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Photo Friday Story – a Collection of Deserts

Amaya Williams and Eric Schambion are two ordinary people who gave up conventional lives to become bike nomads and cycle around the world. Since 2006, their round the world cycling tour has taken them through almost 80 countries on 5 continents. South America is the latest leg of their two-wheeled journey. You can follow their world bicycle tour at
Here they share a taste of desert riding around the world.


There’s nothing more beautiful than stumbling across some lost soul after a lonely day in the desert. This Sudanese boy was leading his donkey across a vast expanse of emptiness just as the sun was setting. I still wonder where he was headed.


Locals in Sudan’s Nubian Desert know it’s best to cover up to protect yourself from the sun’s harsh rays. They’ve also realized that a bicycle is by no means the ideal form of transport.

IMG_1429crossing the sahara

The mythical Sahara is easy to cross now that authorities have constructed a silky smooth highway crossing the desert. Long gone are the days when nomads guided Europeans through Western Sahara on their way to Mauritania.

IMG_1740-White desert

No, this is not the Arctic, just an ice-like illusion in Egypt’s White Desert. A fine alternative to the biking the busy Nile route where police checks and roadblocks are the norm.

IMG_1775-Camping-White Desert

Desert camping is the most peaceful experience you can imagine. Complete and utter silence and a night sky where stars shine brighter than any other place on earth.

copy-IMG_2924Niger deep sand

In Africa, kids almost always come to your aid. These kids seemed to appear out of nowhere and spontaneously started pushing me through a rough stretch of ‘road’ in Niger.


America seldom comes to mind when we think of deserts, but the great Southwest is home to beautiful High Desert plains. This shot with the wacky trees was taken in Joshua Tree National Park.

IMG_9956 northern Kenya

Unfortunately, nobody was around to help out when we slogged through Northern Kenya. Pushing through deep sand is exhausting and it’s hard to maintain morale.

IMG_1797-White Desert Egypt

There wasn’t a freak snowstorm in the desert. That’s another shot of the amazing White Desert.


The Sinai is at a crossroads between Africa and Asia. Temperatures drop precipitously once the sun sets, and when we passed in early January a thick down sleeping bag was a must.


These Malian boys jumped out at as we cycled through the Sahel. The youngsters had just undergone a circumcision ceremony and were covered in ash to protect them from evil spirits.


Namibia. One of the hottest places on earth and my favorite country in Africa. There’s no place to escape the pounding heat and you just have to keep turning the pedals until sunset provides some relief.

Follow Amaya and Eric’s continuing world bicycle tour at

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  1. Great photos. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Susan Jones Posted

    Amaya, how wonderful to experience things like those little Mali boys!

  3. How much water do you carry on your desert rides?

  4. JoJoBiker Posted

    Hi Amaya,
    I’m a 24 year old British woman and I would love to do what you have done but I’m too scared! Is it not dangerous for a woman? And don’t you hate not showering every day??!
    I love what you do,

    • JoJo – this post might be of interest to you:

    • I absolutely HATE not showering every day. That said, you can get used to it.

      Africa is not particularly dangerous for cycling, but South America has some sketchy areas.

      There are more and more women who cycle solo and I haven’t heard of any stories where that’s been a problem. Naturally, you’ll need to take a few extra precautions and avoid some long, lonely stretches of road.
      Women are generally treated with a great deal of respect and are helped out when they cycle solo.

  5. Incredible photos – they really show how vast deserts are. Getting through that deep sand looks like a bit of a slog!



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