After over 12 months and almost 95,000 kilometers on our KTM 1190 ADVENTURE Rs, the feeling of having arrived at the southernmost point of the American continent doesn’t feel real: in six weeks our journey will come to an end and we are off home … in some ways nice, but also a real shame … we could carry on riding forever!
Our remaining time budget doesn’t leave much room for detours, which is why we are shipping both our KTM 1190 ADVENTURE Rs from Buenos Aires to the Canary Islands. A thorough service provided by KTM dealer Alvaro, then we start our last stage with “island hopping”.
We want to ride the six main Canary Islands. All of the islands are of volcanic origin, but each island has its own unique characteristics; its own charm. The ferry connections between them are straightforward.
The Canaries score highly with their perfect climate for motorcycle riding (sunshine with a cool sea breeze), tremendous scenic variety, winding, narrow roads, and good offroad opportunities.
We start on Tenerife, where we take on Spain’s tallest mountain straight away: The 3,718-meter-high volcanic peak of Mount Teide protrudes from a thick blanket of cloud, surrounded by colorful lava flows and exotic flora slowly reconquering the raw landscape. The Teide volcano is the symbol of Tenerife and a natural monument: Its high peak and beautiful conical shape can even be seen easily from the neighboring islands.
A volcanic eruption in 1706 destroyed the village of Garachico on Tenerife’s northern coast (from where the island’s Malvasia wine was shipped to England), but its residents rebuilt the village on the lava that had flowed into the sea. The medieval-style houses are still surrounded by vineyards today and draw a romantic contrast to the ungainly concrete hotels on the island’s sandy southwestern coast.
Much smaller than Tenerife is the almost perfectly circular island of La Gomera. While the sheltered south coast is very brown and dry, dense green laurel forests grow in the national park around the island’s peak. Due to the constant fog up there, the tree trunks are overgrown with moss and lichen trails from the unkempt branches.
When departing for the northern coast, the view into the “Valle Gran Rey” valley fascinates us, with its artistically terraced slopes covered in palm trees. La Gomera’s winding coastal roads lead to picturesque places, through enormous banana plantations (we had our first taste of banana wine), and boast panoramic views, including of Tenerife’s Mount Teide.
La Palma is a green island, also called “La Bonita”, and is full of blossoms and dense pine forests. A long mountain ridge containing an enormous crater stretches right across the island. All around the island’s peak, observatories, huge parabolic mirrors, and telescopes from research stations from all over the world are lined up, bathed in the radiant yellow of the early summer’s broom flowers all around.
The winding scenic road is a dream for every photographer-come-motorcycle rider and with a little effort and curiosity, you can discover detours onto little-travelled dirt tracks and stony paths that our KTM ADVENTUREs are always drawn to.
Offroading is hungry work, so we taste some of the Canaries’ culinary specialties prepared by the locals: Gofio, roasted barley flour, that comes in several variations: sweet or spicy, cold or hot – in any case very satisfying!
The ferry journey is a little longer from La Palma to Gran Canaria; the island that has the extended sand-dune beaches of its south coast to thank for its image as a tourist hot spot, while the vast mountainous region at the island’s center provides perfect conditions for motorcycle tours. Charming mountain villages are perfect for a pit stop or a cool overnight stay.
Fuerteventura is a bare, barren desert island over which the strong wind (or “fuerte viento” in Spanish) that gave it its name normally sweeps. A paradise for surfers and offroad lovers like us. We ride over beaches and especially the scarcely populated center of the island, where endless dust and stony tracks wend their way through the mostly orange hills.
Fuerteventura is peppered with pretty windmills, pleasant country inns and the pedantic police patrols renowned beyond Spain’s borders, that give us our first and only ticket of the world trip – annoyingly!
Just a short hop and we are onto the sixth Canary Island of Lanzarote, the black fire island whose landscape is reminiscent of the moon. Highlights include the grapevines growing in the black lava, a cactus garden laid out in the shape of a Greek theater and the “fire mountains”, a bizarre volcanic landscape and national park.
