Thanks to a wonderful Facebook page where Women Overlanders meet kindred spirits, I ‘met’ Wamuyu. Inspired by what I read, I started following Throttle Adventures, on which she and her husband Dos share bits and pieces of their journey. They are the first Kenyan couple to motorcycle around the world.
The Overland Scene
One of the things that makes my heart beat faster is when I learn about people of ‘new’ nationalities overlanding the world. What I mean by that is this: When we started driving from Europe to Southeast Asia, there were few other overlanders and all came from Europe.
Also on our arrival in South America 2007, Europeans dictated the overlanding scene. That started to change, as I remember it, around 2010 when North American overlanders began driving drive down the Pan-American highway, many of whom have been doing so since. During those years, also the number of South Americans overlanders grew rapidly as well.
I saw (and see) the snowballing effect of the Internet on overlanding. It is fantastic to see how people from an increasing number of countries are taking part in overland adventurers.
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Overlanding in Africa
By no means are Wamuyu and Dos the first overlanders from Africa. Africans from different African nations have had a long history of overlanding on their continent (even though that word didn’t exist yet). Africa (with Australia) is where the first rooftop tents were designed and built, like our first one: an Eezi Awn.
However, Wamuyu and Dos are the first Kenyan couple to motorcycle around the world, bringing the Kenyan flag to every country they visit. With their enthusiasm and infectious spirit shared through photos, videos, and they undoubtedly encourage and inspire others to follow in their footsteps and I cheer them on.
July 2, they will have been on the road for one year. How’s that for an achievement! And so, let’s get to know them better. Enjoy their story.
1. Tell us a bit about who you are and what Throttle Adventures is about
My name is Wamuyu and I am Kenyan by nationality. I was born and raised in Kenya and have lived in Nairobi for the past 20 years. My husband Dos and I are on a world tour, riding two BMW F700 GS motorcycles.
We have traveled through 16 countries since we left Kenya on 2nd July 2018. Our goal is to visit all the seven continents and so far we have done three (Africa, Antarctica, and South America). We set a timeframe of 3,5 years but it looks like it may be longer as we are already behind schedule.
“Every of the places we stay, we do not find guests and staff, we find family. Sometimes there are tears when we are saying goodbye. We exchange Instagram and Facebook accounts and follow each other on our journeys because our goodbyes don’t mean the end of our family bonds. ~Wamuyu and Dos
2. You are celebrating one year on the road. What have been your biggest achievement, and disappointment?
It has been hard to believe one year has already passed. In our planning we were meant to be in the USA by now but we are quite far from there. We are in Ecuador.
Parenting while on the road is what I would refer to as my big achievement. I have two teenagers back at home (from my previous marriage) and there have been many times that I have wanted to go home because I feel guilty for leaving them and question my parenting. On the other hand, they have given us every reason to continue with our adventure.
They have managed their lives quite maturely. The older one is on Campus and lives on her own. She has surprised us with how she has matured and handles her own money, manages home and her life well. The younger one is in grade 11 and he too has matured so fast and manages his life with school and planning quite well. He lives with his dad when he is out of school. He is just about to present his topic in MUN (Model United Nations) in Nairobi.
I have no disappointments per se. I am happy with how our adventure is progressing.
3. What has the motorcycle journey brought and taught you as a couple?
We have discovered so much of each other that we did not know. We spend 24-7-365 together, unlike when we were back home with work and other commitments. We have discovered each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
For example, Dos is very good at planning and navigating with maps. I love to write, do videos and am in charge of our social media. This adventure has taught us to be a team besides being a husband and wife in its traditional interpretation.
We share roles and help each other and have become each other’s best support. I think couples should travel together if they can. It is better than attending marriage counseling.
We want to explore the world with our own eyes, make our own experiences and enjoy foreign countries, cultures and traditions. We also want to tell the story of our beloved country Kenya to the world. We want people to hear the story of Kenya from Kenyans. ~Wamuyu and Dos
4. What makes you pack up and move on to the next destination?
Curiosity. I find it hard to answer the question of ‘which is my best destination, place, country,’ when asked.
I am always thinking that the best is the one I am about to see and I want to see it so badly.
5. What are among the challenges you face as a couple motorcycling around the world?
To be honest I can’t think of any challenges. Being a couple has worked to our advantages, making our travel more fun. With our combined personalities, we have been able to meet, socialize and make friends quite easily. Dealing with embassies, crossing borders and doing our paperwork is way better when we are together since we have complementing skills.
If one is not able to address something, the other is always available to step in. When one is low and down, the other takes over. It’s been quite an advantage to be traveling as a couple. We also have noted that when we say we are married, it is easier to deal with people and institutions.
If you could write a note to your younger self, what would you say?
I would tell this girl not to live for society’s expectations and cultural conformities. My life was lived in that script. It’s why people can’t understand me, simply because I am now living my life. ~Wamuyu Kariuki, from: I can, I will – Women Overlanding the World
6. What’s the best thing you packed and what’s the stupidest thing you brought (and ditched)?
Ha ha ha ha. I packed more stupid things than anything else. I have been riding around with too much weight of clothes I don’t wear. The stupidest in my lot is the many cute panties. I have about 15 panties and only been using 5 in the past year, but I have not been able to let go despite too many attempts.
I have also accumulated more t-shirts from gifts and events.
The best thing I carried is my pocket knife. It’s a savior in the kitchen, on the road and when I need to tighten anything on the bike I never look for the toolbox. At least I have not needed to.
7. What does adventure mean to you?
Adventure means getting out of your comfort zone to experience new cultures, meet people and travel. It can be short term or long term. It can be within your country or out of your country.
8. How do you deal with disappointments and struggles?
I have one rule: I allow myself to feel my feelings but never let my feelings rule or ruin my day. I will admit my disappointments but also quickly look for ‘life’ in that place or moment. It never is only bad. There is some good in every situation, you just need to find it and capitalize on that.
We once booked a hotel in Bueno Aires that had average reviews and so we got the impression that the place was good according to our needs. When we got to the hotel, it was in a dingy street. Our taxi refused to take us to the entrance and left us in some ally in the middle of the night. It was a very old, dirty hotel with unusable bathrooms, dirty beddings but perfect internet. We spent the night chatting with our friends and checked out to go to a nice place and sleep.
9. What’s are both the skills that make this motorcycle adventure work for you?
Dos is very good with planning the routes and navigating and we both do research on the next destination. I handle accommodation, social media and website because I love it.
When it comes to taking risks, social life, money management we keep each other in check very well.
10. What’s your tip for people who’d like to do what you are doing, but who are afraid to do so.
- The hardest part is starting. Once you have started, you just want to keep going.
- Learn basic language of the countries you are visiting, if possible. I wish we did take some lessons in Spanish.
- Basic planning is good but most things just fall into place and you will never stick to the original plan anyway.
- Plan your money well and acquire some money discipline if you don’t have it.
Travel is not luxury as implied in Instagram but it is the best thing you can do for yourself and no one can ever give you that. You have to get out and travel.
What is the biggest barrier for women who want to live out their adventures as you have?
Speaking for my fellow African women, I’d say society/cultural beliefs and expectations. ~Wamuyu Kariuki, from: I can, I will – Women Overlanding the World
11. Where can people follow your journey?
All images @Throttle Adventures
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