Somewhere in the mountains of South Africa

Bareways, the personalized navigation service, is going to start a series about adventurers who love to discover foreign and hidden places with their vehicles beyond urban mobility. They are telling about their experiences on their trips and their lives.

Today’s story is about pro windsurfer Leon Jamaer. The 30 years old rides for Germany and lives near Kiel/Germany together with his girlfriend on a beautiful country estate. He has been practicing professional wavesailing for 7 years and traveled through countries like Norway, Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Morocco, Madagascar, Namibia, and South Africa to find the perfect spot.

Dunes of Denmark

He is in the lucky situation to be sponsored by Mercedes Benz who left him a V-Class to reach the spots nearby.

For the interview, we sat outside in the sun in the “prosecco lounge”, but we resisted this temptation and drank coffee.

After I was introducing Leon the Bareways idea he showed up many situations where he could need such a service:

“I am trying to keep my travel costs low. For this reason, I often rent cars that have low standards. I can remember the situation when I was driving with a rusty old rental Mercedes 300D on a dirt road through the mountains of South Africa. I love to discover the areas there.

Bush fires in the mountains of South Africa

We needed several stops on our way up to let the engine cool down even though we snail-paced. Beside the road, many bush fires didn’t make the situation more comfortable. Everything was heated up. It would be great to have an app that has known in advance and take us safely back through the jungle of bush-fires. (Note Bareways: We are working on integrating such data, e.g. from Satellite imagery or public authorities, to not get lost or interfere with the relief organizations or fire departments.)

Bareways map of Morocco

Another funny trip was Marocco. We rented a little Dacia and wanted to get a house from a surfer colleague who hosted us. We just started kind of green and thought we found a great short cut, but with time the streets got more and more rough, sandy, and uninhabited. The needle of the 

fuel indicator came closer and closer to the red area and we were in the middle of nowhere. Sometime later we came to a very small village with two houses and one mosque. Some people sat in front of it and we tried to ask them for directions. Unfortunately, we don’t speak French, but somehow we managed to tell them where we needed to go. A very friendly goatherd just sat in our car and guided us the way across the country. There are no marked roads. When we arrived at the house from my surfer colleague the adventure didn’t end. Of course, he had a 4×4 Jeep, which absolutely makes sense in this kind of area, which we learned afterward. He drove like crazy in front of us to lead us to the surf spot. We tried very hard to follow him with our small car fully packed with equipment through bumpy roads. We were sure to never get back our deposit of 1500 Euros for the car. Every bump felt very expensive. If we had the Bareways app we could check out such roads in advance and try it digitally with several types of vehicles. The app would show us which kind of car would make sense and would guide us the way through tough terrain.

Leon after a surf session

I am often practicing in Maui/Hawaii. In the area of Haiku, there are streets with numbers up to 5037. They are totally remote and hidden and ending without warning in the middle of the jungle. I am regularly scared there. It’s really in the middle of nowhere.

When I want to go surfing in Jaws, which is the world-famous surf spot with waves up to 18 meters, I can’t expect to arrive there without problems. It’s located on the edge of an abandoned pineapple field on the north shore of Maui. 

It is normally accessed by utilizing Hahana Road. The road turns to dirt and continues all the way down to the cliffs. About halfway down it spits into a loop. It is common practice for drivers to drive down the right side and then drive back up the left to keep traffic moving. But you can reach the spot only when it hasn’t rained for three weeks. My girlfriend refused the ride to come there and jumped out of the car. She is no scaredy-cat, but this way down is really very steep and frightening. And if you are happy because you made it down safely, wait until you have to drive up again…

Another trip took me to the south of Madagascar. It’s my favorite place far away from civilization. We reached the surf camp after about ten hours off-road with an average speed of 25 km/h despite a solid all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, I don’t have the exact coordinates anymore, but the route went through impressive landscapes and took us along many small villages. Mostly it’s better to take a private jet to reach your destination there because the roads are so bad.

To check out new spots I am using Google Maps actually. The satellite images where you can see the vegetation are very helpful. For the future, it would make sense to use Bareways as a single solution for everything. I am looking forward to the app release.

For me, it would be very helpful to save a map on my smartphone offline from a special region with a lot of details. It would be perfect if I could add my own notice regarding the spots and save it with the coordinates.”

Looking for a new surf spot on Island

Leon thanks a lot for your stories and your input! It’s highly appreciated! From your stories I can feel that the wave is your home. Maybe at some point, we at Bareways can get you safer, faster, and more enjoyable to your favorite spots.

 What are you doing next? 
“I am going to Viana in Portugal. I am coaching a surf camp for four days.”

And last but not least, what would you always take with you on your trips?
“My smartphone for having access to the internet, navigation service and wind and weather forecasts, my surf equipment, and my credit card.”

Interview and text by Melanie Langenmair
Photos by Leon Jamaer