Bike Tours in Africa
Africa is one of the few areas in the world that are exhilarating as well as challenging for riders preparing for a bike tour. Besides its unique cultures plus its beautiful scenery that is unexplored, Africa is popular for its spectacular mountainous landscape that provides excellent routes for travelers as well as sports people particularly adrenaline seeking mountain bike riders. Majority of the trails are natural which provides cyclists plus backpackers an unforgettable Mountain biking adventure in Africa.
Regardless of whether you’re planning to be part of a cycling challenge or you simply want have another way to enjoy a safari in Africa; well bike riding is a very convenient and eco-friendly way to explore this beautiful continent. When you ride at a slower pace, you will get to enjoy the beautiful sights and listen to the amazing sounds and not forgetting the unique scent of the different country you will be riding through. Riding offers a cyclist closer encounter of Mother Nature and an up-close connection with the people living within the areas you will be exploring. In addition, cycling will help you keep fit and it’s an activity that accommodates all types of people including the novices and the experienced riders.
Top Mountain Biking Destinations in Africa
On these battered trails, bikers are offered the opportunity to view the diverse wildlife including native plants and tree species, numerous elephants, a variety of cultural marvels plus the tribal traditional villages. Below we have highlighted some of the best destinations for mountain biking in Africa.
- Nalut in Libya
Nalut district which is commonly referred to as the mountain bike paradise is situated in the middle of Tripoli which is the capital city of Libya and Ghadames City, lying in the western region of Nafusa Mountains. The place boasts of vast routes for riding, winding around massive sand hills which extend as far as your eyes’ reach. The region experiences excellent weather with clear blue skies and no humidity. This combined with the altitude provides the perfect place for mountain bikers. This place is also littered with a number of magnificent tourist spots such as the legendary Ghadames, the very old Berber granaries as well as a number of castles.
- Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania
Mountain Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa standing at a height of about 4900 meters from its foot plus 5895 meters above the sea level. It is situated in northern Tanzania next to the Tanzania-Kenya border. The mountain is a section of the popular Kilimanjaro National Park and it is an ideal spot for hikers as well as mountain bikers. The largest number of safari operators within Tanzania always encourages their clients on holiday to take part in the Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater bike riding challenge, which offers cyclists the opportunity to ride for many kilometers traversing the different authentic African terrain with a backdrop of Africa’s highest mountain. Cyclists also go through the traditional village settlements where they get the chance to engage with the local Maasai people, plus other natives in the area.
- Mpumalanga in South Africa
Mpumalanga is located in the eastern part of South Africa and provides a few of the best mountain biking routes on the continent. The Mpumalanga biking trail ranges from Mankele Mountain to the renowned Queen Rose trails, which makes it without a doubt the ideal place for riders as well as hikers. Participant will have the chance to put their toughness and ability to test by cycling up the vertical Barberton found on the Queen Rose path which becomes more challenging as you ascend it. The Misty Valley Mountain in Mpumalanga province is a perfect choice for people searching for the right combination of difficult as well as elegant biking experience. The valley is a peaceful and tranquil place encircled by luxury hotels, wildlife as well as forests, making it a paradise for mountain bikers.
- Garden Route in South Africa
It stretches from Mossel Bay found in Western Cape Town all the way to the Storms River found in Eastern Cape Town. The Garden Route has lush grass as well as geologically dense vegetation encircled by numerous mountains, lakes, hills as well as lagoons dispersed along the coast. The oceanic weather whose temperatures barely ever drop to less than ten degrees (10°) during the winter and do not often increase to above twenty eight degrees (28°) during summer make Garden Route an ideal spot for mountain bikers. The tracks are situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean and the mountains which provides cyclists the unique chance to discover the authentic wilderness in Africa.
- Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana
Makgadikgadi Pan which is located in the northeastern part of Botswana at the center of the dry savanna is among the biggest salt pans in the entire world. The pan is a remainder of the previously expansive Lake Makgadikgadi which at one point was bigger than Switzerland however it ran dry a few centuries back. When the lake dried up, it left remnant shorelines that can be spotted very well from the southwestern part of the basin. The shorelines that is raised at an altitude of 3100 feet provide excellent routes for mountain biking. The pan is comprised of igneous-rock islands as well which are comprised of several baobab trees and today are being preserved as a memorial in the country.
- The towering Atlas Mountain in Morocco
Extending to the Eastern side of the border of Morocco with Angola, the High Atlas Mountain is split into three vast mountain ranges including Central High Atlas, Western High Atlas plus Eastern High Atlas. The mountain ascends in the west at the Atlantic Ocean and suddenly descends to the southwest which makes an extraordinary transformation to the Anti-Atlas range and the coast. The towering Atlas Mountain is the foundation for numerous river systems majority of which flow throughout the year. This has encouraged settlement of people in the place. These all-terrain routes snake their way through the area then vertically up the slopes, cutting across the blue streams and the long forests. It is the ideal place for mountain bikers.
