Here you have the map of my new project to cross Africa by bike alone and without sponsor from Cairo in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa. The itinerary is indicative and will be adapted in each country or area as I go.
How did this idea come to me?
One day, when I was still working at the airport, I began to make a list of the things I would like to do in life. One of them was crossing Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. I’ve always liked adventure and I think everything is possible. We shouldn’t put limits on ourselves. I hope to make this trip till the end, but if not, I will not regret not having tried!
I’ve been also inspired by two books: “Africa trek” (Sonia and Alexandre Poussin) and “on a roulé sur la terre” (Alexandre Poussin and Sylvain Tesson). The first book tells the story of a French couple who crossed Africa walking and the second, the story of 2 friends who rode their bicycles around the world.
Why am I riding a bicycle?
I always liked to go by bike. It gives you a nice feeling of freedom. You go at a slow pace, stop anywhere you want, and you are closer to people and nature. You can lose yourself on secondary roads and in villages. You go faster than walking, and you can also carry more stuff, especially going alone, it gives a lot of autonomy. You do not depend on anyone, nor on schedules. It’s also an ecological mode of transportation!
People are very curious so far to see a single woman cycling around. It’s also a challenge to be able to make such a long trip by yourself. You need to be strong, especially mentally, the body will follow and will gain strength little by little.
It will be the first long trip by bike for me. It seems unbelievable that I dare to cross Africa without previous cycling experience, but why should it go wrong? It’s about pedaling and going at my pace. I don’t compete, I go alone, I’ll stop when I’m tired, even if I’ve only done 20km!
How long does it take to prepare this kind of trip?
To tell you the truth, I am not a good example, I have prepared this trip in 3 weeks only. The time to look for a good bike, to equip it, to ride it, to learn how to repair it, to buy some gear, to pack the saddlebags, to leave my personal belongings in a storage in Barcelona and to say goodbye to my friends! Yes, it’s crazy, it has been 3 very intense weeks!
I will plan the itinerary as I go, although I have it more or less in my mind. I didn’t have time to apply for the visas, which are necessary for almost all the countries I will cross, so I informed myself well before leaving and I will apply for them at the embassy in the neighboring country: in Aswan for Sudan, and in Khartoum for Ethiopia for example. Some can be issued on arrival, like Egypt, my 1st country, or Kenya and Tanzania.
I would advise preparing a trip like this with more time, to go more relaxed and to make sure not to forget anything important.
How much money do I need?
Some people told me “well, I would do this trip too, let’s see if I win the jackpot!”.
No, it’s a big mistake. Do not wait for anything. I go with a budget of 10 EUR a day, that means 300 EUR per month maximum! With this budget I get to sleep some nights in basic hotels, buy street food or eat in local restaurants, and do some sightseeing (the most expensive). You can easily spend far less if you sleep in people’s house or camp every day and do only free visits or activities. In this budget is not included the price of the expensive visas, necessary for most countries, nor the plane ticket to get to Cairo.
Am I not afraid to go alone?
I’ve always traveled alone and I’ve never had a bad experience. On the contrary! People seeing you go alone want to protect you, as if you were their daughter, or their sister. They invite you to their home and they are usually curious to know what you’re doing here.
I’m always extremely careful anyway. And in addition to observe common sense, I have an intuition and I usually feel whether people are good or bad, whether I can trust the person or not.
Am I trained to do so many km by bike?
Not at all. I have more experience in walking. It will be my first trip by bicycle. But I’ve always liked it. I’m very motivated so I guess the body will follow. I have no obligation, I go at my own pace and I will stop when I’m tired. I will get stronger little by little. Well, I hope so! I start in Egypt, an “easy” country in principle: flat, little wind, tar roads.
I have a lot of apprehension of the roads with heavy traffic, drivers usually ignore bikes and it can be dangerous. I’m also afraid of not being fit enough for mountainous areas, but I guess I’ll be a bit more prepared by the time I reach these areas. I leave early in the morning to avoid the heat so I can stop whenever I need, and so I arrive at a reasonable time to look for accommodation and enjoy the place. Leaving early also gives me extra time in case I have any technical issues with the bike.
What do I bring?
The minimum. I always travel light, it is more practical. On the bike even more!
Here is a list of what I carry.
Documents: passport, health insurance card, international vaccination card, driver’s license (you never know!), photocopies of the passport, passport photos, although it’s easy and cheap to get in any country, a credit card, dollars in cash, euros in cash
Clothing: long trousers, shorts, leggings, 2 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, underwear, socks, thermal t-shirt, fleece, raincoat, waterproof trousers.
Shoes: light hiking shoes and sports sandals
Toothbrush: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap bar, small bottle of shampoo, nail clippers, comb.
First-aid kit, mosquito spray, sunscreen, artificial tears, lip balm, tweezer
Camping gears: one-man tent, sleeping bag (5 degrees, for cold nights in Egypt / Kenya / Tanzania / South Africa), mattress
Useful gear/others: duck tape, climbing rope, fishing line, security loop plastic fastener, quick links, safety pins, lighters, padlock, scissors, clothespins, swiss knife, 3l camel bag, 2 bottles, 30l backpack (to put the camel bag and camera), camera, gopro, gopro adapter for the helmet, laptop, chargers, universal adapter, multi-usb plug, solar charger (Rav power), external battery, a few sd cards for camera and gopro, sunglasses, book, external hard drive, watch, headphones, earplugs, pens and pencils, notebook, flashlight, water filter, pepper spray
Gear and spare pieces for the bike: air pump, spare brake pads (4), spare innertubes (2), multi-tools that include chain hook, spare chain plus connect links, kits of patches/adhesive/sandpaper, spare cable, oil spray, kit of bolts, screws and nuts, pair of tire levers, helmet, bike gloves, chain to attach the bike and padlock, elastic luggage straps (2 small and 2 medium)
Gear installed on the bike: front and rear lights, mudguards, rear luggage rack, 6l handlebar bag, rear panniers (20l each), 4 bottle cages, bike computer, bell, gel bike seat