Africa is a dangerous place and its people are inherently violent.
Some African mega-cities such as Dakar, Johannesburg and Lagos live up to their reputations as dangerous places and you certainly wouldn’t want to plan a tour through conflict zones such as Somalia or Eastern Congo.
Fortunately, with a little planning these places are easily circumnavigated. In most African capitals, keeping your street-smarts suffices to stay clear of harm’s way. During the two years we spent cycling around the continent, most Africans we encountered were gentle, humble and hospitable. They warmly welcomed us into their villages and shared generously of all they possessed.
African roads are so bad they’re impossible to cycle on.
Bouncing along on a narrow track waving at giggling toddlers, exchanging greetings with kids trudging off to school, stopping to chat with villagers on their way to the fields—the back roads are the best way to discover the real heart of Africa.
Roads can be rough, especially after heavy rains, so you may not be able to cover as much distance in a day as you would in other parts of the world. With a little practice, though, you’ll soon become a pro at cycling through seas of sand, navigating rock-strewn roads and navigating through muddy, rutted tracks. And for those of you with overly-sensitive bums, don’t despair. You can cycle almost 12,000 kilometres all the way from Cairo to Cape Town on smooth tarmac with less than a thousand kilometres on unpaved roads.
Africa is too hot for cycling.
Africa is full of ‘dangerous’ wildlife.
In fact, on most of the continent, the encroachment of human means you’ll have to go out of your way to see wild animals.
That said, one of the best biking spots for wildlife viewing from the saddle is in Botswana. We whizzed by zebras, elephants, and mating giraffes on the main highway. Mikumi National Park in Tanzania is also a great ride for wildlife viewing. Riding near the NamibRand reserve in Namibia is a good place to spot gemsbok, mountain and plains zebra, springbok and kudu.
Most wild animals aren’t really dangerous as long as you don’t do something really stupid like the guy in Sudan who keet moving closer and closer to get shots of those cute hyenas. The word on the overland trail is that he got eaten and all that was left was a pile of bones and some nice close-up shots of hyenas.
What are Africa's most dangerous animals? Here’s the top 10 list of Africa's most deadly animals (meaning any living thing): the hippo, lion, crocodile, mosquito, black mamba, great white shark, buffalo, elephant, puff adder, and of course man himself.
After the mosquito, a cyclist’s biggest worry will be staying clear of the elephants and buffalo.
Africa is very corrupt and I will have to pay many bribes.
I will have trouble finding food if I cycle through Africa.
Africa is full of scary diseases and I’ll probably fall deathly ill.
Bilharzia, Cholera, Diarrhoea, Amoebic Dysentery, Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, Typhoid, Yellow Fever and E-coli.
The trick to staying healthy in Africa is to get all the necessary immunizations and taking the right anti-malarials. Then the chances of falling ‘deathly ill’ and needing to be repatriated are greatly diminished.
Africa is poor and therefore filthy.
Africa is surprisingly clean and litter free. The African continent is litter free because the people are so poor. Everything is reused. Children and even adults will be begging you for your precious plastic bottles, empty jars and used tires. Piles of roadside rubbish so common in other parts of the developing world are rare in Africa.
Africans know nothing about personal hygiene. Off the beaten path I’ll never have the chance to bathe.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Africans are fastidious about personal cleanliness.
The water in Africa is not safe to drink.
NGOs throughout African have made a massive push to supply safe drinking water in rural areas. According to the WHO, 64% of Africans have access to improved drinking water sources (i.e. piped water or boreholes).
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