Despite having limited time, we also want to go to the African continent – even if we can’t cross it, we want experience part of it. Neighboring the Canaries, Morocco fits into the route perfectly – however it can only be reached by getting a ferry from Spain, as there is no direct connection between the Canaries and Morocco.
A long ferry journey is therefore required to get the short ferry trip from Algeciras past Gibraltar to Tangier – this catapults us not only onto a new continent, but into a completely different world.
The town of Asilah on Morocco’s west coast is a beautiful spot – its well-maintained old town behind gleaming white city walls invites you to take a relaxed stroll. The annual festival of culture attracts numerous artists – the white walls of the old town are painted in bright colors – and you can watch many artists at work. As soon as the sun goes down, the whole town is on their feet; here you live, eat, and chat on the street, the traffic rolls through the alleys fender to fender and in these holiday months residents are joined by many visitors, especially those of Moroccan descent now living in France.
We also meet very friendly and helpful people in Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains, a mountain range parallel to the Mediterranean coast. Many Berbers live in these mountains and come regularly to Chefchaouen, the “Blue City”, where they sell their wares on the market or have their photo taken with tourists in their brightly colored traditional dress for a few Dirham. A new phenomenon, as for centuries, foreigners were forbidden from setting foot in Chefchaouen. We’re delighted that this is no longer the case, as it’s a very special experience, walking between the blue houses through the winding alleys of the old town, seeing craftsmen at work and chatting with street hawkers.
The overpowering heat inland soon makes us crave fresh sea air. We ride south along the Atlantic coast road, sometimes on asphalt, sometimes offroad (on single-track, endless stony roads) visiting the capital city Rabat and tasting sun-dried clams on the way – and finally arrive in the port of Essaouira.
This is the center of sardine fishing and we watch the early-morning hustle and teamwork of unloading the well filled fishing boats with fascination. Argan trees grow around the city: They are endemic to southwest Morocco, and being well adapted to the dry climate, they are said to have grown here for 80 million years. From the seeds of these gnarled, thorny trees, Moroccans, mostly organized in their own women’s cooperatives, mill the precious argan oil, used both for culinary and cosmetic purposes.
Crossing the high Atlas Mountains is our next aim and a highlight of our journey through Morocco. We choose the single-track, winding and little-travelled road over the 2,093-meter-high Tizi n’Test pass. This part of the Atlas Mountains is delightful and is largely untouched by tourism. In the little villages on the way we are welcomed with curiosity and given sweet mint tea and sticky desserts. After thousands of bends, countless meters of climbs, a few bridges, and a small reservoir, we ride into Marrakesh, the Red City.
Here we are finally able to wash the dirt and dust from our clothing, as this lively city is best discovered on foot and after sunset. It is exactly as you imagined it when you read “The Arabian Nights” as a child: a winding bazaar with brightly colored curiosities, old craft workshops (a sandalwood turner, a yarn dyer, a tannery – here they recommend you hold a bunch of fresh mint under your nose while you can only wonder at the exhausting, unhealthy conditions in which leather is produced), the famous Jemaa el-Fna main square with its food stalls, actors, snake charmers and all sorts of crazy and curious jugglers and entertainers. We drift along, enjoying the moment – with all our senses.
With Morocco now behind us, we are back in Europe and only a few countries separate us from our destination and the starting point of our world tour: Austria. Home.
The southwestern coast of Portugal is a steep and adventurous ride, sandy paths lead along the steep cliffs; but you don’t indulge in the splendid views for too long if you don’t want to fall …
We make a detour to Cabo San Vicente, the southwestern end (or start?) of the European mainland. With the lighthouse behind us, we gaze across the Atlantic and imagine that we can see America on the horizon, reveling in the memories of our journey.
Then northward through Portugal – including many culinary detours along the Atlantic coast – to Lisbon, the hilly capital. The nightlife of large European cities is something we haven’t experienced for a while!
We cross almost straight across Spain: Salamanca, Burgos, La Rioja to Navarra in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Along the famous Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James), all hell breaks loose with pilgrims at this time of year.
