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The Tour d’Afrique is a challenging bike ride that spans the entire continent of Africa. 

It can be physically demanding and require a lot of endurance. The journey is not easy on the body or the bike.

THE TOUR D’AFRIQUE lives up to its name: a ride across Africa. It’s tough on the bike, and As I pedaled through the scorching desert heat, sweat dripping down my face, the road stretched out before me like a never-ending grey ribbon flanked by vast expanses of sand. We had already covered a grueling 50 miles (80km) but still had the same distance left. The sun beat mercilessly, and the wind whipped past us like a hairdryer, stinging grit. It was an unbelievable place to go cycling.



This began my journey on the Tour d’Afrique, a grueling long-distance race spanning 7500 miles (around 12,000km) from Cairo to Cape Town. The race is divided into eight stages of 14 days each, providing riders with four months to complete the journey. While some riders finish the entire distance, others with less time ride just one stage, which is no small feat. A team relay option is also available, and in 2009, I was part of a team from Lonely Planet, with two riders completing each stage before handing over the baton.

The Tour d’Afrique begins at the iconic Pyramids of Giza, just outside Cairo, before heading south towards its final destination. The exact route of the race changes every year, depending on new road developments, border closures, and the political stability of the countries involved. However, the overall pattern remains the same. From Cairo, riders travel to the Red Sea before following the coast road and turning inland to reach the Nile Valley. Here, they cycle through a landscape of palm trees and crop fields that have remained unchanged since Pharaonic times.


The next stage of the journey involves a ferry ride across Lake Nasser, which marks the border between Egypt and Sudan. In Sudan, riders are challenged to navigate sandy roads through the Nubian Desert, an extension of the Sahara, for several days.


Cycling from Khartoum through the desert was an exciting adventure. The long distances between towns required frequent stops at basic roadhouses, sometimes small shacks. To fuel ourselves for another hour or two of cycling, we enjoyed sweet black tea and glucose biscuits, an unexpected bonus. The journey was challenging but rewarding.

Upon crossing the border from Sudan into Ethiopia, we were greeted by a remarkable transformation in the landscape. The flat desert we had been traveling through gave way to lush, green rolling hills, and the straight roads we were used to were replaced by curvier ones as we ascended into the Ethiopian Highlands. These mountains are often called the Roof of Africa, and it’s easy to see why, given their grandeur. Overall, it was a memorable experience.

We had the unique opportunity to observe daily life from the vantage points of our bikes. From local farmers working in the fields to children attending school, we saw people going about their daily routines. Riding alongside Ethiopian cyclists was a memorable experience. While taking in the breathtaking scenery, we chatted about life in Ethiopia and the local bike-racing scene.

Our journey with the Tour d’Afrique took us to Kenya, where we faced even more challenging cycling through the arid Dida Galgalu Desert. During our trip in 2009 with Lonely Planet, a sudden rainstorm turned dirt roads into mud, making it a matter of survival rather than just cycling.

Thankfully, we found relief as we climbed into the lush foothills of Mt Kenya and crossed the Equator. It was an unforgettable experience.

This cycling tour takes you from Nairobi to Tanzania through beautiful African landscapes and savanna grasslands dotted with acacia trees. On a bike, you can spot monkeys, giraffes, zebras, and other wild animals that car drivers might miss, with the snow-capped Kilimanjaro serving as a stunning backdrop. The tour then moves on to Malawi, where bikes are a standard mode of transportation. Zambia also offers long straight roads leading to the classic African landmark Victoria Falls. The relatively developed countries of Botswana and Namibia follow, but long days in the saddle, including the approx. 129-mile (approx. 208km) ‘queen stage’ along the Trans Kalahari Hwy, and the possibility of encountering elephants on the road can make it quite a challenge.

The Tour d’Afrique is a cycling journey that takes riders through stunning landscapes. The last leg of the journey passes through South Africa, featuring off-road adventures in Namaqualand and the Cederberg mountains. The ride ends in Cape Town, passing by the iconic Table Mountain.

Riding a bike allows you to spot wild animals like monkeys, giraffes, zebras, and others that car drivers may miss.


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