenly, day-to-day frustrations pale into insignificance as your focus shifts solely to the trail ahead. You become at one with every twist and bend, immersed in the raw power of the world around you. You certainly won’t give a flying fender about company sales targets when you’re riding at high altitude in the Nepalese mountains.

4. You can do more than you think

There are hundreds of people who’ll give you hundreds of reasons not to attempt a trip that’ll push you out your comfort zone. ‘It’s dangerous,’ some might say. ‘It’s too difficult,’ whinge others. We humans have a tendency to place limits on ourselves. A motorbike adventure is the perfect way to break them. And when you’re kicking back with a beer after an exhilarating day of riding, you’ll wonder why you ever set those limits in the first place.

5. People are brilliant

If you’re feeling world-weary, biking can restore your faith in humanity. In some of the harshest times – from flat tyres, to breakdowns, to getting completely lost – the kindness of strangers really takes you aback. Meeting fellow bike adventurers along the way also ramps up the good vibes.  You’ll never run short of conversation, because you have one common bond – biking. So there are endless experiences to share.

6. You won’t want to stop

It’s a testament to how awesome a bike trip has been when the first thing you do upon stopping is start planning your next trip. All it takes is to meet a fellow biker, hear their stories, and one adventure inevitably leads to another. From the salt flats of Bolivia to the Cambodian jungle, there are endless adventures in store for motorcyclists. And once you start, you’ll never want to stop.


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Our Romania Dirt Bike Long Weekender is an ultra-concentrated adventure designed to push your riding skills to the limits. We spend 3 full days riding on steep narrow trails through endless forests in the Carpathian Mountains in Central Romania. This region is a Mecca for off-road motorcycling and it really doesn’t get much better than this!

Although this is the shortest trip we offer, by no means is it an ‘easy’ adventure. This is a tough, physically demanding and challenging experience which will take you right out of your comfort zone.

Are you ready for a big adventure in Romania? Read this blog post about our trip in May 2016 and then call us to book your place!

Our adventure started in Romania’s capital city, Bucharest. We flew in from Luton Airport with Wizz Air and we arrived mid-afternoon. Ryan Air & Wizz Air offer low cost flights to Bucharest (OTP). British Airways also offer scheduled flights so there are lots of options for getting there.

From Bucharest we drove approximately 160kms north towards the stunning Transylvania region of Central Romania (Lonely Planet has ranked Transylvania as their number 1 region to visit in their ‘Best in Travel 2016’ list). Although we were all tired after our early morning flight, we tried to stay awake during the transfer to appreciate the breathtaking mountain scenery.

The snowcapped Carpathian Mountains

By late afternoon we arrived at our base which was a charming hotel in a small village just outside of Brasov surrounded by the mountain peaks and forests of the Southern Carpathians. After checking into our accommodation we assigned the bikes and briefed the group on the plans for the next three days. The less experienced riders could stick to the beginner/ intermediate tracks, whilst the more experienced riders could conquer the harder trails. 

A lunchtime break overlooking Romania's premier ski resort Poiana Brasov

Our small group spent the next three days riding together on challenging tracks and trails through dense pine forests and open fields in the wilderness of the ‘Transylvanian Alps’. We were typically out from 9am until around 630-7pm, but during the day we had plenty of opportunities to stop and take photographs of the incredible mountain landscapes. We also stopped every now and then to drink some water or have lunch in a restaurant owned by warm and friendly locals.

The mountains and forests in this region have a range of wildlife including one of the largest populations of brown bears in Europe, wild cats and wolves. On our second day we found mother bear and baby bear paw prints on the trail, but thankfully we didn’t meet daddy bear along the way!

Stunning views of Romania's Carpathian Mountains

The riding was physically hard-work and demanding especially on the hard enduro trails, but we loved every minute of it. It was a pure adrenaline rush riding on the professional tracks which some of the best offroad riders in the business, including Jonny Walker, Chris Birch, Wade Young and Graham Jarvis, use as a warm up to the Red Bull Romaniacs (an extreme off-road motorcycle race which has taken place annually in Romania since 2004). Everyone in our group, regardless of their riding ability, pushed their riding skills to the limit and we all felt like more experienced and competent riders by the end of the weekend. Our Romanian team have an abundance of energy and enthusiasm and they encouraged our group to tackle the harder trails. Their passion for off-roading and their knowledge of the tracks and trails was simply incredible and it was an absolute pleasure to ride with them.

Riding over the snowcapped mountains was a real buzz

At the end of our third day of riding we handed back our bikes and jumped in a mini-bus to Bucharest where we had a night out on the town. We were exhausted, but we all felt that we’d all really pushed ourselves over the weekend and we’d definitely left our comfort zones. As we headed back to the airport the following day we were already talking about returning to Romania for another big adventure later in the year. We all felt that we’d made great friends and unforgettable memories!

Offroading in the forests of the Carpathian Mountains - it really doesn’t get much better than this!


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Last week Faye O'Toole joined the The Big Adventure Company as a Travel Administrator based in our Bath HQ.

Faye was definitely the most suitable candidate for this role because as well as having a very friendly and happy personality she also has a real passion for travel and big adventures! During her gap year Faye visited Australia and New Zealand where she experienced activities such as extreme water rafting, deep caving, mountain climbing and kayaking. 

Here's 22 questions we asked Faye during her first week at TBAC...


1. How did you first learn about TBAC?

I discovered an ad on indeed.com and I went and viewed the website for TBAC and said WOW! This job ticks all my boxes. I felt so lucky to be offered an interview let alone being offered the job. I’m very thankful and excited to have the position.

2. Why did you want to work for TBAC?

Last year I had a gap year abroad in Australia and New Zealand and experienced a variety of adrenaline packed adventures which included; riding motorbikes on the east coast of OZ, 4x4 driving on Fraser Island and extreme water rafting.I’ve always been trying to find a challenge in my life to do things to the extreme especially when I competed across the country on my own horses in cross country and showjumping.

So to answer your question I wanted to work here so I can help others achieve adventures of a life time like I have.

Trekking to the top of a mountain in Tasmania

3. What is your role?

TBAC have offered me the opportunity to be their travel administrator on an apprenticeship so I can learn as much as possible and hopefully continue with the company for many years to come.

4. Before working at TBAC what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

It’s not really a job, but once I was on a television series called ‘Duck quacks don’t echo’ which was a comedy show that tested science theories. The episode I was on was the theory if red heads could tolerate more pain. Well...they tested us alright! Challenge 1- Electrocution (had to wear an electrocution device on my stomach) and had to stand the pain as long as possible. Challenge 2- Freezing temperatures- Had to go into an iced over swimming pool and see how long you can stand it for. Challenge 3- Being pelted in the back by a tennis ball machine and stepping closer if you can face the pain (lovely close up reaction of me in that one!)

5. What are 3 words to describe TBAC?

Fun, caring and exciting.

6. What do you like most about TBAC?

Definitely the team, everyone is so caring and friendly.

7. What countries have you travelled to?

Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Croatia, France, Spain, Majorca, Cyprus, USA, Hong Kong.

8. Which TBAC trip would you most like to do?

I would probably say the Bolivia Jeep Adventure because I think I’m more skilled driving a Jeep and Bolivia is beautiful.

Riding motorbikes on Australia's East Coast

9. Do you have an office nickname? What is it?

I don’t yet but I get called Fayefaye by my friends.

10. Favourite travel experience?

I have many to choose from, but I think I will go with Fraser Island I did so much there! Jeep driving across sand dunes and in the bush, swimming in isolated lakes with my friends, camping and having incredible parties and friendship.

11. If you were stuck on an island what three things would you bring?

Sun cream because I wouldn’t survive with my complexion of ghostly paleness, a knife that is strong enough to cut branches and to transform into a spear to catch fish and a pack of cards for entertainment to play with my imaginary friend I would have created out of boredom like Wilson in Castaway.

12. Top 3 life highlights?

When I got my first horse he was so cheeky and fun I’ll always class him as my bestfriend because he made me so happy.

Me and two of my friends did a trek up a mountain in Australia and when we reached the highest point we all whipped our tops of. Guess it was a freedom moment.

Italy with my boyfriend last year we did a trip to Rome, Florence and Venice in 2 weeks and it was so romantic and we accomplished are mission to find the most incredible pizza.

13. What book did you read last?

Game of thrones - A song of ice and fire.

14. What celebrity do people think you look like?

There is a reality star from made in Chelsea called Rosie Fortescue which fans of the show call me. I have also been told I look like Florence Welch from Florence and the machine.

15. What did you want to be when growing up?

I wanted to be a vet because when I was little I thought I just be cuddling animals all day - that fantasy changed when I had my first biology lesson and got a bit squeamish.

16. What is an ability you wish you had?

I wish I could sing because I sing along to every song on the radio...would help if I learnt the words too.

17. What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

My own hot air balloon and try and see how far I can get like the film around the world in 80 days.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park in New Zealand

18. What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?

To say yes to every opportunity no matter how crazy.

19. What’s on your bucket list?

I really want to go to a village in Africa and either teach children or help build houses. I also want to go to Uganda and get up close to some gorillas.

20. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope to still be working with TBAC and who knows by then I might be helping on the tours.

21. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

I did extreme water rafting in New Zealand down the biggest waterfall you are allowed to do and are boat flipped over and I got stuck underneath and was a struggle to get to the surface I was stuck under the water for a while.

22. Where would you like to travel to next?

Me and my boyfriend really want to go to Egypt we have a lot on our list that we want to see there.

Extreme white water rafting on the Kaitiaki River in New Zealand


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Last year our ‘Burma Motorcycle Adventure’ was included in a travel feature in The Independent newspaper. Written by Sarah Baxter, the article gave information about adventurous and exciting ways to explore this mysterious and magical country. 

We were very proud that TBAC was mentioned in the article alongside other well-known tour companies such as Selective Asia and Exodus. Thank you Sarah for including us! 

 

'5 Ways To Explore Burma' by Sarah Baxter, The Independent

When Burma first 're-opened' to visitors almost five years ago, there were few tour options to choose from. Since then, infrastructure has improved, more areas have become accessible and operators are introducing ever-more inventive itineraries. However, infrastructure is still years away from the likes of Thailand’s, which means that budget travel isn’t easily achieved.

British visitors can now apply for an e-visa online (evisa.moip. gov.mm) if they are arriving via the major international airports. So whether you’re trekking or trucking or riding a motorbike, now is the time to plan a visit.

visit stunning golden temples in magical Burma

By motorbike

The Big Adventure Company’s 'Burma Motorcycle Adventure' (01225 634 000; bigadventureco.com) is a first – a thrilling 18-day motorcycle journey from northern Thailand’s twisty mountain roads into Karen state, via Kalaw hill station and temple-packed Bagan, past buzzing night markets and peaceful pagodas. From £3,399 excluding flights. Next trip is in January 2017.

explore Burma on two-wheels with The Big Adventure Company

By train

Selective Asia (01273 670 001; selectiveasia.com) offers a Railways Old & New itinerary, using the Hti Khi crossing to explore the Burma Siam “Death Railway”. The trip takes in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi and river Kwai bridge, before heading into Burma to see a more northern section of the infamous track, plus the Allied war cemetery at Thanbyuzayat. You’ll also ride the Yangon circular commuter train and take the overnighter to Mandalay. A tailor-made 18-day trip costs from £2,603 excluding flights.

On foot

Visit the Chin Hills of north-west Burma for verdant valleys, tea plantations, animist tombs and traditional villages. Exodus’s (0845 805 5482; exodus.co.uk) 16-day Trekking in Burma trip peaks with an ascent of 3,053m Mount Victoria. From £2,949 including flights.

The Phongun Razi & the Burmese Ice Mountains trek with Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844 400; mountainkingdoms.com) is a tougher challenge, and one of the first organised hikes in the north, overlooking the eastern Himalayas. The 18-day adventure includes summiting 3,635m-high Phongun Razi. From £3,170 including flights.

trek in the hills of northern Burma

By truck

Overlanding trips really entered Burma only last year, but now Dragoman (01728 885 101; dragoman.com) offers several. Its 9-day Yangon to Bangkok trip rumbles between highlights including the Golden Rock, Yangon’s dazzling Shwedagon Paya and the Andaman coast. From £518 excluding flights.

By boat

The Mergui archipelago has long been virtually off-limits to tourists – securing the necessary permits was a tricky business. However, Wild Frontiers (020 7736 3968; wildfrontierstravel.com) now has permission, and its Sea Gypsies of Burma trip spends five days navigating the 800-odd islands by boat and meeting the nomadic Moken tribe. From £3,295 for 10 days excluding flights. 

 

Note from The Big Adventure Company:

If you'd like to join our 'Burma Motorcycle Adventure' in January 2017 please call us on +441225 634 000 or you can send an email to info@bigadventureco.com to request further information. 


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We’ve recently returned from our Big Colombian Recce Adventure and what a fantastic trip it was! We absolutely loved this crazy and colourful country and we’re excited about running our first official Colombia Motorbike Adventure in summer 2016.

We started our adventure from Cali and we spent our first few riding days on the never ending twisty roads of the spectacular Andes Mountains, before we headed down to the Caribbean beaches and UNESCO World Heritage city of Cartagena. Following a well deserved day off from riding we jumped back on the bikes to head south towards the vibrant city of Medellin which is located in the Aburra Valley in the heart of the Andes, and then we made our way back to Cali - the salsa capital of the world.

