• Top 5 reasons to cycle DRC December 3rd, 2011

    This was written for and is posted on the World Biking website, which has a great section listing the 5 best reasons for cycling each country on the globe. I was happy to write something for The Gambia, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the last two of which see very few foreign cyclists.

    Rivers run through it

  • Jinja and the source of the Nile June 22nd, 2011

    “Though beautiful, the scene was not exactly what I expected…still it was a sight that attracted one to it for hours” (John Hanning Speke)

    If I were to list the 10 worst roads that I’ve cycled on in Africa, which I may well do in a later blog post (along with the 10 best) then the 85km ride from Kampala to Jinja would probably make the cut. Too much traffic for a road which is far too narrow basically. And most of the vehicles characteristically travel too fast.

  • Back on board: Up the Lualaba April 20th, 2011

    The sun sinks fast to the western horizon and gloomy is the twilight that now deepens and darkens.” (H.M Stanley)

    It was worth the effort again. The waiting, the inevitable haggling for the fare, the discomfort, the heat, the mosquitoes, and even the hunger that would accompany my journey by boat further up the Congo River.

    Beyond Ubundu, where the last set of rapids make it once more navigable again, the Congo River is referred to as the Lualaba, which is the greatest headstream of  the mighty river. Over 2000km upstream from where it empties into the Atlantic it is still daunting in scale, a silent powerhouse of a river, which for those who think beyond and below its placid brown surface remains wonderfully mysterious and enchanting.

  • Upriver: A boat journey April 6th, 2011

    Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the World, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest.” (Joseph Conrad)

    Finding a boat to travel up the Congo River wasn’t easy. Firstly there weren’t many boats on what could and should be a major highway of traffic, and secondly those that did exist had no schedule for when they would depart. But waiting was worth it, for this was a journey like no other.

  • Deadwood: Road to Abidjan September 22nd, 2010

    A dugout canoe transported me from Liberia to the Ivory Coast. After agreeing on a price with the teenage oarsman the journey took little more than 10-minutes in a vessel that was reassuringly large and under-loaded. This lack of passengers was a good reflection of how many people crossed the border here.

    Crossing the Cavally River

  • Out of the desert:Nouakchott-St Louis February 24th, 2010

    I followed a Toyata land cruiser out of Nouakchott. Sidi Ali, who’d been my excellent guide to the city, offered to escort me onto the right road towards Senegal. As we said goodbye he gave me some advice. “Make sure you tie your bicycle chain around your ankle when you get there”. How reassuring I remarked.

    Bad-mouthing the people who live in your neighbouring country seems to be commonplace all over the World. Moroccans will warn you about  being kidnapped in Mauritania , just as Indians will happily tell you Pakistanis are all terrorists and the Chinese might attack the Japanese on the subject of war crimes. I’m  struggling to think of a country I’ve travelled through where someone has remarked about their neighbours “You will love it there. The people are so  kind and friendly”.