UPDATED May 16, 2024

BY Guest Author

IN Tour d'Afrique

1 comment

UPDATED May 16, 2024

BY Guest Author

IN Tour d'Afrique

1 comment

Beyond The Bikes: Highlights From Each Country On The Tour d’Afrique


Benjamin Levin was the Content Creator on the 2024 Tour d’Afrique Cycling Expedition. He looks back at some of the highlights from the 10 countries the tour passes through.

The Tour d’Afrique allows riders the opportunity to tackle the awe inspiring feat of cycling across Africa. It is an exercise in endurance, mental and physical perseverance, an undertaking that many people will consider, but ultimately decide is too far from their comfort zones. Yet, to view it as simply a long distance cycling journey would be a disservice to the experience. The Tour d’Afrique offers people the unique chance to traverse the highways and byways of 10 African countries, to not only experience what cycling there is all about but to also immerse themselves in what it is like to be in Africa. Here are some of the highlights off the saddle and beyond the biking, that riders experienced on the 2024 Tour d’Afrique.


Top Highlight – The historic sites

Pam and Benjamin in one of the temples around the Luxor area

It should come as no surprise that one of the greatest experiences of cycling through Egypt was being able to explore the history in the different places that we visited. In Egypt, history is omnipresent. Our hotel in Cairo overlooked the Pyramids of Giza and was adjacent to the newly constructed Grand Egyptian Museum. Being so easily accessible, these incredible hotspots of ancient history were not to be missed. Walking amongst those pyramids and imagining what life would have been like thousands of years ago was an amazing beginning to the trip.

Luxor was arguably more breathtaking than Cairo in terms of accessibility to ancient wonders. Many of the TDA riders took the opportunity on a rest day to explore the Valley of the Kings, spending time with ancient pharaohs and marvelling at the art and hieroglyphics inside their tombs. There may be no other place in the world with such a plethora of historic sites available to explore.

Honourable Mention – Snorkelling in the Red Sea near Safaga



Top Highlight – Mountain Gorillas in Musanze

Already well documented on the 2024 Tour d’Afrique was the unmatched wildlife experience of hiking with the endangered mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. You can travel to different wildlife destinations all over the world, but there is nothing so singular as being face to face with those amazing animals. “The momma stood up and the baby went right on its back and hung onto her. Then she went around and got him and was showing the baby to us, she really was showing him to us… it was like oh my gosh,” said TDA rider Lois as she reflected on her experience. If you are interested in finding out more about this experience, check out the blog, The Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda, from earlier this year!

Honourable Mention – How incredibly clean the country is!



Top Highlight – The amazing lakes of Uganda

One of the more unexpected highlights of the trip was seeing the amazing lakes of Uganda. “We are in a very lucky place to be able to cross through… we go ecosystem to ecosystem, geography to geography, and I think that is rare. You do not get that in many cycle rides,” TDA rider Wendy exclaimed when asked about what was special about cycling through Uganda. We camped on Lake Bunyonyi, a stunning lake with a myriad of islands interspersed about it, and according to some, the deepest lake in Uganda at 6500 feet (although some scientists would argue this fact!). We saw otters, an abundance of bird life, and amazing views for the few days we were near this lake.

We also spent a night on Lake Nabugabo, a smaller lake where we were able to swim and decompress, enjoying the views of vervet monkeys in the trees (less so when they were in our tents) and watching a stunning sunrise over the water. And of course, there was Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and a source of life for humans for tens of thousands of years. We stayed on the peaceful and relaxing Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria, explored the source of the Nile River from our camp in Jinga, and were wowed by the unique birds and the diversity of lifestyles of the people living in and around this huge lake.

Honourable Mention – The local ferry rides on Lake Victoria



Top Highlight – Cycling and Camping under Kilimanjaro

A ride under Mt. Kilimanjaro in our last Kenyan camp

We may be cheating a bit on this one, moving away from our theme of no cycling; however, it is too good to leave out. Kilimanjaro, the iconic mountain (which is actually in Tanzania), is such a striking highlight of this trip that I could not forego talking about cycling around it. After a month in East Africa, where the tour winds through the mountains and lakes of Rwanda and Uganda, getting to Kilimanjaro felt like reaching a major landmark on our trip. “We climbed Kilimanjaro 20 years ago, but we have never experienced anything like this,” said TDA rider Anna Baldwin at one of our bush camps in Kenya. While not quite the halfway point, the mountain represents a new section of the tour, where we start a string of bush camps and truly experience what it is like to be in Maasai land and what many think of when they imagine being in the African bush.

Honourable mention – The views from The Great Rift Valley



Top Highlight – Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Two young lions in the Serengeti

The best part about Tanzania was confirming that Toto was lying, and you cannot, in fact, see Kilimanjaro rising like Olympus above the Serengeti. Well, not really (haha); the actual highlight was a three day safari into Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. Similar to the Rwandan mountain gorilla experience, these two bastions of wildlife conservation are so incredible that they simply cannot be missed. The Serengeti is nearly indescribable. You can watch all of life unfold there out of the side of your safari vehicle. In only a day and a half of safari, the TDA riders saw elephants jousting, lions on a kill, cheetah rolling in the grass, and the tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra migrating through the Maasi Mara. Ngorongoro is an area so highly concentrated with wildlife and unique in makeup (because of the microclimate the crater creates), that there is no place in the world like it.