Join us on our Colombian Motorcycle Adventure in Summer 2016

We had an early start on our first riding day and we spent a couple of hours getting our bikes ready and doing all the necessary final checks. At around 930am we jumped onto our motorcycles (Yamaha XT660’s) and onto the dirt roads as we headed out of Cali.

We were extremely privileged to have ‘El Profe’ guide us out of Cali on the narrow mountain trails. El Profe is a well-known off road motorcycle guy in Colombia, he’s big on the enduro scene and he’s a good friend of Daniel Fernandez who was heavily involved with the planning and logistics of this trip. It was great to have El Profe with us for the first few hours of our riding adventure and we were all buzzing with excitement about the trip ahead of us.

We rode on the twisty trails up to the top of a mountain and then we took a fast road down to a freshwater lake where hundreds of Colombian’s were enjoying a family Sunday together on the shores of the lake. We rode around the lake and we came across a group of 50 motorcyclists who are part of a Rider’s Club from Cali.

Photo opportunity with motorcyclists from a local Rider’s Club

Later that afternoon we rode on a fast highway for about 150km to a little town called Salento which is on the edge of a National Park. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes amid lush green mountains, the town’s income comes from coffee production, trout farming and tourism. We absolutely loved Salento with its quaint streets, paisa architecture and extremely welcoming and friendly locals.

We left Salento the following morning and we rode down to the spectacular Cocora Valley (Valle de Cocora) which is an absolutely stunning region famous for its unusual 60 metre high wax palms (palma de cera), the national tree of Colombia.

Endless twisty roads through lush, green mountains!

Later that afternoon we had a brief stop in Manizales which is located in the heart of the Coffee Region (Eje Cafetero) in central Colombia. From Manizales we took a turn off of some super fast tarmac onto a gravel road and began our climb up to Volcano del Ruiz -  one of several stratovolcanoes within the ‘Los Nevados’ National Park.

The volcano last erupted in November 1985 causing a large mud flow which swept through the town of Armero almost 40 km away from the summit where more than 23,000 people were killed marking one of the worst volcanic disasters in history. Sadly, this tragedy could have been easily avoided if clear warnings by volcanologists had been taken seriously.

Our ride up to the top of the volcano was stunning, but fairly tough as we ascended from 1000 metres above sea level to 4000 metres in less than half an hour. Once we’d passed through the clouds we braved the cold and had a quick picnic at the summit. Then we began our descent where we rode on a bumpy track for 20-30 kilometres and this took at least an hour. It wasn’t technical, but we certainly had to keep our wits about us. Then we were back on tarmac roads and we had an incredible fast ride with lots of twisty turns and hardly any traffic. What an absolutely amazing ride! When we reached the bottom everyone had huge smiles on their faces and some of the group said that it was one of the best motorbike rides they’d ever experienced. 

Riding on the twisty mountain roads

We rode onwards for 50kms to a hot, dusty town called Honda, and upon arrival we checked in to our lovely hotel which is run by two sisters. We were delighted to see that the hotel had a swimming pool, and as the temperature was almost 40 degrees we jumped straight in to cool down. That evening we ate delicious fresh salmon from the local river!

The following morning we started the day with a traditional Colombian breakfast called ‘Tamales’ which is polenta, rice, chicken, raisons and spices, cooked in a banana leaves on an open fire. It was definitely an interesting breakfast, but very tasty!

After breakfast we left Honda and took the road north of Bogata and back on to mountain roads heading towards Villa de Leyva. With cobblestone streets, white-washed houses, lush green mountains as backdrop, Villa de Leyva is one of the prettiest towns we visited and we felt like we were on a film set. From here we took an excursion deep into Colombia's Zipaquirá Mountain to visit a Catholic cathedral carved out of the salt deposits of an abandoned mine.

From Villa de Leyva we rode on twisty roads on a mixture of dusty tracks and superb tarmac, heading towards our next destination - the stunning Spanish colonial town of Barichara.

With traditional cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings covered with bougainvillea blossoms, it’s easy to see why Barichara is known as Colombia’s most beautiful town. We stayed at a fantastic hotel located at the top of a hill overlooking this picturesque little town and we walked down to the main square at sunset for some cold beers!

We loved all the beautiful towns with cobbled streets and whitewashed buildings

The next morning we noticed that there had been some rain overnight and the roads were a little damp which required our full concentration on the narrow mountain roads. We took it slow and steady and after about an hour and a half of pushing down the mountain we reached the highway.

Once we were out of the Andes Mountains, we rode out on the flat on the banks of the Magdalena River towards Mompox.  The riding was a real push – it was stinking hot (40 degrees) and it literally felt like having a hair dryer in your face. After a tough day on straight roads in the heat we were happy to arrive at Mompox.

Mompox (also called Mompos) is a fascinating place which feels like a town that time forgot. It’s been in decline since river transport patterns changed in the mid-19th century, leaving the town – quite literally – a backwater. However, this perfectly preserved colonial town is finally rising again, with several hotels and restaurants opening in recent years.

The next day we left Mompox and headed to Tayrona National Park on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. The scenery in this area varies from sandy beaches along the coast in the north to rainforest at an altitude of 900m on the southern limits of the park.

We came to a place called Palomino where we found endless white, sandy, empty beaches and we couldn’t wait to jump into the turquoise Caribbean Sea! This place is an unspoilt paradise and it was one of the highlights of our trip! The landscape is breathtaking and on a clear day from Palomino’s beaches, you can see snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada’s of Santa Marta, reaching over 5,000 meters.

The next day we left Tayrona National Park and rode on the spectacular Highway 90 along Colombia’s Caribbean coastline. We had stunning palm-fringed beaches on our right and the Sierra Nevada’s behind us. What a ride!

As we approached Barranquilla the town was getting ready for Carnaval de Barranquilla, which takes place every February and is one of the biggest carnivals in the world. The traffic in the city was hectic as preparations were made for the procession the following day, but once we got through Barranquilla we pushed on for another 120km to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Cartagena.

Cartagena is an absolutely stunning city with 16th-century plazas, cobblestone streets and colourful colonial buildings. We spent two fantastic days in Cartagena, and there was a buzzing carnival atmosphere on Saturday night with fireworks, live music and people dancing in the streets! Colombian’s certainly know how to party!

Colombian's certainly know how to party!

After leaving stunning Cartagena we headed out from the coast towards the vibrant city of Medellin which is located in the Aburra Valley in the heart of the Andes Mountains.  The ride up to Medellin was incredible – twisty mountain dirt roads surrounded by lush green vegetation, jacaranda trees and beautiful bougainvillea. Biker’s heaven!

Riding on superb tarmac

Medellin itself was great and we enjoyed an evening out exploring some of the bars in the cool area of the city – thanks to our guide Daniel Fernandez!

From Medellin we rode through some scenery stunning back to Santiago de Cali, the salsa capital of the world. We spent our final two days here and then we said ‘adios’ to Daniel and our new Colombian friends before heading back to Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport to catch our flights home.

A celebratory beer after our 3500km adventure in Colombia

We’d just like to say thanks to our riders Andy Biglin, Kevin Amos-Yeo and Grant Goodings for joining us on this recce, and muchas gracias to Daniel Fernandez who was a driving force in helping The Big Adventure Company make this trip happen. Daniel shared his in-depth knowledge of his incredible home country which few tourists get to see by motorcycle. Daniel you are a top man! We can’t wait to officially launch our Colombia Motorbike Adventure and look forward to introducing more lucky riders to this spectacular country.
 


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We're absolutely thrilled that an article about our Cambodia Dirt Bike Adventure appears in the March issue of Red Bull's Red Bulletin. Every month The Red Bulletin features stories of Action, Sports, Adventure, Arts and Music and we're very proud that they've chosen to feature The Big Adventure Company! Read it here....

 

mud-splattered off-road biking in Cambodia

“People say that travelling in a car or by road bike gives you a wonderful view. But when you’re on a dirt bike, you’re smelling it, you’re feeling it, you’ve got the wind in your face. Off-roading takes that extreme to the next level,” says Nick Capsey, founder of The Big Adventure Company. “You’re stood up on the [foot]pegs, leaning over the handlebars, with dust spraying you. The faster you go, the harder you fall.”

Dirtbike adventures in Cambodia

Welcome to Dirt Bike Adventuring 101, a unique spin on a traditional biking holiday, which combines the high-speed thrills and spills of mud-splattered off-road biking with the cross-country cultural adventure of the finest travel tours. It’s a winning recipe for adrenalin-fuelled exploration. That isn’t to say it’s pedal-to-the-metal the whole way. Going distinctly off-the-beaten-tourist-track brings its fair share of environmental obstacles – and problems can’t always be solved by tweaking the torque.

“We can travel around 1,250km on a trip, but when you have thick mud, sand and rivers to traverse, the going can get slower,” says Capsey. It makes for a thrillingly unpredictable environment.

“Sometimes it’s down to your initiative in a situation,” he says.

“On a recent trip, the late monsoon season meant various bridges had washed away, so we had to rely on five local kids to fish out a sunken canoe, repair the holes using mud, and then help us transport eight bikes across the river.”

And while you’re not exactly using pedal power, it’s still very much an endurance sport. “The danger element comes from how hard you’re pushing people in extreme weather,” says Capsey.

“Being in the jungle is a nice romantic idea, but you’re wearing an extra couple of kilos in serious tropical heat and you need to keep hydrated. It’s challenging riding that requires all your concentration. I’d compare the feeling to being at high altitude.”

“Get as much time in the saddle as you can before you leave,” says Nick Capsey. “The more you understand how the bike moves beneath you on loose ground, the more comfortable you’ll be when it happens to you every day.”

sightseeing on two wheels with The Big Adventure Company


When it comes to booking an adventure holiday we appreciate that choosing the right company to go with can be a tough decision. We understand that you will want to do your research and find out more about the company, check out their itineraries, photos and videos, and read testimonials from people who have previously travelled with them.

To assist you with your decision making process we’ve put together ‘6 reasons why you should book with The Big Adventure Company’. We hope this helps, however if you want to be sure that a TBAC adventure is right for you, please give us a call on +44 1225 634000 – we’d love to have a chat with you!

1. Our Experienced Team

We’re adventure travel specialists with a genuine passion for travelling. There is nothing we love more than getting off the beaten track and on to the road less travelled.

TBAC launched in 2014, however our experienced team have been taking people on adventures for over twenty years. We have a wealth of experience planning and leading trips around the world, and we work with trusted experts in each of the countries where we run our adventures.    

The Big Adventure Company is not owned by a multinational company. We’re a small team united by our passion for adventure travel and life-changing experiences.

2. Carefully Planned Adventures

We spend months planning our adventures, and we run at least one recce before officially launching a new trip.  It is extremely important for us to ensure that we work with the best local suppliers and we value their input with regards to the itinerary and logistics. Extensive planning and research is a sign of our commitment to providing an unforgettable adventure for our clients.

Our itineraries have been designed to take you to the places you would never find on your own and although we aim to take you out of your comfort zone, your safety always comes first. We have access to mechanical and medical support on our trips and often have a fully trained medic with us. Our itineraries also allow us plenty of opportunities to stop and take photographs of the breathtaking scenery, interact with locals, and have regular breaks to drink some water or grab something to eat from a local shop or market.

One of the best things about joining a TBAC adventure rather than planning your own trip is that you don’t need to worry about the logistics, and instead you can focus all your energy on having the experience of a lifetime.

Having the experience of a lifetime in Cambodia

3. Small Groups

We travel in small groups (typically between 6-16 people). We believe that this minimises our impact on the environment and ultimately makes for a better experience for our clients. We’ve found that travelling in a small group means that everyone connects well and people on our trips tend to become great friends (many even choose to sign up for another TBAC adventure together!).

Making new friends on a trip with The Big Adventure Company

4. Amazing Testimonials

Our aim at The Big Adventure Company is to ensure that everyone who joins one of our trips has an authentic and unforgettable life-changing experience. We think that we achieve this, and the testimonials which we’ve received from people who have been on our adventures have included “Best riding I've ever done, great company and faultless logistics” (Trevor Evans) and “Awesome, inspiring, beyond belief. A must do” (Andy Cooke) amongst many others.

When people ask us what our trips are like we try to describe them as best as we can, however we also encourage them to read our testimonials page where they can read reviews from veteran Big Adventurers. We’re very proud of the feedback we’ve received and it’s extremely rewarding to read such fantastic comments from our clients.

5. Big Adventures for Everyone!

We appreciate that not everyone wants to experience the same style of adventure which is why we offer a range of different options. Whether you want to drive a jeep or ride a motorbike on the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia, ride a dirt bike through jungles in Northern Thailand or drive a Polaris RZR 4x4 buggy or ride a mountain bike in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania – we have something for everyone! We’ve also been researching some new adventures and destinations (look out for exciting announcements coming soon).

Choose your own style of adventure!

