Kenyan biking couple now stuck in Nicaragua amid Covid-19
Many people by now know of the adventures of Wamuyu Kariuki and Dos Kariuki. The couple set off to see the world on 2nd July 2018 after saving for more than two years for the three-and-a-half years’ world trip.
“We first thought we could take just one year and travel but when we started planning, the time kept on growing.”
They also set up blogs and a YouTube channel; (throttleadventures.com) and (wamuyu.com) for their fans to keep up with their travels.
They did visit more than 20 countries, before the coronavirus pandemic happened and brought the world to a standstill.
“When we first heard of corona, we were in Panama, at the end of November 2019. We left Panama towards the end of February and entered Costa Rica. We were in Costa Rica for three weeks and that is when things got out of hand with coronavirus. Borders started closing. Here in Latin America, the borders had only closed for European countries and Asia. We decided to dash to Mexico but unfortunately the borders closed after we entered Nicaragua. Everything happened within a week. It was so fast like lightning.”
The couple knew that Mexico would allow them –as Kenyan citizens- a six-month stay as opposed to the 30-day visa renewal that they will have in other countries. Nicaragua is one of the Latin American countries that belongs to the C4 block of countries; Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
A Kenyan with a B1/B2 American visas can travel in Latin America without getting any other visas but for the C4 countries, one must get their visas in addition to the American visa.
“The Mexico visa would have saved us the monthly renewal fee we are incurring and the country is close to the USA, where it’s easier to get home. Like the free flight by KQ that brought Kenyans back home.”
The two wait for the travel restrictions to come to an end in Latin America in a hostel in Managua.
“Borders and airspaces are still closed and so we cannot leave. But we have already decided to terminate our travels and come home. We have been looking for shippers for our bikes so we can send them home. We have been able to extend our visa and hope it will last for as long as the lockdown.”
Before Covid-19, theirs was a celebrated journey. In a bid to meet personal goals and break the Kenya record of the couple most travelled via motorbike, they had come up with a list of 50 countries to visit.
Then, 45-year-old Wamuyu, a petroleum industry professional and 34-year-old Dos, a finance guru, got unto to their bikes and rode off towards Uganda. It was the thrill of the motorcycle that brought them together and it was that same love that led them down this road.
“We got married two months before leaving Kenya, so this traveling has also been our honeymoon. It has been tough, it’s not all beach, pool, and glam. We endured long days of travel, harsh weather, fatigue and burnouts. Facing the challenges together has strengthened us. We are never bored with each other’s company.”
For almost two years, the couple traveled to 21 countries on their motorcycles. From Uganda they headed to Rwanda then Tanzania to Zanzibar, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Lesotho. They also visited Europe touring Germany, France, Netherlands, and Belgium.
And also explored Antarctica and South America; Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and are now in Nicaragua—where they are stuck.
“The travel has opened us to more history and geography. Things we only heard about are now things we have seen. We have experienced many cultures and we will never be the same again. We can live and work anywhere, we can survive anywhere. Travel has taken fears and doubts away. We have learned how other people handle and do things. There is so much that we would want to see implemented at home. We have picked up many business ideas as well. This has truly been a learning experience.”
They experienced firsthand the changes in the world. While in Antarctica, the famous Andes, the deserts and the forests of Amazon, they came across mountains that have lost their glaciers, and became more aware of disappearing forests and forage, reduced numbers of wildlife and drying lakes.
So they planted trees, joined in cleaning beaches, managed waste disposal, donated, and made plans to be more involved in conservation. Now that Covid has happened, their wish is to come home and later embark on their second leg of their travels.
“Our families are so worried about us,” says Wamuyu.
“We have had to adjust a lot to make sure we are spending way less. We don’t know how long this will last and now we have to cater for shipping and flights that were not in our budget. On the other hand, we are not riding and so no fuel, service, and road toll costs. We hope to be back home before we run out of money,” says Dos.
Even as they set their sights for home, Wamuyu and Dos hope to continue their journey before not too long.
“We have experienced so much love. We have been hosted and fed by friends and strangers. We have made friends that will remain friends for the rest of our lives. We have visited beautiful places that have wowed us. This is only a pause on our journey. We will continue in the future.’’