bicycling bests:  part 2- top 4's from 4 years on the road


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Best all-around cycling

  1. South Africa.  Amazing scenery, a mild climate, diverse population, tasty food, reasonable prices and friendly locals.  The only drawback of biking in South Africa are some serious safety concerns.
  2. Morocco.  The Atlas mountains, the Sahara desert, a beautiful coastline, bustling markets--Morocco's got it all. And to top it off, locals remain genuinely friendly despite the influx of European budget tourists.  
  3. Malawi.  The warm heart of Africa´s sure to win you over with its little-visited nature reserves, friendly locals and relaxed backpacker haunts on the shores of Lake Malawi for those yearning for a break from biking.  A good network of paved roads and passable food make this a good place to get your feet wet in Africa.
  4. Western US.  From the mighty Rockies, to the craggy peaks backing Pacific Coast Highway and the high deserts of the Southwest, it's hard to find more diversity in a cycling destination.
Bicycle Touring on America's Pacific Coast Highway in California.Bicycle Touring in Morocco.

Best hospitality for bicycle touring adventurers

  1. Syrians.  These warm Middle Easterners win hands down as the most hospitable people we've encountered while bicycle touring.  Imagine locals actually vying to be the lucky ones to invite you in for a meal and a place to spend the night.  That's cycling Syria.
  2. Sudanese.   While slightly more reserved than the Syrians, the Sudanese take their hospitality to heart.   You'll find plenty of bicycle touring blogs recounting tales of delicious meals and impromptu invitations to stay with families in Sudan.  
  3. South Africans.  Ask somebody on the street for directions to a camp site in South Africa and you'll likely be invited home to spend the night in the guest bedroom.  
  4. Americans.  Another impartial observation.   But really.  From the local sheriff to the friendly town pastor and the cheery cashier at the 7-11,  Americans are fascinated by people on fully-loaded bicycles and they'll go out of their way to be of help.  Never mind the occasional red-neck tossing his beer bottle at your bike as he blazes past.

    Hospitality for cyclists in Sudan.Syrians invite us to join their picnic.

Best food for hungry cyclists

  1. India.  After 17 months of rice and beans in Africa, Indian food was a delight.  Fill up on spicy curries, masala dosas, sweet lassies and spicy chai till your stomach is bulging and you're unlikely to spend more than a buck or two.
  2. Egypt.  If you don't mind getting ripped off with a smile, you'll enjoy your kushari, falafel sandwiches hummus in peace.
  3. Italy.  The number 3 spot goes to Italy entirely based on just one thing:  ice cream.  Go ahead, indulge, you've earned your daily dose of gelato.
  4. Ethiopia.  Injera:  either you love it or you hate it.  We loved this sourdough pancake-like staple and we couldn't get enough of the machiatos being served up by baristas in even the tiniest of Ethiopian villages.
Best value for money bicycle touring destinations
  1. India.  It's certainly no secret that India's one of the world's great budget travel destinations.  Leave the tent and multi-fuel stove at home and you can still easily get by on $10 a day, even $5 is probably enough for those not accustomed to too many comforts.
  2. Guatemala. Markets bursting with fresh vegetables at rock bottom prices, comfy budget accommodation for well under $10 a night and plenty of backpacker haunts serving up cups of cappuccino, slices of thick American-style pizza and Thai curry.  If you're biking the Pan American Highway, this is one of your best bets for relaxation at reasonable prices.  
  3. Ethiopia.  With its notorious stone-throwing brats, Ethiopia's obviously not every cyclist's dream destination, but you can beat it if you're on a budget.  Hotels are almost as cheap as those found in India (but watch out for the bathrooms, the worst I've seen in the 3rd world) and if you don't end up tossing too much spare change at all the beggars pleading for your cash, Ethiopia can easily be biked on less than $10 a day--and that means hotels and restaurants-- not self-catering and stealth camping.
  4. Syria.  This may come as a surprise since Syria's hotels and restaurants aren't particularly cheap.  But take into account that Syrians will rarely let you pay for a meal or, Allah forbid, check into a hotel when they've got plenty of room for you at home, at you'll soon realize that it's hard to empty your pockets in this part of the Middle East. 


Watch out for toilets in Ethiopia--some aren't much better than this hole in the ground.

Cheap eats in Guatemala!

What are your bests and worsts ? 

Feel free to share in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this post, give these posts and videos a try:

Bicycle Touring Video
Cycling South America: the worst road in Brazil

Bicycle Touring inspiration
The bests: part 1

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