6. Financial Protection – Book With Confidence

The Big Adventure Travel Company Ltd is a member of the Travel Trust Association (TTA), membership no. Q2595.  TTA members consist of Travel Agents, Tour Operators and Travel Organisers and the TTA exists in order to protect the customer - giving them 100% financial protection. This means that every penny that you pay to us is protected by the TTA.

Are you ready for an exciting and rewarding adventure?

FINAL NOTE: We would advise against booking a TBAC adventure unless you’re ready for an exciting and rewarding challenge, have a positive attitude, a sense of humour and a passion for travel and adventure!


 


2015 was a fantastic year for The Big Adventure Company. It was our first full year of operating as TBAC, after officially launching in August 2014, and to date we’ve led 15 big adventures in Romania, Nepal, Bolivia, Burma, Cambodia and Thailand. As we start a New Year we’ve taken this opportunity to reflect on 2015 with a ‘Review of the Year’ blog post.

January-February

We kicked off the year with our ‘Burma Motorcycle Adventure’ and it was a great success. Steve led this trip which started in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand where we picked up our bikes, and then we rode on steep, twisty mountain roads as we crossed the border from Thailand in to Burma. We then spent the next 10 days exploring this magical country, visiting the Buddhist temples and pagodas of Mandalay and Bagan, and magical Inle Lake.

Shortly after the Burma trip ended and Steve returned to the UK, it was time for Nick to leave the office and head to Cambodia to lead our next adventure. We had 10 clients on our ‘Cambodia Big Adventure’, including Andy Wood from Woods Motorcycles who had just finished our ‘Burma Motorcycle Adventure’ (Andy also joined us on our Nepal recce in September 2014). The Cambodia trip was incredible and we loved riding through the jungles and waterfalls and exploring ancient temples.

Top of Bou Sra waterfall in Mondulkiri on our Cambodia Dirt Bike Adventure

March

Nick and Steve spent the whole of March in the UK office together and this was a great opportunity to continue with the plans and preparations for our upcoming trips. It was also a busy time with new enquiries and bookings, and Nick and Steve spent several hours a day on the phone talking to clients about our big adventures.

Steve & Nick hard at work in TBAC HQ in March

April

In early April Nick led our first official ‘Nepal Dirt Bike Adventure’ since the recce in October 2014, and in mid-April whilst Nick was still in Nepal, Steve flew to South America to lead our ‘Bolivia Motorcycle Adventure’.

With Nick and Steve both out of the country at the same time, TBAC HQ was left in Catherine’s capable hands. Nick’s Nepal trip started in the vibrant city of Kathmandu where we picked up our bikes and then we headed out to the mountain trails of the Nepalese Himalayas. This was an incredible adventure which saw us ride through the subtropical jungle paradise of Shivapuri National Park, and then we headed west into the Chitwan Valley, before taking the highway to the laid-back city of Pokhara. From Pokhara we rode on a rocky track to Lete where we joined the Annapurna Circuit, and then we rode up to the dry barren alpine of Jomsom and through a huge valley up to the spectacular Muktinath Temple. From Muktinath we rode to Tatopani and Bhyang and Phewa Lake before trip returning to Kathmandu. On the morning of 25th April just as most of our group were preparing to head back to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport for their flights home, the country was hit by a devastating earthquake which killed over 9,000 people and injured more than 23,000. Fortunately our entire group and all our local team were safe and uninjured, but obviously everyone was very shocked by what had just happened. After a long flight home via India, Nick and our UK clients arrived back in Heathrow at midday on 26th April. As we followed news reports about the situation in Nepal and received updates from our friends who were still in Kathmandu our hearts went out to the Nepalese people and everyone affected by the earthquake.

Admiring the views at the beginning of the Mustang Valley

As Nick returned to the reality of the office, Steve and 11 clients enjoyed every moment of their ‘Bolivia Motorcycle Adventure’. The group travelled from the edge of the Amazon basin to the Andes Mountains and the Altiplano via the incredible salt plains of Salar De Uyuni, the world’s most dangerous road and the shores of Lake Titicaca. We absolutely love Bolivia and with its fascinating history, rich culture, colourful markets, and breathtaking and diverse landscapes it really is a country like no other.

Steve at Salar de Uyuni - the world’s largest salt flats

May

In mid-May Nick spent a few days in the pristine wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains leading our first ‘Romania Dirt Bike Long Weekender’. This five day adventure was based deep in the stunning Transylvania region of the country and our accommodation was an idyllic mountain spa resort surrounded by forests, lush pastures and wildflower meadows. This was an incredible trip and the guys enjoyed some of the very best enduro trail riding anywhere on the planet.

June-July

In June Steve and Rosie enjoyed a relaxing holiday on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. On arrival back in Gatwick Airport, Steve headed straight onto the M25 to Heathrow Airport for his next flight with British Airway via Sao Paulo to Cochabamba to lead our Bolivia motorcycle and jeep adventures. Although we had been to Bolivia twice before for a recce jeep trip and the motorcycle adventure in April, this was the first time that we officially ran two Bolivia trips simultaneously. We had 5 clients on motorbikes and 6 in jeeps and we think it is fair to say that during their two-week journey from the Amazon to the Andes they experienced a lifetime’s worth of adventure. During the trip one of our jeep clients, Keith Norgate, turned 65 and we celebrated his birthday with a very special lunch in the middle of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats. 

Celebrating Keith’s 65th birthday at Salar de Uyuni in Southwest Bolivia

Back at TBAC HQ we were very excited to welcome our new intern, Rita, who joined us on 20th July for a five month placement. Within just a few days we knew that we had made the right decision about offering the internship to Rita as we loved her friendly personality and positive attitude.

August

We spent all of August in the office and this gave us an opportunity to set our 2016 schedules and update our website, plus we had some exciting ideas in the pipeline which required a great deal of research.

September

In September Matt Hogg led our first Nepal Dirt Bike Adventure since the devastating earthquake earlier in the year. Matt joined us on our Nepal trip in April and he was assistant team leader on our Bolivia trip in June, and we were delighted that he was up for the challenge of leading this off-road adventure in Nepal along with our fantastic local team. The group faced some tough riding conditions as it was the tail end of the rainy season, but they all came together as one team and pushed through the challenges to have an epic time on their Himalayan adventure. A huge well done and thank you to Matt Hogg for leading his first trip and bringing the troops back safe!

Matt Hogg, Peter Lagan and Peter Willner on our Nepal Dirt Bike Adventure in October

In late September Nick returned to Romania on a recce for our new mountain bike long weekender. This five day trip included a guided ride out from our resort on single track trails through the forests and remote villages, passing incredible medieval castles and churches. The following day we drove to the Buceji mountain range in 4x4's and from there we tackled the ascent to Omu Peak at 2500 metres. It was a challenge but it was well worth the effort for the breathtaking views over the rocky limestone ridge of the Piatra Craiului Mountains. On our final riding day we conquered the steep narrow trail descent to the Zarnesti gorge and then we rode up towards Piatra Craiului between impressive rock walls. It was an amazing trip and we look forward to running our ‘Romania Mountain Bike Weekender’ between May-September 2016.

In the wilderness of Romania on a recce for our new mountain bike long weekender

October

We ran a recce trip to Thailand in 2014, and in October 2015 Steve led our first official ‘Thailand Dirt Bike Adventure’. The Golden Triangle region of northern Thailand is dirt bike paradise and on this trip Steve and our riders tackled rocky climbs, jungle trails and river crossings. The group enjoyed stunning scenery as they rode through mountainous jungles, lush, green rice paddy fields and remote hill tribe villages.

Our Thailand Dirt Bike Adventure riders - October 2015

Whilst Steve was leading our trip in Northern Thailand, the Capsey family enjoyed a holiday on a beautiful island in Southern Thailand. At the end of their holiday Catherine took the long haul flight back to the UK alone with their two children, and Nick flew to Phnom Penh to lead our second ‘Cambodia Dirt Bike Adventure’ of 2015. With everyone out of the office at the same time we felt very confident leaving Rita to look after TBAC HQ.

November

In mid-November Steve returned to Thailand to lead another Golden Triangle trip, and this one had a record number of 15 riders booked on. Our riders on this trip had some truly unique experiences, amazing photo opportunities and plenty of stories to tell friends back home.

Riding through mountainous jungles on our Thailand Dirt Bike Adventure

December

Although we didn’t have any trips scheduled for December, we were snowed under with planning and researching new adventures and destinations (look out for some exciting announcements coming soon). It really has been a phenomenal year for The Big Adventure Company and we’re very proud of the feedback we’ve received from clients who have joined our trips. We’re now focusing on the year ahead and we’re looking forward to taking even more people on our big adventures in 2016.


With its fascinating history, rich culture, colourful markets, and breathtaking and diverse landscapes (including the Amazon rainforest, the Andes Mountains and the high altitude deserts of the Altiplano), Bolivia is a country like no other.

We run our Bolivia Motorbike & Jeep Adventures in April and September of each year and with each visit we become even more enthralled by this incredible South American country. Here are 6 reasons why The Big Adventure Company loves Bolivia.

1. The diverse landscapes

Bolivia is a land of extremes with parts of the Amazon basin, the Andes Mountains, the dusty deserts of the Altiplano, and the dense Yungas jungle region which lies between the Amazon and the Andes. On the altiplano there are two more extreme landscapes, the Salar de Uyuni which is the world’s largest salt flats and Lake Titicaca, which is the world’s largest high-altitude lake.

On our Bolivia Motorbike & Jeep Adventures we travel from the edge of the Amazon basin to the Andes Mountains and the Altiplano via the incredible salt plains of Salar De Uyuni, the world’s most dangerous road and the shores of Lake Titicaca. If we had to pick a highlight of our itinerary it would probably be the day we spend at the salt plains of Salar de Uyuni, amid the Andes in southwest Bolivia. Salar de Uyuni is the legacy of a prehistoric lake that went dry, leaving behind a desert like, 11,000-sq.-km landscape of bright-white salt, rock formations and cacti-studded islands. The savage beauty of this vast salt desert makes it one of South America's most awe-inspiring sights. 

Salar de Uyuni - the world’s largest salt flats

2. The dizzying city of La Paz

Our Bolivian adventures start in Cochabamba and end in La Paz which sits at a staggering elevation of 3650m above sea level, surrounded by the Cordillera Real of the Andes and the snow-capped 6000m peaks of Illimani. La Paz is officially known as Nuestra Señora de La Paz (‘Our Lady of Peace’), however it is often referred to as the ‘city that touches the clouds’.

We love spending time in the vibrant city of La Paz at the end of our trips. We love wandering around the narrow cobblestone alleys in the heart of the city and visiting the colourful, chaotic markets (especially La Paz's famous Witches Market), and taking a ride up to El Alto on the world’s largest urban cable car!

Taking a ride on the world’s largest urban cable car in La Paz

3. The World’s Most Dangerous Road (Death Road)

The road which connects the Amazon rainforest region of northern Bolivia (the Yungas) to La Paz goes by many names — Grove's Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, and also El Camino de la Muerte, which translates to "The Road of Death." 1000ft sheer drop offs and only the width of a single car for most of its length makes for interesting and adrenaline filled driving. Clouds, rain, fog and extreme dust can reduce visibility, but thankfully each time we’ve been on the road we’ve been blessed with clear skies and spectacular views of the valley and the mountains.

The World’s Most Dangerous Road (Death Road)

4. The mining town of Potosi

Once the richest city in South America, the mining town of Potosi is a must for tourists who want to understand more about Bolivian history. Potosi lies at the foot of the Cerro de Potosi (sometimes referred to as Cerro Rico) and the mountain is the reason for Potosi’s historical importance, since it was the major supply of silver for Spain during the period of the New World Spanish Empire. For those who would like to get an insight into the horrific working conditions of the miners you can enter the mines in Cerro Rico with a local guide and former miner. The guide will bring to life the story of the mine and the legacy for the Bolivian and indigenous people making up the mining community. Potosi has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we think that it is one of the most interesting places in Bolivia.

5. The rich and colourful culture

Bolivia has a rich and colourful culture which comes from a wide range of origins, including the ancient indigenous groups, the Catholic Spaniards and traditional Andean culture. There are 36 indigenous groups in Bolivia today, many of whom still practice ancient Andean customs, wear traditional dress and use natural remedies to cure illnesses. The thriving culture is visible in Bolivia’s colourful markets, in the way people dress, and in many aspects of everyday life. We’re absolutely fascinated by the Aymara Indian women of La Paz – known as cholitas paceñas. These women wear their traditional dress, which includes brightly coloured layered skirts, patterned shawls, massive gold earrings and bowler hats.

We love the fact that Bolivia maintains its traditional culture. La Paz is a busy, bustling city of commerce, however the rest of the country has a very rural and traditional lifestyle.

6. The Bolivian people

Bolivian’s are not necessarily known for being particularly friendly, however in our experience tourists who show respect, consideration and a genuine interest toward the Bolivian way of life are welcomed with warm smiles, friendly banter and gracious hospitality. Spanish is the main and official language of Bolivia, however there are 39 other languages used in the country spoken by people in different regions. We love the opportunity to practice our Spanish skills when interacting with the local people and we find that Bolivians are very polite and it’s normal to greet everyone with a formal “good morning/afternoon/evening” (“buenos dias, buenas tardes/noches”) and of course “please” (“por favor”) and “thank you” (“gracias”) are also very important.

