Desert Travels was originally published in 1996. On the left, a new cover for the revised 2021 editions in paperback (£8.99) and kindle (£2.99).
DT covered the first six of my fifty-odd Sahara trips, starting as a clueless 21-year-old on a Yamaha XT500. The book ends about seven years later, following a fractious ride from Algeria to Mauritania via Timbuktu with Steve in his Toyota, just as the Algerian civil war and nomadic rebellions swept across the central Sahara in the early 1990s and marked the beginning of the end of the good years. Much of what I learned on those journeys found its way into my guidebooks, like Adventure Motorcycling Handbook and Morocco Overland.
Desert Travels – The Missing Pictures (remaining links soon)
But most of Desert Travels describes my ‘Sahara Motorcycle Tour’ of 1989. On that occasion I managed to scrape together five guys to follow me and a cantankerous Land Rover support vehicle for a month deep into the Algerian Sahara. Like it said on the back of the original book: five set off from the UK, only one came back riding. See map.
For the revised 2021 editions I dropped one non-biking chapter, changed a couple of chapter names, added some clarity, trimmed some waffle and have rewritten the French dialogue in English. The book’s non-chronological narrative seemed a good idea at the time but the following may help you keep track.:
• It starts with my first trip in 1982 on an XT500
• Then lunges forward to 1989: my month-long Sahara Motorcycle Tour which takes up much of the book. In the course of that account and elsewhere, I frequently spin-off on historical or other excursions.
• At Chapter 16, ‘Arak’, we flashback to 1985-6 and my first fiery crossing of the Sahara which led all the way to Dakar.
• We then skip forward to 1993-4 for an episode in Mali
• And sign off with a ride alongside Steve and his Toyota from Algeria via Timbuktu to Mauritania in 1990.