• New visas: Mwanza-Muscat Part 3 August 10th, 2015

    A refrigerator box made an excellent container to transport my bicycle on a plane out of Tanzania. Cycling away would have been preferable, were it not for the fact that in order to go north, which is the direction I’m generally going, I’d be re-riding some of the roads I’d already covered. This rarely has much appeal, unless the roads are stupendously scenic, which they weren’t.

    Fortunately FastJet fly from Kilimanjaro Airport to Uganda and tickets cost all of £20. Well that’s before tax, after which the price quadruples. Even still, with an extra £20 for the bike and several quid for the gear the total price made it an affordable option. I also had good memories of cycling in Uganda.

  • On the shelves: Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook July 25th, 2015

    The latest edition of the wonderful ‘Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook is now available to buy. It’s a great resource for anyone planning a cycle tour, with plenty of practical information covering aspects such as what bike and equipment to take, as well as chapters focusing on regions and popular routes to cycle.

    I was very happy to have contributed to the chapter on Africa – updating the sections on cycling though East and Southern Africa as well as West and Central Africa. That’s a lot of countries. Some barely got a mention. Perhaps it’s time a guidebook dedicated to cycle-touring in Africa was put together. Hmm.

  • 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.

  • Here I go again: Mwanza-Muscat: Part 1 June 26th, 2015

    I hadn’t expected the tears. After 2 years I was wheeling the bike out of the gate for the final time. Leaving Mwanza. Leaving familiarity. Leaving friends and the comforts of having my own place and space. What a luxury that had been. I knew I would miss it, but it was time to move on.

     Tears at the gate

    It would have been easy to stay had my job contract been extended. Probably just as well it wasn’t. The work I was doing on paper had fizzled-out a long time ago. Whatever my employer in Dar-es-Salaam thought teacher trainers like myself were doing ‘up-country’ I have no idea.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • A short tour of Central Africa: Part 1 July 18th, 2013

    It was a shorter cycle tour than I would have liked, but three weeks provided plenty of time to traverse two of Africa’s smallest countries – Rwanda and Burundi. Both provided some of the most diverse terrain and well-paved roads I’ve cycled on in Africa.

    In 2011 I spent a week cycling through Rwanda, but this was my first visit to Burundi. Here are a selection of photos from western Tanzania and Rwanda. In the following post I will include those from Burundi. Most of these pictures were taken with my Nikon D90 and a fixed 35mm lens. For a number of on-the-road situations I found this to be a far easier and simpler lens to travel with than the bulk of a telephoto lens.

  • 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.