- Diani, Malindi, watamu and Naivasha in Kenya
Kenya offers a number of amazing areas where you can enjoy a remarkable mountain biking experience. With mountain biking gaining popularity year after year, you will find that there are various places within Kenya that’s not only offer you an opportunity to discover the amazing countryside but also offer mountain bikes for hire.
Diani: holidaymakers will get an opportunity to explore Kenya’s southern cost as well as the nearby villages while on bicycle. You will traverse the quiet rural roads rights and because cycling is the most popular means of transport within this area you will get an opportunity to encounter several local cyclists. Furthermore, this will be an excellent way to exercise your body as you enjoy the fresh air and get another perspective of the lifestyle of the local people living in this area
Malindi and watamu areas: also offer you an opportunity to explore the beachside roads as well as the serene villages while riding. You won’t only enjoy the fresh air but the quiet and freedom. Similarly, bicycles are among the most popular used means of transport in this area so you should look forward to meeting several cyclists as well. There are a number of places where you can hire bicycles.
Naivasha: within this area majority of the camps and lodges close to Lake Naivasha offer mountain bikes for hire. Cyclists will get an opportunity to explore the lakeside and even the nearby Hell’s Gate National Park whose unique terrain offers quite a challenging adventure with rewarding views of wildlife.
- Elgon and Bwindi National Park in Uganda
there are two main areas where biking riding tours can be done in Uganda and these include: on the lower slopes of Mount Elgon, as well as within the internationally renowned Bwindi National Park – home to the largest population on the endangered mountain gorillas.
Mount Elgon: in mountain Elgon, the biking routes connect from the Sipi trading center all the way to Chema Hill in Kapchorwa town. This trail takes about one and a half hours and offers cyclists with breathtaking views of the sipi waterfalls as well as the karamoja plains not so far away. Mountain bikes can easily be hired from the sipi river Lodge
Bwindi National Park: On the other hand biking within Bwindi National Park takes you along a properly maintained Forest trail that runs from the park headquarters found at Buhoma all the way to Ivi River. During this 13 kilometer long trail ride you are likely to see different wildlife including the red tailed monkeys, Bushbucks and the black and white colobus monkeys. You will not fail to notice the great diversity of birds living within this pack as well. The trip normally departs in the morning and it takes approximately six and a half to seven hours to complete the round trip. This biking adventured is organized by a community development program known as ‘ride for a woman’ at the buhoma community rest camp.
- Cycling in Ethiopia
most of the cycling adventures begin in Addis Ababa and depending on the duration of your trip may take you across the towering plateau and down below into the gorge of this beautiful country also known as ‘The Horn of Africa’ which will offer guests a very unique and unforgettable cycling experience with beautiful scenery. During the adventure you will get a chance of riding through a number of countryside settlements and see the rich culture and practices of the locals people who belong to different ethnic groups among which are: the Gurage, Amhara and the Oromo, and there are a number of people living within the Abyssinian highlands who are very hospitable and very welcoming. The biking adventure will in addition give you an opportunity to discover the ancient countryside and enjoy the breathtaking views and undulating terrain. For cyclists seeking a more challenging yet adventurous experience then we recommend what you trip to the highland trails where you will get a chance to explore the spectacular yet very rugged countryside. during your biking tour in Ethiopia, you will get a chance to meet the local people, the traditional educator, visit the vibrant markets, check out some of that archaeological sites and ancient kingdoms many of which date back to several hundreds of years ago, and also enjoy they unique friendliness and hospitality of the local Ethiopian people
- Cycling in Rwanda
Rwanda is commonly known as the land of a thousand hills and it is the perfect destination to offer you an off the beaten-track cycling experience with majority of the endless trails or roads criss-crossing different parts of the country. During your riding adventure you are going to explore the beautiful countryside and get a chance to interact with the friendly people as well as enjoying an up close view Rwanda’s natural beauty. The Congo Nile trail which is a 227 km long route offers the greatest and most challenging of all biking trails in the country. this beautiful trail runs in line on the Eastern side with the shores of the well-known Lake Kivu and it begins in Rubavu and ends in Rusizi taking a total of five (5) days to complete the round trip however for those with less holiday time or the less experience this trail can be explored in phases
In the future if you are searching for an ideal spot for a mountain biking experience, look no further than Africa that has numerous routes to discover.
Comparing riding Eastern or Western Africa, what is the better option?
Riding through Africa is tasking no matter which trail you use. you may choose to follow either the eastern route or the western route.
- Analyzing the Eastern Africa Cycling Route
Majority of the riders that have cycled through Africa from the south to the north or the reverse usually pursue variations of the Cairo-Cape Town East-African-route. This route takes you riding through Botswana, Burundi, Sudan, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Egypt, Zambia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Tanzania and Lesotho.
