Mats Fredrix brings us his first report from last week as riders gathered to re-start the Tour d’Afrique in Nairobi
As soon as you jump off the plane, you’ll hear it everywhere. It’s simple, clear and warm: ‘Karibu Kenya’ or Welcome to Kenya’. And the Tour d’Afrique has definitely felt welcomed ever since arriving. The caravan had to take a rather unusual break mid-tour, flying from Khartoum to Nairobi. On a TDA tour it’s strange not to see your surroundings flow naturally from one scenery into another. That’s probably what made the contrast between Sudan and Kenya even more mind-blowing. Rider Craig, 78 and the oldest rider on the tour, said, “we came from some pretty austere sand dunes straight into a lush oasis, I’m really looking forward to getting the sand out of my shorts,” while enjoying some laid-back time at the Wildebeest camp, the rendezvous point for the big re-start. The vehicles had to make the passage overland, so it was like someone pressed the pause button on the tour for a bit.
Though this new face of Africa was begging to be explored, so the riders took the opportunity and spread out across the country like an eager flock of guinea fowls. Many took the chance to go on a safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve, “I saw so many animals, you’d be better of asking me which ones I didn’t see,” said rider Coco from Spain. “I saw four out of the big five, and all in one day,” said Josie, “it was pretty eye-opening stuff”. Though for a safari you didn’t even have to take a trip that far south, just a few kilometers from the campsite, all of Kenya’s wildlife is also on show. The Nairobi National Park has the added twist of getting a glimpse of the animals against a starkly contrasting city backdrop. It is the only National Park in the world that is that close to a city.
Some others, on the hunt for some sand between their toes, took a train all the way to Mombasa, and spend some sun-lit days peering at over the ocean. “But enough is enough,” said rider Craig, “I am ready to go, I am eager to get on my bike again.” And that’s certainly the feeling around camp on the eve of the big re-start. It’s been ten days since their rears have touched their bike saddles, quite long for a bunch of biking fanatics looking to make their way all the way down to Cape Town. Tour Leader Colleen feels this is where the tour is really kick-started. She is, of course, kind of biased. A South-African native, she has been leading tours in this part of Africa for over ten years and she’s very eager to show it off to the riders. “Now the real adventure starts, now the dirt roads start, and the camping really gets into another gear,” she said.
It was a beautiful mix of fresh faces and riders and staff who had been on the road all the way from Cairo convened for the riders’ meeting on the eve of the re-start. The air was full of excitement, and tasted a little bit like a reunion already. The main takeaway, and it’s a big one: ‘LEFT IS THE NEW RIGHT’, as all the way down to Cape Town the riders will be sticking to the left side of the road. Day 19 of riding on the tour is no easy joyride though. 140.7 km will bring the pack from the bustling and traffic laden streets of Nairobi to a bush camp near Mashuru. With a couple of sections dubbed ‘unrideable’ and some ‘please guys, walk!’ warnings from Colleen still ringing in their ears, everyone went to their tents.
Our original trans-continental journey and flagship expedition crosses Africa from north to south, covering 10 countries in all. Beginning at the...