Ashraf’s raring to ride across 21 countries but there’s a tiny hurdle…

A Johannesburg motorcycle adventurer who is hoping to travel across three continents in two weeks time, has now adopted a ‘wait and see’ stance over fears on the coronavirus pandemic, writes Ismail Suder.

 A childhood dream of an epic travel across the world could soon be realized for Johannesburg business entrepreneur Ashraf Essack providing the coronavirus pandemic does not interfere too much with his plans.

Ashraf plans to undertake an epic 38 000km solo motorcycle road-trip across three continents and 21countries during seven months of riding. With the outbreak gripping most of the world, he is now cautiously monitoring the situation.

Although he WILL set off on his journey on April 5 as planned, his ride towards the Namibian border has been temporarily put on hold. Instead he will travel through regions of South Africa for a few weeks until it is deemed safe to continue on his long-awaited journey across Africa, Middle East and Europe – an adventure that was in the planning for two years.

If all goes well, his travels will take him through Namibia;  Botswana;  ferry crossing  into Zambia;  Malawi;  Tanzania; around Lake Victoria into Rwanda and Uganda; Kenya; Ethiopia;  Sudan, and from Wadi Halfa across lake Aswan into Egypt, Palestine (enter through Gaza) or Southern Israeli border town of Eilat);  Lebanon;  Ferry crossing into Turkey;  Greece; Bulgaria;  back into Turkey; Iran; Pakistan and  finally to India after which he hopes to ship the bike back to South Africa.

Ashraf, a father of three young daughters, says he had always dreamt of seeing the world. In his schooldays, he and his friend had planned to hitchhike across the globe. Things didn’t go as planned because of studying, a career “falling in love” and life got in the way.

Talking of his dream adventure, Ashraf gives a hearty laugh and says: “Here I am 30 years later addressing a mid-life crisis”.

He told Al-Qalam that his dreams of travel and adventure started as a child.  He takes after his schoolteacher father, Archie Essack, who had a burning spirit for travel and adventure. He grew up on tales of explorers such as Sinbad the Sailor and real life adventurers like Marco Polo, 13th century Moroccan adventurer Ibn Batuta, 11th century Arab explorer and poet Ibn Jubayr of Al-Andulus (present day Spain) and was even inspired by Che Quevera’s motorcycle journeys across five South American countries in the 1950’s before he became a celebrated Marxist revolutionary.

Asked what the objectives of this bold adventure were, Essack told Al-Qalam: “Apart from my lust for travel, I would like to consider business opportunities along the way. I also want to demonstrate that, no matter age or time, dreams can still be achieved if you put the right amount of effort into it and have the determination to see things through. To my daughters, I want them to know that they can achieve all they want to. There is nothing that must stop them from achieving their goals. Dream big and live your life to its fullest within the framework of your religion, upbringing, moral and ethical codes.

“When I was in high school during the 1980’s, a friend and I had planned on hitch-hiking our way around the globe. This journey will, for me, feel like a realisation of that dream.”  

Essack said he hoped his adventure, which he themed Johannesburg to Jaipur, could inspire other people with a similar passion to take the plunge and follow their dreams.

He will start his adventure from Classic Motorcycle Club in Germiston – to which he belongs – with a roaring ride-off from the other bikers.

His bike of choice is a well-tuned 2007 Royal Enfield Bullet 500. Essack says he’s truly looking forwarding to interacting with local people and eating from food stalls along the route.

 He will ride between 300km and 400km a day, take in the sights and sounds of interesting places, stop for photographs, and when dusk falls, find a masjid to pray and bed down for the night, although he adds that there would be times when he would be forced to sleep alongside the road in a tent.

 “I will be riding through the tropics, the African Savannah, deserts and some of the most spectacular mountain passes and ranges through Africa and Asia – and I can’t wait,” Ashraf enthused.

*Ashraf Essack can be followed on Instagram and Facebook @anafricanwanderer and #joburg2jaipur

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