We will remember the mighty city of Salamanca especially well; Tordesillas steeped in history (this is where in 1494, two years after the discovery of America, what was then the “world” was divided between Spain and Portugal) and the pretty Puente de la Reina bridge.
In Puente de la Reina, we accidentally stumble on the town’s annual festival, where huge papier-mâché figures representing historical figures dance through the streets in procession accompanied by flutes and drums. The procession’s participants are dressed in white, wear red neckerchiefs and berets. A cool festival with lovely people!
The Pyrenees are far too beautiful to only be crossed once, so just like the Andes, we use the time “saved” by traversing Spain so quickly for multiple crossings over the Pyrenees.
There is no lack of impressive-sounding passes: Col de Somport, Col du Pourtalet, Col du Tourmalet and so on … familiar names from the Tour de France. Back and forth, from Spain to France and from France to Spain: corners, sweeping bends, climbs: pure riding pleasure.
Despite already having been on the road for so long, every good riding day is a blessing. Sometimes we stay in Spanish mountain villages with houses made from stone, sometimes in French “Auberges” with gray-plastered façades. The Pyrenees are also a culinary experience; we try lamb, trout, cassoulet (stew) and with the obligatory cheese board sometimes there’s Rioja, sometimes a wine from Gascony.
In Provence, the lavender is in bloom; the purple fields make for fantastic views. Unmissable right in the heart of the region: Mont Ventoux, a 1,912-meter-high, bare, windy mountain that’s popular among motorcyclists! We too climb to the summit on our ADVENTUREs – effortlessly of course with 150 HP, so we do it twice – one of the few places where, if the weather is good, you can see the Mediterranean Sea, the highest peak in the Pyrenees and the Alps.
Speaking of the Alps, years ago we rode the Ligurian Border Ridge Road on the French-Italian border on our EXCs – such a stunning experience that we wanted to relive again during our Panini World Tour. After all, why else are we on offroad KTM ADVENTURE Rs? We’re spoiled with brilliant weather and enjoy every meter of offroad riding and incredible views. Travelling homeward can be so nice!
From Liguria, we are accompanied by friends who have ridden out to meet us, along with a couple of rain showers in northern Italy and with a stop-off in Germany (for a photo break at Europe’s longest castle in Burghausen). To the applause of our assembled family members, friends, and colleagues who have organized a surprise welcome for us, we finally arrive unharmed and overjoyed at our home from the west – where we set off from heading east many months ago.
After 14 months, our Panini World Tour has come to an end and a dream has come true.
To sum up: 103,000 accident-free kilometers on our KTM 1190 ADVENTURE Rs, 360 days of riding, 2 x 6000 liters of fuel, 2 x 25 tires, 73,000 photos, countless wonderful encounters, experiences, and beautiful moments!
What did we discover?
- People are far better than their reputation, as we didn’t have a single negative experience.
- It’s a mystery why on earth anyone would feel the need to fly to the moon when there is such unbelievable beauty right here on earth!
- Travelling by motorcycle is the best way to get around, and with the KTM 1190 ADVENTURE R it’s by far the best!
A big thank you to everyone who has supported us – THE WORLD IS ORANGE!
Photos: Barbara Kenedi
Info: Around the world – Panini Moto Tour
Barbara Kenedi, a KTM employee in Mattighofen, and her partner Peter are on a round-the-world adventure tour. Why the mysterious name Panini? Because that’s the name of the couple’s cat, which is naturally placed in good hands while they’re away.
The keen travellers, who have been on tour with two KTM 1190 ADVENTURE Rs since March 2013, are completing the round-the-world trip in stages, rather than all at once. The first major stage led from Austria to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. Then they continued the trip on the Australian continent, starting in Darwin. This was followed by New Zealand and, as the first port of call in North America, the crossing of Alaska to the south of California, before they finally step onto South American soil. From there the couple travelled back to Austria with several stopovers in Europe and the African continent.
The marathon pleasure trip, entitled “Around the world – Panini Moto Tour” can be followed on Facebook, although only after prior registration.