The idea of travelling across Africa has been on the back of my mind for a very long time. Primed by glossy travel magazines, enticing backpacker documentaries, biographies of travellers and chats with globetrotters, complemented by my very own travel experiences through Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and, my adopted home, South Africa; the hunger to explore more of the incredible continent I am living on grew to a level that I couldn’t ignore any longer. The decision to travel across Africa was made in 2012. I promised myself to realise my dream, no matter how hard and impossible it appeared. Cycling, in the meantime, had become an intrinsic part of my life and so it was a natural move to connect with the well-known expedition operator Tour d’Afrique, to take on this adventure by bicycle.
Along with my dream to cycle through Africa came the innate urge to use my journey to help those far less fortunate and especially children. My goal is to raise 300 bicycles until May 2016 for Qhubeka, the South African programme of the World Bicycle Relief. Read on about this fundraising project at https://katjasteenkamp.com/qhubeka-world-bicycle-relief.
The Journey from Cairo to Cape Town
In the words of Tour D’Afrique………The trans-continental journey is crossing Africa from north to south, covering over 12,000 km in four months – a highly challenging test of mind, body, and bicycle. Traveling through 10 countries in all, we will cycle along the Nile past ancient temples, through the Sudanese desert, and up and down the biblical landscapes of Ethiopia’s rugged Simian Mountains. After crossing the Equator in Kenya, we will pedal past legendary Mount Kilimanjaro, to Lake Malawi, Victoria Falls, and along the edges of the magnificent Kalahari and Namib deserts, to the finish of my epic journey on home soil Cape Town, South Africa.
Starting at the Pyramids, under the watchful eyes of the immortal Sphinx, we will head south along the Red Sea and the Nile River in Egypt, visiting the famous sites of Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel, before entering Sudan via a new land crossing. After enjoying the desert climes and warm hospitality of the Sudanese people, the tour climbs up into Ethiopia which is renowned for its rugged, almost biblical, landscapes, its unique culture and cuisine, and its fast growing economy.
Having conquered the challenges of Ethiopia, the tour then enters more westernized Kenya, crossing the remote Dida Galgalu desert on a notorious lava rock road en route to Nairobi. With Mount Kilimanjaro looming in the distance, we’ll then ride into the verdant and wildlife rich country of Tanzania, and enjoy a triple rest day in the safari capital of Arusha. The tour then descends into less known Malawi, the “Warm Heart of Africa,” where we will savor the shore and surf of Lake Malawi and ride alongside some of that nation’s many cycling farmers. After crossing Zambia from east to west we arrive at the Zambezi river and wow at world-famous Victoria Falls.
The final month of my trans-Africa expedition begins in pancake flat Botswana where we are bound to encounter elephants along the road. From there the tour spins into Namibia, one of Africa’s hidden gems, and across its harsh but stunning desert landscapes. After crossing the Senqu (Orange) river the tour enters its 10th and final country, South Africa, a land of beauty, contrast and rich history. The tour comes to an end at Cape Town’s picturesque South Atlantic ocean harbour.
If you want to follow my progress over the next 4 months review my blog updates or social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). You can also keep up-to-date with my race results on the TDA website. Strava is an excellent way to follow the routes and distances I travel.
The below calendar provides an overview of time periods and areas we are riding through.