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Having backpacked throughout Asia and South America we know all too well the hassles and constraints associated with relying on public transport. We want to really get off the beaten track-- not just visit the sites listed in the Lonely Planet and spend our evenings swapping stories with other backpackers. Cycling will offer physical challenge, adventure and closer contact with the locals.
We're flexible. Probably about 18 months to reach Cape Town, but we're under absolutely no time pressure and will take as long as we need.
Back in 2001 Amaya ran across a book written by 2 sisters who had cycled from Paris to Beijing. They had absolutely no experience cycling long distances or even traveling for extended periods, yet they were able to realize their dream. That summer we spent 10 days cycling in France and, although we enjoyed the trip immensely, no other trips followed in the next two years. In spring 2005 we set out on our bikes again, having been inspired by some of Amaya's students (thanks Sylvia and Winfried!)who were planning cycling trips. And all of sudden Amaya got it in her head that the long planned backpacking Africa trip should be done on bicycle. 'Are you insane?' was Eric's knee-jerk reaction 'There are deserts to be crossed in Africa, wild beasts to confronted and half the continent is either in the midst of, on the verge of or recovering from civil war.' Undaunted, Amaya continued her subtle techniques of persuasion and eventually Eric too became convinced of the trip's feasibility. So, to sum things up, apart from a few week-long bike trips in France and Germany, we're new to long-distance cycling.
The trip is entirely self-financed. Based on costs of prior long-haul trips in Asia and South America we estimate average costs excluding medical insurance and equipment shouldn't exceed €10 per person per day. Of course the trip could easily be done on much less, but we want a certain amount of comfort. Many people ask us if we just plan to travel until the money runs out. Of course not. At our ages that would be nothing short of foolish.
Amaya: Hot showers on a daily basis. My record to date is three days without a shower during a trekking trip in Peru. This was a real stretch for me. It will also be hard to do without my yoga classes. Eric: A comfortable bed and unlimited access to the internet.
Well....yes. But not overly worried. It seems aggressive incidents against travelers occur primarily in touristic areas. We plan to avoid these areas for the most part and thus will greatly reduce our chances of being attacked. We were robbed by four machete-toting men in Guatemala in 2001 and have since redoubled our security efforts. That said, the vast majority of individuals we have encountered around the world have been warm and welcoming.
Perhaps. We may continue on cycling to India where we will spend some time in Rishikesh doing an intensive Iyengar yoga course. Or we may find a job opportunity somewhere else. Being satisfied with a simple lifestyle means we have been able to put money aside quite easily and therefore have achieved a certain degree of financial freedom.
Amaya: I ride my bike almost everywhere and I also workout about 5 times a week at a local fitness club. Nothing too strenuous--spinning classes, aerobics and power yoga mostly. I'm not too concerned about being in top shape when we start the trip as we'll have plenty of time to build up our endurance as we cycle through Europe. I expect the real physical challenges to come in Africa. Eric: I cycle to work daily, but other than that I'm not really doing anything special to get fit.
We'll do wild camping when no accomodation or campsite is available. In Europe we'll be camping exclusively in order to keep costs down. Once we reach Africa we'll stay in guesthouses or with locals when the ocassion arises.