• Tanzania again: Mwanza-Muscat Part 2 July 10th, 2015

    Returning to Tanzania wasn’t in the original plan. This was, and remains, to ride north to Ethiopia and beyond. But the British Council, my former employer, needed an English teacher for a short-term contract in July. The job-spec sounded interesting. What would a 600km detour and 3 weeks off the road matter when I had no need to be any place at any particular time.

    So rather than continue north from Kisumu I rode south-east towards Kenya’s Rift Valley – a region of rolling green landscapes, tea-growing estates and welcome cool climates. Naturally this involved a bit of climbing, so it was a good job I’d consumed the 1kg of dates and 1kg of popcorn I had in my panniers when leaving Mwanza.

  • Old roads and new: Mbeya-Mwanza Part 3 March 18th, 2015

    The tarmac stopped at the Tanzanian border. On the Burundian side the road was under construction. A man wearing a wide-rimmed straw hat was sat in the seat of a road grading machine. I waved at him as I slowly climbed up the steep slope that cut into the green hillside. Either he didn’t see me or pretended not to. I’m sure my bicycle must have been in his vision. I would have asked him many questions given the opportunity, but doubt he’d have understood them, unless I spoke Chinese.

  • Old roads and new: Mbeya-Mwanza. Part 2 March 11th, 2015

    The boat left Mbamba Bay just before sunset. It was a scenic time to be out on the lake. The sky was clear, the water calm, and my bicycle safely wedged between a few large sacks of cassava and second-hand clothes. It felt good to be breaking the tour up with a boat journey – a peaceful continuation of slow travel without the physical exertion of the lung-bursting climbs I’d been experiencing on the road.

  • Old roads and new: Mbeya-Mwanza. Part 1 February 26th, 2015

    The flights were booked well in advance. Mwanza-Dar-es-Salaam, then Dar-es-Salaam-Mbeya. Less than £90 in total, including the extra luggage allowance for the bike in a box.

    The tour had been on my mind for months – around about the same time I booked the flights I guess. Beyond a rough route, which would bring me back to Mwanza by bike, I had little specifically planned for what ended up being 7 weeks on the road.

  • Six Weeks in Southern Africa: Part 2 August 12th, 2014

    Stunning waterfalls beside the Sani pass

    The steep descent down the Sani Pass provides some of the most stunning natural scenery on the continent. Fortunately the skies were clear when I began the descent on Christmas Day morning, with plenty of waterfalls, wild flowers and mountain streams along the way.

    Waterfall on the Sani Pass Looking back up the Sani pass

    Happy cyclist

    Very happy to be going downhill! Some sections of the descent have gradients of 20%.

    Welcoming sign

    Back into South Africa. No wild camping here! A lot of South Africa’s land is fenced off to prevent unwanted intruders.

  • Six weeks in Southern Africa: Part 1 July 8th, 2014

    In December 2013 I flew with my bike to Johannesburg. I had 6 weeks of leave and decided it was a good time to explore Lesotho, Swaziland, and see some more of South Africa.

    Ethiopia had been the original plan. I hadn’t cycled there before and it was high on my list of countries to visit on the continent, but flights to Addis Ababa, despite being closer to me in northern Tanzania, were significantly more expensive than the return fare offered by Fastjet, (East Africa’s new budget airline) from Dar-es-Salaam to Johannesburg.

  • Africa Calendar 2014 December 1st, 2013

    Following on from last year’s Big Africa Cycle Calendar I’ve decided to put together another collection of images for 2014. Since May this year I’ve been living and working in the city of Mwanza, northern Tanzania. I continue to cycle on a daily basis – albeit a 20km round trip commute.

    In June I spent several weeks cycling through Western TanzaniaRwanda and Burundi, from where a few of the following images were taken. Next week I’m off to Johannesburg, the plan being to make a 6-week loop that includes South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province, Lesotho and also Swaziland. I’ll be posting photos and a trip report here.

  • A short tour of Central Africa: Part 2 August 4th, 2013

    Here is the second photo instalment of my recent short cycle tour through Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. I’m back at work in Mwanza now, but planning an adventurous cycle tour in central Africa at the end of this year.

    Crossing from Rwanda into Burundi at the border post of Kayanza. The road was well paved, as were all the roads I cycled on in Burundi. 

     The first sign I passed in Burundi was an enormous billboard promoting a mobile phone company. Most people here live in homes without electricity, but mobile phone towers provide telephone coverage. The same is true throughout much of sub-saharan Africa. 

  • Tanzania for two years June 7th, 2013

    Mwanza doesn’t seem like a bad place to live for two years. Back in January of this year, days before flying out of the UK, I applied for a job with the British Council in Tanzania. A friend who knew I was returning there brought the job to my attention.

    On paper I was qualified for the post, but I imagined lots of people with far greater experience than me were applying. Besides, I wasn’t particularly serious about taking up a teacher-training job when my focus was to continue with the book I’d started. With that in mind I filled out the online application, obviously extolling how relevant two-and-a-half years cycling through Africa was to working in a government teacher training college. My hopes of hearing back weren’t very high.

  • Ukrainians on Zanzibar February 25th, 2013

    A few days ago I met with two Ukrainians here on Zanzibar. Ruslan and Anna both began their bicycle journey in Addis Ababa and finished in Dar Es Salaam, although travelled independently for much of the way. I’ve met cyclists from many countries before, but never the Ukraine, so I decided to ask them some questions.

    1)   Is cycle touring popular in the Ukraine?

    Ruslan: ‘Not at all. I don’t know anyone from my country who is travelling by bicycle in places like Asia and Africa. I’m not a typical Ukrainian as I lived in China for some years. It is there that I became interested in cycle touring when I discovered the Crazy Guy on a Bike website.