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Andrey Urzhumtsev finishes his motorcycle rally across Africa

Africa is an amazing continent full of mysteries and adventures. It harbors both equatorial, evergreen rainforests and the planet’s largest desert, the Sahara. When it's pouring in one part of the continent, the other part is consumed by everlasting drought. Yet, the weather is by far not the main obstacle in covering thousands of kilometers. It is vital that you pay close attention and fully grasp Africa’s mysterious culture in order to be comfortable on its territory.

Andrey Urzhumtsev, a Russian businessman who happens to be into unique motorcycle tours, ventured on a solo rally across Africa in September 2010. To carry him across the continent, Andrey chose the BMW GS 1200 Adventure rigged out with a built-in camera system that captured the entire historic event.

Andrey’s route ran through more than 15 countries. Having crossed – one by one – Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Italy, Andrey arrived safely in France – the point from which his African journey started. Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, and, finally, South Africa’s capital, Cape Town. The journey, spanning 20,000 kilometers, took him three months and nine days. His track record boasts the crossing of the equator, a visit to the Cape of Good Hope, and even a meeting with a president of an African country.
Each of the countries brought a unique adventure. Brest Fortress struck Andrey as surprisingly peaceful, the Polish cities and towns were warm with the hospitality of its local residents, the Czech city of Brno offered a homely climate and delicious cooking. Munich, where Andrey visited the BMW Museum, deserves special mention. Italy was the next stopover point. According to Andrey, Italians are very friendly –at all times willing to keep up a discussion of Dostoyevsky or give directions to the best pizza restaurant around. In France, Andrey was stopped for speeding, but the situation eventually resolved in a surprising manner: instead of issuing him a speeding fine, the police asked to take a picture with Andrey and promised to keep tabs on his further progress along the route online.
Once the Marseille to Tunis ferry carried him over to the African continent, Andrey continued his tour despite all the difficulties. Crossing the border between Libya and Egypt proved to be quite a task, as Andrey was held up for a few days at the Salum crossing point. On September 28, he approached Alexandria, which he described as a city of stunning beauty and unpredictable traffic.

“Using the lane of oncoming traffic in narrow streets is actually quite normal and even customary,” Andrey wrote in his blog. On October 14, the traveler reached Africa’s largest republic, Sudan, in the northwestern part of the continent. Driving through deserts would test anyone’s strength and focus. With the thermometer never falling below 44 Centigrade, he passed through moonlike landscapes and past stately Sudanese pyramids. As he continued his challenging rally, Andrey reached Africa’s Camelot, the city of Gonder, and went on to Ethiopia’s capital. Addis Ababa is often referred to as Africa’s Paris due to its historical, political and diplomatic value for the continent. As Andrey put it, you can find both evidence of civilized investment and national realities here – a true city of contrasts.
His voyage to Kenya was marked with unexpected weather changes, and showers followed by thick fogs. He mentioned that this part of the trip was quite possibly the most unforgettable. On October 25, the explorer arrived in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where he decided to stay at the legendary Jungle Junction hotel - a sort of pit stop for all African long haul truckers. Later on, Andrey would compare the hotel with Artek for its good tradition among its guests to gather round a fire at night to chat, share experiences and discuss new routes.
Apart from this, Andrey also added the crossing of the equator to his track record. He even had a chance to meet with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who arrived in Kampala for the opening ceremony of the Chobe Safari Lodge.
It was equally exciting for Andrey to meet with Italian BMW club members and members of the Uganda Bikers Association. In Andrey’s eyes, Uganda appeared “very green and extremely rainy,” with its chaotic traffic very much resembling that in Moscow.

While traveling through Uganda, Andrey visited Murchison Falls National Park with its famous dramatic Murchison (also known as Kabalega) Falls. From Victoria Lake, the Nile flows along a narrow nine meter wide ravine and then tumbles down 43 meters. “The waterfall has an overwhelming energy: it's high and remarkably strong. Everything is covered in foam even 300 meters before it. From a distance, it looks like snow on the water. In other words, here you can see wildlife with your own eyes,” Andrey wrote in his blog. He also attended Uganda’s National Motocross Championship, where he met Franco – “a seven-time champion of everything on earth.”
The biker then set off for a national park in Kenya a mere 100 kilometers away from Nairobi. A water journey on Lake Naivasha proved that Andrey was equally fit to face all kinds of challenges, and not only those ashore. In the Nairobi National Park, Andrey had to exchange his motorbike for a taxi, since “bikes are banned from the territory.” In Tanzania, he attended a local wedding ceremony and a rock concert – all in the so-called Village Museum close to Millenium Plaza.
After that, Andrey crossed to Malawi – a country that was known as Nyasaland (the land of the Nyasa Lake) before it received independence. In a local dialect, “malawi” means “light shining over the lake.” The traveler was impressed with the country’s beautiful scenery and landscapes. In the city of Blantyre, where he arrived to obtain a Mozambique visa, Andrey met his soul mate – an equally daring traveler from Germany who offered Andrey shelter in his own house.
With the strikingly beautiful sand beaches for which Mozambique is so popular, Andrey’s journey entered upon its last stage. He crossed the South African border – the last country in his African motorbike rally. After dealing with a minor breakdown, he went on to his final destination point. His journey across South Africa to one of its capitals, Pretoria, went through the cities Middelburg and Emalahleni. Pretoria proved to be a city of contrasts – vast and modern, and surrounded by slums. From Pretoria, Andrey headed for Johannesburg, where rain prevented him from continuing his journey and kept him there longer than planned. Andrey then noted that even the strongest of Moscow rain could not compare to African showers.
When the weather calmed down, he made his way to the southern coast – to the legendary Port Elizabeth. Despite its status of South Africa’s largest industrial city, Port Elizabeth apparently still has its own unique charm. History, the heritage of previous epochs and the modern age all get along just fine here. Moving along the coast, Andrey reached Africa’s most southern point, the Cape of Good Hope. Views from the observation desk here are breathtaking, but Andrey was even more excited to be so close to his destination.
On December 29, he came into Cape Town riding his trusty BMW GS, with his mission completed. What does a winner feel while standing on the edge of the earth, with such a track record of various roads and experiences behind him? He even broke the previous motorbike journey record of 16,000 kilometers, covering as much as 23,000 kilometers.
All that we can do now is congratulate Andrey on another outstanding page in his life, the life of an audacious traveler, and thank everyone who followed his journey for their sincere support and confidence and everyone he met on his way for their help. Motonews.ru wishes the traveler many new exciting adventures and a favorable wind!
As has been previously mentioned, Autokraft – the official dealer of BMW Motorrad in Russia – acted as Andrey Urzhumtsev’s official partner in the motorbike tour. Information support for the rally was provided by its information partners – the monthly Motoreview magazine, Transaero in-flight magazine and the news portal Motonews.ru.

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