10 Reasons to Cycle Africa from Cairo to Cape Town
1. The Sounds, Smells and Colours
From the Pharaonic Egyptian and ancient Nubian civilizations, to the old Semitic and Cushitic cultures of Ethiopia, and, from the nomadic peoples of the Savannah, the Masai, Samburu and Bushman, to the diaspora of Bantu speaking linguistic peoples who journeyed long ago from West Africa to the rainbow nation of South Africa, the vibrancy and spectrum of the sounds, foods, and colours of Africa is something to behold.
2. The Origin of Mankind
Scientific studies now point out that we all carry a genetic memory. Well, I sense that I do. And you will feel the same the minute you land on African soil. You are coming home to where our original ancestors set forth on their own epic journeys some 70,000 years ago.
3. Cycle the Sahara, the world’s largest desert.
Just imagining yourself traversing its vast sands of eternity sends shivers down your spine. But today, properly outfitted and supported, and with more and more of Africa becoming paved, you can conquer the Sahara, Dida Galgalu, Kalahari and Namib deserts from the best seat in the house – your bicycle.
4. Natural and Man-Made Wonders
Start your adventure at the Pyramids of Giza, the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, revel in the crown jewels and manuscripts of the Ethiopian Empire, spin past fabled Kilimanjaro, spend a few days at the adrenalin nirvana that is Victoria Falls, and finish atop Table Mountain in Cape Town. Need I say more?
5. The Wildlife
Where else in the world can one cycle while watching out for ostrich, giraffe, elephants, and warthogs alongside and crossing the road in front of you?
6. The Spirits of the People
Despite all the challenges the continent faces, the people of its many nations are welcoming, friendly, generous, and always smiling. Share your life stories with a Nubian family in Sudan, partake in a traditional coffee ceremony in the highlands of Ethiopia, share a gritty shake-shake beer with Malawian farmers, and enjoy a glass of fine South African wine … or several … in the Cape region.
7. The Mystique of Ancient Christianity
Christianity came to Ethiopia in 1st century and on many days you will feel as if time has stood still and you are cycling in the Bible. From traditional frescoed Coptic churches to the colourfully clad monks of this original and unchanged religion, a window onto a unique world awaits you.
8. The National Parks
Did I mention the incomparable flora and fauna? You may be lucky enough to see the “Big 7.” Choose your park: Serengeti, Ngoro Ngoro, Chobe, Namib-Naukluft and on and on, or better still visit them all. Complete your journey into nature at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, epicentre of the Fynbos eco-region.
9. The Waters
Follow the mother Nile from Egypt to Ethiopia, stopping in Khartoum at the juncture of the White and Blue where two currents and colors mix. En route detour to the Red Sea for a warm water snorkel and a taste of dried abalone. Atop the Ethiopian plateau take a papyrus reed boat to the magical Island churches on Lake Tana. Then dive down and cross the river at the Blue Nile Gorge before ascending 1300 meters back up. Further south the Rift Valley lakes await, capped off by Lake Malawi, home to more species of fish than any other lake, including about 1000 species of cichlids. Revel in the sunset at the Luangwa River in Zambia, a tributary of the vast Zambezi River that flows into another natural wonder, Victoria Falls. Then take your final pedal strokes and raise your bicycle overhead in celebration alongside the shores of the rugged South Atlantic.
10. The World’s Number One Cycling Expedition
Since 2003 when the Guinness World Record for cycling from Cairo to Cape Town was originally set, the route from top to bottom of Africa has become a must do on many long distance cyclists’ bucket list. More than 550 intrepid souls have now accomplished this epic 12,000 km journey on 2 wheels. When will you join them?!