Route Description

Europe

UK – France – Spain – Portugal 

I plan to leave the UK from the port of Portsmouth, taking a ferry to St. Malo. From here, I shall bike south to the famous wine-tasting region of Bordeaux via the scenic Loire valley. From there, I will follow the coast for some sun, sand and surf, to Biarritz and on to Bilbao in Spain. 

I shall then explore the north of Spain, biking through the Picos de Europa, making my way to Santiago de Compostela, the destination of many a pilgrim over the millennia. From Santiago, I will head south through Portugal and then cross back into Spain to Sevilla and on to Algeciras in order to take another ferry to Morocco.

Sahara

Morocco – Western Sahara – Mauritania

Having been to Morocco on two occasions previously (in 1997 and 2007), I have seen several parts of this amazing country before. Knowing that this country offers some superb opportunities for biking, I am going to spend the majority of my time in and around the Atlas mountains. Therefore, on arrival in Ceuta from Algeciras, Spain I shall head via Chefchouen to Fez, the oldest of the imperial cities. 

It will be from here that I shall leave the labyrinthe of streets within the walls of Old Fes and make for the backroads of the Atlas mountains. The route will take me south over the Middle Atlas, firstly to Er-Rachidia, then to Erfoud on the edge of the Sahara desert before heading to Zagora in the Draa valley. The route will then take me down the palmed valley to the oasis of Agdz, on to Ouazararte and then Marrakesh, but not before a strenuous climb over the Tizi-n-Tichka pass in the High Atlas. From Marrakesh I shall head to Agadir on the coast; not by the main road, but through Asni and over the Tizi-n-Test pass at 2,092m (I’m hoping the views will be well worth the effort). 

To cross the Sahara desert, I’ll follow the Atlantic coast road south through Laayoune and Dakhla in the Western Sahara to Nouadhibou in Mauritania. From the lack of towns, or indeed settlements of any size, on the Michelin map of North & West Africa, this section is going to involve long days on the bike in order to reach the next food and water stop. I will be travelling with camping gear, but there’s a limit to how much water can be carried on a bike. Needless to say, thanks to the information posted on the Africa By Bike website by Luke and Anna who undertook this challenge a few years ago, this part of the route seems a lot less daunting.

Still following the road along the coast, I shall bike to the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott and then on to Rosso, St Louis and Dakar in Senegal.

West Africa

Senegal – The Gambia – Guinea – Sierra Leone – Mali – Burkina Faso – Ghana – Togo – Benin – Nigeria

From Dakar, the capital of Senegal; to Banjul, the capital of The Gambia – perhaps the perfect place for a break from the bike. Instead I shall explore on foot and public transport all that this tiny country has to offer – from the Atlantic coast resorts and inland through the mangrove wetlands and small fishing villages along the banks of the Gambia river.

Crossing the border into Guinea, I shall head to the scenic Fouta Djalon plateau where I will explore the region’s hills and farmland.

After a detour to Conakry, Guinea’s capital, and then south into Sierra Leone, the route will be east towards Bamako and Segou in Mali. Once again I shall leave the bike and head to the Dogon country for some hiking.

Resuming the journey on two-wheels, i will pedal my way south-east to Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso and on to Ouagadougou, the capital. 

The route then heads south into Ghana all the way to Accra on the coast which I shall then follow through Togo and Benin into Nigeria.

Central Africa

Route – TBD

In planning the route, I have consulted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for the latest travel advice. At the time of writing (June 08) there was no safe route for crossing from West to East Africa by land. The plan currently, therefore, is that I shall fly to Nairobi in Kenya.

If the situation on the ground changes, then I shall almost certainly cross overland – whether I bike from Nigeria through Chad and Sudan to Ethiopia or from Cameroon through the Central African Republic to Uganda will no doubt be decided for me.

Needless to say, the stability of many regions in Africa are fragile and the safety within a region or country can change almost overnight. I therefore leave my plans as they are, but I will have to be prepared to change my plans at short notice should an unsavory situation arise whilst I am travelling through.

East Africa

Kenya – Uganda – Rwanda – Tanzania – Malawi

Resuming the bike journey in Nairobi I shall head northwest towards Uganda, passing through Naivasha, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kitale before crossing the border. My first stop on the shores of Lake Victoria will be the adrenalin-adventure centre, Jinja before continuing onto the vibrant capital, Kampala. 

And so from the Ugandan capital to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, but not before a respite on the shores of Lake Buyoni.

Another border crossing into Tanzania should enable me to reach Kigoma, for a traverse of Lake Tanganyika (by ferry) to Kasanga and on into Malawi.

Southern Africa

Malawi – Zambia – Botswana – Namibia – South Africa

Malawi is a narrow country running the length of a lake of the same name, although disputedly called Lake Nyasa. I shall traverse the length of Malawi, along the shores of the lake to Lilongwe, the capital and then to Lusaka, the Zambian capital. 

From here I will cycle on to Livingstone, named after the famous explorer who was the first European to see the equally famous Victoria Falls, which I too hope to set eyes upon.

Crossing into Botswana, I shall travel the roads through the Makgadikgadi (try saying that quickly) pans and around the Okavango Delta to cross into north-eastern Namibia. I shall then cycle indirectly to the capital, Windhoek, via the Skeleton Coast (named for being the final resting place of many unsuspecting ships).

The final leg of the journey will be to cycle due south, past the Fish River Canyon, into Namaqualand in the Northern Cape and on to Cape Town – the final destination.

 

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