UPDATED May 10, 2016

BY The TDA Team

IN Tour d'Afrique

no comments

UPDATED May 10, 2016

BY The TDA Team

IN Tour d'Afrique

no comments

A Journalist Rides the Tour d’Afrique

Thanks to a partnership with Ethiopian Airlines (voted ‘Airline of the Year’ in Africa for the last four years), we were able to invite a well respected Canadian journalist to cycle with us for a few weeks on the Tour d’Afrique this year.

I remember my first time flying to Africa was on Ethiopian Airlines and I was confused as to why everyone was in such a celebratory mood, and why Christmas decor hung in the fuselage in January – turns out it was Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas. Many of our past riders and staff have flown the airline to various points along our route between Cairo and Cape Town as they cover a great deal of East and Southern Africa with their routes.

Bert Archer writes about travel for the Toronto Star, National Post, Globe and Mail, and BBC, among others. In March he flew on Ethiopian Airlines to Dar es Salaam to eventually join the cyclists in Mbeya. I hear that on his first day of riding he got a little lost and ended up cycling some bonus miles. Here is what one of his fellow riders recalls:

Yes, Bert took a wrong turn at the first marked intersection from the hotel and went uphill for approx 5 km before realizing that he had screwed-up.

Not only that but to make things worse he had about 40 pounds of gear in his backpack for the whole day’s 162 km (now 172 km) ride and huge hills !!

A rough start for Bert, but he was undeterred. Bert’s plan was to cycle thru Malawi, and Zambia and fly home from Livingstone. Despite the climbing in Malawi and the long days in Zambia (on the Zambezi Zone, there are 6 stages that are more than 150 km in length) he enjoyed it enough to decide to stay for the Elephant Highway section as well.

welcome to zambia

We contacted Ethiopian Airlines, and they kindly offered to cover the cost to change his ticket. Bert recently returned to Toronto after his extended stay. This is what he had to say about his experience:

8nVrVEXFThe phrase “once in a lifetime” gets presumptuously thrown around a lot. But the Tour d’Afrique really is just that. You’d be an idiot to do it twice, and a fool not to do it once. East Africa often gets glossed over by tourists who come home with pictures, memories and stories that crop out the people and places on either side of the animals they came to see.

No chance of that here. It takes a lifetime to really get to know any place, but the weeks spent cycling at 20, or 30 km/h allows you the great privilege of becoming familiar with the landscapes as they turn from vertiginous to rolling to grand savannahs, as well as the villages and hamlets that line the great roads with their Coke stands and bike shops, phone kiosks and garages of panel-beaters populated by the people who make this part of the world what it is. And your butt looks pretty awesome at the end of it, too.

Bert’s article will be published in a Canadian newspaper in the coming weeks, and we will make sure to post a link to it as soon as we see it.

Thanks Bert for being a part of our tour, and congrats on taking on the challenge! Thanks also to Ethiopian Airlines for making it all possible.

lead photo from @bertarcher on Instagram

 

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