Nala and Dean: The World’s Most Photogenic Cat and Her Agent Hit the Road Again

Adventure Travel
Dean and Nala are on their way to Thailand. Photo: @1bike1world

When Dean Nicholson set off on a round-the-world bike adventure, the bearded Scotsman didn’t expect a cat to join him. But since a meek kitten meowed at him on a Montenegro roadside in 2018, the two have been inseparable. They have crossed continents, hunkered down through lockdown, and are now finally on their journey toward Thailand.

Making the best of the lockdown. Photo: @1bike1world

For two years, the unlikely duo rode Montenegro to Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Germany, and Azerbaijan. By the time they arrived in Austria, COVID-19 had devastated cross-border excursions.

Dean and Nala stayed in Austria for over a year. We were left wondering if their cycling adventure had instead turned into a full-time commercial enterprise. Cat puzzles and calendars featuring the irrepressibly cute Nala were flying out of the online store of their updated website. But more was happening outside than we knew. They were keeping as active as possible.

Dean took Nala for daily walks around the Austrian countryside. It was a strategy to keep her familiar with the outdoor lifestyle they’d resume when borders reopened.

On the other hand, Dean wasn’t so lucky. He had been used to cycling an average of 50km daily, and lockdown drastically dented his cycling fitness. Dean hasn’t let that hinder plans, though. Instead, he’s made minor adjustments to their route. Then, armed with a new passport for Nala, the pair resumed their adventure at the start of October.

Route change

Their revised route crossed into Slovakia, then onward to Hungary. Here, the pair are currently making progress to the Balkans, where they intend to overwinter. Once warmer weather arrives in spring, they will begin cycling to Russia.

Other stylistic adjustments: Dean modified his bike pedals to color match his panniers. Nala received a new cushion. For extra protection at night, Dean swapped his hammock from bright blue to camouflage.

Nala in Budapest. Photo: @1bike1world

They won’t cycle across Russia but ride the Trans Siberian to Vladivostok. Then they pick up the trail to Japan and East Asia. “From there we will make our way through Vietnam, Laos, and finally end up on a beautiful beach in Thailand sipping from a coconut,” Nicholson told ExplorersWeb.

The new route re-invigorates the adventure which captured our attention in the first place. With Thailand’s recent announcement of open borders from November, we expect a calendar featuring Nala sipping from a coconut to be available in due course.

Photo: @1bike1world


About the Author

Chasing Dreams Travel

Alex Myall

After 22 years in the exercise industry, offset by long-haul adventures around the world, Alex Myall found a better option a few years ago and has never looked back. She took a diploma in travel journalism, backed it up with travel industry certificates, then launched Chasing Dreams Travel NZ, her own travel agency.

Now she combines her love of writing and world travel with running her business from her home on the spectacular South Coast of Wellington, New Zealand, while simultaneously being mum to a gorgeous baby girl. She maintains a “life’s too short to do things by halves” attitude.

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