Sahara Desert; part one, Up and Down, and Back Again, Montova/Genoa, Lombardy, Italy, Douz, Tunisia

Powderfinger

This song by the Australian band ‘Powederfinger’ played on my iPod shuffle, just before I went to bed on the ferry from Genoa to Tunis. No other song would have been more appropriate, Up and down and back again. Phew! What a few days it’s been.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Finally Up @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Considering that our final destination is the biggest sandpit in the world, I expect plenty more up and down to come.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Camel Sunset @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

This is the start of our off-road caravan into the Sahara Desert.

Mantova, Lombardy, Italy
Castle @Mantova, Lombardy, Italy

10 days later, we’ll be driving back to Montova. Let’s turn back the clock for a few days.  

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Doing what I do best @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

When I contacted Claudio about my travel plans to visit him in Italy, he invited me to a 4 wheel-drive tour through the Sahara immediately.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Footprints @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

I know, right?

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Making Tracks @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

No roads,

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Tracks @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

no people,

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Sound of Silence @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

no sound.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Ocean of sand @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Surrounded only by waves of sand as far as the eye can see and that roaring sound of engines digging through Tunisia’s desert.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Camp @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Driving up and down sand dunes, camping under the stars with friends off old and new, before touring back to Tunis.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Fatmogana @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

If we’re lucky, we may see a traditional caravan in the distance, which is still the safest way to cross the desert.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Sandkuchen @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

This adventure will be the icing of my on European holiday cake and is an opportunity not to be missed. I couldn’t wait.

Tolido Caves, Botswana, Africa
Federica and Claudio @Tolido Caves, Botswana, Africa

Claudio usually takes his charming wife Federica on 4 WD excursions throughout Africa, but for one reason or another, Fede wasn’t able to join this time. 

Tolido Caves, Botswana, Africa
Farewell 2018 @Tolido Caves, Botswana, Africa

‘I need some moral support’ he said ‘It’s just like, when we were driving around Zambia’.

Pioneer Camp, Lusaka, Zambia, Africa
BBQ evening @Pioneer Camp, Lusaka, Zambia, Africa

We met and became friends in Lusaka 4 years ago, time has flown.

Kafue National Park, Zambia, Africa
Line-up @Kafue National Park, Zambia, Africa

He persuaded me to join the Italian convoy of 5 cars back then as well, which took some convincing. 

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Cut off @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

There is plenty involved to arrange a remote tour through the desert.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Sunset @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

We will be completely cut off from the world for 10 days.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Filled up @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Mountains of food, drinks, tools, camping and spare parts need to fit into this Landrover Discovery.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Chaperone @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

That’s not where it ends for him. He will be the tourguide, mechanic, entertainer, negotiator, organiser, bartender, cook and most importantly responsible for health and safety of each individual, like he has always been.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Sticky business @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

It’s only fair that I lend him a hand or two.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Desert Fox @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

His experience of past adventures throughout Africa made him an authentic desert fox.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
The shirt is as old as his advantures @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Claudio started to navigate Safari adventures in1988, a trip through Tunisia was the maiden voyage with ‘Sahara Service’.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Safari Service Africa @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Geographically, he extended journeys on the black continent and changed the name to ‘Safari Service Africa’.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
A world of sand @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

A total of 17 people suited into 9 adventure cars on this excursion. Landrovers are very popular with Italians, three Toyota landcruisers add to the mix.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Driving skills @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Let’s hope all drivers know the sand and their driving skills well.

Genoa to Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Arrival @Genoa to Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

We arrived in Genoa’s port on Saturday morning. There was a strange noise coming from the engine room on our way to the port city, which is not really something you want to hear taking off into the land of sand.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Mountain of sand @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

We’re not just going to any desert after all. Furthermore, one of the convoy cars was stuck in an accident on a major highway, where a truck went up in flames. Let’s hope that they make it in time.

Genoa to Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
I Q @Genoa to Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

A long queue greeted us at the ferry terminal. I was baffled on how many off-roaders were eager to board the ferry. Tuned up cars, trucks and off-road bikes with any kind of modifications you can think of lined up around us. Africa is the easiest and cheapest orientation for passionate European motorheads. The ‘Red Tape’ to leave Italy by ship is phenomenal. Up and down and back again. 

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Happy Lori @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Two familiar faces greeted me happily to my very surprise.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Agostino @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Loredana and Agostino were part of the Zambian convoy and remembered me well. Or did they?

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Georgio and Marty @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

Georgio and his gorgeous daughter Martina arrived just in time for us to board the ferry together. Andiamo. ‘It always works out in the end’ Claudio tells me confidently. I have no doubt.

Genoa to Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Finally on board @Genoa to Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

‘Splendid’ was the name of the ferry we sailed on to Tunis for almost 24 hours. But that didn’t include the passenger’s behavior. Disgusting and rude, I was appalled. What am I getting myself into? I just can’t deal with inhumane nature. The worst part was that I just couldn’t get off this swimming jail. It’s part of the adventure I kept telling myself.  It’s part of the adventure. Wave and smile.

Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa
Breakdown @Sahara Desert, Douz, Tunisia, Africa

The next few ‘travelswithben’ posts will summaries the breakdown of this adventure. We had plenty of both, this much I can tell. 

I released a short video on my YouTube channel travelswithben already. This will give a wee insight of what’s to come.

2 thoughts on “Sahara Desert; part one, Up and Down, and Back Again, Montova/Genoa, Lombardy, Italy, Douz, Tunisia

  1. Hello Ben,
    We met in Lusaka the same time you met Claudio. (The swiss with the two African girls). We met again in lieer Zambezi. I follow you ever since.
    In the meantime we sold our car in Africa to Eric Dutoit a goid friend whi met Claudio as well in Africa and who is travelling with him in Saudi Arabia.
    World is small ! Too bad I did not realise early enough you could have made a stop over in Switzerland heading to Mantova. Are you still in Europe?
    Cornelia and Jean-François Christinet

    Like

    1. Well Hello there, I am very happy and surprised to hear from you… I vaguely remember you but I am glad that you are following my blog. I am now in Singapore on my way back to Australia… I would have liked to visit Switzerland, but we can always do that next time… my email is benblond@yahoo.de
      It is a very small world which I like to connect with different dots
      Regards, Ben

      Like

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