We love Bolivia and we think that tourists who are willing to get off the beaten track are rewarded with unique experiences, amazing photo opportunities and plenty of stories to tell friends back home.

Driving jeeps on dusty roads in Bolivia


The Golden Triangle region of northern Thailand is dirt bike paradise and riders can expect rocky climbs, jungle trails and river crossings, plus of course stunning mountain views, spectacular waterfalls, ancient temples and a unique opportunity to ride through remote hill tribe villages.

We ran a recce trip to Thailand in 2014, and in October 2015 Steve led our first official Thailand Dirt Bike Adventure. It was a fantastic trip, and for one rider in particular it was a definitely a ‘Big Adventure’ as he’d never done anything like this before.

Thailand Dirt Bike Adventure - October 2015

Arrival Day

Steve met our Big Adventure clients in the vibrant city of Chiang Mai on the afternoon of Friday 16th October. Coming from the UK were Trevor Evans and Phil Nash who have been friends since school, and Sanj Sivarajah who is a city trader taking 6 month’s sabbatical to try things that he has never done before. Mike Gunn flew in from Mississippi and he was the ‘Old Fart’ of the group (he even wanted ‘Old Fart’ on the back of his rider shirt!). Joining Steve, Trevor, Phil, Sanj and Mike on this trip were Duncan who was our lead rider, Con the sweep rider, and Bas driving the support vehicle.

On the first day Trevor, Phil, Sanj and Mike visited Doi Suthep Temple, Tiger Kingdom and the elephant sanctuary. In the evening we had our first group meal together at Dash which is one of Chiang Mai’s best restaurants.

Group dinner at one of the best restaurant's in Chiang Mai

Ride Day 1

We left Chiang Mai early this morning and headed into the jungle, destination Mae Chaem. It was an awesome first day! We had rocky climbs, lots of sand, amazing jungle trails and then we followed a riverbed through the bottom of a valley. This was Sanj’s first dirt bike trip and he had a baptism of fire with a couple of tumbles, but he still had a massive smile on his face when we pulled in to our resort at Mae Chaem.

Sanjay had a couple of tumbles of day 1

Mae Chaem is a beautiful place and it offers spectacular views of Doi Inthanon, which is Thailand’s highest mountain at 2565 metres. Doi Inthanon is actually part of the Himalayas (the mountain range that stretches from Nepal and Bhutan, across to Burma and Northern Thailand) and the Doi Inthanon National Park is known at the ‘Roof of Thailand’.

Ride Day 2

Today we rode from Mae Chaem to Mae Sariang. From the recce trip last year we knew that there had to be a way across the hills - we tried to find it last time, but had to give up and turn back. Today however we found it! A scary swing bridge across a fast moving river led us to some awesome single track riding. Steep rutted climbs and descents took us through some very remote hill tribe settlements where the curious locals looked at us like we are from another planet dressed up in our riding gear!

We spent the night in the town of Mae Sariang surrounded by mountainous jungles and breathtakingly, beautiful scenery.

A group photo taken on day 2 as we rode from Mae Chaem to Mae Sariang

Ride Day 3

This morning’s ride out to the Salawin National Park was amazing, and the day just got better and better as we dropped into the valley below us. We had over 30 river crossings today, but somehow everyone remained relatively dry!

One of the many river crossings on day 3

We rode on a trail to the Salawin River which forms the border with Burma. This trail isn’t used as often these days due to a new road, however this just meant more fun for us as we tried to find it before it became overgrown and impassable. Two fallen trees made things even more interesting, but with everyone working together we made it to the Burmese border for a well earned warm orange juice and rancid fish flavoured crisps!

We then made our way back to Mae Sariang where we had a delicious Thai meal.

Ride Day 4

Today’s journey from Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son was epic! We started the day on the famous Mae Hong Son loop for a quick blast along twisty pristine tarmac before heading off on to dirt for some amazing remote single track riding which involved trailblazing through the jungle as the trail is no longer used and is completely overgrown in places!

Just like the previous day we had lots of river crossings and it was seriously tough, but thanks to team work and our sense of adventure we managed it. At times it looked like we might to need to build a shelter in the jungle for the night, but we made it through in the end and rolled in to Mae Hong Son just as the sun was setting.

Day 5

Today we had a well earned rest day in the remote mountain town of Mae Hong Son

Ride Day 6

Today we left Mae Hong Son and we followed the ‘elephant trail’ which was the ancient elephant trading route from Burma to Chiang Mai. We stopped for a very tasty lunch of noodle soup with pork and beef balls in a hill tribe village before reaching Pai - the backpacker capital of northern Thailand!

Riding on the 'elephant trail'

Ride Day 7

This was an incredible riding day. As we left Pai and headed towards the Burmese border the trails became steeper with more ruts and very technical.

We stopped at the site of a crashed army helicopter in the middle of the jungle to take some photos, and then we had a quick break for lunch in a Shan state village before tackling the toughest ride of the trip yet. A fantastic climb on a little used single track trail led us to a very steep and slippery descent into Wiang Haeng. It was certainly tough, but there was a great team spirit amongst our group and we pushed through the challenges.

A crashed Huey helicopter in the middle of the jungle

Unfortunately we had the first mechanical problem of the trip - a particularly nasty climb today led to Phil burning his clutch out and Duncan having to change the clutch in the middle of the jungle. A local hill tribe man heading out to hunt for his dinner found us very amusing!

It was an amazing, but tough day! The ice cold Chang beers we drank upon arrival in Wiang Haeng had never tasted so good!

We faced some challenging moments on ride day 7

Ride Day 8

Today we rode from Wiang Haeng to Chiang Dao. The first half of the day was a very pleasant trail ride following a river, and then in the afternoon we headed off to see some of the more remote hill tribes which meant a more technical ride with some very steep sections. The hill tribe villagers took a lot of interest in us dressed in our riding gear and making lots of noise as we tackled the hills around their villages.

Some steep trails on ride day 8

Arriving at Chiang Dao is always a wonderful moment. The hotel where we spend the night nestles in the shadow of the mighty Chiang Dao Mountain and it’s an incredibly beautiful and serene setting. Chiang Dao is nicknamed "Little Tuscany" and there are actually a few local wines produced in the area.

Ride Day 9

Our final day’s riding was fantastic as we rode from Chiang Dao back to busy, bustling Chiang Mai. We rode through beautiful national parks, however it wasn’t an easy ride as we encountered some of the steepest, rockiest, narrowest and scariest sections of our entire journey!

Lush, green rice paddy fields

On ride day 9 we encountered some of the most challenging sections of our entire journey!

Back in Chiang Mai we had a well earned rest day where we reflected on the many highlights of our Big Thailand Adventure, and then it was time to say our goodbyes as we each headed back to the airport for our flights home.


Here is the 3rd and final instalment of Matt Hogg's brilliant blog about his trip to Nepal in September 2015. 

Matt led our Nepal Dirt Bike Adventure and the group certainly faced some tough riding conditions as it was the tail end of the rainy season, but they all came together as one team and pushed through the challenges to have an epic time on their Himalayan adventure. A huge well done and thank you to Matt for leading his first trip and bringing the troops back safe!

Ride Day 8 - Jomsom - Tatopani

I was sad to leave the heart of the Himalayas, but was nontheless was quite excited to ride the rocky road back down to Tatopani. The reverse trip seems like an entirely new route, but every now and then we’d notice places we’d been days earlier. We pushed on all day, and made it back to the hot springs of Tatopani, where we drank cold beer in the hot pools and let our minds swim in all that we’d scene and done.

Lake Titi near Lete

Ride Day 9 - Tatopani - Pokhara

Heading back the way we came, we eventually came back to the massive waterfall. It was time for a break, so the two Peters and Pasang got off their bikes and climbed hundreds of steps up the steep mountain side, to a tiny temple positioned way up the 200m high waterfall. Shaun, Govinda and I lounged around at the base of the falls, taking many photos and enjoying the endless rythym of the huge waterfall, that left us all in awe of the magic and power of mother nature.

Rest day in Pokhara

The vibe in Pokhara is very chill and the perfect place for a rest day. The small city sits on the edge of a beautiful lake, and the Annapurna Mountain Range looms in the distance, where we’d just come from. We had a leasurely brunch by the lake, then wandered around the shopping street, buying gifts and momentos from the locals. We ate a delicious lunch and dinner, and had plenty of beer to cool us down from the warm Nepalese sunshine.

Ride Day 10 - Pokhara - Kathmandu

The final ride day in Nepal. It was long and gruelling. 200km or so, on the super busy highway, on dirt bikes. It takes great concentration, as there are SO many hazards around. Constant overtaking by you and every other vehicle, cows sleeping on the centre line, brazen pedestrians who step into moving traffic and somehow don’t get hit and random holes and cracks in the road are just some of the delights of the ride back to Kathmandu. We stopped in at Riverside for lunch and a rest, then powered on right to the city from there. It was still a fun day.

That evening we celebrated the glory of dirt biking in Nepal with a dinner and drinks at Reef Bar. The journey that we’d been on brought us close, so it was a jolly finale to a great trip.

Last Day

We slept in, shopped, wandered around Kathmandu, then took our respective flights home. Awesome trip. Thanks to everyone involved!

Awesome trip. Thanks to everyone involved!


Here is Part 2 of Matt Hogg's fantastic blog which he wrote whilst leading our Nepal Dirt Bike Adventure in September 2015.

In this post you can read about their adventures from Pokhara to Beni and then Tatopani, then up to the dry barren alpine of Jomsom and onwards to the Muktinath Temple which sits at about 3800m above sea level. Our favourite part of this post is Matt's opening line on Day 7 where he says 'If this trip were a meal, ride day seven would be the main course. The Christmas Turkey. And we carved it like starved beggars on 250cc dirt bikes!'. Brilliant. 

Nepal Dirt Bike Adventure - September 2015

Ride Day 5 – Pokhara  - Beni – Tatopani

Ride Day five began on busy, narrow roads that cross a jungley mountain range on beaten up old pavement. We departed this road at Beni, stopping for a traditional Nepalese lunch, before beginning the much-anticipated road into the Himalayas. The rocky track was built in 2010 to allow four wheeled access to the valleys previously only accessible on foot, and of course entire Nepalese families on one scooter carrying their medium sized pig back from the market. There’s nothing quite like feeling on top of the world after conquering a challenging track on your dirt bike, in all your protective gear, to then see three local children putt by on their clapped out scooter.

From Beni the road climbs and climbs and climbs the wall of an epic river valley, with much of the road sporting an exciting unprotected cliff edge and thousand foot drops to the river below. Monsoon season was very evident on the road, turning the surface into a slicky, sloppy mud hole that was endlessly entertaining. Some amazing riding happens on that road, with stunning views and massive amounts of personal achievement running through the group, so some serious high fives were given out at each break. We stopped in the unique and tiny town of Tatopani, where the main street is only three feet wide at times - perfect for dirt bikes! This is where we reached the Annapurna Trekking Circuit, and we chatted with a few trekkers in the hot springs, situated beside a set of class five rapids in a raging river.

Tatopani to Lete. Fantastic cliff edge riding.

Ride Day 6 – Tatopani – Jomsom

Day six saw us climb out of the forests around Tatopani, and up to the dry barren alpine of Jomsom. Massive valleys, huge dry river beds to cross and 7000 metre mountains all around were an amazing backdrop to the constantly entertaining riding. We crossed rivers on tiny wooden briges with no handrails, on super long suspension bridges and most often we just rode the bikes right through them. The water was significantly higher in September than the last Big Adventure Co trip in April 2015, and upped the heart rate whenever the front tire disappeared into the river before you. The most significant crossing is the waterfall crossing. In April it was possible, albeit risky, but in September it was impossible, with the waterfall flow rate having increased three or four times over. It was now massive, and breath-taking. It would have cut off the remote mountain villages above it, had a new bridge not been built over the thrashing water.

Rather than head straight to Jomson, we turned off and took on possibley my favourite obstacle of the trip: the stair climb and river crossing! The challenge is to ride UP a set of about 15 stone steps, then over an adrenaline pumping suspension bridge. The kicker is that the top half of the stairs has no side railing, just an open drop to the ground below. It’s a massive dose of excitement and satisfaction to ride up the steps, and carry on out, seemingly into the sky, on the suspension bridge, over a raging river below. It makes me pumped just thinking about it!!

From the bridge we climbed a rocky trail that took us up to a ridge, where the ground fell away on both sides of the track, to massive views below. Perched on top is a quiet temple, with prayer flags flapping in the wind and it’s impossible not to be touched by this amazing scene. Enormous, snow-capped mountains loom over the valley, and you can see that you’re in a gigantic gouge in the earth. It’s one of those times you feel absolutely insignificant, as all the adrenaline from the epic day blows away in the breeze, and the beauty of the Himalayas washes cleanly and crisply over you. It’s a moment that I couldn’t get enough of, and hope comes again one day.

