Ted Lawson still had the grin on his face and the dust in his ears when he recounted his experiences on Renedian Adventure’s Spectacular South West Africa expedition. He’d also brought back indelible memories—like his first roadside sighting of a big male kudu with his big spiral horns, the people who touched him along the way, and the magic and mystique which stays with anyone who has spent time on this continent.
Like many Renedian adventurers, the decision to go was a long process. As a kid, he loved to watch nature shows, especially those set in the Serengeti. He’d read the Long Way Around and Jupiter’s Travels, but those were stories about someone else. He never dreamt that could be him.
Not before he talked with Rene. Caught by a photograph at his booth at the Toronto Motorcycle Show, Ted stopped to observe, and eavesdrop on a conversation between Rene and another show-goer. He picked up a card and went home to check out the website. Often. Each time he did, the possibility of a trip grew stronger until he realized, “I can do this!”
Recently retired, wanting to make the most of each day, he shared his thoughts with his wife who told him to go for it.
Although he’d vacationed in New Zealand, France, and Spain, his motorcycle travels had been strictly in North America. Naturally, he did have concerns around this quantum adventure. Things like:
- Personal Safety. He’d gone to the Government of Canada website, read about South Africa being a high crime zone, and wondered what he was getting into. While it’s prudent to be cautious in foreign environments, that concern evaporated once he’d arrived and learned about the country.
- Health. Already questioning his risk from communicable diseases, including ebola, the topic came up with increasing frequency as departure time grew closer. Following the advice he was given and taking appropriate precautions, none of his fears proved founded.
- Reputable tour operator. Renedian’s professionalism had been evident from the start and Ted knew he came highly recommended. Nonetheless, when a bank teller fresh off a scam investigation questioned who he was sending the funds to, it caught him off guard. He’d done his homework and knew of Renedian’s stellar reputation.
Landing back in Canada, Ted had a long list of “bests” from his experience, which he says exceeded his expectations across the board.
- Organization. Everything was helpful and accurate—from suggestions on flights, the website information, and the few calls to clarify details. The bikes were as advertised, well-prepared, and accommodators were prepared and welcoming.
- Scenery. Spectacular in its own way, “the scenery in the American and Canadian west would take your breath away maybe once or twice a day. In Africa, the scenery is so dramatic, that happens multiple times every day.”
- Accommodations. Each place added another element to the trip, whether it was waking up at the Breakwater Lodge on the harbour in Cape Town, or the tents sites in the middle of nowhere.
- Food. Ted says he doesn’t get a lot of kudo at home. He found the food amazing, varied, and all delicious, again adding another element to an already incredible trip.
- Travelers. You know you’re going to get along with the kindred spirits on the trip. Ted recalls strolling around with his camera while stopped for a picnic lunch, and hearing guitar music. He turned around to see Evan, leaning against a sign, looking over a huge valley, strumming. .
- People along the way. It was interesting to engage with others at gas stops or restaurants. You just never know where it could lead, but it was always fun.
Ted’s still smiling and although the dust is out of his ears, the memories will stay forever. You can’t go on a trip like that and come back untouched.
Photo credits: Ted Lawson