Ten days into the Victoria Falls to Cape Town safari a completely unexpected experience overcame Genevieve Pesant.
When she met Rene at the 2013 Montreal Motorcycle Show, her bucket list included travel on every continent, although not necessarily on motorcycle. She’d already chalked up significant moto-travel experiences in Canada and the U.S., mostly solo, but travel to Africa remained daunting.
“When Rene talked, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to visit Africa and I wouldn’t be alone,” she says. “I’d be accompanied by experienced guides and other riders. To do it by motorcycle was brilliant!” Determined to make it happen, Genevieve began setting aside money every week.
Her father, brothers, and an uncle were all riders and after her first ride at age twelve, she knew she’d be joining them. Ten years later, in 2002, she’d earned her license and purchased a sport bike. Seven years ago, she swapped it for a more touring-comfortable Suzuki 650 V-Strom.
She challenged herself with two Iron Butt rides—a Saddlesore (1,600 km in 24 hours) in 2007 on her sport bike, followed by a bun burner (2,500 km in 36 hours) on her V-Strom.
In 2015, a 13,300 km solo trip took her through South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado in twenty days. “Most of my friends aren’t interested in that kind of travel so I go alone. But I couldn’t see myself going to Africa alone.”
This year, she celebrated her fortieth birthday by realizing her dream.
“While on safari on my second day there, we saw a pride of at least ten lionesses sleeping after their meal. The next day we flew into the Okavango Delta and saw plenty more animals—elephants, giraffes, zebras—my main reason for going to Africa. I could have gone home then and been happy.
“With only a little off-road experience, my biggest worry was the gravel roads. Namibia gravel got me out of my comfort zone. We were well-coached and it only took me a couple of hours to get the hang of it. By the end of the day, I was riding with the front riders.
“Ten days after arriving we were stretched out riding through Namibia. With lots of space between riders and no other traffic, I stopped in the middle of a dirt road to take pictures. There was only me, desert, stillness, and spectacular, vivid colours. Yellow grass, green trees, purple mountains, pink fog, and a bright blue sky. From nowhere in that arid wilderness, tears filled my helmet. I was in Africa!
“Everything was wonderful from beginning to end. Even though no one in our group knew each other and came from diverse backgrounds, everyone was friendly and welcoming so that made it easy to fit in. It didn’t take long for our passion for motorcycles and love of stories to create a special bond.
“Through talking to others in the group, I realized that as a freelancer, I have more freedom to work somewhere else in the world, as long as I have internet. Consequently, I’m making arrangements to manage my business and expenses so I can leave more often, for longer periods. I have a lot of continents to visit!”
Photo credits: Genevieve Pesant