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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars African adventure; one man and his motorbike - the way it should be done!, 12 Aug. 2008
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This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
The strapline on this book reads: `Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure'

To get to this point, the place of being able to write an objective review of this book, I have read Into Africa twice - but not, I add hastily, because the author's style is difficult to deal with.

In fact the reverse is true, one of the author's many qualities is his ability to hold the reader's attention.

No, the first time I read this book was immediately after reading Sam Manicom's later work, Under Asian Skies.

The second time I approached Into Africa was after a lay-off measured in months.

And there was simple method behind my reasoning: I wanted to know how stand-alone Sam Manicom's works were.

Could I, for example, get as much enjoyment from reading the later Under Asian Skies without grounding myself in the fore-running Into Africa?

There are obvious similarities that needed to be dealt with:
· same author
· motorcycle-based
· adventure
· foreign travel to exotic locations

I'm very familiar with the genre; Moto Enduro, Jupiter, Lois on the Loose and the ever-charming Zen have all been books I've read and enjoyed (though on different levels).

But the question of being able to read a later work by an author without first reading the earlier one?

If I'm completely honest, there is a relationship between the two books.

But this relationship shouldn't cloud the judgement of the reader.

Each of Sam Manicom's books are worth reading for their own qualities, and these are legion, but chief amongst them - threading every chapter together in both books - is an underlying sense of purpose and quiet determination.

The adventures (and people) that the author encounters along the way are all treated as discoveries even though they are likely to affect his ultimate goal; these qualities alone set this book far higher than many in the same genre.

Last year the BBC screened a documentary called Long Way Down; it featured Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor and their motorcycle journey from John O'Groats to South Africa.

I implore you when considering reading a motorcycle travel/adventure book; please do not put Into Africa in the same category as Long Way Down.

Sam Manicom's journey from the British Channel Islands to South Africa's Cape Town is head and shoulders above Long Way Down.

This is the story that Long Way Down should have been.

Sam Manicom had none of the multi-million £ back-up; none of the support mechanisms with a back office staff in London `fixing' visas with a near unlimited budget at their disposal; none of the massively expensive (or expansive) lines of communication and...

None of the embarrassing histrionics or childish schoolboy giggles.

Into Africa is a book for grown-ups, for people with an enquiring mind, for readers who want to learn something interesting about the countries that the motorbike and its rider passes through.

This is a book for readers who want to `meet' some of the people along the way.

This is what Long Way Down isn't. It's also what Lois on the Loose isn't.

Into Africa is the journal of a gifted storyteller; a writer with keen observational skills, whose flowing narrative alone distinguishes him from his contemporaries.

For example, on one pit stop in the African outback:
Each day, the women would collect under a tree in the centre of the village. They would sit there through the hottest hours, fixing clothes and making jewellery out of beads and seeds. Every so often the jewellery would be lugged to the main road to be sold in order to buy such necessities as salt and medicine. The villagers grew, bred or made just about everything else they needed.

Do you see what I mean?

Throughout his marathon journey and despite obstacles that would have made many people give up, Sam Manicom remained stoically self-effacing, modest, practical and above all, entirely likeable.

He seldom judged, he observed with the skills of a behavioural therapist and, above all, he retained the ability to get along with people on every level known to mankind.

On relating to an aspect of village life in Africa:
Story telling is an art that belongs to an elder, a priest or as with the village in Kenya, a doctor. In East Africa the storyteller is rarely a professional as they often are in Northern Africa.

Sam Manicom, by his own very high standards, is a gifted storyteller who should, if the world had any sense of fairness about it, be elevated to professional level immediately. I would love to have my daughter listen to his tales as she grows up.

I don't entirely agree with his choice of motorbike (he chose a BMW and I'm a Kawasaki kind of guy), but because of his enthusiasm, his sheer joy at meeting new people in remote and sometimes very strange (not to mention at times, extremely dangerous!) places, I'm prepared to overlook this minor transgression.

