Turkana home of Adventures
They left their home in Bern, Switzerland, in August last year, riding bicycles for an adventure fraught with dangers.
But ten months later, the couple, Yann Roth and Chantal Lammler, is focused to get to Cape Town, South Africa, by December.
“If we get to Cape Town and we are still together, we will get married,” says Yann Roth, 38.
It all began in 1995 when Yann and a childhood friend shared dreams of what they wanted to achieve in life.
Yann recalls that it was a warm spring afternoon while idly lying on the grass and staring on the sky after lunch at their base when he shared his dream with his friend. They had been serving their mandatory year of military service and his friend asked him the time frame of achieving his over ambitious dream of cycling to Cape Town. After he had fixed the 20-year deadline, a heavy bet was placed.
“Last year, I thought 2014 is getting nigh so I asked the woman in my life if she is willing to join me on this crazy trip and she said yes!” explains Yann excitedly in spite of the fatigue betrayed by his red eyes.
“No, actually the first day we met he told me of his plan and as much as I had not given it much thought then, I liked it. So when the time came, I joined him and here we are,” interjects Chantal, who looks equally tired.
At the time of our meeting, it was their second day in Kenya after cycling into the country from Ethiopia through the border on the Merille inhabited region to the West of River Omo and on the northern shores of Lake Turkana.
“There is a huge relieving change ever since we entered Kenya. People are friendlier, less curious and they speak English,” Chantal says while scanning the sunset crowd at the Splash Hotel in Lodwar where they were to spend their night.
“It was great to meet a people you could interact with. Kenyans keep abreast with what is happening elsewhere in the world, they know of Joseph Kony, the progress of Obama’s campaigns in the US, and of the newly elected President of France, Francois Hollande,” adds Yann, who speaks French, English, German, and Arabic.
After leaving Switzerland, they cycled down to Italy, Greece, flew over Syria into Jordan because of the unrests then cycled from Jordan to Israel. They then entered Africa through Egypt. They cycled through the pyramids in Luxor and into Sudan before entering Ethiopia, avoiding of South Sudan, citing fighting as a reason for opting to skip Africa’s youngest nation.
“We do an average of 70km per day except while doing the mountainous regions like Western Ethiopia. We are only allowed one flight back home in case of an emergency but then we have to come back and complete the journey,” explains Yann, with a tone of finality in his voice. They say the heat in Sudan slowed them down for they couldn’t cycle between noon and 5am. Their load was heavier during this stretch since they had to carry a lot of water as each one of them would consume up to seven litres per day.
“One would gulp down seven litres of water and only pause to pee twice!” says an amused Chantal, a lecturer in Nursing at a University in Zurich, Switzerland.
In spite of the harsh weather conditions in some regions, they say they have been lucky since they had few instances of slight illness and mechanical breakdowns.
“We sort of complement each other, she is the medic and I am the mechanic,” says Yann, a Mechanical Engineer in Bern, the administrative capital of Switzerland.
The couple says that cycling gives them a chance to interact with people, to feel the heat of the region and to live in the same conditions as the people.
“Hoping from point A to B by plane or in a box metal in the form of a car denies one all these beautiful experiences,” explains Yann.
“In tourist sites people are money oriented and modify their mannerisms because we are tourists and they would want to please us. The genuine people are those outside the tourist sites, for example the farmer you stop to ask directions,” adds Chantal.
The photos on their blog http://www.perradanskapdergutenhoffnung.blogspot.com attests to this. They have photos of nature, people and themselves at different stages of their journey.