update 20.  

arrival at the cape & a decision to make

27 November 2007

Total kilometers cycled: 30,677

South Africa: Northern and Western Cape

Specific country info on routes & roads/food & accommodation/the locals available here.

That's Table Mountain you see in the background, marking our arrival in Cape Town on November 13th after traversing 32 countries (29 in Africa) and pedaling a total of 30,577 kilometers.  Whew!  We finally made it.  
It is, of course, a wonderfully satisfying feeling to have achieved what we set out to do some 17 months ago.  Certainly there were trying times when we had our doubts about ever reaching South Africa.  The long slog through Mali, flooded roads in the Congo and most recently the bitter battle with winds and sand in Namibia were all tough tests of our determination and will to succeed.  It is no exaggeration to say that we would have never completed the tour had we not had the good fortune to be helped and encouraged by so many kind individuals along the way.  Offers of accommodation, motorists who stopped to offer us a cold drink on a hot day, emails from our 'admirers' as Eric likes to call them, friendly greetings from villagers, the laughter of children as they vied to fill our water bottles--these are the sorts of things that kept us going.
It's more than three weeks now since we first arrived in the Cape Town municipality and we've ridden just 275 kilometers in that time. A good long rest was in order.  Ken and Angela are spoiling us on their farm north of The Mother City, as Cape Town is affectionately known, and we're finding it hard to tear ourselves away from the delicious home-cooked meals, leisurely days and moral support from two fellow cyclists. Having met our initial goal (Cape Town!), we are now faced with the difficult task of figuring out what to do next.  After much hemming and hawing we've decided to prolong the agony of cycling in order to avoid the agony of plunging back into a more conventional life during the throes of a European winter.  All melodrama aside, we really do think it would be a pity to miss the sunsets on Mozambique's idyllic beaches, the climb up mist-shrouded Mt Kenya, jaunts through the colorful Maasai villages of Tanzania and encounters with the stone-wielding children of Ethiopia (after all it can't all be fun and games!).

We're marooned in Malmesbury for the moment, waiting for a replacement tent to arrive from the US and our much abused laptop to be repaired.  The days pass surprisingly quickly. A trip into town to see the dentist or do the shopping is all we can seem to squeeze in between mealtimes.  But all this relaxation must come to an end, so within a few days we expect to be bike on the bikes, a few kilos heavier, infinitely more relaxed and ready to face the challenges of an African cycling expedition again.  A mere 8,000 kilometers separate us from our next milestone, Ethiopia's capital, Addis Abeba. No doubt there will be more run-ins with unsavory officials, rickety roads to be reckoned with and a dearth of decent food.   But surely these sufferings and vexations will  be balanced out by the same types of kindness and generosity that we have known over the past 17 months and more spectacular African scenery.  The first episode of World Biking Africa: northward bound will come to you from the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.  Stay tuned to find out if we are able to conquer the tortuous cork-screw road of Sani Pass, return to the tent after weeks in a king-sized bed and again accustom ourselves to rice and beans after having indulged ourselves in Angela's fine cuisine for almost a month!

tour statistics.

days since departure: 517
days in the saddle: 295
rest days: 222
This may sound like a lot, but remember we were forced to stop in Cameroon for 5 weeks while Eric's collar bone healed and many 'rest days' were spent at various embassies sorting out visas for onward travel.  Resting also included days recovering from illnesses.
average distance cycled per day: 104 kilometers
longest distance covered in a single day: 215 kilometers
This was an epic ride from Nouakchot, Mauritania to the Senegal border post at Rosso.  Time was 9 hours 1 minute with an average speed of 23.83 km/hour.  A flat highway, strong desire to make it out of the desert and a tailwind helped us along.
longest time spent pedaling in a single day: 10 hours 18 minutes
punctures eric: 51
punctures amaya: 20
maximum kilometers ridden on one set of tires: 22,000
total cost of visas: 1,778 euros ($ 2,420)
average daily expenses: 22.15 euros ($31) for the two of us
This includes food, accommodation, visas, health insurance, transport (flight back to Europe, ferries) and misc.
illnesses eric: malaria twice, typhoid fever, pneumonia, dysentery and a serious case of saddle sores
illnesses amaya: malaria twice and the occasional stomach upsets

thank you.

We are immensely grateful to all the villagers throughout Africa who invited us into their humble homes, made sure we had water for cooking and bathing and shared their lives with us.  Their warmth and generosity will never be forgotten. Many amazing people have been part of this cycling expedition.  Our special thanks to:
Fabrice for organizing parcels and looking after things for us in Obernai.
Jean-Paul for faithfully scanning the mail and sending it off every Sunday.
Cathy and the crew at the Obernai Hospital for looking after our health.
Glen and Shirley for letting us know that we were always welcome should we find we'd had enough of cycling.
Luke and Anna for inspiring this ride.
Ralf at Bikemaxx for sharing all his cycling knowledge an kitting us out with the best possible of bikes.
Karen in Griesheim for acting as a parcel receiver.
Pierre for finding the time to hunt down all the odds and ends we needed to have sent.
Stephane for transporting all those odds and ends we needed to Strasbourg
The employees of Eumetsat and Merck for their generous contributions to CAMFED.
All the people from Hospitality Club and Warm Showers (Tine Miet, Hildegard, Gerhard, Luc, Sabine and Damien)  who hosted us during our 'holiday' in Europe.
Lee and Kob for the kind use of their apartment in Darmstadt.
Joe and Brighde for a relaxing stay at their holiday home in Portugal.
Marceau for sorting out our low rider catastrophe.
Matt and Pino in Spain for the great Moroccan food and accommodation.
Our new Moroccan friends, Radouane and Abd Elvahed for the tour and treats in Nouadhibou: you made an unbearable place bearable.
Yema from Sierra Leone who woke very early one Sunday morning to make us apple fritters and fish cakes to take with us for lunch.
Father Mario in Lunsar, Sierra Leone
for providing us with a very comfortable bungalow when were road weary and worried about pitching a tent in the bush.
Olivier and Catherine
for their exceptional hospitality: we were very well looked after in Brazzaville!
Marcel from Bravo Air Congo who tracked down our bicycles in Kinshasa.
Tina and Colin for letting us feel like part of the family in Gobabis, Namibia.
André and Joanne from Gekko Backpackers in Citrusdal, South Africa for a great stay by the river.
Christelle and Jako of Puccini Guest house in Windhoek, Namibia for a delicious vegetarian braai and some of the most peaceful days we spent on the entire African continent.
Ken and Angela in Cape Town for allowing us to wind down from the ride with the luxuries of a comfy bed, delicious meals, hot baths and excellent company.
Patrick in Seeeis,Namibia for insisting we sleep in the spare apartment rather than put up the tent on what turned out to be the coldest night of the entire tour.
Walter and Anna in Bitterfontein, South Africa for taking pity on two tired cyclists and opening up their home to us.
Barry and Anna for sharing their campsite at Sesriem.
Botswana Police Force for providing numerous campsites.
Thys and Amanda in Moorreesburg, South Africa for a lekker fish braai and comfy accommodation.
Perry in Bantry Bay for a great stay in the Cape Town area and showing us the insider's route up Table Mountain.
David at Flat dogs Camp in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Namib Rand Private Reserve: a real life saver, we were preparing ourselves for a night in the bush.
Lilongwe Backpackers, Malawi
Moorings Camp Site, Zambia
Buitepos Rest Camp, Namibia
Okawango River Lodge, Maun, Botswana
Thebe River Camping
, Kasane, Botswana
Aus Filling Station and Camping, Namibia
Kookfontein Center, Steinkopf, South Africa

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