So there we are then.

This is the book for the beach, for the tube, for the bus and always for the sheer enjoyment of reading it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the finest travel books I have ever read, 7 May 2014
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
Honest, inquisitive, charming: Sam is all of these and more, and he makes for great company as you travel with him through his four books. It has been like travelling with a friend.

Sam is rare as a travel writer in acknowledging that not everyone can take on these adventures. So many writers tend to claim that what they have done is possible for everyone, you just have to dream enough, and want it enough, leaving you questioning how much you want it and assuming that you haven't got what it takes. However, as Sam acknowledges, this is simply not true. Many people have commitments which they really cannot leave behind. This honesty and accuracy endeared me to Sam immediately.

Sam doesn't travel out of some kind of macho bravado, a search for miles and acclaim. So often these days blogging, books and sponsorship seem to come before a simple desire to travel and explore. But the adventure is at the heart of Sam's books. He does not set off as a mechanics expert, possess all the latest kit, he's not all about who can go furthest , beat records, or gain acclaim. He's an ordinary bloke on a bike. However, he's also very impressive. I can't imagine anyone else experiencing the kind of accident and injuries he has, and wanting to get back on a bike, ever. When I bought the first book from him he warned me that he attracts trouble, he wasn't kidding. Most people would have given up a long time ago, but he has a quiet tenacity and a curiosity about the world which sees him get back in the saddle. He makes shootings, threats and severe accidents seem like a simple event in a regular day. He also makes it all seem possible.

The books were 'un-put-downable' in the style of the best of novels; he's a superb storyteller and although the pictures were nice to see they really weren't necessary. His interactions serve as a reminder of how inherently good our fellow humans are. The mean spirited are actually few and far between. It's important to read the books in order, and the gentle pace neither drags nor rushes you. This makes for a delightfully relaxing read allowing you to take on board the interactions and benefit from Sam's eye for the quirky and memorable.

For those who are able to travel, Sam is an inspiration & his books will have you heading for the door. For armchair adventurers Sam is a wonderful guide, storyteller and companion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 6 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
I met Sam many years ago, when he was working in Greece. Obviously that made reading Into Africa more compelling for me. The personality I remember really comes out in this book - adventurous, thoughtful, kind, intuitive, fun and genuinely interested in the world and the people around him.

All those qualities shine in this book. He is a great storyteller and offers a compassionate insight into the many different characters and cultures on this huge continent.

A lot of the reviews I've read about Into Africa implies it is a book for bikers. I'm sure it's great for bikers, but it is much more a book for those of us who wish we had the guts to ditch our jobs, mortgages and credit cards and explore our planet while we have the chance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb motorcycle travel book., 1 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
Sam Manicom is something of a legend in the motorcycle travel community. Sam has done what many of us can only dream of - he left normality behind and travelled the world for many years on his motorcycle. With his superbly written travel books Sam allows us to share some if his adventures and allows us an insight into his rather unique, positive attitude to life and travel - I attended one of Sam’s presentations earlier this year and was impressed to hear Sam say that a motorcycle breaking down in Africa was not a problem, but simply the start of a new adventure. This wonderful view of life shines through Sam’s accounts of his travels and the people he met. His writing style is fluid and easy to read. I think what impressed me most with Into Africa is that Sam’s experiences are all told with a humility and a sense of humour, regardless of the gravity of the situation or, indeed, the ridiculousness of it!

I’m sure that many of us have every intention of doing the trip of a lifetime, but for many right now might not be the time to do it. Sam doesn’t make you feel ashamed that you haven’t done it - unlike some motorcycle adventurers, there is no snobbery. Quite the opposite, in fact. There is a respectful acknowledgment that we all have different circumstances, and for some it is just not possible to up and leave careers, family, kids, mortgages and commitments. There is no criticism aimed at the person who says, “I’ll do that . . . one day.” Instead, Sam connects with his readers through a mutual love of travel and motorcycles, and the basic desire to see what happens in other places and how others live. Even if you’re not in a position to abandon the mortgage and leave the kids behind, Sam’s writing will encourage you to view life experiences that little bit differently, and if you are a fellow motorcyclist you might find yourself keen to go that little bit further afield, even if it’s just something as simple as taking your bike on the ferry to Bilbao for your first European trip instead of lying by the pool for two weeks.

