Bob Keen heard about the Victoria Falls to Cape Town trip at least ten years before he signed up. A review of University of Gravel Roads in the BMW owner’s magazine first piqued his interest so he asked for a copy for Christmas. He got three. He kept reading and the stories kept working on him. Although he had ridden for many years, it had never been outside the United States. His “breaking” point came at the 2021 BMW rally in Great Falls, Montana where he spoke with Piet Human. Walking back to his tent, he knew he had to stop torturing himself and either sign up or forget it.

He returned to Piet and signed up. Soon after, he learned that his daughter, who had been trying to become a mother for a long time, was finally pregnant. He postponed his trip, was around to welcome his grandson, and joined the tour in 2023.
Bob can’t talk about the trip without getting choked up. “I’ve never been on any venture like that in my life. It was the combination of the place, the people, and how well the entire trip was managed. It was superb. I’m still overwhelmed.”
Although he was confident with his decision, even after remitting his deposit he wondered about spending money on a trip. “But three or four days into it, I had all my money back!”
Elephant Sands Lodge in Botswana created one of Bob’s great memories. “The lodge was a bunch of huts on stilts arranged in a semi-circle around a basin and connected by walkways. Water piped into the basin naturally attracted elephants. Our days started early because of the heat, and we would come back in the afternoon for a swim and to relax. I decided to go back to my cabin to change and nap before dinner, but a huge elephant stood there blocking the way. We stood there looking at each other, posturing a bit, but there was no question that he had the upper hand”. Bob recruited two men working on one of the cabins who knew how to wave their hats and vocalize to get the elephant to change his mind, turn around and lumber away.
“The lodge was close to where the elephants congregated, and it was fascinating to observe them. When the babies wanted water, the big bulls would move the others out of the way so the little ones could drink. The adolescents, typical teenagers, weren’t always happy about it but the bulls weren’t messing around.”
Bob’s experience in the Okavango Delta was also incredible. “While driving around in the safari vehicle, we saw thousands of animals, including lions and hyena. By the time we got back to camp and had dinner, I was tired and had no problem sleeping. I’d seen plenty of things I didn’t want to think about during the night!”
Even as an experienced rider, the sand and gravel surfaces were different than what Bob, experienced on roads and trails, was familiar with. He was anxious at first but by the second day, after a few pointers from experts and a sound rest, he was much more at ease. “By the time the trip was over, I was ready to take a break, but I wasn’t ready to leave.”
Bob is following his Vic Falls to Cape Town trip with a trip to Scotland with Renedian. “My mother’s side of the family is Scottish. I booked a trip in college that got cancelled. I owe it to myself to go and will do it on a motorcycle!”. “I told Rene that with the exception of my children being born, this trip was the most fabulous experience I’ve ever had.”
Photos from the collection of Bob Keen.