Cairo was foggy and polluted but still beautiful: I’d just seen the inspiring pyramids and the Sphinx. The people were very friendly and our diet consisted of falafel, a pita-like bread with deep fried chick peas or fava bean balls served with salad. The scenery was great, I swam in the Nile, pretended to be an Egyptian princess, saw the Valley of the Kings and the amazing Abu Simbel.
We crossed over to Sudan on a 26 hour ferry trip, landing at a border town called Wadi Halfa. Still no sign of alcohol or toilet paper, and the temperature was reaching 45 degrees Celsius. We pushed on through windstorms that felt like they could blow an elephant over. The proud Sudanese people gave me my first taste of camel meat and dough balls (like vetkoek) sprinkled with sugar. I also saw where the Blue and White Nile meet to form Africa’s greatest river. Now we were off to Ethiopia, the capital of coffee, or buna, and macchiato. Ethiopia was challenging with so many hills and kids that shout: “You, you, give me Birr! (money)” The country side is stunning and is the home of the Blue Nile Gorge which leads to the Rift valley. I ate the local dish injera (like a pancake) and wat (spicy stew) and tried the local beer and wine: St George and Goudar.
Kenya was unfortunately not an option: it was just not safe to go through there. The cycle team met up in Tanzania, home of the magnificent Serengeti, Ngorongoro crater and Kilimanjaro. It rained constantly, and we were left with wet tents to fold up every day. But the breathtaking scenery made up for it. There was wildlife all around and the local beer is called Kilimanjaro: very fitting. On to Malawi! Malawi, the home of Africa’s third largest lake: Lake Malawi. Locals were selling wooden carvings of the Tokolosie (African boogieman) and bracelets made out of electrical wire. Though Malawi stole my heart with its easy-going nature, in no time at all we were in Zambia. The mighty Zambezi River was awe-inspiring, and cycling past the Victoria Falls was a highlight I will never forget.
Botswana: home of the Elephant highway. Probably the reason we saw so many elephants! I met up with fellow Afrikaners, had a lovely cruise on the Chobe River, and saw loads of donkeys. It turns out that donkeys are holy in Botswana, and you are not permitted to kill them! Then the Okavango Delta. Throughout Botswana we constantly had to dip our feet and bicycle tyres through the Foot and Mouth Disease dips and my fellow cyclists from all over the world found it quite amusing. With two countries to go I was almost home, so Namibia was next on the list.
I have family in Namibia so I had a great time and I knew my way around, and knew of all the things Namibia has to offer: sand boarding, the Skeleton coast and more. As I looked at the roads I cycled on, it was like looking ten years into the future: that is how flat it was and how far ahead you can see. Landscapes were beautiful and laden with Quiver trees and Weaver bird nests. My last night before entering South Africa, we camped next to the Orange river and it was amazing being there and so close to home. At last: we crossed the border into South Africa knowing that a week later we would see Table Mountain and friends and family. Through extreme weather, through falls, saddle sores, blood, sweat and lots of tears we had made it one piece. Now the only thing to think about is the next crazy trip.