Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section for cycling from London to Cape Town! If you’re considering embarking on this epic journey or simply curious about the challenges and logistics we faced, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll address some of the common questions we have been asked by those contemplating this remarkable cycling adventure across continents.
Is it possible to ride a bike from London to Africa?
Yes, it is technically possible to ride a bike from London to Africa. However, it is an extremely challenging and complex journey due to several factors such as distance, logistics, terrain, and political considerations.
Here are some key points to consider:
1. Distance: The distance from London to Africa depends on which part of Africa you intend to reach. The shortest distance would be to cycle to Morocco, which is across the Strait of Gibraltar. This would still require cycling through several countries in Europe before reaching Morocco. If you aim to reach sub-Saharan Africa, the journey becomes significantly longer.
2. Logistics: Crossing international borders on a bicycle requires careful planning. You would need to research visa requirements, border crossings, and customs regulations for each country along your route. Some countries may have restrictions or require special permits for cyclists.
3. Terrain and Climate: The terrain and climate can vary significantly depending on the route you choose. Cycling through Europe would involve diverse landscapes and road conditions. Once you enter Africa, you may encounter desert regions, mountain ranges, unpaved roads, and challenging weather conditions. It’s important to be physically prepared for these conditions.
4. Safety and Security: Safety can be a concern in certain regions, particularly in parts of Africa where political instability or security risks exist. It’s crucial to research and stay informed about the safety situation in the countries you plan to travel through. Consider consulting travel advisories from your government or relevant authorities.
5. Support and Resources: Long-distance cycling journeys require careful planning, access to resources, and support systems. You would need to consider factors such as accommodation, food, water, repair services, and medical assistance along the way. Joining organised cycling groups or seeking advice from experienced long-distance cyclists can be beneficial.
Given the complexities involved, riding a bike from London to Africa is a significant undertaking that requires thorough preparation, physical fitness, and a detailed understanding of the route and associated challenges. It’s essential to conduct extensive research, plan meticulously, and ensure your safety throughout the journey.
What is the record for cycling Cairo to Cape Town?
Mark Beaumont set the world record for cycling from Cairo to Cape Town, known as the “Cairo to Cape Town” or “Africa Solo” route. He completed this journey in 41 days, 10 hours, and 22 minutes. Mark Beaumont accomplished this feat in 2015, breaking the previous record of 59 days set by South African cyclist Keegan Longueira.
Is it safe to cycle across Africa?
Yes and no.
The perceived dangers are robbery, kidnap or theft. But the biggest danger any cyclist in Africa faces are the other road user; especially the large lorries and buses that don’t slow down and leave you little, if any room. We were forced off the road on many occasions by huge trucks. We would never advise wearing earphones and would always recommend wearing a helmet and knowing what traffic coming up behind you at all times.
Even if you don’t plan your route in advance, it’s always worth knowing where you will spend the night: especially in towns and cities. The sight of foreign cyclists trying to find their way in an unfamiliar setting can attract undesired attention, That said, we had some of our best experiences of the trip when we were offered accommodation at the last minute.
We found travelling in Muslim countries the easiest. One of the pillars of Islam is to look after those in need, which includes travellers. So, we were often surprised at the hospitality we were shown in countries such as Turkey and Sudan.
As a rule, the vast majority of people on this planet are good, decent people. Just be on the lookout for those who aren’t.
What was your budget for your cycle trip from the UK to South Africa?
Our total budget for our 10.5-month cycling trip from London to Cape Town was about £9,000, excluding the cost of our bikes and cycling gear. We were incredibly fortunate and grateful to have been hosted by locals and we even received free accommodation from some hotels, which helped to keep our costs down. We completed our cycling trip from the UK to South Africa in 2016. Costs will have changed by then.
Did you have any mechanical problems with your bicycles?
The wheels on our bikes were the only major source of problems. We were fortunate that these problems occurred on relatively easy terrain whilst cycling on the Danube in Serbia. We had new wheels built in Istanbul, and they lasted the entire journey, with only a few broken spokes.
If we were to give advice about kit, we would say invest in the strongest possible wheels that you can afford. It is a worthwhile investment.
Otherwise, we had no problems until Namibia, when Emily’s gears broke. She had a difficult time for a few days cycling across Namibia on the gravel.