Our riders and crew

Ride Day 7 - Jomsom - Muktinath - Jomsom

If this trip were a meal, ride day seven would be the main course. The Chrismas Turkey. And we carved it like starved beggars on 250cc dirt bikes! With knives! Beginning at 2700m above sea level at Jomsom, the huge valley we’d seen the afternoon before to the north was our route. The trail runs up the side of the valley and back down again, to cross the very wide river bed. I was drenched from head to toe when I plowed into the river way too fast, and shreiked from the icey cold glacial water, but it was a nice cool off on an otherwise hot, dusty day. Eventually the final valley came into sight, and if you knew what you were looking for, you could see our final destination perched on the mountain side: The Muktinath Temple.

The Muktinath Temple sits at about 3800m above sea level, and it’s the point where the bikes begin to gasp and lose power, struggling to get the oxygen needed to generate the power we all love. But after seven days of riding, we were just as tired, so we slid off the bikes out the front of the temple, exhausted not only physically, but from so many days of epic adventuring. The scene from the front steps of the temple is magnificent. Magestic 7 and 8 thousand meter peaks line the edge of yet another massive valley. So massive that it’s surreal. Holy men sit on blankets on the steps, offering strange objects and herbs, their eyes red and glazed from the fat joints they constantly roll. We toured the holy temple and splashed the holy mountain water on us for good luck, then headed back to the bikes. Our local moto guides demonstrated their Hindu love by riding their bikes down the 50 steps out the front of the temple, and I thought it would be rude of me not to do the same.

Muktinath

After a relaxing lunch at the Bob Marley Hostel, we dragged ourselves back to the bikes for the return trip to Jomsom. That afternoon session was like a scene from Mad Max. Furious winds pulled up the dry dust from the river valley and whipped it into us, as we pushed the bikes as hard as we dared on the cliff edge trail. As fast as I could go, I couldn’t catch the others. Everyone was in the riding zone, and we made it back to Jomsom way ahead of schedule. Pasang asked a quick question to some local kids on the edge of town, then veered left and began tearing up another mountain trail. We didn’t have time to say a word, but all opened our throttles and followed in kind. The trail took us up and over another mountain, with epic scenery and highly exciting riding. We rode until the bikes ran out of fuel, then headed back to Jomsom, fuel tanks, and all of us, on reserve.

Muktinath


In September Matt Hogg returned to Kathmandu to lead our first Nepal Dirt Bike Adventure since the devastating earthquake earlier this year. Matt joined us on our Nepal trip in April and he was assistant team leader on our Bolivia trip in June, and we were delighted that he was up for the challenge of leading this off-road adventure in Nepal along with our fantastic local team.

Matt has written a fantastic account of his time in Nepal which we will publish in 3 separate posts. Here is Part 1. Enjoy! 

Matt Hogg

Arrival Day

As much as I wanted to, I couldn't peel myself out of bed at 6am to go meet Peter Wilner, the first client to fly into Kathmandu for the September Big Adventure Company Nepal dirt bike trip. Four hours sleep after 28 hours of travelling and a 12-hour time zone change couldn’t fire my engine, so I napped on deliriously. An hour later I was wide awake and greeted Peter, the dirt bike riding proctologist from Hungary, outside our hotel room at the wonderful Dalai La Boutique Hotel. He seemed very happy to have finished the trek from Budapest, and quite rightly so. The clammy daze of international travel is one I’m all too familiar with, and is always best once completed.

We ate a well presented breakfast under a warm blue sky and waving prayer flags in the cute Dalai La courtyard, and got to know one another, before I climbed into the hotel minivan and wound through the busy streets of Kathmandu to meet Shaun from Newcastle, UK, at the airport. He was full of geordy laughs and observations from the moment we met in a sea of wide-eyed Nepalese taxi drivers, and we rolled back to the hotel in great spirits and chatter. Shaun was an inexperienced rider, about to get a serious dose of off road riding, and we were all eager to see how he faired in the tail end of rainy season, in the land of the biggest mountains on earth. His positive attitude and the just fact he was present, told me he’d do just fine.

Our local guides Pasang and Ashish stopped by the hotel once we arrived back, and we had a great catch up and discussed the details of the impending trip. I was in Nepal in April 2015 for the infamous earthquake trip, and I was eager to learn of their months since. As always the Nepalese guys were calm and low key about the epic adventure they were about to lead us on, and their eyes sparkled as they told me of the landslides and damaged roads between us and our end goal of the Muktinath Temple, hidden far away in the Himalayan peaks. I couldn’t wait to get at it!

The rest of the day involved some $4 haircuts, a delicious Tibetan lunch and collecting Peter Lagan, the third and final client on the trip, from the airport. Having just travelled from Belfast, Peter was understandably tired, so he self-medicated with a series of bottles of Nepalese beer to ease the jetlag. Peter Wilner, from here on known as The Doctor, approved the prescription, and countered with an apparently equal unquenchable thirst for the watery local brews. Nothing however got out of hand, and we were all in bed early, to get ready for our 5:30am departure for our scenic flight over Mt Everest!

Flight over Mt Everest & sightseeing in Kathmandu

We crept out of the hotel early the next morning and returned to Kathmandu airport, where we boarded a small and noisy prop-plane of dubious mechanical integrity, for a breath-taking one-hour flight over the massive Himalaya Mountain range. We were blessed with incredibly clear views of Mt Everest, Lhotse Peak and the hundreds of other peaks in the world’s highest mountain range. It was a fantastic welcome to a very special part of the world and a memory I’m sure we’ll all keep forever.

Our small and noisy prop-plane of dubious mechanical integrity

We were blessed with incredible clear views of Mt Everest, Lhotse Peak and the Tibetan Plateau

Later that day we had an opportunity to explore the palaces, courtyards and temples of Kathmandu’s Old City. The earthquake has left serious marks on the city, with some key temples and religious areas being majorly damaged, but the people continue to smile, a real sign of their humble will to live on. In the evening we enjoyed a delicious and huge pre-ride dinner at Thamel House, a Big Adventure Company favourite.

Ride Day 1 - Kathmandu - Nagarkot

That morning we finally got on our dirt bikes and wove through the bustling city of Kathmandu, to soon face the military, guarding and protecting our destination and playground for the next three days: Shivapuri National Park.

Riding day one is always interesting, as you’ve spent a couple of days together in the city, recovering from jet lag, adjusting to the climate and slowly getting to know everyone, then everyone throws a leg over their bike for the first time, some quite nervously and we really start to discover peoples’ personalities as riders.

Ready to roll in Kathmandu

The subtropical jungle paradise of Shivapuri National Park lies on the Northern edge of Kathmandu. It is an important and abundant water catchment area for the Kathmandu valley and protects a number of important wildlife species such as Indian leopard, Himalayan black bear, wild boar, cobra and everyone’s favourite, the brown-toothed shrew. Its borders are heavily protected by the Nepalese army, as there are military training facilities inside and hunting and poaching is fiercely prevented in the park.

There are only a few trails that run through the 159 sq km park, and these are long, steep, narrow, winding paths that cross rivers, traverse mountain ridges and delve deeply into the dense, untouched Nepalese jungle. Too narrow for a jeep, too steep for a mountain bike, these trails are a dirt bike paradise. They are exciting, challenging, interesting and dangerous motor-biking. There are frequent exposed edges along the sides of trails, often hidden by claustrophobic bush that looks friendly enough, but will happily suck you in and take you down a steep jungley slope if you place your tire just inches from the correct line. Rocky ledges appear constantly and must be climbed or descended, demanding continuous physical and mental focus. Generally these rocks are slick with moss and mud, so varying techniques are required to traverse these fantastic trails, such as vicious acceleration, delicate brake control, lifting the front wheel to overcome obstacles and often just pointing the bike where you want it to go, hoping and hanging on for dear life.

The trails were saturated from the past four months of daily rains. Monsoon season being barely over, threatening thunder storms still appeared every afternoon to cloud the epic views of the Kathmandu Valley below. Our first day had us traverse the National Park eastward, which meant we rode the steepest sections in a mostly downhill direction. Conditions were slippery, messy and wildly difficult to maintain control on. We arrived that night in Nargakot thrilled and exhausted with the intensity of the first ride day, and salivating for more.

We were all relieved to reach our hotel that night and the first cold beer at the end of the day was well earned. It was also Shaun’s 50th birthday which we celebrated in style and were amazed that his birthday cake had survived the journey in the support truck relatively unharmed!

Ride Day 2 - Nargacot - Shivapuri

The second day of riding required us to ride up the same steep sections we descended the day before. This we tried. And this we failed. We hauled bikes, we pushed bikes, we dragged bikes, we wheelied bikes, but the conditions and the trail got the better of us. By 11am we had to turn around, having spent nearly two hours travelling a measly 500m. It’s always hard to give up a challenge, but we made a new plan and rode back down to paved roads, and attacked the National Park from another entrance. We still battled severely challenging riding, which kept our knuckles white and hearts pumping, but we eventually rolled into our accommodation in the west side of Shivapuri as dusk fell, to be greeted by smiling faces, cups of warm chai masala tea and delicious local Nepalese dishes.

Great riding on day 2

Ride Day 3 - Shivapuri - Chitwan Valley

Riding day three took us through the edge of the Park and further west, into a completely different climate, of the Chitwan Valley. There it was hot, humid, dusty and unforgiving. We rode rough, eroded, damaged tracks that link remote villages in the hilly regions to the west of Kathmandu. Huge views off the side of the trail urged us to stop and gaze at the stepped, green farm land and jungles spread out in the enormous valleys below. Smiling locals stepped to the side of the track to allow us to pass, all generally staring or smiling at the unusual sight of motocross-clad aliens riding modern dirt bikes on their usually quiet tracks.

The finale of day three is a mighty decent, from spectacular mountain top to jungle river valley. As you decend, you can see your future laid out before you - the dry winding track, following the ridges and hipnotising mountain curves, way down to a mighty river snaking the huge valley below. It’s a long day, and I find that decent a real mind game. It goes on and down and on and down for longer than my arms can cope. My hands were crumbling to pieces when we reached the river road, I was gasping for a break and wanting to lie down. And the temperature and humidity was overhelming! We took lunch at a village kitchen, stripped down to just out riding trousers, sweating buckets. We drank as though out lives depended on it. Litres and litres of bottled water were handed to us and quickly consumed or doused on the head. We were absolutely spent, and we were all smiling. It felt awesome to have conquered such an epic route so far.

The day finally ended at the Riverside Resort, with us sprawled out in the massive pool, recovering and poised to reach the picturesque lakeside city of Pokhara the following day, the gateway to the Himalayas.

Saying goodbye to the Shivapuri trails was hard

Ride Day 4 - Riverside to Pokhara

Ride day four was a short ride day on the main highway, so we took a much needed sleep-in at Riverside and left around noon in the blazing sun. The highway can be a wild experience, with trucks overtaking buses overtaking a families on a scooters taking their goats to market. This makes for a surprising scene when encountered, and often all you can do is head for one of the sides of the road, and hope you don’t get taken out by a high speed goat.

The evening was spent in Pokhara, relaxing at our hotel, then out for dinner and drinks. Pokhara is the jumping off point, or finishing point, for hikers of the Annapurna Circuit, so there’s usually a few scruffy backpackers hanging out. We met a few over the evening and blew them away with the news we were going to ride in a day, what took them many days of walking.


We had just started talking in the office about exploring the possibilities of getting an intern in to help us when strangely we got a call out of the blue from a company called “European Placement Network”. They had a Swiss student who was looking for a 5 month placement in the UK! They sent us her CV and we then arranged a Skype call with Rita. We were impressed with her on the phone and so confirmed to the company that we would love to have her with us. Rita started with us on 20th July. We have 2 more months with her before she heads back to Switzerland to start University next year. We are thinking of confiscating her passport so she can’t leave! She has made a huge difference to us here at TBAC and we will miss her greatly! 

Here is Rita's account of her internship at The Big Adventure Company. 

When I was filling in my English CV and writing my application letter to find a job in the UK, I didn’t expect to receive attention from The Big Adventure Company. Mainly because I had never heard of this kind of company. When I was sent their information and website I was a bit confused. Why would a company that organizes crazy trips on motorbikes and jeeps want to hire a 19-year-old girl from Switzerland who knows nothing about motorbikes?

I had a chat with Nick and Catherine on Skype. I thought that husband and wife working together was a really cute thing and they seemed very nice and positive people. Apparently the company was new and they needed some help to grow. Sounded good to me!

But what really made want to work here was their website (maybe not exactly what you should base yourself on for accepting a job). It’s a well done website. That’s it. Plus, they seemed to be on social media (with great content too!), which meant they communicated with the world and were using the wonders of the Internet.

Once in the UK, I went to school in Bristol for two weeks. Then I had to move to Bath, which I fell in love with in no time. Catherine sent me an email with indications for how to reach the company. And that’s when I got really confused and slightly terrified.

I searched for the address on Google maps, enabled Street view, and saw no Big Adventure Company. In fact, I didn’t see much. Just a narrow road with not much to do. I wasn’t so sure whether I would have liked working in Batheaston...Catherine said that the company was supposed to be… through? Through an antiques shop? I thought it was just and English expression I didn’t know, so once arrived I looked next to the shop, around the shop, opposite the shop, but couldn’t find the place. I looked around for a while. No Big Adventure Company. So I called Nick, and seconds later he came FROM the shop! The office was literally through! Not only that, the company is also next to a kitchen where a lady named Alice bakes cakes. That’s possibly the most random place to work in!

