All the buzz from the Bumblebee adventuresPosted 29th August 2023
This issue we’re checking back with Northampton couple Lavinya Scholl and Oliver Gamblin to see how the last few months on the road have been, as they continue their epic charity trip around the world.
Sammy Jones caught up with them during a pit stop on their world record attempt…
When we last spoke with them Lavi and Ollie had ridden through Europe and into the centre of West Africa, where their beloved Suzuki motorcycle, Bumblebee, was about to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a container headed for Rio de Janeiro.
A nice quick trip and then back on the road, right? Erm, nope, actually.
“After huge delays in shipping, our container with Bumblebee finally arrived at the Port of Rio 12 weeks after leaving Dakar – we had been quoted five weeks!” Ollie said, “It then took us another two weeks of going back and forth with customs and the tax office before it was released.”
When they could finally get back in the saddle, they put their collective foot down and got back to the job in hand.
“We have since ridden all the way down to Ushuaia at the very bottom tip of South America through Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, and then, following the pacific coast, up through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia,” explained Lavi, “In Bogotá we flew our bike over the Darien Gap to Panama City to finish the South American leg of our journey. We are now making our way up through Central America.”
Highlights? As you might expect with a journey of this magnitude, there have been a few.
Reaching the island of Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of South America was a moment to savour: “It really feels like you are riding at the end of the earth,” Lavi remembers, “It is the closest place to Antarctica you can ride, but as you would expect, it is very cold and very rainy. Riding through the vastness and emptiness of Patagonia was also very special.
“We saw incredible wildlife including penguin colonies, sea lion colonies and pods of Orcas on the coast, as well as endless herds of roaming Guanacos,” she added, “There was a lot of amazing wild camping at the southern, snow capped peaks of the Andes too, with iconic skylines like Torres del Paine and Mount Fitzroy.”
They’ve enjoyed so many more spectacular sights and experiences on their journey; from swimming in saltwater lagoons to riding through a geyser field in the Atacama desert, and enjoying Machu Picchu and the Amazon Rainforest.
The fearless couple are documenting their journey online, and their affable, informative way of sharing their experiences are gaining them quite the following – they now have more than 40,000 subscribers!
“We are more and more feeling the support of our growing online community following the adventure. It makes it more exciting to film and create content and all the massive effort that it entails, knowing that people are actually interested in watching.”
If you check in, you also share in some of the more hair-raising moments of their journey – like the time they went to that aforementioned geyser field in Chile.
“That was a bit of a hairy day,” Ollie said, “We started in the morning down on the plateau with 22 degrees swimming in a saltwater lagoon, but then riding up to the geyser field we climbed up to over 4000m above sea level. By the afternoon it was snowing and we were caught in the middle of a lightning storm with nowhere to hide! We had to make our way back down lower as quickly as we could but it was very cold and the bad road was slowly vibrating the bike to pieces.
“Bolts were falling out and we had to reattach our front fender with cable ties, which was really hard considering we couldn’t feel our fingers,” Lavi added.
It also takes more than a raincoat and an umbrella to keep things dry during the rainy season in Ecuador.
“This season they had exceptional rains, so we encountered many flooded roads. On one occasion we had to be transported on the back of a truck over a flooded section of road where a lake had overflowed. People were swimming around us as the truck slowly inched its way through the deep water!”
What place has left the biggest mark on our couple?
“South America, it is just so big – we know, as we had to ride the whole length of it! “But also how wild, empty and surprising it is. We never thought that Argentina had such vast wilderness as the Patagonian Steppe, the world’s eighth largest desert, or that the longest beach in the world was in Brazil, or that Peru had sand dunes larger than we saw crossing the Sahara. I guess you never really know until you go.”
Quite how they manage to find the energy for all the travel and adventures, we don’t know. But it’s not coming from food – both are vegetarians and the choice is decidedly limited.
“There really aren’t that many vegetarian options for eating out, and often if we find something, it would only be simple rice and vegetables, but even that is relatively hard to come by. We are mostly eating from grocery stores and supermarkets, simple road meals like cheese sandwiches and packs of instant noodles. We do try and eat as much fruit as we can find, one of the benefits of travelling through tropical places.”
If you’ve followed our updates, you’ll know that Ollie and Lavi set off with a ukulele for added entertainment. We’re sorry to have to break the news that it has since gone to uke heaven.
“We dropped our bike a few too many times during the Africa leg and at one point it broke, so we had to start the South American leg without it,” Ollie admits.
They have now been on the road for more than a year, so both have celebrated their birthdays away. Both have been memorable, though not for reasons you might expect.
“Our birthdays were a bit of a disaster! Lavi’s was spent crossing a mountain pass in Peru where the temperature reached nearly 0 and we got hailed on… obviously wasn’t the plan but once you start crossing you can’t really stop until you get to the other side,” said Ollie.
Lavi takes up the story: “On Ollie’s birthday the bike actually broke! Can you believe it? We were on our way to the Caribbean coast in Honduras when the rear wheel bearing collapsed! It was also a public holiday so no parts stores were open to get a replacement. We had to ride very slowly to the nearest motel and wait until the next day. Our journey doesn’t care about birthdays…”
Ollie and Lavi are using their journey to raise funds for the Born Free Organisation. If you would like to make a donation, please visit justgiving.com/laviandollie
Keep up to speed as their journey continues by following their YouTube channel: Lavi and Ollie or catch them on Instagram & Tik Tok: @lavi.and.ollie