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With the Munch team through Tunisia
With the Munch team through Tunisia
Madness or daring? While other Munch motorcycles shine as two-wheeled cultural assets in museums, Albert Stehle chased his 30-year-old TTS and sidecar through sandstorms and bad potholes.
It’s like entering another world: Africa with its smells, colors, corrupt officials, cunning traders and colorful markets. Africa with its great hospitality. Which especially benefits motorcycle travelers like us. With an old but exclusive Munch-Mammut team and a courageous BMW conversion, Horst, Kiko and I arrived on the move and now want to travel through the desert. A tough test for man and material. The port of Tunis only haunted us after we paid 35 euros bribe to the customs officers. Finally we accelerate on the hot asphalt road to Hammamet and calm our nerves with a cooling airstream.
After a night under the endless starry sky, the old Roman city of Sousse beckons for a visit. In the souk, the city’s central market, the owners try to drag us into every shop and to force every imaginable commodity on them. The Tunisians are linguistically gifted and haggle in perfect German. At some point we flee to the campsite in Gabes.
The next morning a sheepskin seller speaks to us and offers his goods for sale. “These are not Heidschnucken from the Luneburg Heath “, he explains and has already made his first turnover with it. A thick skin now adorns my bench and ensures real comfort. The investment already pays off on the stage to Matmata. Matmata, a place on the edge of the Dahar Mountains, served as a backdrop for the with its cave dwellings “Starwars “- Movies. The interplay of rocks, sand and sun, the people with their animals, sights that are indelibly imprinted in the memory. Djerba, on the other hand, is a tourist contrast program. With the ferry, which is free for motorbikes, we get to the island and reach the campsite via a gravel road.
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The slopes take their toll.
We actually want to recharge our batteries for a day on Djerba, but Horst pushes us on towards Medenine. At a “free gas station “, which offers fuel from canisters, supplies are already sold out. Maybe leaked, the sandy soil is soaked and there is a strong smell of gasoline in the air. Only after a further kilometer does a modern petrol station with an integrated grocery store follow, where people and machines can refuel. And we have to, because now it’s getting serious: We are in Chenini, the southernmost point of our trip, in the middle of the Dahar Mountains. Gravel roads of the worst kind now follow, bumps and potholes as Munch has never seen them before. A local moped driver, whom we ask about the condition of the piste, says: “No chance with that thing there. ” He points to my team. 80 kilometers of gravel and sand have to be mastered. A detour would mean a 300-kilometer detour. So let’s try it.
The first ten kilometers of the unpaved road are easy to drive. Then the stones get bigger and bigger, the speed decreases, the oil temperature rises rapidly. The sidecar constantly hits the ground and the oil pan protection scratches the floor. Every meter is pure hell for man and machine. At some point a small hut appears on the edge of the slope, tea break. Then the first sand drift. Full throttle in second gear and into the bottomless sand. The engine torments, I have to go down into first gear, finally jump off, run alongside the Munch, push, on and on, step by step – until nothing works anymore – the rear wheel is frozen in the sand. All men lift the load, heave and push. At some point you can get out of the dirt with a lot of gas.
The Munch seems to have aged 3,000 kilometers every time it passes through sand. I didn’t count how many there were in total. While I am reassembling the sidecar fender that has been lost on the slopes, the others are already driving ahead. Shortly after my start, the next shock: A large chunk crashes into the engine housing from below. Immediately stopped and looked under the motorcycle. Everything is tight, but the oil pan has a big scratch and the oil drain plug is badly damaged. We were lucky, the underrun protection that was installed as a precaution prevented worse. I drive on cautiously, Horst and Kiko cannot be seen. The sun is already low and after five hours there is still no destination in sight. When does this finally end? We meet again at an obelisk that serves as a trail mark. Horst takes me in his arms: “You old Bedouin, we made it, we have reached our goal! ” My relief is great. Now only a few meters to the picture-perfect oasis of Ksar Ghilane and in the comfortably furnished Berber tent forget the exertions of the slope.
The desert slopes offer plenty of deep sand, potholes and falling rocks – the Munch holds out.