After the initial confusion, the office gave me a very good impression. Again, maybe not based off of the most solid reasons. I liked that they had mugs with their logo on them, as well as mouse pads and a banner on the wall. They were wearing the company’s T-shirts too! Even if it was just one office, the company had a strong identity and I really liked it.

I was greeted by a welcome card and a big glass of water. Nick was super smiley and enthusiastic. He explained how the company was born and how they were trying to grow. I thought it was so interesting and my worries more or less vanished. Steve was in the office too. He mostly worked at his desk without saying much, so I thought that maybe he wasn’t too happy about having an intern in the company, but I learned I was wrong just the next day.

I’ve been working here for a couple of months now, and I still feel good about this place. I like what I do, I’m learning about useful and interesting tools to use online and because of their trip destinations I’m learning about places that I would never have thought of visiting.

I like the music we listen to in the office, and sometimes we get to eat Alice’s delicious cakes! Also, the location of the office has somewhat become even more complex as a cafe is opening at the front, leaving the antiques shop to be more of a storage place.

The Big Adventure Company is my favourite workplace yet. I really feel useful and part of the growth of the company. I’m actually excited when there’s lots to do: since I like the people here, I like helping them (and I secretly wish they were my uncles and aunt…). Nick is just as happy and as enthusiastic as he was on the first day. He also talks as much!

Steve is one of the coolest adults I’ve ever met. I think his fabulous beard has something to do with it… And Catherine is so sweet and friendly. I love her calm and kind voice, it’s the perfect mom voice.

I can already picture myself crying like a baby when I’ll have to go back to Switzerland. It feels like home here. But I still have 3 months, so I’ll just enjoy them for now. 



Often referred to as ‘The Golden Land’, Burma is one of the most mysterious and undiscovered countries in the world. Having only recently opened its borders to tourists, this magical country is on the cusp of great change and we urge you to visit Burma now before everyone else goes.

We ran our first ‘Burma Motorcycle Adventure’ in January 2015 and it was a great success.  We secured the necessary government permissions, permits and guides to allow us to ride in this very secretive country and we spent 2 weeks visiting the ancient temples and pagodas of Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake.

We were all completely enchanted by Burma and we’re extremely excited about returning to this incredible country in 2016. Here are 5 reasons why The Big Adventure Company loves Burma. 


 

1. The People

One of the most memorable things about our trip in January 2015 was meeting the local people who were all incredibly friendly and cheerful. They were extremely polite and willing to go out of their way to help. The children were the same and during our trip we never saw children complain or misbehave.

The locals in some of the remote places were fascinated by us and as we travelled through their small towns/villages they all came to the roadside to see us. Whenever we stopped, a small crowd would gather round us and the bikes. It was wonderful to be able to engage with such warm and welcoming people who have been largely cut off from the international community for many years.


2. The Temples & Pagodas

Our ‘Burma Motorcycle Adventure’ includes several visits to stunning Buddhist temples and pagodas, however the highlight is most definitely breathtaking Bagan which has more than 3,000 temples dating back to the 11th century. Rosie Furse was our medic on our trip in early 2015 and she said that Bagan was one of the most beautiful and emotive places she has ever been to. With beautiful gilded spires spread out across the horizon, the landscape looks like something out of a dream.

On our trip in January we found a pagoda that allowed people to climb up it to witness the most incredible vista of these temples of every shape and size for as far as the eyes can see and we sat there at sunset in awe as these stone temples seemed to catch on fire and turn a deep burnt orange. Rosie said ‘this has to be one of the highlights of the trip and for me - I would not have missed it for the world’.

3. The breathtaking scenery

Our ‘Burma Motorcycle Adventure’ starts in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand where we pick up our modern adventure bikes, and then we head on to the southern part of the famous Mae Hong Son Loop. On our previous trip everyone loved the thrill of riding on the steep, twisty mountain roads as we crossed the border from Thailand to Burma. The panoramic mountain views are absolutely spectacular and the riding is epic.

During our time in Burma we were amazed by the diverse scenery and landscapes. We rode through tropical forests, then flat paddy plains, then teak and sugar plantations.

We completely agree with Rudyard Kipling’s famous quote ‘This is Burma and it is unlike any land you know about’.

4. Inle Lake

Inle lake is one of the most magical places in Myanmar. This vast lake is located in the heart of Shan State at an altitude of 900 metres above sea level. The lake is known for its scenic beauty and the unique leg-rowing technique of the Inthas, the native lake-dwellers.

Our itinerary includes a rest day at Inle Lake where you can relax and unwind. We recommend a day boating around the lake where you can visit pagodas and villages where local craftsmen make their living producing anything from silks and linens to cheroots, traditional Burmese cigars. Personally we loved exploring the floating villages and gardens and colourful daily markets by local riverboat.

5. The Food

Burmese cuisine is some of the best in Asia. There is a definite Chinese influence with cashew nuts, ginger and sweet and sour type flavours. We didn’t see any coconut milk used but they do tend to use more spice and chilli than classical Chinese food. They do wonderful fried tofu crisps which are completely addictive!

 

WE LOVE BURMA, but don’t just take our word for it. Here are some testimonials from clients who have previously joined us our Burma Motorcycle Adventure.

"The Burmese people are so warm and welcoming. It was a pleasure and a privilege to ride with such accomplished leaders and riders, a truly amazing experience" - Julie Hunter

"A diverse group of people brought together by a great tour leader and tour guide to make a great trip. Thank you Big Adventure Company!" - Don Leigh

"The best motorcycle trip I have done, and I've done a few!" - Andrew Wood


When setting up The Big Adventure Company in 2014 we felt there was a need for shorter trips in a European country. All our other trips are long haul and we understand that people can’t take always go away for 2 weeks due to work commitments, family holidays, etc. We’d heard amazing things about Romania and we were certain that this would be the perfect country for our mini Big Adventures.

We spent months planning and researching, which included several recce trips back and forth to Romania. It was important for us to ensure that we worked with the best suppliers and we valued their input with regards to the itinerary and logistics.

We ran our first Romania Dirt Bike Long Weekender in May 2015 with great success. We had amazing feedback from the trip in terms of the riding (some said it was the best they’d ever done) and the country itself. Following the overwhelming success of this trip we’ve decided to develop our Romanian programs and we’re extremely excited to launch our Romania Mountain Bike Adventure.

This 5-day mountain bike adventure will be based deep in the pristine wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains in the Transylvania region, and our accommodation is an idyllic mountain spa resort surrounded by forests, lush pastures and wildflower meadows. This is authentic, rural Romania where traditional culture remains and it is highly likely that you’ll see horse-drawn carts rumble along dirt roads and shepherds in the fields with their flock. This region is also home to huge numbers of brown bears and wild wolf packs so keep your eyes peeled when you’re out riding.

The program will include a guided ride out from the resort on single track trails through the forests and remote villages. We’ll pass incredible medieval castles and fortified churches and we’ll even have time for a visit to Bran Castle which is better known as Dracula Castle. On day 3 we’ll drive you to the Buceji mountain range in a convoy of 4x4's, from there you will tackle the ascent to Omu Peak at 2500 metres. It’s a challenge but with our experienced guides and lots of stops it is well worth the effort for the breathtaking views over the rocky limestone ridge of the Piatra Craiului Mountains not to mention the amazing 2 hour descent. Day 4 is a day of ascents and descents on forestry single track trails and old cart roads. The views from the breathtaking Balaban Ridge will bring smiles to everybody’s faces as will the nicely flowing descents. For the adrenaline junkies a chance to conquer the steep narrow trail descent to the Zarnesti gorge, then up towards Piatra Craiului between the impressive rock walls. You’ll then have a final single track descent before heading back to our base.

Many budget airlines operate to and from Bucharest (OTP) from London airports. EasyJet, Ryan Air & Wizz Air have prices starting from less than £100 plus baggage if you book early. British Airways and other premium carriers operate from Heathrow and there are other direct flights from Liverpool and Doncaster in the UK.

Given the relatively short travel time between UK and Romania (and the low cost ticket prices) we think that it is an ideal destination for those who don’t have the time or budget for a long-haul Big Adventure. 

 


Our ‘Bolivia Jeep Adventure’ is an exciting and exhilarating trip which offers an opportunity to drive a modern 4x4 jeep on the world’s largest salt flats and the world’s most dangerous road. On our most recent trip (July 2015) we had 6 clients (Keith, Carol, Colin, Nancy, Frank and Brian), and we think it is fair to say that during their two-week journey from the Amazon to the Andes they experienced a lifetime’s worth of adventure.

Our Big Adventure crew (Steve, Matt, medic Sarah and local guide Cory) met up with our clients in the busy, buzzy Bolivian city of Cochabamba.

On the morning of the first day the guys took a trip up to the famous Cristo de la Concordia statue on the cable car and then we assigned the Nissan 4x4's to the group before heading out to a steakhouse for possibly the best steaks we had ever eaten! The next day we woke up to beautiful blue skies, bright sunshine, a hearty breakfast, and Brian dressed in a kilt and sporran! Spirits were high and everyone was extremely excited about the day ahead of us which would take us from Cochabamba to Mizque, a small idyllic town in the valley of Mizque River.

Frank and Brian

As we left Cochabamba we travelled on windy, paved roads, but later in the day it was time to experience some off-road terrain. Our drivers coped well with the journey, and upon arrival in Mizque it was time for some cold beers sat around the town square watching the world go by.

The following day we travelled from Mizque to Bolivia's most beautiful city, the world heritage site of Sucre. In Sucre we stayed in a stunning, old colonial hotel located high on a hill with spectacular views over the town.  Sunset beers were the order of the day as we were treated to a spectacular sunset over the city from our rooftop viewpoint. Our group were getting along very well and we all genuinely seemed to be enjoying each other’s company.

Enjoying a sunset beer overlooking the world heritage site of Sucre

After breakfast the following day it was time to leave Sucre and begin our journey to the mining town of Potosi which lies at the foot of the Cerro de Potosi (sometimes referred to as Cerro Rico ‘Rich Mountain’). We travelled on paved roads all day with stunning views, and at the end of the journey we had a steep climb to our destination at 4100m. On arrival in Potosi some of our group toured a silver mine and by all accounts it was a very memorable experience as they witnessed the gruelling working conditions of the miners. Those members of our group who didn’t venture down the mines took a tour of the National Mint Museum.

View of Cerro de Potosi and the silver mines

The next day we travelled from Potosi to Uyuni. In the morning we travelled for about 4 hours on a long dirt track over a few mountains and plateaus, spotting hundreds of llamas and alpacas along the way. This was a fantastic opportunity to see rural Bolivia which very few ‘gringos’ get to see.

The following day was Keith’s 65th birthday and it was one of the highlights of our trip as we visited the Salar de Uyuni - the world’s largest salt flat. We set off to the cactus island of Incahuasi and then on to our exclusive lunch stop with Tunupa Volcano as our backdrop (with tables, chairs, white linen table cloths and a birthday cake). After a visit to the ancient mummies burial half way up the volcano we headed to the Hotel Tayka De Sal which is an eco-friendly thatched house right in front of Tunupa Volcano. That evening we celebrated Keith's birthday in style with a delicious meal, lots of red wine and a trip record bar bill!

Enjoying lunch on Salar de Uyuni

We woke up with slightly sore heads but after breakfast and plenty of coffee it was time to get going as we had a long day ahead of us. The journey from Tunapa to Oruro was approximately 300kms with sandy, broken roads for the first 200km and then tarmac. It was an amazing journey and we really got a feel for the vastness of the Bolivian Altiplano (high plains).

The following day we left Oruro and we could see snow on the distant hills. As we turned off towards Quime and began our ascent up a mountain we quickly approached the snow line and noticed that the road became a single track through deep snow. Local cars had blocked the road on top of the pass as they weren't equipped for the conditions so we used our support truck to clear the road and drag them through the drifts. After an exciting descent through an ancient glacial valley we arrived in the beautiful town of Quime, and that evening we sat around a fire with gin and tonics, swapping stories of our adventurous day.

The South Africans don’t get to see snow that often!

The next day was a tough one for our jeep drivers as it was dirt roads all the way from Quime to Chulumani. We left early in the morning and travelled for 200km on broken roads as we slowly descended into the upper Amazon rainforest. It was a challenging but incredible experience winding down the narrow roads passing through spectacular cloud forests. We reached the peaceful little town of Chulumani in the afternoon and rewarded ourselves with some cold beers and a dip in the hotel pool.

The following day was another off-road adventure as we travelled 90km from Chulumani to Coroico. This journey was not for the faint hearted and our jeep drivers needed full concentration and nerves of steel as they negotiated the narrow roads with sheer drops. That afternoon some of the guys opted to take an exhilarating ride on a zip wire hundreds of metres over Death Road, whilst the rest of our group stayed behind and made use of the hotel pool and bar.

The next day we were due to travel from Coroico to Copacabana, however we had to make some last minute changes to the schedule as Pope Francis was visiting La Paz and all roads into and out of the city were closed. Instead we did the ‘The Death Road Loop’ which involved riding up the World’s Most Dangerous Road (also known as the El Camino del Muerte or Road of Death) and then descending down the newer (and much safer) road which led us back to Coroico. We were blessed with clear skies which meant that we had spectacular views of the valley and mountains. It was an incredible day, and now we can say we’ve conquered the World’s Most Dangerous Road.

