Interview 011: Davide Travelli | Bears in Alaska, Love in S. America and Police in Egypt

Sometimes you meet someone, have a discussion, and wonder to yourself, “how are they still alive?” Such was the case with Davide. He has had encounters with wild animals, braved temperatures of over 50 degrees celsius, nearly got in a fight with Egyptian police, and much much more. Even through all this adversity, he has never given up, demonstrating a strong willpower to carry on and overcome the challenges that he has encountered along the way. 

Davide’s decision to cycle from Alaska to Patagonia began after he read a book by Rob Lilwall called Cycling Home From Siberia. This put the idea in his head that nothing is impossible and that he could follow his dream of going on a bike journey. Although Davide grew up as a cyclist competing in road bike races in Italy, like most junior races, he grew up and stopped racing. He then moved abroad, got a “respectable” job and never looked back. In his mid-30s, he decided to make a change and to fulfil these dreams and wishes.

I’ve been on the road almost 4 years. I crossed about 30 countries. I crossed the entire land of the Americas from Alaska to Patagonia, and I’ve crossed the entire land of Africa from Cape Town to Cairo.

Like most bike tourers, Davide decided to start his journey with tried and tested Surly Long Haul Trucker equipped with 4 panniers, and all the rest of the normal bike touring gear. Considering his lack of bike touring experience and that he was starting his tour in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, this setup was a safe option. By the time he reached Vancouver, he had two front panniers destroyed by black bears trying to get to his food, come face-to-face with a grizzly bear, and even being hit by a truck. The loneliness of the arctic, and these dangerous events brought Davide to tears on multiple occasions and even put thoughts of giving up this dream as it was just too difficult. 

After making it to the more populated parts of Canada, Davide started to meet other bike tourers, and strengthened his resolve to carry on with this bike tour adventure and to let it change him into the person he wanted to become. By the time he made it to South America, Davide needed to start re-evaluating his finances and how he supports himself, and effectively changed his way of living so that his day-to-day costs are next to nothing. He began to paint postcards and trade them with little restaurants for food, sell them in village squares, and also send them to sponsors around the world that are following his adventures through his YouTube videos, blog, and other social media. This change in lifestyle and recognizing that it was possible to keep on travelling, led Davide to deciding to continue his journey and extending it from being a trip from Alaska to Patagonia and making it into a world-tour.

You see grizzly bears on TV and they’re kind of cute and all, but when you are face-to-face, they are really really big, really scary and they smell awful. They smell like garbage.


Some of Davide’s experiences across the Americas include him hiring an indigenous tribe to take him by dugout canoe from Panama to Colombia. He describes Colombia as the Mexico of S. America, as it is friendly, cheap, and safe to cycle in. Bolivia has some of the best natural landscapes in S. America with jungles, mountains, plains, and the salt sea. When discussing Africa, he said he loved every minute of it, but that Sudan and Egypt were the most difficult to cycle in. In Sudan, it is common for children to throw rocks at bike tourists or to try and put sticks in between the spokes, and for this reason he actually bought a helmet for that portion of the trip and really tried to avoid large groups of kids, as they would try to steal whatever they could get their hands on. In Egypt, the police were very paranoid of something happening to a tourist in their district, so they would constantly try to push him to continue cycling until he was in the next district. This led to difficulties finding places to sleep and having to deal with angry policemen on many occasions.

In the end, Davide describes his time in S. America and Africa as a consistent series of encounters with some of the most kind and generous people he has ever met, is now in Turkey and is looking forward to seeing what it is like to cycle in Europe and how he will be received by people, and whether he will still be able to travel with just the money he is making as he goes. 

“Real adventure is defined best as a journey from which you may not come back alive, and certainly not as the same person.”
Yvon Chouinard

All the best Davide. Keep on pedalling.


Follow Davide on his adventures at:

Show Notes

~ 30 sec        Introduction to Episode 11.

~ 2 min         Davide introduces himself, 4 years cycling and still going

~ 5m30s       What made him decide to do a bike tour from Alaska to Patagonia, reading Cycling Home from Siberia

~ 12m30s     3 seasons of Alaska, getting food sponsorships, encounters with bears and wolves

~ 17 min       Cycling in S. America, Baja Mexico, the Darian Gap and ways around it

~ 35 min       Best country/countries in S. America

~ 38 min       How he got to Africa, getting a new bike, and what cycling in Africa is like

~ 42m40s     Almost quitting the bike tour in Africa

~ 46 min       Best places and worst places to bike tour in Africa

~ 57m30s     All about his bike setup and what he is carrying in his bags

~ 1h3m         How to calculate distances and timing when planning for Warmshowers, travelling slow, discovering the “real” parts of a country

~ 1h6m         iPhone exploding in Sudan

~ 1h13m       Making enough money to eat and travel, keeping the food budget down

~ 1h23m       Is accepting free food acceptable or is using peoples’ generosity?

~ 1h33m       Different ways people make money to tour/travel

~ 1h39m       Introduction of next episode


About the Author
Traveller. Cyclist. Expat. Over 15 years experience living abroad in six different countries. I've travelled to over 40+ countries and met countless travellers, cyclists, and other expats. As a passionate cyclist I've had opportunities to bike tour in some truly amazing places. While definitely not an expert at bike touring, I'm passionate about sharing bike touring stories and helping others learn hacks, tricks, and techniques to improve their touring experience. I look forward to you joining me on this journey of learning about and becoming a better bike tourist.

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