Honourable Mention – The views (and descent) into Mbeya after a tough 7 day riding stretch



Top Highlight – Lake Malawi and its fishermen

After being in Tanzania and Kenya for a month, getting to Lake Malawi and seeing the lake and its influence on the Malawian people was fascinating. On every beach there were fishermen preparing their nets for the day ahead or hauling in their catch. Malawi is one of the poorer countries in Africa and talking to these fishermen about their day to day lives was incredibly interesting. Many of them were well educated men who simply could not find the opportunity to do more than fish to survive in Malawi. The insight into their lives, talking with them and watching them go about their business, was one of those striking experiences you have which makes you really appreciate how lucky you are to be able to do what we are doing.

Honourable Mention – The beer at our hotel in Lilongwe (real craft beer for the first time in months!)



Top Highlight – Victoria Falls and its surrounding attractions

A boat full of TDA riders takes on the Zambezi rapids

Zambia is a beautiful country, TDA rider Joost thought that, “the first three days in Zambia, the green hills, the scenery, the rivers… it was just gorgeous.” However, it is also tough going with long days of rolling hills and high temperatures. Once the tour reaches Livingstone, everyone is ready for those three days off and to unwind with some awesome activities. Riders took this time to really let off some steam; they went white water rafting on the Zambezi, took helicopter rides and microlite flights to see Victoria Falls from the sky, and even bungee jumped! This is a particularly refreshing time in the tour and these fun times prepare the riders for the final month or so of hard riding to Cape Town.

Honourable mention – The TDA Foundation’s annual bike donation ceremony (see the blog Elephants and Education for more information)



Top Highlight – Elephants

Gary cycling by an elephant on the Elephant Highway

The section out of Victoria falls, aptly named the Elephant Highway, is an experience that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Cycling the first 400 kilometers or so into Botswana, we traverse through a region of Africa that has an incredibly high density of elephants (our tour leader even says she saw 300 elephants in the first 300 kilometers one year!). Helen, who turned 50 during this section, when asked what she will remember about this trip when she turns 100 said, “It has got to be this section of Botswana where I might be seeing the wildlife.

Botswana itself has one third of the world’s elephant population and one elephant for every 20 people in the entire country. Needless to say, when you are cycling and a herd of elephants walks across the road 100 meters in front of you, it is an unreal experience. Of course, the riders are thoroughly prepared by our experienced staff on how to behave in these situations. While elephants are spectacular and generally gentle giants, they can be dangerous, and we maintain the utmost caution when sharing their space with them.

Honourable Mention – the peace and quiet that you experience because of the low population density



Top Highlight – Exploring the Sand Sea and Deadvlei

Namibia is unlike any other country in the world. Around every corner you are wide eyed with wonder; just as you think it could not possibly get anymore beautiful, you go around the corner and it is more beautiful! The jewel in the crown of this cornucopia of a country is the Sand Sea and Deadvlei tour that the riders take on one of their rest days. This tour includes a sunrise hike of the sand dunes and 4 x 4 access into Deadvlei, one of the most iconic sights Namibia has to offer. The sand dunes are surreal, some as tall as 300 meters; they envelope the landscape, covering over 30,000 square kilometers. It is one of the harshest, yet most beautiful landscapes our entire planet has to offer. Deadvlei, an ancient, petrified forest, preserved only because it is so dry there that the trees cannot decompose, is an alien landscape that only exists in this unique corner of the earth.

Pro tip – When you are at the dunes, try walking in other people’s footsteps to reduce the energy you use climbing and slipping on the sand!

Honourable mention – Everywhere else in Namibia. Seriously, it is breathtaking!


South Africa

Top Highlight – Finishing the trip!

That feeling when you are 20 kilometres from Cape Town

It might seem like a bit of an obvious one, but finishing the trip is the highlight of South Africa. The feeling that you get when you see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time and know that you are on your way to Cape Town, the feeling of arriving at the final lunch, knowing that you are just 20 kilometres away from the achievement of a lifetime, this is what makes South Africa a special place for the TDA riders. After four long months of successes and challenges, elation and exhaustion, joyful rides and flat tires, finishing this once in a lifetime expedition puts everyone in a wonderful mood.

Honourable mention – The final slideshow where everyone laughs, cries, and has an awesome time!

This trip is a unique and life altering experience and while cycling is the backbone of it, these experiences on the periphery of the great adventure are what bring colour and substance to the wonderful ride. It is a time in the riders’ lives where they push themselves to the limits of what they thought they could achieve, where they forge relationships and memories that will be with them forever. It is an incredibly special event, and these opportunities to engage in the culture and history, the wildlife and the scenery, are part of what makes the Tour d’Afrique special.


Tour d'Afrique

The trans-African crossing from Cairo to Cape Town has long been one of the world’s epic journeys and an iconic goal for global adventurers. Over...


1 Comment for "Beyond The Bikes: Highlights From Each Country On The Tour d’Afrique"

Absolutely loved following this trip with you all! I am house bound now but following this has made me feel a little of what it must have been like to have been there. (Although I slept in a comfy bed every night! LOL!)

Leave a Comment for "Beyond The Bikes: Highlights From Each Country On The Tour d’Afrique"

Your Email address will not published. Required fields are marked