That is the danger with a book like Into Africa, and one of the reasons it gets 5 stars from me. It’s not just the great writing or the vivid accounts of people and places, but how it makes you look at your own experiences and how it encourages you to experience more. Sam Manicom is the real deal, and I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to him at many motorcycle events over the years. He always has time to chat with his readers and show the same humour which shines through in his writing. Even if you are not into bikes, Into Africa is a thoroughly good travel read . . . just be prepared to finish the book and want that little bit more from life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational., 10 Nov. 2010
By 
Ezri (Wales UK.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
I bought this book for a friend who isn't much into travel reading and doesn't ride a bike, but who did need a reminder of what's possible. Such as a non-biker buying a bike and setting off around Africa on the kind of adventures us lifelong bikers only dream of. Not to mention the fact Sam had never written a book before and openly wondered if readers would even be interested. Then produces a fantastic page turner!
It's not just the adventure Sam takes us on, but the way he tells it. His writing style is akin to sitting with a good friend and listening to his travel stories. I so enjoyed the way he described everything he could see, smell and hear in a neat, interesting way that really takes you there, before he whisks you off again.
I've read a lot of travel books and this is one of my favourites.
As for my friend, he was not only inspired but got into reading travel books too!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ditto the above, 6 Nov. 2008
By 
Jan Fry (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
I fully agree with the previous two reviews. I thoroughly recommend Sam's books, they're really are a great read. Can't wait to read the new book "Distant Suns" Keep on travelling, and writing, Sam.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an adventure,, 22 Nov. 2008
By 
A. Wilson "Tony Wilson" (East Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
What a superb read, I only intended to read a couple of chapters but the whole book got done in one go. I found that I could visualize my self in Sam's shoes but I would not have been able to put the experience into so many eloquent words. If you like a good read I can recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping rodeo ride..., 15 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
I love story openings that slap you round the face with a leather glove, wake you from your routine and challenge you to continue.

The opening chapter of Into Africa is just that. It describes a harrowing incident in a remote part the continent where things go badly wrong, but Sam somehow manages to prevent them getting much, much worse.

I won’t spoil it for you, suffice to say that the first section invites you to ponder how would you cope with the same situation, and what you might do differently?

The charm of this book derives from the fact that Sam is very much a novice at the outset of the tale. Not to travel, but to motorcycling. The early chapters include taking his test, buying a bike and learning how to ride it before scuttling rapidly across Europe and a boat to Egypt in the 1990s.

None of these things are to be taken lightly, but Sam learns as he goes; by experience, by failure and often by asking the right questions of the right people at the right time.

I admire Sam’s journeys because they are honest. He isn’t sat alone in the bush barbecuing road-kill with a 40-person film crew stood quietly out of shot. This adventure was not primarily a charity-fundraiser, nor intended as a potential revenue stream. In fact, it took many years to become a book. Sam simply went because he was inquisitive. These are real tales of self-financed derring-do carried out either alone or with friends met along the way.

Africa has a permanently changing political landscape, and the book captures a period shortly before the fall of Apartheid in South Africa and end of the Eritrean conflict, when motorcycling through Sudan was very touch and go. Subsequently, for every famine, war or disease that is resolved in the cradle of man, others come to add more trauma to the Dark Continent.

What I found reassuring is that Sam proves that any obstacle can be overcome if you have persistence, patience and luck; though it would be wrong to say he comes away unscathed. Never mind, chicks dig scars!

