Rickshaws & Motorcycles: 10 Wild Rides That Were Worth the Story
When traveling without your car or usual transportation options, it can be a little rough figuring out the best ways to get around. Because we like to think we’re a particularly adventurous group, it’s no surprise that Travelzoo employees have pushed the boundaries of travel transportation.
We asked our fearless employees for some of their wildest, craziest travel transportation stories – and they did not disappoint. Check out below for some of the most exciting (and/or terrifying) ways to get around the world.
Kevin Kitchen, Senior Associate Producer
We were in the south of France and wanted to see Monaco and some of Italy but we were over being on trains at that point in our trip. We rented a 50cc scooter – top speed of about 35 MPH – and decided to drive. I accidentally ended up on the Haute Corniche – the faster and scarier of two roads that take you from Nice to Monaco. We chugged along at a cool 35mph through some of the most scenic landscapes in the world, with exotic super cars whizzing past us. It was mildly horrifying. Luckily, we figured out how to take the Bas Corniche on the way home – the seaside road that is slow and perfect for scooters. At least we had cool helmets!
Caroline Eber, Senior Producer
While in the tiny village of Mindo, Ecuador, I decided to visit a beautiful series of Waterfalls called Santuario de Cascadas. Everything I’d read indicated that a ride on a cable car was required to get to the waterfalls. As it turns out, the “cable car” was a tiny, open air metal cage that barely sat 2 people and took you over a milelong ravine. The car was operated by two local guys, charging an outrageous US$10 for the round-trip ride. One sat in a lean-to at the end, running the car off of a small motor and a stick shift. The other guy hung off the back of the car all the way to the other side. Needless to say, it did not feel safe. Despite my visions of crashing in a ravine in the middle of the Andes mountains, I am happy to say I made it there and back in one piece.
Megan Mitchell, Senior Producer
Dala dala are minibus share taxis in Tanzania. They are cheap, practical and everywhere. My husband and I lived and volunteered in Moshi, Tanzania for a month and this was our main mode of transport. It’s an excellent way to get around, if you don’t mind being crammed to the gills. It’s like a human game of Tetris to cram passengers inside … just when you think there can’t possibly be room for one more person, there magically is. Strangers hold babies, people hang off the sides, it was like nothing we’d ever seen. One day we took the Dala Dala from Moshi up to the mountains to a town called Mchibwe, and this was a ride we’ll never forget. We rode for 45 minutes on dirt roads, along steep cliffs – hitting corners as fast as possible to make sure there was enough speed and power to make the ascent. We held onto each other, took a lot of deep breaths and white-knuckled our way through and were treated to an absolutely magical day hiking in the mountains. If only there was another way back down. 🙂
Megan Crawford, Assistant Producer
I had a pretty crazy transportation experience during my spring break travels while studying abroad in Europe.
When all flights were grounded following the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption, myself and my travel mates embarked on an epic 72-hourjourney from Florence to England to make it back in time for our midterm exams.
After waiting in the Florence train station’s two hour ticket line, we were gutted to hear the agent say that all trains to Paris and chunnel rides back to England were booked solid for the next two weeks. The only other viable option: A train to Milan, then Switzerland, followed by a train to Paris, a train to Caen, a 7-hour ferry to Portsmouth, a train to Brighton and finally a taxi to the university.
In Portsmouth, news crews gathered by the ferry port as passengers off-loaded, eagerly awaiting everyone’s treacherous travel stories. After a solid few sleepless days of utter transience, I think the Portsmouth News reporter summed it up best: “Four American students looked shattered but relieved as they made their way out of the terminal building into the bright sunshine.” But alas, we made it to our exams!
Carina Stebbins, Assistant Producer
I got lost on a rickshaw ride in India! I was living in Rajasthan for 5 weeks on a service trip when I was 15 and every weekend we would take smaller trips to different areas. Our entire group was about 15 people but we would always break out into small groups in each place and explore. Not speaking the language, it was difficult to navigate different areas, but it was an adventure, to say the least. One trip me and two others decided to take a rickshaw ride around to get to know the area. Honking cars, many accident close calls and all sorts of chaos – it was certainly a “wild transportation experience” I hadn’t experienced before. We rode around for the afternoon, stopping around town, only to realize that none of us recognized where we were or had a clue where our hostel was. After the panic sunk in, we tried to retrace our steps in the same rickshaw and despite the language barrier, we quickly became friends with the driver. After what felt like hours later, we finally recognized the side street where our hostel was and have never been so happy to see familiar faces. Lost in an unknown city in India with no phones or ability to speak the language was certainly a doozy but made for a good story at dinner that night.
Jen Lee, Associate Producer
It was a tie for producer Jen Lee – she had two pretty wild transportation memories.
While studying abroad in Prague, my Czech roommate and I decided to hitchhike through Bohemia. We were supposed to end up in a tiny rural town called Červená Řečice where we were going to camp in an abandoned medieval castle with a bunch of her friends, but we ended up stranded in Nowheresville about 15 kilometers away from where we needed to go – in the middle of the night. The place was deserted, so we had to give up and call her boyfriend to take us the rest of the way, but it was worth it for the story. The town was enchanting and not many people can say they hitchhiked through the Czech Republic and camped in an abandoned castle.
We rented a couple motorcycles and zipped through the Sacred Valley in Peru, stopping for herds of sheep and donkeys, the incredible salt flats and other Incan ruins. Our friends actually crashed their bike on a steep turn, but thankfully came out with just a few scrapes. It was thrilling and unforgettable. It was like a scene out of Motorcycle Diaries.
Rudy Tomarchio, Assistant Producer
My dad and I explored Yellowstone on snowmobiles. The rental place said we couldn’t do the entire 140+ mile loop and see all of the sites in a single day. We proved them wrong, and even stopped several times. Still had enough time to see Old Faithful erupt, and to make friends with a lonely elk calf on the side of the trail.
Ben Jennings, Executive Producer
I wanted a North America adventure for 2014, [and] I also wantedsomething other than another “see the grand cities” tour. Driving, one of mypassions, and something adventurous were also what I was looking for. After afew months of not finding the right inspiration, I ran across the Banff horseride deal we ran as a Getaway in Canada.
“Trailride” conjured up images of well-groomed mountain trails. Sure, there were those. But to bypass the river (deemed too high by the guides) on the first day, we went on a “high mountain path.” This path was narrower than the horse, very steep inclines and declines, and a sheer cliff immediately off the trail to the left. I am a novice, beginner, rookie. I’ve been on an actual horse once in my life, 20 years ago. They put me on what became (on the post-lunch ride) an uncontrollable horse (the next day I had had enough, gave it to a professional rider, and she couldn’t control/steer/stop/handle him).
Thankfully, after switching horses to one that I had some control over, the last day-and-a-half were fun, scenic and appropriately challenging (easier stream crossings, not-as-steep grades).
Blaire Constantinou, Senior Associate Producer
Fraser Island is a 70 mile sand island off Australia’s east coast. We rented a Range Rover 4×4 and spent three days exploring the island’s inner pathways covered with gnarled tree roots and small sand dunes, like a scene out of Indiana Jones. From these pathways we popped out onto the large stretch of beach that surrounds the island, and drove at full speed up the coast avoiding waves as they rolled in. Along the way we stopped at the famous shipwreck and Lake Mackenzie.