After a long bath the next morning in the warm oasis spring, we head north to Douz. The road is in good condition, but a sandstorm is affecting us. Too bad that my visor fell by the wayside yesterday, now my sunglasses have to serve. Douz is a classic desert town. There is a huge archway on the southern outskirts, behind which the Sahara stretches endlessly. At the local campsite we dedicate ourselves to the machines. The air filters are completely silted up and need cleaning. The friendly cross team from next door donates suitable oil for it.
In the morning, the next hurdle: As we have just finished packing our tents, the first enduro riders are already returning from their excursion – sandstorm. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your eyes, impossible to drive. Nevertheless, we venture out onto the track, leaving the enduro riders in disbelief. The storm blows over the route of the salt lake Chott el Djerid, but it is hardly possible to get there. A camera creakingly gives up, and after enormous exertion we are happy to finally reach Tozeur. Two pipes protrude from the sand in a palm grove, and wonderful water shoots into a natural pool. It’s just unbelievable: You come from the desert, and then there is fresh water in abundance that invites you to take a bath.
Meanwhile, the storm has died down to a mild breeze. We continue north towards Gafsa, visit the Tamerza mountain oasis and finally leave the desert. Sandstorms are no longer an issue, instead it starts to rain heavily. In Kairouan, one of the great pilgrimage centers of Islam, I go to the barber to dress up the city. During the subsequent stroll, we get ripped off like beginners. A guide wants to show us a mosque that is closed … We end up in his cousin’s carpet shop. He makes us docile with tea and biscuits, showing off one carpet after the other. Escape is out of the question. We are only released when I buy a carpet.
Because the chain on Horst’s team (the BMW has been converted to this drive) is in poor condition, we shorten our route to the north and drive directly to Hammamet. There the machines are given a final check for the journey home. The Munch receives fresh oil and a few pats. She didn’t need more for the entire 7000 kilometers. What’s next? I have a dream there: South America! With the Munch! But first she gets an oil change, of course with a filter.
A trip through Tunisia is an adventure even with a robust enduro. It is a test of courage with a valuable road team. In the south in particular, you can experience the whole spectrum of the desert phenomenon up close.
Free desert gas stations including advice are always a (low octane) experience.
General / arrival
In the north, Tunisia is fascinating with its fertile mountains and Berber culture, in the south with the Sahara with its salt lakes, dunes and oases. As a former French colony, Tunisia has been shaped by France to this day. The country has been successfully promoting tourism since the late 1980s. The best way to travel on the road is via Genoa. The ferry to Tunis runs every Thursday and takes 24 hours for the crossing. Those who book on site save money. The return trip cost 261 euros per team.
In the north the road network is relatively well developed and paved, in the south slopes predominate. Underride protection is strongly recommended for all motorcycles. In the event of a breakdown, the National Guard can help; shared taxis, buses and trains take care of public transport. There are motorcycle rental companies in the big cities, and flights to Tunisia cost from 260 euros. Petrol costs around 70 cents / liter, the octane quality is below European standards.
In the larger cities you can get a double room with half board in a good middle class hotel for around 20 euros. Cheaper establishments offer less comfort, campsites often have nice pitches, but disastrous sanitary facilities. The water quality fluctuates, a full meal in the restaurant with drinks is between three and five euros.
Map: Mairdumont / Maucher
Duration of the trip: 21 days; Distance covered: 7000 kilometers.
The official national currency is the Tunisian dinar (TD). For one euro you currently get 1.78 dinars. Money can be exchanged at any major bank and in major hotels. Exchanges on the street are prohibited. In larger cities, money can be withdrawn from machines with common cards.
Health It is recommended that you take out travel health insurance. This is the only way to secure costs in private clinics; state hospitals do not correspond to European standards.
Documents / security
German citizens do not need a visa for the first four months of stay, a valid passport is sufficient. Traffic in Tunisia requires extremely alert senses. Current safety information is available at www.auswaertiges-amt.de, information on restricted areas at www. tunesien.info or www.wuestenschiff.de.
Resilient: the Munch team
Resilient: the Munch team.
Even the best motorcycle cannot get through the desert completely unprepared. Albert Stehle donated 4 washable KN air filters to the 30-year-old Munch. He also modified the ignition distributor so that the ignition timing could be adapted to low-octane fuel, and installed an additional oil cooler with fan and an engine guard made of aluminum sheet. The latter saved the 100 hp NSU four-cylinder from being killed several times. Overall, the exclusive Munch and its rare Bender sidecar heroically cope with the extreme stress.
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