Ease to attain Visas: One of the key advantages of taking an East African tour is the ease in acquiring the visas in the different countries except for Sudan plus Ethiopia which need some prior arrangements since visas are not issued at the border.
More Wildlife Encounters: In case you want to see the wild animals, you can choose to ride through the game reserves where you can easily catch sights of giraffes, elephants, different antelopes as well as other animals and this can be done in East Africa. Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania plus Botswana all give you a chance to interact with the huge wild animals from the road at a secure distance. When it comes to Wildlife Reserves that have a high number of lions as well as a huge risk of wild animal attacks, such do not let riders to go ride through their borders.
More Challenging and unique terrain: In geographical terms, East Africa possesses the Great Rift Valley which comes with a relatively difficult and undulating terrain. Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia as well as sections of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have a number of intimidating climbs however your efforts will pay off with the striking views at the top.
Option of Paved routes: Cyclists with limited time or interest in the less significant trails could nearly ride the extent of Africa on paved routes.
Various accommodation Facilities: In addition, there is a variety of lodging that can take care of the numerous people that travel to explore the East African countries.
- Analyzing the Western Africa Cycling Route
Visas are Expensive: Cycling through West Africa is debatably more difficult than travelling through East Africa. Their visas are more expensive and need to be acquired beforehand
Instability due to recent wars: numerous countries not so many years ago have experienced some instability due to internal wars which has made the tourism infrastructure very ordinary or even inexistent in a few areas plus travelers have to be vigilant to ensure their safety while they are cycling.
Fewer Wildlife Encounters: West Africa has less wildlife parks and reserves, and less population of wildlife compared to East Africa.
Hospitable and Welcoming People: West Africa however provides you with an authentic task plus experience, towns as well as villages with friendly faces and hospitality which contradicts the picture that has been painted by the media of Liberia, Sierra Leone plus Nigeria.
Language could be problematic: Cycling through countries with a colonial past of France, Portugal and Britain present a language barrier issue. East Africa was colonized by Britain and hence has a variety of English speakers.
Duration on each route: The trip through East Africa that extends the length of Africa can last from a quick three months of cycling through 8 countries to a year and above if your are traversing through 15 countries. Travelling through West Africa from the north to south consists of moving through more than 20 countries however it costs more in both time and money. Travelers that are passionate and have enough time on their hands could ride down one part then return and cycle up the other part or ride through the center; that is truly intimidating.
What to pack for a biking tour in Africa
As you pack to come for a Biking adventure in Africa the most important thing is to always PACK LIGHT. Endeavour to see that all you necessities fit in a single carry-on bag. This will also save you from any airline trouble arising from extra weight of luggage. A simple way to check whether the weight of your luggage is good enough is by carrying your fully packed bag up a flight of stairs. if you realize that you’re comfortable with it, then you’re good to go.
Because you are usually on the move during biking tours, we recommend that you carry fast drying clothes including both outwear and your undergarments
How to save space while packing for a Biking Trip in Africa:
- Stuff all your hollow items such as water bottles, the helmet and shoes with smaller items like stockings and your MP3 player.
- Roll all your clothing to reduce wrinkles and push out air
- You can also opt to for stuff sacks to help you organize your things
- Because you’ll be moving from one hotel to another make use of packing cubes to organise your different items to is the packing and unpacking process
Useful Equipment to pack
Waist Park or a sizable daypack
2 to 3 T-shirts or casual shirts
Comfortable shoes for walking and biking
2 riding fast-drying jerseys
Two pairs of shorts for riding
Two pairs of stockings preferably fast drying
Trousers or jeans
Two pairs of stockings to be worn when not cycling
Warm jacket or raincoat
3 to 5 pairs of underwear
Personal Items for your bike tour include: A bathing suit, Shampoo, Sandals, Hair brush, Toiletries, Hand sanitizer, Toothpaste with a toothbrush and a Deodorant
Additional items include:
Your identity card, passport and wallet
Some cash and credit cards
Health insurance card
Travel insurance card
Charges for you electronics
Camera with spare batteries
Plastic bags for your with clothes and dirty laundry
Adaptor or converter
Items for your first aid kit: your first aid kit while going on a Bike Tour in Africa should include the following items: clearly marked medication in its original bottles, Antibiotic ointment or antiseptic cream, Insect repellent, Bandages, sunscreen lotion and band aids
Best time for Cycling in Africa
When going on a biking tour in Africa; the best recommended time to take your trip is when it is dry but not very hot. Looking at East Africa for example it is better to plan your holiday in the month of January and February as well as from July to August which are the main dry seasons. When going to northern Africa the best thing for biking is in October and April. Whereas in the southern hemisphere the winter starts in June all through to August a time during which it is dry and cool. The majority of the countries in the South can be visited at this time. Tourists opting for western Africa, the months of November and December will do them well as precipitation is at that time is minimal and there is less dust. However, I will not fail to mention that this part of Africa experiences very high temperatures all year around.