An idiots guide to planning a solo adventure trip

By Rowan Page | Published on 2020-09-20

An idiots guide to planning a solo adventure trip

Full disclosure; I have never planned a long adventure ride. What’s more, I have never even been on a long adventure ride! I am relatively new to the game, and have only been on a handful of day rides, as well as one two-day ride.

So take this for what it is; a guided tour of my learning process.

The elevator pitch As for many people, my December this year will be spent in different parts of the country with various family groups. So the plan is to ride my BMW F800GS on a four-part journey between locations.

  • Part 1: Somerset West to Sabie (4 days)
  • Part 2: Sabie to Hillcrest (2 days)
  • Part 3: Hillcrest to Port Elizabeth (3 days)
  • Part 4: Port Elizabeth to Somerset West (2 days)

With various reasons and time constraints for each of these destinations (as well as being conscious to not spend all my vacation alone on my bike and away from my wife!) I have designated the above timeframes for each leg.

No national freeways (N1, N2, N3, etc) and as much dirt as possible - this is where the time constraints become important!

Planning the plan

For the seasoned adventure rider this might seem a bit over the top, but for a rookie hopefully it means that I cover all of the basics and don’t end up shit creek without a paddle!

The first decision I have made is on accommodation. Here the plan is to camp. Simple enough, but there are now some basic gear requirements and implications on the budget.

For food I initially thought of a small propane cooker and/or braaiing (read barbecue for any non-South Africans!) at each nights camp. However I was quickly advised away from this and will instead take the best food I can at any point throughout the day. In rural area this may be limited so I will definitely pack some snack bars and biltong!

There is no hard number for the trip budget; I know there will be unforeseen circumstances no matter how much planning is done. I aim to be sensible, try estimate what it will cost upfront, and then compare the actual costs afterwards.

With that in mind I have estimated R300/day for food and R250/day for camp sites. I plugged a very rough approximation of the route into Google Maps and came out at 4334 km. I multiplied this by 1.5 to account for deviations from the direct route in the search of dirt roads, mountain passes, and interesting places. This brings the number to almost exactly 6500 km, which I will use to plan for fuel, maintenance, and tyres.

To plan my route, I will be using a paper version of the Tracks4Africa travelers map. This has some of the lesser know routes as well as useful estimated travel times.

So at this stage I have a rough outline of the trip plan and some specific areas where I need to focus:

  • Bike preparations
  • Riding gear
  • Luggage and camping gear
  • Route and navigation
  • Overnight accommodation and points of interest

I plan to document the rest of my planning activities, as well as the actual trip. And of course any suggestions, comments, and feedback are welcome and even encouraged!

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