Sam’s writing style is vividly detailed; offering descriptions that easily conjure images in your mind’s eye of the full African experience from unbridled natural beauty to pitiful squalor. Hidden within the imagery are valuable insights about life, happiness and the pros and cons of different societies.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book. If you are ready for the pleasures and pitfalls of starting a massive trip taken from absolute zero then Into Africa is a gripping rodeo ride.

Be warned, Sam’s journey didn’t stop at the Cape and you won’t want to either. There are three more books explaining what happens next…
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspirational Adventure Across Africa, 18 Jun. 2011
By 
J.Espresso (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
The first of four books chronicling author Sam Manicom's eight year motorcycling odyssey across the globe, Into Africa is simultaneously a daring and adventurous two wheeled trek across that continent, and a deeply interpersonal journey filled with keen observations and some gorgeous and at times (when called for) detailed descriptive writing.

In full disclosure, I met Sam on this trip and we have maintained a warm relationship since, despite his nearly killing me in Tanzania (I'm John, the American bloke who was with him for the motorcycle accident in Tanzania, chronicled in the first chapter). That said, I would give Into Africa a five star review regardless of who was writing it, as it is quite simply a fantastic read and a stunning achievement.

Deciding to "live the dream", Sam Manicom chucks his retail job in the UK for the ride of a lifetime. An amateur motorcyclist at the beginning and filled with many of the doubts any of us might have had on undertaking a trip like this, Sam perseveres for a ride through Southern Europe, into Egypt, down through some of the most treacherous terrain in the world in Sudan, to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. In some ways, it's a wonder he survived at all, as along the way he is shot at in Sudan, temporarily jailed in Tanzania, and thrown from his bike by a Namibian pothole in a terrifying accident that lands him in the hospital. For most, this would have been the end of the trip, but for Sam, this is all just the beginning, as the subsequent three books which detail his continuing travels around the world attest to.

The beauty of Into Africa however are not the accidents and adventures - exciting as those chapters are -- but the off the beaten path interactions with the locals. The chapter chronicling his journey to a remote village in Tanzania, where the curious villagers allow him to stay with them for several days -- Sam observing them while they observe him -- is one of the most beautiful and touching pieces of writing I've come across anywhere. Interactions with locals as well as fellow travelers of varied stripes (and of varying degrees of trustworthiness) are what makes this book different from other travelogues and so much more than just a book about a motorcycle adventure in Africa.

Readers who enjoy this book will also very much enjoy the rest of Sam's books which continue the journey. Into Africa is highly recommended not just for those who enjoy motorcycles, but for those who enjoy cross-cultural experiences, travel, and who are fascinated with the world and the people who inhabit it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An adventurer on a grand scale...., 11 May 2015
This review is from: Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure (Paperback)
Just finished reading Sam's enthralling adventure through Africa. Sam clearly enjoys telling a story and holds the reader from the beginning to the end of the book (and leaves you wanting more).

Africa is an 'essence' - something not quite tangible, not quite explainable unless you've been there and seen it for yourself. Sam does a wonderful job of introducing the complexities of this vast continent to the reader who might not have seen it for himself and makes those who have seen some of it want to go there again. He comes across as an extremely likeable person - kind, courageous, modest, inquisitive and sensitive to those he meets throughout this exciting journey. Clearly, there were extremely difficult days when things didn't go to plan, or situations weren't easy, and riding a motorcycle in high temperatures is a continuous challenge. Any motorcyclist who has undertaken a journey through a difficult terrain will understand how exhausted the rider feels at the end of the day - and this was one long ride! Sam had to overcome so many obstacles and I'm sure there are many more to come in his next books.

I'm looking forward to beginning 'Under Asian Skies' and I know he will once again provide us with a thrilling read.

Thanks, Sam!
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Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure
Into Africa: Africa by Motorcycle - Every Day an Adventure by Sam Manicom (Paperback - 15 May 2008)
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