West Africa en Vélo
Join us on this unique cycling expedition and explore West Africa from Casablanca to Cape Coast. Clocking in at just over 2 months and 6,200 km, riders on this adventure will spin across Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire & Ghana. The route will take them through the High Atlas Mountains, the Sahara Desert and past colourful coastal fishing villages before turning inland and heading into the African interior.
Here the cyclists will pedal past ancient baobabs and plunging waterfalls as they head up into Guinea’s Fouta Djalon, a gassy plateau crisscrossed by canyons and valleys. Very few Western cyclists, if any, have ridden through these isolated areas and the participants will experience the real, rural Africa. The remote and rough jungle roads mean that rivers will be crossed, not by bridges, but by canoes and non-motorized ferries.
The riders then head back along some challenging roads toward the coast and into Sierra Leone where they enjoy a couple of well-deserved rest days in Freetown. Refreshed by the city’s vibrant music scene, the cyclists pedal back into the interior, quickly crossing into Cote d’Ivoire and testing their mettle on some incredibly scenic roads. Finally, they will spin down to the aptly named Coconut Coast and follow the crashing waves towards Ghana’s historic Cape Coast and the end of this amazing cycling adventure.
Rest days are scheduled to allow the riders to enjoy the best of West African culture: the spice souk in Marrakech, the fish market in Nouakchott, beach soccer in Dakar, families flying kites on Freetown’s Lumley Beach, the world’s largest basilica in Yamoussoukro and the haunting slave museum in Cape Coast.
This section begins in legendary Casablanca. After spending a few days exploring the city’s incredible Hassan II Mosque and feasting on fresh seafood on the Boulevard de la Corniche, the riders will pedal south, up, up and into the High Atlas Mountains to the pink city of Marrakesh. A rest day allows the tired riders to enjoy some of the city’s street theatre before they jump back on their bikes and head downhill towards the beach town of Agadir. On the way they stop for a night in the red clay walled city of Taroudannt.
Spinning south the riders now enter the disputed region of Western Sahara, one of the world’s least populated areas. On their right the cyclists will see the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean while on their left, they will gaze at the endless arid, expanse of the Sahara Desert which stretches all the way east across the African continent. The section comes to a close in Dakhla, an isolated outpost that features excellent surfing, fishing and a surprising good selection of restaurants and hotels.
This section begins in Dakhla, situated on a picturesque peninsula just north of the Tropic of Cancer. From here the riders will spin back to the mainland and turn their wheels south towards the border with Mauritania, one of the planet’s least visited countries and one that combines the culture of the Arab north with the African south. A 6 day stretch following the Atlantic Coast is briefly interrupted by the appearance of the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, a World Heritage listed park that is a vital breeding ground and rest stop for migratory birds flying to and from Europe and South Africa.
The cyclists will have a chance to rest their tired legs during a day off in the nation’s capital, Nouakchott, although they may want to visit the city’s fish market, one of the most lively and colourful in Africa. A 3 day ride now takes the riders out of the Sahara and into the next country on the route, Senegal. First stop is Saint Louis, the site of the first French settlement in West Africa and blessed with some stunning colonial architecture. Next up is the Desert de Lompoul where the riders will cycle on the beach and camp out on some huge sand dunes. Finally the cyclists will visit the pink waters of Lac Rose before pulling into Dakar and the end of this diverse section.
This exciting section begins in historic Dakar, the westernmost point in Africa. After enjoying some restful days on the city’s beautiful beaches playing soccer with the locals or just sun-bathing, the riders will spin inland, away from the Atlantic Ocean. Four days of cycling past ancient baobabs and immense termite mounds brings the riders to the border with Guinea. The roads now get rougher and the villages more isolated as the cyclists begin to climb up into the Fouta Djalon, a grassy plateau crisscrossed by canyons and valleys.
Very few Western cyclists, if any, have ridden through these isolated areas and the participants will experience the real, rural Africa. The remote and rough jungle roads mean that rivers will be crossed, not by bridges, but by canoes and non-motorized ferries. The riders then head back along some challenging roads toward the coast and into Sierra Leone where the section comes to a close in the capital city of Freetown.
This section begins in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, and home to one of the world’s most vibrant music scenes. A 3 day ride brings the cyclists to a rest day at Tiwai Island located in a wildlife sanctuary on the Moa River. The route then crosses back into Guinea before heading east through a vast area of streams and forests. Keep an eye open for elephants. Riders now cross into Cote d’Ivoire and 4 days later pull into Yamoussoukro, the country’s capital and one of Africa’s strangest cities.
Created out of a small village in 1983, it features empty freeways, the world’s largest basilica and a presidential palace surrounded by man-eating crocodiles! After a day of sightseeing the riders will head through the lush countryside and friendly villages towards the beaches of the country’s southern coast. At the water’s edge, they will turn their wheels east and spin past endless coconut and palm trees towards Ghana and the end of this section in Cape Coast, once the largest slave-trading centre in West Africa.