From Africa to Norway
How does this sound to you? Disassemble a pair of motorcycles for you and your friend, pack them in crates and ship them and yourselves to Cape Town, South Africa, ride down to the southernmost tip of the African continent, then turn around and head north (roughly speaking) until you end up in Nordkapp, Norway around five months later.
Luke Swab, 27, of Merritt has described this trip, one he and friend Nick Rader, 25, of Farwell have been discussing for years, with many people, and he said their reactions break down pretty much along lines of age and geography. “Younger people and people from the southern part of the state think it’s a cool idea,” said Swab, adding that the older people get and the further they live from the city, the less they can relate to the idea.
Swab and Rader’s trek is set to begin on Jan. 2, 2011, when they will fly to South Africa, re-assemble Swab’s KTM 690 and Rader’s BMW
‘‘ GS 800 motorcycles, and travel the first leg which will take them south of the Cape of Good Hope. They then turn around and travel north through South Africa, then Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Muldova, Ukraine, Russia and finally Norway, hoping to arrive at their final destination in late May.
Swab, who took a solo trip through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize in 2008 that covered over 7,000 miles, said this second long trip “seems to be easier on my mother and father,” Dan and Marilyn Swab of Merritt, than the previous trip was.
“It’s barely tolerable for me that he’s doing this trip,” said Marilyn Swab of her son’s upcoming trek, “Although I am much relieved by the fact that he will have a good friend going with him. That is a great comfort and helps me be able to cope with it.” She said that she and Luke’s father have mixed emotions about their son’s endeavor. “We’re both proud of Luke, he’s a man of his own intent, an independent sort... I’m proud of his adventuresome spirit, but we mothers want our children to be safe.”
“We certainly don’t want to stop our kids from doing what they want, and I’ll certainly be praying for him
” Luke said Rader’s parents were not very happy with the idea of their son making this trip, especially since he quit his one-year-old job with an engineering firm to do it. But both young men see this as the time in their lives for them to make this kind of trip.
“Hardly anyone in the world gets a chance to do something like this,” said Swab, “so why not take the opportunity.” The two men are bankrolling the trip themselves, with Swab’s money coming from a salmon fishing business he runs during the summer in Naknek, AK and Rader’s from his first year of work as an engineer.
To reach Nordkapp by the end of May, they will have to average 130 miles per day, but they also plan to make a few stops along the way, including going swimming with great white sharks in South Africa, snowboarding on sand dunes in Namibia and a visit to Victoria Falls in Zambia.
They also plan to pick up friend Timmer Saglimbene, who graduated from Skeels Christian School with Swab and Rader, in the Tanzanian capitol Dar es Salaam and take turns riding double to the 19,340- foot Mt. Kilimanjaro, which they intend to climb. They will then drop Saglimbene off in Nairobi. Swab said Sa- glimbene will also be bringing them supplies, including parts and other items as needed.
Other side trips will include a visit to the Valley of the Kings to see the Great Pyramids in Egypt, a visit to Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania and visits to St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia.
Swab said he plans to take video during the trip with the goal of incorporating it into a documentary. If that effort is successful he is hoping to develop a motorcycle adventure travel show for cable television. He said part of the uniqueness of their trip, compared to others that have been featured on television, is that there will be no support crew as they make their way across two continents.
That might prove to be an advantage, as they will not only encounter rough terrain along the way, but will also be traveling through some of the most dangerous areas on the planet, some of which are in the middle of serious political strife, even war. Four countries along their route, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Israel, are under current travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State. According to the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs web site, “travel warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country.”
During an inteview with the Resorter, Swab himself predicted that it might be a bit difficult to cross the border between Israel and Syria, which he subsequently found out is closed, but said that they have adjusted their route to include Jordan, adding that if they had to, they would travel to Turkey via ferry. He said the most questionable territory they will cover is in Sudan, but that their “route is adjustable. It has to be on this kind of a trip.”
Anyone wishing to follow Swab and Rader’s progress on the trip will be able to by visiting Swab’s web site at www.lukeswab.com, where he plans to post frequent updates and video reports. Updates will also be published regularly in the Houghton Lake Resorter and on the paper’s web site www.houghtonlakeresorter. com.