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Into the Wild

Easy riders on safari with Dusty Helmets

By Susan O'Meara

By kind permission of Kenya Concierge magazine
August - October 2012 edition

  They gleam in the daylight: they shine at nighttime. They ride like the wind and take on any manner of road, trail or footpath upon which you set them, be there an abyss, gullies or mountains made of stone. They saddle up beneath your legs like no horsepower you’ve ever ridden before.

They are Husaberg FE 390 enduro motorcycles. And Netta Ruthmann, the seasoned owner and guide of Kwa Kila Hali Safaris Ltd (which basically means anywhere and everywhere), has just bought 12 of these easy riders for an African adventure that’s as revved up as you can get. (Top rally driver Ian Duncan imports the Husabergs to Kenya directly from their Austrian maker, KTM).

This is not a trail-riding break like the masses offered in Spain, Italy, France etc. “Its completely different” says Steve Ireland, a top British off road rider. “This is being out there with the animals, riding the bikes steady and respectfully around some of the most stunning and breathtaking scenery you can imagine available to man."

Dusty Helmets leading lady strides into the café with a winning hint of a smile, a spark in her eyes and the confidant manner of a woman on a mission. “I'm the grease monkey, essentially” Netta says, teasingly of her role in the new venture.

Regarding all that Kenya has to offer, she feels that it’s like hanging a carrot in front of a donkey, but so much of the country goes unexplored. In Netta’s book, most tourists only see about 40% of Kenya when they’re here on safari. “Its the same milk run, over and over again. The idea with the motorbikes is to branch out, open up. Do something different in that 60% of pretty much undiscovered Kenya. And on Husabergs, we can go where others don’t. Or wont”.

Such winning fortidude and individuality in a country like Kenya is bound to lend success to Netta’s latest safari outfit. Officially up and running in July 2012, Dusty Helmets means to explore thousands of kilometers of off road trails. Netta adds with a wink, “The Husaberg is the only bike that has an engine that sits at a seventy degree angle. It makes the centre of gravity of the bike more stable. Its just mechanical genius and beauty”.

As such, Netta and her team will offer customized itineraries for novices and total bike buffs alike, including trips to Magadi or Lake Naivasha, and up to 10 days safaris to Laikipia, Samburu and Lake Turkana. Dusty Helmets aim: to unlock the uncommon, rarely–seen nature and nurture of Kenya.

“I want people to leave here with a better understanding of what Kenya is about, not just the wildlife, but the scenery and the culture and the terrain” explains Netta. “We’ll follow some of the migratory and trade routes of tribes like the Pokot, the Njemps and Turkana. We’ll stick with the off-the-beaten track destinations, outside of parks and reserves. After all, it’s an open road, an open country out there”.