The following day we travelled from Coroico to La Paz. It was hard to believe that we started the day in the jungle tropics, and then passed stark mountains with ice on the side of the cliff faces before ending our day in the vibrant city of La Paz at 3400m above sea level. Upon arrival in La Paz we handed back our jeeps, and then had the opportunity to explore the museums, cathedrals and colourful markets. In the evening we had our final group dinner at a lovely little restaurant where we celebrated the end of our incredible Bolivian adventure with flaming steaks.  There was a unanimous feeling that this has been the trip of a lifetime and we’ve created some unforgettable memories with an amazing group of people. We’re already planning our next Big Adventure!


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Our ‘Bolivia Motorbike Adventure’ in July 2015 was an absolutely fantastic trip and we think it’s fair to say that during the two-week journey from the Amazon to the Andes our TBAC riders (Ulrich, Peter, Martin, Neil and Garry) and crew (Steve, Matt, medic Sarah and local guide Cory) experienced a lifetime’s worth of adventure.

Our adventure started in the busy, buzzy Bolivian city of Cochabamba. On the morning of the first day the guys took a trip up to the famous Cristo de la Concordia statue on the cable car and then we assigned the motorbikes (Suzukis DR650’s) to the group before heading out to a steakhouse for possibly the best steaks we had ever eaten! The next day we woke up to beautiful blue skies, bright sunshine and a delicious hearty breakfast. Spirits were high and everyone was extremely excited about the day ahead of us which would take us from Cochabamba to Mizque, a small idyllic town in the valley of Mizque River.

Cochabamba - bikes all ready to go

As we left Cochabamba we travelled on windy, paved roads, but later in the day it was time to experience some off-road terrain. Our riders coped well with the journey, and upon arrival in Mizque it was time for some cold beers sat around the town square watching the world go by.

The following day we travelled from Mizque to Bolivia's most beautiful city, the world heritage site of Sucre. In Sucre we stayed in a stunning, old colonial hotel located high on a hill with spectacular views over the town.  Sunset beers were the order of the day as we were treated to a spectacular sunset over the city from our rooftop viewpoint. Our group were getting along very well and we all genuinely seemed to be enjoying each other’s company.

After breakfast the following day it was time to leave Sucre and begin our journey to the mining town of Potosi which lies at the foot of the Cerro de Potosi (sometimes referred to as Cerro Rico ‘Rich Mountain’). We rode on paved roads all day with stunning views, and at the end of the journey we had a steep climb to our destination at 4100m. On arrival in Potosi some of our group toured a silver mine and by all accounts it was a very memorable experience as they witnessed the gruelling working conditions of the miners. Those members of our group who didn’t venture down the mines took a tour of the National Mint Museum.

View of Cerro de Potosi and the silver mines

The next day we travelled from Potosi to Uyuni. In the morning we travelled for about 4 hours on a long dirt track over a few mountains and plateaus, spotting hundreds of llamas and alpacas along the way. This was a fantastic opportunity to see rural Bolivia which very few ‘gringos’ get to see.

The following day was one of the highlights of our trip as we visited the Salar de Uyuni - the world’s largest salt flat. We set off to the cactus island of Incahuasi and then on to our exclusive lunch stop with Tunupa Volcano as our backdrop (with tables, chairs and white linen table cloths). It really was an incredible day and Garry said that it was possibly one of the best biking days he’d ever experienced (this is quite a statement given that Garry has joined several motorbike adventures around the world over the past few years).  After a visit to the ancient mummies burial half way up the volcano we headed to the Hotel Tayka De Sal which is an eco-friendly thatched house right in front of Tunupa Volcano. That evening we had a delicious meal and lots of red wine!

Optical illusions on Salar de Uyuni

We woke up with slightly sore heads but after breakfast and plenty of coffee it was time to get going as we had a long day ahead of us. The journey from Tunapa to Oruro was approximately 300kms with sandy, broken roads for the first 200km and then tarmac. It was an amazing journey and we really got a feel for the vastness of the Bolivian Altiplano (high plains).

The following day we left Oruro and we could see snow on the distant hills. As we turned off towards Quime and began our ascent up a mountain we quickly approached the snow line and noticed that the road became a single track through deep snow. Local cars had blocked the road on top of the pass as they weren't equipped for the conditions so we used our support truck to clear the road and drag them through the drifts. After an exciting descent through an ancient glacial valley we arrived in the beautiful town of Quime, and that evening we sat around a fire with gin and tonics, swapping stories of our adventurous day.

The next day was a tough one for our riders as it was dirt roads all the way from Quime to Chulumani. We left early in the morning and travelled for 200km on broken roads as we slowly descended into the upper Amazon rainforest. It was a challenging but incredible experience winding down the narrow roads passing through spectacular cloud forests. We reached the peaceful little town of Chulumani in the afternoon and rewarded ourselves with some cold beers and a dip in the hotel pool.

The following day was another off-road adventure as we travelled 90km from Chulumani to Coroico. This journey was not for the faint hearted and our riders needed full concentration and nerves of steel as they negotiated the narrow roads with sheer drops. As we approached our hotel the bikers took a single track route and unfortunately Matt slipped in some mud and came down on his ankle which required a visit to the local hospital where they put his foot in plaster. That afternoon some of the guys opted to take an exhilarating ride on a zip wire hundreds of metres over Death Road, whilst the rest of our group stayed behind and made use of the hotel pool and bar.

The next day we were due to travel from Coroico to Copacabana, however we had to make some last minute changes to the schedule as Pope Francis was visiting La Paz and all roads into and out of the city were closed. Instead we did the ‘The Death Road Loop’ which involved riding up the World’s Most Dangerous Road (also known as the El Camino del Muerte or Road of Death) and then descending down the newer (and much safer) road which led us back to Coroico. We were blessed with clear skies which meant that we had spectacular views of the valley and mountains. It was an incredible day, and now we can say we’ve conquered the World’s Most Dangerous Road.

Garry about to tackle Death Road!

The following day we travelled from Coroico to La Paz. It was hard to believe that we started the day in the jungle tropics, and then passed stark mountains with ice on the side of the cliff faces before ending our day in the vibrant city of La Paz at 3400m above sea level. Upon arrival in La Paz we handed back our bikes, and then had the opportunity to explore the museums, cathedrals and colourful markets. In the evening we had our final group dinner at a lovely little restaurant where we celebrated the end of our incredible Bolivian adventure with flaming steaks.  There was a unanimous feeling that this has been the trip of a lifetime and we’ve created some unforgettable memories with an amazing group of people. We’re already planning our next Big Adventure!

Matt taking a moment at the top of Death Road


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In early 2015 Neil Petersen and his friend Neil Whitehead travelled to Southeast Asia where they had the opportunity to leave their ‘real world’ for a few weeks and enjoy their true passions in life - taking photographs and riding motorcycles. Their trip started with a flight to Bangkok and then a short flight to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. From Chiang Mai they travelled into and through Laos and then into Cambodia.

We were delighted that they chose to join us on our Cambodia Dirt Bike Adventure where we explored the jungles and ancient temples of this fascinating country.

Here is Neil Petersen’s fantastic blog about their big Cambodian adventure and you can read more about their southeast Asia trip on his website – www.dotpix.co.uk

The middle of rubber plantation country

When we left the UK we had decided that we would include Cambodia in our trip. We had been doing some research into renting bikes, insurance and trails and quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn't going to be as easy as Thailand.

We found a company called The Big Adventure Company that run tours across the country for two weeks so we decided to get in touch. They had two places left on their upcoming tour, starting on the 31st of Jan which was perfect for us so we signed up. We found out there were already 6 people booked on the trip. Apprehensive about the levels of the riders, we expressed our concerns (fears) and found that there would be all abilities on the tour ranging from someone who had never ridden off road before to a former British Superbike Champion.

On arrival in Cambodia we were collected from the airport at Phnom Penh and jumped into a minivan heading for the hotel. Pulling out from the airport car park onto the main road I remembered they drive on the right in Cambodia compared to Thailand who drive on the left (the right side). The roads were busy, congested and there were a lot more cars than I remember from when I was last here.

Since 2008 it appears the country or at least Phnom Penh had moved on dramatically. There were lots of cars and pickups which were previously unseen, businesses seemed to fill the streets and there seems to be a real sense of opportunity. I don't know what has happened but this isn't the place I remembered.

The trusty XR’s line up in the morning sun

We arrived at the hotel and met with the guys who we would be spending the next two weeks with. We jumped into a Tuk Tuk and headed out to the FCC Hotel for dinner and a few beers.

The next day some people had a rest in the sunshine around the pool and others decided to head out to the Killing fields and S21, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. These are still the main tourist attractions in Phnom Penh and left as a constant reminder of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Killings in the 1970's where it is estimated up to 3 million people lost their lives. Later that day when people returned we had a few more beers discussing the harrowing attractions and we were briefed on the days ahead. The bikes were delivered and we were asked to check over them for any damage.

We were introduced to the support team - Leng who would be heading up the riding along with Tony the mechanic, Chea a support rider and Tim who would be driving the support truck with our luggage, spare parts, drinks and a spare bike.

The next morning people started to get their gear together, it was 7:15am and the temperature was beginning to rise. With the bikes all lined up outside the hotel we had a quick reminder of the marking system we would be using. This is to allow the group to flow and so we wouldn't have to stop at every corner to make sure everyone was still with us. Simply a marker is told to wait on a corner and send everyone in the correct direction. Once the last man is through they head off, so you end up leap frogging everyone and it allows a continuous ride. With all the excitement I managed to forget to start my GoPro which is a shame as you couldn't appreciate the organised chaos of the Phnom Penh traffic without seeing it firsthand.

We had about 250km to ride that day and our first stop was at a local temple to receive a blessing from a local monk to wish us good luck and safety on our trip. The blessing was chanted at us while being covered in water, we then each received a red cotton bracelet. It turns out that there aren't many religious people amongst us and some would say atheist but so far only one person has been brave enough to take it off.

Phil and Dave receiving their blessing

We continued on our way, at first we were told that the day would mostly be covered on tarmac and road riding. After about 80km of dirt/dusty tracks clearly their ideas of roads were different to mine. We stopped and got some drinks in a village and it became clear that every time we stop we turn into an attraction for the locals, especially the kids. They love the bikes and having a laugh at us in all our gear.

We stopped when we hit the Mekong River to take in some views and ride on the sand alongside the river. This was my first time of riding on real sand, and let’s just say it didn't go too well. It appears the trick is to go for it, being cautious I didn't. The result was me with the rear end of the bike dug into the sand and stuck. Luckily Tony was around to give me a hand dragging the thing out otherwise I could have been there a while.

Continuing through some trees and farm land we took a break. The heat, oh God I wasn't used to anything like this. Sweat was running in my eyes and dripping off the end of my nose. I think I consumed 4 or 5 litres of water that day along with rehydration salts to try and keep myself going.

Carrying on, we came to a river that we need to cross. We were paddled across by a lady and a boy who could have only been about 7 or 8. It was the real sense of adventure that we had been hoping for. We arrived in Snuol where we would be spending our first night. Around 11 hours on the road including stops, we had covered 259km. It felt like quite an achievement.

Cambodian river ferry

The following morning we had breakfast and left Snuol at 7:30am, heading along the road for about 15 minutes we filled the bikes with petrol before heading off road towards Chumni stopping at a local village along the way. Village life seems so simple for the rural Cambodians – there are buffalo, pigs, chickens and lots of dogs wondering around. We left the village and headed off, I went first to grab a few shots of the guys on their way.

As I was now behind, I decided to try and pick up the pace, I caught the group and passed a couple of riders at the back. Brimming with confidence, happily riding along I hit a bit of soft ground and lost control. You could say a tumble in the jungle!

The bike and I were fine, the peg was bent along with the gear selector but Chea kindly fixed this with the use of one of the rocks that had just been introduced to my leg. Once we hit the road again we stopped for a drink and came across two German cyclists that have been on the road for 11 months travelling all the way through Iran and China. We offered them a drink and had a quick chat. How anyone can be on the road for that long I don't know let alone on a push bike.

On route back we headed to Bousra waterfall. Travelling through Asia you see quite a few of these and only a few are worth the visit, but I'm pleased to say this was one of them. It had three levels to it. We rode through the top level, some more successful than others. Tony the mechanic took a tumble and ended up in the water with Leng around to finish him off. After we went down to the middle level of the waterfall we got out of our bike gear and headed for the water to cool off after a day’s riding. We left the waterfall and headed to the local runway. The guys decided to have a drag race, I saved the probable embarrassment of running at the back by taking some photos.

Top of Bou Sra waterfall in Mondulkiri

There was a view point about 2km down the road so we headed there for the sunset. It was then time to head to the hotel in Sen Monorom, we had some dinner in a local restaurant and went back to the hotel where we sat around a fire and had a few beers.

We covered 240km in around 9 hours including the stops.

The next morning we woke up at Sen Monorom and spent the day travelling to Banlng. We left the hotel and hit the road. It had become a tradition for me now that every time we rode out of a hotel or set off for the day I would give Scouse a rendition of Canned Heat's on the road again over the scala, I think he secretly liked it and by this time we was beginning to join in.

We rode for about 15km and filled up the bikes before setting off road. After having the fall the previous day my confidence was a bit shot and it took me a while to get into things. We road some quite challenging single track roads and already I was dripping with sweat. I had managed to get back into the old habit of holding on for dear life and becoming tense on the bike, this isn't good. It drains you of energy so quickly and doesn't really make riding enjoyable.

We stopped after a while, parked up the bikes and filled up our camel packs with water and some (myself included) took Royal D (an electrolyte drink) to try and get some energy back. We again left the road and headed onto dirt trails. The first section was very heavily rutted and due to the changing routes there was a slight confusion if we were actually on the right path so we doubled back and confirmed this before heading off again. The ruts quickly disappeared and we rode a long section of forest/jungle. These parts are used by loggers, some legal and some not. As we were riding though we found there was a lot of controlled burning which seems to be the case in the whole country at the moment.

Tony had to quickly make a repair to a broken side stand spring, this involved the use of the trusty cable/zip tie until it was replaced. The XR250 doesn't have a cut out switch on the stand so it's more of a safety issue as it would be very easy to catch a broken one on a tree root or rocks.

We set off again for about 10km, but this time the ground was different. This was my first introduction to long stretches of sand, some of which was deep. At first it was terrifying as the front of the bike seemed to have a mind of it’s own and leaving me feeling like I had no control over the bike. With the recent memory of my fall from the previous day I was hesitant and tense. After a while I seemed to get into the swing of things and managed to get through it, accelerating over small ditches and ruts seemed to be the way to go rather than going around them.

A fast and dusty trail

We stopped for lunch and to be totally honest I was done for the day. Shattered and there was about another 40/50km of off road to cover in the itinerary. We had a chat with Nick and Leng (the guides) and as I had my GPS on me we decided that there was an option of taking the red dirt road back to Banlung with the support truck following us just in case of any problems with the bikes (he was going that way). We put the option out there and 3 of us decided to take it and try and get to the hotel early for a well deserved beer while the others continued.

We arrived in Banlung at Terres Rouges and immediately got out of my boots. I had a problem with my feet as my boots had got wet at the waterfall the previous evening and didn't have a chance to dry. So I had spent 8 hours in wet boots and it looked like I had trench foot and felt like I was stepping on hot coals with every step I took. I washed them and used some athletes foot powder to help dry them out while I sat in the bar uploading a few of the previous days photos to Facebook.

We had been promised that Terres Rouges cooked an amazing steak (best news ever at this point as I haven't had a decent steak since leaving England).  With the very welcomed news of a rest day the following day a good few beers were consumed that evening sitting around talking about the day’s events.

Waking up at Terres Rouges in Banlung we had a very welcomed rest day ahead. I spent the morning writing a blog post just chilling out while others went for a walk or simply chilled by the pool. In the afternoon we had been told about Yeak Loam Lake, a volcanic lake that we could take a ride to for a swim so we headed out about 2pm. It took a whole minute before Phil was in there quickly followed by others (myself included). Brendan even had his snorkel with him to go exploring. Next to the jetty on the lake was this stupidly tall tree. Someone had noticed that there was bamboo nailed to the side of the tree to fashion a ladder of some description and to say it didn't look very safe was an understatement. There's an old saying that goes "Give a man a beer and he'll make empty threats about jumping out of a tree. Give two Cambodian boys $10 and they'll actually do it."

A rat up a drain pipe comes to mind but these boys would have left any rat behind in a race. They were up the top of the tree within seconds and the next thing you know they are walking along the branches to reach a "safe" spot to jump from. After the excitement of the boys jumping from the tree we sat about for a bit taking in the view.

The lake Yeak Laom tree jumpers

On this day we covered about 5km in about 16 hours. 

When we woke up the following morning I wasn't feeling well, I won't go into details but I asked Nick our host about the day ahead and the photo opportunities that we might come across. His response was "There's nothing to take pictures of". This was a terrible lie and unfortunately I didn't take my camera with me that day and the phrase became a running joke for the rest of the trip.

We visited an ancient burial ground, rode through numerous villages, went over an epic river crossing, farm lands, passed fisherman, wildlife and one of the best sunsets we've seen so not much to take photos of really. 

Another amazing Cambodian sunset

Later that night after dinner we could hear music being played. It turns out there was a pop concert going on with hundreds of teenagers/adults enjoying the music. We paid £2.50 each to get in. Along with the music there was rigged carnival games such as shooting teddies off a shelf with a pop gun but the bears had clearly been nailed down after 3 direct hits from Nick the thing still didn't budge. Popping balloons with darts was a favourite only to see the darts come bouncing back towards you.

We covered 200km in around 9 hours 40 minutes travelling from Banlung to Stung Treng, this included stops.

The following day we woke up and went for breakfast at around 7:30am. Well if you can call it breakfast, cold omelette and a dry baguette with no butter or jam really sets you up for a hard days riding. Stung Treng is situated next to the Mekong so I had 'breakfast' and headed over to take a quick look. The town is busy and the locals took a keen interested in us gathered while the bikes were filled with petrol.

We then headed to our first stop of the day to go river dolphin watching. We arrived at Preah Rumkel and had made a joke with Nick that we'd get our money back if we didn't see a dolphin but that deal was quickly off after spotting a couple just swimming in front of us.

The local children seemed to be having a great time out on the boats collecting fish that had been caught. Some fish all by themselves. This little girl was very pleased with her catch, while what could have been her brother seemed more interested with rolling an old tyre up a hill, his xbox must have been broken. All the children seemed to have a role, fisherman/woman, chef, dish washer or just general tyre kicker.

We headed out on two boats to try and get closer to the dolphins and a couple of the guys took a swim. Brendan again bringing the snorkel along for a quick look around.

The locals boats are surprisingly fast

We stopped off at a village in Preah Vihear for lunch. The trails were quickly becoming unexplored as Nick and Leng had swapped the route about a bit to try and get us in early that night.

As the guys stopped for a break in the shade I went ahead to take some pictures of the guys riding past when I came across a fisherman and his wife. I must have looked like something out of ‘Back To The Future’ with my body armour, helmet and boots etc. We had a very brief conversation through the use of hand gestures where he asked if I had a lighter, but unfortunately I couldn't provide one. I had a look at his catch and he had around 50-100 what we know as Roach which is a small silver coarse fish we get in the UK.

After the photos I continued with Chea to catch up with everyone and found Scouse on the side of the trail with a broken clutch lever. Tony and Chea quickly replaced this and we were all back together within no time.

The trail was amazing, over fields, forests, fast sections, light sand, dirt, ruts. It had everything and I was totally pumped from the riding, screaming "That is awesome!!!" as I met up with a few of the guys.

We were now at a decision point in the day where we could take the easy option of red dirt and tarmac back to the hotel or continue off road. I enquired about the trail ahead and was told by Leng that it was the same as what we had just rode. As everything had gone so well in the morning I chose the off road route as did everyone else "cough" "cough".

Junction marking to keep us all on the right track

"Leng in the nicest possible way..... " and the rest of that quote is censored. But let’s just say we might as well brought a bucket and spade with us for the afternoon. Sand after sand after sand and yet more deep sand. The more experienced guys were coping well and quickly moved on. For the less experienced of us I think I can safely say the pace was slow. I dropped the bike 3 times and on one of them losing my starter button so had to improvise with a starter stick which I managed to keep for the remainder of the trip. This was my lowest point out of the whole trip. If someone could had offered me a lift out to the hotel I would have seriously considered it, but we all carried on and got to the next village where we sat done and had a well deserved rest for 10 minutes.

There was pigs freely roaming the village and for some reason there were a lot of bikes parts littering the floor. Playing guess the part (C90 gear level, some form of chain, chain tensioner, etc, etc) and talking about opening up a scrap yard with the parts we were told we needed to move on as it was getting late in the day.

Free range pig

I'm not going to go into too much detail about the remainder of the day. I think it can be summed up by three things.

116km of road.
60km in the dark.
Not a happy bunch.

After the previous days endurance event some of us decided to take the easier option and ride on the road while 3 of the guys took the off road route. We had an hour or so in the morning of taking in the sites at the Koh Kehr temple complex. Chea was an excellent tour guide proving us with information as we went around. The temple took over 20 years to build and was somewhere round 9,000 years old.

There was a bee's nest on the ceiling of one of the buildings which was quite a fright for Phil as he is allergic to stings and carries an Epi Pen with him in case of emergencies. We had previously agreed that I would be the one to use this on him should anything happen and became a running joke of me trying to use this at any available opportunity. I did promise to switch my GoPro on as it would have made excellent footage but fortunately (unfortunately) we never needed to.

After we had taken the road and stopped for lunch we headed to Prasat Preah Vihear and the temples.

On this day we travelled 178km in 9 hours and spent the night in Sra Aem.

The next day I decided again not to take my camera with me that day. As the weight of the pack was having an impact on my riding, I was tired and just wanted to enjoy the riding. In the morning we awoke in Sae Aem, had a day of riding ahead of us so after breakfast hit the road. We had an excellent mornings riding, some of the best I've personally done. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed it and it really made my trip.

Nick having a refreshing sugar cane drink with the local kids

Everything was going so well (BC - Before Crash). But this was before we lost a man. Phil unfortunately took a tumble and injured his shoulder and could no longer ride (this point forward would be known as AC - After Crash). He had to leave his bike where it was and ride pillion until the next village. There was talk amongst the group as to what injuries he could have sustained and debated if it was beneficial to take his shoulder out of joint and put it back in as he had little movement in it but it was not obviously broken. The theory was it may have popped out and caught a tendon on the way back in during the crash. To Phil's relief this was decided against and that it would be better to get him out of there and to a hospital. Daniel took his bike with Tony also to the next village where Leng had arranged for a local to ride this the next 10km to the nearest town where we could arrange to have this transported out of there.

While we waited for the logistics of getting Phil to hospital we sat around in this village. There were lots of children and adults gathered around us just staring at us. For some reason I decided the best way to break the silence was to burst out into the song. The song of choice was Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On, this was a favourite at a karaoke bar visit during the tour and just seemed to work. The next thing you know there are 8 blokes singing full voice to these villagers. They must have thought we was complete loons but found it hilarious and it really was a highlight of the trip and lightened the mood amongst the group.

Heading towards the sandy trails

Phil was then taken by Chea along about 10km of sand and dirt to the nearest town. When we got there Phil was already there sitting with a beer waiting for his taxi to take him the 200km to Siem Reap where he could see a doctor and find out what he had actually done. After two hospital visits it turned out that it was more of a strain and ligament damage and the cure would be rest so Phil would unfortunately miss out on the last day but we would all be meeting up at him at the hotel. An injury like this really puts it into perspective, what we were doing was quite dangerous but you tend to forget that. I know my pace for the rest of the day stepped down a notch or two.

After lunch and saying goodbye to Phil we rode the rest of the afternoon heading for Preah Khan where we had a look around the temple.

That night we had a home stay (sleeping in someone’s house) scheduled and would be staying in a village. When we got there asking where the shower was we were pointed in the direction of a large water container with scoops to simply pour over ourselves. I personally think this is one of the best showers I've had on the trip and was a great experience until Brendan decided to get back to nature and show the world what he was really made of.

The sleeping arrangement was 10 men in a room sleeping on bamboo slated beds with no mattresses. Let’s just say it wasn't the most comfortable night’s sleep. Before going to bed I got out to take some pictures of the stars. As there was no light pollution the view was amazing. At 4:39am I tried to get into the support truck to get away from the 5 people who were simultaneously snoring, but unfortunately it was locked so I had to get back to bed and suffer in silence (until the morning when I let everyone know about it). It turned out I wasn't the only one with most people reporting they had been up in the night wondering around.

We covered 160km that day in 8 and a half hours including stops.

The following morning we woke up at the homestay (some had been awake for hours already) and went for breakfast. After breakfast we headed back to Preah Khan to take some group photos in the morning light. We then left the temple and headed on our route. We stopped at a 1000 year old bridge that Chea and Leng had been keen to show us.

Continuing our ride some of the guys decided to have a play about on a jump so I grabbed my camera and took some photos for them. I just wish someone could have taken pictures of me and my superman extensions. 

Chea lost a dollar to Leng that day by dropping his bike. This was Leng's standard fine for a crash or drop or just looking at him the wrong way. We came across some buffalo and I was keen to stop and grab a couple of pictures as I had missed out on the opportunity on other days where I had not brought my camera. Even better than the Buffalo were the local fishermen, wading in a lake and casting big nets out across the water to catch the fish when they spotted them moving.

We stopped for lunch and discussed Leng's "sting in the tale". On previous trips this section of the trip was very deep with water, however I'm slightly relieved to say that it was pretty dry and although there was still water we managed to keep all the bikes going and didn't lose any at the bottom which had happened on previous trips. The next highlight was a wonky bridge which some rode over while others took a river crossing.

At the end of the afternoon’s riding we came into Siem Reap and to our hotel where Phil was waiting for us with open arms. Actually that’s a complete lie, he was sitting by the pool with a beer but he did bother to come out and congratulate everyone for completing the ride.

The final day consisted of 120km in 6 hours.

A great group and a great trip



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